This might be the best football weekend of the 2015 calendar year (sorry, other 50 weeks). Saturday and Sunday give us NFL playoff football as appetizers before Monday night's college football championship game between Ohio State and Oregon.
In his final game at Oregon, will Marcus Mariota cement himself as the top overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft? In the college ranks, now that bowl games have ended players have started making their future plans known. A number of underclassmen, headlined by last year's Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, have already indicated they will go pro. Is Winston a top ten pick? Is he number one?
There has also been some news in the NFL over the last few days.
- The Chicago Bears hired Ryan Pace, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, as their new general manager.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Dirk Koetter as their new offensive coordinator.
- Kyle Shanahan left the Cleveland Browns, who also fired quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains.
- And Brian Schottenheimer left his role as offensive coordinator in St. Louis for the same role at the University of Georgia.
All four of these pieces will weigh on the drafting of each organization, and the future of Shanahan specifically may impact another NFL team before the draft as well. With all of that in mind, let's take a look ahead at what the first three (3) rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft might look like when we get there.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Most people - including me - have had Mariota penciled in at number one for weeks, but the news that Koetter is taking over the offense in Tampa complicates things a bit. Winston may be the better fit in Koetter's scheme, and his marketability in the state of Florida may be enough of a draw for the Bucs to make him the top overall pick.
2. Tennessee Titans - Brandon Scheff, OT, Iowa
Tennessee needs a quarterback, but they've used two picks on signal callers recently - Jake Locker and Zach Mettenberger - with limited results. The smarter play for Tennessee would be to see more from Mettenberger, and protect him better. Scherff is the top tackle in this year's draft and would help immediately.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Williams, DE, USC
Williams might be the most talented player at any position in this draft, and Jacksonville has the luxury of having a quarterback they (want to) believe in already in place. Selecting a potentially game-changing pass rusher would be a solid pick here for the Jags.
4. Oakland Raiders - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
It likely feels cliche to have the Raiders picking the best receiver in the draft, but this time they have the opportunity to actually get it right. Derek Carr looked enough like the real deal with limited weapons around him last year that a legit target in the passing game is a significant need.
5. Washington Redskins - Cedric Ogbeuhi, OT, Texas A&M
There will undoubtedly be temptation to give Mariota a long look here, but the Redskins have a few issues - specifically RGIII - to deal with before adding another to the roster this high in a draft happens. They need to protect whomever is under center, however, so taking a tackle makes sense.
6. New York Jets - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Some have referred to Mariota as "Russell Wilson if he was five inches taller," which is a great way to sell a prospect. Unfortunately, the Jets roster - especially on defense - is nowhere close to what Wilson joined in Seattle. That said, Mariota is an elite talent at the position and would step into an offense with talented receivers already in place.
7. Chicago Bears - Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
The Bears have issues all over their defense, so addressing that side of the ball early and often is a necessity. New GM Pace comes from an organization that used every first round pick between 2007-13 on a defensive player, which falls in line perfectly with area(s) of need. If Gregory is there, it would be a fantastic pick for the Bears. Also keep an eye on Alabama safety Landon Collins.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
Atlanta is in the market for a new coaching staff - and a defense that makes them competitive. Ray has the skills to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL and would be a really nice pick for the Falcons here.
9. New York Giants - Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
Three pass rushers in the top nine overall selections not only indicates the strength of this year's class at the position, but also the value NFL teams are putting on the skill. The Giants finished fourth in the NFL with 47 sacks as a team in 2014, but Jason Pierre-Paul is an unrestricted free agent and may be too expensive to retain. In a deep draft at the position, the Giants may opt to replace him with a younger player.
10. St. Louis Rams - La'El Collins, OT, LSU
The Rams will be an interesting team to watch at the draft this year. Their defense is loaded with young talent, and there is a LOT of change happening in the NFC West (Harbaugh gone, Arizona in flux, Beastmode contract issues, etc). Will the Rams move out of this pick to get a quarterback? Will they reach on a quarterback here? The smarter play is drafting a player to protect whomever is throwing the ball.
11. Minnesota Vikings - TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
They appear to like what they've seen from Teddy Bridgewater, but must protect him. As we've said with other teams so far, the safe pick for a team with a young quarterback is a big tackle to protect him. The bigger question in Minnesota is whether or not Adrian Peterson is wearing purple next year.
