With the Super Bowl now complete, the NFL off-season will soon get in to full swing, and that means it is mock draft season.
The scouting combine and pro day performances are still on the horizon, so prospect values are likely to change rapidly in the coming months. That being said, based on team needs and player performances, educated selections can be made.
Most mock drafts are simply selections made straight down the listed draft order. This one has a bit of a wrinkle thrown in; trades. While they are very hard to predict, each year trades drastically change the draft, and the 2015 version will be no different. It only makes sense to consider trade scenarios while filling out a mock draft.
Without further ado, a first round mock of the 2015 NFL Draft with trades.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is arguably the most NFL ready quarterbacks since Andrew Luck. He ran a pro-style offense at Florida State, where he absolutely flourished. Winston is big (6-foot-4, 233 pounds), athletic, has great pocket presence, a strong arm, makes good decisions and is a natural leader. He basically has all of the tools on the field to be a marquee franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, character issues off-the-field have seemingly always been a problem with Winston.
While his lack of maturity (some would even say character) certainly makes this a risky pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers simply cannot head into next season with Mike Glennon and Josh McCown under center again. They must use this opportunity to try and land a franchise-type quarterback, and Winston is the best that this class has to offer.
Trade: Tennessee Titans trade 1st round pick (2nd overall), 4th round pick (97th) and 6th round pick (161st) to New York Jets for 1st round pick (6th) and 2nd round pick (37).
2. New York Jets- Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Tennessee Titans have many holes throughout their roster, and would be wise to look at trade down scenarios. The quarterback needy New York Jets could be their perfect trade partner.
Without question, the Geno Smith experiment was a fail, and the Jets need to look in another direction at the quarterback position. Winston and Marcus Mariota are in a tier of their own in this draft class, and if you want to find a potential franchise quarterback, those two are likely the only choices. The Jets have some nice talent at certain positions, but they must address the quarterback position if they expect to compete anytime soon.
Mariota is a very intelligent quarterback who possess elite level athleticism and an extremely strong arm. He has impressive pocket awareness, and is typically an accurate passer, especially while on the run.
The offense he ran at Oregon is far from pro-style, and is built to make the decisions easy for the quarterback. There will certainly be an adjustment period for Mariota in the NFL, and the risk that he cannot translate to the pro game is there as well. That being said, Mariota is an elite talent at the quarterback position and has massive upside.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Williams, DT, Southern California
After loading up on the offensive side of the ball during the 2014 draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars will likely bolster their defense this year. Many consider Leonard Williams to be the top overall prospect in this draft, and he would be a perfect fit for Gus Bradley’s attacking style of defense.
Williams has an incredible combination of size (6-foot-5, 298 pounds), quickness, raw power and pure athleticism. He showed incredible versatility throughout his college career and has an obvious passion for the game. He is a force to be reckoned with up front, and would be a perfect player for the young Jaguars to build their defense around.
4. Oakland Raiders- Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
The best pure pass rusher in this draft is Randy Gregory from Nebraska. If he is available for the Oakland Raiders at the fourth pick, it makes this an easy choice. Gregory fires off the ball quickly and has great speed, athleticism and length.
That being said, Gregory has a long and lanky frame and needs to improve his strength and power at the next level. While that will certainly hold him back against running attacks, he has the natural ability to be a productive pass rusher right out of the gate. Gregory would be a weapon for the Raiders pass rush opposite of Khalil Mack.
5. Washington Redskins- Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
The Washington Redskins have needs all across their roster, and could go in many different directions with this selection. Many mock drafts have Washington taking a pass rusher to replace Brian Orakpo with this pick, but second year player Trent Murphy could easily fill that role for them if Orakpo leaves via free agency.
Offensive line has been an issue for the Redskins in recent years, and it is something that they simply cannot ignore. Brandon Scherff is an extremely physical and nasty player who excels as a run blocker. His pass protection is good, not great, making many wonder whether he can play left tackle in the NFL, questioning his value this early in the draft.
With Trent Williams at the position, the Redskins do not need Scherff to play left tackle. He could step in and immediately be a huge upgrade at right tackle, while having the versatility to move inside to guard or possibly left tackle down the road if needed. Scherff is a very good football player who would help solidify the entire Redskins’ offense, and do so right away.
6. Tennessee Titans- Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
After trading down to acquire valuable picks, the Titans were still able to grab one of the best pass rushers in this draft. Shane Ray is an incredibly powerful and athletic pass rusher who fits perfectly in the Titans’ hybrid defense. The Titans played a lot of 3-4 and 4-3 last season, but appear to be moving more towards the 3-4 style. Ray can be effective as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end, but is probably best suited for the 3-4 in the NFL.
