The NCAA ALL-STAR invites are going out now , so you know people are thinking about the 2015 draft now. Regular season performances, post-season performances, the salary cap, free agency, players leaving school early, players deciding to stay in school, injuries etc, can and will change the draft. 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. NFL Player comparisons have been added .So next to each player is the NFL player we feel they will most resemble in their prime if they are a hit. The comp is for on the field play only ,and the higher they are ranked the more likely we think they will reach that comparison.
# Is for a player with with reported character or maturity concerns
* Is for a player with reported injury concerns
1.OAKLAND-LEONARD WILLIAMS-DT/DE-USC-NFL COMP-MUHAMMAD WILKERSON-NYJ-Coach Dennis Allen has already been fired , and despite an excellent draft in 2014 , GM Reggie Mckenzie is on the hot seat as well. They spent too much money and overpaid for too many way past their prime players. They probably should give Derek Carr at least one 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, and 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 a 5 technique and still give you a pass rush if they should decide to run a 3-4. I would say he is one of the most gifted overall players eligible for the 2015 draft. Realistically, I expect someone to trade up with Oakland, and take a QB first, but it's way too early to be projecting trades in a mock draft.
2.JACKSONVILLE-BRANDON SCHERFF-IOWA-NFL COMP-JOE STALEY-SF-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 two possibly red-shirting, and the plan being to start the underwhelming Chad Henne behind a bad O-line for at least half the season, this year looked like a lost cause already. However, after 3 weeks of bad offense the Jags have decided to throw Blake Bortles into the fire. While Blake is a big tough guy with mobility, he is still behind a bad O-line. 2013 #2 overall pick Luke Joeckel hasn't quite lived up to his draft status yet, but there is still plenty of time for that. Scherff has been slowed by an injury he came back from too quickly, but the attitude he plays with could help this entire team step forward. The top 3 pre-season OT's have all disappointed this season, but Scherff is the only one with a legit reason to explain it. Plus, he has improved as he has gotten healthier. I expect whichever OT is the consensus #1 after the senior bowl will go here, but Scherff is the safest of them all, and he has the best technique. At the very least he will be a long term starter at one tackle spot A mauler like him has the kind of attitude that can infect an entire O-line.
3.TAMPA BAY-MARCUS MARIOTA-QB-OREGON-NFL COMP-RG3-WASH- The bucs have went back to Josh McCown as their starter. That is a clear sign they don't see Mike Glennon as their QB of the future. Mariota is the clear cut # 1 QB due to Winstons off he field issues. Now Lovie needs to hire a QB guru offensive coordinator. A lack of an high level was his weakness in Chicago. If he can hire a guy to not only tutor Marcus, but also someone who can tailor an offense to meet the skills he already possesses , the bucs could have a quick turnaround.
4.WASHINGTON- SHANE RAY-OLB/DE-MIZZ- NFL COMP-ROBERT MATHIS-INDY-If Brian Orapko could stay healthy all year, the 'Skins would probably have payed him, but he is out for the year again. . 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, and there is no secondary player worth this high of a pick. The offensive line could also use a boost.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, has been a far better player than either, and he has a relentless motor. He is fast off the ball, closes really well, and his best position in the pro's is as a rush backer
5.NYJ-JAMEIS WINSTON-QB-FLORIDA ST-NFL COMP-WARREN MOON-retired-The Jets badly need a QB. However, Mariota and Winston are the only two worth a top 5 pick right now. Yes, "IF" Rex Ryan is retained, he is the kind of coach that would love to take a chance on a cocky winner like Jameis Winston. Rex just wants to win regardless of the off-the-field stuff
6.TENN-RANDY GREGORY-DE/OLB-NEBRASKA-NFL COMP-SIMEON RICE-retired-Despite his obvious talent, Zach Mettenburger's knee & back woes, and some off the field troubles made him free fall to the 6th round. They are finally at least giving Zach a shot to see if he is the future, but they have so little an investment in him, a new QB can easily be brought in if they end up with a record bad enough to have a shot at Mariota or Winston. Also, some other QB could separate themselves between now and the draft. As of today there probably won't be a QB worthy of this high a pick when there time at the podium comes. So they might as well take the best player available at a position that you can never get enough of. Gregory has an ideal frame with long arms, and he is agile enough to rush off the edge in a 3-4 or 4-3.
