2015 Mock Draft: Will Bucs go for Duck?

The Sports Xchange

December 29, 2014 at 2:11 pm.

Marcus Mariota is expected to be the No. 1 pick in next year's draft. (Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports)

Is Marcus Mariota to Tampa Bay with the No. 1 pick a slam dunk? No. But it makes sense.

The Buccaneers will be in the market for a long-term option at the quarterback position and Mariota is not only one of the best passers in this class, he might be the most talented prospect overall.

If the Oregon quarterback goes first, do the Tennessee Titans also look to draft a quarterback with Florida State’s Jameis Winston available? It would be the fourth time since 1994 that two quarterbacks kicked off the draft with the first two picks — also happened in 2012 (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III), 1999 (Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb) and 1998 (Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf).

The end of the NFL regular season means the order of top 20 for the upcoming NFL Draft is official and mock drafts start to have more meaning. Picks 21-32 will be determined based on the outcome of the playoffs.

Below is a look at how the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft could play out:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon: he last time Tampa had the rights to the No. 1 overall pick, the franchise drafted a quarterback (Vinny Testaverde in 1987) and it seems likely that the Buccaneers will go a similar direction with the top pick this spring. Mariota will need to transition to a pro-style offense, but all the traits are there for him to develop into a long-term starter in Tampa.

2. Tennessee Titans – QB Jameis Winston, Florida State: Despite reports that Tennessee is happy with Zach Mettenberger as the starting quarterback moving forward, it will be tough for the Titans to pass up Winston with this pick. There are maturity questions, but his ability on the football field is so impressive for a 20-year old, which is why I think a team will roll the dice on him very early.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – DT Leonard Williams, USC: Jacksonville has drafted offense in the top-five (OT Luke Joeckel, QB Blake Bortles) in the first two years of the David Caldwell era so the Jaguars’ focus turns to defense this year. Williams has terrific movement skills and natural power to be a disruptive force, inside or outside, in Gus Bradley’s scheme.

4. Oakland Raiders – WR Amari Cooper, Alabama: Last year’s second-round pick Derek Carr has done more than enough as a rookie to earn another year as the Raiders’ starter, but he needs help, especially at receiver. Cooper doesn’t have the size or speed of pass-catchers usually found in the top five, but he knows how to do the two most important things at the position: get open and finish catches.

5. Washington Redskins – DE/OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska: The Redskins are a mess right now and could go in several directions with this pick, but with Brian Orakpo set to hit free agency, a pass rusher could be high on the wish list. Gregory’s functional strength is a question mark, but his hand use, burst and easy change of direction skills are enticing.

6. New York Jets – DE/OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson: The Jets will presumably have a new look and identity next season, probably on both offense and defense. But regardless of scheme or coach, New York needs to upgrade the pass rush and Beasley offers a dynamic package of athleticism and explosiveness.

7. Chicago Bears – FS Landon Collins, Alabama: The Bears need help at all three levels on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the back half of the field at safety. Collins might be labeled as a “box safety” by some due to his struggles in coverage, but with strong workouts, NFL teams will think they can improve his pass coverage ability to match his physical run style.

8. Atlanta Falcons – DE Shane Ray, Missouri: Time will tell if the Falcons make changes on the coaching staff but regardless of scheme and philosophies, Atlanta needs help at pass rusher. Ray has a terrific first step that will give NFL offensive tackles trouble from day one.

9. New York Giants – DE Dante Fowler, Florida: The bread and butter of the Giants’ Super Bowl-winning teams was a consistent pass rush, something the current team lacks. Fowler has room to improve against the run, but his relentless energy and burst off the edge are why he is one of my favorite prospects in this draft class.

10. St. Louis Rams – OT Andrus Peat, Stanford: d: The Rams addressed the offensive line early in the first round last year, drafting Greg Robinson second overall, but with Joseph Barksdale set for pay day this off-season as a free agent, the Rams might have a need at right tackle. Similar to Robinson last year, Peat has a ton of talent and untapped potential.

11. Minnesota Vikings – WR DeVante Parker, Louisville: So far the Cordarrelle Patterson experiment in Minnesota has been a disappointment. And while the Vikings shouldn’t (and won’t) give up on him just yet, there is still a need for a potential No. 1 receiver for Bridgewater. And Parker, Bridgewater’s former teammate at Louisville), fills that need.

12. Cleveland Browns – WR Kevin White, West Virginia: Who knows how much longer Josh Gordon will last in Cleveland, which is why wide receiver could be a possibility in the first round for the Browns. White is dynamic with the ball in the air, using his tracking ability and strong hands to attack the ball and come down with it.

13. New Orleans Saints – OG Brandon Scherff, Iowa: While the Saints don’t normally use first-round picks on offensive linemen, the franchise needs to keep Drew Brees healthy as his career winds down. Scherff could step in from day one if either Ben Grubbs or Jahri Evans doesn’t return to New Orleans next season and also kick out and help at tackle if needed.

14. Miami Dolphins – OL T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh: The Dolphins went offensive tackle in the first round last year and could address the position again next spring, especially with Branden Albert’s injury history. Clemmings has the skill-set to line up at tackle or guard and still has a long way to go before hitting his football ceiling.

