2015 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

Clay Moffatt | The Duquesne Duke

With nine days to go until the 2015 NFL Draft, The Duke’s very own mock draft specialist Clay Moffatt is back at it with the second installment of his pre-draft series.

1) Buccaneers: Jameis WinstonQuarterbackFlorida State

Same as last time, the projection is for the Buccaneers to select stud quarterback Winston. However, there is some chatter that Tampa Bay is considering Marcus Mariota. The Buccaneers are definitely looking for their first franchise quarterback in years, the pick will almost certainly be one of the two. Winston makes more sense logically because he plays with great pocket awareness, throws balls with anticipation (acknowledging routes before receivers hit their spots) and perhaps most importantly is very accurate, even under pressure.

2) Titans: Leonard WilliamsDefensive End/TackleSouthern California

Reports are cropping up that the Titans are considering trading down here. This mock draft series won’t project trades (that simply gets too confusing) but look at the Bears, Chargers or maybe even the Eagles to take the bait. Otherwise the best player in the draft is still Williams, who should be selected here no matter who is picking. Williams (6-foot-5, 290 pounds) is a special athlete whose talent can be plugged into any scheme for immediate impact. He is incredible against the run and uses all of the right fundamentals to succeed in pass rushing: speed, power and block shedding.

3) Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr., Defensive End, Florida 

The Jaguars added two great players to their defensive line this offseason in Tyson Alualu and Jared Odrick. Some believe that this allows the Jaguars to grab Amari Cooper, but their receiving core, bolstered by last year’s selections of Lee and Robinson, is not the issue for this team. Dante Fowler makes perfect sense in Gus Bradley’s hybrid defensive scheme. He is an end who is excellent at both coverage and pass rushing, and so Fowler is ready to enter the NFL as the complete package.

4) Raiders: Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver, Alabama 

It is certainly interesting to see two receivers with so much potential go head-to-head in the battle to be the first wide receiver off the board. With Kevin White and Amari Cooper’s skillset being so similar, it really comes down to their collegiate performances, and Cooper’s time in Alabama’s pro-style offense is the difference maker. Cooper’s natural ability to create space and generate completions could be a huge asset for second-year quarterback Derek Carr.

5) Redskins: Brandon Scherff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa 

The previous version of this mock draft had Washington taking outside linebacker Randy Gregory here, but Gregory’s stock dipped slightly when he admitted to occasional marijuana use. Concerns about his weight, small frame and ability to stop the run are the reason he is falling on many draft boards. Instead, Scherff logically makes sense here. Scherff (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) is an incredible run-blocker and can develop into a good pass-blocker as well. He may not fit as a tackle, but his upside is similar to Zack Martin, who was taken at No. 16 by the Dallas Cowboys in 2014 and shifted from tackle to guard upon going pro. Martin was a big reason why the Cowboys’ offensive line was so dominant, and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in his first season in the league.

6) Jets: Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon 

The problem here is that Mariota needs time to develop into a pro-style quarterback, and the Jets may force him into the starting role before he is ready (considering Geno Smith’s inconsistency). Mariota’s football intelligence, character and arm strength make him a top prospect, but his anticipation and accuracy need development. New management in New York is desperate for a winner here, and I believe if Mariota is still on the board they will take the risk.

7) Bears: Kevin White, Wide Receiver, West Virginia 

The Bears need help on defense, considering how terribly they rank over the last two years at yards allowed, finishing No. 17 in rushing yards allowed in both 2013 and 2014. However the ejection of Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Jets for a fifth round pick in the offseason, creates a void in Chicago’s offense. The fact that this is a very deep draft at the linebacker position and the addition of free-agent signee’s on the defensive line (Ray McDonald, Jarvis Jenkins) may convince the Bears to insert White to play opposite Alshon Jeffery in the first round.

8)  Falcons: Randy Gregory, 3-4 Outside Linebacker, Nebraska 

The second team out of the terrible NFC South to pick, the Falcons need help mostly everywhere on the board. Linebacker is the biggest need for the team, which will have to decide between Shane Ray, Vic Beasley and Randy Gregory, all of whom can make legitimate claims to be drafted here. Despite his smaller frame (235 pounds with difficulty bulking up), Randy Gregory is the best pass rusher in this draft and will help the Falcons add bite to their defense who managed an abysmal 20 sacks last season, third worst in the league.

9) Giants: Danny Shelton, Defensive Tackle, Washington 

The Giants will have to decide between adding an offensive or a defensive tackle here. Considering how many good offensive tackles are projected to go in the first round (Sherff, Peat, Collins, Clemmings) the Giants could trade down, but if they stay at No. 9, the best value is with Danny Shelton (6-foot-2, 339 pounds), a double-team magnet who is dominant against the run.

