The 2015 NFL draft begins April 30 and ends May 2. Photo courtesy of Jake O'Donnell.

NFL Mock Draft: What we think will happen

Here’s what Liam Beatus, Peter Hailey and Sam Dyson think will happen at tonight’s NFL Draft…

1. TB Buccaneers – Jameis Winston

jameis
Jameis Winston plays for Florida State University. Photo credit to David July.

Despite not being the most talented player in the draft, Winston will be the sure-fire number one pick this draft. The NFL is a quarterback-based league and the Bucs offense only has one glaring hole, and Winston could be the guy to fill it. Now, Winston does have his off-the-field issues, including stealing crab legs, shouting obscene things in public, and a dropped case of sexual allegations, which any team will have to overlook. However, the crab leg story does make sense (at least his version) and his traditional style of play will benefit this Lovie Smith team for sure. I trust HC Lovie Smith to handle his off-the-field issues. Look for Jameis Winston throwing touchdown passes to Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson all season long. (Liam)

Ceiling: Philip Rivers

Basement: Kyle Orton

2. TEN Titans – Marcus Mariota

While some analysts think current Titans starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger can develop into a long term solution in the position, I simply don’t see how Tennessee could pass up on a chance to draft the Heisman winning signal caller out of Oregon. The concerns surrounding Mariota’s ability to transfer his talents to the professional level are somewhat legitimate, but his high character and coachability give him a very strong chance to overcome the doubts about his potential and develop into a long time starter at the position. Yes, I’ve heard the rumors of a possible swap with the Chargers that would send this pick to San Diego in exchange for Philip Rivers, but the odds of that happening seem about the same as the odds of Mel Kiper electing to stop putting copious amounts of gel in his hair. Tennessee will take Mariota and count on him to stabilize the game’s most crucial position for the next decade. (Peter)

Ceiling: Good Colin Kaepernick

Basement: Bad Robert Griffin III

3. JAX Jaguars – Amari Cooper

Jaguars fans haven’t had much to cheer about since the golden age of David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew, and they weren’t cheering that much then anyway. Amari Cooper put on several jaw-dropping performances last year at Alabama and provides Blake Bortles with one of the tools needed to properly develop a bonafide number one receiver. Cooper and the Jags haven’t been linked in many reports, but no one saw the Bortles pick coming last year either. (Sam)

Ceiling: Jordy Nelson

Basement: Michael Crabtree

4. OAK Raiders – Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams has been touted the most talented player in this draft class. At 6’4 300 lbs, the defensive end is the most athletic defensive lineman in the draft whose productions matches his gifted body. He flourished at USC despite minor injuries in 2013 and 2014. Oakland loves to take defensive players high in the draft, and although they will be tempted to take Kevin White (assuming Cooper is gone), I expect their trends to continue. A good compliment lineman to Khalil Mack who the Raiders drafted 3rd overall in the 2014 draft. (Liam)

Ceiling: Richard Seymour

Basement: Kevin Williams

5. WSH Redskins – Dante Fowler Jr.

New Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan will probably be working the phones for as long as he can before his franchise is put on the clock, looking to find a trade partner so he can move down, collect more picks in this year’s draft and continue his rebuild of the team’s roster. However, if other organizations see the Redskins pop up on their caller I.D. and ignore it like a call from their in-laws, Washington will gladly select the versatile and speedy pass rusher and unleash him on opposing quarterbacks next season. Pairing the Florida product up with Ryan Kerrigan would be something that would surely excite any Redskins fan, and would also give Fowler the chance to contribute immediately. (Peter)

Ceiling: Terrell Suggs

Basement: Everson Griffen

6. NY Jets – Vic Beasley

Tyrannosaurus Rex Ryan might not be terrifying the streets of Manhattan anymore, but the moves the Jets made on offense this offseason allow them to wait and select a crazy-talented pass rusher Ryan would’ve killed for – Clemson’s Vic Beasley. The Jets have been linked to a possible trade for Marcus Mariota; hopefully the new front office is wise enough to remember a similar trade that decimated a certain not-to-be-named franchise. Instead they can improve upon an already strong defense by adding the very athletic and explosive Vic Beasley. Not only does Beasley consistently produce at a high level (25 sacks over the last two seasons) but he showcases the athletic measurables of a wideout; he ran a 4.53 at the combine before posting an insane 41-inch vertical. His sheer athleticism and natural pass-rushing skills should be more than enough to make up for a somewhat slighter frame. (Sam)

