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2015 NFL Mock Drafts

Pete Prisco
The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

While most of the pre-draft attention will focus on quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota and the bevy of pass rushers expected to dominate the top 10 picks, the 2015 NFL Draft could prove a case of the rich getting richer.

While teams selecting in the top 10 are in position to nab the elite athletes that could be building blocks for the future, the perennial playoff contenders selecting late can supplement their already talented rosters by taking the "best Player available" approach.

This strategy could help Baltimore, Dallas, Seattle and New England find cheap alternatives to expensive veterans. No club appears to be in better position to fill a key area of need than the Green Bay Packers, who could see UCLA's Eric Kendricks or Washington's Shaq Thompson as an easy "plug-and-play" upgrade at linebacker.

NFL Mock Draft - 3/1/2015
Round 1
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: The release of Josh McCown appears to signal the Bucs are locking in on a quarterback with this pick and, at least on the field, Winston is clearly the most pro-ready passer in this class. Winston's off-field issues are a significant concern, of course, which is why his most important test at the Combine was his interviews with teams. Coach Lovie Smith might be precisely the steady hand that Winston needs to take full advantage of his undeniable talent. It is not difficult to imagine Tampa's offense making a huge improvement in 2015 with the strong-armed and accurate Winston firing passes to huge targets Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
2. Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Zach Mettenberger showed flashes as a rookie but given the opportunity to gush about their young quarterback at the Combine, coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Ruston Webster instead each sounded eager to take advantage of their early pick to improve the position. Given the tough adjustment Mariota will have to make in Whisenhunt's offense, this is unquestionably a roll of the dice. But if Tennessee is going to take a significant step forward in the AFC South, it must improve at quarterback and Mariota has the tools to become a star.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars

Leonard Williams, DT, Southern California: The Jaguars' record isn't pretty, but coach Gus Bradley's infectious enthusiasm, a hard-hitting defense and talented young quarterback Blake Bortles have this franchise on the upswing. The 6-5, 290-pound Williams has been my personal top-rated player since October. He is a physical mismatch too quick for interior linemen and too powerful for offensive tackles.
4. Oakland Raiders

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia: Derek Carr showed flashes as a rookie of being the young signal-caller capable of turning this franchise around. Adding another weapon for him would seem like a logical choice. No player has boosted his stock more this season than White, who climbs the ladder to make contested catches look easy and answered any questions about his athleticism with a spectacular workout at the Combine.
5. Washington Redskins

Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa: Jay Gruden's success as the play-caller in Cincinnati came with one of the league's biggest offensive lines. He inherited one of the smallest in Washington and there is no question that upgrading the talent there will be an offseason priority. Not everyone sees Scherff (or any offensive lineman this year) as a top 10 talent, but he plays with the grit and physicality Washington is lacking and would be an immediate upgrade at right tackle.
6. NY Jets

Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida: The decision new GM Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles make regarding Percy Harvin could determine which strategy the Jets take with this pick. Should the Jets elect not to keep Harvin and his $10.5 million cap hit, adding a potential No. 1 target could give Geno Smith his best chance of success. Building up the pass rush, however, is also key. Fowler's versatility is his calling card. His unique combination of power, agility and tenacity earns him time at defensive end, linebacker and defensive tackle for the Gators and that Swiss Army knife-like multiplicity could be very appealing to Bowles.
7. Chicago Bears

Danny Shelton, DT, Washington: With the hiring of defensive-minded head coach John Fox (who in turn hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio), the Bears are looking for big improvements on that side of the ball. Fox and Fangio know better than most the value of dominant defensive linemen. The 6-2, 343-pound Shelton proved one of the elite prospects at the Senior Bowl. He's surprisingly quick and passionate in pursuit for a man of his size and eats up blocks, freeing up teammates to make big plays.
8. Atlanta Falcons

Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska: The Falcons have the firepower on offense to compete, but lack difference-makers on the defensive front. Gregory's lanky 6-5, 235-pound frame looks better suited to playing a 3-4 rush linebacker role, but he's surprisingly physical at the point of attack and has the pass rush skills that new coach Dan Quinn can cultivate.
9. NY Giants

Shane Ray, DE, Missouri: There is plenty of blame to go around in Gotham as the Giants struggled in 2014 despite an overhaul of the roster last offseason. GM Jerry Reese has won before gambling on the upside of talented pass rushers and given the exciting talent at the position this year, he could roll the dice again, especially if free agent Jason Pierre-Paul leaves. Playing behind 2014 second-round pick Kony Ealy and co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam, Ealy did not emerge as a starter for the Tigers until the 2014 season, but he may possess the most explosive first step in the country. He led the SEC with 14.5 sacks last season.
10. St. Louis Rams