12. Cleveland Browns - Devante Parker, WR, Louisville
Josh Gordon is an incredible talent, who happens to be incredibly stupid. Keeping him on the same roster as Johnny Manziel is a ticking time bomb, and there are a few remarkable talents at the same position to quickly replace Gordon in this draft. Parker's big and would be a fantastic target for Manziel... or Hoyer...
13. New Orleans Saints - Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Thompson is a remarkable talent who some have mentioned as a possible safety. Plenty of speed and big play ability will be too much for the defensively desperate Saints to pass on.
14. Miami Dolphins - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
As we get into the mid-teens, we're looking at a group of teams that aren't very far away from being in the postseason. Miami will have to answer some tough questions about their confidence at the quarterback position, but they aren't likely to take one here. However, adding a top tier cornerback is a smart play for Miami.
15. San Francisco 49ers - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
With Jim Harbaugh gone to Ann Arbor, the Niners will have a new look in 2015 that will undoubtedly reflect movement on the roster as well. Bulking up their defensive front is an area that needs to be addressed, and Shelton could be a nice addition here.
16. Houston Texans - Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Here's your surprise for the first round. The Texans may be a team that pulls the trigger on a deal for a veteran quarterback between now and the draft; the last thing they want to do is waste JJ Watt's prime on an offense without a decent QB. But with the money they have committed to their defense, they may reach for Hundley here and hand him the keys. With Connor Cook reportedly heading back to Michigan State, this is a thin draft class at the position and teams will make a mistake reaching for a quarterback because there simply aren't many decent prospects available.
17. San Diego Chargers - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Phillip Rivers will get some MVP consideration this year because he got his tail whipped for weeks and played through pain trying to get the Chargers into the playoffs. Protecting him should be a priority for the Bolts.
18. Kansas City Chiefs - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
No Chiefs receiver had a receiving touchdown in 2014. Nuff said.
19. Cleveland Browns (from BUF) - Corey Robinson, OT, South Carolina
If the Browns look to take a weapon for Manziel at 12, protecting him would be wise with the pick they received from Buffalo here.
20. Philadelphia Eagles - Bendardrick Mckinney, LB, Mississippi State
The Eagles may be in the market for an upgrade at quarterback as well, but their defense is a concern. Adding a playmaker in the middle is a good way to upgrade the unit.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Cincinnati - the city - has been calling for the heads of Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton since they were ousted in the first round again. But improving their secondary would be a good way to keep the offense from needing to put up big numbers every week to survive.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dante Fowler, Jr, DE, Florida
Jarvis Jones has been underwhelming in Pittsburgh, and James Harrison isn't getting younger. Fowler is a beast and would fit the Pittsburgh attack model.
23. Detroit Lions - Gabe Wright, DT, Auburn
Odds are that one of Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh will be gone next year, so adding depth at a valuable position is a need for Detroit.
24. Arizona Cardinals - Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Reports on Friday are that the Cardinals are working on a new deal with Larry Fitzgerald, but they'll still need to do some cap maneuvering to make it work next season. They also need to address the quarterback position. A young, cost-controlled receiver here could give them flexibility with cap decisions and insurance if Fitzgerald walks.
25. Carolina Panthers - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Carolina picked a winner in Kelvin Benjamin last year, and he's made Cam Newton better. Now picking up a good, young running back to take pressure off Newton to win games with his legs makes sense. The Panthers were a tough team to figure out this year, but their defense is young and deep so picking up another elite talent on offense makes sense.
26. Indianapolis Colts - Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
Dupree has the look of a really good pass rusher, bringing value to a defense that finished in the middle of the pack in sacks and rushing yards against.
27. Dallas Cowboys - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
As we have all heard at nauseating length this season, the Cowboys have used plenty of recent picks to fix their offensive line. Now into the second round of the playoffs, they'll be picking later in the draft and have fewer glaring issues to address. Adding depth to their secondary makes sense here, and there should be good value on the board.
28. Baltimore Ravens - Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State
The Ravens continue to do a magnificent job of finding really good players to lead their defense in the draft almost annually. Last year they picked up help at the linebacker position, and this year they could look to pair a safety to follow the Lewis-Reed mold that was so successful there.
29. Green Bay Packers - Jalen Mills, CB, LSU
The Packers are in a position to add the best player available, but in a division with the offensive weapons they face on a weekly basis there is no such thing as too much depth in the secondary. Mills is a nice talent with good size.
30. Denver Broncos - AJ Cann, OG, South Carolina
The Broncos lost Eric Decker last spring, and may be looking at another loss or two on offense this time around. But Peyton Manning has a track record of being able to make players around him better - if he isn't pressured. Protecting Peyton is priority number one.