15. San Francisco 49ers – DL Malcom Brown, Texas: With Justin Smith set to retire, the 49ers could have a need up front in the trenches. Brown has a terrific combination of power and athleticism to play in any scheme.

16. Houston Texans – CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State: In two years at Penn State, Bill O’Brien never faced Michigan State, but you can bet he will be well familiar with the Spartans’ talented cornerback by next spring. While he does get in trouble freelancing at times, Waynes has the height, length and athleticism that NFL teams value at the position to best match up with the tall trees at wide receiver at the pro level.

17. San Diego Chargers – OL La’el Collins, LSU: The Chargers rank near the bottom of the NFL in rushing and while injuries are mostly to blame, the offensive line hasn’t done enough to create running room for the running backs. Collins projects as either a tackle or guard in the NFL and has the drive blocking strength to dominate in the run game.

18. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Shaq Thompson, Washington: The Chiefs are set on the edges at linebacker, but have some questions in the middle where Derrick Johnson is rehabbing from major injury at 32 years old. Thompson moved between linebacker and running back this season, but shows first round tools with his athleticism and physical nature and might fit with Kansas City as a weakside inside linebacker.

19. Cleveland Browns (from BUF) – LB Bud Dupree, Kentucky: With Jabaal Sheard set for free agency, the Browns could have a need at pass rusher where Barkevious Mingo has struggled to cement a starting job. Dupree is a former tight end who is still growing on defense, but the natural athleticism makes him an attractive player.

20. Philadelphia Eagles – CB Marcus Peters, Washington: Would Chip Kelly really draft a player who was dismissed from school due to coachability issues? I think he would, if he believes the player won’t be a problem moving forward. Who knows if Peters will be able to keep his head on straight, but his talent is top-10 worthy, potentially giving the Eagles a steal with him this late.

21. Carolina Panthers – OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M: The Panthers need offensive line help in the worst way and unless they address the position in free agency, tackle is the favorite to be the pick here. Ogbuehi lacks ideal polish for a top-10 pick, but his lower body ability and size will help teams stomach his raw upper body technique.

22. Baltimore Ravens – LB Eli Harold, Virginia: Cornerback is by far the bigger need, but there might not be a fit here for Baltimore to go in that direction. Harold is an underclassman who declared for the NFL early and has a chance to crash the first-round party with his raw pass rush ability and nonstop motor.

23. Cincinnati Bengals – DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State: Some will argue that Domata Peko hasn’t played up to his recent contract extension, but regardless, the Bengals could use interior depth. Goldman has the combination of power and quickness that makes him tough to block and will be attractive to NFL teams.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – DT Danny Shelton, Washington: Without a stout player at the nose tackle position, Dick Lebeau’s defense just isn’t the same, making Shelton an intriguing option here. He has impressive quickness for his size, but also the upper body strength to bully blockers and handle double-teams.

25. Detroit Lions – DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State: With Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley expected to hit free agency, the Lions will be in the market for interior defensive line depth next offseason. Bennett had a slow start to the season, but was the MVP of the Buckeyes’ defense down the stretch, using his quickness live in the backfield.

26. Indianapolis Colts – WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State: Never thought I’d put a wide receiver here, but if Reggie Wayne retires, wideout is a legitimate option here, depending on what the Colts do in free agency. Hakeem Nicks is doubtful to return and while Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton offer a solid 1-2 punch, Strong would give Luck even more options, especially in the red zone.

27. Arizona Cardinals – RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin: If I were a betting man, my guess is no running back is drafted in the first round, but this is a spot that could make some sense. Arizona has struggled to find a consistent option, something Gordon could potentially give the Cardinals’ offense.

28. Dallas Cowboys – DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State: The Cowboys need depth on the defensive line, both inside and outside, and Calhoun has steadily improved against both the pass and the run the last two seasons. He is still learning, but the consistent progression is encouraging.

29. Green Bay Packers – Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State: The linebacker crew in Green Bay has been an inconsistent group for much of this season, making the position a possibility in the first round next year. McKinney has some issues in pass coverage, but he moves well for his size and has the thumping strength to make an impact between the tackles.

30. New England Patriots – WR Devin Funchess, Michigan: The Patriots’ window with Tom Brady is shrinking by the snap and the organization shouldn’t hesitate to add more weapons around him. Funchess needs to be more consistent at the catch point, but his size/length/athleticism combination will draw comparisons to Alshon Jeffery.

31. New England Patriots – OT Ereck Flowers, Miami (Fla.): The Broncos have struggled to find a consistent answer at right tackle and could be searching for the long-term option there this offseason. Flowers could use another year at Miami to iron out his technical issues, but with his size and ability, teams will consider him in the late first round.

32. Seattle Seahawks – WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma: The Seahawks addressed the wide receiver position twice with their top four draft picks last year, but could look to add another wideout in the first round next year if an impact prospect is available. Green-Beckham might return to Norman after sitting out this season, but if he declares, teams will be intrigued with his natural ability.

*The selection order for this mock draft is based on the current order for the 2015 NFL Draft, using strength of schedule tiebreakers. The Cleveland Browns own the rights to the Buffalo Bills’ selection due to the Sammy Watkins trade.

Dane Brugler is an Analyst for, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with

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