Ceiling: Rich man’s Jason Worilds

Basement: Shea McClellin

7. CHI Bears – Kevin White

The Bears have a lot of issues to fix. There is concern that QB Jay Cutler is not the quarterback of the future due to his personality and inability to get along with head coaches in the past. Of the many holes they need to fix, a top tier wide receiver is definitely one of them. The Bears desperately need to rebuild their defense, where they were once one of the most feared throughout the 2000s, led by future hall-of-famer Brian Urlacher. 2014 was their worst season since 2004, and the Bears did not do much in the offseason to help their case for 2015. They need to replace Brandon Marshall, and Kevin White seems to be the best fit. White had a breakout season in West Virginia gaining 1447 yards and 10 touchdowns. At 6’2, he is a strong receiver with long arms and has great hands. Add great speed for a guy his size, and come draft day he could be taken before Cooper with his incredibly high ceiling. (Liam)

Ceiling: Larry Fitzgerald

Basement: A bigger Ted Ginn Jr.

8. ATL Falcons – Bud Dupree

Bud Dupree is the owner of one of the draft’s coolest names, but the unlimited potential he has is even cooler; the defensive end out of Kentucky is an absolute freak, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. Dupree stands at 6’4” and weighs 240 pounds, yet somehow ran a 4.56 40 yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and recorded a 42-inch vertical leap. Just imagine a man that big doing things that athletic; aren’t you somewhat frightened? Dupree will have to prove he isn’t just a physical specimen and will need to learn the nuances of being a consistent, every down pass rusher, but Atlanta, a team that’s been yearning for a sack master for quite some time, would be wise to grab the raw Dupree and mold him into the perennial Pro Bowler he has the talent to be. (Peter)

Ceiling: Jason Pierre Paul

Basement: Jamie Collins

9. NY Giants – Brandon Scherff

Remember Eli Manning? The future hall-of-fame, two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning? It’s understandable if you don’t. On several occasions over the course of Manning’s career, that Super Bowl MVP has mysteriously morphed into a turnover-spewing mass of anti-Manning. It’s not entirely his fault, however; he’s proven that when given adequate time in the pocket and actual weapons around him, he is undoubtedly an elite quarterback. The Giants handed him a weapon of mass destruction last offseason in the form of Odell Beckham, Jr. Midwestern offensive lineman are about as safe as prospects get, and that includes Iowa’s Brandon Scherff. He can immediately line up at any of the many holes along the Giants’ o-line. The NFC East could experience a renaissance or devolve into an absolute dumpster fire; it’s totally up for grabs. A happy and healthy Eli Manning gives New York a huge advantage, and Scherff is the key to both. (Sam)

Ceiling: Joe Staley

Basement: Robert Gallery

10. STL Rams – DeVante Parker

The Rams made a big splash this offseason by trading the number one overall pick in the 2010 draft pick, Sam Bradford, for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Bradford, who showed signs of promise at times throughout his career struggled to stay healthy since his days as a Sooner at Oklahoma University. Foles has shown he can be one of the best quarterbacks in football dating back to the 2013 season where he threw 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The Rams defensive front seven has so much potential to be a force in the league, stockpiled with first round draft picks. Parker makes a lot of sense for the Rams. The Rams are extremely thin at the position, only Kenny Britt is a viable threat, but his lack of production in recent years says otherwise. He will not lead the league in receptions, but can amass a high average of yards per catch. He will use his 6’3 size to his advantage. (Liam)

Ceiling: Malcolm Floyd

Basement: Hakeem Nicks (recent Nicks)

