26 February 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Combine Edition

(NFL)
The 2015 NFL Combine has now come and gone. We can debate the merits of it and how big of a role it plays in the draft process all night long but it has resulted in some guys improving their draft stock, some guys weakening their draft stock, and others' stock holding firm. How will it affect my mock draft? Let's take a look.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston, as did Marcus Mariota, bucked the recent trend of the top quarterback prospects deciding not to throw at the Combine and he did throw and if anything, it only secured his hold on the top overall pick from before. Yes he ran a slow 40 but that is not as much a part of his game as it is for Mariota but what was important was that he reportedly interviewed well. It would be a surprise to me if the top pick in April would not be Winston at this point.

2. Tennessee Titans - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Titans had an opportunity at the Combine to affirm their commitment to Zach Mettenberger at quarterback but both coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Ruston Webster did not seem all that convinced in him as their future. Now I doubt that they would pass on Mariota, who has some work to do in developing his pocket passing game but he has all the physical tools (size, arm, mobility) that you want out of your franchise quarterback.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Williams, DT, USC
Even as the Jaguars have gotten some decent production out of the defensive tackle position, Williams seems like a prospect that coach Gus Bradley would be hard-pressed to pass up on. Williams also has the versatility that would allow Bradley to move him all over the defensive line and the skill-set to play both the tackle and end positions. His combination of strength, quickness and motor could make him unstoppable down the line.

4. Oakland Raiders - Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
One of the big winners at the Combine was Kevin White. White, who was an afterthought a couple of years ago, appears to have jumped to the top of crop at his position with a strong Combine performance showcasing better than expected speed as well as his impressive size. The Raiders need to build the supporting cast around young quarterback Derek Carr and using this draft pick to take White would make a lot of sense.

5. Washington - Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
You can never have too many pass rushers in the NFL and Washington could find themselves having to replace a pretty good one as Brian Orakpo will be a free agent. It is not certain what kind of defense new coordinator Joe Barry will run in Landover but it probably will be a scheme that will features some multiple elements, ideal for a versatile talent like Fowler. The speedy and physical Fowler seemingly lived in opposing backfields these past two years in Gainesville.

6. New York Jets - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
I think it is safe to say that the Jets would be ecstatic should Cooper by available at this juncture. Todd Bowles and his new team have issues to sort out on the offensive end, particularly at quarterback but also at the receiver position where the team does not have much in the form of weapons. Cooper should be able to make an impact right away and while he is not huge, he has the skill-set to be a no. 1 wideout.

7. Chicago Bears - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Shelton moves surprisingly well for somebody of his size and he is very tough to block one-on-one, and with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl has seen his stock rise. He projects to be an excellent fit as a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme and should be able to make an immediate impact at the position as the Bears, under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, are likely to move to a 3-4 defense.

8. Atlanta Falcons - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
It is looking like all but a formality that Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be the new head coach of the Falcons and look for him to bring a whole new defensive mindset to a team that has been a mess on that side of the ball. Regardless of the defensive scheme, the pass rush is going to have to improve and therefore, the team would love for Gregory to fall to him. Gregory is not that big but he is tremendously athletic and excels at pressuring quarterbacks off the edge.

9. New York Giants - Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
The Giants rode a dominant defensive line to their two Super Bowl championships under Tom Coughlin but if Jason Pierre-Paul leaves as a free agent this offseason, the Giants will have a need for a dominant pass rusher. Ray would probably be the best player on the board and he would certainly bring an upgrade to the pass rusher. The Mizzou prospect will have to get stronger but his athleticism off the edge is tremendous.

10. St. Louis Rams - Brandon Scherff, T, Iowa
St. Louis is a club that has invested many picks and money on their offensive line but they may still have a hole at the right tackle position should Joseph Barksdale leave via free agency. Scherff is a mauler that could also play other positions on the offensive line and he can help the Rams improve their running game as well.

11. Minnesota Vikings - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
With Teddy Bridgewater now the man in the Twin Cities, why not fill the need for more offensive weapons by bringing in a guy that Bridgewater is familiar with in Parker? Parker already is a really good route-runner, has excellent size and good hands. He also is one of those sneaky fast wideouts and what Bridgewater will love is that he is an excellent red zone target.

