With the 2015 NFL Draft just one month away today, here’s a look at what mock draft specialist Clay Moffatt is projecting for each of the first 32 selections. Check back as the draft comes closer for the updates.
Clay Moffatt | For The Duquesne Duke
1) Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, Quarterback, Florida State
This is the easiest pick in the whole draft. I do not think Tampa Bay trusts Mike Glennon considering how much bench time he saw last year, and there are no free agent quarterbacks that can get the ball effectively to wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.
2) Titans: Leonard Williams, Defensive End/Tackle, Southern California
With Winston gone the Titans should take the best player in the draft, a player who draws comparisons to Texans defensive end JJ Watt.
3) Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr., Defensive End, Florida
The Jaguars overloaded on offense during the 2014 draft with quarterback Blake Bortles and receivers Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson, so now it’s time to bulk up the defense. The Jaguars need new talent on the line, so they will grab Fowler Jr., a versatile player who can line up on the line or at linebacker.
4) Raiders: Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver, Alabama
There is some debate as to which receiver has the best skill set in this year’s draft, with Kevin White entering the conversation. As it stands now Cooper has the highest upside.
5) Redskins: Randy Gregory, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, Nebraska
The smart pick here would be Brandon Scherff, a solid tackle who could help give Washington quarterbacks more than two seconds in the pocket (no really, Washington quarterbacks average two seconds before being pressured). However I fear ownership in Washington is desperate for a play-maker and will roll the dice on Gregory, a player who excels at getting after the quarterback.
6) Jets: Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon
I think we all want to see the Jets go through the QB cycle again. I don’t think Mariota will make a splash this year because I think he needs time to acclimate to the NFL, but in the long run this selection looks good.
7) Bears: Danny Shelton, Defensive Tackle, Washington
The Bears are transitioning to a 3-4 defense under John Fox and need a tackle who demands double teams, allowing their ancient defensive ends and linebackers a few more seconds to get moving. Shelton is a mammoth and very dominant. Every team is looking for the next Ndamukong Suh and the Bears have a real shot here. The other option would be fellow DE Vic Beasley or to trade down for more picks.
8) Falcons: Vic Beasley, Outside Linebacker, Clemson
Beasley is simply the best player in the draft at this point and considering the Falcons needs help almost everywhere except receiver you can expect them to draft Beasley after a long debate over Kevin White.
9) Giants: Brandon Scherff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The Giants are actually building something that can be a real force in the NFC East next year. It will be hard to topple the Cowboys and Eagles but Odell Beckham Jr. did all he could to beat the Cowboys last year and I think a little more time in the pocket for Manning will help his decision making and help get Beckham the ball more.
10) Rams: La’el Collins, Offensive Tackle, LSU
The Rams have one of the best defenses in football, a great young running-back and some good receivers. That is a recipe for a Super Bowl, but help is needed in the passing game. Since Mariota and Winston are gone at this point the Rams will take whoever can give Nick Foles the most time in the pocket.
11) Vikings: Shane Ray, Outside Linebacker, Missouri
Kevin White should be considered by the front office, but the addition of Mike Wallace makes that pick unlikely. Instead, Shane Ray will be steal, a dominant young defender who has the talent to be considered a top five pick.
12) Browns: Kevin White, Wide Receiver, West Virginia
The Browns will be without the services of Josh Gordon next year and I think the thought of Dwayne Bowe leading their receiving core brings no fear to Cincinnati or Baltimore. White, a player who may be better than Cooper, gives Johnny Manziel a big target.
13) Saints: Alvin Dupree, Outside Linebacker, Kentucky
The Saints are very weak all over defense but specifically at linebacker. Dupree is the best defender on the board, and will be a powerful face of the rebuilding year during a draft that will focus on defense.
14) Dolphins: Trae Waynes, Cornerback, Michigan State
The Dolphins need someone to play opposite Grimes and the best corner in the draft is either Trae Waynes or Marcus Peters. Not only was Waynes the fastest corner at the combine with a 4.31, but he has at least an inch on Peters. Waynes’ lockdown physicality and natural awareness around the football projects well into the NFL.