11. MIN Vikings – Marcus Peters

The Vikings defense was ranked 27th in total yards allowed last season, and they finished 28th in passing yards allowed. Those numbers make me sure that if you looked at the calendars of offensive players around the league last year, they would have had Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the day they played Minnesota all circled as dates to look forward to. Drafting Peters, a cornerback with ideal size for the position, would go a long way in shoring up the weakness of last season’s unit. Yes, the University of Washington defensive back ran into some trouble his last year at school and was eventually dismissed from the team for clashing with the coaching staff too often, but if he can get his head on straight, he could develop into the next lanky shutdown cornerback in a league where players like that are valued more and more. (Peter)

Ceiling: Joe Haden

Basement: Aqib Talib, except without as much skill but all of the off field headaches

12. CLE Browns – Danny Shelton

The state of the Cleveland Browns can best be described as a time-bomb; one Josh Gordon DUI, one Manziel rehab stint and another front office controversy away from complete annihilation. The Browns are unpredictable and often times make heartburn-inducing moves, but I’d like to imagine a Michael Bay-esque disaster is something Ray Farmer will want to avoid. The Browns ranked dead last in run defense last season; not a good look in a division featuring Le’Veon Bell and Jeremy Hill. Danny Shelton can immediately slide in as a nose tackle or a 5-technique defensive end. He boasts better pass-rushing as well as run-stopping skills than any other interior lineman in the draft, giving the Browns a complete and safe option in the front seven for years to come. (Sam)

Ceiling: Haloti Ngata

Basement: Dwan Edwards

13. NO Saints – Trae Waynes

Trae Waynes plays an interesting role in this year’s draft class. Waynes is highly regarded as the best rated cornerback in this class, but his talent level could lead him to be overdrafted purely based on the need for the position. The Saints had a depressing 2014, where it appeared that they had the most talent coming in to the season, but could not win this putrid NFC South division. The Saints desperately need an upgrade in their secondary as they were in the bottom third of the NFL in pass defense and if Waynes falls to them at 13, I do not see why this pick would not make sense. His bump and run style should make him a solid corner in the NFL. (Liam)

Ceiling: Antonio Cromartie

Basement:  Morris Claiborne

14. MIA Dolphins – Breshad Perriman

If you look up the word “mediocre” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure you’ll see a picture of the Miami Dolphins receiving corps. Jarvis Landry had a solid rookie year, but after him, the depth chart consists of an aging Greg Jennings, the perfectly average Rishard Matthews, and then some guys named Tyler McDonald, Matt Hazel, and Michael Preston. Ryan Tannehill needs another threat on the outside, and Central Florida’s Perriman would be just that. With a blazing 4.24 40-yard dash and a large frame, he’d provide a massive target for the Dolphins quarterback to throw to, and would probably be an immediate starter. Plus, Perriman wouldn’t have to move his belongings too far, which is always nice. (Peter)

Ceiling: Julio Jones

Basement: Josh Morgan

15. SF 49ers – Randy Gregory

The San Francisco 49ers are the physical embodiment of “Life comes at you fast.” Not too long ago, the 49ers came within one holding call of hoisting the Lombardi. Since then the Niners have turned over their coaching staff, lost nearly their entire secondary to free agency and half their linebacking corps to unprecedented personal safety concerns, while another linebacker likes to scream “BOMB!” in airports. Assuming said linebacker stays out of trouble, the 49ers could quickly rebuild a once-feared defense by adding essentially a clone of Aldon Smith, Nebraska’s Randy Gregory. Like Smith, Gregory excels in athleticism and shows the same enormous potential. The Niners have long followed the “best player available” draft strategy; Gregory is a steal this late in the first round, and luckily for the Golden Gate city, he also fills a need at rush linebacker. It would also behoove the Niners to try to trade down, as they’ve frequently done in past drafts. If Gregory does fall to this spot, there will be teams more desperate for him than the Niners are that will be willing to trade up. (Sam)

Ceiling: Aldon Smith

Basement: Larry English

16. HOU Texans – Landon Collins

The Houston Texans are in a tricky situation because they need help offensively. There are not enough high end quarterbacks in this draft past Mariota and Winston to take and the drop off in talent is too much for the Texans to make a reach. They also lost Andre Johnson this past offseason and need help at the wide receiver position, but Perriman, Parker, Cooper, and White are off the board. Although it is not their number one concern, the Texans could equip their secondary by taking the best safety available in this thin secondary draft class. A name to look out for is wide receiver Nelson Agholor, whose name has been brought up more and more as the draft approaches, but I assume the Texans take the best player available. Alabama defensive players are a good route to go for any team as shown in recent history. (Liam)

