We’re just two weeks away from the start of the 2015 NFL Draft, and teams around the league are hard at work preparing for Draft Day.
Without further ado, here are our predictions for the first round.
1. JAMEIS WINSTON, FLORIDA STATE QB – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Some doubts over Winston have resurfaced, but he still seems like a safe bet to stay in Florida and head to the Bucs. The former Heisman Trophy winner went 26-1 as a starter, and won the 2014 National Championship.
2. LEONARD WILLIAMS, USC DL – TENNESSEE TITANS
At 6’5 and 302 pounds, Williams can play all defensive line positions, and will have an immediate impact for the Titans defense. One team to watch here? San Diego. The Chargers are rumored to covet Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, and could move incumbent quarterback Philip Rivers to Tennessee.
3. DANTE FOWLER, FLORIDA OLB – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Fowler is 6’3, 261 pounds, and ran a 4.60 forty. Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley loves a disruptive defender, and Fowler is one of the best edge rushers in the draft.
4. KEVIN WHITE, WEST VIRGINIA WR – OAKLAND RAIDERS
White impressed at the NFL Combine with a 4.35 forty and 23 bench reps. White has an excellent release and can fight for the ball. White would be a welcome addition to second-year quarterback Derek Carr’s offense.
5. VIC BEASLEY, CLEMSON OLB – WASHINGTON REDSKINS
At 6’3 and 246 pounds, Beasley was tops in nearly everything at the Combine. He had a 4.53 forty and 35 bench reps. Brian Orakpo signed with the Titans, and the Redskins could look to Beasley to replace him.
6. MARCUS MARIOTA, OREGON QB – NEW YORK JETS
Mariota is the big unknown in this year’s draft. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has been linked to a number of teams, including San Diego. Patience is running thin with Geno Smith, and Mariota has that potential.
7. DANNY SHELTON, WASHINGTON NT – CHICAGO BEARS
The 340-pound Shelton led the way with 34 bench reps at the combine, and could help anchor Chicago’s defensive line. Shelton would be a good start to the John Fox and Vic Fangio era in the Windy City.
8. SHANE RAY, MISSOURI DE – ATLANTA FALCONS
Ray is an explosive athlete, and has the size at 6’3 and 245 pounds. The Falcons had one of the worst pass rushes last year, and Ray is a great fit for new head coach Dan Quinn’s defense.
9. BRANDON SCHERFF, IOWA OG – NEW YORK GIANTS
Scherff won the Outland Trophy as a left tackle, but his forty speed suggests he could play guard in the NFL. Scherff is arguably the best offensive lineman available, and could start at right tackle for the Giants.
10. AMARI COOPER, ALABAMA WR – ST. LOUIS RAMS
Cooper was fastest in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. He’s skilled, athletic, and a good route runner. Cooper has the potential to become the solid #1 receiver that the Rams covet.
11. JALEN COLLINS, LSU CB – MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Collins is a bump-and-run defender with tremendous potential. At 6’1 and 203 pounds, he has a rare combination of size and speed. Collins will excel in head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense.
12. DEVANTE PARKER, LOUISVILLE WR – CLEVELAND BROWNS
Parker is 6’3 with 33-1/4 inch arm length, and very hard to cover. Even with Dwayne Bowe, the Browns are starving for playmakers that can go up and get the ball.
13. RANDY GREGORY, NEBRASKA OLB – NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Gregory is 6’5 and 235 pounds with 34-inch arm length. His physical tools and upside are tremendous. The Saints ranked 25th in the NFL with just 34 sacks last year, and could use Gregory.
14. TRAE WAYNES, MICHIGAN STATE CB – MIAMI DOLPHINS
Waynes’ 4.31 forty and 19 bench reps show great strength and speed. You can never have too many defensive backs against Tom Brady, and the Dolphins can use the likes of Waynes (and third-year corners Will Davis and Jamar Taylor) alongside All-Pro Brent Grimes.
15. ARIK ARMSTEAD, OREGON DT – SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Armstead has the size at 6’7 and 292 pounds. With Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retiring, and Justin Smith still considering retirement, Armstead is a good choice to help rebuild the 49ers’ front seven.
