2015 NFL Draft: Final 2-Round Mock Draft

2015 NFL Draft, NFL, NFL Draft

“This is the most unpredictable NFL draft in years” is the cliché phrase that gets trotted out during the lead up to every NFL draft.

The 2015 NFL draft certainly lives up to that billing, though.

For months, the sense was that Jameis Winston would go No. 1 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But after that, there was a great deal of uncertainty swirling around every other top pick, especially surrounding the draft’s other top quarterback prospect: Marcus Mariota.

Luckily, the finish line is now in sight, as the 2015 NFL draft will begin tonight live from Chicago. The speculation will soon come to an end and reality will take hold. Still, until Roger Goodell steps out onto the stage and puts the Bucs on the clock, the possibilities and scenarios remain infinite.

Who knows, maybe the Titans, Eagles and Browns could orchestrate some remarkably intricate three-team trade that nets Philadelphia the No. 2 overall pick, Cleveland Sam Bradford and the Titans Mychal Kendricks, Fletcher Cox and a plethora of picks.

Maybe the Jaguars shock the world by going against the grain with the No. 3 pick yet again and take Todd Gurley or Vic Beasley.

Maybe the Falcons make a bold move by trading up for Dante Fowler Jr.

Maybe a team like the Browns or the Saints puts together both of its first-round picks in a trade package to make a big move up the board and shake up the top 10.

Or…

It could all go pretty much according to plan: The Bucs take Winston, the Titans take Mariota, and then the three best non-quarterback prospects: Dante Fowler Jr., Amari Cooper and Leonard Williams—will round out the top five in some fashion. 

Soon enough the speculation will end, but for now, all we can do is predict and project, which is exactly what I did in my final two-round mock draft.

Though I believe there will be a good number of trades on the first night of the draft, and potentially even a few shakeups in the top 10, I opted against trying to project trades for the final mock, and instead opted to just go straight down the board and match players with teams based on a combination of value, need and overall team-prospect fit.

Here’s a look at the final predictions and projections for the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL draft.

The Top 10 Picks 

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Lovie Smith’s first season at the helm of the Bucs was an absolute abomination. The team finished with a 2-14 record and ranked 30th in the league in total offense.

Fortunately, though, there’s a silver lining attached to a campaign which inspired the same feeling of hopelessness as the franchise’s winless 1976 inaugural campaign. The dreadful disaster that was the 2014 season put Tampa Bay in position to select Jameis Winston, a potential fortune-changing quarterback, with the No. 1 overall pick.

Winston—the 2013 Heisman-winner who led Florida State to a national championship in his first season as a starter—is the best pure talent at the position to emerge from the collegiate ranks since Andrew Luck. Of course, every time you mention the 6’5’’, 231-pound signal-caller’s rare “on-the-field it factor” you must also include the “off-the-field baggage” component for which the media has thoroughly admonished him for.

Five years from now, we could be talking about Winston as the main rival to Luck as the best quarterback of the NFL’s next wave of great signal-callers. But it’s up to him to do what he has to do to reach that level.

Tampa Bay’s banking on Winston to be a mentally mature leader who embraces being the face of a franchise and all the pressure that comes with it. The physical tools are evident, and the game tape shows a tremendous amount of promise. Ultimately, though, it’ll be up to Jameis to embrace the spotlight he will be thrust into and act like the leader, both on and off the field, that the Bucs expect him to be.


 

  1. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

There’s no doubt that the Titans are going to listen and consider every trade offer a team throws at them. Ultimately, though, it seems doubtful a team will come up with the type of mega-offer that will convince Tennessee to pass up the chance to select a future franchise quarterback and move down the board in what many consider to be a light draft class in terms of elite upper-echelon talent. In fact, GM Ruston Webster has said that he only considers about 16 or 17 players to be true first-round talents in this class.

Instead, Tennessee stays at No. 2 and selects the player that they need to rejuvenate a stagnant offense and revitalize a franchise that has reached the point of irrelevancy.

