This is how I see the first round shaping up for the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 30. You can also take a look at our consensus mock draft to see what the majority of experts think.
No. 1 Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m confident the Buccaneers will be taking a quarterback with the No. 1 pick, it’s just a matter of whether it’s Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. While there’s bigger character concerns with Winston, he’s the more talented of the two and I expect Tampa Bay to go that direction.
Selection – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
No. 2 Pick: Tennessee Titans
Whether it’s the Titans or another team that trades up to No. 2, I expect Mariota to be taken in the spot. He’s not a perfect fit for Tennessee’s scheme under Ken Whisenhunt, but you can’t pass up on a franchise quarterback when your starter as of right now is Zach Mettenberger. If Tennessee decides to pass on Mariota and can’t trade down (seems unlikely), look for them to target USC’s Leonard Williams, who would be a perfect fit at defensive end in Ray Horton’s defense.
Selection – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
No. 3 Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars
You could argue that the Jaguars biggest need is to address their offensive line, but there’s not a lot elite players at the position worth taking this early. I’ve seen some mocks that have Jacksonville going with a wide receiver, but they used two second round picks at wide out last year and also got strong play out of undrafted rookie Austin Hurns. Gus Bradley is a defensive minded guy and I expect the Jaguars to go with their top rated defensive player. Don’t discount Florida’s defensive end Dante Fowler if they are for whatever reason not sold on Williams.
Selection – Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC
No. 4 Pick: Oakland Raiders
Here’s another team that needs help on the offensive line, most notably at tackle, but likely will wait until the 2nd round to try and fill this void. Considering their top two receiving threats are Andre Holmes and James Jones, I look for the Raiders to bring in some help for Derek Carr. There’s a decent debate on whether West Virginia’s Kevin White or Alabama’s Amari Cooper is more deserving of being the first wide out off the board. I personally give the slight edge to Cooper.
Selection – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
No. 5 Pick: Washington Redskins
The Redskins biggest needs come in the secondary, where they could use upgrades at both corner and safety. If they go with need, chances are they will take Michigan State’s Trae Waynes. I think there’s too big a gap to make that kind of reach. I look for them to take their pick of one of several pass rushers on the board. They lost Brian Orakpo in free agency and while they have two capable starters in Ryan Kerrigan and 2014 second rounder Trent Murphy, they lack depth at the position and Murphy only had 2.5 sacks as a rookie.
Selection – Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
No. 6 Pick: New York Jets
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets were one of those teams reaching out to the Titans about potentially moving up to the No.2 pick to land Mariota or Winston, as this team could be a legit contender with an upgrade over Geno Smith/Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. If New York doesn’t move up, I look for them to target a need at outside linebacker and snag Clemson’s Vic Beasley.
Selection – Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
No. 7 Pick: Chicago Bears
Chicago traded away Brandon Marshall, leaving a big void on the outside opposite of Alshon Jefferey. You have to think the Bears knew they would have an excellent shot at replacing Marshall with either White or Cooper and I expect them to do just that. That’s not to say Chicago doesn’t have a number of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball and won’t opt to go in that direction. The thing to keep in mind is there’s a lot of talent at the receiver position again this year, so they would still be able to fill that void later on in the draft if they go defense first.
Selection – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
No. 8 Pick: Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta finished T-30th in sacks a year ago with just 22 and it’s no secret that this team is desperate for someone who can consistently get after the quarterback. While they have re-signed Kroy Biermann and added in Adrian Clayborn and O’Brien Schofield, the Falcons simply can’t afford not to take a pass rusher with this pick, especially given how much top-level talent there is at the position this year. I have Atlanta taking Missouri’s Shane Ray, but keep an eye out for Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, who is arguably more talented but comes with some off-field concerns. It’s unfortunate the Falcons aren’t better off at outside linebacker, as I think Georgia’s Todd Gurley would be a perfect fit and take their offense to a whole another level.
Selection – Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
No. 9 Pick: New York Giants
New York has been actively trying to improve their offensive line. They used their 1st round pick in 2013 on tackle Justin Pugh and last year used a 2nd round selection on center Weston Richburg. While Richburg has stepped in an been serviceable, Pugh has been overmatched on the outside and may be forced to move inside to guard. I think it would be in the Giants best interest to take Iowa’s Brandon Scherff and have him start at right tackle and eventually take over on the left side.
Selection – Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
No. 10 Pick: St. Louis Rams
The Rams have needs along the offensive line, but are set at left tackle with 2014 1st round pick Greg Robinson. This would be awfully early to go after a guard, center or right tackle, as you can typically fill those voids in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. They also need some help at linebacker and wide receiver, but I think they will instead look to improve their secondary.
