Anyway, it's always fun and refreshing for mock drafters to examine a new crop of prospects, so here is my very preliminary 2015 NFL Mock Draft. Team needs are always taken into account, or it simply would be rankings, and not a mock. Don't pay too much attention to the draft order. I came up with it while sitting on the toilet at work one day. However that is usually where my best work comes from. My next mock draft will be after my 2015 NFL predictions.
1. Tennessee Titans
QB Marcus Mariota, Jr, Oregon
6'4, 211 lbs
Hometown: Honolulu, HI
2013 Stats: 245-386, 3665 yards, 31 TD, 4 INT
Scouts say that Marcus Mariota was a better prospect than any of the quarterbacks selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. While you always worry about dual threat quarterbacks coming out of spread systems in college, Mariota is more than just a runner who occasionally throws. Mariota has a very strong arm, and has completed over 65% of his passes during his two year career. Mariota is also a very strong, quick runner. His 6'4 frame should be able to pack on another 20 pounds at the NFL level. Mariota projects as a more accurate Colin Kaepernick at the next level. If he continues to improve his accuracy, there is no reason he will not be the best quarterback in the 2015 class. We know how volatile that position can be once the draft process rolls around, however. I put the Titans first, because as we saw with Houston, even semi-talented teams have trouble winning without a real quarterback. The Jake Locker era should end in 2014.
2. Minnesota Vikings
DE/DT Leonard Williams, Jr, USC
6'5, 290 lbs
Hometown: Daytona Beach, FL
2013 Stats: 83 tackles, 6 sacks
The former top recruit is the best defensive prospect in the country. Similar to a pre-injury Stephon Tuitt, Williams combines defensive tackle size and defensive end quickness. He could play all along the front, and could have a Richard Seymour like NFL impact as an end in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. The Vikings will line him up at end and kick him inside on obvious passing downs.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
DE/OLB Randy Gregory, Sr, Nebraska
6'6, 230 lbs
Hometown: Fishers, IN
2013 Stats: 64 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
Randy Gregory was a raw JC transfer, but still was all over the place with 64 tackles, 10 sacks and even a pick six. Gregory needs to gain strength and improve his technique, but the sky is the limit. He would be a great fit at LEO linebacker in Gus Bradley's defense, as a pass rusher who is athletic enough to line up all over the formation.
4. Oakland Raiders
OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Sr, Texas A&M
6'5, 300 lbs
Hometown: Allen, TX
The Aggies have become an offensive tackle pipeline, and Cedric Ogbuehi is the latest. Like Jake Matthews in 2013, Ogbuehi will move over to the left side for his senior season. Ogbuehi is not as big as Luke Joeckel, but has good athleticism and should be able to handle the left side. Oakland let Jared Veldheer walk then swung and missed on Rodger Saffold. Offensive line is a weak spot.
5. Cleveland Browns
(from Buffalo Bills)
OT Brandon Scherff, Sr, Iowa
6'5, 315 lbs
Hometown: Denison, IA
The Browns have a very solid roster, but there are holes. Brandon Scherff could have been a first round pick in 2014, and with another year of development could crack the top ten. He is a nasty, mean run blocker, which would be perfect at right tackle opposite the fantastic Joe Thomas.
6. Carolina Panthers
OT Andrus Peat, Jr, Stanford
6'7, 310 lbs
Hometown: Chandler, AZ
Another draft, another half dozen or more offensive lineman off the board in the first round. Andrus Peat will battle Cedric Ogbuehi, Brandon Scherff, Cameron Irving, La'El Collins and others as the first offensive tackle off the board. He was good enough as a freshman to move David Yankey inside last season. Peat offers great size and technique, and is very well coached. I expect the Panthers to have quite a fall off in 2014. There are simply too many holes on the roster right now. At the top of the list is offensive tackle, where long time great Jordan Gross retired.
