A NFL mock draft in January isn't necessarily about accuracy. It's more about managing scenarios, finding options and searching for fallbacks.
Update: Check out our 2015 NFL Draft preview.
This week, let's play what if. Our last mock draft had the Tennessee Titans using the No. 2 pick on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. But let's assume the Titans really do like Zach Mettenberger and will give him a chance to be the team's future at the position. That means Winston could drop. Not too far, but outside the top five picks.
Winston is the first domino of change in this week's mock. There will be several others, while some picks stay the same. Several notable underclassmen returning to school have also changed up some of the players in the draft.
This mock draft is an exercise in mixing things up as we begin the approach toward the 2015 NFL Draft.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
This selection stays the same, and likely will until there is legitimate news suggesting otherwise. Still, Tampa Bay has options that should include Winston and Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory.
2. Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, Southern California
Again, we're assuming the Titans roll with Mettenberger as the starting quarterback. If they do, Williams should be the top player on their draft board. He'd immediately help fix one of the NFL's worst run defenses and provide some intensity and athleticism up front.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
This pick is also the same as the previous week. The talent and need fit is just too strong. Gregory had some down moments this season. Every player does. But watch how teams ran their offenses away from Gregory or used multiple blockers on him. That impact isn't always measured in the box score.
4. Oakland Raiders: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
How can a player who went No. 11 in last week's mock draft shoot up into the top five? Because we have no idea what is going to happen between now and the start of the draft. If we make an assumption that players will rise throughout the offseason process, Parker is a good bet to rise. He's a bigger and faster wide receiver than Amari Cooper and plays at a position where we've seen that vault a player. Parker's skill set is that of a No. 1 receiver. This isn't too early for him to get picked.
5. Washington: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
For Washington, let's assume they don't like any of the top offensive tackles this highly and Brian Orakpo will walk in free agency. Beasley could be brought in and quickly become the team's lead pass rusher.
6. New York Jets: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
After mocking this pick in November, it is starting to become popular for several reasons. Firstly, the idea of Winston in New York is fun. Secondly, the Jets' quarterbacks aren't good. That, thirdly, makes it easy, especially since we don't know who will coach the Jets.
7. Chicago Bears: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
The last mock had Chicago picking safety Landon Collins. Because he's not a great coverage safety, you can make a good argument why he's not worth a pick quite this high. A pass rusher like Fowler, who can hold up as a 4-3 end, is Chicago's biggest need after safety.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
If Beasley is gone, there is nothing wrong with going with Ray, who had a sensational season of 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss. Ray played end for Missouri, but has the athleticism to shift out to linebacker.
9. New York Giants: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
He may not be a stellar pass rusher, but Thompson is an otherwise complete linebacker. He can play man coverage, is a secure tackler against the run and is overall a great athlete. If the top pass rushers are off the board before New York picks, Thompson is a good option.
10. St. Louis Rams: La'el Collins, OT, LSU
This is another pick that is the same. Amari Cooper is obviously a consideration, but the Rams have used a lot of picks on wide receivers. Maybe 2015 is the year Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey become bigger threats. Collins could slot in anywhere along the offensive line and improve the unit.
11. Minnesota Vikings: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
This would be the easiest pick to make on the first day of the draft. But if Cooper is viewed by many as the draft's top wide receiver, why isn't he a top-10 pick? Consider what may happen to Cooper if he measures just above six feet or runs a 40-yard dash time slower than expected. It could mean the Vikings get the steal of the first round and a legit No. 1 receiver for Teddy Bridgewater.
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12. Cleveland Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
If the Browns foresee a run on wide receivers after this choice and before they pick again at No. 19 -- and it could happen -- they may pull the trigger on a player like White or Arizona State's Jaelen Strong with the 12th pick.
13. New Orleans Saints: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
The Saints have a salary cap dilemma and right guard Jahri Evans could be a victim of cost savings. If he's let go, bringing in the draft's best offensive lineman is a nice fix. Scherff could slot into any position on the offensive line, except maybe center, and boost the Saints' line.
14. Miami Dolphins: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
With the draft's better linebackers off the board, Miami could focus on the middle of its defense with Goldman. He's an athletic and powerful tackle who can handle blockers while still getting into the backfield.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
This pick changes from White to Strong, and there's not a lot of drop off in quality. Like White, Strong projects as a lead receiver and is an excellent deep ball threat.
The NFL Draft
The NFL Draft
16. Houston Texans: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
There are a number of areas the Texans could address in the first round, namely cornerback, right tackle and middle linebacker. Cornerback Trae Waynes was the choice last time, so let's shift some things around. McKinney is an athletic middle man who would be an upgrade over Brian Cushing.
