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NFL Draft 2015: 1st-Round Mock Draft Ahead of Divisional Round

Published by Bleacher Report on Thu, 08 Jan 2015

After a brief splotch of predictable hesitation, Florida State's Jameis Winston will head to the 2015 NFL draft.Mock season is underway, folks:An exit in the College Football Playoff semifinals cast a bit of doubt over Winston's future, but really, the former Heisman winner needs to prove very little in the way of on-field abilitybonus points due to a very weak quarterback class.Now that one of the biggest fish in the 2015 class is official, another mock is in order. The selection order through the first 24 picks is official, with playoff teams' slots based on record until finalized.1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, QB, OregonWinston grabs the headlines, but Marcus Mariota does not lose his spot as the top player in the class.One of the most dominant Heisman winners in history, Mariota is a dream fit for a team willing to somewhat adapt its offense to his rollout-happy tendencies.Tampa Bay will do just that in order to right the ship.2. Tennessee Titans: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida StateSome lament over the promise of Zach Mettenberger, but this is the NFLif a team has a chance at a potential franchise quarterback, it needs to take it.The Tennessee Titans can grab Winston at second overall and perhaps in a few years ship away Mettenberger for a quality draft selection.In the meantime, Winston's on-field ability suggests he may be one of the best quarterbacks to come out since Andrew Lucka soon-to-be rival of his in the AFC South.3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Randy Gregory, DE, NebraskaRandy Gregory will take the NFL by storm, as ESPN's Mel Kiper hints (subscription required):Wise to enter the draft. A super-athletic pass-rusher with a lean frame and exceptional quickness, he could be a 3-4 outside linebacker or add some weight and be useful in a 4-3 scheme. I think he's shown he can play with good leverage and hold the point on the edge, but his quickness, length and ability to disrupt in the passing game is the big sell.Gregory's ability off the edge gives Jacksonville a wicked one-two punch in tandem with Sen'Derrick Marks, which is bad news for Luck and the rest of the pass-happy NFL.4. Oakland Raiders: Leonard Williams, DL, USCOakland needs to avoid getting sexy early.The Raiders could grab a high-profile wide receiver to help along Derek Carr, but Kenbrell Thompkins, Andre Holmes and a budding wideout corps can be reliable in time.Smarter is Leonard Williams, an upgrade in the trenches not really seen in draft classes since Ndamukong Suh. An upgrade on defense is a step in the right direction.5. Washington: Landon Collins, SS, AlabamaThe league's 24th-ranked pass defense needs youth and talent.Landon Collins adds plenty of both, although he is more of an in-the-box enforcer than a center fielder.Alas, Rome was not built in a day and other such cliches. Jay Gruden's team is not exactly in a position to reach for talent right now, as the most glaring needs are painfully obvious.6. New York Jets: Amari Cooper, WR, AlabamaWhat, expect the New York Jets to reach on a quarterback'The organization needs a whole lot of things right now, but a hiccup in the draft is not something on the list. As NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah illustrates, few wideouts are as pro-ready as Alabama's Amari Cooper:New York needs sure things right now. Cooper is just that and a critical piece who will help the next quarterback along.Whoever that may be.7. Chicago Bears: Shane Ray, DE, MissouriA better prospect than former teammates Kony Ealy and Michael Sam, Shane Ray is a lock to come off the board early as one of the few pure 4-3 defensive ends in the draft.Chicago needs a complete overhaul in many areas but, like the Jets above, cannot afford to blow a top-10 selection.With that caution in mind, look for the Bears to nab Ray in order to solidify the future of the defense with youth. Ray can take over in a few years but for now is a superb rotational presence.8. Atlanta Falcons: Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, KentuckySooner rather than later, Alvin Dupree will be a household name.Dupree does not hail from a big-name SEC football program, but flip on the tape and that evaporates.A versatile presence who can wreak havoc from almost any spot on the field, Dupree is exactly what an Atlanta Falcons defense that tallied only22 sacks last season needs.9. New York Giants: Brandon Scherff, OT, IowaLook, praise like thisvia Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journaldeserves attention:The future for the New York Giants is obvious. Build for it, but also ensure that Eli Manning stays healthy as he gets into the latter years of his career.10. St. Louis Rams: DeVante