10) Rams: Andrus PeatOffensive TackleStanford

The Rams’ needs focus on their offensive line. They allowed 47 sacks last year, good for eighth in the league, and had trouble generating space for their committee of running backs. Some would say the Rams should take DeVante Parker and get a legitimate wide receiver for Foles to target, but the value of Peat is too much to pass up at this spot. Peat is the best pass blocker in this draft and can immediately start at left tackle.

11) Vikings: DeVante Parker, Wide Receiver, Louisville 

Even though this is not the best pick at the Vikings’ spot, Minnesota will be too enthralled by the idea of reuniting Louisville products Bridgewater and Parker. Mike Wallace, Parker, Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson can really bring the pain on offense, and the Vikings can snag a linebacker in the second round to bolster their weakest position on defense.

12) Browns: Arik ArmsteadDefensive TackleOregon

At No. 12, the Browns are sitting at an awkward spot in the draft. They need a quarterback and pass rushers desperately, but the best prospects at both of those positions will likely be gone by this point. They could trade up or down to get more value at either position, but as it stands at No. 12, Armstead is the best pass rusher on the board. Armstead (6-foot-7, 292 pounds) can play at tackle or defensive end, and has violent speed and power to get off blocks.

13) Saints: Shane Ray, Outside Linebacker, Missouri 

The Saints are weakest at cornerback, but the addition of Brandon Browner makes the selection of Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes less likely. Instead, Ray could start immediately for a team with no linebackers who pose a legitimate threat to the run. Shane Ray will bring energy on every down and use his quick hands to beat blockers as a pro.

14) Dolphins: Trae WaynesCornerbackMichigan State

Trae Waynes fits the bill for the Dolphins, who aggressively padded their defensive line in free agency but left their secondary mostly unchanged. Trae Waynes, who ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at the combine, could start opposite Brent Grimes and bring relentless physicality and awareness to the cornerback corps.

15) 49ers: Malcom Brown, Defensive Tackle, Texas

It is absurdly risky to draft a player who has only played in 16 collegiate games and registered sacks in only four of them. However the consensus is that Brown is a dominant run defender and can play anywhere on the line, adding to his value. The 49ers would love to draft Waynes here, but if he is gone, Brown has the most upside. The pressure for Brown to play immediately is alleviated by the signing of veteran Darnell Dockett at nose tackle.

16) Texans: Cameron ErvingCenterFlorida State

The Texans could go many directions here, but with the release of starting center Chris Myers and no replacement as of now, Cameron Erving (6-foot-6, 311 pounds) could immediately plug that hole. Erving here would be a little bit of a reach, but he will not disappoint in pass protection and can play anywhere on the line.

17) Chargers: Todd Gurley, Running Back, Georgia

Nose tackle is the biggest need for the Chargers, but with the top two prospects gone, the Chargers have some freedom to pick the best value on the board at this point. Todd Gurley has the most raw talent of any prospect at the position in recent memory, and is flying under the radar due to his injury. He suffered a torn ACL in his first game against Auburn back following a four game suspension. Prior to the injury, he rushed for 138 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries against the Tigers.

18) Chiefs: Breshad Perriman, Wide Receiver, University of Central Florida

The Chiefs’ biggest need is safety after the three-time Pro Bowler Eric Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in December 2014, however Landon Collins might be a reach here, and Kansas City signed safety Tyvon Branch in the offseason. That leaves wide receiver and inside linebacker as the biggest needs. The value at the inside linebacker position just isn’t there at this point, leaving Perriman, a receiver on the rise, as the most logical pick to pair with free agent signee Jeremy Maclin.

19) Browns: Vic BeasleyOutside LinebackerClemson

Nobody would be shocked if the Browns took Melvin Gordon here. However, Vic Beasley makes logical sense here, a player who logged 44.5 tackles for a loss in the last two season and gets into the backfield incredibly quickly. Beasley was once a top ten pick, but at 6-foot-2, 236 pounds, some scouts worry about his power.

20) Eagles: Landon CollinsStrong SafetyAlabama

It would be incredibly fun to watch the Eagles sell their future and trade with the Titans to snag Marcus Mariota. Mariota in Chip Kelly’s offense is a perfect fit. However, if the Eagles decide to stay put at No. 20, Landon Collins would add physicality to a weak secondary. Collins can also line up at linebacker to confuse offenses and wreak havoc in the backfield.

