The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the top pick in this year's draft following a horrific 2-14 season. With several play-makers on their team, the Buccaneers need to upgrade the position that matters most, with that being QB. Luckily for them, they've got two potential franchise QB's for them to scout leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. As of now, I've heard reports of the team's front office favoring both over the other, but for now I'm going to have to think they go with Winston here with number one. Before the combine, I'd have told you that the Bucs were leaning towards Mariota. However, I feel Winston answered almost every question in Indy about his leadership ability and character concerns. Winston's pro style play fits in perfectly with Tampa Bay's big WR tandem (Vincent Jackson/Mike Evans), giving the 2013 Heisman winning QB the large targets and weapons surrounding him in which he needs while jump starting his NFL career.
Let's face it, the Tennessee Titans need a franchise QB in order to have any playoff hopes in the near future. So, why don't they go ahead and pick Marcus Mariota here? The answer is Leonard Williams. The 6-5, 300 lbs monster has the ability to change a team's defense, simply by adding a force up front. He has JJ Watt-like effect potential. While it may not be their top need, adding the top prospect in this year's draft won't hurt this Titans team one bit. In fact, it's a huge upgrade to a defensive line facing the likes of young QB's Andrew Luck and Blake Bortles twice each every year. With Zach Mettenberger and Jake Locker still on the roster, look for those two QB's to battle for a starting spot come week one. After all, both deserve a second chance to improve and state their case on why they have starting NFL QB talent. Look for Tennessee to snag Brett Hundley at the top of round 2 to come in and compete to be the face of this Titans' franchise as well.
Luckily for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team picked their very own franchise QB here with this very pick in the 2014 NFL Draft with Blake Bortles. Now with a young and developing offense at hand, it's time to start focusing on the defense, starting with a pass rusher up front in Florida's Dante Fowler. Following a stellar combine, Fowler shot up draft boards, and now sits with the Jaguars, who to me not only get a steal, but also a position of need. Jacksonville's D-Line is aging quickly, and needs new life. Chris Clemons and Red Bryant are both in their 30's. While Sen'Derrick Marks got things done in 2014, he was really the only disruption in the opposing team's backfield this past season. Fowler, an exceptional athlete, should be able to play either LB or DE in the NFL. Fowler's ability to rush the passer should come in handy and also fit nicely along side Marks in 2015.
Despite yet another disappointing season for the Raiders in 2014, the future seems bright for Oakland in the next few years. Following a terrific 2014 Draft in which the Raiders landed Khalil Mack and Derek Carr, both future stars in this league, they are just a few big game-changing players away from competing in the AFC West for a playoff spot. With Carr at QB, who had a stellar rookie season, the Raiders desperately need to surround his offense with play-makers. It just so happens that the 2015 Draft's top play-maker sits here at #4. Coopers deep threat ability, to go along with his great hands and short passing game strength, adds a whole new dimension to this Oakland offense for many years to come.
Ranked 24th against the pass last season, the Washington Redskins struggled to get any pass rush going in the 2014 season. In fact, Ryan Kerrigan was the only player last season to surpass 10 sacks on the team, with nobody else even close, with Jason Hatcher at 5.5. There's an obvious need for a dominant pass rusher on this Redskins defense. Randy Gregory, who may just be the top pass rusher in this year's draft, is the perfect selection for Washington, a team picking in the first round for the first time since 2011 (RGIII). Gregory, standing tall at 6'6", 240 lbs, can play from either the DE or OLB position. His versatility on defense gives the Redskins an edge heading into the 2015 season.
The New York Jets continued to struggle in 2014, with a team that desperately need a starter-worthy QB in play throughout the entire season. Both Geno Smith and Michael Vick struggled to get anything going, and because of that, Rex Ryan was fired as head coach. With a clean slate of coaches in store for 2015, the front office should focus on doing the same with the QB position as well. That's the case here in this draft, as Marcus Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner falls to the Jets here at pick number 6. Mariota's athletic ability should prove to be effective in the NFL. I truly believe he can beat out the running QB stereotype and become elite with the Cam Newton's and Russell Wilson's of this league. With proper coaching and talent surrounding Mariota, this Jets' team will be primed to compete in the AFC, possibly gaining some respect in an AFC East division in which a rival New England Patriots team has dominated for more than a decade.
