March 27, 2015

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.

[Follow @EDSFootball for updates.]

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

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.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

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.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

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.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

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.]

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

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.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

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.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

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.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

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.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

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."

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

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.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

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.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

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.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

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.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): La'el Collins, G/T, LSU

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.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

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.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

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."

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2
-> Continue to Round 3

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March 25, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Post-Free Agency Update

From 1952 to 2013, there were only 16 rookie wide receivers that eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

For the first time in league history, however, there were three of them in 2014 -- Odell Beckham (1,305), Mike Evans (1,051) and Kelvin Benjamin (1,008). In addition, Buffalo's Sammy Watkins came very close (982).

Last year's five first-round wide receivers wasn't a record, but it was a five-year high. There is a strong chance that we see five or more wide receivers selected in the first round of this year's NFL Draft.

In my current 2015 NFL Mock Draft, I have five slotted in the first round -- Kevin White, Amari Cooper, DeVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham and Jaelen Strong. Beyond those receivers, there are others, such as Breshad Perriman, Devin Smith, Sammie Coates, etc., that could land in the first round as well.

Here are my post-free agency fantasy football wide receiver rankings for 2015:

1. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

In 16 games this season, Brown never finished as the highest-scoring fantasy wide receiver in any given week. (In fact, that applies to both standard- and PPR-scoring formats.) That's a surprise given that no wide receiver had more fantasy points over the course of the season -- in either format -- than Brown.

Over the past two seasons, Brown has a combined 239 receptions for 3,197 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also has 17 rushing yards and two return touchdowns. More impressive than his overall level of production, however, is his consistency. Brown had at least five receptions and 70 yards in all 17 games (counting their playoff loss) last season. Going back to the start of 2013, Brown has at least five catches and 50 yards in all 33 games.

One of the sayings that you'll often hear in fantasy football is that you can't win your league in the first round, but you can lose it. With Brown's production and consistency, there isn't a safer pick among wide receivers.

2. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos

Despite his slow start, Thomas finished the season strong. Going over 100 yards in 10 of his final 13 games, Thomas finished with a full-season stat line of 111 catches and 1,619 yards, both of which were career highs, and 11 touchdowns.

With the Broncos using their franchise tag on Thomas (in hopes of finalizing a long-term deal prior to the July 15th deadline) and Peyton Manning returning for at least one more season, another year of 90-plus receptions, 1,400-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns is a strong possibility.

3. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Even though he was targeted only 136 times, a three-year low, Bryant finished with 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and a career-high and league-leading 16 touchdowns. Even with the team's new-found commitment to the ground game (although DeMarco Murray signed with the Eagles in free agency), Dez has at least 88 catches, 1,233 yards and 12 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. And aside from Marshawn Lynch, Bryant is the only other player with at least 50 total touchdowns over the past four seasons.

Like Thomas, the Cowboys used their franchise tag on Bryant. Compared to Thomas and the Broncos, however, the Cowboys and Bryant appear less likely to find common ground on a long-term deal prior to the July 15th cutoff.

4. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

Including playoff appearances, Megatron has more 200-yard games (six) than any other receiver in league history. And while he still has as much potential as any receiver to take over a given game, he has battled some injuries over the past couple of seasons and missed a total of five games in 2013 and 2014. Johnson also appeared in a few games as a decoy, which is even worse for fantasy owners than missed games. Megatron has five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and he has averaged a stat line of 90/1,467/11 during that span.

5. Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants

From Week 9 through the end of the season, Beckham was simply unstoppable. Not only was he consistent (90-plus yards in all nine of those games), but his nine-game stat line of 81/1,199/9 on 115 targets was better than the full-season production of most receivers. There were only 11 receivers not named Odell that had more than 1,199 yards over the full season. And as impressive as that sounds, he was especially dominant during that span over his final four games -- 43/606/7 on 63 targets.

While ODB is far from being the biggest receiver, his combination of hands, route-running ability, speed and elusiveness makes him nearly impossible to cover especially in today's age of offense-friendly rules. If there is any concern, it's the return of Victor Cruz, who missed the final 10 regular-season games, but ODB should be in the discussion to be the first receiver off the board on draft day.

6. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

With 21 catches for 448 yards and a pair of touchdowns over a two-game stretch late last season, Jones showed how dominant he can be. On the season, Jones finished with 104 catches for 1,593 yards, both of which shattered his previous career highs, and six touchdowns. Given his size and speed and the fact that he had 18 touchdowns in his first two seasons, I would expect closer to double-digit touchdowns in addition to a similar line of receptions and yards in 2015 with good health.

7. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

Not only is wide receiver deep, it's deep with elite wide receivers. The only receiver to score more fantasy points than Nelson last season was Brown. While Nelson is far from a lock to finish as a top-two producer at the position once again, he's certainly one of a group of eight wideouts that has the talent and opportunity to do so.

8. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Injuries kept Green from building upon his 98/1,426/11 campaign in 2013, but he extended his streak of 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career to four. Only Megatron (6,214), Brown (5,092) and Demaryius (5,034) have more yards during that four-year span than Green (4,874). With good health, Green is a good bet for at least 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns in 2015 and someone that I'd love to settle for as the eighth wide receiver off the board (in drafts where my top-seven wide receivers are off the board before him).

9. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears

With the Bears trading Brandon Marshall to the Jets, Jeffery's outlook for both targets and production is on the rise. That said, he finished with the 11th-most fantasy points among wide receivers last year. Even though his receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,133) were down year over year, Jeffery set a career high in touchdowns (10) last season.

10. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

Set to turn 25 in August, Cobb re-signed with the Packers prior to the official start of NFL free agency. Of course, playing in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense helps to maximize his fantasy value going forward. Cobb finished the season with 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, all of which set career highs, but I would be surprised if he scored 12 touchdowns again in 2015.

-> View Full 2015 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

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2015 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Post-Free Agency Update

The two-year drought of no first-round running backs should end on April 30th, the date for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

While the draft features two running backs at the top -- Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon -- that should be selected in the first round, the position group is one of the deepest we've seen in a while with Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman and more expected to go in the second round.

Although I have yet to include rookies in my 2015 fantasy football rankings, their landing spots will not only impact their outlooks and those of the running backs already on the rosters they join.

With that said, here are my post-free agency fantasy football running back rankings for 2015:

1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell's production spiked across the board -- 1,361 rushing yards, 83 receptions for 854 yards and 11 total touchdowns -- in his second season as he was named to the 2014 AP First-Team All-Pro Team. Bell finished second to only DeMarco Murray in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage (2,215) and the two backs were tied for the most games with at least 100 YFS (13).

Whether the Steelers have the lead (and want to use the clock) or trail and need to throw, Bell's versatility makes him a true three-down back and his production won't vary much based on game flow. If there is one concern heading into 2015, however, it's the 15 months of probation Bell received from his August arrest for DUI and marijuana. There have been reports that Bell could face a league-imposed suspension of "up to four games."

Provided Bell is suspended for only two games or less, I'd keep him at the top spot. If he is suspended for four games, however, I'd bump him down a few spots. Stay tuned ...

2. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

While it was a relatively disappointing season for Charles, selected first or second in most leagues last season, he still finished as the seventh-highest scoring fantasy running back in 2014. The 28-year-old back rushed for 1,033 yards, his fifth 1,000-yard season, and added 40 catches for 291 yards while scoring a total of 14 touchdowns.

Despite a year-over-year decline in all of those numbers, the biggest concern was the reduction in his workload. After 320 touches in 2012, Charles had 329 touches in Andy Reid's first season as head coach in 2013. Last year, however, Charles had just 246 touches -- 15 running backs had more. Perhaps we won't see Charles get in the 320-range ever again, but it would be a surprise to see him as low as 246 again this season.

3. Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

Starting slowly and worrying those that did not heed the general advice of Aaron Rodgers ("R-E-L-A-X"), Lacy carries plenty of positive momentum into Year 3. Lacy faced three elite rush defenses (SEA, NYJ and DET) in the first three weeks of the season, but only Murray and Bell scored more fantasy points than he did from Weeks 4 to 17. Over the final 13 games of the season, Lacy averaged 18.92 touches for 108.85 YFS per game and scored a total of 13 touchdowns.

The benefit of playing with the league's best quarterback means that defenses are less likely to stack the box to slow down Lacy. After averaging 4.15 yards per carry as a rookie, Lacy averaged 4.63 YPC last season (4.89 YPC over final 13 games).

4. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Over the past 12 months, there was plenty of speculation about Lynch's status for the 2015 season, but the Seahawks and Lynch have agreed to a new deal. Playing four full seasons in Seattle, Lynch has rushed for 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns in all four seasons. During that four-year span, no running back has more rushing yards (5,357) or rushing touchdowns (48) and no player has more total touchdowns (56).

Beast Mode has shown no signs of slowing down, but his physical running style (granted, he seems to dish out more punishment than he receives), heavy workload (league-high 1,479 regular-season and playoff touches over that four-year span) and age (turns 29 in April) is at least somewhat concerning. In fact, Lynch has compressed cartilage in his back that at least was part of his consideration on a potential retirement. That said, Lynch seems to be a lock for another 1,200 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns in one of the league's most run-dominant offenses.

5. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills

The good news first -- McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards, third-most in the NFL behind Murray and Bell, and he was one of only two backs to get 300-plus carries. That said, McCoy barely finished as a top-12 fantasy running back as he scored only 0.5 fantasy points more than Washington's Alfred Morris (RB13). In addition, McCoy averaged nearly a yard per carry less in 2014 than 2013 while also seeing his receptions (52 in 2013) and touchdowns (11 in 2013) drop roughly in half to 28 and five, respectively.

When it comes to the offensive skill positions, the Bills have revamped themselves by trading for McCoy while also signing wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Charles Clay. The addition of Harvin and Clay to a group of pass-catchers that already includes second-year receiver Sammy Watkins should help keep opposing defenses from stacking the box, but Rex Ryan won't move away from his preferred ground-and-pound approach, especially given the limitations at quarterback.

6. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears

Not only did Forte lead all running backs in receptions (102) last year, but only three players had more than him -- Antonio Brown (129), Demaryius Thomas (111) and Julio Jones (104) -- and he broke the record for receptions by a running back. With the coaching change, Forte isn't likely to see anywhere close to triple-digit receptions again, but he could certainly finish with around 70 catches. While Forte averaged less than four yards per carry for the first time since 2009, he has rushed for 1,000-plus yards in three consecutive seasons and has at least 929 rushing yards in all seven of his NFL seasons. Only the Raiders (337) and Bucs (353) ran the ball less than the Bears (355) last season and I'd expect the Bears to be more committed to the run in 2015.

7. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

Quick question: What team led the NFL in rushing attempts? (Perhaps the placement of this question gave the answer away, but you'd be correct if you said the Houston Texans.)

With Foster, who turns 29 in August, it boils down to his health. Although Foster missed three games in 2014, he averaged 95.8 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry, both of which were four-year highs, and he scored double-digit touchdowns (13). Foster had at least 23 touches in 10 of his 13 games last season.

