Football: 2015 Badger Herald NFL mock draft
The 80th NFL Draft has finally arrived, and with it comes the hope of playing in the National Football League for hundreds of players.Former Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon headlines the Wisconsin players in this year’s draft. After a record-setting junior season in Madison, Gordon has the potential to be taken in the first round on Thursday.Outside of Gordon, the debate goes on about whether or not former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston should be the first player off the board, or if another quarterback, Marcus Mariota or USC’s Leonard Williams, is deserving of the top pick.Will both Gordon and Georgia running back Todd Gurley be taken in the first round, despite a running back not going in the first round of last year’s draft?What position does your favorite team need to address, and what players are they potentially targeting?In advance of the first round of the NFL Draft, which will take place in Chicago Thursday, The Badger Herald’s Eric Kohlbeck, Chris Bumbaca and Nick Brazzoni sat down and did a mock draft of the first round.This is what they predicted:1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida St. Tampa Bay needs a quarterback. Winston is the top quarterback and perhaps player in this year’s draft. All character issues aside, there’s no second-guessing this pick. – E.K. 2. Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota, QB, OregonIf the Titans keep this pick, I think they have to draft Mariota simply because he has shown plenty of star power and Zach Mettenberger has not shown enough for them to feel confident moving forward. With this pick, they’ll at least have a quarterback competition. – N.B.3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Williams, DE, USC Williams might be the best player in the draft and can potentially be a key piece to the puzzle in turning the tide for the lowly Jaguars. – C.B.4. Oakland Raiders – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama Quarterback Derek Carr showed he has what it takes to compete in the NFL last season. The top wide receiver in the draft will give the Raiders a No. 1 wide receiver and make Carr even better. – E.K. 5. Washington Redskins – Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida The Redskins need a strong rushing presence on the outside. Fowler presents great speed, and while there are a few OLB to choose from with this pick, Fowler might just be the most versatile. – N.B.6. New York Jets – Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson The Jets have a knack for drafting pass rushers in the first round, and Beasley fits that mold. He fits in perfectly with an already established defensive line. – C.B.7. Chicago Bears – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia With Brandon Marshall traded to the Jets, the Bears need someone opposite of Alshon Jeffery, and the speedy White, who ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the combine, will complement Jeffery nicely. – E.K. 8. Atlanta Falcons – Shane Ray, DE, Missouri This might be a bit of a risk given some of Ray’s legal trouble, but he is a top 10 talent. The Falcons have to address their weak pass rush from the 2014-15 season, and Ray directly addresses that need. – N.B.*Note: Ray was cited for marijuana possession, which could drop his draft stock. The incident occurred Monday, after this mock draft had taken place*9. New York Giants – Brandon Scherff, OT, IowaThe most glaring (of many) weaknesses of the 2014 Giants was an anemic offensive line, and Scherff helps shore up that front. He’s big and strong, just what New York needs. – C.B.10. St. Louis Rams – Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford Former No. 1 pick Jake Long was cut by the Rams in March so they’ll need to solidify the line to protect new quarterback Nick Foles. Peat stands at 6-7 with a 313-pound frame and will provide some competition with second-year pro Greg Robinson. – E.K. 11. Minnesota Vikings – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville The Vikings finished 24th in total receiving yards last season, and with Greg Jennings now gone and Cordarrelle Patterson a huge question mark after a disastrous 2014-15 season, the Vikings need guys to throw the ball to. Parker is the best receiver on the board. – N.B.12. Cleveland Browns – Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami (OH) With prized possession Johnny Manziel eventually taking over full time at quarterback regardless of his off-field issues, the Browns need someone to protect him, and Flowers is considered the second-best lineman available in the draft. – C.B.13. New Orleans Saints – Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska The Saints have two first round picks after they dealt Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks. New Orleans needs to shore up their defense, which ranked 31st in the NFL last season, and a hybrid defensive end-outside linebacker like Gregory should help with an outside pass rush and ability to stop the run. – E.K. 14. Miami Dolphins – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St. Ideally, the Dolphins would like a receiver here, but anyone at this point would just be a reach. So, instead, they stack their already great defense even more. With Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes on one side and Waynes on the other, Miami’s defense could be scarier than ever. – N.B.15. San Francisco 49ers – Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky With Patrick Willis and former Badger Chris Borland retiring, the linebacker position for the 49ers is