15) 49ers: DeVante Parker, Wide Receiver, Louisville
The signing of Darnell Dockett solves one of their biggest problems at nose tackle, but the loss of linebacker Chris Borland and Patrick Willis, in addition to wide receiver Michael Crabtree make inside linebacker and receiver their biggest needs. At 6-foot-3, Parker could provide a solid jump start a sluggish offense.
16) Texans: Andrus Peat, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
The Texans are a wild card and could go one of many directions, but I am a firm believer that you can never have enough great offensive linemen. They could also look at Erick Flowers (University of Miami) here.
17) Chargers: Todd Gurley, Running Back, Georgia
Nose tackle Eddie Goldman is a safe pick here because the Chargers need a nose tackle, but the loss of Ryan Mathews takes a punch out of the Chargers’ offense. Brandon Oliver showed flashes last year but he can’t handle the load alone, and Gurley has incredible upside if the Chargers are patient with him.
18) Chiefs: Landon Collins, Strong Safety, Alabama
What the Chiefs need is a quarterback willing to throw touchdowns to his receivers, and Jeremy Maclin will help after reuniting with Andy Reid closer to home. But Kansas City will pick Collins to complement their hard-hitting defense and fill in any question marks that Eric Berry, who is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brings. Collins is much better than the 18th pick and will play with a chip on his shoulder.
19) Browns: Malcom Brown, Defensive Tackle, Texas
The Browns potentially drafted busts with both of their first round picks last year, with cornerback Justin Gilbert sitting on the bench behind an undrafted rookie in Buster Skrine and quarterback Johnny Manziel looking terrible in limited action. The Browns and their GM are desperate for a stud and will look to the best player left on the board, Malcom Brown.
20) Eagles: Eli Harold, Outside Linebacker, Virginia
The Eagles are praying to their gods that Mariota falls into the hands of Chip Kelly, but since that’s a stretch they should take the best defender in the draft to help a struggling defense. Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell are good additions that give them more space to pick based on talent rather than need, making Eli Harold a good selection.
21) Bengals: Arik Armstead, Defensive Tackle, Oregon
The Bengals have one of the best defenses in the league but no big problems on offense so where they sit they should roll the dice on play-maker Armstead.
22) Steelers: Marcus Peters, Cornerback, Washington
The Steelers are a good cornerback away from a Super Bowl run and Marcus Peters will give Flacco and (possibly) Manziel problems downfield.
23) Lions: Eddie Goldman, Defensive Tackle, Florida State
The loss of Ndamukong Suh takes the bite out of the Lions’ defense, though the addition of Haloti Ngata will help. Goldman has the best chance to replace his production, or at least come close to it.
24) Cardinals: Eric Kendricks, Inside Linebacker, UCLA
The Cardinals are on the brink of making a playoff run and could go one of many ways with this late pick. Kendricks is a low-profile player that could enter the linebacker rotation and eventually take over the starting role. Kendricks is a playmaker who racked up sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions during his collegiate years.
25) Panthers: T.J. Clemmings, Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
The Panthers will get this steal of an athlete this late in the draft to help injury-ridden Newton stay upright.
26) Ravens: Maxx Williams, Tight End, Minnesota
The Ravens seem to already have a great TE core but Williams is zippy enough to draw corner coverage and will help Flacco get the ball downfield.
27) Cowboys: Melvin Gordon, Running Back, Wisconsin
Melvin Gordon has the raw strength and athleticism to instantly replace Murray’s amazing production, especially considering the fact that the Cowboys have assembled the best run blocking line in football.
28) Broncos: Devin Funchess, Tight End, Michigan
The Broncos lost Julius Thomas this March and 6-foot-4 Funchess can pick up right where Thomas left off.
29) Colts: Ereck Flowers, Offensive Tackle, Miami (Fla.)
The Colts will get a nice blocker this late in Flowers, someone who has the talent to go top fifteen.
30) Packers: Denzel Perryman, Inside Linebacker, Miami (FL)
Clay Matthews played inside last year out of desperation. An already great team can get better with this NFL ready linebacker.
31) Saints: Kevin Johnson, Cornerback, Wake Forest
The Saints were atrocious on defense last year and need start-ready players everywhere. Johnson has the skillset to go into the NFL immediately.
32) Patriots: Jaelen Strong, Wide Receiver, Arizona State
Tom Brady needs a vertical threat whose name is not Rob Gronkowski and Jaelen Strong has the hands and speed to run post routes.