2015 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Cedric Ogbuehi goes No. 1 overall to Oakland Raiders
So, who's ready for the 2015 NFL draft?
The pomp and circumstance of the 2014 version -- the NFL's highest-rated draft ever -- has wrapped, meaning that it is time for teams to move on to training camps, and for the draft focus to shift to next year's crop of prospects.
With that, we present SI's first 2015 NFL mock draft. A couple of notes on it, before you begin:
1. It's going to be wrong. If half of the 32 players listed here make it into Round 1 next April/May, consider this a fairly successful attempt. (Twenty-one of 32 from last year's first mock actually went in Round 1 or 2 -- and three stayed in school.) The main hope here is to introduce you to some of the college football players to watch for during the upcoming season.
2. The order of the draft picks comes courtesy of Bovada's 2015 Super Bowl odds, with some slight adjustments made to get the right number of AFC and NFC teams into playoff position. (Thanks to SBNation's Dan Kadar for the idea to use those lines, rather than try to guess at the final standings this far out.)
The team/player fits here are relatively loose, more or less based on what a franchise's needs are following the 2014 draft. Obviously, the outlooks will change over the next 12 months.
The college football season begins in 104 days. Let's get things rolling ...
1. Oakland Raiders: Cedric Ogbuehi, T, Texas A&M
Wouldn't be a draft these days without a Texas A&M tackle in the top 10. Amazingly, the 6-foot-5 Ogbuehi (pronounced oh-BWAY-hee) might be the best of that entire bunch, which has produced Luke Joeckel (No. 2 overall in 2013) and Jake Matthews (No. 6 this year). The Allen (Texas) High standout told ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough he received a first-round grade for the 2014 draft. Ogbuehi played guard early in his Aggies career, then started at right tackle last year. This season he inherits the left tackle job previously held by Joeckel and Matthews.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Another of a few players in this mock who flirted with entering the 2014 draft. Beasley could help his cause by repeating his sensational junior campaign, which saw him go for 13 sacks and 23 tackles-for-loss. He is listed at 6-2, 235, so his future may lie at a hybrid DE/OLB position -- or in, say, the Leo role on Gus Bradley's defense.
3. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
On Dec. 3, 2013, Mariota announced that he would return to Oregon for his redshirt junior season. A few hours before that, he was No. 2 on my third 2014 mock draft. As Matt Barkley reminded us again two years back, assuming any QB is guaranteed a first-round spot this far out from the draft is a mistake. But Mariota has the height (6-4) and dual-threat game to make him an NFL favorite. He needs to keep the MCL injury he played through last season a thing of the past.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo): Leonard Williams, DT/DE, USC
Former interim USC head coach Ed Orgeron said mid-last season that Williams "is going to be a first-round pick. He is probably one of the best athletes we've had here on the defensive line as far as size-speed ratio." Williams could be a 4-3 DT or slide out to a DE spot in a 3-4. A hybrid front would be ideal for his wide-ranging talent.
5. New York Jets: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
A Rex Ryan offensive lineman if there ever was one, the 6-5, 315-pound Scherff is an absolute monster in the run game. ESPN's Mel Kiper said in October, before Scherff somewhat unexpectedly decided to return for his senior year, that he was "right there with Taylor Lewan as the best blocker in the Big Ten this season."
6. Washington Redskins: Shilique Calhoun, DE/OLB, Michigan State
Stunning stat of the day: The Big Ten has not had a top-10 draft pick since 2008 (Jake Long at No. 1 and Vernon Gholston at No. 6 both made it that year). As you already may have noticed and will continue to see throughout this mock, 2015 may be a streak-breaker.
Calhoun is an athletic freak at 6-4 and 250. Case in point: He scored three touchdowns in the first two games of Michigan State's 2013 season. Now a redshirt junior, Calhoun will look to build off a 7.5-sack campaign. He could play off the edge in a 3-4 scheme.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
In 2012, we had Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. This year, it was the Blake Bortles-Teddy Bridgewater-Johnny Manziel debate. Next May (or whichever month the draft occurs in): Winston versus Marcus Mariota. The biggest challenge for the Heisman-winning Winston between now and then -- one he has not come close to succeeding at thus far -- will be staying out of trouble.
8. St. Louis Rams: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Petty could break up the Mariota-Winston party atop the draft ... or he could slip if teams deem his success a creation of Baylor's offense. Right now, the safer bet appears to be on the former. Petty checks off the QB size requirements at 6-3, 230, and has both a strong arm and the touch required to pinpoint his passes.