Ray’s athleticism immediately jumps off the page. He has been clocked at 4.44 on the 40-yard dash, has more than a 40-inch vertical leap and bench presses more than 400 pounds. Ray has all the raw ability to become one of the most feared pass rushers that the NFL has to offer.
7. Chicago Bears- Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
With John Fox being hired as head coach of the Chicago Bears, and Vic Fangio being brought in as his defensive coordinator, the defense is going to under-go a major change in Chicago, as a pure 3-4 system will be put in to place. The Bears must draft defensive players who will make this transition go as smooth as possible.
Dante Fowler is a very versatile player, whose skill set translates perfectly to the 3-4 defense. Fowler lined up all over the field at Florida, but he appears to be a perfect fit as a pass rushing outside linebacker in the 3-4. While he struggles against the run, Fowler has great pure athleticism that allows him to dominate as a pass rusher. On top of that, Fowler does have some experience and skills in pass coverage, which will come in handy for any linebacker, even one who is a pass rush specialist.
Trade: Atlanta Falcons trade 1st Round Pick (8th Overall) to Cleveland Browns for 1st Round Pick (12th Overall) and 3rd Round Pick (77).
8. Cleveland Browns- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
After ignoring the position last year, and Josh Gordon unlikely to ever play a snap with the team again, the Cleveland Browns must address the wide receiver position in this draft. Amari Cooper is commonly considered the top receiver in this draft, and is worth the Browns trading up to acquire.
He may not have the pure athleticism as other receivers in this class, but Cooper is an incredibly consistent receiver who will have a solid NFL career. He is a great route runner, has incredible hands and has played in an NFL style offense throughout his college career. Cooper has good, but not great, speed and leaping ability. That being said, he is an incredibly safe pick for a team that simply needs production out of the position.
9. New York Giants- Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The New York Giants could go in many different directions with this pick. Landing a pass rusher is a need, but with the top three off the board, the Giants would be wise to go in another direction. Andrus Peat is one of the best players available, and would immediately help solidify their offensive line, while representing a ton of upside down the road.
Peat is very athletic for someone who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 312 pounds. He is very quick off the snap, has extremely long arms and good strength. He is very good in pass protection, especially against speed rushers. That is something that is very valuable in today’s NFL. It may be hard for the Giants to find a spot for Peat right away, but those things tend to work themselves out with the best players finding their way in the lineup. Peat is likely to become a prototypical left tackle down the road, and a very good one at that.
10. St. Louis Rams- La’el Collins, OT, LSU
The offensive line was a big problem for the St. Louis Rams last season. Jake Long simply is not a strong option at left tackle anymore, and it has effected the rest of the unit. He is likely to become a salary cap casualty this off-season, opening up a huge hole at one tackle position. 2014 second overall pick Greg Robinson will slide in to play left tackle, but the Rams will still need somebody on the right side. La’el Collins would be a great option for the team.
Collins has great quickness, strength and aggressiveness which helps make him a very good run blocker. Collins does struggle a bit in pass protection, especially against pure speed rushers. That likely limits him from ever becoming a left tackle, but the Rams think they have that position locked up for a very long time with Robinson anyway. Collins would be a great option for the Rams at either right tackle or either guard spot.
11. Minnesota Vikings- Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
With Greg Jennings beginning to look his age and Cordarrelle Patterson barely even seeing the field, Charles Johnson stepped up as the Minnesota Vikings’ number one receiving option down the stretch last season. The undrafted Johnson is talented, and does have some upside, but he is simply not a strong number one option. If the Vikings expect Teddy Bridgewater to take a big step forward in 2015, they must find him another weapon on the outside.
Kevin White is one of the most purely talented players in this draft, and has the ability to make a massive impact for the Vikings right away. White has impressive speed and quickness, but his incredible leaping ability jumps off the charts. White uses his elite leaping skill to go up and high-point the ball as well as anyone in football. He also has good, strong hands.
12. Atlanta Falcons- Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
After trading down, the Atlanta Falcons step back and simply take the best player available. Danny Shelton may be best suited as a nose guard for a 3-4 defense, but new Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn will certainly find a use for him in his 4-3 base defense.
Shelton is a massive man at 6-foot-2, 343 pounds who is incredibly difficult to move in the run game. Shelton has incredible pure strength that allows him to consistently take on double teams and hold his own. On top of that, Shelton has surprising quickness off-the-ball. While it is unlikely that Shelton duplicates his college pass rushing success in the NFL, his athleticism allows him to be more than a pure run stuffer.
