With football season starting, we inch closer and closer to the NFL draft! Not only do we get to see how great (or terrible) your favorite NFL team will be, we get to watch prospects emerge during the college season. With this past college football season’s tape available and the 2015 Super Bowl odds, here is how the 2015 NFL draft could play out.
Edge Rusher, Clemson
The Jaguars seem to have found their quarterback of the future in Blake Bortles, but with many holes on their team, they are still far away. With a potential franchise quarterback in place, the Jaguars have more flexibility to select the best player available. Beasley is a tremendous athlete with great speed and burst off of the edge. He is a player that can disrupt the passing game and chase down running plays from the back side. The Jaguars need a featured pass rusher on their team and pairing a talent like Beasley with a mind like Gus Bradley’s is a match made in heaven.
Defensive End, USC
The Raiders also look like they have their QB in former second round pick, Derek Carr, so they have the same flexibility that the Jaguars have to take the best player for their team. Leonard Williams is a powerful player with elite strength, a great motor and plus awareness. He can impact every down from anywhere along the defensive line. He putting him in the same front as Khalil Mack, Lamaar Woodley,and Justin Ellis would give the Raiders a defense they haven’t had in a long time.
As much as I like Jake Locker, if the Titans are picking this high, it means Locker got hurt again or he played poorly. In that case, the Titans need a quarterback and they luck out getting first overall pick material in Mariota. Mariota has great size, a big arm and incredible speed. Do not listen to the “system quarterback” nonsense, this is a Quarterback that hits tight windows at all levels of the field. Only real concern is him staying healthy throughout the year, but if he can, their should be no question about him going as the top quarterback.
Offensive Tackle, Stanford
The Browns pulled off a tremendous draft last year, picking twice in the first round, drafting their quarterback of the future, and picking up a second first in this year’s from the Bills in a trade back. Browns have the chance at drafting an elite athlete at the tackle position to add to their talented offensive line. Peat has quick feat, long arms and heavy hands. He needs to improve some technique and I would love if he were a more aggressive player, but he has the chance to learn from the best tackle in the NFL in Joe Thomas. Adding Peat to a group consisting of Thomas, Joel Bitonio and Alex Mack gives the Browns one of the most athletic lines in the league.
The Jets have done a great job of adding offensive talent to a previously depleted roster but now are in a bit of a cornerback crisis. Olomu is a great athlete with fantastic feet, ball skills and physicallity. He is scheme diverse and can play inside or in the slot. He has true shutdown potential and teaming him with a healthy Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle gives the Jets a young and incredibly talented secondary.
Vikings also had a fantastic draft last year, picking up big time contributors on defense and their franchise quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. As Mike Zimmer continues to make his impact on this team, the Vikings add a long, nasty corner. Peters isn’t the great athlete Olomu is, but he is a smart player with great size and physicality. The Vikings need that physicality in their secondary and Marcus Peters across from Xavier Rhodes with Captain Munnerlyn in the slot sounds like a pretty damn good secondary.
Defensive End, Baylor
Mike Pettine loves his defense and the Browns’ defensive front is one of the deepest group in the league. The Browns add a true game change to their line in Shawn Oakman. At 6-8, Oakman is best suited playing 5-Tech rather than rush linebacker, but he has the strength and quickness to be a force as a two gapping defensive lineman. If Oakman can continue to build on his immense tools, having him in Cleveland would elevate that group from scary to nightmare inducing.
Mario Edwards Jr.
Defensive End, Florida State
Hey look, the Redskins have a first round pick! After two drafts without picking in the first round due to the RG3 trade, the Redskins finally have a chance at adding another premier prospect to their team. The ‘Skins have had major issues on defense, which has led to most of their woes, so adding an impact defender like Edwards is a big step in the right direction. Edwards is a big bodied defender with great strength and awareness. He has decent quickness, but is best suited two gapping and impacting the run game. He has upside as a pass rusher, but steps onto the team as their best run defender which they need in a bad way.
Quarterback, Florida State
The Bucs seem to be ok with flying with Josh McCown at quarterback, but something tells me that will last past this year. They would be very smart in drafting the talented Seminole quarterback if he decides to declare. Winston has great size, a huge arm and the on field maturity of a veteran. He could step onto a a talented Bucs offense and make a great impact for them immediately.
