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Monday, November 10, 2014

2015 NFL DRAFT 11-10-14

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, 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. 








1.OAKLAND-LEONARD WILLIAMS-DT/DE-USC-GM Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen were 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 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-LSU-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. 





3.TENNESEE-MARCUS MARIOTA-QB-OREGON-Despite his obvious talent, Zach Mettenburger's knee & back woes, and some off the field troubles made him free fall to the 6th round. I would at least give Zach a shot to see if he is the future, but so far they aren't 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 Mariota. He is a great athlete for the position, and I would love to see what he could do behind this O-line. He is not just all tools though. His skills have increased every year, and he is now a good passer as well.  Even if given the choice, Ken Whisenhunt is more likely to take a safe off-the-field guy like Mariota/Hundley than maybe a better but troubled Jameis Winston if he was available when they picked. This team has almost everything, and are probably just good QB play from quickly becoming a contender . Mariota is the best QB in this class right now, and he also has a high upside, but his penchant for fumbling could be the thing that keeps him out of the top 5.





4.TAMPA BAY-JAMEIS WINSTON-QB-FLORIDA ST- 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. With Winston being a Florida guy, I could see there being lenty of pressure to take him, as long as he he has no more off the field incidents leading up to the draft.  Lovie Smith is a players' coach who probably thinks he can reach and motivate Jameis. What he really needs is a QB guru on staff that Winston will listen to and learn from. 




5.NYJ-RANDY GREGORY-DE/OLB-NEBRASKA-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. Injuries at corner have been compounded by them letting the veteran tandem of Revis and Cromartie go in back-to-back years. Rex Ryan wants press man corners so he can bring a variety of looks and blitzes. However, we don't foresee there being a corner worth a top 5 pick. So unless they start winning soon, a corner is probably out with this pick.


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6.ATLANTA-LEONARD FLOYD-DE/OLB-GAAtlanta is in a rebuilding year, and any hope of it being a quick turnaround probably ended when both Sean Weatherspoon 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. 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. Home state hero Floyd has the athleticism to play OLB in the Falcons 3-4, and bolster their pass rush. He also has a large enough frame to add a little weight so he can play DE when they go to an even front.





7.WASHINGTON- SHANE RAY-OLB/DE-MISSOURI- If Brian Orapko could stay healthy all year, the 'Skins would probably have payed him, but he is out for the year again. 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 best position in the pro's is as a rush backer.  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.





8.CAROLINA-LA-EL COLLINS-OT-LSU-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. Whether because of injury or just less than stellar play, the consensus top 3 OT's this year have struggled. Collins on the other hand has been better than most expected. If Scherff is healthy and looks significantly improved for his bowl game, or a team wants someone more comfortable on the right side(Ogbuehi), then they could still go ahead of La'el. I actually think some of the pecking order will be decided by the Senior bowl; but for now, Collins has played the best so far. He plays with the type of angry, mauling, bad-ass attitude that could go after someone taking cheap shots at Cam. 




9.HOUSTON-CONNOR COOK-QB-MICHIGAN ST-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. 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. 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. On the field, Winston is the best QB in this draft, with a winners poise and top level tools. Cook has the right build, tools, character, and leadership O'Brien prefers. 



10.CHICAGO-GEROD HOLLIMAN-S-LOUISVILLE- 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. Holliman is a former corner that has taken to 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. If he keeps this up, and checks out off the field, he could end up a top 10 pick that even goes ahead of  Landon Collins.




11.RAMS-
ANDRUS PEAT-OT-STANFORD- 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. However, they may give Austin Davis a shot, and they may get Bradford back at a (finally) affordable price. No matter what they do at QB ,there isn't one worth this pick in this scenario. LT Jake Long will be gone though. He tore his ACL again, and his salary is a hindrance. I doubt they will want to pay the talented but inconsistent Joseph Barksdale what he can get on the free agent market. So between Peat and Greg Robinson they should be able to cover both offensive tackle spots.



12. 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 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. White is a big strong handed physical receiver that  Alex Smith might be able to depend on in the clutch. 



13.NYG-SHAQ THOMPSON-OLB-WASHINGTON - The giants have consistently lacked play-makers at LB the last couple of years, especially against the pass. Thompson is a play-making  former safety who flies to the ball. What's really scary about Shaq is that he might even be a better running back. 






14.MINNESOTA-CLEVELAND-DEVIN FUNCHESS-WR/TE- 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 huge down field threat ,save a pile of money on Jennings, and acquire a potential # 1 receiver , if they drafted the versatile Funchess. He would be a match-up nightmare as a move TE, or as a WR. 






15.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 does in coverage, has blazing speed for a safety, is a good tackler, and he can deliver some big hits too.







16.SAN FRANCISCO- -SHAWN OAKMAN-DE/DT-BAYLOR- 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 physical specimen with a prototypical frame for a 5 technique. He could easily put on 20 pounds without affecting his skills much . If he plays with a little more leverage against the run, his pass rush from a 5 technique could be elite. 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. 