13. New Orleans Saints- Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
The New Orleans Saints simply need to improve their pass rush this off-season. Junior Galette has been very good the past couple of years, but he is the only reliable weapon for the Saints to count on in the pass rush. Vic Beasley is a talented pass rusher who could make for a dynamic running mate for Galette.
Beasley has an incredibly quick first step to go along with good speed and athleticism that makes him one of the best pure pass rushers in this draft. His lack of size (6-foot2, 235 pounds) makes him struggle against the run, but he would be a weapon for Rob Ryan in the Saints’ 3-4 defense.
14. Miami Dolphins- Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
The Miami Dolphins struggled against the run last season, allowing 121.1 yards per game on the ground. While there were many players to blame, their lack of pure talent at the linebacker position was a big reason for those struggles.
While his skills are fairly raw, Shaq Thompson is arguably the most talented overall player in this draft. He has incredible speed and agility for the linebacker position, and his aggressiveness and instincts allow him to be a force all over the field.
Thompson is inexperienced at the linebacker position (he also played a lot of running back for Washington), but he has shown the ability, both physically and mentally, to play the position at a high level. He is good against the run, but his athleticism gives him elite pass coverage skills as well.
15. San Francisco 49ers- DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The San Francisco 49ers already have one of the least inspiring crop of wide receivers in the league. On top of that, their number one option Michael Crabtree is likely to move on in free agency this off-season. The 49ers simply must get some speed and size on the outside for quarterback Colin Kaepernick if they expect to return to being contenders again next season.
DeVante Parker is a dynamic athlete at the wide receiver position who would give San Francisco a potentially elite level number one option down the road. At 6-foot-3, 209 pounds with long arms, Parker has nice size, good speed and impressive leaping ability. He has great hands, and uses great body control to come down with passes in the air.
16. Houston Texans- Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Quarterback is quite clearly the biggest need that the Houston Texans have. Unfortunately, unless they want to trade up for Winston or Mariota, there simply is not one worth taking in the first round this season. Because of that, continuing to stack up their defense would be a wise move.
Trae Waynes is an athletic cornerback who has great size (6-1, 183) and length for the position. He is a tough player who has experience player man-to-man coverage. Waynes would immediately be a solid option opposite of Johnathan Joseph at corner, with upside to be an elite option moving forward.
17. San Diego Chargers - T.J. Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh
The San Diego Chargers will have some serious holes to fill on an already below average offensive line this off-season. Starting left tackle King Dunlap, guard Jeromey Clary and center Nick Hardwick are all free agents. Aside from last year’s first round pick, right tackle D.J. Fluker, the Chargers do not really have any reliable options under contract.
T.J. Clemmings is a former defensive end, who made the full-time switch to offensive tackle in 2013. He has impressive athleticism for an offensive lineman and a ton of upside, but his talent is very raw. Clemmings has great quickness and athleticism that translates in to good pass blocking skills, but he has been unable to show that on a consistent basis. He has the upside to be a great left tackle after more seasoning, but he could be a solid option for the Chargers at guard right away.
18. Kansas City Chiefs- Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
Everybody knows that the Kansas City Chiefs did not complete a touchdown pass to a wide receiver in the 2014 season. A seemingly impossible task in today’s pass-heavy NFL. While Alex Smith’s dink-and-dunk tendencies certainly did not give them many opportunities, the Chiefs’ wide receivers lacked the playmaking skills to be attractive targets for Smith.
Dorial Green-Beckham is one of the toughest prospects to peg in this class. He is arguably the most talented prospect at any position in the draft, but his constant off-the-field problems are a huge red flag. Green-Beckham is tall, long, fast and freakishly athletic. He has strong hands, and is a very good route runner. Questionable work ethic and multiple drug offenses obviously make Green-Beckham a risky pick, but his upside is absolutely massive.
19. Cleveland Browns- Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
After trading back from the fourth pick last season as the Buffalo Bills came up to draft Sammy Watkins, the Browns have two first round picks this season. After getting an important offensive piece earlier, the Browns would be wise to attack the defensive side of the ball this time around.
Eddie Goldman was a dominant force for Florida State last season, using his impressive combination of power and speed to disrupt offenses all season long. At 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, Goldman has great length and strength that he uses very well against the run. He is very quick for a man his size, and while he does a nice job in pass rush at times, he does not get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Goldman is a very versatile player who could fit in both 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, making him especially attractive to the Browns who like to mix up their defensive fronts.
