by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This is our fourth 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 – Randy Gregory – DE – Nebraska
The Raiders could use a lot of different things, so they are yet another team where trading down could make the most sense. Of course, they also 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.
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?
Previous Pick – Shane Ray – DE – Missouri
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 – 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 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 and get a bonus with Ray falling to them.
Previous Pick – Dante Fowler – DE – Florida
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, Shane Ray or Dante Fowler falls to them at this spot. In this scenario they get lucky and Fowler is still on the board. It’s easy to think of scenarios where that doesn’t happen, though.
Previous Pick – Landon Collins – S – Alabama
9. New York Giants – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
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 desperately need a force in the middle. While many people feel like Shelton best fits into a 3-4 scheme, he also should be just fine in a 4-3. The Giants need a run stopping anchor and he could be a game changer.
Previous Pick – Andrus Peat – OT – Stanford
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.
Previous Pick – Brandon Scherff – OT – Iowa
11. Minnesota Vikings – Kevin White – WR – West Virginia
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 – Ereck Flowers – OT – Miami
12. Cleveland Browns – DeVante Parker – WR – Louisville
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. Which one? That’s going to be the question, but expect one to go.
Previous Pick – Kevin White – WR – West Virginia
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. Their biggest needs are on defense though, and it makes sense for the team to try and fill one of their numerous holes there.
14. Miami Dolphins – Ereck Flowers – OT – Miami
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 – DeVante Parker – WR – Louisville
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, though the 49ers could also address the defensive line.
Previous Pick – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
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.
Previous Pick – P.J. Williams – CB – Florida State
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.
Previous Pick – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State
18. Kansas City Chiefs – La’el Collins – OT – LSU
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, but is there a player worth grabbing here? Maybe they’d be best served addressing another need, instead addressing wide receiver in the second round.
Previous Pick – Jaleen Strong – WR – Arizona State
19. Cleveland Browns – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State
They’ve already addressed the WR position earlier in the first round, so they could go a lot of different directions with this pick. Maybe they use it as a way to trade up? If they keep it look for them to address the depth on the defensive front (something that they desperately need).
Previous Pick – Melvin Gordon – RB – Wisconsin
20. Philadelphia Eagles – P.J. Williams – CB – Florida 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.
Previous Pick – Kevin Johnson – CB – Wake Forest
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 – Arik Armstead – DE – Oregon
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 – Malcolm Brown – DT – Texas
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, but under this scenario neither are still on the board. Still, it is such a nee that it’s easy to imagine them addressing the position one way or another.
Previous Pick – La’el Collins – OT – LSU
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 – 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.
Previous Pick – Eli Harold – OLB – Virginia
26. Baltimore Ravens – Maxx Williams – TE – Minnesota
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 give Joe Flacco a potential star at TE, something they certainly can use given the lack of depth of weapons and Steve Smith nearing the end of his career. Williams is arguably the top tight end in the draft and at 6’4” and 250 lbs. he is a matchup nightmare and has the potential to be a special receiver as a TE (29 receptions, 471 yards, 7 TD this past season).
Previous Pick – Marcus Peters – CB – Washington
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 – 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.
31. Seattle Seahawks – Dorial Green-Beckham – WR – Oklahoma
Green-Beckham has the talent to be the best receiver in this class, it’s the off-the-field issues that will send him spiraling down draft boards. Could the Seahawks be willing to take the gamble, though, given their need for a dynamic player on the outside?
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.
Previous Pick – Maxx Williams – TE – Minnesota
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