Jon Munshaw: Flashback to a year ago. 21-year-old me was watching the first round of the NFL draft on my couch with my roommate and a few of my friends.
Roger Goodell starts reading off the Browns’ pick “With the eighth overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft…The Cleveland Browns select…J…”
My ears perk up. “JOHNNY MANZIEL,” I yell to myself in my head. The commissioner continues.
“…Ustin Gilbert.” Welp. OK. Of course, the Browns eventually took Manziel later in the first round, as well as Towson’s own Terrance West on the second day of the draft.
Of course, we all know how Gilbert and Johnny Football have turned out since then. Not great. But it doesn’t matter, I’m still excited for this year’s NFL draft, which takes place on April 30.
Even my roommate, who is a life-long fan of the Washington football team, still looks forward to the draft. What a wonderful time of the year!
And since every football fan eats this crap up, here’s my 2015 NFL mock draft, complete with projected trades in the first round. Because who doesn’t love to project trades? (Also, I only have one more issue left after this so I’m really playing with house money at this point).
Matt Hamilton: Flashback to a year ago. 21-year-old me was watching the first round of the NFL draft on Jon’s couch with his roommate and a few friends.
I, too, heard Goodell say Justin Gilbert’s name, but for that brief moment between pronunciation the “J” and the “U”, we all stood up, ready for something amazing. It happened later that night, when the Browns struck out again by drafting Johnny Manziel.
Safe to say Jon was going crazy over that draft. They even picked up former Towson star and Instagram addict Terrance West, which I have to admire. However, that’s enough for the Browns. After all, my Ravens are in this draft, too.
Maybe, just maybe, they’ll actually go for a skill position. Or maybe not. I’m certainly not an expert, but I’ll do my best Mel Kiper impression from here on out.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
JM: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Is Jameis Winston probably a sub-par person? Probably. Do the Bucs need a quarterback? They sure do. Will his off-the-field issues really hurt his draft stock that much? Probably not. Quarterbacks are just too important in this league for a front office to be all that turned off from Winston.
MH: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
This pick is almost set in stone at this point. The only thing that could stop the Bucs from picking Winston is if he gets hungry for some more crab legs. That won’t happen, and Winston will be No. 1.
- Tennessee Titans
JM: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon, (To San Diego Chargers via Tennessee Titans)
This is the only trade I’m predicting, but boy doesn’t it sound awesome? Ken Wisenhunt has a history of not being so hot on rookie quarterbacks, and the Chargers seem to be at least partially serious about trying to move Rivers. If Tennessee is convinced they can get three or four years out of Rivers still, why the heck not?
MH: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Yes, this could be the big trade-up scenario, but I think Titans well end up realizing that Zach Mettenberger is nothing special and Mariota has the potential to be. The Titans need a leader and Mariota will be there.
- Jacksonville Jaguars:
JM: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC
Williams, to me, is more talented than the rest of the defensive linemen who are in a very deep class this year. The Jaguars basically need a little bit of everything, except maybe linebacker, quarterback and receiver, so just go with the best player available.
MH: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC
This is the clichéd “Best Player Available” move for the Jaguars. Their offense has the potential to be strong for years to come, and Williams is the best non-quarterback in the draft. He’ll help make the Jaguars a more complete team.
- Oakland Raiders
JM: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Raiders could definitely use one of the four pass rushers I have here going all in a row. But this would be a classic Raiders move. I can see the conversation in their war room going on now: “Boy Amari Cooper sure is better than Kevin White. But wait, did you see White’s 40 time? OK let’s take him.”
MH: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
Boy, this pick screams overrated, speedy wide receiver. Ever heard of Darius Heyward-Bey? I think this is the year that the Raiders finally pick with their collective heads. Sure, Kevin White will be there, but I think Fowler could really boost the Raiders defense.
JM: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
As I already said, this is a crazy deep class for pass rushers. Frankly, you can’t really go wrong with any of these three goes I have going here, but Fowler I think is the best of the bunch, and would be a potential Brian Orakpo replacement for Washington.
MH: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson Here starts the “How low can you go?” part of the draft for wide receivers. Yes, Pierre Garcon or Desean Jackson could leave the team after the season, but the Redskins need more than a receiver. Beasley will help fill the Brain Orakpo void.
- New York Jets
JM: Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
Again, can’t really go wrong here. At this point, New York is in a “Best Player Available” situation because they could use a little bit of everything.
MH: Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
Hey look! Jon and I agree on a pick. This is a strong pick for the Jets, who will be looking for a few aggressive pass rushers. I can just imagine Todd Bowles dreaming of Ray getting to and sacking Tom Brady for years.