The Bears disappointed many in the 2014 season, finishing last in the NFC North despite being favored by some to win the division this past year. QB Jay Cutler, who's offense produced decent numbers, struggled to win games, despite having the largest receiving trio in the league by his side, as well as the league's top receiving back. Although the offense produced numbers and still lost, the defense is to blame here for the Bears' disaster season. The defensive backfield was the worst in the league even with last year's first round draft choice, Kyle Fuller in to help. Charles Tillman was injured, and may or may not be back next season. With Fuller the only reliable DB coming back for sure, it would certainly make sense to add a Safety into the mix. Chicago does just that in this mock draft. Landon Collins, unquestionably the best Safety in this draft, could solidify this Chicago secondary, and help out what could be a powerful Bears offense, by helping the defense do their part and shutting down opposing teams as a recipe to win next season.
The Atlanta Falcons are not specifically a talented NFL team, but are just a few key players away from earning their first playoff birth since 2012. One of their main tasks for this offseason is to add a premier pass rusher. Shane Ray can be that guy for the Falcons. Ray, the SEC Player of the Year, showed great potential after a stellar season with Missouri. Mizzou has consistently provided quality defensive talent into the NFL within the past decade, primarily pass rushers, with the likes of early round picks such as Aldon Smith, Sheldon Richardson, and Kony Ealy. Shane Ray looks to be that next guy, giving Atlanta the dominant pass rusher they've needed for what seems like forever.
The New York Giants have not had a much of a defense since their Super Bowl winning season in 2011. The team has been on a decline ever since. Part of that decline has been the lack of pass rush, in which they have lost, since a lack of production from Jason Pierre-Paul, and the loss of Justin Tuck, who became an Oakland Raider last season. The Giants will need to add new life into their front seven if they want to see any improvements next season. To me, the top guy available to produce pressure on the QB in the NFL is Vic Beasley out of Clemson. The kid is super athletic, and one of my favorite players in this year's draft. Similar to Von Miller, Beasley can attack anything and is effective in all aspects of the game. The Giants would be foolish to pass him up here at #9, as they get a quality pass rusher to add to their defense.
The St. Louis Rams have one of the more interesting situations involving this offseason. Their QB, Sam Bradford, is injury-prone and may or may not be on this team between now and Draft Day. Their offense, surrounded with talent, lacks a true play-maker, and seems to play inconsistently from a week to week basis. The defense, a dominant force in this league, has the potential to become one of the best in the league in 2015. Overall, a few changes to this Rams team could be the difference between them making the postseason next season or not. While they hold potential, some moves need to be done for sure. If I were the St. Louis Rams, I'd be sticking with the former #1 overall pick at QB, and surrounding him with talent at the WR position. It just so happens that a top prospect in this year's draft, and still available is Kevin White, the WR out of West Virginia. I know, Rams fans are tired of the constant West Virginia wide-outs being selected on their team, but lets face it, this guy is the real deal. With ideal speed, size, and strength, Kevin White has the chance to become a top WR in this league, and pose a real threat to defenses across the NFL.
It seems as though the Minnesota Vikings have found their QB of the future in Teddy Bridgewater. The Pepsi Rookie of the Year had a very successful rookie season, the best of any rookie QB last season. The Vikings put tons of pressure on the young Bridgewater last season with the absence of Adrian Peterson. The problem was, he had very average WR's to throw to throughout the course of the season. Greg Jennings is no where near where he was during his tenure with the Green Bay Packers, and is aging rapidly. Cordarrelle Patterson seemed to have the potential, however struggled the entire season, failing to gain any chemistry with Teddy. The man with the most chemistry with Bridgewater may happen to be in this year's draft, his former teammate out of Louisville, DeVante Parker. Parker has the ideal size and physical abilities to become one of the top receivers in the NFL, joining up with his college QB in the big leagues in Minnesota.
