With the NFL Draft just a few months away, three members of the Insider Sports Network staff decided to assess each team’s needs and complete ISN’s very first Mock Draft! This is just the first round of the draft; come back for our second mock draft in a few weeks! Read what Charlie Disturco, Cameron Andrews, and Alex Covone have to say below:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
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Tampa Bay will go with what they need most: a franchise quarterback. Winston will be that guy, as the team are very impressed from what they have seen out of the 21-year-old. The discussion has been narrowed down between Winston and Marcus Mariota, but GM Jason Licht and staff have been captivated by his performance in private workouts and discussions.
Winston has one of the strongest arms in the draft. He is very skilled, but his immaturity and off-the-field problems is questioned by many scouts and general managers. If Tampa Bay hires a few marines to straighten this kid out, he may very well be one of the best. All jokes aside, Winston is the uncontested first overall pick. In 2014, he threw for 3,907 yards and 25 touchdowns. However, his 18 interceptions prove he still has a lot to work on before being a star.
2. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
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The Tennessee Titans have said they trust Zach Mettenberger for the foreseeable future, but come draft day, they cannot pass on Marcus Mariota. Unless a trade occurs, Tennessee will select Mariota with the second pick.
Mariota is a very mobile quarterback, evading defenders left and right. He ran a 4.52 40-yard dash in the NFL scouting combine. Pair up his speed with his decision making, and you have a great quarterback. In his last season with Oregon, the Heisman winner threw just two interceptions in the regular season (four including the NCAA playoffs). However, with good skills come weak ones. His arm is not nearly as strong as it should be and his accuracy still needs work. Even with his insane four interception season, Mariota still overthrew and under threw receivers, as seen in Oregon’s BCS Championship loss to Ohio State.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC
Photo Credit Mark J. Rebilas – USA Today
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in dire need of a defensive lineman and adding Leonard Williams will bring drastic improvements to their relatively weak pass rush.
Williams is a powerful, very athletic player who can get around lineman and rush the quarterback with ease. Williams can make the case as the top prospect, regardless of position, in the 2015 draft. He is listed as both a defensive tackle and end, but will likely find his job on the outside with Jurrell Casey at nose tackle. While at University of South California (UCS) in 2014, Williams accumulated 80 tackles and seven sacks. Drawing comparisons to Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy, Williams is a hard asset to pass on. Expect Jaguars to go defense at third overall.
4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
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With National Football League (NFL) Combine breakout star Kevin White climbing the draft rankings, the Oakland Raiders will have to decide between two stud wide receivers come draft day. Should they go with the speedy wide out with great hands, or the all-around stud in Amari Cooper? While watching game tape, it is obvious Cooper has the upper hand, regardless of how well White did at the combine.
Last year for Alabama, Cooper caught 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns. Cooper is one of the best route runners coming out of the draft. Paired with his speed and precise cuts, Cooper creates separation between himself and opposing cornerbacks, leaving him open for a quick pass. Derek Carr needs a reliable option in Oakland and will finally get one come May.
5. Washington Redskins: Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida
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Washington had one of the worst passing defenses in the league last year and need a player who can make drastic improvements to their defense. At fifth overall, they will draft the versatile Fowler Jr., creating a dynamic presence for the defense. Fowler Jr. is competing with a variety of defensive linemen and linebackers as the best ‘sack specialist’, but his speed – 4.6 on the 40-yard dash – and athleticism puts him above fellow draftees Shane Ray and Vic Beasley.
Listed as a outside linebacker, Fowler Jr. can also dominate as a defensive end. His balance and quickness helps him get past the offensive line and rush the quarterback with ease. The junior had 8.5 sacks and 60 tackles in 2013, in addition he also had 17 quarterback hurries.
6. New York Jets: Randy Gregory, OLB/DE, Nebraska
Photo Credit: Bruce Thorson – USA Today
The New York Jets have a variety of different aspects to address coming into the draft. A necessity, following upgrades in the secondary through free agency, is a pass rusher and an edge rusher. Randy Gregory fits this mold and creates opportunities from average plays; creating a havoc in the backfield for the quarterback to maneuver.