9. Minnesota Vikings: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The early top cornerback in the 2014 class, after Ekpre-Olomu turned down a 2014 Round 1 shot to stay in school. His game is a bit similar to that of Darqueze Dennard: aggressive almost to a fault, with the willingness to defend the run. He can be better than he was last season.
10. Miami Dolphins: Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami
Perryman reportedly received a third-round grade from the draft advisory committee ahead of this draft, but he's obviously much higher than that here. Why? Well, even though he does not have ideal height (listed at 6-feet even), Perryman is a three-down LB who aggressively pursues sideline-to-sideline. Miami will move him to the MLB spot of its 4-3 after he racked up 108 tackles from the weak-side last year.
11. Detroit Lions: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
Our second Iowa Hawkeye and third Big Ten player. Right now, this is higher than most would place Davis, but he improved dramatically last season and should continue on that upward course. Davis is on the tall end for a DT at 6-5, though at 315 pounds and with surprisingly nimble feet he can clog the middle.
12. Cleveland Browns: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Probably the WR to beat headed into the 2014 college football season, Cooper had 104 catches and 15 TDs combined over 2012-13 with the Crimson Tide. There is very little not to like here -- the 6-1 Cooper breaks off sharp routes and said he ran three sub-4.4 40s after Alabama's recent pro day (grain of salt on that one, though Cooper's speed makes it believable).
13. San Diego Chargers: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Gregory ultimately may wind as a top-five candidate if he can repeat 2014 (16 tackles-for-loss, 9.5 sacks), success that occurred after a transfer in from the JUCO ranks. Nebraska lists Gregory's weight at 245; he's between 230 and 255 elsewhere. So, he may fall into that hybrid-rush category -- meaning he may not fit everywhere. Gregory also has ample room to develop a rather raw game.
14. New York Giants: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
How's 6-7, 312 pounds sound for a team's new left tackle of the future? That's what Peat runs, with the footwork to match. For all the love Ogbuehi will feel, and for the potential OT talent spread elsewhere in the 2015 class, Peat -- if he opts to skip his senior season -- could ascend to the top of the class.
15. Houston Texans: Ramik Wilson, LB, Georgia
Playing inside for Georgia's 3-4 scheme, Wilson totaled 128 tackles during the 2013 regular season. The impressive total will mean little when it comes to Wilson's draft stock, but it was not a smoke-and-mirrors job. The 6-2, 230-pounder probably could shift to a weak-side spot in a 4-3 at the next level; this hypothetical landing spot drops him in next to Brian Cushing.
Not an across-the-board comparison, but Bennett (6-3, 285) is a reminiscent of Aaron Donald (6-1, 285). Like Donald, who was taken by St. Louis in Round 1 last Thursday, Bennett is a proficient pass rusher from the interior -- he finished with 7.5 sacks. Ohio State also pushed him down to a nose tackle spot at times, just as Pittsburgh asked Donald to do when in a 3-4 look.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Many NFL defensive coordinators (including new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who previously held that job in Cincinnati) like their safeties to be interchangeable. In other words, both players at that spot on the field should be able to handle the center-field duties of a free safety and the in-the-box strong safety work. While spelling both FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and SS Vinnie Sunseri at times last season, Collins showed off the skills to adapt.
18. Atlanta Falcons: Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan
The Eric Ebron comparisons will be made, though Ebron carries about 20 pounds on Funchess right now. Still, Funchess' future is as a slot tight end. He essentially played WR for Michigan in 2013 (49 catches) and may do so again this season. But Funchess likely does not have the speed to hold down a spot out wide in the NFL. He may not have the blocking ability to be more than a receiving tight end, either, so we'll see where his ceiling is.
19. Arizona Cardinals: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
Erving switched from the Seminoles D-line to left tackle just two seasons ago, so he remains a work in progress. And yet, he's locked down that blindside-protector spot well enough to expect him in Round 1 a year from now. On top of moving well at the line, Erving has that nasty streak NFL teams love in their linemen.
20. Carolina Panthers: Anthony Harris, S, Virginia
The nation's leader in interceptions last season with eight, Harris really took to the defense implemented by new coordinator Jon Tenuta. Harris is at his best when he's allowed to play a little haphazardly -- he likes to hit, and last season displayed a nose for the football.
21. Baltimore Ravens: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Mentioned Cooper above, and he's just the start of a 2014 receiver class definitely worth keeping tabs on next year. Guys like Rashad Greene, Antwan Goodley, DeVante Parker and Dorial Green-Beckham (who was booted from Missouri recently) could join the frontrunners at this position.