7.NYG-SHAQ THOMPSON-OLB/RB-WASHINGTON-NFL COMP-THOMAS DAVIS-CAR-The giants have consistently lacked play-makers at LB for the last few years, especially against the pass. Thompson is a play-making former safety who flies to the ball all over the field. The scary thing is ,in addition to being an obvious first round pick as a weak-side backer,he looks like a first round running back as well.
8.CHICAGO-LANDON COLLINS-S-ALA-NFL COMP-RESHAD JONES-MIA-- 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 four universally high rated safeties in the first round. They did draft the versatile Kyle Fuller with their first pick, and he is big, smart, and physical enough to play safety if necessary. Although that's not Fuller's best position. Peanut Tillman is 33, he just re-injured his triceps , and was put on IR again.. They also drafted Brock Vereen in round 4, but even if he works out that's just one safety spot filled. Collins is a complete safety that could stabilize this secondary. Adding him to Kyle Fuller alone would give them a strong foundation on the back end for 7 to 10 years.
9.CAROLINA-RONNIE STANLEY-OT-N.DAME-NFL COMP-DUANE BROWN-HOU-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 two huge gambles to base the health of your franchise QB. 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. 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. In 2013 Stanley was the right tackle at N, Dame, and played very well.,but he has made the transition over to the left side this year with good results. In fact he has been improving as the year goes along, You can bet your ass that Newton would be happy to know Stanley was on his blind side.
10.MINNESOTA-DEVANTE PARKER-WR-LVILLE-NFL COMP-DEZ BRYANT-DALL- 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. Cordarelle Patterson is a great athlete ad weapon, but polished #1 receiver he is not. Greg Jennings is more of a polished # 2 receiver, but he is currently paid like a #1. The Vikings could give Teddy a familiar down field threat in his college go to guy in Parker. This is a receiver Teddy can just depend on to come down with the ball even when he's covered,save a pile of money on Jennings, and acquire a potential # 1 receiver.
11.RAMS-CONNOR COOK-QB-MICHIGAN ST-NFL COMP-MATT RYAN-ATL- 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. They should also dump the ultra, stone-age, predictable offense that OC Brian Schottenheimer likes to run. Cook has the size and arm strength NFL teams crave, and is clean off the field the way Jeff Fisher will demand after the Vince Young saga.
12.CLEVELAND-(buffalo)-GEROD HOLLIMAN-S-LOUISVILLE-NFL COMP-DARREN SHARPER-retired-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. Holiman does all that Whitner does in coverage, has blazing speed for a safety, is a good tackler, and he can deliver some big hits too. He is a former corner that has taken to fre safety like a duck to water. After picking off Jameis Winston twice, thus giving him a NCCA leading 10 picks, any worries about his numbers being inflated due to lesser competition have gone by the wayside. He's a center-fielder type, and lacks the versatility of Landon Collins, but he is also a superior play-maker .
14.HOUSTON-DEVIN FUNCHESS-WR/TE-NFL COMP-AARON HERNANDEZ-retired-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'brien's tutelage is probably the Texans' best chance of a long term answer of the three choices, but I doubt they go down that road if a top QB prospect is available when they pick. Unless they trade way up in the draft I doubt one that O'brien would want will be there anyway. If they really wanted Mallet, they could have traded a 3rd rounder on draft day for him. Waiting until right before the season to trade for him, and only investing a late round pick in Mallet makes me doubt O'brien's love of him. He is finally starting so we will give him the benefit of the doubt for now. long time stud WR Andre Johnson looks like a guy who won't be in Houston next year. By drafting Funchess the Texans could give Mallet a huge down field threat and save a pile of money on the cap. He would be a match-up nightmare as a move TE, or as a WR.
15. CHEIFS-AMARI COOPER-WR-ALA-NFL COMP-REGGIE WAYNE-INDY -I doubt The Chiefs front office began last off season by saying " Hey, why don't we lose our three 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 possibly an even bigger change because of it. Dwayne Bowe is the # 1 receiver on this team and his best skill is his blocking. Cooper is a polished receiver who always seems to be open,has great timing ,plays bigger than he is, and he can make things happen after the catch.
