A few notes before I get on with the good stuff:
- Until the draft order is set at the end of the season I will be using NFL.com's draft order, which is based upon teams' current records and their remaining strength of schedule. You can find the list here.
- I will not be predicting any trades, but any trades that have already occurred (ie. the Buffalo-Cleveland trade) will still apply.
- I will be including any draft-eligible players, unless they have already stated that they will not be entering this year's draft.
- I will be posting an updated Mock every week or two weeks, depending on how the college and NFL seasons shake out, so, stay tuned to Bull Run for updates!
1. Oakland Raiders - Leonard Williams, DE/DT, Southern California
The Oakland Raiders may very well be the first team since the Detroit Lions to finish a season 0-16. Former UB star Khalil Mack, along with quarterback Derek Carr and guard Gabe Jackson have highlighted a rookie class that is a solid nucleus going forward, but there are still holes everywhere that need to be filled.
I considered mocking an offensive tackle to the Raiders, but they also boast the NFL's 5th worst scoring defense, giving up an average of 28 points per game, and have the fewest sacks in the league with 8 through 9 games. In comes Leonard Williams, who is one of the nation's best defensive linemen, standing at 6-5 and checking in at 290 pounds. He is a mammoth of a man that is a fierce pass rusher (18.5 career sacks) and a stout run defender. He can provide a consistent pass rush and run defense that the Raiders sorely need alongside Khalil Mack and Sio Moore.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Head Coach Gus Bradley and the Jaguars took their franchise quarterback last May when they selected Blake Bortles 3rd overall, so that rules out a quarterback at this juncture. But, Bradley is a defensive-minded coach and his defense is giving up over 28 points per game and a stronger pass rush will help mask the weaknesses in secondary.
Gregory (6-6, 240) burst onto the scene last season after a successful JUCO stint, amassing 10.5 sacks and garnering defensive Sophomore of the Year honors. He's one of the nation's best pure pass rushing threats, and can stand up in a 3-4 defense, and has the ability to put his fist in the dirt in a 4-3 defense. He could step in to Gus Bradley's defense immediately make an impact as the "LEO".
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Buccaneers have a myriad of issues and chief among them is the quarterback position. Josh McCown was brought in to stabilize the position, but the journeyman quarterback has played poorly when healthy. The Bucs need a franchise quarterback and Mariota can be the guy. He has good size (6-4 211), a good arm, and running ability. He's also shown an outstanding ability to take care of the football, throwing 92 touchdowns to a paltry 12 interceptions. He would provide a winning attitude and stability for the rebuilding Buccaneers.
4. New York Jets - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Geno Smith has been a turnover machine, and Michael Vick isn't the answer at quarterback for the Jets either. Winston has plenty of off field baggage, from the alleged sexual assault to the crab legs theft, so the media scrutiny in New York may not be the best for the former Heisman winner, but he would be a massive upgrade over Smith and Vick. Winston (6-4 227) has thrown for 57 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in his time at Florida State, and has shown to be adept at extending plays with his legs and using them to pick up extra yardage.
5. Tennessee Titans - Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
The Titans desperately need pass-rushing help. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton's scheme is predicated on a strong pass rush, and the Titans haven't been getting much this season from Kamerion Wimbley, after trading Akeem Ayers to the New England Patriots. Thompson (6-1 220) has been pulling double duty this season, flipping back and forth between linebacker and running back, with success at both positions, but given the longevity and high turnover on running backs in the league, he would be better served as a pass rusher in Ray Horton's defense.
6. Atlanta Falcons - Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
In terms of pass rush, the Falcons are the second weakest in the league, amassing only 11 sacks so far. That is especially disappointing seeing as the Falcons spent big time in free agency to upgrade the defense; but poor play and injuries have really limited what the defense can do. Ray (6-3 245) could help provide a much needed pass rush: In 2013 he had 9.5 sacks in a reserve role, and has moved into a starting role for this season and has been very productive, breaking Michael Sam's single season sack record already with 12 on the season. He will need to move from DE to OLB in the NFL, but that is a transition many before him have made.
7. Washington Redskins - Landon Collins, SS, Alabama
The Redskins have plenty of holes along their defense from the front seven all the way through the defensive backfield. That being said, the Redskins could upgrade Brandon Meriweather with the top rated safety in the class. Meriweather rarely makes an impact on the field beyond his reckless hits, which get him plenty of suspensions, and he was also ranked near the bottom among qualifying safeties by Pro Football Focus. Collins has experience playing both safety positions for the Tide and has been a stalwart in the secondary, making explosive plays in the run game along with game-breaking plays in pass defense.