12. Cleveland Browns - Andrus Peat, T, Stanford
It looks like Cleveland will be a club that will focus early in the draft on both of their lines . The Browns do already have a good offensive line but the weak spot is right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and he can be upgraded upon. Peat is a little raw and his tape is not all that impressive but there is no question that he has a high upside. He also has the ideal size and athleticism to excel on the edge of the offensive line and can turn into a very good left tackle down the line.

13. New Orleans Saints - Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
The Saints have not been all that great defensively in recent years but it really hit the fan in 2014 as they fell to the 31st overall ranking, and this was after an aggressive offseason aimed at improving the defense. New Orleans would certainly love to upgrade their pass rush and they have a number of options here. Beasley is not all that long but he has more than enough quickness to get off the edge and push the pocket.

14. Miami Dolphins - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Dolphins brought in Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan last offseason and while Grimes did work out as he had a nice season, Finnegan was absolutely awful. They could use an upgrade over him as well as some youth at the position. Waynes is the top cornerback on the board and he is an aggressive playmaker with the ideal size you look for in a corner.

15. San Francisco 49ers - Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
Colin Kaepernick clearly stagnated in his development in 2014, even going backwards at times. It will be key for Jim Tomsula to get more out of his quarterback and one way the team could try to do it is by upgrading a feeble receiving corps. Green-Beckham comes with his fair share of risk as he has a number of off-field questions (getting kicked off the Missouri team was not a great sign), but with the amount of talent he has, it could be a worthwhile roll of the dice for a front office that has taken their risks on players before.

16. Houston Texans - Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Collins is the top defensive back in this draft and he is a player that can play either safety spot. He has the size and strength to play in the box but he can also be that center fielder that the Texans could use. Houston drafted D.J. Swearinger only a couple of years ago but he has not been a free safety kind of player as he is more suited to hitting hard and playing in the box. Collins should be able to complement him better than the holdovers did.

17. San Diego Chargers - T.J. Clemmings, T, Pittsburgh
Philip Rivers had a strong 2014 season, even generated some MVP buzz early, but he is not getting any younger and his lack of mobility could leave him as a bit of a sitting duck at times. King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker are solid tackles but both are better in the run game. Bringing in a raw talent like Clemmings can help their line as he could fine his craft in the interior before bouncing back outside. Clemmings is very athletic and long which should help him in pass protection.

18. Kansas City Chiefs - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
It really is unbelievable that the Chiefs had zero receiving touchdowns from their wideouts during the 2014 season. While Alex Smith and his mediocre arm plays a key role in that, what also has to factor in is that the Chiefs' receiving corps is far from impressive. Strong should be good in the red zone thanks to his size and his good hands. The ASU prospect is also deceptively quick.

19. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo) - Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Mike Pettine is a very good defensive coach and I think he would certainly like to see more production from the Cleveland pass rush. Jabaal Sheard is a free agent, Paul Kruger is not a big sack guy and Barkevious Mingo has been a disappointment at the end as well. Dupree still is raw but not only is extremely athletic, he was one of the elite pass rushers in the SEC, which by no means is a small feat.

20. Philadelphia Eagles - Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
With Chip Kelly now calling the personnel shots in Philadelphia, will he be  privy to making a bold move up the draft board to select his former quarterback in Eugene, Marcus Mariota? You certainly could not rule it out but in the meantime, they could also use an upgrade at the cornerback position given how much the Philadelphia pass defense struggled last season. Collins has ideal size and he can run, which he showed amid a strong Combine performance, plus we know that LSU has groomed some solid defensive backs.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Ereck Flowers, DE, Miami (FL)
The Bengals extended stalwart tackle Andrew Whitworth's contract through this upcoming season, but there is no word on what could be his future going forward. And even if they want to keep Whitworth in town for years to come, he will turn 34 late next season and his backup, Marshall Newhouse, is a free agent. It may make sense for the Bengals to have somebody waiting in the wings. Flowers has a lot of talent and showed flashes of it with the Canes this past season, and he could possibly play the interior line as well.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
The Steelers will have a new lieutenant running the defense after the franchise parted ways with the venerable Dick LeBeau, replacing him with linebackers coach Keith Butler. The pass rush was good as always but the secondary really looked like a mess at times and could certainly use an overhaul. Johnson would seem to be a very good fit in the Pittsburgh defensive scheme as he has the cover skills to play both zone and man.

