This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more NFL Fantasy Football Projections and Rankings, visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The 2014 NFL Draft just ended a month ago. Why are we even remotely thinking about the 2015 NFL Draft?
Perhaps it’s just in our nature, or the fact that the NFL season is starting up again soon. Or maybe it was the long draft season that beat it into us that all that matters in life is, in fact, the NFL Draft.
That, and it’s just plain fun to speculate. A lot will surely change between now and next year’s draft, but the top prospects will largely stay the same and most of the bad teams will probably still be, well, bad teams.
With that, let’s use last year’s draft order and see where the chips fall:
1. Houston Texans – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the answer under center and neither is Tom Savage. Houston will find that out and while they might not be right back here at the top spot, they could be low enough to grab a solid franchise passer. Mariota will surely be near the top of their list.
2. Washington Redskins – Landon Collins, S, Alabama
This is a pretty high reach for safety, but this insanely early mock is more about team needs than anything else. Ryan Clark is a stop-gap for 2014 but he’s ancient and they’ll need safety help going forward. Collins is it.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Unlike the Texans, the Jags have their quarterback and have done a ton of good work on the offensive side of the football. It’s time to boost that pass rush with Gregory, easily one of the elite pass rushers in the country.
4. Cleveland Browns – Leonard Williams, DE, USC
Cleveland won’t reach for wide receiver help this early, so they might as well keep plugging away at their solid defense. Williams is a stud so he just adds to the dept and helps make them even better.
5. Oakland Raiders – Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
Oakland has revamped both sides of the ball, but one of the glaring needs is going to be up front at defensive tackle. Bennett is a beast who could slide in as a perfect fit.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Atlanta got a stud offensive tackle at this spot last year. They won’t be this bad again, but either way they’ll be in the market again for elite pass rushing help. Beasly probably won’t be available when they do end up picking, but if he is they’ll gladly snatch him up.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston supposedly won’t enter the 2015 NFL Draft, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The Bucs seem to like Mike Glennon, but more than Winston? I’ll believe that when I see it, too.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Say, what? Yeah, it’s a bold move, but Adrian Peterson will be 30 next year and the end will come eventually. Taking Gurley now could prompt the impossible in trading away Peterson and at the very least would give the Vikes a nice option to transition away from riding Peterson “All Day” long.
9. Cleveland Browns (via Bills) – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Here’s the reach. Josh Gordon is awesome but he’s clearly tough to trust and his next suspension could be his last. The Browns have little exciting talent beyond him at receiver and Cooper is the best pass-catcher in this draft class.
10. Detroit Lions – Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Golden Tate may not prove to be a long-term #2 option, while the more talented Agholor could just push him to be the third option. Detroit continues to add talent to help out Megatron here.
11. Tennessee Titans – Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Jake Locker is in a contract year and needs a miracle to stick in town, so there’s a pretty good chance the Titans start over under center in 2015. Hundley would be the perfect candidate to start from scratch with, as he brings a big arm and nice athleticism to the table.
12. New York Giants – Cedric Ogbuhei, OT, Texas A&M
Ogbuhei could go a little earlier and the Giants may look at a pass rusher or tight end here, but he’s a stud and teams can always use tackles.
13. St. Louis Rams – Jaelen Strong, WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams may find out the hard way this year that they need to spend a first round pick at wide receiver again. Tavon Austin could be awesome in the slot, but they still don’t have a reliable guy outside. Strong could be that guy.
14. Chicago Bears – Mario Edwards, DT, Florida State
Edwards might be a slight reach here, but his stock could easily soar, as well. The Bears made some adjustments to their porous defensive line but they could be in the market for a long-term option in 2015.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Steelers can always use stud tackle help, so Peat makes a ton of sense. He could easily go earlier, but for their sake, hopefully he slides a bit to them.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Dallas needs to just keep adding talented bodies on defense. They’ve made an effort to repair their defensive line, but could still use more help. Calhoun should give them immediate help and is at the worst solid depth as a rook.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
The Ravens have addressed their line pretty well but come next year they shouldn’t have too many glaring holes. Beefing up the line with a stud like Erving would be wise for Joe Flacco’s protection.
18. New York Jets – P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
New York has Dee Milliner and not much else at corner so Rex Ryan will want to track one down in the first round. The top corner should fluctuate a bit by the time the draft rolls around but Williams is definitely in that discussion.
19. Miami Dolphins – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Knowshon Moreno is looking like a free agent bust and Lamar Miller might not be more than a change of pace option. If Miami believes this, they could make a splash in the first round, where the talented Gordon could be a good pick.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Dante Fowler, DE, Florida
Arizona should continue to add pass-rushing talent. Fowler may not be a perfect fit for their 3-4 system, but he’s immensely talented and can get after the quarterback. At worst, he could fulfill a strict pass rushing role early on.
21. Green Bay Packers – Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan
Green Bay could easily keep building up their shaky defense, but if they still don’t have a quality replacement for Jermichael Finley, why not take a stab at the athletic Funchess?
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The flooding of cornerbacks in the first round could get pretty ridiculous, while Philly flat-out needs help in the secondary.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame
KC just dropped Brandon Flowers so they might target some extra corner help for their secondary. Russell’s stock could fluctuate a bit but he’s easily one of the more talented corners in this draft class.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – La’El Collins, OL, LSU
Cincy continues to beef up their offensive line depth here with a stud o-line product. Collins has the versatility to help on both the inside and out, so he could be the ideal pick.
25. San Diego Chargers – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
San Diego has improved in the secondary but they might want to keep adding solid talent. Ekpre-Olomu would be a nice get around this point in round one.
26. Indianapolis Colts – Cedric Reed, OLB, Texas
Indy is aging in the pass rush department and Bjoern Werner isn’t a lock to make an impact. They also could use corner help, but it’s time they added more help on the outside of their 3-4 system.
27. New Orleans Saints – Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
Champ Bailey might be starting for the Saints at corner this year. Yeah, they need cornerback help.
28. Carolina Panthers – Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Carolina could add another weapon to the passing game here, but they still could use depth on the offensive line.
29. New England Patriots – T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
This is a classic Patriots pick, as they catch an elite talent falling a bit further than they probably should. Shane Vereen is always hurt and Stevan Ridley always fumbles. It may be time for fresh blood at running back in New England next year.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Nick O’Leary, TE, Florida State
Vernon Davis is going to be a free agent and is already talking holdout. San Fran could decide to move on with O’Leary paired up with Vance McDonald.
31. Denver Broncos – Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Peyton Manning will be 38 and closing in on the end. If Denver isn’t totally sold on Brock Osweiler, they could consider thinking about the future here and grabbing a potentially elite franchise passer in Petty.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Eastern Illinois
The rich get richer. Green-Beckham is easily a top-10 talent, but he’s sure to plummet due to character concerns. Seattle will just snatch him up with the last pick of the draft and strengthen their offense even more.