7. Atlanta Falcons
DE/OLB Shilique Calhoun, Jr, Michigan State
6'4, 250 lbs
Hometown: Middletown, NJ
2013 Stats: 37 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
One of the true National Championship contenders are Michigan State. That program is absolutely loaded with talent. Shilique Calhoun really came on as a sophomore, and may be the best Spartan defender in 2014. 7.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries for touchdowns and even one pick six. Andrus Peat shut him down during the Rose Bowl, but another year of development, and he could be a top ten pick. The Falcons need pass rushers in the worst way, and Calhoun will be one of many in this draft.
8. Cleveland Browns
WR Amari Cooper, Jr, Alabama
6'1, 202 lbs
Hometown: Miami, FL
2013 Stats: 45 rec, 736 yards, 4 TD
By now we all know about the Browns problems at receiver. With two first round picks, they should be able to draft some Josh Gordan insurance. Even if Gordon miraculously avoids trouble for the rest of his career, Cleveland could use another pass catcher. Amari Cooper had a fantastic freshman season, scoring 11 touchdowns, but injuries slowed him down a bit as a sophomore. He is a big play threat, averaging over 16 yards a reception over his two years, and looks like the most talented receiver in this class.
9. Dallas Cowboys
DE Mario Edwards, Jr, Florida State
6'3, 277 lbs
Hometown: Gautier, MS
2013 Stats: 25 tackles, 3.5 sacks
Mario Edwards was a top five recruit a couple of seasons ago, but has been brought along slowly thanks to the amazing depth along Florida State's defensive line. If the Championship game was any indication, where he racked up a sack and was living in Auburn's backfield, he should really explode as a junior. Edwards is explosive and has the size to play defensive tackle on passing downs. The Cowboys did little to address a terrible defensive line during the draft, but thankfully for them, the talent level at that position will be much higher in 2015.
10. Washington Redskins
S Landon Collins, Jr, Alabama
6'0, 215 lbs
Hometown: Geismar, AL
2013 Stats: 70 tackles, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
Hey look, the Redskins are back in the first round. As usual with a team who traded away multiple early draft picks, Washington needs an infusion of young talent at pretty much every level of the roster. Landon Collins is the latest in what has become a first round assembly line for Alabama safeties. He was a former top ten recruit who was as good as expected last year. He is a ball hawking, attacking safety who excels as a run defender.
11. Miami Dolphins
RB Todd Gurley, Jr, Georgia
6'1, 232 lbs
Hometown: Tarboro, NC
2013 Stats: 165 rushes, 989 yards, 10 TD
I don't necessarily buy into the theory that the running back position has been devalued in the NFL. The last two drafts just have not produced any elite talents at the position. Before that you had guys like Knowshon Moreno, CJ Spiller and Trent Richardson in the top fifteen. That first round drought will end this year, as there are several truly special backs that could be in this draft. Todd Gurley is the most complete back to come out since perhaps Adrian Peterson. Gurley is the total package, who simply needs to stay healthy. He has averaged over 6 yards per carry during his two year career, and in 2013 he added 37 receptions and 6 receiving touchdowns. Gurley is powerful and quick and would help close the revolving door that has been Miami's back field.
12. Houston Texans
QB Jameis Winston, So, Florida State
6'4, 228 lbs
Hometown: Bessemer, LA
2013 Stats: 257-384, 4057 yards, 40 TD, 10 INT
The reining Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will easily be the most polarizing player in college football in 2014. First, the good: Winston is a physical freak of nature. He is a tremendous athlete with a very strong arm. He could be a true dual threat at the next level, and a matchup nightmare. The bad: he stole crab legs from Publix for goodness sakes. On the field, his long windup on his throws will need to be fixed. Winston's game, attitude and personality will be picked apart until the day of the draft in 2015, but in my opinion he is a better pro prospect than Johnny Manziel, who still went in the first round. It will be interesting to see how this year unfolds for Winston, who has a loaded team around him.
