2015 NFL Mock Draft: March 27th Update
With only five weeks to go until the 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago, I will continue to make weekly updates to my 2015 NFL Mock Draft. This update includes an added round (Round 3) and the goal is to mock all seven rounds of the draft.
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With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:
With the Buccaneers releasing Josh McCown earlier this offseason, the Bucs gave us further indication that this pick will be a quarterback. There may be some debate whether it should be Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the two previous Heisman Trophy recipients, but there were reports prior to the combine that Bucs coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota.
Although the increase in interceptions were an issue last year, Winston has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. NFL Network's Steve Mariucci referred to Winston "the most astute X's and O's guy that he's ever put on the board."
Of course, the biggest concern with Winston is the off-the-field issues -- and those concerns are amplified given the nature of the position and this draft slot. It appears that Winston is the clear favorite here, however, provided the team feels comfortable with him as the face of their franchise.
Do the Titans believe in Zach Mettenberger enough to bypass Mariota here? There have been reports out of Nashville that they do, but general manager Ruston Webster said at the combine that they "like Zach," but are "[n]ot committing to anything now." Recently, one general manager told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora: "He's going second overall. I don't know to which team, but he's going second overall."
For now, I will slot Mariota here with Titans keeping this pick. A number of teams, most notably Cleveland and Philadelphia, could be highly interested in trading up with the Titans.
Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.
The top overall prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board, Williams is a scheme-diverse defensive lineman that has the ability to win in a variety of ways at multiple spots along the defensive line. His ability and versatility has generated some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Richard Seymour and the sky is the limit for this 20-year-old defensive lineman.
The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with Derek Carr, last year's second-round pick, but one of their focal points in the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As much as the Raiders front office wanted to bolster their group of pass catchers in free agency, it was a big swing and miss for Oakland's front office.
Adding the top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings would make sense. White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has compared White to Julio Jones. One concern that some had about White prior to the combine was his long speed, but he has eased all concerns after running a blazing 4.35 forty at the combine.
[Related: 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Results.]
Given their leaky pass protection -- only the Jags allowed more sacks last season -- offensive line could be a possibility here. Well, it's certainly a need, but it's questionable whether any of the offensive line prospects are worth a top-five selection.
Although Ryan Kerrigan had a career-high 13.5 sacks last season, 2015 will be a contract year for him. In addition, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo departed via free agency this offseason. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) last season.
The Jets' defensive line is the team's strength and secondary was significantly upgraded in free agency with the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and the addition of Buster Skrine. With both starting outside linebackers (Calvin Pace, who turns 35 this year, and Quinton Coples) due to become free agents after the 2015 season, the Jets should look to add pass-rush depth now.
There were some concerns about Beasley's weight, but he was a rocked-up 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds at the combine without losing a step (4.53 forty) and posting 35 reps at 225 pounds. Not just a workout warrior, Beasley has been one of the nation's most productive pass rushers with a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.
One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed). As they transition to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, they need help on all three levels of their defense. The Bears also lost defensive tackle Stephen Paea in free agency as well.
With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 339), Shelton had 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles despite facing constant double teams last season for the Huskies.
The Falcons really struggled to get to the quarterback over the past couple of seasons. Only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. The Falcons have added some pass-rushers -- Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield -- in free agency, but none of those guys are elite pass-rushers. In other words, their signings this offseason should not rule out adding someone like Ray, who has an explosive first step and was last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.
It's a copy-cat league and the Giants could find themselves copying the success that the Cowboys had last season with the selection of Zack Martin, a college left tackle that moved inside to become an All-Pro guard as a rookie. NFL Network's Mike Mayock made the direct comparison: "When I look at Brandon Scherff, I see a similar example (to current Dallas Cowboys G Zack Martin...). I see a bigger kid with longer arms. That lends you to believe that he could play outside more easily. Again, I believe he can play outside. However, I think his best position, because of his power, his toughness, his football sense, is inside. I think he's an All-Pro guard. But that doesn't mean he can't play tackle in the NFL."