As stated previously, with recent upgrades around the secondary, it would be assumed that the Jets will build around their top notch defensive line. At this point, the Jets will address their needs with the next best available, which happens to be Gregory.
7. Chicago Bears: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine – USA Today
One of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Shane Ray will revamp the Chicago deteriorating defense. His explosiveness and ability to beat tackles on the first step makes him a valuable defensive end for any team. Even while a backup for Missouri’s Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, Ray was rushing the quarterback every chance he had.
The Bears were one of the worst defenses last year and need to upgrade in the upcoming draft. Adding Ray will give them an invaluable pass rusher they can build a defense around. While at Mizzou, Ray accumulated 14.5 sacks.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Photo Credit: ESPN
The Falcons are not a complete team by any means. Sure, they could use some offensive lineman, or perhaps even another wide receiver, but no need for them is as big as their need for an elite pass rusher. They have a variety of young cornerbacks, but when they’re forced to cover for an extensive time, they’re bound to fail sometimes. Vic Beasley will finally give the Falcons a young, dynamic and versatile pass rusher to begin to improve their defense.
Beasley had 33 sacks over the course of his career at Clemson, with 11 coming in his final season. Beasley performed very well at combin, yet he definitely needs to bulk up a bit to be as effective as possible. However, his athleticism alone is enough for him to be a successful 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.
9. New York Giants: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
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The New York Giants have the capability of going a variety of different routes in this year’s draft; perhaps adding another receiver to compliment Odell Beckham Jr., and Victor Cruz. Another possibility would be reinventing the offensive line.
Brandon Scherff can make an argument claiming that he is one of the best offensive linemen in this year’s 2015 draft. In the 2014 draft, the Giants passed on offensive lineman Zach Martin, settling for star wideout Odell Beckam Jr. Scherff joining the Giants will solidify their offensive line to protect quarterback Eli Manning; as well as create gaps for running back Rashad Jennings and company.
10. St. Louis Rams: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas – USA Today
The Rams are a very underrated team due to the other teams in their division. They also have one of the best defenses in football. One of their largest problems over the last couple years has been the health of their quarterback Sam Bradford. Now, they have traded Bradford and received quarterback Nick Foles from the Eagles. Regardless, the Rams are surely having nightmares of quarterback injuries, and with Foles missing time last year, they will want to shore up their offensive line to keep him safe.
That’s where Andrus Peat comes in. Peat started the final 27 of his games at Stanford, so the Rams don’t need to be worried about any issues with experience. Having only missed one game in his three seasons with Stanford, the Rams offensive line would be receiving a consistent missing piece. He will bring a powerful presence that the Rams have been missing.
11. Minnesota Vikings: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
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The Vikings are a young team on the rise. They have got a couple young players such as Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith and Teddy Bridgewater that could make their team very good in the future. However, when you watch the Vikings one thing you might notice is that they don’t really pack a punch. To be a truly great team, there’s usually that one impact player on your defense that is able to get the whole team pumped up with just one play.
Enter Landon Collins. Collins is a hard hitting strong safety that will work perfect opposite of Harrison Smith. Collins is being projected as the type of player that will play as a hybrid safety/linebacker. However, unlike some players that play that role, like Deonne Bucannon from the Cardinals, or Patrick Chung from the Patriots, Collins is good enough in coverage to play a more traditional safety role, and that will help him give the Vikings defense the spark it needs.
12. Cleveland Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Photo Credit: Chris Jackson – AP
White could easily be swapped with wide receiver Amari Cooper at this point. The buzz around White came into effect as the NFL Combine proceeded. With a 4.35 second 40-yard dash, impressing scouts, White remains a WR1 option for teams, such as the Browns.