Offensive Tackle, Iowa
Yes, the Rams drafted an offensive lineman high last year and yes they are probably going to need a new Quarterback, but there are no more Quarterbacks worth a first round pick at this point and teams win building the trenches. Scherff is a nasty lineman with great strength and feet. He does not have good length, but compensates with lateral quickness. Worst case scenario is he becomes a very good guard and the Rams have a line full of athletic, nasty players.
Edge Rusher, Florida
The Giants’ front seven does not look as close to being as fearsome as it was during their Super Bowl run. Jason Pierre-Paul has fallen off, and there is really no true pass rushing threat outside of him. Fowler is an incredibly athletic defensive lineman with violent hands and good burst. He is a superb run defender and flashes dominance rushing the passer. If he can consistently use his hands and have good pad level, the Giants may have found their next great edge rusher.
Wide Receiver, Auburn
The Dolphins did a fantastic job of upgrading their offensive line this past offseason and now they need to give their quarterback the wide receiver he deserves. Mike Wallace has no hands, Brian Hartline cannot separate from anything and Jarvis Landry, while very good, is strictly a slot receiver. Enter Sammie Coates: The freak athlete wide receiver with great size, strength, speed and leaping ability. We are talking a Julio Jones level of talent, albeit a bit more raw. Coates needs to refine his route running, but he has all the physical tools necessary to be a dominant threat from all over the field. He can threaten deep, but he has the speed and strength to be a monster after the catch on short passes. A true weapon to take the Dolphins passing offense to another level.
Offensive Tackle, LSU
Missing out on quarterback, the Texans continue to build their trenches as they did much of last year’s draft. Collins is a big, long, strong and nasty offensive linemen that bullies defenders with his heavy hands. He doesn’t have the quickest feet, but his great arm length compensates. He could see a move inside to guard, but he would be a tremendous fit at right tackle for the Texans, giving them a fantastic group of offensive linemen.
Defensive Tackle, Ohio State
The Cowboys defense looks like a hot mess right now and it could use all the help it could get. Bennett could get plugged in on day one as a starting 1-Tech or 3-Tech and immediately impact. He is a bit light, but he has very good quickness and lower body strength, playing much bigger than he is. He can get moved around which will be helpful for a desperate defense and overall he is a quality player who will thrive under a great defensive coach like Rod Marinelli.
Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
The jury is still out on Eric Fisher, although he has looked very, very bad, but is clear that the Chiefs need all the help they can get. Ogbuehi is a very offensive linemen with sound technique and very good movement skills. There are some real questions about his anchor and functional strength, but the framework of a very good offensive lineman is there. Andy Reid has a fairly good history with linemen developing under him and he would love the tools he could work with with Ogbuehi.
Wide Receiver, Louisville
Outside of Cam Newton, the Panthers offense is a depleted wasteland of Greg Olsen and a bunch of guys. Yes, they spent a first round pick on Kelvin Benjamin, but the defenses are not going to have a hard time defending him when Jericho Cotchery and Jason Avant are the other options. Parker is a receiver who dominates the catch point with physicality, leaping ability and strong hands. He is a fighter after the catch who can create yards with good vision and a powerful lower body. He is not a burner, but the separation he does create is always enough for him to catch the ball. He is a reliable target and Cam will love him.
Wide Receiver, Michigan
Despite the explosiveness of the Chargers offense last season, there is still a glaring need for a receiver opposite of Keenan Allen. Funchess, a former tight end, is a goliath of a receiver with speed to burn and great leaping ability. He has very inconsistent hands and needs to be more physical, but if he builds on his tools, there is no way he’s lasting this long come May.
Defensive Tackle, Iowa
The Steelers are slowly rejuvenating their defense over the last few drafts and now they add another big man up front. Davis has great size, strength and motor to disrupt plays and eat blocks. He can play nose tackle or 5-Tech in their defense and will immediately impact as a run defender and has the tools to develop into a disruptive player on passing downs. He is exactly the kind of size and strength the Steelers need up front to rebuild their defense.
Linebacker, Mississippi State
With their current roster, the Bengals have the luxury of taking high upside players at any given position. McKinney offers a very diverse skill set. He is incredibly athletic and has shown the ability to play off ball, work in coverage and stop the run. Not only has he displayed the ability to play off the ball at a high level, his natural length and speed make him difficult to deal with as a pass rusher. He is very raw, but a moldable piece of clay and the Bengals staff could make him a star at two different positions.
