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2015 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Jameis Winston goes No. 1 to Buccaneers

Once the NFL scouting combine concludes, it always feels like it’s time to get serious about the upcoming draft. The silly season still has about nine unpredictable weeks to run, but both teams and prospects exit Indianapolis with a better idea of how the pieces are going to fit together come the night of April 30 in Chicago. 

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Still two weeks shy of the start of the league's free agency period, here’s my first effort at mocking out the first round. As always, your results may vary:

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1. Jameis Winston, QB

RS Sophomore, Florida State

I’m not remotely convinced that Winston is locked in as Tampa Bay’s choice at this early juncture, but I do believe the Bucs see taking him as the quickest path to an overnight turnaround. Marcus Mariota is the safer bet, but Winston’s higher ceiling will carry the day if Tampa Bay judges his off-field issues to be maturity related rather than a true portrayal of his character.

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2. Leonard Williams, DE

Junior, USC

I get the sense Tennessee thinks highly enough of second-year quarterback Zach Mettenberger that it will explore his full potential rather than opting to anoint Marcus Mariota as the franchise’s latest savior. That pushes the pick toward defense, and an impact player who might give the Titans their own version of J.J. Watt in the AFC South.

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3. Dante Fowler, DE/OLB

Junior, Florida

Jacksonville’s defense is in search of a disruptive playmaking pass-rusher, and Fowler is one of this draft’s most pro-ready prospects. He ran an impressive 4.61 at 261 pounds at the combine, and has drawn favorable comparisons to Oakland outside linebacker Khalil Mack, one of the league’s best defensive rookies in 2014. If the No. 2 Titans opt for a quarterback, the Jaguars will be in line to pick off USC’s Williams.

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4. Kevin White, WR

Senior, West Virginia

White had himself an eye-opening combine workout, running 4.35 with a 36 1/2-inch vertical jump, and that should put him squarely on the radar of the receiver-needy Raiders. His size-speed combination and ability to come down with the ball is everything Oakland could hope for to help quarterback Derek Carr take a second-year step.

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5. Randy Gregory, OLB/DE

RS Junior, Nebraska

With Brian Orakpo heading into free agency after his injury-shortened 2014 season, Washington goes out and lands a substantial upgrade for the pass rush in the draft’s top five.

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6. Marcus Mariota, QB

RS Junior, Oregon

As desperate for an answer at quarterback as the Jets have been since 2011 or so, they somehow find waiting for them the reigning Heisman winner with the gaudy collegiate statistics and squeaky clean image. The Geno Smith era is officially in countdown mode if this scenario unfolds in New York.

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7. Danny Shelton, DT

Senior, Washington

The Bears’ depth chart doesn’t seem suited to run the 3-4 defense that John Fox intends to implement with new coordinator Vic Fangio, but building that unit around the run-stuffing, point-of-attack-holding Shelton would make for an impressive first step in the transition.

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8. Vic Beasley, OLB

RS Senior, Clemson

Beasley injected himself into the top-10 conversation with a strong combine showing, where he weighed in at 245, ripped off 37 reps in the bench press and ran a crisp 4.53 in the 40. Atlanta is looking for a sizable defensive improvement under new head coach Dan Quinn.

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9. Brandon Scherff, OT

RS Senior, Iowa

More pass rush is always an option for New York early in the draft, but if the Giants are willing to use the franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, addressing the offensive line deficiencies remains the most logical approach at No. 9. 

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10. Amari Cooper, WR

Junior, Alabama

I could see the Rams being tempted by the rare blend of size and speed that is Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham. But Cooper is smooth, polished and very gifted in his own right, plus he carries none of the red flags that DGB brings to the NFL.

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11. Andrus Peat, OT

Junior, Stanford

Passing up Teddy Bridgewater’s former Louisville teammate, receiver DeVante Parker, probably won’t be a popular move in many places. But solidifying the offensive line and protecting the young quarterback is paramount, and Peat addresses one of the team’s weakest links.