The Cleveland Browns struggled on defense last season. In fact, their run defense ranked last in the league. With injury riddled Phil Taylor entering his last year on his contract, and Ahtyba Rubin most likely to leave the team, the Browns are in dire need for another big man up front. The draft's top run stopper, Danny Shelton, awaits them here at #12. The 6'2'' 340 lbs big man from Washington may just be the plug this Cleveland defense needs to stop the run, in a ground-and-pound division like the AFC North's. Sure, the Browns have other needs looming on the offensive side of the ball, but defense wins championships. I expect them to take that motto in fixing a major hole on the D-Line, in hopes of creating a monster up front in Danny Shelton.
Part of the reason why the New Orleans Saints struggled on offense this season was the fact that Drew Brees was pressured on nearly every down. How he stayed healthy throughout the season, I'm not sure, but that won't continue to happen for the QB at age 36 if he continues to get hit the way he did in 2014. The offensive line needs upgraded all over the place, both inside and out. The safe pick here is the draft's top lineman, Brandon Scherff. Scherff easily has top ten talent, but the lack of a need for a lineman wasn't there this year. The Saints get lucky, as he falls here to #13. Scherff can play at tackle or inside at guard. His versatility makes him an easy selection for New Orleans, as they can shuffle their Offensive Line, or leave it just as it is, by adding Scherff in to the mix.
The Miami Dolphins secondary is absolutely horrible. Besides Brent Grimes, one of the top corners in the league, there really isn't much talent flying around in the defensive backfield. Trae Waynes, the top CB prospect out of Michigan St. stands tall at 6'1'', and may just have the size this Dolphins' DB group needs to stand out. In a division with Tom Brady and now Marcus Mariota, creating turnovers against the pass will be key to winning games in the AFC East. A large group of defensive backs against the smaller groups of WR's in New England and New York creates a pretty big mismatch against those teams. Without a tough secondary filled with playmakers, I give the Dolphins no shot at winning enough games in 2015 to make a postseason run.
The San Francisco 49ers most definitely the most disappointing season out of any team in the NFL. Projected by many to reach the Super Bowl following three straight NFC Championship appearances under coach Jim Harbaugh. With Harbaugh now gone, it seems the 49ers are in kind of a rebuilding mode. With that said, their top need is WR. The top three WR's are off the board here at #15, and selecting one of the remaining WR's available here would be a reach. Look for them to get better value on one in the second round. Next on the need's list would have to be the addition of a solid OL. Look no further than Andrus Peat, the big boy out of Stanford. Really, Offensive line is not the largest need here for San Fran. But, Peat is no doubt in my mind the best player on the board right now. For the 49ers, who before this season had made it to three straight NFC Championships, it may be what the team needs. With the risk of losing Mike Iupati, the 49ers should consider taking one of the draft's top OL as a replacement for Iupati, who may be out of their price range. Either way, San Francisco gets a solid addition to their team in the first round.
To me, the Houston Texans have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. They can't seem to win the big games, however, and I think that comes from the QB position. Despite the QB struggles, the Texans had a fairly decent season, landing them the 16th overall pick in the draft, and distancing themselves from getting their franchise guy. Look for them to add one in rounds 2-3 to compete with Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage for the starting job. The JJ Watt-led defense seems to be in shape for the most part for next season, leaving Houston with the chance to bloster up their big guys up front on offense. The Texans need depth on their offensive line, who are decent but just average. Bringing in a guy like La'el Collins to compete for a starting job may just be what the doctor ordered for the offense. With Duane Brown at LT, Collins would compete for the RT position or slide inside as an interior lineman. Either way, Collins would boost this Texans' offense in a huge way by adding size and athleticism up front.
After finishing the season with 26 sacks, it is obvious that the San Diego Chargers, one of the worst pass rushing teams in the NFL, need a dominant player up front able to cause disruptions throughout the course of each game. Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu both show potential, but haven't performed at a top level in the NFL just yet. With Dwight Freeney, the Chargers' veteran leader on their defense, possibly leaving this off season, it's time to add another player in the mix of this pass rush. Alvin Dupree, the DE from Kentucky can attack the QB with ease, and was a very disruptive player in college. Totaling 24 sacks in his four year career at UK, Dupree is the quality DE the Chargers need to get that extra push in order to get into the playoffs next season. His speed/strength combination is something to note, and pairing him with another strong defender in Corey Liuget may be a lot for defenses to handle next season.
