Before the NFL Scouting Combine, I put together a mock draft that looked at options for teams in the first round. With the draft less than a month away, I thought it would be fun to do a similar mock draft. Much has changed since then and teams are looking in different directions.
Update: Check out our 2015 NFL Draft preview.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Mike Glennon has only played two seasons, but the era of developing quarterbacks in the NFL is dead. That’s especially the case considering Glennon wasn’t the choice of Bucs general manager Jason Licht or head coach Lovie Smith. Winston will be the player they hitch their reputation to moving forward.
Options: Marcus Mariota (QB)
2. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Using the No. 2 overall pick on a quarterback doesn’t necessarily mean the Titans are hitting the reset button, but it could buy general manager Ruston Webster more time. Considering some of the holes left on Tennessee’s roster, he’ll need it.
Options: Jameis Winston (QB), Leonard Williams (DT)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler, DE, Florida
The Jaguars have been associated with pass rushers in the first round consistently since December. Fowler is visiting with the Jaguars this week and would be a nice piece for the defense.
Options: Vic Beasley (OLB), Amari Cooper (WR)
4. Oakland Raiders: Leonard Williams, DT, USC
What should the Raiders do if Williams and all of the wide receivers are still available? They could flip a coin, picking between Williams and someone like Amari Cooper and be fine either way. If the Raiders want to be aggressive, they could even look around for a trade. Oakland’s top needs fit nicely with the strengths of the draft this year, if they’re smart enough to take advantage of it.
Options: Amari Cooper (WR), Kevin White (WR)
5. Washington: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
Suddenly, Washington is becoming a hard team to figure out which direction it will go in the draft. That’s a credit to general manager Scot McCloughan. The team scheduled a pre-draft visit with Marcus Mariota and there’s a rumor out there Washington likes Amari Cooper. Still, it needs another pass rusher and Beasley is a player who could be brought in to be Washington’s version of Aldon Smith for McCloughan.
Options: Brandon Scherff (OT), Amari Cooper (WR)
6. New York Jets: Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky
In a scenario where both quarterbacks are gone, that leaves the team trying to fill big needs at pass rusher and right offensive line. For the Jets, Dupree could be the speed rusher that’s currently nonexistent on the roster.
Options: Amari Cooper (WR), Brandon Scherff (OT)
SB Nation presents: What the Jets and rest of the AFC East need in the draft
7. Chicago Bears: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The Bears used free agency to fill big needs at linebacker, safety and cornerback, but the defensive transformation isn’t complete. Jeremiah Ratliff will be 34 at the start of the season, and the Bears could use another lineman. Shelton could come in and be a good nose tackle, but he’s not just a space eater. He’s an active three-down player who could leave a player like Ego Ferguson staying at end, where he’ll be a better player.
Options: Amari Cooper (WR), Kevin White (WR)
8. Atlanta Falcons: Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
Gregory’s intelligence should be in question, but his talent shouldn’t be. How’s that for a goofy sportswriter line? Gregory might slide some in the draft, but maybe not as far as people think. Atlanta has a big need for a player like Gregory, someone who can line up in a number of ways and get after the quarterback. If the Falcons don’t like Gregory and the players left here, trading down a few spots would be smart.
Options: Shane Ray (DE), trade down
9. New York Giants: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Back to the offensive line this week for the Giants. New York has pieces to shuffle around on the offensive line. Justin Pugh and Geoff Schwartz could play either guard spot or right tackle. Someone like Scherff could be brought in and do the same. That would leave it up to the coaching staff to figure out the best fits for the three. It could be a good problem to have.
Options: Shane Ray (DE), La’el Collins (OT)
10. St. Louis Rams: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
I don’t necessarily think the Rams should sink another high draft pick into a wide receiver, but Cooper would be hard to pass up at No. 10. He’s the best player available and a difference maker for an offense. St. Louis scheduled a pre-draft visit with him, so there is at the least some curiosity there.
Options: Trade down, La’el Collins (OT)
11. Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
I’m not sold on Charles Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson or Mike Wallace being a No. 1 wide receiver for the Vikings. But I’m also not sold on Captain Munnerlyn, Terence Newman or Josh Robinson being a good No. 2 cornerback behind Xavier Rhodes. Waynes could be that player and a wide receiver could be found in the second round.
Options: Kevin White (WR), DeVante Parker (WR)
12. Cleveland Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
If the Browns are fortunate enough to see a player of White’s caliber available, they have to strike. In fact, if White’s around at picks eight through 10, they should consider making a move. They got lucky in this scenario. White is a highly skilled wide receiver with upside, assuming the Browns could develop him and have a quarterback to get him the ball.
Options: DeVante Parker (WR), Eddie Goldman (DT)
13. New Orleans Saints: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Saints need to replace two receivers after trading Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this offseason. Frankly, New Orleans would be lucky if a receiver of Parker’s caliber is available at No. 13. He’s a big receiver who does really well in contested catch situations. He could come in and start immediately.
Options: La’el Collins (OT), Jaelen Strong (WR)
14. Miami Dolphins: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The addition of Kenny Stills was a good and necessary one for the Dolphins, but they could use another wideout. A player like Strong would help Miami finish off its receiving group with Stills and Jarvis Landry, giving the team a nice young nucleus going forward.
Options: La’el Collins (OT), Marcus Peters (CB)
15. San Francisco 49ers: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Maybe I’m just higher on Goldman than most, but he’s a disruptive and powerful defensive lineman who actually has some experience lined up at end. San Francisco has a visit planned with Goldman, so there could be some interest there.