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: At the Combine, coach Jeff Fisher sounded all-in with injury-prone veteran quarterback Sam Bradford to compete in the ultra-competitive NFC West, but improvements must be made to the offense. Cooper would be an absolute steal at this point in the draft. He ranks as one of the easier projections to the NFL due to his sharp route-running, soft hands and terrific acceleration.
11. Minnesota Vikings

La'el Collins, OT, LSU: The downfield passing and drive-blocking run game preferred by offensive coordinator Norv Turner put a lot of pressure on the offensive line last season. Collins starred at left tackle for LSU but projects best to guard, where he could prove a quick upgrade over current left guard Charlie Johnson. Collins' brute strength and tenacity make him one of the draft's elite run blockers.
12. Cleveland Browns

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville: As the only team with two first-round picks, the Browns have a lot of flexibility but also plenty of needs, including potentially at quarterback. Chief among Cleveland's other concerns, of course, is at wide receiver. Parker is a remarkably fluid athlete with great size (6-3, 209) and speed.
13. New Orleans Saints

David Beasley, OG, Clemson: With Junior Galette (10 sacks) and Cameron Jordan (7.5) recording more than half of the team's 34 sacks in 2014, the Saints are among the more predictable defenses in the league. That's counter to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's philosophies. At just 6-3, 246 pounds, Beasley doesn't possess the length and strength teams prefer on the perimeter but his explosiveness off the corner could make him an immediate impact performer.
14. Miami Dolphins

Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State: Jared Odrick is a free agent and there has been talk that the Dolphins might release veteran Randy Starks, who ranked worst among Miami's defensive linemen last year against the run. The 6-4, 320-pound Goldman is powerful and surprisingly quick, making him a good fit and potentially much cheaper option.
15. San Francisco 49ers

Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford: The 49ers aren't likely to suddenly become more aggressive on offense with defensive-minded head coach Jim Tomsula taking the reins. With Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati set to hit free agency and Anthony Davis struggling with injuries, the 49ers could once again re-invest along the offensive line, ignoring their needs for playmakers.
16. Houston Texans

Landon Collins, SS, Alabama: Since being selected in the second round two year ago, DJ Swearinger has delivered some impressive hits but his struggles in coverage leaves Houston vulnerable up the middle. Collins plays with a similar degree of physicality, but is more instinctive, fluid and a proven ballhawk.
17. San Diego Chargers

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: The Chargers re-signed left tackle King Dunlap to a four-year deal and GM Tom Telesco said that the current plan is to leave D.J. Fluker at right tackle. That might change if Clemmings is on the board. Clemmings is a former defensive end who has steadily improved at right tackle the past two years. He's raw but more athletic than Fluker, who many feel projects best inside at guard.
18. Kansas City Chiefs

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State: Coach Andy Reid is notoriously hesitant to select receivers in the first round but given Kansas City's struggles in the passing game, he may not be able to ignore a second consecutive strong class at the position. Strong is aptly named, showing the physicality and body control to make acrobatic catches and he showed off his explosiveness with stellar marks in the 40-yard dash (4.44) and vertical jump (42 inches) at the Combine. He also comes with high marks for his work ethic and dependability.
19. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo)

Malcom Brown, DT, Texas: The Browns finished dead last in the NFL in run defense a year ago and have allowed more than 2,000 rushing yards in 14 of the past 16 seasons - a recipe for disaster in the black and blue AFC North. The 6-4, 320-pound Brown is a stout run defender who add bulk and strength to an otherwise undersized front.
20. Philadelphia Eagles

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA: With Chip Kelly in complete control of the roster, the Eagles are one of the more unpredictable teams this year. Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez have fared reasonably well in Kelly's system but neither possesses the preferred athleticism. Hundley is a project in most schemes but perhaps not so much in Kelly's attack. The 6-3, 226-pounder has terrific speed, a big arm and a career 3-1 touchdown (75) to interception (25) ratio. The drop-off in talent after the top three quarterbacks is significant enough that it could push Hundley into the first round even though many clubs view him as a second-round value.
21. Cincinnati Bengals

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma: The Bengals have an established star in A.J. Green, but he, Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu will each be entering the final year of their respective contracts next season. The Bengals aren't likely to let Green walk but might want to add another playmaker to lessen the burden on him and Andy Dalton. Green-Beckham comes with plenty of off-field concerns, but coach Marvin Lewis has been known to gamble on red-flag cases before.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers

Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State: New defensive coordinator Keith Butler inherits a unit that finished 26th in the NFL against the pass, according to Pro Football Focus. None of the teams ranked worse made the playoffs. After heavy investments in the front seven over the past several years, the Steelers may turn to the secondary, especially if a talent like Waynes is still available. Waynes has the length, athleticism and ballskills teams are looking for, though his slim frame (6-0, 186) is a concern that could keep him out of the top 20.
23. Detroit Lions

Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (Fla.): Due to its extraordinary skill-position talent, Detroit has remained one of the league's most explosive offenses, but improvement at right tackle could take the club to new heights. Flowers remains a work in progress, relying too much on his brawn and aggression and losing his composure on occasion. At 6-6, 329 pounds, however, Flowers has bloomed into one of the country's most intriguing o-line prospects.
24. Arizona Cardinals

Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky: A stout front and aggressive blitzing from defensive coordinator Todd Bowles helped Arizona mask deficiencies among its edge rushers. Dupree, who led all SEC defensive linemen with 74 tackles in 2014 and is the conference's reigning career sack leader with 24.5, is long, instinctive and closes in a flash.
25. Carolina Panthers

D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida: With the selection of Kelvin Benjamin and free agent addition of sure-handed veteran Jericho Cotchery last offseason, the Panthers addressed weapons for Cam Newton but failed to improve the offensive line protecting him. They won't make the same mistake this year. Humphries is a bit raw but is one of the few tackles in this class athletic enough to remain on the left side in the NFL.
26. Baltimore Ravens

Marcus Peters, CB, Washington: If the Ravens are confident in the healthy return of starting (and expensive) CBs Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb, GM Ozzie Newsome may look for a receiver or running back with this pick. Given the depth at those positions, however, Newsome might elect to stick with his tried and true strategy of simply taking the best player available. Peters comes with some off-field baggage as he was kicked off the team by Washington in November, but he has since made amends with his former coach and will be allowed to participate in the school's Pro Day April 2. Physical, athletic and a ball-hawk, Peters is a top 20 talent.
27. Dallas Cowboys

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin: Given that he ran for nearly 500 more yards than any other back in the NFL a year ago, DeMarco Murray certainly deserves a big contract. Dallas may be unable or unwilling to oblige, especially given that a similar talent with a much more palatable cap hit might be available via the draft. Gordon has a similar build and burst as Murray and has not struggled with injuries or ball security like the pending free agent has at times.
28. Denver Broncos

Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota: Like the Cowboys, the Broncos could see the draft as a cheaper alternative than re-signing their own star. Julius Thomas is one of three Denver tight ends set for free agency. If Thomas is not resigned, Williams possesses the size, mobility and soft hands to star in coach Gary Kubiak's TE-friendly offense.
29. Indianapolis Colts

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: The 45-7 thumping by New England in the AFC Championship Game exposed Indianapolis' need for more playmakers to support Andrew Luck. The trade for Trent Richardson didn't pay off and while the Colts have received solid play from Dan Herron (among others), the opportunity to add a special runner like Gurley would have to be intriguing. Gurley has to prove that he is over the torn ACL that ended his collegiate career, but he looks like a young Marshawn Lynch on tape.
30. Green Bay Packers

Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA: The Packers may have been a dropped onside kick from playing in the Super Bowl, but allowing 157 rushing yards to Marshawn Lynch in the NFC Championship didn't help. It also was not a one-game issue, as the Packers finished the regular season ranked 23rd in the league in run defense and have since released linebackers AJ Hawk and Brad Jones. Kendricks lacks the bulk of a traditional 3-4 inside linebacker but his instincts, speed and ball-skills could be the quick fix GM Ted Thompson is looking for.
31. Seattle Seahawks

Cameron Erving, C, Florida State: The two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks boast one of the league's best rosters, but free agency and injury concerns could make coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider even more difficult to predict this year than most - and that's saying something. The 6-5, 308-pound Erving switched from defensive tackle to left tackle to center while with the Seminoles, and has the length, athleticism and tenacity scouts like. The Seahawks could see the versatile athlete as a potential replacement for left guard James Carpenter, a pending free agent.
32. New England Patriots

Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut: The Patriots are flying high as Super Bowl champions but maintaining the championship roster will prove difficult, especially with star cornerback Darrelle Revis due a staggering $20 million in base salary and bonuses. Jones' record-breaking 12-foot, 3-inch broad jump at the Combine certainly earned him plenty of media buzz, but scouts were already impressed with the four-year starter's size (6-1, 199), physicality and awareness. He projects well in a press scheme.

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