by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This is our sixth 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. While the addition of Jake Odorick via free agency could change their thinking, the opportunity to transform their defensive front may be too appealing. 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.
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 – Dante Fowler – DE – Florida
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. They’ve addressed some of their other gaping holes via free agency/trades, like remaking their secondary (Darrelle Revis & Antonio Cromartie) and trading for Brandon Marshall. Instead they take one of the rising players in the draft (and one who could rise into the Top 5)
Previous Pick – Amari Cooper – WR – Alabama
7. Chicago Bears – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
Chicago’s offense is fine (even after trading Brandon Marshall), 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 – Dante Fowler – DE – Florida
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.
9. New York Giants – Shane Ray – DE – Missouri
Offensive line… Offensive line… Offensive line… We all know that’s one their need (as is safety), 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. That said, it also wouldn’t be surprising if Landon Collins goes here, if the Giants feel that the value is there.
10. St. Louis Rams – Amari Cooper – WR – Alabama
The Rams need a long-term QB, and maybe the acquisition of Nick Foles helps to solve that problem. They need to improve their offensive line, and there are a few options here, but could they instead look to add the true #1 receiver the team is lacking? With Cooper surprisingly sitting on the board, that allure could become too much for the team to pass up.
Previous Pick – Andrus Peat – OT – Stanford
11. Minnesota Vikings – Ereck Flowers – OT – Miami
You have to think that Minnesota wants to improve the protection for Teddy Bridgewater, especially after adding Mike Wallace to provide him with a top weapon. 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.
12. Cleveland Browns – Vic Beasley – DE/OLB – Clemson
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 (unless Amari Cooper falls a few more spots). Instead they take the top defensive player on the board, as the team needs help on the defensive front.
Previous Pick – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
13. New Orleans Saints – Landon Collins – S – Alabama
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 and the team appears to be undergoing a significant transformation. Gone is Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, among others, while the team has added Max Unger, Dannell Ellerbe, C.J. Spiller and more. The biggest needs appear to be on defense, at least for now, and the team could add either a pass rusher or a safety. Alvin Dupree could be an option, but instead they take the top safety on the board.
Previous Pick – Vic Beasley – DE/OLB – Clemson
14. Miami Dolphins – DeVante Parker – WR – Louisville
Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace continued to struggle to get on the same page on deep passes, which ultimately led to Wallace being traded and the team adding Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron. That gives Tannehill a solid group of options, but adding a potential true #1 receiver should be on the agenda. With Parker sitting on the board, it is hard to imagine the team letting him pass them even with the moves they made.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Alvin Dupree – DE – Kentucky
What exactly can we expect from the 49ers, a team that has undergone a massive overhaul both on the coaching staff and on the roster. They could probably still use a wide receiver, despite adding Torrey Smith, but that may not make the most sense. Instead, following the retirement of Justin Smith and the release of Ray McDonald it makes sense for the team to try to improve their defensive front both for 2015 and beyond.
Previous Pick – La’el Collins – OT – LSU
16. Houston Texans – Andrus Peat – OT – Stanford
The Texans do have a potential need in their secondary, whether it be safety or cornerback. Maybe they grab the top cornerback on their draft board, but they also cut ties with long time top receiver Andre Johnson and now have a gaping hole across from DeAndre Hopkins. There isn’t a clear option available, though they could also use an upgrade at tackle (despite resigning Derek Newton). With a few offensive lineman falling, this seems like a good spot for one of them to land.
Previous Pick – Landon Collins – S – Alabama
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 bolted to Philadelphia, 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 – La’el Collins – OT – LSU
We all know they had a desperate need for WR help, though the addition of Jeremy Maclin helped to alleviate it. That’s not to say that they couldn’t address the position again, because he’s hardly the perfect answer, though they no longer need to force the issue. Instead they try to improve a leaky offensive line, something that they also desperately need to address.
Previous Pick – Jaleen Strong – WR – Arizona State
19. Cleveland Browns – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State
The Browns could use an upgrade on their offense, specifically at WR, but they also need help on the defensive line. Goldman could certainly help them plug up the middle of their line, another area they desperately need to address.
Previous Pick – Alvin Dupree – DE – Kentucky
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Eli Harold – OLB – Virginia
The additions of Byron Maxwell and Walter Thrumond means that cornerback may longer be the top need for the Eagles to address. They could look for a replacement for Jeremy Maclin, but they do have young receivers and that’s an area that can be addressed later on. Instead they will try to find a player who can bring pressure to the quarterback.
Previous Pick – Trae Waynes – CB – Michigan 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 lineman left on the board. Even with the addition of Michael Johnson, there’s enough of a need that this should be an area that they address.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Trae Waynes – CB – Michigan 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 – P.J. Williams – CB – Florida State
23. Detroit Lions – T.J. Clemmings – OT – Pittsburgh
Both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley left via free agency, though the team did add Haloti Ngata to help as a stop gap. They certainly will look to address the position in the draft, but with neither of the top options still on the board it may make more sense for the team to wait. Also in need of help on the offensive line, don’t be surprised if they instead address that at this spot in the draft.
Previous Pick – Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State
24. Arizona Cardinals – P.J. Williams – CB – Florida State
The Cardinals need help at various spots on their defense, but with Antonio Cromartie jetting back to New York and one of the top cornerbacks still on the board that likely makes the most sense.
Previous Pick – Eli Harold – OLB – Virginia
25. Carolina Panthers – D.J. Humphries – OT – Florida
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 – T.J. Clemmings – OT – Pittsburgh
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jaleen Strong – WR – Arizona State
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 departing via free agency and the question as to how much Steve Smith has left (or the lack of explosiveness). This could be a spot for Dorial Green-Beckham, who could be the best receiver in the draft, but they instead take the “safer” route.
Previous Pick – Dorial Green-Beckham – WR – Oklahoma
27. Dallas Cowboys – Malcolm Brown – DT – Texas
While the Cowboys defense wasn’t 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.
Previous Pick – Markus Golden – DE – Missouri
28. Denver Broncos – Maxx Williams – TE – Minnesota
It didn’t seem possible that the Broncos would have to address their offense, did it? However with Julius Thomas heading to Jacksonville the team suddenly has a gaping hole at tight end. Could they look to address the spot with a potentially dynamic option?
Previous Pick – Cameron Irving – OT – Florida State
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 – Eric Kendricks – ILB – UCLA
You can argue if Kendricks or McKinney are the top player at the position, but they both could squeak into the back of the first round given team needs.
Previous Pick – Malcolm Brown – DT – Texas
31. New Orleans Saints – Markus Golden – DE – Missouri
The Saints obtained this pick from Seattle as part of the return for Jimmy Graham. They addressed their need at safety earlier in the draft, so maybe they double dip in the secondary? Maybe they look to replace Kenny Stills? Maybe they look to get more pressure on the quarterback? They really can take this pick in numerous directions.
Previous Pick – Marcus Peters – CB – Washington
32. New England Patriots – Marcus Peters – CB – Washington
The Patriots could look to strengthen their offensive line, but after seeing their secondary get ravaged during free agency that’s clearly a desperate need. Look for them to try and improve their at this point.
Previous Pick – Devin Smith – WR – Ohio State
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