8. Chicago Bears - PJ Williams, CB, Florida State
As of late the Bears have imploded and things don't look like they are going to get better any time soon. If you watched the Packers' 55-14 shellacking of Chicago on Sunday night you'll know just how bad the Bears' defense is, and this pick will give rookie Kyle Fuller a lockdown corner on the opposite side of the field from him. Williams (6 194) was the Defensive MVP in the National Championship game, providing a game changing interception that sparked Florida State's rally.
9. St. Louis Rams - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Rams are in an interesting position at this point in the draft; they have some glaring weaknesses along the offensive line, but, to snag a guy like Amari Cooper, who by all accounts is on par with the likes of AJ Green and Julio Jones, is a huge steal. Cooper (6-1 203) has broken several of Julio Jones' records at Alabama, including receiving yards in a game (224 yards). He is a legitimate number one receiver and would add a whole other dimension to the Rams' offense and give Austin Davis, or whoever the Rams' quarterback is an elite receiving talent.
10. New York Giants - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Giants are in the position to take one of the top offensive tackles on the board in Peat. He was described by Coach David Shaw as having "the capability to be the best OT since Jonathan Ogden", that's very high praise being compared to a Hall of Fame player. Peat (6-7 315) is very athletic for a man of his size, while being a highly intelligent player on the blindside, and would be a perfect replacement for Will Beatty to help keep Eil Manning upright for years to come.
11. Carolina Panthers - Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
The receiving corps in Carolina comes to mind when thinking about needs, but the offensive line in Carolina is among the greatest. Several key players departed the team this past offseason, leaving a patchwork line to protect Cam Newton, and it's shown. Newton has been under constant duress, being sacked 8(!) times against the Philadelphia Eagles this past Monday night. Scherff (6-5 315) is the next in a long line of offensive line talent to come out of Iowa, he is a polished blocker and a blue-collar worker who could serve as a cornerstone of the Carolina line and a piece to build around for the future.
12. Houston Texans - Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Andre Johnson is not a happy man in Houston, so he may be traded away; even if he isn't the Texans could use another target, and White fits that description. White (6-3 210) is the nation's third leading receiver with 1,207 yards and 8 touchdowns is a big-bodied possession receiver that has drawn several comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith. He would provide another solid option in the passing game in Bill O'Brien's offense across from DeAndre Hopkins and give Ryan Mallett, or Ryan Fitzpatrick, an excellent target over the middle.
13. Minnesota Vikings - Shillique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
The defensive line isn't necessarily a point of weakness for the Vikings, but Brian Robison is on the wrong side of 30 and could stand to be upgraded. Calhoun (6-5 260) is a solid pass rusher and has averaged nearly a sack a game for the Spartans. He would provide an excellent piece to the Vikings; defensive line alongside Shariff Floyd, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph.
14. San Diego Chargers - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Brandon Flowers is on a one-year deal for the Chargers and he may bolt (pun intended) in free agency. So, in the event that happens the Chargers would have a solid replacement to pair with rookie Jason Verrett. Waynes (6-1 182) leads a dominant Spartan secondary and is a polished defensive back that leads the Spartans in interceptions.
15. Miami Dolphins - La'El Collins, G/OT, LSU
The Miami Dolphins' offensive line has greatly improved from last year with the addition of tackles Ju'Waun James and Branden Albert, but the guards have been playing poorly and allowing pressure on Ryan Tannehill. Collins (6-5 322) is a mammoth of a man and could play either guard position forming a solid duo with whichever tackle he is paired with.
16. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo) - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Browns and Brian Hoyer have had success despite the lack of Josh Gordon and a true number one receiving threat, Miles Austin is on the decline and no longer a viable option. Parker (6-3 210) set the single season record for receiving touchdowns (12) in Louisville and was a reliable target for Teddy Bridgewater before he left for the NFL. He would immediately step in as the number 1 or 2 (depending on the status of Josh Gordon) receivier for the Browns and provide Brian Hoyer with a reliable target in the middle of the field.
17. San Francisco 49ers - Dante Fowler, DE, Florida
Ray McDonald may not be with the team after the season in the wake of his domestic violence accusations, and the 49ers would need to find a replacement. Fowler (6-2 261) would be an interesting piece in Vic Fangio's defense because he is versatile enough to line up at any spot on the line or as a stand up rush linebacker.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers - Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Pittsbrugh managed to coax Brett Keisel into resigning this offseason but he is currently 36 years old and doesn't have much left in the tank and a replacement will be needed. Goldman (6-3 320) has shown to be capable of taking over a game as evidenced by the FSU-Clemson game. He can eat up blockers and dominate at the point of attack, a perfect fit in Dick LeBeau's defense.