Finishing as a top-five fantasy scorer at running back last season, Foster finished as a top-12 fantasy running back in 10 of 13 weeks last season including a nine-game streak from Weeks 5 to 16 (he missed two games and Houston had their bye during that stretch, though).

8. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Fortunately for Murray, he landed in a free-agent destination with one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. Some of the other potential landing spots, like Oakland and Jacksonville, would have really damaged his fantasy value. Not only would it be a more significant offensive line downgrade, but those are the two teams that ranked last in scoring offense last season. Opportunities in the red zone would have been dramatically reduced for Murray.

Murray has always been productive on a per-game, per-touch basis. Before last season's career year, Murray averaged 4.95 yards per carry in his first three seasons combined. The issue with Murray (before 2014) was durability as he missed multiple games in each of those three seasons. With a total of 497 touches including the playoffs last year, durability will be Murray's biggest concern in 2015 as well. Even though the team added another talented (and injury-prone) running back (Ryan Mathews) in free agency, I'd expect Murray to still get roughly 20 touches per game, when healthy.

9. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards back in 2012 and is one of the league's all-time best running backs. After last year's lost season, it's unclear where he will play in 2015. The Vikings have no intentions of releasing him, but it appears there is still a strong chance that he plays somewhere else with Arizona being one of the potential landing spots. This ranking may be a little low for someone with Peterson's talent, but he could settle higher in my rankings as the season approaches once we have more clarity on his 2015 status.

10. Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Over the final nine games of the season, Hill had 22-plus carries and 100-plus rushing yards in five games including the final three of the regular season. During that nine-game span, Hill had 172 carries for 929 yards and six touchdowns and no running back had more rushing yards than Hill during that stretch. (Lynch was second with 824 yards.)

For part of that stretch, Giovani Bernard was sidelined, but Bernard was healthy from Week 12 through the end of the season. Going into the 2015 season, Hill is clearly the team's lead back with Bernard as the change-of-pace option.

-> Full 2015 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

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2015 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Post-Free Agency Update

It was the first time in a decade that it didn't happen.

Three of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation -- Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees -- all finished outside the top-three fantasy quarterbacks in 2014. From 2005 to 2013, at least one of those three quarterbacks had finished as a top-three fantasy quarterback every season.

Could that happen for a second year in a row? Based on my rankings, my answer is yes even though all three are solid QB1 types heading into the 2015 season.

With that said, here are my post-free agency fantasy football quarterback rankings for 2015:

1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

The best quarterback in (real) football and reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, Rodgers was also the top-scoring fantasy quarterback as well. Becoming Green Bay's starting quarterback seven years ago, Rodgers has finished as either the No. 1 or No. 2 fantasy quarterback in six of those seven seasons with the lone exception being his injury-shortened (broken clavicle) 2013 campaign.

In his past four seasons, Rodgers has compiled a combined 139:25 TD-to-INT ratio with an average of 8.5 yards per attempt, 112.6 passer rating and 67.0 completion percentage. And although he hasn't rushed for 300-plus yards with four-plus touchdowns since 2010, Rodgers still is good for 250 yards and a couple of scores on the ground.

Earlier in the month, it appeared as though the team would lose wide receiver Randall Cobb and/or right tackle Bryan Bulaga in free agency, but they were able to retain both. Therefore, the Packers return all 11 starters on offense in 2015.

2. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Throwing for 4,761 yards and a league-leading 40 touchdowns, both of which were career highs, Luck's 40 TDs last season nearly equalled his total from his first two seasons combined (46 TDs). As T.Y. Hilton battled a hamstring injury over the final three games of the season, that coincided with Luck throwing for less than 200 yards in the final three regular-season games of the season. Otherwise, he was on pace for 5,000 yards for nearly the entire year. Earlier in the season, however, Luck had the second-longest streak of 300-yard games (eight) in NFL history. Only Drew Brees (nine games, twice) has ever had a longer streak.

Like with Rodgers, Luck gets a boost from his mobility and he rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns last year. Luck has rushed 62-64 times in all three seasons with at least 255 yards each year and a total of 12 touchdowns.

It wouldn't surprise me if Luck finishes as the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback in 2015, but either way, he and Rodgers are close and alone in the top tier of fantasy quarterback options for 2015.

3. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Rodgers. Luck. That's it.

That's the list of quarterbacks that scored more fantasy points than Wilson last season. Of course, the primary reason behind Wilson's fantasy production was his rushing stats with 849 yards and six touchdowns, both of which were career highs, and he even had three 100-yard rushing games this season. It may be unrealistic to expect 800-plus rushing yards again, but he has at least 489 rushing yards in all three of his seasons and should rush for 500 yards (or more) in 2015.

While his passing numbers haven't been gaudy in Seattle's run-first offense, Wilson has thrown at least 20 touchdowns with 10 or fewer interceptions in all three of his NFL seasons. Not only is Wilson the only quarterback to do that in each of his first three NFL seasons, he's the only one in NFL history to do that more than once over that span, per Pro Football Reference.

The volume of pass attempts may not jump a ton in 2015, but the Seahawks pulled off a blockbuster trade for tight end Jimmy Graham and he significantly boosts the team's weapons in the passing game. Graham (51 TDs) is one of only four players with 50-plus touchdowns since 2010, Graham's rookie season.

4. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

With a slow finish to the season, Manning finished the year as the QB4 (312.68 fantasy points) behind Rodgers (354.14), Luck (350.74) and Wilson (327.6). In the first 11 games of the season, Manning averaged 23.96 fantasy points per game (323.45 YPG, 34 TDs and nine INTs). In the final five games of the season, he averaged 9.83 FPPG (233.8 YPG, five TDs and six INTs) and never scored more than 13.02 fantasy points in any of those games. Part of that decline had to do with his thigh injury, but the question remains, how big of a part for the 39-year-old Manning?

5. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

To say Brady got off to a slow start last season would be an understatement as he averaged just 197.75 yards per game with a total of four touchdowns and two interceptions over the first four weeks of the season. From that point on, however, things clicked as only Peyton (31) threw more touchdowns than Brady (29) from Weeks 5 to 17. Provided that Rob Gronkowski remains healthy for the full season, Brady could post a top-five season in 2015.

6. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

It was a down year for Newton, but he dealt with numerous injuries throughout the season and missed two games. That said, Newton has exceeded 3,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards in all four of his NFL seasons. Over those four seasons, he has averaged 3,606 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns per season as well as 643 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Despite the down year, Newton finished seventh in fantasy points per game (17.78) among QBs.

7. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

After three consecutive 5,000-yard seasons, Brees fell short of that mark with 4,952 yards in 2014 and he threw (only) 33 touchdowns, which ties a seven-year low. For the first time since signing with the Saints in 2006, Brees finished outside the top-five fantasy quarterbacks (sixth) in 2014. Brees has thrown at least 650 pass attempts in five consecutive seasons and he led the league in pass attempts per game (41.2) last season, but a transition to a more run-based offense has begun in earnest.

Not only did the Saints trade Graham to the Seahawks (and get one of the league's best run-blocking centers in return), but they traded away Kenny Stills, the team leader in receiving yards last season. In addition to Mark Ingram, they signed C.J. Spiller in free agency and have a three-headed rushing attack with Ingram, Spiller and Khiry Robinson.

8. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Based on 2014 average draft position (ADP), Roethlisberger was one of the biggest values last season. Only four quarterbacks scored more fantasy points than Roethlisberger -- Rodgers, Luck, Wilson and Peyton. Big Ben threw for a career-high 4,952 yards, which tied Drew Brees last season for the league lead, and 32 touchdowns, which tied a previous career high. Admittedly, it wouldn't surprise me if he exceeded my ranking once again.

9. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Over his past five seasons, Ryan has finished as a top-eight fantasy quarterback in four of them. During that same span, he has never finished as a top-six fantasy quarterback. Although he's not a quarterback I typically target, he's a solid option to settle on later in drafts. Ryan has more than 4,500 passing yards in three consecutive seasons and 26-plus touchdowns in five straight.

10. Eli Manning, New York Giants

In the first six games of the season, Eli finished outside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks in all but one game. Beginning with Odell Beckham's third NFL game (Week 7), Manning finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback in five of his final 10 games last season. (And a sixth game was inside the weekly top 10.) With a full season of ODB, the return of Victor Cruz, the free-agent addition of one of the league's better receiving backs (Shane Vereen) and more comfort and familiarity with Ben McAdoo's offense, Eli has the potential to post career numbers in 2015.

11. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

No quarterback underachieved expectations more last season than Stafford, who finished as the QB15 in 2014. Even with the free-agent signing and breakout season from Golden Tate (99/1,331/4), Stafford threw for only 4,247 yards, a four-year low, and 22 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. With better health from Calvin Johnson, who missed a few games and was a decoy in others, Stafford should post better numbers in 2015.

12. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Over his past three seasons, Romo's pass attempts have dropped from 648 (2012) to 535 (2013) to 435 (2014). Despite the drop in volume, Romo threw 34 touchdowns, the most for him since 2007, with only nine interceptions, a four-year low. In addition, Romo led the league in Y/A (8.5), completion percentage (69.9), touchdown percentage (7.8) and passer rating (113.2) last year. Assuming the team stays committed to the run game without DeMarco Murray, who signed a free-agent deal with the Eagles, Romo's upside is somewhat limited if he throws in that 450-attempt range again this year. Despite his career year in efficiency, Romo finished just outside the top-10 fantasy quarterbacks last season.

13. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill posted career highs in passing yards (4,045), passing touchdowns (27) and completion percentage (66.4) with a career low in interceptions (12) in his first year playing for new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. In addition, he rushed for a career-high 311 yards, which ranked fifth among all quarterbacks last season. Starting in Week 6, Tannehill finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of 11 weeks.

There has been some turnover among pass-catchers -- Kenny Stills replaces Mike Wallace, Jordan Cameron replaces Charles Clay and both Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson were released. That said, Tannehill has plenty of upside for those that wait on quarterback in 2015.

14. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

Winning the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2013, Rivers followed up his bounce-back season with 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns but he also threw 18 interceptions. Dealing with a back injury, Rivers threw seven of those interceptions in the final three games of the season. Fortunately Rivers won't have to have back surgery this offseason and he should be a relatively safe bet for 4,000-plus yards and around 30 touchdowns once again in 2015.

15. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

It was mostly a lost season for Palmer, who missed a total of 10 games with significant injuries, but he actually finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in terms of fantasy points per game (17.26) last season. Provided he stays healthy, Palmer is a high-end backup fantasy quarterback in Bruce Arians' vertical passing attack with Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown forming a strong trio of receivers.

16. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

Kaepernick averaged fewer yards per attempt (7.0), threw fewer touchdowns (19) and more interceptions (10) than he did in 2013 (7.7 Y/A, 21 TDs and eight INTs) despite throwing more pass attempts (478 in 2014 vs. 416 in 2013). Given the changes to the roster and coaching staff, the 49ers should find themselves trailing (and throwing) more often in 2015. (Based on Super Bowl 50 odds from sportsbook.ag, only seven teams are longer shots than the 49ers to win the Super Bowl.)

