Thursday, September 18, 2014

2015 NFL MOCK DRAFT 9-18-14

The NFL and NCAA regular seasons are underway now , but we are already thinking about the 2015 draft .Regular season performances, post-season performances, the salary cap, fee agency, players leaving school early, players deciding to stay in school, injuries etc, can and will change the draft around. Team needs and players stock will rise and fall in the long months until the actual draft takes place. Predicting not only a draft but a draft order so far away is not easy , but our middle name is danger.  

1.NYG-MARCUS MARIOTA-QB-OREGON-Even if Eli returns to form this year it could still be a transition year because the Giants will still be rebuilding, it's much easier to re-stock a team without a big QB salary hindering your flexibility, he is a free agent after the 2015 season, and he is a possible trade chip to a contending team that lacks a QB . If it is they should see if they can figure out if Ryan Nassib is the long term answer at QB, but I doubt he would look much better on this team. If they don't want to go the QB route then the D-line would make a lot of sense.  .Strahan. Tuck, JPP.  Retired, a raider, not the same after back surgery. Even if JPP returns to form Mathias Kiwanuka looks like he already on the downside of his career too. Their interior pass rush is even worse. 

2.OAKLAND-LEONARD WILLIAMS-DT/DE-USC-My guess is GM Reggie McKenzie gets fired despite an excellent draft. They spent too much money and overpaid for too many way past their prime players. They probably should give Derek Carr at least 1 more year at QB to see if he's the guy , but new GM's and coaches are famous for wanting their own guy. Since we haven't seen the final outcome of Carr getting his chance yet we will just give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Williams is an elite DT/DE prospect. Tall. long arms, strong, quick. You name it he's got it. He can rush the passer well enough to be a 3 technique , or hold the point as 5 technique and still give you a pass rush if they should decide to run a 3-4. I would say he is one the most gifted overall players eligible for the 2015 draft. 

3.JACKSONVILLE-RANDY GREGORY-DE/OLB-NEBRASKA-While they drafted pretty well for the long term this year , their choices didn't exactly scream win now.  A project QB in the first round and a injured CB in the 4th makes this season ,less likely to end well.  With those 2 possibly red-shirting ,and the underwhelming Chad Henne manning the ship behind a bad O-line for at least half the season, this year looks like a lost cause already. Gregory is a long armed athlete who would have been a first rounder in 2014's deep draft based on talent alone. The extra year to improve his pass rush moves could make him an elite player.

4.WASHINGTON-VICTOR BEASLEY-OLB/DE-CLEMSON-If Brian Orapko can stay healthy all year the skins probably pay him , but I doubt he does. Beasley was a likely first round pick this year who returned to school. His best fit is a 3-4 OLB even if he puts on another 20 pounds this year as long as he can still get to the QB.  If RG3 returns to form this offense is dangerous, but I'll  believe in this defense only after I see them produce. Their secondary is the main question right now, but nothing makes a secondary better quickly than a good pass rush. The offensive line could also use boost. 

5.TAMPA BAY- CEDRICK OGBUEHI-OT-TEXAS A&M- Carl Nicks was the best guard in football when the bucs signed him. Now after a series of injuries and infections he is retired. The bucs tried to rebuild an aging overpaid, injury prone, underachieving O- line this off-season but it takes time. They even recently acquired future HOFer Logan Mankins to play guard for them.Left tackle Anthony Collins is more of a  is more of a finesse guy who lacks the dominant physicality of a OT that leads a power running game.  Cedrick is an elite athlete for an O-lineman in the Tyron Smith mold who looks more like a big TE than anything else. Barring injury I believe he will be the next in line of the Texas A&M offensive tackles to be taken in the top 10. With the injuries the bucs have already had a possible bright season is starting to look more like one where a top 5 pick is likely.