20. Philadelphia Eagles- Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Landon Collins is commonly considered to be gone before now. He is an incredibly talented player who is a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the field at the safety position. That being said, with the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league by the years, teams do not value the classic strong safety position like they used to. Collins certainly has the talent to go in the top 10, or even top five, but his position could cause him to slide a little bit.
The Philadelphia Eagles would be ecstatic to have Collins fall to them with the 20th pick. Their secondary was a mess last season, and they simply need to add good football players to the mix. Collins would be a perfect complementary player to Eagles’ free safety Michael Jenkins, who specializes in coverage skills. If Collins were to fall this far, the Eagles would race to the podium to make this selection.
Trade: Cincinnati Bengals trade 1st Round Pick (21st Overall) to Dallas Cowboys for 1st Round Pick (27th) and 3rd Round Pick (91).
21. Dallas Cowboys- Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
The Dallas Cowboys had an incredible 2014 season. Led by Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant and arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, the Cowboys were legitimate Super Bowl contenders for the first time in a very long time. That being said, if they expect to improve next season, their defense is going to need some work.
While off-the-field character concerns would definitely make this risky, Marcus Peters has an incredible amount of pure talent and would surely be worth the trade up at this point of the first round. Peters has great length, athleticism, aggressiveness and ball-skills that makes him a potentially elite cornerback option for the Cowboys. He has the talent to cover the best wide receivers that the NFL has to offer, and would be a serious weapon for an average Cowboys’ defense.
Trade: Pittsburgh Steelers trade 1st Round Pick (22nd Overall) and 6th Round Pick (183rd) to Green Bay Packers for 1st Round Pick (30th), 3rd Round Pick (94th) and 5th Round Pick (158th).
22. Green Bay Packers- Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
While it is not typically their style, with few holes on the roster, the Green Bay Packers could afford to give up a couple of picks to trade up for a much needed player. With A.J. Hawk clearly on the decline, and probably on his way out of town, the Packers had to move Clay Matthews inside for a majority of the time at the end of the season. While Matthews played well at inside linebacker, he is more valuable to the team as an outside pass rusher.
Benardrick McKinney is the best inside linebacker in this class, and would be a valuable addition to the Packers’ defense. Drafting McKinney would allow the Packers to leave Matthews on the outside for a majority of the defensive snaps. McKinney is a fluid athlete who has good speed, something that Hawk severely lacks. He is good against the run, but his pass coverage skills could use some work. However, with his speed, the upside is certainly there in coverage.
23. Detroit Lions- Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Not only are both of the Detroit Lions’ starting defensive tackles, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, heading to free agency this off-season, their top two back-ups in Andre Fluellen and C.J. Mosley are as well. They will likely bring at least one of those guys back next season, but it is fair to expect the Lions to at least need some depth at the position come draft time.
Malcom Brown is a stout run defender with good size, strength and athleticism. While he does not have the best array of pass rushing moves, Brown uses his raw skills to get to the quarterback occasionally. Brown does still have some developing to do on the field, so he could easily become a much better player after a year or two in the league.
24. Arizona Cardinals- Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
If it wasn’t for devastating injuries at the quarterback position, the Arizona Cardinals may have been legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2014. They have an impressive offensive core, and a talented attacking defense. The Cardinals could use an upgrade at inside linebacker, but after the Packers traded up and took McKinney, there really is not any player worth taking at the position in this spot.
Andre Ellington has been a productive player at the running back position for the Cardinals over the last couple of years, but injuries have held him back. He could certainly use an effective running mate to help carry the load of an entire season.
Todd Gurley is a powerful back, who would be a perfect complement to Ellington. Gurley runs well for a 230-pound back, and his physical running style makes him a very tough guy to tackle. Gurley is also a good pass receiver out of the backfield, and is better than most backs his age in pass protection.
Gurley suffered a torn ACL injury towards the end of the 2014 season, so that will certainly cause some NFL teams to look in another direction. He is expected to be fully healed and ready to go sometime in August. Durability is a bit of a concern, especially considering the punishment he has taken in the physical SEC in his college career, but Gurley is a very talented running back who has the potential to be special.
25. Carolina Panthers- Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami
With the surprise retirement of Jordan Gross before last season, the Carolina Panthers had the worst offensive tackle situation in the entire NFL. Byron Bell stepped in as the left tackle for most of the year, and his play proved that the Panthers need an upgrade at the position. Right tackle David Foucault was not much better.