Prototypical is not a word you’d use in relation to Marcus Mariota when trying to describe his skill-set and how it translates to the pro game. Nevertheless, Mariota does have a unique and intriguing makeup and he has a certain next generation aura about him. Now it’s true, the dynamic dual-threat quarterback will have to tweak his game in order to reach his full potential in the pros. But there’s no denying that he has the physical tools, as well as the three all-important I’s: instincts, intelligence and intangibles, to develop into a highly successful starter at the next level.

It may take a little time and patience, but Mariota certainly has what it takes to emerge as a franchise-saving signal-caller in Tennessee.


 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr., ER, Florida  

Last year, the Jaguars used the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft to take the quarterback they wanted to build their offense around for the future when they selected Blake Bortles.

This year, Gus Johnson will nab the elite edge-rusher to build his defense around, when Jacksonville selects Dante Fowler Jr. with the No. 3 pick in the 2015 draft.

The former Florida Gator has said that he “would be stunned” if Jacksonville doesn’t pick him.

“I’d be stunned, just because of the scheme that Coach Gus has. I feel like as far as him being on the multiple side, 4-3 and the 3-4, I can set the edge and I can come off the edge standing up.”

Fowler recognizes that he’s the type of unique edge-rushing specimen that can come in and fill the hybrid “Leo” position in Johnson’s defense.

The 6’3’’, 261-pound junior emerged as a force as a junior this past season, when he totaled 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. As if his standout season wasn’t enough, Fowler cemented his status as an elite edge-rushing prospect at the Combine, when he wowed evaluators with a workout that included  a 4.6-flat 40-yard-dash.

The former 5-star recruit from Lakewood, Florida truly came into his own during his final season in Gainesville. Still, the breakout performance really seemed liked just a taste of what Fowler could become once he reaches his full physical maturation.

Johnson knows the type of havoc-wreaking defender Fowler could be at the NFL level, and he’d likely love the chance to mold him into that monster.


 

  1. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

It seems that the Raiders could have finally found a young quarterback that they can build the franchise around in Derek Carr. In order for Carr to reach his full potential, however, he’ll need to have a reliable go-to No. 1 wide receiver that he can foster a relationship with for the future.

Right now, the team has a few solid secondary receiving options such as Michael Crabtree, James Jones, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes. But they lack a true bona fide star at the wide out position.

They can change that by selecting Alabama’s Amari Cooper with the No. 4 overall pick.

During his final season at Alabama, Cooper proved that he possesses all the traits you look for in a No. 1 receiver. The 6’1’’, 211-pound pass-catcher led the nation with 124 catches, ranked second in the country with 26 catches of 20 yards or more and scored 16 touchdowns. He routinely torched some of the best defensive backfields that college football had to offer.

Cooper is a do-it-all receiver who would instantly change the complexion of a Raiders offense that ranked dead last in the league in total offense last season.


 

  1. Washington Redskins: Leonard Williams, DT, USC

If Leonard Williams does make it to the No. 5 pick, Washington’s phone will likely be ringing with trade offers. The Redskins may get an offer they simply can’t refuse, but in reality, the best course of action will be to stay put and select Leonard Williams: a prospect that many feel is the best overall player in this year’s draft class.

Sure, Washington brought in defensive lineman Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea in free agency. But Knighton, who is only signed for one year, and Paea, who has been a solid yet far from spectacular starter, are simply building blocks, not cornerstones.

Williams is the type of cornerstone that you can shape a defense around for the next decade. Those type of prospects don’t fall into a team’s lap very often.

The 6’5’’, 302-pound All-American showed plenty of flashes of dominance during his collegiate career, as he racked up 21 sacks and 36.5 tackles for loss during his three seasons in the Land of Troy.

Williams, who’s often been labeled as a “freak” due to his rare natural ability, should emerge as a dominant five-technique DE in the Skins’ 3-4 defense. He’s the type of a young impact defender who could come in and immediately improve a defense that finished the 2014 season tied for the third worst scoring defense in the league.