6.CHEIFS- KEVIN WHITE-WR-W.VIRGINIA-I doubt The Chiefs front office began last off season by saying " Hey, why don't we lose our 3 best O-Lineman in free agency and then just up and cut our 28 year old former pro bowl corner back after OTA's! ". That's what happened though. Flowers didn't have his best season, although he was playing hurt , but he finished strong. When they were seeking to trade him before the draft we knew something was up. Anyway I think there is more we don't know about this. It can't be just his height, although I guess saving 5 million off the cap helps plenty when you feel a guy no longer fits your scheme.  I feel that a tough schedule and all these changes mean a down season for the Chiefs and a possibly an even bigger change because of it. Dwayne Bowe the # 1 receiver on this team and his best skill is his blocking, White is a big strong handed physical receiver that  Alex Smith might be able to depend on in the clutch. 

7.ATLANTA-DANTE FOWLER-DE/OLB-FLORIDAAtlanta is in a rebuilding year and any hope of it being a quick turnaround probably ended when both Sean Weatherperson and Sam Baker went down for the year. Despite it being the second largest need on their team the Falcons waited until the 4th round to draft an edge rusher. Fowler has that kind of ability if he can harness it. A guy with his talent and motor is a safe bet to make a big jump in production this year. With just a little tweaking and improvement in technique he could blow up this season . Adding Jake Matthews and Jon Asamoah to their O-line is an improvement, despite the loss of Baker, but a replacement OT to replace him and his cap number is also a possibility.

8.CLEVELAND-AMARI COOPER-WR-ALA-Even if Josh Gordon comes back his actions have shown that smoking weed is more important to him than football. I actually would have picked them to win 9 games this year if Josh hadn't decided to fail ANOTHER drug test. Even after his most recent failed test he got pulled over in a car that had a passenger carrying weed and that reportedly smelled like weed.  Anything he gives the team would just be a bonus. Personally I think they should draft 2 receivers in the first 3 rounds just to be safe. Miles Austin is a hamstring pull away from the sideline and Andrew Hawkins is an undersized slot guy. Maybe they will play Justin Gilbert on offense this season. Cooper would also give Manziel another target that can rarely be covered one on one. Cooper isn't the biggest or fastest ,but he can separate, is great at timing his jumps, and usually comes down with it in jump ball situations. 

9.HOUSTON-JAMEIS WINSTON-QB-FSU-Tom Savage? meh. Ryan Fitzpatrick? Nope. Coach O'brien could decide to go with a known commodity by signing free agent Ryan Mallet, but unless he's great this season I doubt it . Mallet blossoming under O'briens tutelage is probably the Texans best chance of a long term answer of the 3 choices, but  I doubt they go down that road if a top QB prospect is available when they pick. . If they really wanted Mallet they could have traded a 3rd round choice on draft day for him. Waiting till right before the season to trade for him, and only investing a late round pick in Mallet makes me doubt O'briens love of him.  So far Fitz has been a disaster and Savage is a project that is far from ready. Despite a great draft this could be a turnover/rebuilding year.  If the Texans are going to waste the talents of Jadavian Clowney in coverage,  instead of rushing the passer , they deserve to learn the hard way and finish dead last again. On the bright side an elite talent like Winston, under the tutelage of a QB guru like O'brien ,could lead to awesome results. If Winston can stay out of trouble he can be a great pro QB. On the field I prefer him to Mariota right now because he keeps his eyes down field and makes great throws in the clutch , regardless of the rush bearing down on him. If he tightens up his delivery & mechanics , can stay off of TMZ, and then can convince teams he has grown up , he should go very high.

10.TENNESEE-BRETT HUNDLEY-QB-UCLA-Despite his obvious talent Zach Mettenburgers knee & back woes, and some off the field troubles made him free fall to the 6th round. With so little an investment in him a new top QB can easily come in to replace Jake Locker if he fails again.  Right now I think that's Hundley. He is a good athlete for the position, and his leadership skills are unquestioned. . Even if given the choice Ken Whisenhunt is more likely to take a safe off the field guy like Mariota/Hundley than a maybe better but troubled Jameis Winston if he was available when they picked.  This team has almost everything ,and are probably just a good QB away play should make them a contender quickly.