13. New York Jets
OLB Jordan Jenkins, Jr, Georgia
6'3, 246 lbs
Hometown: Hamilton, GA
2013 Stats: 45 tackles, 5 sacks
Jordan Jenkins has been brought along slowly during his first two years, but learned well from Jarvis Jones and should have a similar impact for the Bulldogs as a junior. He has good size and solid pass rushing ability, but can drop back into coverage as well. Georgia has developed 3-4 talent for years, and Jenkins should fit in well with the Jets philosophy. Jenkins could be a nice replacement for Calvin Pace.
14. New York Giants
OLB Shaq Thompson, Jr, Washington
6'2, 232 lbs
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
2013 Stats: 70 tackles, .5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
What is seemingly a yearly trend, the Giants need to add major talent to their linebacking unit. Shaq Thompson is an incredible athlete. He was highly recruited as a running back, but started his career at safety before moving to linebacker. Linebackers do not often go in the first round unless they are quick and possess big time play making ability. Thompson offers just that.
15. Arizona Cardinals
OLB Vic Beasley, Sr, Clemson
6'3, 225 lbs
Hometown: Adairsville, GA
2013 Stats: 44 tackles, 13 sacks
Vic Beasley had a tremendous junior season for Clemson but where does he fit in at the NFL level? He will have to play outside linebacker, but is really only a pass rusher who is going to struggle in coverage. He would be best used as a situational pass rusher until he learns how to play pass defense. The Cardinals are a veteran team that could really use his ability to get after the quarterback.
16. St. Louis Rams
QB Connor Cook, Jr, Michigan State
6'4, 218 lbs
Hometown: Hinckley, OH
2013 Stats: 223-380, 2755 yards, 22 TD, 6 INT
If the Rams fail to make the playoffs yet again, this could be Sam Bradford's final ride in St. Louis. You will hear the names Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley quite a bit, but I think Connor Cook is a superior prospect to both and could be that next Blake Bortles as a guy who comes out of relative obcsurity to become a top five pick. The Spartans are expected to open up the offense more and allow Cook to showcase his passing ability. He has great size, and makes very smart decisions on the field. He is your classic pro style quarterback.
17. Kansas City Chiefs
OT Cameron Erving, Sr, Florida State
6'6, 320 lbs
Hometown: Moultrie, GA
The Chiefs could really use a wide receiver or quarterback here, but Andy Reid loves to use first round picks on offensive and defensive lineman. The jury is still out on Eric Fisher, and the disappointing Donald Stephenson will take over on the right side. He might be better off at guard, so Cameron Erving would be a solid upgrade. He did a good job as Jameis Winston's blindside protector in 2013. He is very athletic, and if he can clean up his technique, could wind up as a top ten pick.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Sr, Oregon
5'10, 190 lbs
Hometown: Chino Hills, CA
2013 Stats: 84 tackles, 3 INT
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu would have been a first round pick had he declared as a junior. The 5'10, 190 pound cornerback plays bigger than his size. He is a physical corner and very good in run defense, as evidenced by his impressive 84 tackles. Pittsburgh's secondary is very weak, as they need to upgrade from Ike Taylor.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Trae Waynes, Jr, Michigan State
6'1, 185 lbs
Hometown: Kenosha, WI
2013 Stats: 50 tackles, 3 INT
Trae Waynes was very solid as a sophomore and held up well despite receiving so much attention because of Darqueze Dennard on the other side of the field. He is a physical press corner with very good size for the position. The Buccaneers are not all that satisfied with Johnthan Banks, and as you know, you need three good cornerbacks in the NFL these days anyway.
20. Detroit Lions
WR Jaelen Strong, Jr, Arizona State
6'4, 205 lbs
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
2013 Stats: 75 rec, 1122 yards, 7 TD
The Lions have decided to live and die by the arm of Matthew Stafford, so I expect them to keep adding weapons through the draft. Jaelen Strong is a very athletic, lean, 6'4 receiver who had a great sophomore season. That was only his first year of Division 1A college football, but another year of experience could make the talented weapon a first round pick.