 

  1. New York Jets: Vic Beasley, ER, Clemson

The Jets’ new braintrust of head coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Macagnan focused on improving a shaky secondary during the free agency period by signing cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Gilchrist.

With secondary issues resolved and the trade for Brandon Marshall absolving the team of the need to take a wide receiver early, New York will likely use the sixth pick in the draft to find a young edge-rusher to complement Quinton Coples on the other edge of Bowles’ hybrid 3-4 defense. The fact that rapidly declining 34-year-old Calvin Pace—who is entering the final year of his contract—is the only other real notable option at outside linebacker makes the need to find a new edge-rusher all the more urgent.

It’s unlikely that the team will have a shot at Dante Fowler: the top edge-rusher in this year’s draft, but they should be able to get a great consolation prize in the form of Clemson’s Vic Beasley.

During the final two seasons of his collegiate career, Beasley was one of the most productive defenders in college football, as he racked up 25 sacks, 34.5 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hurries.

The 6’3’’, 246-pound two-time All-American is an explosive athlete who wowed scouts at the Combine with one of the most impressive workouts of any prospect in attendance.

Beasley clearly knows how to use his natural physical gifts to his benefit. It helps that he possesses a tenacious and determined demeanor that sets the elite edge-rushers apart from the rest.

The defensive-minded Bowles already has plenty of solid pieces to work with on defense. By adding a young talented edge-rusher like Beasley, it will even further diversify the unit and allow the coach to brainstorm up even more schemes that will cause headaches for opposing quarterbacks.


 

  1. Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

New Bears head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase are inheriting a talented yet highly inconsistent quarterback in Jay Cutler. Fox and Gase know that if they want Cutler to ever develop into the type of signal-caller that can lead his team to consistent success, they’re going to have to surround him with as many dangerous weapons as possible.

Alshon Jeffery is a standout pass-catcher, but since Chicago traded away Brandon Marshall this offseason, the team now lacks that proper complement to Jeffery it once had. The Bears can rectify that situation by using the No. 7 selection on West Virginia WR Kevin White.

White was one of college football’s biggest breakout stars of the 2014 season, as he burst onto the scene with a sensational performance. The 6’3’’ 215-pound wideout took the Big 12 by storm, totaling 109 catches for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The big, fast and physically-imposing playmaker is a truly remarkable specimen who possesses incredible speed (4.35 40-yard-dash) for a player his size.

If the team adds White to the mix, Cutler likely won’t miss Marshall all that much, since it shouldn’t take long for White to emerge as big-play threat.

Last season, the Bears averaged just 6.6 yards per pass, which was the fourth lowest average in the league. They clearly need a receiver who can create explosive plays in the passing game, and White can do just that.


 

  1. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

In the 2014 draft, Atlanta invested its first-round pick in OT Jake Matthews. Early returns on that investment proved to be positive, as it appears that Matthews is destined to be the line’s linchpin of the future.

Unfortunately, there are still plenty of question marks plaguing the rest of the offensive line, as the team lacks true quality starters in the trenches.

That’s why the Falcons could once again use their first-round pick on a talented offensive lineman to team with Matthews as part of a wall surrounding quarterback Matt Ryan.

Iowa’s Brandon Scherff is this year’s top offensive lineman prospect. The 6’5’’, 319-pound former Hawkeye is a big, physical mauler who consistently eliminated overmatched defenders in college.

Though he lacks the traits of a prototypical franchise left tackle blindside protector, the 2014 Outland Trophy winner does have all the tools to develop into a standout right tackle or guard.

In the Falcons’ case, since they’re already set at left tackle with Matthews, Scherff would be a sensible addition to the team’s front-five.


 

  1.  New York Giants: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

One of the mistakes that Jerry Reese made early on in his tenure as Giants GM was not investing high draft picks in offensive linemen. Instead he opted to have mostly veteran journeymen fill the roles up front. Since the team didn’t groom young linemen for starting roles, the problem manifested in recent years as New York simply didn’t have the resources to put together a stable line.