21) Bengals: La’el Collins, Offensive Tackle, LSU 

Starting Andrew Whitworth is 33 years old and entering his contract year. La’el Collins allows the Bengals to move Whitworth to guard, where he excels. Collins is a monster in the run game and underrated as a pass blocker.

22) Steelers: Marcus PetersCornerbackWashington

The Steelers could certainly look at local boy T.J Clemmings (University of Pittsburgh) here, considering how much Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams struggled in 2014. However the lack of skill at cornerback is alarming, and without any offseason signings at the position, the Steelers will have to choose between Marcus Peters and Kevin Johnson. Peters’ stock is falling due to his character issues and his problems in zone coverage, but his ability to man up with receivers and defend the run physically is appealing.

23) Lions: Ereck FlowersOffensive TackleMiami (Fla.)

The selection of overrated tight end Eric Ebron last year was surprising and leaves some wondering if the Lions will ignore their need at tackle and set up the a two-pronged punch of Joique Bell and Melvin Gordon. Giving Detroit the benefit of the doubt, logic dictates that they will take Flowers, someone who can solidify the right side of the line with superb pass blocking and great run blocking. It’s not a flashy pick, but he has the chance to make an instant impact for a team that reached the playoffs last season.

24) Cardinals: Eric Kendricks, Inside Linebacker, UCLA

The Cardinals have been extremely proactive in free agency, making crucial signings at areas of weakness in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Because of this, they have some leeway here to potentially take Melvin Gordon, considering how much of a liability Andre Ellington was last year. However, Kendricks fits nicely here, as he can enter a superb linebacker rotation and utilize his great prowess against the run.

25) Panthers: T.J. ClemmingsOffensive TacklePittsburgh

The biggest problem last year for the Panthers was how often quarterback Cam Newton was sacked and the time he missed due to injury as a direct result. Newton has the skills to be successful in the NFL but needs a better offensive line, something Clemmings (6-foot-5, 309 pounds) can help with immediately.

26) Ravens: Kevin Johnson, Cornerback, Wake Forest

The Ravens should go one of two directions here, grabbing either a wide receiver or a cornerback. Wide receiver is much deeper in the draft this year, which should push the Ravens towards Kevin Johnson in the first round. Johnson (6-foot-0, 188 pounds) is a well-built corner with an explosive vertical (41.5 inches) and good coverage skills.

27) Cowboys: Melvin GordonRunning Back, Wisconsin

There are so many teams that could be eyeing Gordon ahead of the Cowboys that it is possible that the Cowboys trade up to ensure his future in Dallas. In this scenario, however, he ends up in the lap of Jerry Jones and the best run-blocking team in football, setting an already superb runner up for an amazing year. Gordon averaged 7.8 yards per carry at Wisconsin and gained an absurd 2,740 yards from scrimmage during 2014, racking up 32 total touchdowns (29 rushing, three receiving). He also only fumbled once on 653 touches over four years.

28) Broncos: D.J. Humphries, Offensive Tackle, Florida

The Broncos should focus on keeping Peyton Manning upright this season, as a torn quad late last season hampered his abilities in the playoffs. Humphries (6-foot-5, 284 pounds) has great movement which projects well into Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme.

29) Colts: Alvin DupreeOutside LinebackerKentucky

The biggest needs for the Colts are at linebacker and offensive line. In this scenario there simply aren’t any offensive linemen worth taking, so the Colts will look at the defense and take Dupree. Some may be surprised that Dupree (6-foot-4, 267 pounds) falls this far, but his lack of ability to shed blocks in the pass rushing game worries some. He has a lot of raw power though, and can set the edge in the run game.

30) Packers: Denzel Perryman, Inside Linebacker, Miami (FL)

Some may say that the Packers will grab a cornerback here, but I do not believe the Packers will reach down for subpar talent if Waynes, Peters and Johnson are all gone. Instead, grabbing an underrated Perryman will allow Clay Mathews to play outside linebacker again. Allowing Matthews to return to the edge will be tremendous for this defense.

31) Saints: Eli HaroldOutside LinebackerVirginia

The Saints may take a receiver here, considering the fact that they lost both Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills in the offseason. However Harold deserves recognition for his ability to convert speed to power as a pass-rusher, something the Saints were terrible at last year. Harold’s only flaw is his open field tackling, but he makes up for that by constantly filling holes in the running game.

32) Patriots: Eddie Goldman, Defensive Tackle, Florida State

The Patriots let nose tackle Vince Wilfork hit free agency this offseason, creating a gigantic hole in their run defense. Goldman (6-foot-4, 320 pounds) is a very good value at this point in the draft and can add insurance to the run game by demanding double teams with his raw power.