21. San Diego Chargers
CB PJ Williams, Jr, Florida State
6'0, 195 lbs
Hometown: Ocala, FL
2013 Stats: 35 tackles, 3 INT
The Chargers drafted Jason Verrett in the first round, but they should not stop there. The secondary still needs major help. PJ Williams has good size and really made a name for himself during Florida State's championship win over Auburn with seven tackles and an interception.
22. Baltimore Ravens
RB Melvin Gordon, Jr, Wisconsin
6'1, 203 lbs
Hometown: Kenosha, WI
2013 Stats: 206 rushes, 1609 yards, 12 TD
Off the field issues aside, if Ray Rice has another on the field season like 2013, the Ravens will have no choice but to move on. Melvin Gordon is a home run waiting to happen and would be a great compliment to Bernard Pierce. Gordon needs major coaching with his pass catching, however. He only had one reception as a sophomore for the Badgers.
23. Chicago Bears
DE Cedric Reed, Sr, Texas
6'6, 258 lbs
Hometown: Cleveland, TX
2013 Stats: 68 tackles, 10 sacks
I am predicting pretty big things for the Bears in 2014. But the defense still needs more young talent at all three levels. Last year not a single Longhorn was drafted, but that should change in 2014. Cedric Reed had 10 sacks and has the frame to pack on more pounds and not be another Jackson Jeffcoat.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
WR Nelson Agholor, Jr, USC
6'0, 185 lbs
Hometown: Tampa, FL
2013 Stats: 56 rec, 918 yards, 6 TD
The Eagles drafted some mid round receivers in 2014, but none offer the playmaking ability that Nelson Agholor does. Agholor would make a fantastic slot receiver for his great after the catch ability. He hopes to buck the trends of Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, both of whom had mediocre junior seasons and winded up in the second round.
25. Cincinnati Bengals
DE Dante Fowler, Jr, Florida
6'3, 266 lbs
Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL
2013 Stats: 50 tackles, 3.5 sacks
Dante Fowler has the talent to go much, much higher than this if he can put together a consistent junior season. The Bengals need to replenish some troops on defense, after quite a bit of free agent defections.
26. Indianapolis Colts
WR Devin Funchess, Jr, Michigan
6'5, 228 lbs
Hometown: Farmington Hills, MI
2013 Stats: 49 rec, 748 yards, 6 TD
Devin Funchess is making the move to wide receiver in 2014, and if he can successfully transition, could be a very high first round pick. Scouts are obsessed with wideouts with size, and Funchess is very athletic and goes 6'5, 230. Reggie Wayne can't play forever, and Funchess could be a nice compliment to TJ Hilton on the outside.
27. Green Bay Packers
MLB Ramik Wilson, Sr, Georgia
6'2, 232 lbs
Hometown: Tampa, FL
2013 Stats: 133 tackles, 4 tackles
The Bulldogs successfully produce 3-4 talent. Ramik Wilson was a tackling machine in 2013. AJ Hawk has been hanging on for dear life with the Packers for years and Green Bay would love an upgrade on him in the inside.
28. New Orleans Saints
DE/OLB Shane Ray, Jr, Missouri
6'3, 245 lbs
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
2013 Stats: 39 tackles, 4.5 sacks
There was a reason Michael Sam was able to have such a production year. Blockers were occupied with superiorly talented players like Kony Ealy, Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Ray should move into a full time role, and he has the talent and speed to improve greatly upon his 4.5 sacks. The Saints are still transitioning to a 3-4 defense personnel wise. Ray would be a good fit.
29. New England Patriots
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Jr, Missouri
6'6, 220 lbs
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
2013 Stats: 59 rec, 883 yards, 12 TD
Dorial Green-Beckham might be the most physically gifted wide receiver since Randy Moss. Like Moss, he will have to rely on that talent to crack the first round, because his off the field behavior has cost him big time. Green-Beckham was up and down as a sophomore but was kicked off the Missouri program. He is leaning toward taking the Tyrann Mathieu route, sitting out for a year and preparing for the draft. It will take a leap of faith for a team to draft this immense, immature talent in the first round, but if anyone has the guts, it would be Bill Belichick. Green-Beckham would theoretically give the Patriots excatly what they have lacked since Moss was in Boston.