16. MALCOM BROWN, TEXAS DT – HOUSTON TEXANS
At 6’2 and 319 pounds, Brown is big and also quick enough to play any position on the defensive line. With Jadeveon Clowney’s future in doubt, Brown will help a D-line that already has NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
17. MELVIN GORDON, WISCONSIN RB – SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Chargers are an intriguing suitor for Marcus Mariota, but have a glaring need at running back. Gordon had a record-breaking career at Wisconsin, and the Chargers would welcome him to replace the departed Ryan Mathews.
18. DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM, OKLAHOMA WR – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
At 6’5 and 237 pounds, Green-Beckham has outstanding physical numbers and speed to match. Kansas City wide receivers failed to score a single touchdown in 2014, and Green-Beckham is an intriguing red zone target for Alex Smith.
19. EDDIE GOLDMAN, FLORIDA STATE NT – CLEVELAND BROWNS
The Browns need a run stopper on the inside, and 6’4, 336-pound Goldman fits that perfectly. He has great power at the point of attack. Goldman can play tackle or end, a bonus for Cleveland.
20. JAKE FISHER, OREGON OT – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Head coach Chip Kelly loves his Oregon Ducks, and Fisher can help bolster an aging Eagles line. Fisher is used to an uptempo rushing attack, and the Eagles should have that with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in the mix.
21. ANDRUS PEAT, STANFORD OT – CINCINNATI BENGALS
Both of the Bengals starting tackles will become free agents after 2015, so 6’7, 313-pound Peat is an investment in the future. He’s a powerful blocker with the quickness to play left tackle.
22. LANDON COLLINS, ALABAMA SS – PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Collins is considered the best safety in the draft, and the Steelers need a safety following the retirement of Troy Polamalu. Collins seems a perfect fit, as he’s an aggressive player that can make big-time tackles. Sound familiar?
23. D. J. HUMPHRIES, FLORIDA OT – DETROIT LIONS
The Lions ranked in the bottom half of the league by allowing 45 sacks in 2014. At 6’5 and 307 pounds, Humphries is big and strong enough to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford. Running back Todd Gurley is an intriguing pick here, following the departure of Reggie Bush.
24. TODD GURLEY, GEORGIA RB – ARIZONA CARDINALS
Gurley is big at 6’1 and 222 pounds. He plays with speed and power. If his ACL tear is rehabbed, Gurley will be the feature back to boost Arizona’s struggling ground attack.
25. T. J. CLEMMINGS, PITTSBURGH OT – CAROLINA PANTHERS
Clemmings has the speed to make use of his 6’5, 309-pound frame and 35-1/8 inch arm length. Carolina needs offensive line help to protect Cam Newton, the most-hit QB in the league.
26. LA’EL COLLINS, LSU OT – BALTIMORE RAVENS
Collins is powerful at 6’4 and 305 pounds, and he plays with a mean streak. He has played tackle, but could move to guard in the NFL. The Ravens need depth for a line plagued with injuries last year.
27. CARL DAVIS, IOWA DT – DALLAS COWBOYS
Davis has size and strength in his 6’5, 320 pound frame. Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli will use him to soak up double teams, push the pocket, and allow others to rush the passer.
28. CEDRIC OGBUEHI, TEXAS A&M OT – BRONCOS
Despite injury issues, Ogbuehi played well and has lots of upside. He’s 6’5 and 306 pounds, with exceptional 35-7/8 inch arm length. Ogbuehi’s athleticism will fit head coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme.
29. JORDAN PHILLIPS, OKLAHOMA NT – COLTS
At 6’5 and 329 pounds, Phillips has a large frame that can eat space and free linebackers. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has many needs, and Phillips will be a key to help solve that puzzle.
30. OWAMAGBE ODIGHIZUWA, UCLA DE – PACKERS
The Packers have two linemen on one-year deals, and Odighizuwa can help solve that problem for the future. He impressed at the Combine with a 4.62 forty, 39-inch jump, and a 4.19 20-yard shuttle.
31. MAXX WILLIAMS, MINNESOTA TE – SAINTS
With all-world tight end Jimmy Graham off to the Pacific Northwest, the Saints’ offense has a glaring need at tight end. Enter Williams, a finalist for the John Mackey Award. Williams topped several categories at the Combine, and has the physical tools at 6’4 and 249 pounds.
32. RONALD DARBY, FLORIDA STATE CB – PATRIOTS
The Patriots lost cornerbacks Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner following their Super Bowl win. Darby is a former track star who ran a 4.38 forty, and his vertical jump was 41.5 inches. The Patriots are always a good bet to trade down in the draft, but could fill a need with Darby.