As we get closer and closer to the start of the 2015 NFL Draft, more information comes out on what may happen.
At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the most information came out yet. Some of the information is rooted in raw data in the form of timing drills. Even more of it comes from talking with sources -- whether they come from a team, agents, analysts or even the players themselves. If nothing else, the Combine is an exercise in information gathering.
Update: Check out our NFL Draft 2015 preview.
This week’s mock draft is themed around some of the noteworthy observations from Indianapolis. Expect more as we get closer to the draft.
(Note: The original publication of this week's mock draft left out Vic Beasley by accident. He was put in at No. 8, Shane Ray was moved to No. 21 and Jordan Phillips out of the first round. Apologies. -- Dan)
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Indications from those in Indianapolis signal Winston not only as the top quarterback in this year's draft, but the favorite to be the choice at No. 1. The Buccaneers will have to decide whether or not Winston is simply immature or has serious character questions. Once they do, look for this pick to get locked down before the start of the draft.
2. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
If Winston goes No. 1, the pick for Tennessee is not quite as cut and dry as plugging in Mariota. While he's a good quarterback, defensive lineman Leonard Williams is thought to be the best player in this year's draft. This pick will change week to week. For now, it's back to Mariota because he's a quarterback. A less-than-glowing endorsement of Zach Mettenberger only fuels this choice.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DT, Southern California
If Williams is available for the Jaguars, he should be the choice. There are few questions about his game, and those in the NFL are intrigued by his potential to get even better with added bulk and strength.
4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The choice for Oakland may be a wide receiver but there's no guarantee it will be Cooper. He's considered the frontrunner, but West Virginia's Kevin White is ascending.
5. Washington: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Before the Combine, Gregory said he wanted to be a linebacker. At the Combine, he had the build of a linebacker and showed the movement skills of a linebacker. If he's on the board for Washington, he should be the pick and replace Brian Orakpo.
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6. New York Jets: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
Fowler is one of the hottest names in the draft right now. There was a buzz in Indianapolis about him being a top-five pick. That means if he's there and the two quarterbacks aren't, he should be a "run to the podium" choice for New York.
7. Chicago Bears: Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
While there is some projection to moving Dupree to full time rush linebacker, he did it enough at Kentucky that it should be a smooth transition. In the Combine drills he did, Dupree was able to quantify his athleticism, so the fear about him moving positions should lessen slightly.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Beasley had an outstanding Combine, both testing well and measuring bigger than most people expected. Atlanta's biggest need is a pass rusher, and Beasley fits the bill.
9. New York Giants: La’el Collins, OT, LSU
The way the draft seems to be shaping, the Giants should be able to sit back, pick No. 9 and land whoever they consider the best offensive tackle. Collins could be that guy because of his ability to dominate on the outside or inside.
10. St. Louis Rams: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
At the Combine, some fears about Scherff were put to rest when his arms measured more than 33 inches. His 10-yard split times in the 40-yard dash, an indicator of explosiveness for an offensive lineman, were also a positive indicator.
11. Minnesota Vikings: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
You don’t need to speak with NFL sources to know Parker is a smart choice for the Vikings. He’s a difference-making wide receiver who can get vertical and work underneath routes.
12. Cleveland Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Browns finding White at pick No. 12 would be a coup. White is the top wide receiver in the draft to some, and not just members of the NFL media contingent.
13. New Orleans Saints: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Saints need to add a good cornerback opposite Keenan Lewis, and Waynes is the best, and safest, choice. Waynes has length and the skills to cover in man without help over the top.
14. Miami Dolphins: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Shelton isn’t simply a 3-4 nose tackle. He has enough short-area athleticism to fit in a four-man front. At this point in the draft, he would be too good to pass on.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
Whoever decides to take Green-Beckham will have to be comfortable with his off-field issues and determine if he’s a good fit for the offense. General manager Trent Baalke’s staff is likely digging deep on DGB to see if his issues don’t overshadow his talent and potential.