Since December 8, 2013, no Kansas City Chiefs WR has caught a touchdown pass. An incredible, seemingly impossible stat, with Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles getting most of the TD snags for KC. After watching a Week 17 game vs San Diego, Dwayne Bowe caught what looked to be the Chiefs' first TD reception by a WR in over a year. However, that was overturned, when Bowe fumbled just short of the goal line, and was later picked up by TE Travis Kelce in the endzone for a TD, proving this is some type of curse. With that said, no need is more obvious for Kansas City than WR. Sammie Coates, a big, physical, deep threat receiver from Auburn, is a fast rising prospect in this year's class. Coates has the potential of being a top level talent at the WR positon in the NFL, possessing all the needs any wide out needs in the pros. Drafting Coates is a solid find here at 18 for the Chiefs, as the Auburn product may be the first to catch an Alex Smith touchdown in quite a while.
The Cleveland Browns, already picked at #12 here in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they are not done yet in round one. Many are already convinced that Johnny Manziel is not the QB of the future for the Browns, but you've got to give the kid a full season to prove he is worthy. To find out if the kid is the real deal, he's going to need some weapons to surround him. Receiver has been a need for the Cleveland Browns for years now. However, it seems the team never wants to address the position. The Browns can continue to complain about the fact that they cannot find their franchise QB, but the fact of the matter is that they haven't surrounded any QB with much talent to work with. Sure the Browns have one of the most talented WR's in the league, but Josh Gordon continues to make bad choices, leading to suspensions. If Cleveland feels comfortable with their top wide receivers being Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel to go along with Johnny Manziel, then they are absolutely crazy. Jaelen Strong, a large, physically athletic WR, would be the best option for Cleveland to go with come April 30. Strong can do it all, and would be a true number one receiver on this team with the absence of Josh Gordon all of next season, or possibly forever. Either way, he's an instant starter who can impact this team greatly from day one and on, something Gordon hasn't been able to do because of these issues.
The ultimate, number one need for the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason falls on the cornerback position. There is no question an upgrade is needed here. The defensive backfield has been at the bottom of the list in terms of team secondaries in the NFL the past two seasons, which may explain a huge reason why the team hasn't taken that big step into a deep postseason. The problem is, the 2015 NFL Draft is not full of top tier cornerbacks. It may be a position to address in Free Agency in addition to the draft. However, one of the top CB's still sits here at #20. Philly would love to snatch that man, Marcus Peters, to fill a hole on that Eagles' defense. Peters seems to have the talent to be the best CB in this class, but character concerns loom over him leading up to the draft. If he can control himself, he has all the tools necessary to become one of the best DB's in the NFL.
The Cincinnati Bengals always seem to be a team that has little needs, but fail to make a deep postseason year after year after year. The same goes for this year. I cannot point to a huge need for the Bengals, so I thought I would mock them a top defensive player still available here in mid-first round. Malcom Brown, the big man out of Texas, seems to be a good fit and with great value here at this point in the first round. Cincy needs another big man with the ability to plug holes up front other than Geno Atkins. With Atkins not able to do it all, Brown can come in with an immediate impact and serve well for this Bengals defense in 2015.
Times have changed for the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Just a few years ago it seemed the Dick LeBeau led defense was the best in the league, with a dangerous front seven and a dominant secondary. Now, the Steelers look completely lost on the defensive side of the ball. New times are coming for an aging secondary in which included injury-riddled Ike Taylor, Troy Polumolu, and now retired Ryan Clark. It's time for an upgrade at one of those positions. Jalen Collins, who opened some eyes at the combine, including mine, can revive this Steelers' secondary with no problem. Collins unquestionably has first round talent, and should be pick anywhere from mid to late first round. Going to a Steelers team with several veteran DB's, such as the one's mentioned above, could be the best thing to happen to the young man out of LSU starting his career in the NFL.
