by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This is our fifth stab at projecting the 2015 NFL Draft, but there’s a lot of time and likely going to be a lot of things between now and draft day. That’s why we are going to be updating this every two weeks for now, with more frequent updates as the draft gets closer.
With that in mind, let’s take a look:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston – QB – Florida State
It’s obvious that the current Tampa Bay leadership doesn’t feel like Mike Glennon is going to be their long-term solution at QB. When you have a chance to address the spot you do, so look for them to either select Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston with the top pick. At this point it looks like Winston could be the preferred pick (after Mariota’s performance in the National Championship Game, but don’t be surprised if they flip-flop with almost every mock until the draft.
2. Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota – QB – Oregon
It makes the most sense for the Titans to trade this pick to a QB needy franchise, but it’s too early to start projecting a deal like that. Maybe they feel like Zach Mettenberger could be the answer, but given their inept offense this past season maybe they don’t. The other real need is a lineman, but unless they feel strongly about one of the tackles it makes sense to address that spot in a later round.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Williams – DE – USC
The Jaguars need to improve their offensive line and the offensive tackle class has really thinned out thanks to Ronnie Stanley staying in school and Cedric Ogbuehi’s injury. Last season the Jaguars drafted a franchise QB and also provided weapons around him. However, they also need to add a young pass rusher and have a chance to land arguably the best prospect in the draft. Look for them to address the offensive line in the second round (or maybe by trading back and accumulating other assets).
4. Oakland Raiders – Kevin White – WR – West Virginia
The Raiders could use a lot of different things, so they are yet another team where trading down could make the most sense. They could target a young pass rusher who can complement Khalil Mack and help transform Oakland’s defense into one of the better units in the league or take one of the top two wide receivers on the board giving Derek Carr the top option they desperately need. In this scenario it’s the latter that happens and with Kevin White reportedly making a statement at the Combine, he could easily become the first receiver selected.
Previous Pick – Randy Gregory – DE – Nebraska
5. Washington Redskins – Brandon Scherff – OT – Iowa
Washington could select one of the better pass rushers in the draft, but they also need to upgrade their offensive line. They need to be able to protect Robert Griffin III, if they plan on keeping him at QB, or whoever it is that is taking snaps under center. Given the Redskins’ history, would it really be a surprise if they bypassed a superior prospect?
6. New York Jets – Amari Cooper – WR – Alabama
The Jets desperately need a QB, but unless they trade up with Tennessee they are likely going to miss out on one in the first round. Maybe it makes most sense for the Jets to trade down and amass picks under this circumstance, but time will tell if they go that route. Instead they get a true #1 WR, and also would allow them to cut bait on the overpaid Percy Harvin.
7. Chicago Bears – Dante Fowler – DE – Florida
Chicago’s offense is fine, but for a team with a rich defensive history they desperately need an upgrade. Look for them to go with one of the top defensive names on their board, regardless of the position. They could go with the top safety available, in Landon Collins. They also could try to plug the role of nose tackle, with Danny Shelton (though they do have some young options at the position they may try). Instead look for them to take the top pass rusher left on the board. With Fowler’s stock reportedly rising, he could easily be considered in that regard.
Previous Pick – Shane Ray – DE – Missouri
8. Atlanta Falcons – Randy Gregory – DE – Nebraska
The Falcons are in desperate need of help with their pass rush, and they’re likely hoping that a Randy Gregory, Shane Ray or Dante Fowler falls to them at this spot. In this scenario they get lucky and Gregory is still on the board. It’s easy to think of scenarios where that doesn’t happen, though.
Previous Pick – Dante Fowler – DE – Florida
9. New York Giants – Shane Ray – DE – Missouri
Offensive line… Offensive line… Offensive line… We all know that’s their need, it’s just a matter of who they feel is the best one available at this slot… Or is it? The Giants have never been shy about addressing their defensive line early on in the draft and they certainly could use some help rushing the quarterback (regardless of if Jason Pierre-Paul stays or leaves). With one of the top pass rushers falling to New York (in part thanks to him not participating at the Combine), don’t be surprised to see them pounce.