17. San Diego Chargers: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
With reports of the Chargers moving D.J. Fluker inside to guard, that leaves an opening at right tackle. Ogbuehi was more successful there than on the left side for A&M and has the footwork to pick up speed rushers.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Chiefs are in a tough spot at No. 18. Hope one of the top wide receivers slides to them, move up for one or add talent on the offensive line? Peat slid in this scenario, so he's an easy choice. Peat is a junior who has been coy about going pro, though, so his decision leading up to the Jan. 15 underclassmen deadline will be closely monitored.
19. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills): Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The Browns need to find a way to improve the league's worst run defense, especially in the AFC North. Shelton is the draft's top nose tackle and would easily plug a hole if Ahtyba Rubin isn't re-signed.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Collins is just too good to pass up with the 20th pick in the draft. The Eagles need to fix their secondary, and Collins is the type of safety who can cover tight ends and play the run.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
It was apparent throughout the season the Bengals need to improve their pass rush. Dupree is the best edge player available and someone who could make a difference early as a situational player, at worst.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
While a good player, Waynes isn't a top-10 type of pick. He's good, but not a game changer. He's not even the best corner in the draft -- that is Washington's Marcus Peters. But because of the issues Peters had with the Huskies, he may slide some in the draft. Waynes could come into Pittsburgh and start as a rookie.
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23. Detroit Lions: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
If there weren't questions about Peters' character, he would be in consideration for a top-10 pick. If he does slide into the draft, Detroit will benefit. The Lions could need a cornerback if veteran Rashean Mathis isn't re-signed.
24. Arizona Cardinals: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
The Cardinals have a few obvious needs, but arguably none is bigger than right tackle. A player like Clemmings is a natural on the right side and fits perfectly in Bruce Arians' system.
25. Carolina Panthers: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
This is actually a repeat pick from the last mock, despite the Panthers now being at No. 25 following a victory in the Wild Card round. Flowers is just a natural fit for a team desperate to add offensive line talent.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Justin Forsett had a career year for the Ravens, but can he repeat it next season? If the Ravens have doubts about it, Gordon is likely the first running back to come off the board.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Ty Sambrailo, OT, Colorado State
The Colts can't go another season with Gosder Cherilus at right tackle. With Baylor's Spencer Drango announcing that he will return to school, Sambrailo's stock should receive a boost.
28. Dallas Cowboys: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
Morris Claiborne has turned into a first-round bust for the Cowboys, and they could look to make good on it with a player like Williams. He's a physical defensive back with good length.
29. Green Bay Packers: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
The Packers may head into the offseason looking to finally upgrade the inside linebacker position. McKinney will be a popular pick for the Packers, but if he's off the board Kendricks is a good fit as well.
30. New England Patriots: Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
Funchess could be an interesting weapon for the Patriots' offense. He's a big target for a wideout and would give Tom Brady a receiver with a huge catch radius.
31. Denver Broncos: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Both wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas are free agents for the Broncos. Can they bring both back? If they choose to let Julius Thomas go, going after the draft's best tight end could be the course of action in the first round.
32. Seattle Seahawks: A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina
Despite being arguably the league's best team, the Seahawks need to add talent along the offensive line. With all the best tackles gone, the focus could shift to Cann, the draft's best guard.
33. Tennessee Titans: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
34. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
35. Oakland Raiders: Lorenzo Mauldin, DE, Louisville
36. Jacksonville Jaguars: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
37. New York Jets: Nate Orchard, DE/OLB, Utah
38. Washington: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
39. Chicago Bears: Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville
40. New York Giants: Hau’oli Kikaha, DE, Washington
41. St. Louis Rams: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
42. Atlanta Falcons: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
43. Cleveland Browns: Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
44. New Orleans Saints: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
45. Minnesota Vikings: Tre Jackson, G, Florida State
46. San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead, DE/DT, Oregon
47. Miami Dolphins: Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
48. San Diego Chargers: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
49. Kansas City Chiefs: Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
50. Buffalo Bills: Danielle Hunter, DE/OLB, LSU
51. Houston Texans: Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
52. Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
53. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
54. Detroit Lions: Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon
55. Arizona Cardinals: Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State
56. Pittsburgh Steelers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
57. Carolina Panthers: Josue Matias, G, Florida State
58. Baltimore Ravens: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
59. Indianapolis Colts: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
60. Green Bay Packers: Christian Covington, DT, Rice
61. Dallas Cowboys: Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State
62. New England Patriots: TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama
63. Denver Broncos: Daryl Williams, OT, Oklahoma
64. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Mills, S/CB, LSU