Not only did he set a career high in pass attempts, but Kaep also set career highs in rush attempts (105) and rushing yards (639). After rushing for nine scores in 2012 and 2013 combined, however, he rushed for only one touchdown last year. Despite that dip, Kaepernick still finished as a top-16 fantasy quarterback last year.

17. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles

Per usual, there will be uncertainty about Bradford's season-long outlook. In five NFL seasons since being drafted first overall by the Rams, Bradford has played a total of 49 games -- and only seven of 32 games in the past two years. In addition, the Eagles have traded for Bradford, but he's not a lock to remain on the roster. ESPN's Adam Caplan confirmed that the Browns had offered the 19th overall pick in the draft for Bradford and it wouldn't surprise me if he's part of a package deal that helps Kelly get Marcus Mariota. If, a big if, Bradford starts 16 games for the Eagles, however, he has the potential to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in 2015.

18. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Benched a game in favor of Jimmy Clausen, Cutler played only 15 games and led the league in multi-interception games (seven) last season. Despite the massive contract given to Cutler from the last regime in the previous offseason, he's clearly not in the team's long-term plans and could have a short leash if he doesn't cut down on the turnovers. Per CSN Chicago, the plan is to "take some things away from Cutler and shrink the game for him," which will hopefully cut down on his interception rate.

19. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

Benched in the final three games of the 2013 season, the Shanahans wanted RG3 to be healthy for the offseason. While he did have a healthy 2014 offseason, little was healthy about Griffin in the regular season. Not only did he miss time due to injury, but he was benched by new coach Jay Gruden, who also called him out publicly in a press conference. In response to a recent mailbag question, ESPN's John Keim responded, "If it were up to the coach, Griffin would be gone."

In his nine games last season, Griffin threw only four touchdowns and six interceptions. He also averaged only 19.6 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry, both of which were career lows. Griffin's fantasy upside is derived largely from his rushing ability, but he has just one rushing touchdown in 22 games over the past two seasons. Plus, the rushing attempts exposes him to greater injury risk.

20. Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams

Two seasons ago, Foles had a breakout season (27:2 TD-to-INT ratio and 9.1 Y/A in 13 games) and Chip Kelly said he would be the team's quarterback for the "next 1,000 years." After a disappointing half-season prior to breaking his collarbone, the 1,000 years are up and Kelly has traded him to the Rams. The transition to the Rams is a downgrade on a number of fronts -- leakier offensive line, lesser talent at skill positions (compared to 2013/2014 Eagles) and tougher pass defenses in NFC West compared to NFC East.

Here are the best of the rest:

21. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
22. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
23. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
24. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
25. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
26. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
27. Matt Cassel, Buffalo Bills
28. Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns
29. Ryan Mallett, Houston Texans
30. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans

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March 19, 2015

Dwayne Bowe, Browns agree to free-agent deal

The Cleveland Browns and free-agent wide receiver Dwayne Bowe have agreed to a two-year deal, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

After the Chiefs agreed to a five-year deal with Jeremy Maclin, they released Bowe, but they would have likely released him for salary-cap reasons either way.

Along with all other Chiefs receivers last season, Bowe had zero touchdowns and finished the season with only 60 receptions for 754 yards. Bowe now has 801 yards or less in three consecutive seasons after back-to-back 1,100-yard campaigns in 2010 and 2011.

Part of Bowe's lack of production can be attributed to the Alex Smith's struggles and reluctance to throw the ball downfield, but catching passes thrown from Josh McCown (or Johnny Manziel) won't significantly elevate his level of production.

With Josh Gordon's looming full-year suspension, the additions of Brian Hartline and Bowe in free agency are a step towards improving the receiving corps. But as I project in my 2015 NFL mock draft, I'd expect the Browns to add a wide receiver early in the draft. (Then again, that seemed like a virtual certainty last year as well.)

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency Update

More than a week into the new NFL league year (and free-agency period), nearly all of the top free agents have found new homes (or returned to their existing homes). While teams will continue to make moves, we have a fairly clear idea of what teams have what needs going into the 2015 NFL Draft.

This update of my 2015 NFL Mock Draft will include the first two rounds of the draft, but my goal is to add the other five rounds to this mock before April 30th in future updates.

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

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 before 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.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Personally, I think the Titans should take Mariota here. When it comes to what they will do, which is what I'm trying to project, I'm torn. In many previous versions of my mock including my previous update, I've slotted the reigning Heisman Trophy winner here. While they appear to be comfortable in giving second-year quarterback Zach Mettenberger more time to prove that he's the answer, the team's general manager Ruston Webster said at the combine that the team is "not in a position to commit to anything."

With the team re-signing Derrick Morgan and added Brian Orakpo in free agency, I do not expect them to use the No. 2 selection on one of the top edge guys. 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.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

The Jaguars allowed a league-high 71 sacks last season and although offensive line may be their biggest need, there isn't an offensive lineman worthy of a top-three pick in this draft. Especially considering they will have to face Andrew Luck for the next decade or so, it would make sense to add someone like Gregory, who has the athleticism and length to potentially develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

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.]

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

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. Another position group in need of major upgrades is the secondary and Michigan State's Trae Waynes could be in play here as well.

As noted earlier, Orakpo signed with the Titans in free agency. Meanwile, Ryan Kerrigan had a career-high 13.5 sacks last season, but 2015 will be a contract year for him. 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.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

If Mariota slips past the first two picks, it will be interesting to see if Chip Kelly and the Eagles make a move to to take Mariota. If he's still on the board at this spot, the Jets should be thrilled.