11.CAROLINA-BRANDON SCHERFF-OT-IOWA--Jordan Gross retiring seems to have caught the Panthers by surprise, and they didn't do much to remedy it in the draft. Their plan to move Byron Bell to the left side smacks of desperation to me. Their other option is converted former TE /DT Nate Chandler. He is a great athlete , but they are counting on him to make a Jason Peters-like jump up this year.  Maybe they are right and both are undiscovered studs , but that seems like 2 huge gambles to base the health of your franchise QB on,. Even a physical specimen like Newton can only take so many hits and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets hurt this season. He is already coming off a rebuilt ankle this off-season. He also recently suffered a fractured rib in the pre-season. O-line At least they made a concerted effort to get him a better(or at least  more reliable and supportive) receiving core, but at this point a healthy Steve Smith is still better than anyone they now have. Scherff is an angry mauler that could set the tone for a decade in the power, run first, ball control offense that the panthers run. He would also upgrade the pass blocking at one of the tackle positions. 

12.CLEVELAND-(buffalo)-LANDON COLLINS-S-ALA-Bringing in Veteran Donte Whitner to replace TJ Ward is just a band-aid, and a downgrade at safety.  Whitner is a fierce  hitter, but he misses too many tackles and doesn't provide enough in coverage to be a long term solution. Collins does all that  Whitner doesn't in coverage, is a good tackler, and he can deliver some big hits too.

13.RAMS-CONNOR COOK-QB-MICHIGAN ST- I was planning on picking the rams to make the playoffs this year but Sam Bradford got hurt ... AGAIN. Sorry Sam, I have stood up for you time after time, but maybe you really can't stay healthy. So now they NEED to draft a QB. Cook has the size and arm strength NFL teams crave. They should also dump the ultra, stone-age, predictable offense that OC Brian Schottenheimer likes to run. 

14.MINNESOTA-MARIO EDWARDS-DE-FLA.ST- If Teddy Bridgewater had begun the season as the starting QB , and Adrian Peterson hadn't been put on paid leave, the vikings had a chance to compete for a playoff spot. Now I expect them to struggle until one or both is in the starting lineup. Shariff Floyd, Linval Joseph, and Fred Evans are all good options on the inside , but none of them have the elite talent Edwards does. Edwards was the only player I saw give #2 overall pick Greg Robinson trouble in the run game this year. He is a physical specimen who's prodigious strength could make him very versatile, but he needs to be on the field for more snaps and show a larger variety of pass rush moves. He has the talent and frame to play inside or outside in a 4-3, or be a 5 technique in a odd front.

15.DALLAS-LEONARD FLOYD-DE/OLB-GA-Even if Demarcus Lawrence works out at one end spot the front four pass rush is the key to this defense, and Dallas seems to be counting on depth instead of proven high end talent to get to the QB this season. Aging/injured Anthony Spencer probably can't be counted on long term, and Henry Melton is also coming off a torn ACL. If he adds a few pounds Floyd can be that elite right end that leads the front 4 pressure and they could move Lawrence over to the strong-side long term. This team can go 5-11 or 11-5 depending on Romo's(back disc surgery!) health alone. Romo's over/under is 10 games to me ,and I'm betting the under right now. If Brandon Weeden's the replacement QB I expect a lot of losses.Losing Sean :Lee for the year doesn't help either. That means that the 3 best players on last years BAD defense are no longer on the field for Dallas. Even without Lee if Romo is healthy for 16 games and the defense is just average I think they win the division this year, but I just doubt his body can hold up for the whole season, and that their pass rush on the outside will get it done.

16.CHICAGO-CODY PREWITT-S-O.MISS- The Bears and the Cowboys both desperately needed safeties this year. Both teams had their pick of the litter and both teams passed. Other(some might might say smarter)  teams snatched up all 4 universally high rated safeties in the 1rst round. They did draft the versatile Kyle Fuller with their 1rst pick, and he is big, smart, and physical enough to play safety if necessary.  Although that's not Fullers best position and Peanut Tillman is 33 and coming off a serious injury. They also drafted Brock Vereen in round 4, but even if he works out that's just one safety spot filled. Prewitt led the SEC in picks last year and the bears secondary prides themselves on taking away the ball. He is also a big hitter. 

