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2015 NFL DRAFT

2015 NFL Mock Drafts

Pete Prisco
By
The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com


For all of the strategy of game-planning and complexities of personnel packages, football is actually a pretty simple game of Haves and Have-Nots - as in which clubs have franchise quarterbacks and which ones do not.

It is no surprise that the two QB-neediest teams in the NFL - the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans - are projected to own the first two picks of the 2015 draft. Eager to join the Haves, both could turn to Heisman Trophy winners.

The following is my latest first round projection of the 2015 NFL Draft.

*The selection order for this mock draft is based on the current records of teams with point differential breaking all ties. The Cleveland Browns own the rights to the Buffalo Bills' selection due to the Sammy Watkins trade.

NFL Mock Draft - 12/15/2014
Round 1
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(2-12)
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: To compete in today's NFL, offenses must score points and few clubs are worse in this department than the Bucs, who have surpassed 17 points in just three of 14 games this season. For the franchise to take the next step, improving at quarterback is critical. Mariota faces legitimate questions about how he'll fare against tighter windows in the NFL but he shows good awareness in the pocket, a live arm and, of course, great mobility. Mariota's speed and the great size of Tampa's pass-catchers would put an awful lot of stress on opposing defenses.
2. Tennessee Titans

(2-12)
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: The Titans have lost eight straight and rookie Zach Mettenberger could not stay healthy long enough to prove he's the club's long-term fix at quarterback. It is hard to imagine GM Ruston Webster looking past Winston's off-field issues. From purely a football standpoint, however, Winston projects quite well in Ken Whisenhunt's offense and there is no question that he's a top 5 talent.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars

(2-12)
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska: The Jaguars' record isn't pretty but head coach Gus Bradley's infectious enthusiasm, a hard-hitting defense and talented rookie quarterback Blake Bortles have this franchise on the upswing. Gregory is well-suited to starring in Bradley's hybrid 4-3 alignment at the LEO defensive end, as he's long (6-5, 242 pounds), explosive and passionate against both the run and pass.
4. Oakland Raiders

(2-12)
Leonard Williams, DT, Southern California: Rookie Derek Carr has shown flashes of being the young signal-caller capable of turning this franchise around. Adding another weapon for him (Alabama's Amari Cooper?) would seem like a logical choice. The game is still won or lost at the line of scrimmage, however. The 6-5, 290-pound Williams is a physical mismatch too quick for interior linemen and too powerful for offensive tackles.
5. Washington Redskins

(3-11)
Landon Collins, SS, Alabama: Washington hasn't boasted a truly fearsome safety since the late Sean Taylor was patrolling the deep middle. At 6-0, 215 pounds, Collins isn't huge, but he shows the exciting blend of explosiveness and ball skills that made Taylor a special player.
6. NY Jets

(3-11)
Shane Ray, DE, Missouri: The Jets clearly need help on the offensive side of the ball, especially at quarterback, but if Mariota and Winston are off the board, whoever is running the front office at that point may have little option but to look elsewhere. Under Rex Ryan the Jets have developed a fierce front but lack a dominant edge rusher. Ray, the SEC's leading sack artist, possesses the country's most explosive burst off the ball.
7. Atlanta Falcons

(5-9)
Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson: Despite an ugly record, the Falcons lead the NFC South. They have the firepower on offense to compete but lack difference-makers on the defensive front. Adding a dynamic edge rusher like Beasley to complement the greater size Atlanta added to its defense in the offseason could pay immediate dividends.
8. NY Giants

(5-9)
Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor: There is plenty of blame to go around in Gotham as the Giants have struggled in 2014 despite an overhaul of the roster in the offseason. GM Jerry Reese has won before gambling on the upside of talented pass rushers. Powerful and shockingly athletic given his massive (6-8, 275 pounds) frame, Oakman's potential screams top 10 pick.
9. Chicago Bears

(5-8)
Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida: For all of the concerns about Chicago's inconsistent offense, the defense remains alarmingly toothless. Given the quarterbacks in the NFC North, that's a recipe for disaster. Fowler's versatility is his calling card. The 6-3, 260-pounder's unique combination of power, agility and tenacity earns him time at defensive end, linebacker and defensive tackle for the Gators.
10. Carolina Panthers