Previous Pick – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
10. St. Louis Rams – Andrus Peat – OT – Stanford
The Rams need a long-term QB, given the constant injuries to Sam Bradford, but this isn’t the spot for that. They also could use another RB, but instead they will likely take the opportunity to improve the secondary with arguably the top option in the draft class.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Ereck Flowers – OT – Miami
You have to think that Minnesota wants to improve the protection for Teddy Bridgewater, or add a true top receiver given the constant disappointment from Corradelle Patterson. If you don’t have time to throw the football it doesn’t matter who you have lining up on the outside, but if you don’t have a play maker it also doesn’t matter. This one could easily go either way and the rest of the team’s offseason will help determine their strategy.
Previous Pick – Kevin White – WR – West Virginia
12. Cleveland Browns – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
Reports have Josh Gordon heading out of Cleveland (at least we know he’s already been suspended for the season), which means they need a WR. Wide receiver is once again viewed as a deep position, though, so it makes sense for the Browns to wait on that. Instead they get a gift with Shelton falling to them, given their desperate need for a run stuffer in the middle of their line.
Previous Pick – DeVante Parker – WR – Louisville
13. New Orleans Saints – Vic Beasley – DE/OLB – Clemson
The Saints could go a lot of different ways with this pick, as the end of the Drew Brees era appears to be fast approaching. Their biggest needs are on defense though, and it makes sense for the team to try and fill one of their numerous holes there. The Saints need to generate more pressure on the quarterback, and with Beasley impressing at the Combine he could easily be a fit here.
Previous Pick – Trae Waynes – CB – Michigan State
14. Miami Dolphins – DeVante Parker – WR – Louisville
Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace continue to struggle to get on the same page on deep passes, and given some issues with Wallace in general there’s a chance that the team cuts ties with their “top” receiver. Regardless, it makes sense for the team to find a weapon that Tannehill can grow with, making the offense significantly more dynamic long-term. At the same time they could also use help at the offensive line, helping give Tannehill and company more time to operate.
Previous Pick – Ereck Flowers – OT – Miami
15. San Francisco 49ers – La’el Collins – OT – LSU
Michael Crabtree was a bitter disappointment and Anquan Boldin may not have many more seasons left. They need to address the position and could take the top option on their board, though this is a team that is traditionally more conservative and has brought in a defensive minded coach. Look for them to instead strengthen the offensive line, in an attempt to offer Colin Kaepernick more time (and addressing wide receiver later in the draft).
Previous Pick – Jaleen Strong – WR – Arizona State
16. Houston Texans – Landon Collins – S – Alabama
The Texans do have a potential need in their secondary, whether it be safety or cornerback. While they’d love for Collins to slip to them, and under this scenario that’s exactly what happens.
17. San Diego Chargers – Melvin Gordon – RB – Wisconsin
The Chargers have often been a team with questions at running back, whether it’s due to injury or just a crowded backfield. Ryan Mathews is constantly banged up and is a free agent, so it’s easy to imagine the team moving on. Branden Oliver made a splash, but he’s hardly the answer as an every down back. It’s easy to imagine them making a play for the top running back available.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Jaleen Strong – WR – Arizona State
We all know they have a desperate need for WR help and they simply can’t ignore it anymore. It’s hard to imagine the team not addressing the position, and with Strong sliding down the board a little bit he makes sense to grab now.
Previous Pick – La’el Collins – OT – LSU
19. Cleveland Browns – Alvin Dupree – DE – Kentucky
The Browns could use an upgrade on their offense, specifically at WR, but they also need help on the defensive line. Having gotten a gift in the top defensive tackle falling to them earlier in the draft, with this pick they add a pass rusher and help to further help strengthen the line.
