03 April 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: 10th Edition

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As the calendar has turned to April, we are now within a month of the 2015 NFL Draft. In fact, the draft kicks off in less than four weeks from today in Chicago. How does the draft picture look right now? Here is my latest mock draft.

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 Dante Fowler Jr., DE/OLB, Florida
I bet that the Jaguars would love to trade down and accumulate more assets but who knows if that will happen come draft time. This pick would likely come down to Fowler and Leonard Williams but while Williams is the superior prospect, the Jaguars seem pretty set at defensive tackle, especially after signing Jared Odrick. The speedy and physical Fowler seemingly lived in opposing backfields these past two years in Gainesville and could be a fun fit in Gus Bradley's defense.

4. Oakland Raiders - Leonard Williams, DT, USC
I think new coach Jack Del Rio goes for his fellow Trojan in Williams right here. The Raiders are still a mess defensively, even as they have some pieces in place, and could certainly use a talent like Williams on the interior of their defensive line even after signing Dan Williams (who brings very little in terms of a pass rush. His combination of strength, quickness and motor could make him unstoppable.

5. Washington - Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
You can never have too many pass rushers in the NFL and Washington will have to replace Brian Orakpo, who departed for Nashville. 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 and thus another pass rusher to team with Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy could be in store. Beasley is not all that long but he has more than enough quickness to get off the edge and push the pocket. His stock has been on the rise of late.

6. New York Jets - Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
I have previously been mocking either Amari Cooper or Marcus Mariota to the Jets but neither seems particularly likely as the Jets have traded for Brandon Marshall and I don't think Mariota will fall this far at this time. Given the team's needs and the type of players available at the top of the draft, I think the Jets will further build their defense and bring in an upgrade to their pass rush. The Mizzou prospect will have to get stronger but his athleticism off the edge is tremendous.

7. Chicago Bears Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
As mentioned with the previous pick, the Bears have dealt Brandon Marshall to the Jets and now, they have a need for a wideout opposite Alshon Jeffery, and the recently-signed Eddie Royal is not going to be that guy. 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.

8. Atlanta Falcons - Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
With Dan Quinn becoming the new head coach of the Falcons, 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 thus bringing in a guy like Dupree would make a ton of sense for them. The former tight end still is raw but was one of the elite pass rushers in the SEC (no small feat).

9. New York Giants - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Yes, the Giants did just take a wide receiver in the first round last year (and I think he turned out to be pretty good). However, there could be a need opposite Odell Beckham as Victor Cruz tore a patellar tendon and was lost for the season in October and not only that, Ben McAdoo's offense excels with strong receiver play. Therefore, I think the Giants could be tempted by a combination of Beckham and Cooper. Cooper should be able to make an impact right away and he has the skill-set to be a no. 1 wideout.

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 - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Waynes is the top cornerback on the board and he is an aggressive playmaker with the ideal size you look for in a corner. He has only bolstered his draft stock after an impressive performance at the Combine. Xavier Rhodes fits the mold of the type of athletic cornerback that Mike Zimmer likes to employ but the team could use an upgrade opposite him at the other cornerback slot. A Rhodes-Waynes combination would be one to watch.

12. Cleveland Browns - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The Browns were a disaster against the run this past season as they were statistically the worst team in the league in that category. The defensive line will be a big focus for Mike Pettine and the Cleveland front office and a talent like Shelton would be a welcome addition. Shelton moves surprisingly well for somebody of his size and he is very tough to block one-on-one. Almost by himself, he should help improve the Browns' run defense.

13. New Orleans Saints - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
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. Given the news that Gregory failed a marijuana test at the Combine, coupled with the sharp weight loss he measured with the at the Combine, should make him available even with his prodigious talent.

14. Miami Dolphins DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Unsurprisingly the Dolphins have dealt Mike Wallace and while the team has traded for Kenny Stills and is high on Jarvis Landry, I still think they could still use a no. 1 type of receiver for Ryan Tannehill. Parker already is a really good route-runner, has excellent size and good hands. He also is one of those sneaky fast wideouts and he could be a very good red zone target for Tannehill.

15. San Francisco 49ers La'el Collins, G/T, LSU
Even with a whole new coaching staff with new head coach Jim Tomsula, I fully expect the 49ers to continue their run-heavy offensive attack. However, they could have a hole to fill on their offensive line with Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati being a free agent and the team could also look to upgrade over tackle Anthony Davis. Collins should be able to play either guard or tackle and he will need to develop his pass protection skills. That said, he is ready to maul in the run game at an NFL level.