Selection – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
No. 11 Pick: Minnesota Vikings
I was impressed with Teddy Bridegwater’s performance as a rookie, especially when you consider the lack of playmakers he to work with. Cordarrelle Patterson is a gifted athlete, but he runs poor routes and I’m not sold he has the mental makeup to be an elite No. 1 option. I know they traded for Mike Wallace, but he’s not someone you can rely on. What better solution than to target Bridegwater’s favorite target from college in Louisville’s DeVante Parker. As of right now it doesn’t look like the Vikings are going to part ways with Adrian Peterson. If that changes between now and the draft, don’t be shocked if Minnesota takes Gurley.
Selection – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
No. 12 Pick: Cleveland Browns
Cleveland has the luxury of having two first round picks, giving them options here at No. 12. I know the Browns have a couple of talented backs in Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, but Gurley is a whole different beast. Getting a game-changing back will take pressure off whoever wins the quarterback job and solidify the Browns at the position for years to come.
Selection – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
No. 13 Pick: New Orleans Saints
New Orleans also has two 1st round picks at their disposal. They have two capable players who can get after the quarterback in outside linebacker Junior Galette (10 sacks) and 3-4 defensive end Cameron Jordan (7.5 sacks). There’s not a whole lot of other options, as these two accounted for more than half of their total for the year (34). I expect the Saints to look to go after an edge rusher here.
Selection – Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
No. 14 Pick: Miami Dolphins
There’s those that think Miami needs to try and find a No. 1 receiver to pair with 2014 2nd round pick Jarvis Landry and newly acquired Kenny Stills and tight end Jordan Cameron, but I think they have bigger needs up front on the offensive line. Brandon Albert is a quality left tackle, but can’t stay on the field because of injuries. They need an insurance policy and could also use some help at both guard and center. That’s why I think LSU’s La’el Collins is a perfect fit, as he’s capable of playing both guard and tackle.
Selection – La’el Collins, OL, LSU
No. 15 Pick: San Francisco 49ers
It’s been a difficult offseason for the 49ers, who have went from one of the most complete teams in the NFL to one that now has glaring holes all over the field. The biggest needs are on the defensive side of the ball, where San Francisco could use help at all three levels. The best place to start is up front and the best available defensive lineman on the board, and a steal at this point, is Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who is a younger version of Haloti Ngata.
Selection – Danny Shelton , DT, Washington
No. 16 Pick: Houston Texans
Houston parted ways with wide out Andre Johnson. While they added in Cecil Shorts in free agency, they need a No. 2 to pair opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. UCF’s Breshad Perriman is flying under the radar with all the attention being given to White and Cooper, but this kid has a special combination of size and speed to be a big time playmaker right away.
Selection – Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
No. 17 Pick: San Diego Chargers
The Chargers likely would have went with an offensive linemen here had they no re-signed left tackle King Dunlap and added in free agent guard Orlando Franklin. They do need to fill the void left at center after the retirement of Nick Hardwick, but I think they will wait and address that later on. San Diego could take a gamble on Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon or Gurley if here were still available, but I think their biggest need is at outside linebacker. Kentucky’s Bud Dupree is a big time sleeper, as I think he’s one of the 10 best players available.
Selection – Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
No. 18 Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, the Chiefs need to look to add in some more help at wide receiver, but that’s not their biggest area of concern. Alex Smith had zero time to throw the football last year and that was a direct result of the poor play up front on the offensive line. Kansas City lost one of the best centers in Rodney Hudson and this is a perfect spot to fill that void. Keep in mind this is a deep class at receiver and the Chiefs have plenty of picks to add help there later in the draft.
Selection – Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
No. 19 Pick: Cleveland Browns (From Buffalo)
The Browns need to upgrade at nose tackle and while I have them missing out on the best prospect in the draft in Washington’s Shelton, there’s not a big gap in terms of talent from Shelton and Texas’ Malcolm Brown. Cleveland improved their ground game by getting Gurley with their first pick and now they take a big step forward in improving their awful run defense.
Selection – Malcolm Smith, DT, Texas
No. 20 Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
I originally had the Eagles targeting a corner, but that’s not a pressing issue with the offseason additions of Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond. However, I do expect their attention to remain in the defensive backfield, as Philadelphia desperately needs to upgrade at strong safety. This will be their best chance to do that, as there’s not really a safety outside of LSU’s Landon Collins worthy of a first round pick.
Selection – Landon Collins, S, Alabama
No. 21 Pick: Cincinnati Bengals
With starting left tackle Andrew Witworth and starting right tackle Andre Smith both entering the final year of their contracts, this is a great spot for the Bengals to address this before it’s a problem. Stanford’s Andrus Peat is a great value play at this point in the draft. Cincinnati also needs to improve their pass rush, but at this point all the elite prospects are off the board.
Selection – Andrus Peat, OT Stanford
No. 22 Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
There’s plenty of holes that need to be filled on the defensive side of the ball, but the biggest need comes in the secondary. Most notably at corner, where there’s not much in terms of talent outside of William Gay. Pittsburgh could go a long way in turning a weakness into a strength by addressing this need with this pick.