In addition, White is capable of retrieving a ball by leaping and making an adjustment to ease the catching process. In any doubt, if any, White will be a large, physical, and fast threat for the Browns, who lack that entirely from the wide receiver position due to wide receiver Josh Gordon’s upcoming suspension.
13. New Orleans Saints: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
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The Saints did just sign Brandon Browner, but they will need someone to be their lockdown cornerback of the future. The Saints have weapons on offense and a good front seven on defense, but their secondary is a big weakness. If the Saints can find a young lockdown corner, it could totally transform their defense.
Waynes is a tall, lengthy corner that plays a style of football that is comparable to Richard Sherman’s. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that their equal in skill level, just the style they play. Last year Waynes was in the shadow of fellow Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, who was drafted to the Bengals and had a decent rookie campaign. However, Waynes is a more promising prospect. He’s more athletic and more skilled than Dennard, therefore projecting into a better NFL player.
14. Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Photo Credit: John Raoux – AP
The Miami Dolphins have been busy this offseason, but their greatest need come draft day is wide receiver. After trading Mike Wallace and subsequently acquiring Kenny Stills, the Dolphins still have a huge hole left to fill. Enter DeVante Parker and that receiving corp goes from weak to deadly.
After watching game tape, it is clear DeVante Parker is one of, if not the best, wide receiver in the draft. Parker is a talented wide receiver that creates separation with his size, speed and athleticism.He may not be the fastest receiver, but he makes tougher catches – jump balls are usually in his favor – as seen in his game film.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
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The 49ers have a solid offense with a deteriorating defense, after linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland announced their retirements and Justin Smith remaining undecided. The team needs to reinforce their defense with departures and have, signing Darnell Dockett. However, they will go with the best defensive player available, defensive tackle Danny Shelton.
Shelton is a huge nose tackle that is surprisingly quick. He is like a bull, dominating opposing lineman whether it be stuffing the run or rushing the quarterback. While in his last year at Washington, Shelton accumulated 92 total tackles and nine sacks.
16. Houston Texans: La’el Collins, OT, LSU
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While the Texans upgraded on the defensive half of the field through free agency, there were a multitude of departures as well. The Texans have several ways to approach the draft, with the possibility of selecting a wide receiver, due to Andre Johnsons’ exit. An alternative would be selecting an offensive tackle, that remains versatile, to increase the capabilities of running the ball.
La’el Collins provides the Texans with the increased stability to run the ball, a feature they tend to do well with running back Arian Foster. The concern the Texans have had for numerous years has been keeping Foster healthy; Collins can increase the reassurance in the Texans organization.
17. San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
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Initially, the ideal pick for San Diego would be running back Todd Gurley. However, due to Gurley’s ACL injury and the Chargers injury history with running backs, Melvin Gordon seems like a suitable pick.
Gordon is in the top tier in regards to this year’s running back class; joining him is Gurley. With the departure of Ryan Mathews and the Chargers being left with Brandon Oliver and Donald Brown, Gordon can be an immediate contributor to quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
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The Kansas City Chiefs will looking for an offensive lineman during the upcoming draft. Ereck Flowers would provide the Chiefs with an increase in run blocking with his physicality and body, coming in at 6’5 and 322 lbs. Running back Jamaal Charles would be capable of running behind a body such as Flowers, but as well as around him with the iconic stretch plays and screen passes.
Flowers is the best available lineman and, with Kansas City in need of an offensive lineman, the two seem to be a perfect fit. Flowers will be able to add much-needed protection to quarterback Alex Smith, something that was not always evident last season.
19. Cleveland Browns: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
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The Browns have a good defense, with one of the best secondaries in the NFL, but it’s not yet complete. Now that they already got one of the best wide receivers in the draft, they can focus on finishing off their defense. The Browns have a variety of good pieces, but they have got one glaring hole, and that is at the defensive tackle position.