Previous Pick – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Trae Waynes – CB – Michigan State
We all know it’s a position that needs to be addressed for Philadelphia so they will take the top one on their board. Of course they also could pay a ransom to move up and try to get Mariota, but time will tell if they truly are that “desperate” to acquire him.
Previous Pick – P.J. Williams – CB – Florida State
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Arik Armstead – DE – Oregon
The Bengals desperately need to help a pass rush that posted a league worst 20 sacks in 2014. Armstead should help fill the void, as the top defensive end left on the board.
Previous Pick – Alvin Dupree – DE – Kentucky
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – P.J. Williams – CB – Florida State
Pittsburgh’s defense is getting old and they simply need to improve at various positions. You’d have to expect them to simply take the best defensive player on their draft board, regardless of what position he plays.
Previous Pick – Arik Armstead – DE – Oregon
23. Detroit Lions – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State
Both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are free agents, so the team will likely need to add at least one DT through the draft. They’d love for one of the top two options to fall to them, and under this scenario they get lucky and that happens.
Previous Pick – Malcolm Brown – DT – Texas
24. Arizona Cardinals – Eli Harold – OLB – Virginia
The Cardinals need help at both DE and OLB, with Harold bringing the potential to bring some heat on the QB and filling a need.
Previous Pick – Vic Beasley – DE/OLB – Clemson
25. Carolina Panthers – T.J. Clemmings – OT – Pittsburgh
The Panthers allowed 42 sacks in ’14, tied for 12th most in the league. It makes sense for the team to try to strengthen that spot if they can.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Dorial Green-Beckham – WR – Oklahoma
They would be an ideal landing spot for Melvin Gordon, should he fall, but I don’t see them taking the gamble on Todd Gurley. They also could use help on the DL, but there doesn’t appear to be an option that makes sense. Instead they address a potential need at WR, with Torrey Smith potentially departing via free agency and the question as to how much Steve Smith has left (or the lack of explosiveness). There’s no question that Green-Beckham could ultimately be the best receiver in this class, he just needs to overcome the off-the-field issues surrounding him.
Previous Pick – Maxx Williams – TE – Minnesota
27. Dallas Cowboys – Markus Golden – DE – Missouri
While the Cowboys defense hasn’t been bad this season, a lot of that has to do with the offense controlling the clock and limiting their exposure. With a strong offense they should look to add to the defensive front to try generating more pressure on the QB.
28. Denver Broncos – Cameron Irving – OT – Florida State
It didn’t seem possible that the Broncos would have to address their offense, did it? However that’s not unthinkable at this point. Especially with Peyton Manning getting a year older, making sure they can protect him well will be of the utmost importance. With the team clearly preparing for a bit of turnover, starting with the coaching staff, this is going to be an interesting pick.
29. Indianapolis Colts – Benardrick McKinney – ILB – Mississippi State
Inside linebacker is one of the Colts biggest needs and McKinney, who recently declared, could fill that void while also lining up at other spots as well. There is no questioning the athleticism or size (6’4”, 249 lbs.) and he’s arguably the best player available at the position.
30. Green Bay Packers – Malcolm Brown – DT – Texas
You can argue if Denzel Perryman or McKinney are the top player at the position, but they both could squeak into the back of the first round given team needs. Of course the Packers also have a need in the middle of their defensive line and could perceive Brown as a better prospect.
Previous Pick – Denzel Perryman – ILB – Miami
31. Seattle Seahawks – Marcus Peters – CB – Washington
There have been rumblings that the Seahawks will lose Byron Maxwell via free agency and Jeremy Lane could also miss the start of the season. For a team built on defense, shoring up their secondary is going to be a must.
Previous Pick – Dorial Green-Beckham – WR – Oklahoma
32. New England Patriots – Devin Smith – WR – Ohio State
The Patriots could use another wide receiver, as they could use a long-term fix (as well as a short-term upgrade as you have to wonder how many years Tom Brady has left). Of course, if Darrelle Revis isn’t retained that could be a spot they target as well.
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