Selection – Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
No. 23 Pick: Detroit Lions
The Lions lost both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in free agency. While they traded for veteran Haloti Ngata, he turned 31 earlier this year and is on the decline. Detroit needs to strongly consider addressing this need with their 1st round pick and I look for them to play it safe and take Oregon’s Arik Armstead. If they decide to pass on defensive tackle, look for the Lions to try an improve their offensive line, where they could use an upgrade at both guard and right tackle.
Selection – Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
No. 24 Pick: Arizona Cardinals
Arizona finished 31st in the league in rushing last year at just 81.8 ypg. They have added in elite left guard Mike Iupati and now it’s time for them to add in a compliment/upgrade to Andre Ellington at running back, who is not built to carry the entire load. If in fact the Cardinals decide to go in this direction, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon would without a doubt be the selection.
Selection – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
No. 25 Pick: Carolina Panthers
While the Panthers have added in free agent tackle Michael Oher to take over at left tackle and guards Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell showed promise late in the year, they have a glaring hole at right tackle and lack depth across the board. Miami’s Ereck Flowers projects as a potential pro bowl right tackle, making this an easy and safe pick for Carolina.
Selection – Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
No. 26 Pick: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens lost Torrey Smith in free agency, leaving 36-year-old veteran Steve Smith as their only reliable option on the outside. While they also have a pressing need at corner, I think they wait to address that need later. USC’s Nelson Agholor has been flying up draft boards (some have him going in top 20) and I think he’s a perfect fit for the Ravens offensive attack.
Selection – Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
No. 27 Pick: Dallas Cowboys
Dallas has done a tremendous job improving their offensive line with previous 1st round picks, but that’s no longer an area of need. Their focus needs to be on getting better defensively. They need help at both defensive tackle and corner. While I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked to address the need at tackle, I believe Washington corner Marcus Peters is too talented to pass up. If it weren’t for off-field concerns, Peters would be a top 10 pick.
Selection – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
No. 28 Pick: Denver Broncos
The Broncos top priority is to keep Peyton Manning well protected and that’s the direction I expect them to go with their first round pick. The best option on the board at this point in the draft is Florida’s D.J. Humphries, who they could start right away at right tackle or guard. If there’s not an offensive linemen worth taking at this spot, look for Denver to turn to the defensive line, where they need to find a replacement for the departed Terrance Knighton.
Selection – D.J. Humphries, OT/G, Florida
No. 29 Pick: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have made a couple of big offseason free agent signings in wide out Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore, but there’s still plenty of holes that need to be filled if this team wants to take that next step and get to a Super Bowl. They desperately need to improve along the offensive line and better protecting Andrew Luck needs to be their biggest priority coming into the draft.
Selection – T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
No. 30 Pick: Green Bay Packers
Green Bay was unable to re-sign corners Davon House and Tramon Williams, leaving a big void in the secondary. I think this is the direction that the Packers will turn to in the first round and Connecticut’s Byron Jones could end up being a steal.
Selection – Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
No. 31 Pick: New Orleans Saints (From Seattle)
The Saints pulled one of the biggest surprises of the offseason when they traded away Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks for center Max Unger and Seattle’s 1st round pick. Most assume that New Orleans needs to find a replacement for Graham by taking a top level tight end, but I think they will be just as happy landing a top level wide out. Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong has the speed to beat defenses deep and the ability to bring down the ball in traffic.
Selection – Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
No. 32 Pick: New England Patriots
It’s almost impossible to try and figure out which direction Bill Belichick is going to go in the draft, but I have a good feeling they are going to look to address their need at defensive tackle, where they needed help even before the loss of Vince Wilfork. Not only would they be feeling a need, but Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman would be a steal if he’s still on the board at No. 32.
Selection – Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
You won’t see many of the NFL win totals adjust after the draft no matter who a team takes. Rookies just rarely have that big of an impact.
Sometimes the early NFL odds that have been released will change and you can use that information to update the expected win total of a team and take advantage of your win total wagers.
I think it’s important for handicappers to have a full grasp of the team needs of each franchise so they can better prepare for the season. I go through each team thoroughly so my premium and free NFL picks are top notch once the season starts.
The draft and free agency are the two ways teams fill gaps, if they do then you would think they would be improved. Teams that don’t help themselves likely will remain in the basement of their divisions.
For more draft coverage check out the MockDraft database at DCProSportsReport.com.
- 2016 NFL Mock Draft
- New England Patriots Predictions
- Buffalo Bills Predictions
- New York Jets Predictions
- Miami Dolphins Predictions
- Baltimore Ravens Predictions
- Cleveland Browns Predictions
- Pittsburgh Steelers Predictions
- Cincinnati Bengals Predictions
- Tennessee Titans Predictions
- Houston Texans Predictions
- Jacksonville Jaguars Predictions
- Indianapolis Colts Predictions
- Kansas City Chiefs Predictions