(5-8-1)
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame: With the selection of Kelvin Benjamin and free agent addition of sure-handed veteran Jericho Cotchery, the Panthers addressed receiving options for Cam Newton but failed to address the offensive line protecting him. They won't make the same mistake this spring. Stanley is just a redshirt sophomore in his first season at left tackle but the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder boasts an exciting combination of agility, balance and power.
11. Minnesota Vikings

(6-8)
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: Despite big investments at wide receiver, the Vikings still lack a true No. 1. Cooper, the 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner, possesses remarkable acceleration and agility, traits that could perfectly complement an accurate passer like Teddy Bridgewater.
12. St. Louis Rams

(6-8)
Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa: Under general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams have consistently gambled on dynamic athletes. Adding a blue-collar tough guy like Scherff (who is also a good athlete) might add some consistency to an offensive line that has struggled in this regard.
13. Houston Texans

(7-7)
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington: The Texans' investment in Jadeveon Clowney did not pay off in 2014, but don't be surprised when his critics quiet down once he and JJ Watt get an opportunity to play together next season. Adding a powerful - and passionate - interior presence like Shelton could help turn Houston's potential into production.
14. Cleveland Browns

(7-7)
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville: The Browns' defense and running game have been good enough to make them competitive but the lack of a top-flight receiver limits the team's upside. The club is hopeful, of course, that Josh Gordon will re-emerge as a superstar but cannot rely on him. Parker missed the first seven games of the year with a broken fifth toe in his left foot, but the 6-3, 209 pounder has starred since, demonstrating the fluidity and ballskills to project as a No. 1 target.
15. San Francisco 49ers

(7-7)
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma: Blame Colin Kaepernick all you would like for the 49ers' offensive struggles, but his job isn't made easier with a lack of playmakers among his receiving corps. Green-Beckham is a top 10 talent who is drawing comparisons to Cincinnati Bengals star A.J. Green for his size, speed and ballskills, but he comes with significant off-field concerns. GM Trent Baalke has been more willing than most to gamble on talented players with character red flags.
16. Miami Dolphins

(7-7)
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin: Ryan Tannehill has shown flashes of ascending into one of the league's better young quarterbacks in Bill Lazor's scheme and could take another step with more consistency at running back. The position may not hold the same value in today's pass-happy NFL, but Gordon is a difference-maker with the agility and acceleration to score from anywhere on the field. Just ask Nebraska, which gave up an FBS-record 408 yards to the Heisman contender.
17. Kansas City Chiefs

(8-6)
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia: Despite a wideout corps that has yet to catch a touchdown this season, the Chiefs continue to be competitive. Providing more weapons on the perimeter would seem to be a priority for Kansas City in the offseason, however, especially given that this year's crop seems very strong yet again. Dwayne Bowe is a reliable route-runner and pass-catcher but he doesn't strike fear into the hearts of defenders. No player has boosted his stock more this season than White, a 6-3, 209-pounder who climbs the ladder to make contested catches look easy.
18. San Diego Chargers

(8-6)
Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M: As he demonstrated in a comeback win over Baltimore, Philip Rivers can still be dynamic when protected. San Diego tackles King Dunlap and DJ Fluker are a lot like their quarterback - big and talented but relatively slow-footed. Ogbuehi has struggled with technique this season, perhaps contributing to his switching back and forth between left and right tackle, but he possesses a remarkable skillset with length and easy athleticism.
19. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo)

(7-7)
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford: As the only team with two first round picks, the Browns have a lot of flexibility, including potentially making a good offensive line one of the league's elite. A star left tackle for the Cardinal, Peat is blessed with remarkable balance and agility for a man of his 6-7, 315-pound dimensions. He would provide an upgrade over Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle and could be groomed to eventually take over for All-Pro Joe Thomas.
20. Philadelphia Eagles

(9-5)
P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State: Chip Kelly is famous for his offensive system but while at Oregon, he also boasted playmaking corners. Williams, agile and aggressive, would fit in nicely.
21. New Orleans Saints