Ceiling: Donte Whitner

Basement: Poor man’s Jonathan Cyprien

17. SD Chargers – Todd Gurley

Don’t let the unenviable last name fool you: Todd Gurley is an absolute beast. Before the Georgia ball carrier tore his ACL last year, he was considered a guaranteed top 5 pick, and that was even with the autographing scandal he was involved in. In fact, as I’ve sat here trying to imagine tackling this 6’1”, 220 pound speeding missile of a running back, I notice I’ve started sweating profusely and have the sudden urge to go hide under my bed. Gurley can shed two tacklers and run through the other nine defenders each time he totes the rock, hits holes extremely decisively, and doesn’t ever fumble. His knee injury may cause him to fall to the middle of the first round, but I couldn’t be higher on his prospects as a pro. Honestly, when we look back on this draft in ten years, I think we’ll find that Gurley is the best player in the class. San Diego, a team who sorely needs a running back, would be supremely fortunate to have him. (Peter)

Ceiling: Marshawn Lynch

Basement: Mark Ingram

18. KC Chiefs – Cameron Erving

The 2014 Chiefs managed to cement a legacy despite not actually accomplishing anything; they became the first team in NFL history to throw zero touchdowns to a wide receiver. A wideout will be targeted, but at this stage Kansas City would be better served patching up holes along the offensive line instead of reaching for a risky receiver prospect. Florida State’s Cameron Erving is a versatile offensive lineman that immediately plugs in at guard or center, and the protection he’ll provide Alex Smith will allow the franchise to determine whether or not it’s time to move on from the ultimate game manager. His superior athleticism will allow Andy Reid to craft new offensive packages to take advantage of his and Jamaal Charles’ complimentary skill sets. (Sam)

Ceiling: Jason Kelce

Basement: Samson Satele

19. CLE Browns (from Buffalo) – Shane Ray

Despite the recent failed drug test by Shane Ray, I still believe a team will take a chance on him in the first round. So why not the Cleveland Browns? The way things stand, the Browns have two first round draft picks (assuming they cannot pull off a trade) and a lot of holes to fill. Ray was projected to be a top 10 pick throughout most of the season, but after an average pro-day and recent allegations, he could fall out of the first round. However, the Browns are known to take chances on guys with potential off-the-field risks (cough cough Johnny Manziel). Ray is extremely gifted athletically, at 6’3, has good hands, great speed, and agility for a defensive end. Plus, Ray can be a gifted pass rusher in the right system. He flourished in the SEC, and was a Hendricks Award Nomination (best defensive end in the country). (Liam)

Ceiling: Von Miller

Basement: Aldon Smith (off the field issues)

20. PHI Eagles – Arik Armstead

This pick doesn’t necessarily fit a need for Philadelphia (who could really use a receiver here) but if Armstead, a defensive lineman from Oregon, slips to pick 20, I have a feeling Chip Kelly will take him and continue his quest to turn the Eagles into the NFL version of the Ducks. There’s always a chance that Kelly does this by throwing a colossal trade offer towards a team at the top of the draft in an effort to snag Marcus Mariota, but if they stay put, taking Armstead, a guy who improved a ton in between sophomore and junior season, should fulfill the enigmatic coach’s desires. (Peter)

Ceiling: Jason Hatcher

Basement: Chris Baker

21. CIN Bengals-Malcom Brown

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Cincinnati Reds were on the verge of building a baseball dynasty. In 2012, the Reds pulled off a 97-win season and their second trip to the NLCS in three years. Fast-forward to today; some bad luck and bad decisions have left the Reds an afterthought in an otherwise burgeoning NL Central. The Cincinnati Bengals are in danger of suffering the same fate; the team has had it’s share of bad luck but they haven’t done themselves many favors either. Adding Texas’s Malcom Brown gives the defensive line a chance to be truly special as he’ll immediately line up next to Geno Atkins. The Detroit Lions had massive success pairing complementary elite defensive tackles; last season their line was a huge part of the best defense in the NFL. The Bengals should follow their lead and take one of the safer prospects in the entire draft. (Sam)