Fortunately, Reese realized the error he made and began to rectify the situation in recent drafts. He chose Justin Pugh in the first round of the 2013 draft, and Weston Richburg in the second round of the 2014 draft. Both Pugh and Richburg look like they should be solid starters for years to come, but the problem is both look like they’re destined to be starters in the interior.

That means the Giants could be looking to use their first-round pick this year on a young tackle that they can groom for the future.

Stanford’s Andrus Peat is the type of prospect who seemingly fits the mold of what the team needs.

Peat—the son of former Cardinals offensive guard Todd Peat—is a former blue-chip 5-star recruit who has all the physical tools to develop into a reliable long-term starter on the outside at the next level.

Though he still has to get stronger and continue to refine his pass-blocking technique in order to hold up against NFL pass-rushers, the 6’7’’, 313-pound tackle clearly possesses the tools it takes to be a potential pro-bowl lineman in the pros.


  1. St. Louis Rams: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

The Rams used the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft on Auburn OT Greg Robinson. Though he had an inconsistent rookie campaign, the team hopes that Robinson will be the long-term solution at left tackle.

Unfortunately, the release of Jake Long has left a gaping hole to fill on the right side opposite Robinson.

Finding a right tackle to be a bookend with Robinson has to be a priority for the Rams in this draft. The question is: Will there be a tackle on the board that they consider a proper value at No. 10?

Miami’s Ereck Flowers could be just the type of prospect that they’re looking for.

Flowers is a powerful run-blocker who would flourish on the right side of the Rams offensive line. The two-year starter is an experienced player who could step in right away and hold his own as a starter as a rookie.

The 6’6’’, 329-pound tackle would be a perfect complement to Robinson, and he would help immediately fill one of the team’s biggest holes.


Round 1

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
  2. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr., ER, Florida
  4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
  5. Washington Redskins: Leonard Williams, DT, USC
  6. New York Jets: Vic Beasley, ER, Clemson
  7. Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
  8. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa
  9. New York Giants: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
  10. St. Louis Rams: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
  11. Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
  12. Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
  13. New Orleans Saints: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
  14. Miami Dolphins: Devante Parker, WR, Louisville
  15. San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
  16. Houston Texans: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
  17. San Diego Chargers: Alvin Dupree, ER, Kentucky
  18. Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron Erving, OC, Florida State
  19. Cleveland Browns: Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
  20. Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
  21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon
  22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eli Harold, ER, Virginia
  23. Detroit Lions: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
  24. Arizona Cardinals: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
  25. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
  27. Dallas Cowboys: Mario Edwards Jr., DT, Florida State
  28. Denver Broncos: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
  29. Indianapolis Colts: Damarious Randall, FS, Arizona State
  30. Green Bay Packers: Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
  31. New Orleans Saints: Shane Ray, ER, Missouri
  32. New England Patriots: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

Round 2

  1. Tennessee Titans: Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Donovan Smith, OT, Penn State
  3. Oakland Raiders: Randy Gregory, ER, Nebraska
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars: TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama
  5. New York Jets: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
  6. Washington Redskins: Landon Collins, SS, Alabama
  7. Chicago Bears: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
  8. New York Giants: Eric Rowe, FS, Utah
  9. St. Louis Rams: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
  10. Atlanta Falcons: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
  11. Cleveland Browns: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
  12. New Orleans Saints: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
  13. Minnesota Vikings: Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU
  14. San Francisco 49ers: Byron Jones, CB, UConn
  15. Miami Dolphins: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
  16. San Diego Chargers: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
  17. Kansas City Chiefs: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
  18. Buffalo Bills: Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson
  19. Houston Texans: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
  20. Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
  21. Cincinnati Bengals: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
  22. Detroit Lions: Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State
  23. Arizona Cardinals: Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State
  24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
  25. Carolina Panthers: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
  27. Denver Broncos: Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State
  28. Dallas Cowboys: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
  29. Indianapolis Colts: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
  30. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
  31. Seattle Seahawks: AJ Cann, OG, South Carolina
  32. New England Patriots: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
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