17.DETROIT-IFO EKPRE OLUMNU-CB-OREGON-The Lions have finally admitted the Chris Houston big money contract was a mistake and moved on another corner is needed.The lions keep drafting corners in the 2nd round and later. This time they make sure and get an elite talent by drafting one first. Ifo is a fierce guy with elite coverage skills who plays a lot bigger than he is. 

18.BALTIMORE-MELVIN GORDON-RB-WISCONSIN-With Ray Rice looking beat down on the field, and facing a indefinite suspension for beating down his wife,the Ravens need kelp at running back.  Bernard Pierce is probably the man at RB for the ravens this year. The bruising Pierce could get help from fellow big back rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro , but neither is the consistent big play threat that Gordon is, An explosive back that can take a full load of carries and force defenses to game-plan around him. Gordon can take it the house and is a surprisingly physical runner for his build.  His ridiculous yards per carry last season when everyone knew he was getting the ball shows just how good he is.He hasn't shown much as a receiver or in pass pro yet, but I imagine he could do some serious damage if he caught the ball in an open space. 

19.NYJ-TODD GURLEY-RB-GEORGIA-Remember when the ground and pound jets were making the AFC championship despite a crappy QB? A bruising running game was the key just as much as the defense. Gurley reminded me of Eric Dickerson pre-knee-injury. If he is %100 this year , regains that pre-injury burst, and returns completely to form, look out! Even last year he was a big straight ahead power back who can carry the load and contribute to the passing game. If this is his ceiling now post-injury he still reminds me of Steven Jackson and that's a very good thing. 

20.MIAMI-DENZEL PERRYMAN-ILB/OLB-MIA--Daniel Ellerbe did not play well in the middle last season, and he suffered a season ending injury in week one this year. A new QB for the defense will be a top priority and hometown boy Perryman is my pick to end the season as the best MLB in the draft.  Speaking of changing QB's, Ryan Tannehill can still be a franchise QB but I think it's possible he goes when Philbin gets fired and the new guy wants his own QB. The front office turnover this year ,combined with injuries to key players, lame duck coach, the Incognito scandal, and unpredictable ownership all give me a bad feeling for this season. So despite a strong overall draft and free agency period I am thinking the Dolphins go backwards this year.

21.ARIZONA-SHANE RAY-DE/OLB-MIZZ- The cards need an edge rusher that is fluid and quick enough to drop into coverage as a 3-4 OLB, and strong enough to hold the point as a DE when they go to nickle. Ray didn't get as much spotlight as the steady Kony Ealy/ or media creation Michael Sam last season. He did however make a lot of plays as an edge rusher. Now , he has a chance to shine in the spotlight. He is fast off the ball , closes really well , and his bets position in the pro's is probably as a rush backer. 

22.PITTSBURGH- JAELEN STRONG WR-AZ.ST- Since Plaxico Burress left after his rookie season Ben Roethlesberger has wanted another big wide receiver. Strong would give Big Ben  another big target who he can throw it up to, but also have the speed and running ability to make plays after the catch. Strong has a playing style similar to to AJ Green but plays with a little more physicality.

23.EAGLES-SHAWN OAKMAN-DE/DT-BAYLOR-Chip Kelly likes tall guys with long arms on defense. That describes the raw athletic Oakman to a tee. Think somewhere between Calais Campbell/Michael Johnson and you are on the the right track.He has the perfect frame for a NFL 5 technique and be a cornerstone of the rebuilt defense under Kelly. . 

24.BENGALS-SHAQ THOMPSON-OLB-WASHINGTON- The  Bengals have Vontaze Burfict at OLB, and while he is great there he could also be great in the middle, where they have kept trotting out under-performing Rey Malaluga despite his sub-par play.  In today's pass happy NFL anyone who can't cover is a liability. Thompson is a former safety who files to the ball and between him and Burfict they would be able to cover a lot of ground.