(5-8)
Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington: Despite millions invested in fixing the secondary, the Saints have struggled against the pass. Thompson doesn't possess great size but his athleticism and instincts have helped him stand out wherever the Huskies have needed him - including at safety, linebacker and most recently at running back. He projects best to the NFL as a hybrid defender who is just as effective in coverage as coming up in run support.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers

(9-5)
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State: At 35, Steve Smith is a short-term fix. Torrey Smith's contract is up at the end of the year. The aptly-named Strong has the size, power and body control to win contested passes, traits that project well in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's scheme.
23. Baltimore Ravens

(9-5)
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State: Baltimore's depth at cornerback has been exposed this season due to injuries. Like Baltimore's best corner, the injured Jimmy Smith, Waynes possesses terrific length (6-1, 183 pounds), fluidity and ball-skills.
24. Dallas Cowboys

(10-4)
Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky: The Cowboys are hopeful that 2014 rookie Demarcus Lawrence will significantly boost their outside pass rush, but that won't keep the team from adding reinforcements. Dupree, the SEC's leading active pass rusher, is long, instinctive and closes in a flash.
25. Cincinnati Bengals

(9-4-1)
La'el Collins, OT, LSU: Few teams reload along the line of scrimmage as consistently as the frugal Bengals and with starting LT Andrew Whitworth entering his ninth season and the club's backups (Marshall Newhouse, Will Svitek) entering the final year of their contracts, Cincinnati is likely to be on the lookout for potential replacements. Like Whitworth (who also starred at LSU), Collins doesn't necessarily look the part of an NFL left tackle, sporting a square-ish frame. He's surprisingly effective on the edge, however, and is a mauler in the running game.
26. Green Bay Packers

(10-4)
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: Since 2010 first round pick Bryan Bulaga has returned from an early season knee injury, the Packers have seen better play at right tackle. He's in the final year of his rookie contract and 2014 is his third consecutive year of missing time due to injury. Clemmings is a former defensive end who has steadily improved at right tackle the past two years. With impressive length and athleticism, he boasts exciting upside.
27. Indianapolis Colts

(10-4)
Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State: The development of Bjoern Werner has lessened Indianapolis' need for outside linebackers, but inside remains an issue with former Brown D'Qwell Jackson struggling to make an impact. McKinney offers a rare package of length, athleticism and versatility that is likely to earn him a top 25 selection.
28. Detroit Lions

(10-4)
Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State: With starters Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the final year of their respective contracts, the Lions will be scouting the defensive tackle class as closely as any team in the league and Goldman is generating plenty of buzz. The 6-4, 320-pound junior is a former top recruit who's enjoyed a breakout campaign back inside this season after starting at end last year for the champs. Goldman suffered a right ankle injury in the ACC Championship victory over Georgia Tech, but head coach Jimbo Fisher said that he expects his club's best run-stuffer to be back for the Rose Bowl.
29. Seattle Seahawks

(10-4)
Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan: Improved play at tight end by Tony Moeaki and Cooper Helfet has sparked Seattle's impressive winning streak. Neither, however, possesses a unique skill-set like the 6-5, 235-pound Funchess, who could remind GM John Schneider of Jermichael Finley, a formidable seam threat he saw while both worked in Green Bay.
30. New England Patriots

(11-3)
Marcus Peters, CB, Washington: Revis Island is once again a formidable destination for opposing receivers to venture but with the All-Pro corner only signed to the end of the year, the Patriots will be watching this year's cornerbacks closely. Peters, who was kicked off the team at Washington, comes will all kinds of character red-flags but he's also the most talented corner in the draft.
31. Arizona Cardinals

(11-3)
Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU: Everyone expected that an athletic and physical secondary would be the calling card of the NFC West's top team. Few, however, were predicting in the preseason that it would be the secondary based in Arizona. An improved pass rush would make Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Co. that much more effective. Hunter doesn't have great production but the 6-foot-6, 240 pounder has terrific agility and quickness. He's stronger than he looks and uses his length well to deflect passes.
32. Denver Broncos

(11-3)
Ty Sambrailo, OT, Colorado State: For as dominant as the Broncos have appeared for much of this season, areas of concern certainly exist - including right tackle. Sambrailo is a technically-sound brawler who would fit in nicely with the aggressive mentality John Elway and Co. are attempting to establish in Denver.

Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange

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