Malcolm Brown is a big physical body that will help plug up the middle on runs. He will also provide help on plays when he can’t get to the passer or get to the passing lane. He’s one of those guys that will take up double teams purely because of his size. He will be too dominant at the next level to be handled lightly unless you’re using one of the better interior offensive lineman in the game, so Brown will surely help free up the rest of the front seven to make plays, even when he can’t make one himself.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson – USA Today
There’s no doubt that the Eagles need help in their secondary. They signed Byron Maxwell but they still need a lot more depth and even some starters. There have been some complaints about Byron Maxwell’s contract from Eagles fans and analysts alike due to it’s large dollar amount. Some think that Maxwell was babied in Seattle and won’t have the same impact when he needs to be the #1 in Philadelphia.
For fans that don’t want to see Maxwell being left solely responsible for the opposing team’s best receiver every play, Marcus Peters would be the best option for the team at this point. Peters is undoubtedly a first-round talent, but his stock has dropped some due to being kicked off of the team after a confrontation with coaches. Nevertheless, should Peters be coached well and handled in the right way, he could end up taking over the lockdown corner position in Philadelphia early in the season.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
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The Bengals have good tackles, so Clemmings isn’t a huge need here, but he does add much needed depth. Current tackles Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth don’t have the best track records when it comes to health, so a solid backup would be an important add for the Bengals. In addition, both Whitworth and Smith are free agents next year, so having a cheaper replacement plan for at least one of them would be perfect for the Bengals. Especially, if said replacement had a full year to learn the game and the offense.
Clemmings is a versatile, athletic player and is the type of player that is helpful simply because he’ll be able to go out and do anything that he is asked to do. He is still very raw, so a year behind the Bengals current two starters will certainly benefit him for the better.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alvin Dupree, OLB/DE, Kentucky
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The Steelers already have the offense to be great, but their defense says otherwise. One major loss is linebacker Jason Worilds, who announced his retirement during the offseason. This hurts the team’s pass rush severely, making it a big need for the upcoming draft.
Alvin Dupree is a solid pass rusher that can burst pass the offensive line. Though he is quick, he still has to work on his strength and ability to get past the offensive line while being blocked. In his senior season he had 7.5 sacks, making some big plays when Kentucky needed him.
23. Detroit Lions: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Photo Credit: USA Today
After losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to free agency, the Detroit defensive line is weak. Even with the addition of Haloti Ngata, the team does not have the proper pass rush and rush defense they need to compete. Enter Eddie Goldman.
The mac-truck that is known as Goldman is very quick for his size. He is very strong and can bully offensive linemen and get to the quarterback in a hurry. He had four sacks in 11 games. The only negative to his size is the inability to fit through tight gaps and either stop the run or rush the quarterback. But, he will definitely be a serviceable lineman that the Lions need desperately.
24. Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
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The Cardinals lost star cornerback Antonio Cromartie to the New York Jets this offseason, so the #2 cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson is very much open. If the Cardinals want to get their defense back to the level it was at last year they will need to find someone to replace Cromartie. If they don’t that will end up being a huge hole in the defense for all opposing offenses to target.
Collins is a very similar player to Cromartie, the only problem is, he hasn’t done it consistently. He started very few games in his college career, so there have been concerns about whether or not he will be able to play at the next level. However, what he has shown us already is that he is a fantastic man to man corner that likes to get physical, much like Cromartie, making him perfect for the Cardinals.
25. Carolina Panthers: Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
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If you watched Panthers’ football last year, you know that one of their biggest problems was protecting young quarterback Cam Newton. Newton is very talented, but no quarterback can perform at their best when they are constantly being attacked by pass rushers. The Panthers have holes all over the offensive line that need filling.
Cam Erving, from Florida State, is an ideal fit for the Panthers. Having experience at both guard and tackle and has proved to excel at both. He hasn’t played center, but luckily that’s not the Panthers biggest need. Erving will be someone who can be plugged into a starting role right away, which is vital for the Panthers.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
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The Baltimore Ravens lost Torrey Smith to free agency and currently have Steve Smith, Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken as receiving options for Joe Flacco. The offense needs some upgrading and Jaelen Strong would improve the weak receiving corp Baltimore is currently sporting. Dorial Green-Beckham is more talented than Strong, but after the Ravens experienced off-the-field issues with Ray Rice among others, Strong remains the safer option.