The transition to a new coaching staff and front office is often followed by a transition to a new quarterback. With new head coach Todd Bowles referring to incumbent Geno Smith as a "great college quarterback," it was far from a ringing endorsement for Smith, who has a career 25:34 TD-to-INT ratio.

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.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

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.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

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 should not rule out adding someone like Beasley here.

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.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Giants used their franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who bounced back and recorded 12.5 sacks after a career-low 2.0 in 2013. While the Giants and JPP have until July 15th to work out a long-term deal, they could find themselves in the same situation next offseason as Ralph Vacchiano of the NY Daily News tweeted that the Giants are "not afraid" to let him play on his franchise tag.

Past successful Giants teams have thrived with a dynamic pass rush so adding another pass-rusher like Ray would make some sense even if Pierre-Paul is inked to a long-term deal. Albeit a bit undersized for defensive end at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Ray 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.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

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 as pro-ready as any receiver in this draft class and a great route-runner.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Common selections in previous updates of my mock draft were Iowa's Brandon Scherff and Louisville's DeVante Parker and I think both would still make sense here. That said, Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, really 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.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

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 maybe they'll add another free-agent receiver), but this position unit is still in the bottom quarter of the league without Gordon. Plus the team lost tight end Jordan Cameron in free agency as well.

A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of 2014, but the 6-foot-3 wideout 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 & has outstanding instincts/ball skills." Parker would become an immediate upgrade over all of their eligible-to-play wide receivers next season.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

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 ranked in the bottom eight in sacks (34) and there is a significant drop from Dupree and the next available pass-rusher. 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.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

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. Scherff played left tackle at Iowa and while he could play tackle at the next level, he may be better at guard and starting guard Daryn Colledge is a free agent. Either way, Colledge graded out as the 74th of 78 qualified guards last season.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

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 (expected) replacement Chris Borland. Plus, NaVorro Bowman is coming off a significant knee injury that kept him out all of last season. I think they will address the inside linebacker position in the draft, but not with the 15th overall pick.

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.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

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 behind them and Shorts has consistently struggled with durability.

Off-the-field issues led to his dismissal from Mizzou (and subsequent transfer to Oklahoma), but Green-Beckham has 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."

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2

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Dolphins won't match Bills offer sheet for Charles Clay

The Buffalo Bills continue to re-make their offense by adding talented skill-position players for new quarterback Matt Cassel.

With the Miami Dolphins using their transition tag on tight end Charles Clay, they had until Sunday at midnight to decide whether to match the Bills offer sheet for Clay or not.

Per Amando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins won't match the offer sheet.

Free-agent running back C.J. Spiller signed with the Saints and the team released tight end Scott Chandler, who has signed with the Patriots, but they have added (via trade or free agency) LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin and now Clay this month. Of course, last season they traded up to fourth overall to select Sammy Watkins.

Clay's numbers dropped in 2014 (58/605/3) compared to 2013 (69/759/6), but he got off to a slow start -- average of 3.4 receptions for 29.2 yards in the first five games of the season. Beginning in Week 7, however, Clay averaged 4.56 catches for 51.0 yards per game and scored all three of his touchdowns. From Week 7 to 17, Clay ranked fifth among tight ends in fantasy points per game (7.1).

Meanwhile, Miami's group of pass-catchers will look quite different as they have signed tight end Jordan Cameron in free agency, traded for Kenny Stills, which led to a trade of Mike Wallace to Minnesota and they hosted free-agent receiver Michael Crabtree on Wednesday.

March 13, 2015

Darren McFadden, Cowboys agree to two-year deal

The Dallas Cowboys are unlikely to replace the loss of star running back DeMarco Murray, who signed with the Eagles yesterday, with just one back.

One of the players they hope to fill part of the void is ex-Raiders running back Darren McFadden, who has agreed to a two-year deal with the team, per Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Since being the fourth overall pick by the Raiders in the 2008 NFL Draft, McFadden has underwhelmed as a pro.

Durability has been a huge issue with McFadden, who played a full 16-game season for the first time last year but missed at least three games in each of his first six seasons.

Over his first four seasons, McFadden was highly productive on a per-touch basis with an average of 4.75 yards per carry from 2008 to 2011. Among RBs with at least 400 carries over that four-year span, McFadden's 4.75 YPC average ranked eighth in the NFL. Over each of the past three seasons, however, McFadden has averaged 3.4 YPC or less each season.

At this point, the Cowboys could add another running back via free agency, but I'd also expect them to consider adding a running back on Day 1 or Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft. Fortunately, it's one of the deepest running back classes in recent memory.

March 12, 2015

Jordan Cameron signs with Dolphins -- not Browns

Earlier tonight, it was reported that the Cleveland Browns and tight end Jordan Cameron agreed to a two-year deal.

Instead of signing with the Browns, however, Cameron has signed a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins, who have announced that the signing is official.

Of course, Cameron dealt with a less-than-ideal quarterback situation in Cleveland, but he said that Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was "a big part" of his decision.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have not pulled their transition tender on tight end Charles Clay, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Cameron is an athletic mismatch at tight end and had a breakout season in 2013 with 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. That said, durability (specifically concussions) is a concern for Cameron, who played only 10 games in 2014 and posted a stat line of only 24/424/2.

Chiefs part ways with Dwayne Bowe

When the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a five-year deal with Jeremy Maclin, it was all but certain that the team would part ways with Dwayne Bowe.

And they have as the team announced today.

Bowe had 60 receptions for 754 yards and no touchdowns last season. To be fair, no Chiefs receivers had a touchdown last season.