If the Detroit Lions lose two or more of their DT's between Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairly, and/CJ Mosely, then their top need becomes DT. For now, I'm assuming they'll do their job by keeping two of them. With that said, the top need for them this offseason is to upgrade that offensive line. Let's face it, Detroit is going to throw the ball for the majority of the game against every team in the NFL. They can't do that so successfully without proper pass blocking, in which they lacked at some points last season. Ereck Flowers, a top prospect left on my board, still sits here later in the first round, and would fit in nicely with this Detroit offensive scheme. Flowers has got it all, he can block down on the run and stay strong with the pass, something Detroit will need to make another playoff run in 2015.
Last time the Arizona Cardinals drafted a TCU Linebacker, things worked out fairly well with their addition of Daryl Washington back in 2010. A half decade later, they go ahead and pick a similar player, from the same position, from the same college. The position was a struggle all year with Washington out last season, as well as an old Larry Foote and a below-average player in Kevin Minter. Pair Dawson up with Washington, and that right there is a scary LB tandem. Dawson versatility to play inside or out at the linebacker position could serve as another motive for the Cardinals to pick him here at #24. Wherever he lines up, Dawson could serve as a key asset for Arizona for many years to come.
The Carolina Panthers are rumored to be done with Greg Hardy. While it would make sense to add a DE in his place, the Panthers have some rotational guys capable of playing at a high level next season. A place they need to upgrade is inside, where someone like Florida St.'s Eddie Goldman could rotate in with Kawann Short and make a presence up front. Goldman would add some serious depth to the this Panthers' D-Line, which would be one of the deepest and best in the NFL in 2015 as they gain experience.
The Baltimore Ravens once again became dangerous, emerging as a threat towards the end of the 2014 season. In fact, I'm not sure how they lost the Divisional Round matchup vs the New England Patriots. With that said, a few needs must be addressed in order to compete with such teams again next season. One of those comes on the offensive line. TJ Clemmings, the mean, nasty, physical, and athletic OT out of Pittsburgh, contains all attributes needed to be a top tier football player. Clemmings' style fits a Ravens' play, and the tackle would be effective in Baltimore's revived run game. With that said, Baltimore gets a top player in this draft that can come in and produce effectively from day one.
The 2015 Offseason should come fairly interesting for the Dallas Cowboys. Among the free agents include WR Dez Bryant, of which they've shown interest in using the franchise tag on, and league rushing leader DeMarco Murray, who is believed to test Free Agency. To me, this sounds like Dallas will have someone new in the backfield next season, but the question is, who? Rumored to be interested in joining Dallas is Adrian Peterson, but the cost may be too much to bring in the RB for just a few seasons at the end of his career. Another option would be to draft a top RB. Melvin Gordon, viewed by many as the top back in this year's draft, may be packing his bags to Dallas for his first stop in the NFL. Gordon is a straight up beast while running the ball, and would certainly enjoy running the ball behind the league's top offensive line, just as Murray did last season while rushing for a league high 1,845 yards and 13 TD's. While it is unusual for a RB to be taken in the first round as of late, Gordon's talent is certainly worthy of that in the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Denver Broncos lack an all around, physical and athletic LB on their defense to pair with Von Miller. While players such as Danny Trevathan, Brandon Marshall, and Nate Irving can be impact players at the position, none can stay healthy, with Irving and Trevathan missing most of the season. While I believe Marshall and Trevathan are the real deal, another linebacker should be added in along side the two and Von Miller entering a new year with a new 3-4 defense. Enter Shaq Thompson, a freak athlete, quite possibly my favorite player in the entire draft. Thompson played just about everything at Washington, including Safety, Linebacker, and Running Back. The man was the Huskies' lead back by the end of the season, totaling 456 yards (7.5 YPC) and 2 TD's in 4 games, as well as 81 Tackles throughout the season and 4 (Yes, FOUR) TD's on defense off of turnovers. Shaq's versatility could come in hand for the Broncos. His ability to play all over the field makes him dangerous and a huge threat towards the other team. Overall, he's got top talent and potential to be a huge impact in the league early and often in his career. Though viewed as undersized by some to play the LB position, the Broncos get a steal here in the first round with a guy like Thompson.