17.BENGALS-KEVIN WHITE-WR-W.VIRGINIA-NFL COMP-ALSHON JEFFERY-CHI- White could give the Bengals the target opposite AJ Green that would punish teams for their double and triple teams on him. White is a big strong handed physical receiver that Dalton might be able to depend on in the clutch. Also, Andy Dalton has a tendency to just throw the ball up down-field when pressured , and White is the kind of guy that can come down with it. . Of course, maybe the best thing they can do is replace Dalton.
18.SAN FRANCISCO-SHAWN OAKMAN-DE/DT-BAYLOR-NFL COMP-CALAIS CAMPBELL-AZ-- Unless a big corner finds a way to separate himself from the pack the Niners will probably go another direction in the first round. A good pass rush always makes corners look better. Oakman is a tall, long armed, physical specimen with a prototypical frame for a 5 technique. He could easily put on 20 pounds without affecting his skills much, and bulking up would allow him to also kick inside as a DT in nickel . If he plays with a little more leverage against the run, and a more consistent motor, his pass rush from a 5 technique could be elite. A lot of people see him as a 4-3 end, but I think he lacks the first step of an elite edge rusher. With longtime standouts Justin Smith and Ray McDonald getting older by the day,a infusion of youth would help them continue the tradition of excellence that Tank Carradine has so far failed to live up to
19.CLEVELAND-JAELEN STRONG-WR-AZ-NFL COMP-LARRRY FITZGERALD-AZ--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. Strong is physical , strong handed , fearless receiver that can be depended on.
20.EAGLES-KEVIN JOHNSON-CB-W. FOREST-NFL COMP-TRAMON WILLIAMS-GB-Chip Kelly likes versatile tall guys with long arms on defense. Neither Bradley Fletcher or Cary Williams has become the # 1 corner that matches up with an opposing teams top receiver , and can be expected to man him up with success. Johnson could be that guy. He is the safest of all the taller corners right now.
22.DETROIT-EDDIE GOLDMAN-DT-FLA.ST-NFL COMP-MARCEL DAREUS -BUFF--Nick Fairley has shown at times that he is a pro bowl caliber talent, but he has lacks the consistent work ethic for the Lions to trust him with a big contract. They already declined his 2015 option and since they need to pay Suh very soon they probably couldn't afford him anyway. However, Suh want so much much money that I now doubt they can afford him. If Suh gets the 15 plus million a year contract he wants the Lions will have 3 (Suh, Megatron, Stafford) players that average over 15 million a year on their cap. That has already made it very hard to miantain a winning ream under the cap. In that case they could resign the much cheaper Fairley at the 3 technique ,and draft someone who can play the one tech. Goldman is force inside and might even be quick enough to play the both sides ,and give the Lions flexibility to upgrade whatever side they prefer in other areas.
23.PITTSBURGH-#MARCUS PETERS-CB-WASH-NFL COMP-DESMOND TRUFANT-ATL-Since Plaxico Burress left after his rookie season, Ben Roethlesberger has wanted another big wide receiver. With Martavis Bryant finally filing that spot the Steelers can concentrate on their defense. Long tome stalwart corner Ike Taylor wil be a free agent again after this year, and while he hasn't played great he has been a lot better than Cortez Allen. The problem is they just gave Allen a new free agent contract last year, and they can't afford to cut him. So they need a cheap infusion of high level corner talent. Peters plays corner at a high level in a good conference, and the only reason he lasts to the 20th pick is that was dismissed from the team for arguing with a coach.Peters could replace Taylor long term. How he does in interviews will ultimately decide how high he goes.
24.MIAMI-MELVIN GORDON-RB-WISC-NFL COMP-JAMALL CHARLES-KC-Moreno, Brown, and James are all going to be free agnets at RB for the Dolphins this off season. With Lamar Miller playing his best in a tandem another RB needs to be added. Todd Gurleys injury clears up any doubts about who the number one running back in this draft is now. Just to put an exclamation point on his claim Gordon broke the NCAA single game rushing record ( 408 yards! ) against Nebraska in 3 quarters. Even though that record was broken next week he still has a chance to break the single season rushing record. He's an explosive game breaker that any team would love to have,
25.BALTIMORE-IFO EKPRE-ORE-NFL COMP-OLUMU-BRENT GRIMES-MIA-Lardarius Webb has declined for two straight seasons ,will be 30 years-old in 2015, and his salary goes up to a cap busting twelve million dollars as well. Olumu is clearly the best corner in this draft technique-wise, but like Jason Verret last year his size probably limits him to being drafted outside the top 15 picks.With today's pass happy NFL a guy who excels in the slot is a must .