25.CHARGERS-TRAE WAYNES-CB-MICH.ST--After drafting Jason Verret in 2014, and signing Brandon Flowers the chargers now have a chance to have 2 good corners, but both are undersized.. Even if somebody else steps up here at least one more corner is needed in today's pass happy NFL, and he needs to be a bigger guy. Adding the tall and physical Waynes to Weddle, Verret, Flowers, and a improving Marcus Gilchrist can make what was once a weakness into a strength

26.GREEN BAY-ANDRUS PEAT-OT-STANFORD-A long term replacement for the perennially injured Brian Bulaga couldn't hurt, or an upgrade for the under powered David Bakhtiari. Since Chad Clifton started to go downhill teh Pck has lacked an OT that can play at high level and stay healthy. Derek Sherrod has been such a bust that I fear for Rodgers safety everything Sherrod plays. 

27.SAN FRANCISCO-MARCUS PETERS-CB-WASH ST-The 49ers are the leagues deepest team from top to  bottom but the one position they are really struggling at is corner back. I am sure they would rather move first round safety Jimmy Ward back to the position they drafted him to play. Peters could help fill that void. 

28.PATRIOTS-DEVIN FUNCHESS-WR/TE-MICHIGAN-The real offense the Patriots want to run is predicated on 2 tight end sets . Right now even if Gronk is completely healthy for the season he is called on to block a lot , because he is far better than any other blocking TE the pats have. They shocked us all and didn't draft any in 2013. Doubt that happens this time around. Funchess would give them a move TE to replace Aaron Hernandez and open up the offense. 

29.COLTS-LA'EL COLLINS-T/G-LSU-I have never thought Anthony Costanzo was meant to be a left tackle. After all the hits he took last year I bet Andrew Luck agrees,.The interior O-line is a bigger worry right now, but I wouldn't pay Costanzo left tackle money on a long term deal unless he improves a lot this season. Even if they decided to keep Costanzo ,they look like they need an upgrade inside, and La'el's best fit might be at guard. 

30.SEATTLE-MICHAEL BENNETT-DT-OHIO ST-The sea-hawks are showing a lot of the signs of a team that misses the playoffs a year after winning the Superbowl. . From Players leaving in free agency , cut because of the cap , others getting huge contracts, divorces, commercials, holdouts, a hard schedule in the toughest division in football where every other team got better, fame and it's trappings, etc.... but they still have a very talented roster with some great leaders, So while  I won't pick them to win it all , I definitely still see them as a contender. After  their confusing draft was added in to the mix, I wouldn't even pick  them to repeat as champs in the NFC west, except San Francisco's corners are suspect. and Aldon Smith & Navarro Bowman are likely to miss the first half of the season.  Without home-field advantage in the playoffs I think the Superbowl is out. .  In 3 years their 4th,5th and ,6th round draft picks may be stars in typical Seahawks fashion but they need depth now.  They over-drafted injury prone Justin Britt this year but did little else to help the O-line. Next year they are probably going to lose some key players. because you can't pay everybody and Russell Wilson is next at the pay window, A real QB contract should keep them from also paying Cliff Avril, KJ Wright and Byron Maxwell. At the very least they will lose 2 out of those 3. Since Avril cost the most he will probably be the most likely to go. Bennett has that elite first step that would fit right into this pass rush. 

31.SAINTS-HRONISS GRASU-C-OREGON- 35 year old center Jonathan Goodwin is on the decline, and keeping the pocket clean up the middle is they key to 6 foot Drew Brees being able to throw the ball well. Grasu is the best center in college football right now with the athleticism to become an elite player once he adds a little more strength. 

32.DENVER-SHILIQUE CALHOUN-DE-MICH. ST-Calhoun is a relentless player who probably fits best on the strong side. While Von Miller comes down to the line on obvious downs opposite DeMarcus Ware there isn't a regular DE across from Ware who helps much against the pass. 

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