Cornerback, Florida State
The Ravens need to add more talent to their cornerback group. Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb are good players, but their is nothing behind them. Drafting a long, athletic corner like Williams allows Webb to play in the slot and gives the Ravens a talented trio of cornerbacks.
Edge Rusher, Georgia
The Falcons have no pass rush. At all. Bottom line is that Mike Nolan can only blitz so much to conger up a pass rush and the Falcons need a true threat on the edge. Floyd has incredible burst off the line and bends the edge. He is not very strong against the run, buthe is exactly the type of threat the Falcons need rushing the passer.
Edge Rusher, Ohio State
The Cardinals have a lot of talented pieces on their defense and have a very good coordinator as well, but the team lacks a true presence on the edge. Spence has good burst and strength to rush the passer and defend against the run. He can function in space and will be a phenomenal piece on that Arizona front.
The Lions have all the talent in the world in their front seven but should begin to start upgrading their secondary a but more. Collins is an athletic, downhill safety who can cover underneath and play like a linebacker against the run. He has upside over the top , but is best suited underneath or in the slot. He is talented and should thrive in the Lions aggressive defense.
Free Safety, Michigan State
The Colts are thin in a lot of places, but with Mike Adams and LaRon Landry currently starting at safety, they could use a big upgrade there. Drummond is a very intelligent player with very good burst and ball skills. He is versatile, being able to drop into the box to defend the run or man up in the slot. He is not the best athlete, but makes up for it in closing speed and field IQ. He is an immediate upgrade to the Colts secondary.
The Eagles linebackers spent all of last year getting shreaded in coverage and it killed the team. Washington is a highly athletic, highly intelligent linebacker with great coverage ability and toughness against the run. He is small, but he fits the mold of the rangy inside linebacker Chip Kelly likes to employ. He is an immediate upgrade over Demeco Ryans and will allow the defense to use Mychael Kendricks downhill like he should be used. Thompson gives the team a lot more flexibility and will step in right away to impact the defense.
The Bears need to continue to add pieces to their defense and adding a long, athletic defensive back like Collins could be a huge boost. He has the ball skills and closing speed to play over the top, but can drop down into slot or on the outside to cover wide receivers. He is a movable chess piece in the secondary which will be huge for a Chicago team with an aging Charles Tillman.
Cornerback, Florida State
Darby is another highly athletic Seminole corner and will add to the defensive rebuild in New Orleans. That secondary is on the brink of being one of the best in the league and adding a talented corner like Darby could put that unit over the top.
Defensive Line, Oregon
The Packers love size on defense and the former basketball player will do exactly that. Armstead has great quickness and length and could play various positions on the Packers line.The Pack certainly need help on defense, and adding a monster like Armstead could not hurt.
Wide Receiver, Alabama
49ers have a ton of size at the receiver position, but lack the home run threat that a great passing offenses need. Cooper has incredible acceleration, agility and long speed with fantastic ability after the catch. His hands are a bit questionable at this point and he needs to be more physical, but bad tape could have come from injury. If he can play closer to his ceiling this year, there is no doubt he will go higher. The 49ers will gladly take him this late.
Running Back, Wisconsin
Teams should not take running backs high blah blah blah blah… No. Melvin Gordon is a game changing talent at the running back position and you take game changers in the first round. Gordon has incredible acceleration, speed and balance in the open field. He is a creative runner who has displayed very good vision in traffic and he is very decisive as a runner. So far, he has proven he can pass block when given the opportunity, but there are valid questions about receiving ability. Regardless, he is the most gifted running back I have ever scouted at the college level and is absolutely worth a first round pick. The Patriots lack dynamic skill players and Gordon is perhaps one of the most dynamic in the class.
Defensive Tackle, Virginia Tech
The Seahawks were pretty close to drafting Dominique Easley last year before the Patriots snatched him up. This year, they get another chance at a disruptive 3-Tech. Maddy has very good quickness, strength and a high motor. He plays bigger than his size and usually has very good leverage. The Seahawks are a team that preaches relentlessness and team speed and Maddy can bring that to the inside of their defensive line.
Running Back, Georgia
Yes, yes, another running back in the first round. However, if you have seen Gurley play, it would be hard to take him later. He has great size, strength, acceleration and long speed. He isn’t the most agile or creative runner, but he has great balance and leg drive. The Broncos lack a dynamic runner on their team and Gurley would make that offense go from scary to impossible to defend.