Ceiling: Star Lotulelei

Basement: Broderick Bunkley

22. PIT Steelers – Kevin Johnson

Pittsburgh would have loved to draft Landon Collins with this pick to replace long time Steeler Safety Troy Polumalu who retired this offseason. However, assuming he is off the board, the Steelers could look to improve their mediocre secondary. Johnson wowed scouts with his leaping abilities which will be key in jump-ball situations against receivers potentially three to five inches taller than him (measures to 6’0). Johnson is a bit lanky which could be a problem in his rookie season, but I expect him to develop into a solid starter for the next few seasons to come. (Liam)

Ceiling: Sam Sheilds

Basement: Special teams contributor

23. DET Lions – La’el Collins

Collins just recently made the news, but not in the good way: he was named a person that police would like to talk to regarding the death of a pregnant woman that the LSU prospect knew. As of now, though, he isn’t a suspect, and assuming things stay that way, the Lions would wind up with a blocker who could be a stellar pro at either tackle or guard should they take him (he played the latter during his sophomore season, then kicked out to play the former as a junior and senior). Collins’ college resume is littered with awards, All-SEC, and All-American honors, and he would provide Matthew Stafford with a offensive lineman capable of acting like a nasty, possessive bodyguard. For a team that throws as much as Detroit does, it would be a shrewd selection. (Peter)

Ceiling: Anthony Castonzo

Basement: Jason Smith

24. ARZ Cardinals – Melvin Gordon

Having to watch the Cardinals on offense last season was like giving blood; it’s not quite painful so much as it is annoying, but you soldier on because you know it’ll all work out in the end. Larry Fitzgerald isn’t the physical specimen he used to be, and the Cardinals need to become more dynamic in order to challenge the stacked defenses in the NFC West if they want to take the last step towards Super Bowl contention. Melvin Gordon fills a huge need at running back, and possesses excellent field vision paired with explosive speed and lateral quickness. This will also take pressure of off Carson Palmer, not putting so much of a toll on his slowly deteriorating body. Gordon adds dynamism to the long-dormant Arizona running game as well as their passing attack. (Sam)

Ceiling: LeSean McCoy

Basement: Jonathan Stewart

25. CAR Panthers – Andrus Peat

Peat’s stock has risen and fallen and has cycled over the last few seasons. The Stanford tackle is a solid pass-blocker and run-blocker making him ideal for almost any scheme. Peat is not athletically gifted, but he plays a huge 6’7 313 lb protector for any quarterback’s blind side. Assuming Cam Newton continues to leave the pocket and be a dual threat quarterback, insuring the lines is a good place to start. The Panthers also desperately need another offensive weapon to throw to, there is just too much weight on Kelvin Benjamin. Assume the Panthers draft a receiver late, and pick Peat here assuming he is still on the board. (Liam)

Ceiling: Andrew Whitworth

Basement: Justin Pugh

26. BAL Ravens – Phillip Dorsett

In the time it takes me to type the words “in the time it takes me to type the words,” Phillip Dorsett could run a 40 yard dash; the receiver out of the U is that fast. A deep threat in the truest sense of the phrase, Dorsett averaged an astonishing 24.2 yards per catch last season with the Hurricanes; in other words, the typical completion to the diminutive receiver covered a quarter of the football field. Teams may be scared of his lack of size, but Baltimore shouldn’t be. The Ravens are another team who are seeking an additional pass catcher, and Dorsett could either act as a menace in the slot or line up on the edge and run straight to the pylon every single play. Joe Flacco can throw the ball about as far as any signal caller in the NFL, and Dorsett would be nearly impossible for him to overthrow. Baltimore fans would love having this guy on their team. (Peter)