30. San Francisco 49ers
WR Antwan Goodley, Sr, Baylor
5'10, 220 lbs
Hometown: Midland, TX
2013 Stats: 71 rec, 1339 yards, 13 TD
Antwan Goodley will look to follow in the paths of Kendall Wright, Josh Gordon and Terrence Williams as Baylor wideouts who have had instant success in the NFL. Goodley is a stocky 5'10, 220 lbs but has been clocked as fast as 4.39 in the 40 yard dash. He has some Anquan Boldin in him and could be a nice slot option in San Francisco.
31. Denver Broncos
DE Markus Golden, Sr, Missouri
6'3, 260 lbs
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
2013 Stats: 55 tackles, 6.5 sacks
Several players stepped up to overcome the loss of Sheldon Richardson in 2013. Golden rotated with the aforementioned Missouri defensive lineman and had a very productive junior season. With Michael Sam out of the way, expect Golden to improve on all of his numbers across the board.
32. Seattle Seahawks
OG/OT La'El Collins, Sr, LSU
6'5, 321 lbs
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
The Seahawks are the deepest team in the NFL but are not without weaknesses. The right side of the offensive line needs upgrades. La'El Collins might not be quick enough to be successful at left tackle, but should be a great run blocker on the right side, either guard or tackle.
33. Tennessee Titans - RB TJ Yeldon, Jr, Alabama
34. Minnesota Vikings - CB Jalen Mills, Jr, LSU
35. Jacksonville Jaguars - RB Mike Davis, Jr, South Carolina
36. Oakland Raiders - DT Michael Bennett, Jr, Ohio State
37. Buffalo Bills - WR Rashad Greene, Sr, Florida State
38. Carolina Panthers - WR Deontay Greenberry, Jr, Houston
39. Atlanta Falcons - MLB Bernardrick McKinney, Jr, Mississippi State
40. Cleveland Browns - OG Tre Jackson, Sr, Florida State
9. Dallas Cowboys - S Derron Smith, Sr, Fresno State
10. Washington Redskins - CB Quandre Diggs, Sr, Texas
11. Miami Dolphins - MLB Denzel Perryman, Sr, Miami
12. Houston Texans - OT Sean Hickey, Sr, Syracuse
13. New York Jets - RB Karlos Williams, Sr, Florida State
14. Arizona Cardinals - QB Bryce Petty, Sr, Baylor
15. New York Giants - RB Duke Johnson, Sr, Miami
16. St. Louis Rams - WR Ty Montgomery, Sr, Stanford
17. Kansas City Chiefs - QB Brett Hundley, Jr, UCLA
18. Pittsburgh Steelers - DE/OLB Devonte Fields, Jr, TCU
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - OG Laken Tomlinson, Sr, Duke
20. Detroit Lions - CB/S Josh Shaw, Sr, USC
21. San Diego Chargers - DE/OLB Noah Spence, Jr, Ohio State
22. Baltimore Ravens - WR Stefon Diggs, Jr, Maryland
23. Chicago Bears - OLB Derrick Malone, Sr, Oregon
24. Philadelphia Eagles - DE/OLB Lorenzo Mauldin, Sr, Louisville
25. Cincinnati Bengals - OLB Eric Striker, Jr, Oklahoma
26. Indianapolis Colts - DE/DT Carl Davis, Sr, Iowa
27. Green Bay Packers - OLB Kyler Fackrell, Jr, Utah State
28. New Orleans Saints - C Hroniss Grasu, Sr, Oregon
29. New England Patriots - DE Anthony Chickillo, Sr, Miami
30. San Francisco 49ers - DT Danny Shelton, Sr, Washington
31. Denver Broncos - QB Sean Mannion, Sr, Oregon State
32. Seattle Seahawks - DE/DT Henry Anderson, Sr, Stanford