The Indianapolis Colts look to have a bright future under Andrew Luck. In fact, I could see them winning a few Super Bowls in the next decade and becoming the next dynasty if all things go right. Andrew Luck cannot do that alone, however. That will need to come from those around him. Luck certainly has the WR's to the job, but a lack of a rushing game and his offensive line cost him in this year's AFC Championship. First in the draft, look for a O-Lineman to fill this slot at #29. Cameron Erving, the leader of Florida St.'s offensive line last season, would make sense for the Colts late in the first. Erving's ability to play at every position on the line should intrigue many teams like Indy. His experience could make him a day 1 starter for this team, leaving an instant impact and becoming a part of a team bound for great things in their future.
With the release of AJ Hawk, it's clear that the Green Bay Packers are looking to rebuild the center and heart of their defense. With Clay Matthews playing inside for the second half of last season, he did a great job, but his true position is on the outside, leaving a hole in the middle of their LB corps. Benardick McKinney, the top ILB in this draft, makes perfect sense for Green Bay here in the late first. Green Bay's defense is almost there, but can't seem to get over the hump, and relies too much on the offense to win games. With McKinney, more leadership and experience will be felt on this defense. Though just a rookie, McKinney plays like a vet and would become the heart of the defense that AJ Hawk was for the team for many years in Green Bay.
It's hard to find too many holes on this Seattle Seahawks roster. More than anything, the talented group needs depth in order to continue to succeed as they have the past few years. The largest need comes from offense, where there really isn't anyone too effective at the TE position. While it may seem silly, drafting a TE early in the draft, even here in round one, would make sense. Maxx Williams, proving to be the best of the crop in this year's TE class, has had a good Senior Bowl and Combine workouts. After all, he'd be another weapon for Russell Wilson to throw to, which should be a cause for concern against opposing defenses next season and in the future.
Finally, we end round one with the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. Earlier I mentioned that New England has a small set of WR's to work with on offense. I figured that would change here in the first round, with the addition of 6'5'' Dorial Green-Beckham. While he has had some off the field issues, Green-Beckham in my eyes would be a good fit in New England. The Patriots are the type of team that should be willing to take this type of a risk for a player of this caliber. Plus, if Green Beckham's act isn't together, it won't be tolerated long under coach Bill Belicheck. Green-Beckham has the chance to become the top WR on this Pats' team with future HOF Tom Brady under center to work with in 2015.
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2014 NFL Mock Draft
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Marcus Mariota QB Oregon.
Tennessee Titans Jameis Winston QB Florida St
Jacksonville Jaguars Leonard Williams DT USC
Oakland Raiders Amari Cooper WR Alabama
Washington Redskins Randy Gregory DE Nebraska
New York Jets Brandon Scherff OT Iowa
Chicago Bears Landon Collins S Alabama
Atlanta Falcons Shane Ray DE Missouri
New York Giants Vic Beasley OLB Clemson
St. Louis Rams Andrus Peat OT Stanford
Minnesota Vikings LeVante Parker WR Louisville
Cleveland Browns Kevin White WR West Virginia
New Orleans Saints Dante Fowler DE Florida
Miami Dolphins Shaq Thompson OLB Washington
San Francisco 49ers Danny Shelton DT Washington
Houston Texans Ereck Flowers OT Miami
San Diego Chargers Alvin Dupree DE Kentucky
Kansas City Chiefs Sammie Coates WR Auburn
Cleveland Browns TJ Clemmings OT Pittsburgh
Philadelphia Eagles Trae Waynes CB Michigan St.
Cincinnati Bengals Eddie Goldman DT Florida St.
Pittsburgh Steelers Marcus Peters CB Washington
Detroit Lions Jalen Collins CB LSU
Arizona Cardinals Paul Dawson OLB TCU
Carolina Panthers Gerod Holliman S Louisville
Baltimore Ravens La’el Collins OT LSU
Dallas Cowboys Malcom Brown DT Texas
Denver Broncos Bendarick McKinney ILB Mississippi St
Indianapolis Colts Cameron Erving OT Florida St.
Green Bay Packers Michael Bennett DT Ohio St.
New England Patriots Jaelen Strong WR Arizona St.
Seattle Seahawks Dorial Green-Beckham WR Oklahoma