Back in 2010, Bowe actually led the NFL in touchdown receptions (15), but he has had less than that over the past four years combined (13). Since back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons in 2010 and 2011, Bowe has had 801 yards or less in three consecutive seasons and has averaged just 742.67 per season during that stretch.

That said, part of the blame can be attributed to the team's offense and Alex Smith's inability to push the ball downfield. Bowe is the third-best available free-agent wide receiver behind Percy Harvin and Michael Crabtree.

Browns re-sign TE Jordan Cameron to two-year deal

The Cleveland Browns have re-signed tight end Jordan Cameron to a two-year deal worth $15 million, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

After Julius Thomas signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cameron was the top available free-agent tight end on the market.

Cameron is an athletic mismatch at tight end and had a breakout season in 2013 with 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns.

That said, durability (specifically concussions) is a concern for Cameron, who played only 10 games in 2014 and posted a stat line of only 24/424/2.

It's unclear whether Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel or someone else will be under center in Week 1, but the Browns ranked last in the NFL last year with only 12 passing touchdowns.

Given the suspension (again) of Josh Gordon, the Browns really lacked weapons in the passing game with Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins projected as the team's starting wide receivers in 2015.

[UPDATE: Cameron agreed to a deal with the Browns, but he did not sign the contract. He has officially signed with the Dolphins, instead.]

Justin Forsett re-signs with the Ravens on three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens and running back Justin Forsett have agreed to a three-year contract, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Forsett was one of the league's biggest surprises last season with a breakout campaign of 1,266 rushing yards, fifth-most in the NFL, and eight touchdowns. In addition, his average of 5.4 yards per carry led all running backs last season.

Although he turns 30 in October, Forsett had only 347 carries before last season.

"He doesn’t have the wear and tear, and Justin did a very good job of coming in, competing and then being our bell cow," general manager Ozzie Newsome said during a recent news conference. "We would like to retain Justin, but I’ve learned something since the end of the season about Justin that I didn’t really know. He has mentored some very good, young backs, starting with Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew when he was in Jacksonville. Having Justin here, and with the opportunity also bringing in hopefully another young running back, to have Justin be around that guy would be an asset also. So, we will work to try to retain Justin."

Second-year back Lorenzo Taliaferro should see an expanded role and it's possible that the Ravens use an early-round pick on a back as well. Bernard Pierce has been a disappointment over each of the past two seasons and his roster spot could be in jeopardy depending on what happens in the draft.

Forsett won't finish as a top-eight fantasy running back once again, but it's likely that he improves upon his 44/263 receiving numbers under new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

Report: DeMarco Murray expected to sign with Eagles

A little more than a week ago, the Philadelphia Eagles traded running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Since that trade, the Eagles have agreed to deals with Frank Gore, who has instead signed with the Colts, and Ryan Mathews, who has yet to sign his contract.

And with today's news, it's more than likely that Mathews never plays a snap (signs his contract) in Philadelphia.

The leading rusher in the NFL last season, Murray rushed for a franchise-record 1,845 yards on a league-high 392 carries and scored 13 touchdowns. Adding career highs in receptions (57) and receiving yards (416), Murray also led the NFL in yards from scrimmage (2,261).

Both the Cowboys and Eagles have great run-blocking offensive lines so there isn't much of a downgrade, if any, from that standpoint. The obvious big concern with Murray is his durability as he had never played a full 16-game season before last year. In addition, Murray accumulated a massive 497-touch workload counting two playoff games last year.

With Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams on the depth chart, the Cowboys will look to upgrade the position via free agent, NFL Draft and/or trade.

[Update: Eagles will give Murray five-year deal worth $42 million (with $21 million guaranteed).]

March 11, 2015

Andre Johnson signs three-year with Colts

Released by the Houston Texans a few days ago, Andre Johnson will get a chance to face his former team (at least) twice per year.

Johnson announced via his Instagram account that he is officially a Colt.

Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, it's a three-year deal worth $21 million.

Averaging 11.0 yards per reception and 62.4 yards per game, both of which were nine-year lows, Johnson finished the season with 85 catches for 936 yards and three touchdowns.

Set to turn 34 in July, Johnson ranks ninth all-time in receptions (1,012) and 12th all-time in receiving yards (13,597). In addition, he has had five 100-reception seasons (tied for NFL-most with Wes Welker and Brandon Marshall) and four 1,400-yard seasons (only Jerry Rice has more).

With Reggie Wayne not being re-signed by the Colts and Hakeem Nicks being a free agent, Johnson should start opposite T.Y. Hilton in two-receiver sets and his signing diminishes Donte Moncrief's breakout potential.

Jeremy Maclin's deal with Chiefs is worth $55 million over 5 years

A few days ago, it was reported that the Kansas City Chiefs would sign free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Per ESPN's Chris Mortensen, it's a five-year deal worth $55 million and includes $22.5 million in guarantees.

Before Maclin can sign the deal, however, the Chiefs need to clear the cap space and a likely salary-cap casualty is Dwayne Bowe, who had 60 catches for 754 yards and no touchdowns last season.

Coming off a career year (85/1,318/10), it's highly unlikely that Maclin repeats that type of production for Andy Reid and the Chiefs. In his four seasons playing for Reid in Philadelphia, Maclin never exceeded 70 receptions or 964 yards.

While the Eagles threw the ball 38.8 times per game, fifth-most in the NFL, the Chiefs threw it just 30.8 times per game, fifth-fewest, last season. In addition, Alex Smith doesn't throw the ball downfield. Based on data from PFF, Smith had just 24 pass attempts of 20-plus yards, which ranked 37th last season.