16. Houston Texans: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Thompson’s Combine didn’t go as expected – at least in regard to his 40-yard dash time. His 40 time may not have been blazing, but it’s good enough. He can play the weakside at inside linebacker for a team like Houston and use his coverage ability and instincts.
17. San Diego Chargers: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco may have said the plan is for D.J. Fluker to stay at right tackle, but plans change. They can especially change if a player like Clemmings is out there. He’s a perfect fit in the Chargers’ blocking scheme. He can stick at right tackle, but if Fluker does, he can work at guard.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Hey look, it’s not a wide receiver or offensive lineman for the Chiefs. Unfortunately, the football future of the Chiefs’ Eric Berry is unknown while he gets treated for Hodgkin lymphoma. As a precaution, Kansas City could roll with Collins and get the draft’s top safety. Fellow starter Husain Abdullah has just one more season on his contract.
19. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills): Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
It’s obvious that the Browns need help in the run defense, especially if Ahtyba Rubin leaves in free agency. Brown may not have blown people away at the Combine, but his film doesn’t lie. He’s an active tackle who can quickly shed blocks and make plays.
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20. Philadelphia Eagles: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
It might not be the smartest play, but during Peters’ media session at the Combine on Saturday, he seemed remorseful about his dismissal at Washington. It’s telling that Peters and coaches at Washington could put things in the past and let him come back for the team’s pro day. If Philadelphia’s scouting staff comes to the same conclusion about his character, they should feel comfortable taking him at 20.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
Ray may not fit the general mold of what the Bengals look for in a pass rusher. He's not a big, long pass rusher. But he's so fast off the edge he'd be hard to pass up with the 21st pick in the draft.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
Williams is a nice fit for the Steelers. At Florida State, he played on the boundary side of the field so he was asked to play in man more often. That and his general playing style translate to the NFL nicely.
23. Detroit Lions: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
There is absolutely no hotter name in the draft right now than Humphries. According to many at the Combine, he’s a surefire first-round pick. The real debate is about whether or not he’s the draft’s best offensive tackle.
24. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians may have said he wants to add competition at guard, but inside linebacker is a more pressing need. Kendricks is the best one in the draft and would be a good foil next to Kevin Minter.
25. Carolina Panthers: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Even though general manager Dave Gettleman was adamant about taking the best player available, the Panthers can’t go another season with what they’ve got at offensive tackle. Peat has good size and athleticism to stick at left tackle and should only continue adding strength in the run game.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Strong put up ridiculous numbers in Indianapolis, running the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and registering a 42-inch vertical leap. That should illustrate how well he’d fit in Baltimore’s offense.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was vocal in how much he wants DeMarco Murray back, but it’s hard to see it working financially if he’s offered a big contract. If Murray leaves, Gordon probably secured his position as the first running back taken in the draft.
28. Denver Broncos: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
There’s no guarantee that Julius Thomas is going to be back in Denver. The team’s priority might be re-signing wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. Going after Williams in the first round would be a nice replacement.
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29. Indianapolis Colts: Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
It’s hard to get a read on what the Colts will do with this pick. It becomes even more of a challenge because of the uncertain future of Cory Redding. If Redding happens to retire, drafting his replacement is a priority. Armstead’s potential is incredible and he has a style and strength to play immediately in the NFL.
30. Green Bay Packers: Paul Dawson, LB, TCU
Dawson had a mostly bad Combine. Don’t pay attention to the numbers he ran. Pay attention to his film. Go back and watch TCU’s game against Minnesota and see a linebacker who would fit perfectly inside for the Packers.
31. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
There’s a buzz building around Collins. He’s a little raw coming out of LSU, but his length and man skills are obvious. Byron Maxwell has a chance to cash in via free agency and Jeremy Lane may miss the start of the season after word came out that he tore his ACL. Collins is a perfect fit for Seattle’s scheme.
32. New England Patriots: A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina
Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Patriots have a few clear needs, and guard is the biggest one. There isn’t a lot of flash to Cann’s game, but he’s a dominating guard who is hard to move off his spot and can open big holes in the run game.