Don't sleep on Strong, off a 77-catch debut following a transfer in from JUCO. His 6-4 height certainly will appeal to NFL teams, as will his ability to take advantage of that size by going up and getting the football. Strong does not have the physicality of a Mike Evans, but he is plenty capable of overpowering cornerbacks.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
I slotted Darqueze Dennard in as the Steelers' possible 2013 first-rounder multiple times, so how about Dennard's running mate this past year? Waynes, with nice size at 6-1, picked off three passes and more than held his own opposite Dennard in 2013 -- a tough draw given how unwilling teams were to challenge the new Cincinnati Bengal. Waynes has to prove he can handle being the No. 1 guy. Count on this, though: Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will have him playing a physical game.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State
Especially stout against the run, Edwards finished last season with 9.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks despite missing time with a hand injury. He's really hard to move when teams want to head his direction. Edwards now stands at around 280 pounds (and 6-3), though he was above 300 before getting to Florida State. His NFL future may be as a 3-4 lineman.
24. New Orleans Saints: Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma
A three-sack performance versus Cyrus Kouandjio and Alabama in last season's Sugar Bowl should propel Striker into 2014 nicely. He finished the year with 6.5 total sacks, all of them coming in the back half of the schedule. Oklahoma has been putting the speedy Striker through some drills as a nickel back, possibly adding another dimension to his game.
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25. Kansas City Chiefs: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Hundley likely made the correct decision to head back for one more season at UCLA. His upside as a dual-threat quarterback will leave scouts salivating, but he clearly has to improve as a pocket passer. Most of the knocks (unfair as some are) on Johnny Manziel hold up here as well, including that Hundley looks to run too often and fails to get through his progressions.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
The return of the first-round running backs. Gordon rushed for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, all while splitting time with James White (drafted by the Patriots). Gordon has size, speed and balance, typical of what we've come to expect from Wisconsin backs. What he has not shown, at least yet, is the ability to catch out of the backfield. Combined over 2012 and '13, Gordon caught just three passes. His two-down talent makes up for that current negative.
27. Chicago Bears: Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
It all finally began to click for the 6-2, 215-pound Montgomery in his junior season; he finished with 61 catches for 958 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus added more than 1,000 kick-return yards. Montgomery's breakaway speed might make it easy to chalk him up as a slot guy, but that size and an enthusiasm for playing through contact make him a potential No. 1 or No. 2 in the NFL.
28. Green Bay Packers: Jalen Mills, CB/S, LSU
After earning Freshman All-America status at cornerback, Mills struggled and eventually lost his starting job last season. However, the slip-up afforded him the opportunity to handle slot-corner duties and to try his hand at safety. That's where he will open the 2014 season for the Tigers. The 6-1 Mills has the coveted lanky DB build; what he does well at corner should translate to safety, making him a coveted prospect.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
Fowler (6-3, 277) converted from his high-school DE spot to a hybrid linebacker in Florida's scheme. Last season, he recorded 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. He has the athleticism to play out wide in the NFL, though Fowler may also be big enough to kick down inside to push the pocket from there.
30. New England Patriots: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
In two seasons with the Bulldogs, Gurley has rushed for nearly 2,400 yards with 33 total touchdowns (27 rushing, six receiving) and 53 receptions. When he is healthy, there is not a more complete, more dangerous back in all of college football. Therein lies the rub: Gurley dealt with multiple injuries last season, and still was not 100 percent for spring ball. Given the already rampant concerns about how long RBs can hold up in the NFL, Gurley needs to make it through a full season if he wants a Round 1 spot.
31. Denver Broncos: Devonte Fields, DE/OLB, TCU
Health issues here, too. Fields was dominant as a freshman in 2012, finishing with 18.5 tackles-for-loss and 10.5 sacks, good enough for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award. He missed all but two games last season with a foot injury, however, so 2014 sets up as a critical one for his future. There's no doubting the 6-4, 240-pound edge player's talent.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Nelson Agholor, WR, USCGet ready for the Marqise Lee comparisons. Agholor (6-0, 185) is similarly built to Lee (6-0, 195), a new member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. And it was Agholor who stepped up while Lee limped along with a foot injury last season, to the tune of 56 catches, 918 yards and six touchdowns. Coaches have praised Agholor's work ethic, and he is a proficient route-runner. Barring any setbacks this season, Agholor should be ready to step in as an early NFL starter.