by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This is our first 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 – Marcus Mariota – QB – Oregon
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 Mariota or Jameis Winston with the top pick.
2. Tennessee Titans – Jameis Winston – QB – Florida State
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 anyways. 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 – Andrus Peat – OT – Stanford
It may be a stretch, but the Jaguars need to improve their offensive line. Last season they drafted a franchise QB and also provided weapons around him. Now they need to give him time to deliver the football. It could be a different OT, but that’s the biggest need.
4. Oakland Raiders – Leonard Williams – DE – USC
You could argue that the Raiders are getting the best player in the draft, and it would be pretty lucky if he manages to fall to them at #4. In need of a young pass rush, if he’s there the Raiders are going to jump on him.
5. Washington Redskins – Randy Gregory – DE – Nebraska
Pass rush is definitely a need for Washington, so grabbing one of the best ones in this class is going to make a lot of sense.
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. Instead they get a true #1 WR, and also would allow them to cut bait on the overpaid Percy Harvin.
7. Chicago Bears – Shane Ray – DE – Missouri
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 the top defensive name on their board, regardless of the position, which leaves Ray there for now.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Dante Fowler – DE – Florida
The Falcons are in desperate need of help with their pass rush, and they’re likely hoping that a Randy Gregory or Shane Ray falls to them at this spot. However, with both off the board they settle for the next name up (which isn’t a bad one).
9. New York Giants – Brandon Scherff – OT – Iowa
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 (unless a pass rusher surprisingly falls to them).
10. St. Louis Rams – Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame
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 or a clear-cut top WR. Again, none of those things make sense here. Instead, given the injuries to Jake Long, look for them to strengthen their offensive line.
11. Minnesota Vikings – DeVante Parker – WR – Louisville
You have to think that Minnesota wants to improve the protection for Teddy Bridgewater, but under this scenario there isn’t an obvious selection there. Instead they get him a true top receiving option, reuniting him with his college teammate. In 2013 the two combined for 55 receptions, 885 yards and 12 TD and should have an instant rapport.
12. Cleveland Browns – Kevin White – WR – West Virginia
Reports have Josh Gordon heading out of Cleveland, which means they need a WR. Which one? That’s going to be the question, but expect one to go. If the Vikings pass on Parker they could go that direction, but under this scenario they “settle” for White.
13. New Orleans Saints – Trae Waynes – CB – Michigan State
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. Chances are, though, that they address their need at corner back. They could go with Florida State’s P.J. Williams, it’s just a matter of which player they like more.
14. Miami Dolphins – Ereck Flowers – OT – Miami
We all remember the mess that the Dolphins offensive line went through in recent seasons, don’t we? It makes sense for them to continue to try to strengthen the group, especially with Ryan Tannehill taking a major step forward in 2014.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Jaleen Strong – WR – Arizona State
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. Under this scenario that’s Strong, though the 49ers could also address the defensive line.
16. Houston Texans – Landon Collins – S – Alabama
Is safety their biggest need? Probably not, but the value is there and the Texans could stop his slide while upgrading the position.
17. San Diego Chargers – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State
San Diego allowed the seventh most rushing yards per game in 2014, yielding 124.1. Goldman could be the perfect fit, as he’s a big man (6’4”, 313 lbs.) who can stop the run and also provide pressure on opposing QB.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Cedric Ogbuehi – OT – Texas A&M
We all know they have a desperate need for WR help, but with the top names already off the board it’s not going to make sense for them to reach. Instead they look to strengthen their offensive line, but don’t be mistaken if one of the WR slip down to them they won’t hesitate to make the pick.
19. Cleveland Browns – Melvin Gordon – RB – Wisconsin
They’ve already addressed the WR position earlier in the first round, so they could go a lot of different directions with this pick. You could certainly argue that RB is not their biggest need, but is either Isaiah Crowell or Terence West a lock to be the answer at the position? If they want Johnny Manziel to be successful they need to surround him with weapons, and giving him a franchise RB and a WR1 should go a long ways.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – P.J. Williams – CB – Florida State
You could argue that he’s the top corner back in the draft class, though he’s the second one coming off the board. Regardless, we all know it’s a position that needs to be addressed for Philadelphia so they will take the top one on their board.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Alvin Dupree – DE – Kentucky
The Bengals desperately need to help a pass rush that posted a league worst 20 sacks in 2014. Dupree should help fill the void, as the top defensive end left on the board.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Shaq Thompson – OLB – Washington
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.
23. Detroit Lions – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
Both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are free agents, so the team will likely need to add at least one DT through the draft. While they’d love it if Eddie Goldman were still on the board, they’ll have to settle for the second best option in the class.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Vic Beasley – OLB – Clemson
The Cardinals need help at both DE and OLB, with Beasley bringing the potential to bring some heat on the QB and filling a need.
25. Carolina Panthers – La’el Collins – OT – LSU
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 – Kevin Johnson – CB – Wake Forest
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 try to strengthen their secondary.
27. Indianapolis Colts – Benardrick McKinney – ILB – Mississippi State
Inside linebacker is one of the Colts biggest needs and McKinney, who recently declated, 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.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Shilique Calhoun – DE – Michigan State
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.
29. Green Bay Packers – Denzel Perryman – ILB – Miami
You can argue if 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. It’s a hole the Packers need to fill, so look for them to address it with one of the two best options available.
30. Denver Broncos – Marcus Peters – CB – Washington
It didn’t seem possible that the Broncos would have to address their offense, did it? However that’s not unthinkable at this point, though not the direction we have them going quite yet. Instead they look to strengthen a secondary that allowed 29 passing TD last season (tied for sixth most in the league).
31. New England Patriots – Devin Funchess – WR/TE – Michigan
Is he a TE? Is he a WR? Does it matter in New England? It may be a stretch that he goes in the first round, but with Tom Brady closing in on the end of his career it makes sense to give him as many weapons as possible. For an offense built around the TE and given the injury history of Rob Gronkowski, it makes sense to go three deep, especially with a player with the ability to shift to the outside.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Arik Armstead – DE – Oregon
The Seahawks are built on their defense, so why not strengthen the defensive line if they can?
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