23. Detroit Lions - Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh, a favorite of Packers fans, are both hitting the free agent market this offseason and one is likely to leave. That will leave void at a key spot for what was a fantastic Detroit defense under first-year coordinator Teryl Austin. Goldman may never be a double-digit sack guy but he has a nice combination of strength and quickness for a big guy. He is an excellent run stuffer and had a really nice season in Tallahassee.

24. Arizona Cardinals - Eli Harold, DE/OLB, Virginia
The Cardinals will certainly miss defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as he excelled at building strong, aggressive defenses even his unit was depleted by injuries. For a team with a strong secondary, upgrading an average pass rush could make the Arizona defense even more dangerous. Harold is likely limited to a 3-4 scheme due to his size and he could still use some more polish as he is raw but he is very athletic, which he showed at the Combine, and excelled at getting into the backfield at Virginia.

25. Carolina Panthers - La'el Collins, T, LSU
Cam Newton showed off plenty of toughness this season as he took a beating at times. His offensive line did perform as a unit much better down the stretch but was an abject trainwreck early in the season. A guy like Collins who can play both inside and outside would be useful. He will need to develop his pass protection skills but he is ready to maul in the run game at an NFL level.

26. Baltimore Ravens - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Considering he got kicked off the Washington team back in November after issues with assistant coaches, one can easily see why teams would skittish with Peters. But there is no question that the kid is talented, perhaps the most talented corner in this draft class. Baltimore has taken chances on problem guys before, plus their secondary could really use somebody with the cover skills like what Peters brings to the table.

27. Dallas Cowboys - Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Rod Marinelli did a tremendous job with a defense that seemingly lacked in talent, and also struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. But smoke and mirrors can only go so far, as well as having the team leader in sacks having only six. Marinelli will also surely look for some upgrades at the defensive tackle spot and that is where Brown enters. Brown will a guy that Marinelli can move around the line due to his quickness and he should be able to help stuff the run with his size.

28. Denver Broncos - Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
There are a lot of questions as to whether star tight end Julius Thomas will return to the Broncos with him being a free agent. Compounding the money issues is Demaryious Thomas also being a free agent. Should the team not be able to bring back the former Thomas, look for them to utilize their first round pick on the talented Williams. This Golden Gopher has the skill-set you like from a tight end with his hands and athleticism.

29. Indianapolis Colts - Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Thompson may be a bit of a tweener in the NFL like he was for the Huskies where he played some safety and some linebacker (not to mention some running back as well) but he is an exciting playmaker regardless of where he plays. For a team that could use some more depth and playmaking ability at the linebacker spot as well as filling a need at safety, Thompson could be a useful weapon.

30. Green Bay Packers - Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
The Packers battled inconsistent play from their linebackers in their 3-4 defense, even having to slide Clay Matthews to the middle to patch things up. They could use some playmaking abilities in the interior of the linebacking unit and a real thumper like McKinney could certainly be useful. The Clanga product will bring some youth and athleticism to the Packer defense.

31. Seattle Seahawks - Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
Seattle does have some decent players at the receiver position, led by Doug Baldwin, but that said it is far from a dangerous unit. Look for the Seahawks to look into wideouts at the bottom of the first round, if not later, in order to make Russell Wilson more dangerous. The team loves to take athletic projects and certainly Coates would apply. He needs to work on his route-running and needs to improve his hands but he has excellent speed, good size and has the athleticism to make circus catches.

32. New England Patriots - Cameron Erving, C, G, T, Florida State
The Super Bowl champions were able to find a lot of success last season even as their offensive line struggled at times. We know of the Patriots' fondness for versatile guys and this FSU product certainly fits that mantra as he played every position along the offensive line in Tallahassee. He performed much better when he played in the interior of the line but his athleticism could happen play just about anywhere.

Check out the WalterFootball mock draft database for even more mocks.

1 comment:

  1. "Washington could find themselves having to replace a pretty good one as Brian Orakpo will be a free agent." ??? Dude, haven't watched very many Redskins games have you? The guy is average at best, unless he's playing the Raiders. And he's too oft injured. Good riddance to "Orapko".

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