Strong is a balanced receiver that is a very dependable option for any quarterback. Though not one of the faster receivers, he does create separation and is solid on 50-50 jump balls. While at Arizona State in 2014, he hauled in 82 passes for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns. Baltimore will need to stock up at the receiver position and Strong is the best fit for the Ravens to do so.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Photo Credit: Chuck Burton – AP
The Cowboys are in desperate need at the cornerback position. Kevin Johnson out of Wake Forest fits their need as he is arguably the best cornerback available. The Cowboys are already falling in love with his style and are very interested in drafting the cornerback on draft day.
This is a no brainier draft pick. Playing alongside cornerback Orlando Scandrick can prove to be beneficial in terms if style of play, but also leadership qualities. The other current cornerback for the Cowboys, Brandon Carr, struggled in 2014 after he failed to record an interception. Johnson will likely start or at the very least, see a solid amount of minutes each game.
28. Denver Broncos: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
Photo Credit: John Raoux – AP
The Broncos have an aging quarterback in Peyton Manning. As he gets older, he also gets more fragile. If the Broncos want any chance at making a run late in the playoffs next year, they will need Manning to be fully healthy all season, not just the first half. The first step in keeping a quarterback healthy, is making sure you have a good offensive line. With the departure of offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, the Broncos would be inclined to make a selection to refuel their offensive line.
Humphries is a versatile player that will be able to step in and fill any hole that the Broncos need him to fill. The offensive line is one of the Broncos weakest points, therefore adding someone like Humphries will surely help them both short and long term.
29. Indianapolis Colts: Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
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The Colts have been busy this offseason and just have a few more positions left to be addressed. One of those needs include defensive tackle.
Armstead is quick off his feet and, when matched with his height, can easily spot the ball and make a quick move – whether it be to stop the run or swat a pass. The Oregon product would complement the Indianapolis defense well, improving their pass rush and run defense to a further extent.
30. Green Bay Packers: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
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The Green Bay Packers had few holes in their 2014 season, but the inside linebacker was not an exception. The upgrading desire at the inside linebacker position is similar to where the Packers were in the previous draft with a need at the safety position. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was selected with their first-round pick proving to be effective for the Packers throughout the 2014 season.
Erick Kendricks, brother of Eagles’ Mychal Kendricks, has the capabilities of playing sound coverage, but as well as disrupting the pocket in an effort to reach the quarterback. His physical nature, 6’0 feet and 230 lbs, fits the desired role the Packers desperately need.
31: New Orleans Saints (Trade from Seattle): Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
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The New Orleans Saints, according to this mock, have addressed their main concern at the cornerback position, but with the trade sending tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks in exchange for center Max Unger and the Seahawks’ first-round pick they have another selection to make. Another necessity the Saints desire is a pass rusher.
Although many have considered the Saints to have had a fire sale, Saints fans can rest easy, for now, by investing into the youth and rejuvenating their roster. Eli Harold fits their scheme ideally. Harold posses a unique body structure as a football player; reaching a height of 6’4 feet and weighing 250 lbs. The athleticism and upper body strength plays in the favor of reaching the quarterback and disrupting a sound pocket.
32: New England Patriots: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
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If it weren’t for Green-Beckham’s off field issues, there’s a great possibility that he would be taken within the first ten picks. Green-Beckham comes in at an astonishing 6’6 feet and 215 lbs, towering over defensive backs in an effort to retrieve the ball.
Introduce the New England Patriots. If Green-Beckham were able to fall to no. 32, the Patriots should make an immediate decision. Selecting Green-Beckham would reshape the structure of the defending Super Bowl champs’ offense. Introducing a deep-threat for quarterback Tom Brady,
(Cue Randy Moss film?) would develop the offense as a whole.