Finishing with the ninth-most fantasy points among wide receivers last year, Maclin is more likely to finish as a low-end WR2 this year.

Ryan Mathews expected to sign with the Eagles

After trading away stud running back LeSean McCoy, the Philadelphia Eagles had thought they had their replacement -- Frank Gore.

Although Gore got cold feet, free-agent running back Ryan Mathews is in Philadelphia for "more than a visit," per Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo.

Durability is the biggest concern with Mathews, who has missed a total of 18 games over five NFL seasons including eight last season. Mathews, who turns 28 on May 1st, has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in his career and has averaged 4.40 yards per carry over his five seasons.

Making another blockbuster trade yesterday that sent Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford, the Eagles will have one of the league's least durable starting QB-RB combinations provided Bradford isn't somehow part of a master plan to move up in the draft to get Oregon's Marcus Mariota.

If Mathews can stay healthy for a full season, always a major IF, Mathews has RB1 upside in Chip Kelly's offense. No player had more carries than McCoy (626) over the past two seasons combined.

[Update: Mathews and the Eagles have agreed to a three-year deal worth $11.5 million.]

March 10, 2015

Jets officially release Percy Harvin, first visit to Bills

When the New York Jets traded a fifth-round pick for wide receiver Brandon Marshall, we knew that the team would release wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Now they have. Officially.

There are reports the Patriots are interested in Harvin, but perhaps he stays within the division and reunites with his head coach last season.

Harvin had a total of 51 receptions for 483 yards and 33 carries for 202 yards with two touchdowns last season. With the exception of 2013 when he played just one game, Harvin's 43.3 yards per scrimmage per game was the lowest of his career.

In addition to the headaches he may cause in the locker room and for the coaches, Harvin has struggled with durability as he has played only 23 games over the past three seasons combined.

If Harvin ends up signing with Buffalo, however, the trio of LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins and Harvin would give the Bills a talented core of young skill players.

Torrey Smith, 49ers agree to 5-year, $40 Million contract

Going into the start of NFL free agency today at 4 p.m., Torrey Smith was my second-ranked available wide receiver after Jeremy Maclin, who is expected to sign with the Chiefs.

That said, there were reports that Smith and the San Francisco 49ers were "a done deal" -- and now it is.

With Michael Crabtree being an unrestricted free agent, Smith fills the void his departure creates and he's reunited with ex-Ravens teammate Anquan Boldin, who is entering the final year of his deal and turns 35 in October.

Smith is one of the league's better deep threats and he has averaged 16.86 yards per reception in his four NFL seasons. Among players with a minimum of 50 receptions over the past four seasons, Smith's 16.86 Y/R ranks fifth behind Danario Alexander (17.29), DeSean Jackson (17.27), Josh Gordon (17.11) and Malcom Floyd (17.04).

Although Smith set or tied career lows in receptions (49) and yards (767), but he set a career high in touchdowns (11) and finished the season strong. Smith had a 38/591/10 line over his final 10 games last season.

Eagles trade Nick Foles to Rams for Sam Bradford

The Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams have swapped starting quarterbacks, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Not only will the Eagles send Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford, but there will also be draft-pick consideration sent to Philadelphia as well.

There were some reports that the two teams would swap first-round picks. That said, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that is not the case.

[Update: Eagles get Bradford and 2015 fifth-round pick and a conditional 2016 draft pick (third or fourth round); Rams get Foles, 2015 fourth-round pick and 2016 second-round pick.]

Foles had a breakout 2013 campaign with a league-best 9.1 Y/A and a 27:2 TD-to-INT ratio, but he regressed in 2014 before breaking his collarbone and missing the second half of the season. In eight games last season, Foles completed just 59.8 percent of his pass attempts and posted a 13:10 TD-to-INT ratio.

Joining Mark Sanchez, who re-signed with the Eagles for two years, Bradford has struggled with durability and has played just seven games over the past two seasons due to back-to-back ACL tears. Bradford also missed six games in 2011.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and entering the final year of his contract, Bradford completed 60.7 percent of his pass attempts for 241.0 yards per game, both of which were career highs, and a 14:4 TD-to-INT ratio in his seven games played in 2013.

Of course, the biggest wild card when it comes to the Eagles' quarterback situation is Oregon prospect Marcus Mariota, for whom Chip Kelly could mortgage the future for the right to select him in this year's draft.

Saints trade Jimmy Graham to Seahawks

Just minutes prior to the start of the 2015 NFL league year, the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks negotiated a blockbuster trade that will send tight end Jimmy Graham to Seattle.

Per Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Seahaws get Graham and a fourth-round pick in exchange for center Max Unger and a first-round pick.

The move fills a void for the Seahawks, who lacked difference-making pass-catchers on their roster.

Although he battled a shoulder injury in the second half of the season, Graham finished with 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns. While those numbers were considered somewhat of a disappointment for Graham, he would have led the Seahawks in all three of those categories.

Only Dez Bryant (51) has more receiving touchdowns than Graham (46) over the past four seasons. Graham also ranks fifth during that span in receptions (355) and 10th in yards (4,396).

The addition of Graham further boosts the fantasy outlook for Russell Wilson, who scored the third-most fantasy points last season behind only Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. Of course, the loss of Graham is a huge blow to the fantasy outlook of Drew Brees.

Behind New England's Rob Gronkowski, Graham will (still) be my second-ranked fantasy tight end heading into 2015, but his fantasy value takes a bit of hit. New Orleans averaged the second-most pass attempts (41.2) per game last season and Seattle has averaged the fewest (28.4/G).

In addition, trading Graham makes Josh Hill an interesting sleeper at tight end next season.