31. New England Patriots - Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
The mercurial Green-Beckham has the size to be a world beater, but his off the field history shows there is a lot of maturing that's needed. New England desperately needs someone other than Gronk for Tom Brady to get the ball to each week, and they're the kind of organization that may feel they can bring a troubled kid into the locker room and help him figure it out.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
After a rough season at Georgia that was interrupted by a suspension and ended with an injury, Gurley will take his talents to the NFL. He's an incredible player when he's on the field, and the Seahawks may be looking for a starting running back if Beastmode walks.
33. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
34. Tennessee Titans - Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
35. Jacksonville Jaguars - Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma
36. Oakland Raiders - Daryl Williams, OT, Oklahoma
37. Washington Redskins - Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
38. New York Jets - Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
39. Chicago Bears - Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami (photo)
40. Atlanta Falcons - Anthony Harris, S, Virginia
41. New York Giants - Tony Washington, LB, Oregon
42. St. Louis Rams - PJ Williams, CB, Florida State
43. Minnesota Vikings - Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
44. Cleveland Browns - Derron Smith, S, Fresno State
45. New Orleans Saints - Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
46. Miami Dolphins - Mike Bennett, DT, Ohio State
47. San Francisco 49ers - Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
48. Houston Texans - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
49. San Diego Chargers - Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
50. Kansas City Chiefs - Corey Crawford, DE, Clemson
51. Buffalo Bills - Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
52. Philadelphia Eagles - Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
53. Cincinnati Bengals - Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
54. Pittsburgh Steelers - Durell Eskridge, S, Syracuse
55. Detroit Lions - Josh Shaw, CB, USC
56. Arizona Cardinals - HP Pullard, LB, USC
57. Carolina Panthers - Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State
58. Indianapolis Colts - Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
59. Dallas Cowboys - Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
60. Baltimore Ravens - Clive Warford, TE, Miami
61. Green Bay Packers - Aundrey Walker, OG, USC
62. Denver Broncos - Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State
63. New England Patriots - Trey Depriest, LB, Alabama
64. Seattle Seahawks - Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
65. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas
66. Tennessee Titans - Jarvis Harrison, OG, Texas A&M
67. Jacksonville Jaguars - Austin Hill, WR, Arizona
68. Oakland Raiders - Nick O'Leary, TE, Florida State
69. Washington Redskins - Byron Jones, CB, UConn
70. New York Jets - Doran Grant, CB, Ohio State
71. Chicago Bears - Cody Prewitt, S, Mississippi (photo)
72. Atlanta Falcons - Josue Matias, OG, Florida State
73. New York Giants - John Miller, OG, Louisville
74. St. Louis Rams - Hroniss Grasu, OC, Oregon
75. Minnesota Vikings - Reese Dismukes, OC, Auburn
76. Cleveland Browns - Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
77. New Orleans Saints - Jeff Heuerman, TE, Ohio State
78. Miami Dolphins - Jamon Brown, OG, Louisville
79. San Francisco 49ers - BJ Finney, OC, Kansas State
80. Houston Texans - Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
81. San Diego Chargers - Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State
82. Kansas City Chiefs - Terry Poole, OT, San Diego State
83. Buffalo Bills - Ty Sambrailo, OT, Colorado State
84. Philadelphia Eagles - Ramik Wilson, LB, Georgia
85. Cincinnati Bengals - Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan
86. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ishaq Williams, OLB, Notre Dame
87. Detroit Lions - Kevin Hohnson, CB, Wake Forest
88. Arizona Cardinals - Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson
89. Carolina Panthers - Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
90. Indianapolis Colts - TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama
91. Dallas Cowboys - Lorenzo Mauldin, DE, Louisville
92. Baltimore Ravens - Taiwan Jones, OLB, Michigan State
93. Green Bay Packers - Jalston Fowler, FB, Alabama
94. Denver Broncos - Charles Tapper, DT, Oklahoma
95. New England Patriots - Karlos Williams, RB, Florida State
96. Seattle Seahawks - Levi Norwood, WR, Baylor
Filed under: NFL Mock Draft
Tags: 2015 NFL Draft, Amari Cooper, Brandon Scherff, Brett Hundley, Bud Dupree, Cody Prewitt, Dante Fowler Jr, Denzel Perryman, Devante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, Jaelen Strong, Jameis Winston, Kevin White, Landon Collins, Leonard Williams, Marcus Mariota, Melvin Gordon, mock draft, NFL, Randy Gregory, Shane Ray, Shaq Thompson, Todd Gurley, Vic Beasley