Ereck Flowers has nice size (6-5, 324) and good quickness for an offensive lineman. He does a nice job in both pass protection and in the run game, but he has had his struggles against pure speed rushers. Flowers is a talented player who could turn out to be a good left tackle for the Panthers, and is likely to be at least a solid option at right tackle.
26. Baltimore Ravens- Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
The Baltimore Ravens always seem to sit back and wait for the talented player who has dropped in the first round. In this mock draft, Bud Dupree is that player. He is a strong and quick outside pass rusher who has shown some nice versatility in college.
Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil currently make up a great pass rushing duo for the Ravens, but they are not getting any older, and you can never have too many guys who specialize in getting to the quarterback. Dupree is an athletically gifted player who could learn under some great players in Baltimore.
27. Cincinnati Bengals- Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
After trading down and getting some more draft currency earlier in this mock, the Cincinnati Benglas end up adding the next best offensive lineman in this draft. Cameron Erving is a former defensive lineman who has an impressive combination of size (6-foot-5, 308 pounds) and raw athleticism.
Erving is a tough and physical blocker in the run game, and his quickness and length allow him to have success against the pass rush. His footwork can be sloppy at times, but that should clean up with more time at the position. Erving is a versatile prospect who could help the Bengals at many positions across the offensive line. He certainly has the upside to play tackle (even left tackle if his footwork improves enough), but he is likely best suited to be a guard right away.
28. Denver Broncos- Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Not only is Julius Thomas a free agent, so is Jacob Tamme and Virgil Green. The Denver Broncos will look to resign Thomas, but with Demaryius Thomas also hitting free agency, they may have a tough time bringing both guys back.
If they lose out on their starting tight end, obviously Denver will be looking for his replacement in the draft. Maxx Williams is clearly the best prospect at the position in the draft, as he uses his impressive size (6-4, 250), physicality and athleticism very well. He has great hands, and has made many highlight reel catches in traffic and in the red zone. Williams would be a dangerous weapon for Peyton Manning (assuming he returns) right off the bat.
29. Indianapolis Colts- Carl Davis, DL, Iowa
Carl Davis is a versatile defensive lineman who has risen up draft boards after a very impressive performance during Senior Bowl week. He shows a quick burst off the snap, and uses his size (6-5, 321) and strength very well, especially in the run game.
Davis is commonly considered to be a 4-3 defensive tackle, but he shows the strength and athleticism to line up as a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. While they probably would not want to rely on him full time at the position, Davis could step in at nose tackle for the Colts at times as well.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers- P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
Allowing 253.1 passing yards per game, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the sixth worst pass defense in the NFL last season. Ike Taylor is still a decent option at cornerback, but he is far from the player he used to be, and the Steelers do not have much else at the position.
P.J. Williams is a physical and aggressive cover corner who has great speed. He was a shut-down option in college, and his game does translate to the pros. He does not have the pure athleticism as the other corners who have been taken in the first round of this mock, but Williams has good coverage skills, and is a safe bet to be a solid player.
31. Seattle Seahawks- Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
While Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are solid options at the wide receiver position, each player would be better suited second and third options in passing attacks. As the Seattle Seahawks are currently constructed, Russell Wilson simply does not have a wide receiver who has number one upside.
Jaelen Strong is a big (6-3, 215) and physical wide receiver who would instantly be the most athletic target at in the Seahawks passing game, and would give them that true number one upside.. His size and strength makes him difficult to defend for any corner, but add in his impressive quickness, and Strong is sometimes impossible to cover. He does have inconsistent hands, and his route running skills leave plenty to be desired, but Strong is a very talented player who would help fill a position of need for Seattle.
32. New England Patriots- Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots do not have many holes to fill this off-season. Sure, they could use some depth in the defensive front seven and a talent infusion to the interior of the offensive line, but this is a roster that is set up for success.
Because of this, the Patriots could afford to swing for the fences with their first round pick if they choose to do so. Devin Funchess would be fairly high risk, but potentially huge reward type of player for the Patriots.
Funchess is a former tight end who has elite size (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) for the wide receiver position that allows him to overpower smaller cornerbacks on the outside. Fuchess also has great speed and athleticism for his size that allows him to be a match-up nightmare for linebackers and safeties. He has experience lining up at many different positions on the field, giving him incredible versatility.
The Patriots could use Funchess as a bigger and faster Aaron Hernandez, or groom him to be the big-time number one wide receiver they have seemingly always lacked. Regardless, his size, athleticism and versatility would make Funchess a very dangerous weapon for Tom Brady.