26.COLTS-ANDRUS PEAT-OT-STAN-NFL COMP-DOUG FREE-DALL-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, but Costanzo has played a little better in 2014.The interior O-line is also a worry , but the Colts need to avoid paying Costanzo left tackle money on a long term deal . Peat would give them a big upgrade as a run blocker. When he learns to fire his hands more consistently, and be more aggressive as a pass blocker , he will be an above average overall OT.
27.SEATTLE-MARIO EDWARDS-DE-FLA.ST-NFL COMP-JUSTIN SMITH-SF-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, but they may yet win the division. 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,Malcolm Smith, and Byron Maxwell. At the very least they will lose 2 out of those 4. Shockingly the main reason for the Seattle defense falling about this yea is a lack of pass rush. Losing the likely to be expensive Avril will only make things worse. Edwards is a much better fit inside as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE. He could be the replacement for the more expensive and injured Bradon Mebane.
28.GREEN BAY-CEDRICK OGBUEHI-OT-TEXAS-NFL COMP-TYRON SMITH-DALL- A&M-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 the Pack 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 every-time Sherrod plays. Cedrick had a great year in 2013 at right tackle, but his transition to left tackle this season did not go very well. Bulaga is a free agent after this season , and I can't see the packers paying someone that injury prone much money. Ogbuehi is an elite talent who's best football might still be ahead of him. He has the frame to carry 315 plus pounds of muscle , and still look like a giant TE, just like (Tyron Smith) the player he reminds me of. Cedrick's struggles are due to a lack of football IQ, not talent. When he is confident in who he is blocking it's pretty much over for them. Putting him next to a guy with a high football IQ like Josh Sitton is exactly what he needs to develop into a high level NFL starter
29.PATRIOTS-DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM-WR-OKLAHOMA-NFL COMP-RANDY MOSS-retired-This guy is the closest thing to Randy Moss to come into the draft in a while. However, he also has a laundry list of off the field problems like Moss did when he came out of school. Belichick has shown a willingness to take chances on great talents when they fall down the draft board, just like oft-injured 1rst round pick Dominique Easley this year. With Brady desperately needing play makers on offense this pick would go along way toward healing the rift Billy has created.
30.DALLAS-LA-EL COLLINS-OT-LSU-NFL COMP-MARSHALL YANDA-BALT-Dallas has the best offensive line in the league right now, but free agency could start to tear apart what they have so recently built. Even with thirty year old right tackle Doug free in the mix the average age of the line is 25.4 years. Free is a free agent after this year , and last time he was given a big contract extension his play went downhill. Maybe that wouldn't happen this time, but unless Free is willing to give a large hometown discount they can't afford him. A 30 year old above average right tackle could get somewhere in the neighborhood of a 5 year 40 million dollar deal , with half that guaranteed. Dallas has a bad cap situation, Dez Bryant is due a big deal , and Rolando McClain could be due a decent raise as well. Add that backup swing tackle Jermey Parnell is also a free agent, and while maybe he isn't a guy proven enough to turn over the job to on a line this good, he has played well enough in fill in duty that someone will pay him at least low level starter money next year. That makes right tackle the number one priority for Dallas. Their stellar rookie right guard Zack Martin was the Notre Dame left tackle last year. Many think Collins is a better fit at guard too, but he has looked just fine at left tackle this year. While a zone scheme isn't his ideal fit , he has enough athleticism to make it work as a right tackle.Dallas and Baltimore have begun a new type of zone blocking revolution ,by running the scheme with bigger lineman. His aggressive attitude would also make any coach , RB, fellow line-mates, and QB happy.
31.ARIZONA-BUD DEPREE-DE/OLB-KENTUCKY-NFL COMP-JUSTIN HOUSTON-KC-the probable retirement of John Abraham after another concussion has only exacerbated their need at OLB. The cards need an edge rusher that is fluid and quick enough to drop into coverage as a 3-4 OLB. Bud could that guy .He has had back-to-back good seasons in the SEC, with very little top level talent to draw double teams away from him.