Parker, WR, LouisvilleIt sounds ridiculous, but the St. Louis Rams are not a team with a ton of needs this high in the draft.Watch for the front office to splurge on a talent such as Louisville's DeVante Parker, then.The staff is yet to figure out Tavon Austin and leans on a veteran such as Kenny Britt, so a top-tier wideout to boost the offense is necessary.11. Minnesota Vikings: Kevin White, WR, West VirginiaWhile early, the tide (pun intended) is beginning to shift away from Cooper.CollegeFootball 24/7 has the details:Minnesota will do whatever it takes to help Teddy Bridgewater along, as well as free up Cordarrelle Patterson more often.To that end, Kevin White, who is highly regarded, is a sensible pick just outside of the top 10.12. Cleveland Browns: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, OklahomaDorial Green-Beckham will go pro, per EPSN.com.In short, one of the most talented wideouts in quite some time, who comes with plenty of baggage, is set to disrupt the 2015 draft.The writing is on the walla team willing to take a risk to get over the hump will roll the dice on DGB. Look for it to be Cleveland, a team with two first-round picks and a young signal-caller who needs all the help he can get.13. New Orleans Saints: Dante Fowler Jr., DE, FloridaThe future in New Orleans is cloudy, but one thing is obvious: A defense that ranked 25th against the pass and 29th against the rush needs some help.Dante Fowler Jr. is the top defensive name left on the board who makes sense.Fowler is versatile thanks to his lining up all over the field at Florida, something that will prove invaluable in the Saints' amoeba defense.14. Miami Dolphins: Shaq Thompson, OLB, WashingtonShaq Thompson is a close second to Fowler in this scenario.The Miami Dolphins forced 39 sacks this past season, but the future needs to be in perspective for a team with a bit of an aging defensive line.Thompson helps to swing the tide back in the organization's favor while helping to wreak havoc twice a year on a certain quarterback by the name of Tom.15. San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Peters, CB, WashingtonMarcus Peters is right up there with Winston and DGB in terms of off-field baggage.Yet there is always one team willing to roll the dice, especially with the top corner in the class.This figures to be the San Francisco 49ers, a team that needs to get younger in the secondary as well as more physical at the line.16. Houston Texans: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan StateMichigan State's Trae Waynes is on his way to the pros:The league's 21st-ranked pass defense needs some help, as well as some simple youth.Waynes is a leader in his own right, but he joins a Houston Texans defense led by J.J. Watt to form a sound foundation for the future.17. Kansas City Chiefs: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona StateWideouts in the 2015 class may hope to avoid Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs.The position was an afterthought this past year, although Arizona State's Jaelen Strong is surely up to the challenge.The owner of 82 grabs for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014, Strong is a pro-ready wideout who would easily become the No. 1 in Kansas City right away.18. San Diego Chargers: A.J. Cann, OG, South CarolinaIt rarely gets more predictable than this.The offensive line in San Diego allowed Philip Rivers to end up sacked 36 times. South Carolina's A.J. Cann is the best interior lineman in the draft.Shoe, meet foot. Cann will not sell jerseys, but he may help to extend Rivers' career.19. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo): Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan StateA roll of the dice with the first of two picks in the round means Cleveland needs to take a sure thing with the second.A need for more athleticism and explosiveness up front means Shilique Calhoun is a strong fit should he go pro. As Chris Solari of the Lansing State Journal captures, nothing is set in stone yet:Calhoun is what the Browns need to continue to build a budding unit, so the front office will have an eye on his decision.20. Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Collins, CB, LSUOne defender who is for sure headed to the NFL is LSU's Jalen Collins.A post on his Instagram account reveals the news (h/t ESPN's Joe Schad):Sign the Philadelphia Eagles up. The league's 31st-ranked pass defense needs some serious help. This is not the last pick the front office will use on the secondary this year.21. Cincinnati Bengals: La'el Collins, OT, LSUMake that back-to-back LSU products.While the Cincinnati line allowed just 21 sacks this year, the unit remains in flux as Andrew Whitworth ages, Clint Boling heads to free agency and Andre Smith is on his way back from a season-ending injury.At the very least, the Bengals need a high-upside tackle such as La'el Collins as