suddenly thin. Dupree becomes a viable option here. – C.B. 16. Houston Texas – Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida Andre Johnson is gone and while DeAndre Hopkins had a great rookie season for the Texans in 2014, Perriman will add to the wide receiver group in Houston with his 4.24 speed. – E.K. 17. San Diego Chargers – Melvin Gordon, RB, WisconsinYes, there is a little bit of a homer sense with this pick, but the Chargers desperately need a three-down back with the departure of Ryan Mathews to the Eagles. The speedy Gordon’s downhill running style make him a nice option to balance out the San Diego offensive attack. – N.B.18. Kansas City Chiefs – Danny Shelton, DT, WashingtonDrawing comparisons to Vince Wilfork, the big man Shelton eats a lot of blocks in the middle. And for a team that ranked 28th in rushing defense in 2014, he could be a huge asset. – C.B.19. Cleveland Browns – Malcom Brown, DT, TexasThe Browns ranked dead last in run defense in 2014, giving up 141.6 yards per game on the ground. A first-team All-American, Brown can play multiple positions on the defensive line and should immediately upgrade Cleveland’s run stopping capability. – E.K. 20. Philadelphia Eagles – Nelson Agholor, WR, USCThe Eagles have made so many changes to their personnel this offseason, but have only gotten worse at wide receiver with the departure of Jeremy Maclin, who had a breakout season last year. With second-year wideout Jordan Matthews looking to be the leader of the receiving unit, the Eagles should add another young player to strengthen their core. – N.B.21. Cincinnati Bengals – Landon Collins, S, AlabamaA physical and downhill defensive back, Collins can come up and stop the run while intimidating receivers over the middle. The Bengals also finished 20th in pass defense and will be looking for help there. – C.B.22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake ForestEven before Troy Polamalu retired, the Steelers needed to address their secondary. Johnson, who set combine-highs in the vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, can come in right away and compete for a starting job at cornerback. – E.K. 23. Detroit Lions – Eddie Goldman, DT, FloridaLions could take a running back here, but with the departures of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, they have a monster hole to fill in the middle of their defensive line. Goldman is a fairly dominant defender against the run and is presumably the best tackle available at this point. – N.B.24. Arizona Cardinals – Jake Fisher, OL, OregonFisher played both tackle positions in college, transitioning to left tackle his senior season. Adding Fisher would solidify an already established offensive line, as Arizona gave up the sixth least stats in the league last season. – C.B. 25. Carolina Panthers – La’el Collins, OT, LSU Carolina added Michael Oher and Jonathan Martin to the offensive line, but while both are well-known names, neither has the skill set Collins possesses. Despite playing left tackle at LSU, Collins will probably be better fit on the right side of the line, but nevertheless he should immediately help the Panthers protect Cam Newton. – E.K. 26. Baltimore Ravens – Marcus Peters, CB, WashingtonThe Ravens have no depth at the cornerback position right now, and at the 26th pick, they could be getting the most talented cornerback in the draft. They can pair him with their other young cornerback Jimmy Smith, who they just signed to a four-year contract extension. – N.B.27. Dallas Cowboys – Todd Gurley, RB, GeorgiaGurley was projected to be the top running back off the board before tearing his ACL early in Georgia’s season, but still has tons of talent and upside. Plus, Jerry Jones won’t pass on a potential star. – C.B.28. Denver Broncos – Cameron Erving, C, Florida St. As Peyton Manning approaches retirement, protecting him becomes very important. Also, the Broncos lost two offensive linemen to free agency including former center Will Montgomery. – C.B.29. Indianapolis Colts – D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida It is pretty much a given that the Colts will draft a tackle given that they currently have injury concerns on the offensive line. The Colts used 11 different starting lineups on the offensive line last season and will want to address the issue of consistency in protecting Andrew Luck, who happens to be the future of the NFL at the quarterback position. – N.B.30. Green Bay Packers – Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma The Packers could opt for an inside linebacker here, or trade out of the 30 spot and draft one early in the second round. Cornerback could also be a target with the departure of Tramon Williams and Davon House, but the Packers could use a big presence on the defensive line for the future. The 6-5, 329-pound Oklahoma product will fill that gap nicely for the Packers. – E.K. 31. New Orleans Saints – Byron Jones, CB, ConnecticutWith two first-round picks, the Saints have two opportunities to strengthen their defense which ranked second worst in total yards given up. With their first pick, they went defensive end, so they’ll address the secondary with this pick, and Jones is arguably the most talented defensive back left on the board. – N.B.32. New England Patriots – Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke You win the Super Bowl for a reason, but the Patriots lost a few playmakers, namely Darrelle Revis, to free agency and have some gaps to fill. Offensive guard is one of those, and Tomlinson should upgrade the spot with his strength after getting up 25 reps on the bench press at the combine. – E.K.