17.BENGALS-AMARI COOPER-WR-ALA -  Cooper could give the Bengals the target opposite AJ Green that would punish teams for their double and triple teams on him. Also, Andy Dalton has a tendency to just  throw the ball up down-field when pressured . Cooper always seems to be open, he has great timing, and he can make things happen after the catch. Of course, maybe the best thing they can do is replace Dalton. 




18.BALTIMORE-IFO EKPRE-OLUMU-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 this 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 .



19.CHARGERS-REESE DISMUKES-C-AUBURN-The loss of veteran center Nick Hardwick is patently obvious to anyone watching the Chargers play.  Dismukes is a smart tough guy run blocker, and while he looks good in limited passing snaps, the more good pass plays he has on tape the higher he can go. A good showing at the senior bowl could easily vault him ahead of the less physical Grasu as the top center in the draft.It SHOULD be an offensive lineman, but if its  not Todd Gurley would fill a big need.  




20.DETROIT-MICHAEL BENNETT-DT-OHIO ST-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. What they need next to Suh is a quick penetrating 3 technique. That describes Bennett  to a tee, although he has played out of postilion at the one too much this season. With Suh as the one technique, Bennett would see plenty of 1 v 1 match-ups at the 3 technique where he belongs. .




21.SAINTS- HRONISS GRASU-C-OREGON-35 year old center Jonathan Goodwin is on the decline, and keeping the pocket clean up the middle is the 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. He gets the nod over Dukes on account of his much larger number of pass blocking snaps,especially in this offense.




22.MIAMI-AJ CANN-OG-S.CAROLINA-The dolphins spent money and draft picks to improve their O-Line in 2014 . While the offensive tackles have been a significant improvement, the guard play could use an upgrade. AJ is the best guard in this draft, and his football IQ and character would be one more nail in coffin of the Incognito days.



23.CLEVELAND-DEVANTE PARKER-WR-LVILLE-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. Parker would also give Hoyer/Manziel another target that can rarely be covered one on one. Parker 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.This guy would have been a  second round pick in last years ridiculously deep receiver draft. After missing the first 7 games of the year healing from foot surgery, Parker returned with a good game against N.C. state. However, in his second game against Florida state he dominated 2 future NFL starting corners. This was made even more impressive by the fact that he did this without Bridgewater throwing him the ball






24.SEATTLE-VICTOR BEASLEY-OLB/DE-CLEMSON-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 alack of pass rush. Losing the likely to be expensive Avril will only make things worse. However, Beasley would inject some youth into the front line, and hopefully put this offense back on top. If Michel Bennet or any other really good anterior pass rusher falls here it would fill an even bugger need. 




25.GREEN BAY-CEDRICK OGBUEHI-OT-TEXAS 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. 




26.PITTSBURGH-
KEVIN JOHNSON-CB-W. FOREST-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 acheap infusion of high level corner talent. That's where Johnson comes in. Johnson would give them a tall, physical ,long armed corner to replace Taylor long term. If he runs faster than expected he could go much higher.




27.COLTS-TODD GURLEY-RB-GEORGIA-Trent Richardson has looked better lately, but he has been nowhere near the guy they thought they were getting when they traded for him. His 3.2 million salary is also a hindrance. Unless he is willing to take a pay-cut they should move on and upgrade the position.   Gurley is the big every-down power back this offense craves, and he could also help protect Luck, and be threat as a receiver. 





28.EAGLES-JALEN MILLS-CB/S-LSU-Chip Kelly likes versatile tall guys with long arms on defense. That describes Collins down to his cleats. Collins plays corner and safety at a high level in a good conference. 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. Mills could be that guy. 




29.PATRIOTS-DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM-WR-OKLAHOMA-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-RONNIE STANLEY-OT-N.DAME-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, isn't someone proven enough to turn over the job to, and right tackle becomes the number one priority for Dallas. Their stellar rookie right guard Zack Martin was the Notre Dame left tackle last year. Stanley was the right tackle , 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. Putting him right next to his buddy Martin could give Dallas the makings of a young, solidified, high level line for a decade. 



31.ARIZONA-BUD DEPREE-DE/OLB-KENTUCKY-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. Beasley is that guy but he will need to add some weight to hold up on the edge when the Cards go to nickle.




32.DENVER-DANTE FOWLER-DE-FLORIDA-Dante 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 right now. Fowler has  a great motor , a wide array of pass rush moves , and the strength to anchor against the run on the strong side. 

2 comments:

  1. Hey I've always loved your mock drafts.
    2.JACKSONVILLE-BRANDON SCHERFF-LSU needs to be Iowa
    Also last year you did a comparison to current and previous players. Is there anyways you could do that again? I loved that even more

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as LSU goes..My bad. Thanks for pointing it out. I will be adding player comparisons this weekend. So check back then. Thanks.

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