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 - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Staying healthy was a consistent struggle for Ryan Mathews in San Diego and it played a key role in him not being able to meet his potential. Now Mathews is heading east to Philadelphia and thus the Chargers do not have anybody on their roster that can handle the load of being an every-down back. Therefore, they will take a long, hard look at the top running back in this draft. Gordon is fast and big and he can be electric with the ball in his hands.

18. Kansas City Chiefs - Ereck Flowers, T, Miami (FL)
Kansas City has addressed their top need at receiver by giving a big contract to Jeremy Maclin but I would not rule the Chiefs also drafting a wideout here. That said, I think the Chiefs will address their need at tackle and to further address their offensive line after trading for guard Ben Grubbs. Flowers has a lot of talent and showed flashes of it with the Canes this past season. He has all the tools to be a fine left tackle and could be able to slide inside as well.

19. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo) - Andrus Peat, T, Stanford
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. And for a team that does not have a pressing need at tackle, Peat's rawness would not turn the team off.

20. Philadelphia Eagles Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Eagles have had a wild offseason thus far and they have done much to address their top needs. However with Jeremy Maclin heading to Kansas City to reunite with former coach Andy Reid, the Eagles could use a deep threat for their offense and to pair with holdovers Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper. Strong should be good in the red zone thanks to his size and his good hands. The ASU prospect is also deceptively quick.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Arik Armstead, DT/DE, Oregon
Michael Johnson proved to be a big bust in Tampa after leaving the Bengals but his former team still missed him as they were never able to generate any kind of a pass rush at all. Therefore, they finished last in the NFL in sacks. They also could use some improved play from their defensive tackles so given that, a versatile presence like Armstead could be useful for defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Armstead never put up consistent production in Eugene but he is tremendously athletic, has nice size and has a lot of upside.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
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. 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 in the past.

23. Detroit Lions - T.J. Clemmings, T, Pittsburgh
The Lions lost both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in free agency but after making a shrewd deal for Haloti Ngata, the need at defense tackle is not as big as it was a week ago. Therefore, the Lions could look to address other needs with this selection such as their hole at right tackle. Clemmings is very athletic and long which should help him in pass protection, but he is very raw. However, he should be able to contribute right away at right tackle.

24. Arizona Cardinals Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The last time the Cardinals have been in the top half of the NFL in rushing was 2002. For context, their leading rusher was the immortal Marcel Shipp and the head coach was Dave McGinnis. They have been last four times since then and considering they have ranked 23rd and 31st under Bruce Arians. They seem poised to take a running back early in the draft and Gurley is a good one. He is coming off a torn ACL but he has the talent to be an excellent three-down back thanks to his combination of power and speed.

25. Carolina Panthers - D.J. Humphries, T, Florida State
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. They have already signed Michael Oher but they still need to do more to upgrade their tackles. Like a number of tackles in this draft, Humphries is raw but with his athleticism and length, he looks like a good fit to be at left tackle.

26. Baltimore Ravens Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
While the receiving corps was improved a year ago, now with Torrey Smith getting some money from the 49ers and Steve Smith not getting younger as he is now 35 years old, the position is certainly in some flux. Look for Baltimore to address the position early come April and this UCF product could get in the mix. He has been rising on some draft boards and has a nice combination of size and speed.

27. Dallas Cowboys - Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Rod Marinelli did a very fine job turning a defense widely expected to be awful to be a passable unit but even then, there are upgrades that are needed to be made  and particularly so on the defensive line as the pass rush was lackluster at times and there is a hole at tackle with the departure of Henry Melton to Tampa. Brown will be a guy that could be moved around the line due to his quickness but with his size, he should be able to help control the run game.

28. Denver Broncos - Cameron Erving, C/G/T, Florida State
The Broncos had issues with their offensive line all season long as they were mixing and matching and moving guys around deep into the season. That probably played a role in the decline in Peyton Manning down the stretch (as did an apparent weakening of his arm strength plus some reported thigh injuries). Erving can play across the offensive line as he did in Tallahassee and his athleticism should find him some burn.

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 Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
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 Kendricks would bring some speed to the position. He is very good in pass coverage and can cover a lot of ground in the run game and he should be a good fit in Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme.

31. New Orleans Saints (from Seattle) - Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
It looks like the Saints are beginning some sort of a rebuilding process as they have made a ton of moves already this offseason. They already have touched on the cornerback position by bringing in Brandon Browner from the Patriots but considering the amount of issues they had last year against the pass, you could see them utilizing this pick to bring in another player. Johnson is a big corner with the long arms and the athleticism you like to see to be able to cover the top wideouts in the league.

32. New England Patriots Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Vince Wilfork is headed to Houston and while he a shell of himself for the Super Bowl champions last year, he was still a big part of the Patriots' defense (no pun intended) and leaves a sizable hole to be replaced (pun likely intended). 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.

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

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