Only the Cardinals (3.3) and Chargers (3.4) averaged fewer yards per carry than the Giants (3.6) and the Giants run-blocking graded out as 26th of 32 by PFF last season. Of 78 qualified guards graded by PFF last season, Weston Richburg and John Jerry graded out as 62nd and 66th, respectively.
On a side note, perhaps it's just me that finds it funny, but Scherff was a 280-pound high school quarterback that had a 190-pound center and as he said, "it should really have been reversed."
Brian Quick was on his way to a breakout season in 2014, but it was cut short to a torn rotator cuff. Perhaps Quick takes that next step forward in 2015, but he is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. The team re-signed Kenny Britt in free agency, but the Rams get a nice value with Cooper, who is my seventh-ranked prospect overall.
As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season. While he may not have as much upside as WVU's White, Cooper is more pro-ready than any receiver in this draft class and a great route-runner.
Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, boosted his stock at the combine by running a 4.31 40-yard dash and putting up 19 reps at 225 pounds and I'm not sure that he'll make out of the top 10 come April 30th. If he's still on the board here, however, Waynes paired with Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikings one of the better young cornerback duos in the league. With at least six games against Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (for now) as well as several top-flight wide receivers in the division, a strong secondary is a virtual necessity for the Vikings to get to the top of the division.
Once again, the Browns will go into the season with a looming full-year suspension for Josh Gordon. Although last year's ban was eventually cut to 10 games, that won't happen this year. The Browns have added Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, but this position unit is still a weakness without Gordon. Plus the team lost tight end Jordan Cameron in free agency as well.
Sidelined for the first seven games of 2014 with a broken foot, the 6-foot-3 Parker finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical" and "has outstanding instincts/ball skills." Parker would become an immediate upgrade over all of their eligible-to-play wide receivers next season.
The Saints have made some shocking moves this offseason as they try to revamp their roster and salary cap. Last season, their defense was atrocious -- second-most yards allowed, fifth-most points allowed and bad against the run (29th) and pass (25th) -- and I wouldn't be surprised if they used both of their first-round picks on that side of the ball.
New Orleans needs to put more pressure on the quarterback as they ranked in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete (4.56 forty, 42-inch vertical, 11-6 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-4, 269). Over the past three seasons, Dupree has a total of 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.
Collins, a second-team 2014 AP All-American, started at left tackle for the Tigers in each of the past two seasons, but he also has starting experience (sophomore season) at left guard as well. As a whole, the Dolphins struggled in both pass and run blocking. Based on grades from PFF, the Dolphins ranked 31st in pass blocking and 27th in run blocking in 2014.
What an offseason it has been in San Francisco! The surprising retirement of linebacker Patrick Willis was followed by an even more surprising retirement of his 24-year-old (and expected) replacement Chris Borland. With NaVorro Bowman returning from a significant knee injury that kept him out all of last season, the 49ers will address the inside linebacker position in the draft. More than likely, however, I'd expect them to address that need in Round 2 or later.
The 49ers have added Darnell Dockett via a two-year deal, but he turns 34 in May and Justin Smith may retire this offseason. Described by an NFL general manager as "a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak," Armstead was a two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at Oregon and possesses excellent footwork and agility and can be Smith's long-term replacement.
The Texans re-signed two starters -- cornerback Kareem Jackson and right tackle Derek Newton -- and added free agents at other positions of need -- nose tackle Vince Wilfork and safety Rahim Moore. Although the Texans have signed Cecil Shorts after releasing Andre Johnson, who signed with the Colts, there isn't much depth beyond DeAndre Hopkins and Shorts, who has consistently struggled with durability.
Off-the-field issues led to his dismissal from Mizzou (and subsequent transfer to Oklahoma), but Green-Beckham may have as much physical talent as any receiver in this year's draft class. One AFC scout told NFL Network's Albert Breer that DGB is "... special. He's gigantic; he has tremendous body control, balance; he runs like a deer and can leap out of the gym and high-point the ball. He's special. It's impressive. If not for all that stuff [off the field], he'd be the best receiver to come out since Calvin Johnson."
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