Options: Arik Armstead (DE), Marcus Peters (CB)
16. Houston Texans: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
This is a pick I just continue to be stuck on because the Texans don’t have a good option next to Brian Cushing at inside linebacker. A strong argument could be made for a pass rusher or wide receiver, but do they make a bigger impact than Kendricks? He’s a player who could come in and give 800-plus good snaps a season.
Options: Devin Smith (WR), Shane Ray (DE)
SB Nation presents: The best inside linebackers in the draft
17. San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
At some point in the draft it seems like the Chargers are going to use a pick on a running back. Why not take the one with the potential to make the biggest immediate impact? Gordon is a big-play running back that safeties will have to keep an eye on. That will help open up San Diego’s passing offense and do wonders for Philip Rivers.
Options: Todd Gurley (RB), Andrus Peat (OT)
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Whether the Chiefs choose to go after an offensive tackle or a wide receiver, they can’t go wrong in the first round. In this scenario, the top four wide receivers are gone and some quality tackles are available. Upgrading on Donald Stephenson at right tackle makes more sense than reaching for a wide out or even going after a cornerback.
Options: Dorial Green-Beckham (WR), La’el Collins (OT)
19. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
The Browns have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL and need to figure out how to fix it. It’s been announced that Phil Taylor will play nose tackle next season, so that leaves a spot at end. Players like John Hughes and Billy Winn are solid, but Armstead is a high-upside developmental player.
Options: T.J. Clemmings (OT), trade up
20. Philadelphia Eagles: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
Oregon’s Jake Fisher is starting to become a popular mock draft choice for the Eagles and, well, that seems a bit lazy. On the field, Humphries is just as athletic and appears to have greater potential.
Options: Devin Smith (WR), Landon Collins (S)
21. Cincinnati Bengals: La’el Collins, OT, LSU
Andre Smith hasn’t quite lived up to being the sixth overall pick in the draft. Collins is a player who could push him out of a starting job and give Cincinnati a young, talented player on the offensive line.
Options: Landon Collins (S), Shane Ray (DE)
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
This pick has been the same for a while. The fit is seamless. Peters is a high-level corner with a penchant for making big plays. He would give the Steelers a young starter a position they need to bolster.
Options: Jalen Collins (CB), Eli Harold (OLB)
23. Detroit Lions: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Although Detroit brought in Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker, it would be smart to add another player up front. Brown is an intriguing talent who happened to slide a little bit in this mock draft. Brown would be hard to pass up at this point and he could come in and give 500-600 good snaps a season.
Options: Todd Gurley (RB), T.J. Clemmings (OT)
24. Arizona Cardinals: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
The Cardinals have smartly handled the offseason, filling starting needs at guard and linebacker while adding some solid depth pieces. That leaves a few starting spots to finish off, with an edge rusher being chief among them. Ray is player whom the Cardinals could use standing up as a rush end or with his hand down in nickel situations.
Options: Todd Gurley (RB), Owamagbe Odighizuwa (DE)
25. Carolina Panthers: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
It’s hard to see Michael Oher and Jonathan Martin being short-term or long-term answers in Carolina. That could force a pick like Flowers in the first round. Carolina is kicking the tires on a lot of tackle prospects who will get picked after the first round, though. Don’t discount another top-end wide receiver being added to the roster.
Options: Dorial Green-Beckham (WR), T.J. Clemmings (OT)
26. Baltimore Ravens: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
While Steve Smith can still get it done, but what are the chances he continues playing after his contract is through after 2016? The Ravens need to add talent to a thin receiving corps that saw Torrey Smith leave in free agency.
Options: Dorial Green-Beckham (WR), Jalen Collins (CB)
27. Dallas Cowboys: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The loss of DeMarco Murray and his 392 carries and 1,845 yards leaves a pressing need at running back for Dallas. Gurley might not be ready to go at the start of the season, but his long-term potential is vast. The Cowboys could also be looking for a replacement for defensive tackle Nick Hayden in the first round, and there will be options.
Options: Carl Davis (DT), Jalen Collins (CB)
28. Denver Broncos: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
New Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak is going to want his linemen to have some mobility, and that suits Clemmings nicely. He would slot in as Denver’s starting right tackle where he can rely on his movement skill and power as a blocker.
Options: Maxx Williams (TE), Cameron Erving (OT/C)
29. Indianapolis Colts: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Collins might not be perfect in coverage, but he’s more than adequate. Because he’s as close to a complete safety as there is in the draft this year, he could be an attractive player for the Colts. He has enough range in coverage and is a real asset coming up and playing the run.
Options: A.J. Cann (G), Carl Davis (DT)
30. Green Bay Packers: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Every year we see middle linebackers fall in the draft, so does a talent evaluator like Ted Thompson really see value in one in the first round? If not, cornerback could be the direction he turns. It’s a valuable position and Collins is someone with a lot of potential.
Options: Shaq Thompson (LB), Denzel Perryman (LB)
31. New Orleans Saints (via Seattle Seahawks): Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
Junior Galette had 10 sacks a season ago. but what future does he have in New Orleans? After him, it’s hard to find a pass rush threat on the roster. Harold could be that player, and someone with good potential to develop over the next few seasons.
Options: A.J. Cann (G), Kevin Johnson (CB)
32. New England Patriots: A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina
Both guard spots for New England need to be improved next season. Cann could be brought in to start on the left or right side, alleviating the team’s biggest need on offense. The Patriots are starting to get some holes on defense, though, so it won’t be a surprise if that is the direction either.
Options: Byron Jones (CB), Carl Davis (DT)