2015 NFL Draft: April First-Round Mock Draft

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This year’s NFL draft will be held in Chicago, Illinois. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft kicks off in four weeks. With much of free agency in the rearview and many Pro Days having been completed, the draft outlook is starting to come into focus. Several picks seem to be predetermined while several other selections remain in flux including the Bengals’ pick.

The first round of this year’s NFL draft could be filled with trades, which only adds to the intrigue. The Eagles have been long rumored as a team who could potentially trade up in an effort to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. It could mean a trade with the Jaguars, Redskins, or Jets.

Regardless of what happens, the NFL draft should continue to hold its typical intrigue, as fans gear up to see how their respective teams choose to improve their rosters. Bengals fans should be particularly intrigued considering the team will likely choose the “best player available” in the first round yet again. But this doesn’t mean logic won’t play into the decision at all. The Bengals do have several needs that could be ameliorated in the first round. Before I give away the selection, let’s take a few minutes to see how the first round could play out.

 

Mar 31, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Jameis Winston throws a pass as NfL scouts watch during FSU Football Pro Day at the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
1

Jameis Winston

Quarterback, Florida State

Sticking with the same logic here as in previous drafts, the pick just seems obvious at this point. Jameis Winston has been called one of the best quarterback prospects in recent memory and the Buccaneers are in dire need of a new leader. Tampa Bay has expressed being comfortable with Winston off the field as well. As much as fans want mystery to permeate throughout the NFL draft, it simply doesn’t exist here.
2

Leonard Williams

Defensive Tackle, Southern California

Sticking to my guns here as I believe the Titans will pass on Marcus Mariota who is clearly a highly talented quarterback, yet will need time to develop.

With this in mind, why would the Titans take a quarterback who’ll need a year to develop when that’s what they have with Zach Mettenberger who also has game experience. Because of that, the Titans select the best defender in the draft. With his versatility to play in multiple schemes and at multiple spots along the defensive line, Leonard Williams should make a huge impact on this defense and in the AFC South when the Titans try to take down Andrew Luck.

3

Dante Fowler Jr.

Linebacker, Florida

The Jaguars likely entertain trade options until the clock strikes 0:00 on draft day. Yet, if forced to select a player the fact is Dante Fowler Jr. is the best defender capable of playing in a 4-3 defense.

Jacksonville could entertain selecting a player like Vic Beasley who could be considered better, but forcing a player into a foreign scheme may trouble Gus Bradley. Trading down is the best option, but Fowler certainly won’t hurt the defense either.

4

Amari Cooper

Wide Receiver, Alabama

Oakland’s defense is improving, but the offense needs help. Selecting just about anywhere could help, but finding a talent like Amari Cooper isn’t something you can find elsewhere in the draft. Taking a receiving of his caliber can make all facets of the offense better while helping Derek Carr avoid a sophomore slump.

If Carr and Cooper can develop a strong rapport, the offense would be improved. If either Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon is available at 35, this offense looks potentially dangerous.

5

Vic Beasley

Linebacker, Clemson

Vic Beasley is simply too good to pass on. The Redskins’ have improved their defensive line with a few additions headlined by Terrance Knighton. Pairing Beasley with Ryan Kerrigan not only mitigates the loss of Brian Orakpo, but also potentially makes the front seven dangerous. Blocking the Redskins pass rush just became difficult.
6

Marcus Mariota

Quarterback, Oregon

Although I want to bring some diversity to this selection, it simply seems like the way to go. Giving the offense a new face of the future seems right, though I would caution against expecting it in the coming season. Marcus Mariota is great, but could benefit from some coaching. Sitting him for at least the beginning of 2015 could be prudent. Either way, giving this team hope on the offensive side of the ball is key considering how good the defense could be.
7

Shane Ray

Defensive End, Missouri

After signing Ray McDonald this offseason, the defensive line isn’t such a large “need.” Selecting an edge rusher such as Shane Ray gives Pernell McPhee a rushing mate. His relentless style and athleticism would be fun to watch especially considering the tutelage he’ll get from Vic Fangio. Both Randy Gregory and Alvin Dupree could be selected here also, as I believe an edge rusher is the way they’ll go. Regardless of who it is, the selection should be geared towards helping the defense transition to a 3-4 base set.
8

Alvin Dupree

Defensive End, Kentucky

Alvin Dupree is an athletic freak who keeps offering more and more promising as the draft process continues. The Falcons are in great need of help when rushing the passer, and Dupree offers that in spades. As a former defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn should enjoy a new weapon such as Dupree. For Dupree, he’ll receive the coaching he needs with Quinn monitoring his development.

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