Ceiling: Santana Moss

Basement: Kenny Stills

27. DAL Cowboys-Ameer Abdullah

Jerry Jones is the Miley Cyrus of NFL front offices; he’s impossible to predict, he always wants to put on the best show, and he sometimes says things that he just can’t possibly understand. The man is also impulsive; even after Zack Martin’s massive success in his rookie season, Jones STILL publicly expresses regret for not drafting Johnny Manziel. With the top two running backs already off the board, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Jones make an impulsive reach and select arguably the third best running back in the class, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah actually serves as an upgrade over DeMarco Murray in the passing game; he’s dynamic and explosive enough to have a real situational impact on games. He’ll have plenty of running lanes behind Dallas’s vaunted offensive line and at the very least serves as an immediate upgrade over the ghost of Darren McFadden. (Sam)

Ceiling: Justin Forsett

Basement: Bobby Rainey

28. DEN Broncos – Ereck Flowers

Peyton Manning is on his last legs for his incredible Hall of Fame career. The Broncos with a pick this late in the draft should improve up their offensive line. Flowers is a solid run blocker and zone blocker which will fit Gary Kubiak’s new system in Denver, especially because the Broncos seem to be moving in a more balanced-type offense. Flowers has great size and great strength, but needs work on his pass protection skills. I would not worry about that obscene gesture he made in the game against Nebraska, Peyton Manning will not have any of those shenanigans. The Miami guard will help out this Denver team. (Liam)

Ceiling: Tyron Smith

Basement: Michael Oher

29. IND Colts – TJ Clemmings

TJ Clemmings has a pretty remarkable past: the Pittsburgh tackle was a highly sought after defensive end after high school, and played the position the first two years he was a part of the Panther program. He then redshirted, switched to the offensive side of the ball, and became a powerful and reliable right tackle, finishing his career as an All-ACC offensive lineman. I guess that transformation worked out pretty well, wouldn’t you say? Indy’s offense is a prolific one, but last year, their offensive line was a mess. Taking Clemmings would allow them to stabilize a position in the trenches, and would make Andrew Luck (and Andrew Luck’s glorious neck beard) very pleased. (Peter)

Ceiling: Duane Brown

Basement: Andre Smith

30. GB Packers – Hau’oli Kikaha

Really smart and competent franchises have a tendency to take someone you’ve never heard of and turn them into a perennial pro-bowler (See: Brady, Tom). The Packers have been running one of the best shifts for years, and they too go the nobody route by selecting Hau’oli Kikaha. Kikaha is a pure one-dimensional pass rusher; last year he lead all of college football with 19 sacks at Washington. He might be a one-trick-pony, but that one trick is a 6’2” 252 pound Polynesian monster that wants nothing more than to reduce you to rubble. He’ll line up across from Julius Peppers and eventually Clay Matthews, ensuring the Packers a horrifying pass rush for another decade. (Sam)

Ceiling: Brandon Graham

Basement: Vernon Gholston

31. NO Saints (from Seattle) – Jaelen Strong

The Saints would love to use their second first-round draft pick to give Drew Brees another young weapon to work with. Brandon Cooks showed flashes of a promising career with Brees at the helm, and Brees could do the same with Strong. The First-Team All-Pac 12  receiver who has a great athletic build and speed to match it. At the combine, he shined showing off his incredible leaping skills with a vertical of 42 inches. Not a polished route-runner, but with some development he can be a very good all-around receiver. Losing Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham makes this pick that much easier. (Liam)

Ceiling: Marques Colston

Basement: Michael Jenkins

32. NE Patriots – Byron Jones

Predicting what Bill Belichick and the Patriots are going to do in the NFL Draft is more difficult than teaching my mom how to switch between the various inputs on our family’s TVs, but much like how I am at home, I’m here, and I’m going to give it my best shot. Losing Darrelle Revis is obviously a notable subtraction, and as cool as it was to see Malcolm Butler pick off that pass to win the Super Bowl, he’s not going to be able to do Revis’ job anywhere near as well as Revis did. Jones, of the NFL Combine fame, has impressed scouts with his leadership, toughness, and football smarts, along with his insane athleticism; those are all things that The Hoodie really values. So while there’s always a possibility New England will trade down 14 times and acquire multiple picks in every draft up to 2027, if they do in fact stay at the bottom of the first round, making Jones the newest member of their defense would be a seamless fit. (Peter)

Ceiling: Vontae Davis

Basement: Alterraun Verner

 

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