insurance.22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Vic Beasley, OLB, ClemsonCameron Heyward (7.5 sacks) leads an encouraging youth movement in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers need to remain serious about the transition.After all, the offense is fine with arguably the top wideout and running back in the league on the roster.Look for Vic Beasley in the mid-range of the draft. His stock is not as high as last year, but his versatility is something the Steelers covet from their rushers.23. Detroit Lions: Danny Shelton, DT, WashingtonNo matter what noise comes out of the Motor City in the coming weeks and months, Suh and Nick Fairley would be silly not to test free agency.The Lions are in a bit of trouble as a result. Luckily, Danny Sheltona 6'2", 339-pound forceis available this year.Opportunities to fill major needs in this manner are rare, so the Lions will be quick to the podium.24. Arizona Cardinals: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLAThe quarterback class is weak, which ensures Brett Hundley will come off the board in the first round.CBS Sports' Rob Rang hits the nail on the head:This is not a knock on Hundley. Quarterback prospects with higher upside in recent years are difficult to name. A team in need, such as Arizona, which cannot rely on Carson Palmer's health much longer, will pull the trigger early in an attempt to secure the future.25. Carolina Panthers: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&MThe offensive line in Carolina needs some work after allowing 38 sacks of Cam Newton this year.Granted, some of those are on Newton himself, but the point remains that the focal point needs to center on surrounding the quarterback with as much talent as possible.Kelvin Benjamin was a home run last year, and the Panthers can only hope that Cedric Ogbuehi is the same.26. Baltimore Ravens: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, OregonThe Baltimore Ravens continue to find success in spite of a 23rd-ranked pass defense.Understand that it is something the organization plans to fix, though. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will still be on the board after a season-ending injury before the CFP. Baltimore will not mind waiting on his recovery given his sheer talent.27. Indianapolis Colts: Arik Armstead, DE/OLB, OregonAs great as it sounds to grab a running back in the first round, recent years show that the Indianapolis Colts can wait on the position.Instead, look for the front office to add even more talent to a defense that generated 41 sacks. As Bleacher Report's Dan Hope notes, Oregon's Arik Armstead is no stranger to splash plays:The Colts need more versatile, young defenders to compensate for the fact that most opposing teams take to the air in order to keep up with Andrew Luck.28. Dallas Cowboys: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi StateDallas surprised plenty this year thanks to an eighth-ranked run defense, but that is no excuse for Jerry Jones and Co. to take the foot off the pedal.While set on the offensive side of things, the Cowboys have no identity on defense. That changes with the arrival of Benardrick McKinney, a leader in the middle who can sniff out the run and drop into coverage if asked.29. Denver Broncos: Andrus Peat, OT, StanfordAdd Andrus Peat to the list of names who will be available on draft day, as CBS Sports CFB illustrates:The Denver Broncos are one of a few teams that are sure to enjoy the news.Peyton Manning is the center of the universe for the organization right now, so anything that helps him along is good news.30. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida StateB.J. Raji is not the answer for the Green Bay Packers moving forward.The Packers will look to the draft this time around to fix issues in the defensive trenches that led to a 23rd-ranked run defense.There they will find Florida State's Eddie Goldman, who can generate consistent pressure as well as occupy run gaps to solid effect.31. Seattle Seahawks: Nate Orchard, DE, UtahWhat does a team with everything grab in the draft'More players who can rush the passer, of course.Seattle won life with adds such as Cliff Avril (five sacks) and Michael Bennett (seven), but the team needs to make an effort to acquire younger rushers.Nate Orchard is on the board and fits well. He joins a unit that generated 37 sacks in the regular season.32. New England Patriots: Devin Funchess, WR, MichiganSometimes, things make too much sense to ignore.Tom Brady needs more weapons. Devin Funchess needs to find a home that appreciates his position-free versatility between tight end and wide receiver.Bill Belichick, of course, is the mad genius who makes it all work.Note: Stats courtesy of NFL.comas of Jan. 7 at 9 a.m. ET. All advanced metrics via Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
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