19. Baltimore Ravens - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Ravens' running game was in decline even before the Ray Rice debacle, and an upgrade is needed. Even though the running back isn't as valued as it once was, Gurley is a special runner with a violent running style that can bulldoze a defense. Even with the suspension due to the autograph allegations, Gurley remains an elite talent and would be a good fit in Gary Kubiak's offense.
20. Green Bay Packers - Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
The middle of Green Bay's defense could stand an upgrade and McKinney would provide that with raw athletic power. McKinney (6-4 250) plays all over the field for the Bulldogs but would be a good fit at inside linebacker where he can use his strength in the run game to attack the backfield and make plays.
21. New Orleans Saints - Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Rob Ryan's defense could use another explosive pass rusher across from Junior Gallette. Beasley (6-2 236) has a lightning quick first step and can beat tackles with his speed alone. He has 8 sacks this season for the Tigers and can be a real force off the edge for an attacking defense like Ryan's.
22. Cincinnati Bengals - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
Leon Hall, Adam Jones, and Terence Newman aren't getting any younger and the Bengals secondary could use an injection of youth. Ekpre-Olomu (5-9 195) is a tad undersized for an NFL corner but his athleticism and quick decision making ability more than make up for his size, he also isn't afraid to come in run support and make tackles, something that makes him a very well rounded player.
23. Cleveland Browns - Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
The Browns have a lack of depth along the defensive line and the ends could stand to be upgraded as well. Oakman (6-9 290) is a freak of nature in the mold of Calais Campbell. He plays with explosiveness that one wouldn't expect form a man his size, but he has the strength and speed combination to give offensive lines fits, perfect for Coach Mike Pettine's defense.
24. Seattle Seahawks - Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
The vaunted Seahawks defense has suffered from a lack of pass rush at times, and it may take an even bigger hit with the possible departure of Cliff Avril in the offseason. Dupree (6-4 267) has been a monster for the Wildcats, collecting 5.5 sacks, and a pick-6 this season.
25. Indianapolis Colts - Danny Shelton DE/DT, Washington
Cory Redding is playing well but he is well on the wrong side of 30, and Ricky Jean-Francois could also stand to be upgraded. Shelton (6-2 332) has anchored the Huskies' defensive line the past two seasons and would give Chuck Pagano another solid piece to work into the defensive line rotation.
26. Kansas City Chiefs - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Chiefs desperately need help at wide receiver, in fact a receiver for the Chiefs hasn't caught a touchdown yet this season. Strong (6-4 212) is a well-built and speedy receiver with a knack for athletic catches that would be a perfect pairing with Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles in Andy Reid's offense.
27. Dallas Cowboys - Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Surprise! Jerry Jones wanted to draft Johnny Manziel last year, but he can get Tony Romo's heir apparent here. Romo isn't getting any younger at 34, and his back issues are troubling; it also wouldn't hurt to have an insurance policy, because Brandon Weeden should not be trusted to win games if Romo is out for an extended period.
28. Detroit Lions - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
There's a saying that you can't have too many quality corners, and that applies to the Lions, who have improved in the secondary as of late. Peters may slip due to his dismissal from the Huskies, but he has definite first round talent if he's able to convince coaches and execs that he is worth the risk.
29. Philadelphia Eagles - Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
This is a luxury pick for the Eagles, as Chip Kelly can be reunited with one of the biggest freaks of nature from his days at Oregon. Armstead (6-7 290) is a physically imposing defensive end with the strength the set the edge against the run, something the Eagles will need opposite Fletcher Cox when defending against DeMarco Murray.
30. New England Patriots - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
The Patriots could look to upgrade the running back position if Stevan Ridley is not resigned. Gordon (6-1 207) has over 3,500 rushing yards and 35 career touchdowns, and is also the NCAA career leader in yards per carry at 7.8. He could provide stability in the run game behind Tom Brady.
31. Denver Broncos - Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
Both Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas are in option years and if one, or both bolt from the Broncos a replacement is needed. Funchess (6-5 230) is big enough that he can play tight end, but also play wide reciever has well.
32. Arizona Cardinals - Hau'oli Kikaha, DE/OLB, Washington
The Cardinals are near the bottom of the NFL in sacks, despite blitzing over 50% of the time. They need pass rush help as John Abraham may retire due to his injuries, and the only pass rush is coming from defensive end Calais Campbell. Kikaha (6-3 250) is the national leader in sacks with 17, and could provide a much needed boost to the pass rush in Todd Bowles' defense.
And there you have it, Bull Run's first 2015 Mock Draft. So, what do you think? Agree with my picks? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below and stay tuned to Bull Run for more updates!