- Chicago Bears:
JM: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
I’ve seen quite a few mocks that have the Bears going receiver here to replace Brandon Marshall, who was cut by the team and ended up signing with the Jets. But anyone who has watched a single Bears game in the past two years knows how awful the defense has been. Their secondary is taking shape, but the front seven needs some serious help.
MH: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
It would be tough for the Bears to pass up on the top-rated receiver in this draft after letting Brandon Marshall go this offseason. I can’t even think of who’d fill the receiving corps other than Alshon Jeffery. That’s a problem and this is the solution.
- Atlanta Falcons
JM: Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Much like Chicago, Atlanta is just going to fill their biggest position of need. If I were them I’d draft nothing but guards and defensive linemen this draft.
MH: Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
This is a tough pick, because Randy Gregory really should be here. However, he had a terrible combine and couldn’t stay away from the marijuana for a few months, so he’ll slide. Dupree is another quality pass rusher, which the Falcons need.
- New York Giants
JM: Brandon Scherff, OT/G, Iowa
If the season were to start today, someone named John Jerry would be the starting left guard for the Giants. That’s not OK.
MH: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
This is another intriguing pick, because what the Giants really need is an offensive lineman. However, with Victor Cruz’s status not looking great, Cooper could pair with Odell Beckham Jr. and create one heck of a passing game.
10. St. Louis Rams
JM: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
For the past several years, the Rams have basically acquired receivers that are all just worse versions of Tavon Austin (plus Tavon Austin). Here, they get a chance to get Nick Foles a weapon that can actually go up and get a ball in the end zone.
MH: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Rams need a lot more than just a cornerback, but to bolster this defense could mean that this team can compete against the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals. Yes, a running back could be in play, but I think it’s far too early.
11. Minnesota Vikings
JM: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Minnesota is an intriguing team to me this year. The Vikings have actually done a good job of filling needs as they come up, and they finally have a solid roster put together. Unfortunately, they’ve been held hostage by the Adrian Peterson situation. Still, they should fill their most pressing need at corner by taking the best defensive back available.
MH: Brandon Scherff, OT/G, Iowa
The Vikings would jump for joy if the top offensive tackle fell to them at No. 11. Scherff is better than this pick, but the Vikings won’t hesitate to take him here. The Vikings might not have Adrian Peterson, so a strong offensive line will certainly help.
12. Cleveland Browns
JM: Danny Shelton, NT, Washington
Please, Browns. Don’t mess this up. Just get interior line help. Please.
MH: Danny Shelton, NT, Washington
Who am I to disagree with the resident Browns expert? Shelton seems to fill a void in the middle of that defensive line, and the Browns would love to have Shelton fall to them. This could get tricky if the Browns decide to trade a pick, though.
13. New Orleans Saints
JM: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The general football would generally assume that the Saints are stacked at receiver, given their history of being an explosive offense. But after trading Kenny Stills in the offseason, they’re left with the rotting husk of Marques Colston and second-year player Brandin Cooks. Parker would give Drew Brees a solid receiving tandem.
MH: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Gregory could easily fall into the 20s, but I think his talent outweighs his….well…poor offseason. Gregory is really talented and the Saints need help on the defensive line. Yes, a wide receiver could be in play, but I think the Saints can find one in a later round.
14. Miami Dolphins
JM: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Seriously, when was the last time the Dolphins had a legitimate running back? That one year of Reggie Bush? Lamar Miller is simply not an NFL starter. The Dolphins could probably use some help at safety and in their receiving corps, but Gurley would give them a big play threat that they’d thought they’d have in Mike Wallace, but he never panned out.
MH: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Dolphins have Kenny Stills at the No.1 wide receiver spot and nothing behind him. They need a wide receiver and if they don’t trade up and find Parker here, it would be a great pick for them. The defense is fine, but the offense needs some serious help.
15. San Francisco 49ers
JM: Malcom Brown, DE/DT, Texas
The run on defensive linemen continues. Just fill in a spot you took a major hit to this offseason, Niners.
MH: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (To San Diego via trade with San Francisco)
Here’s where the fun starts to happen. Gurley is someone of whom the Chargers desperately need. Without Mathews in the backfield, Gurley is a must and the Chargers trade up for fear of the Texans taking their coveted player.
16. Houston Texans
JM: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Houston is a leading candidate in my book to trade down in this draft and take a quarterback at the very beginning of the second round or late in the first (think Bryce Petty), because no one really wants Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback (though I would take him over Josh McCown). If they stay at 16, though, taking Collins would give them an heir apparent to Johnathan Joseph, who is 31 all of a sudden, and would give them a nickel corner in the meantime.
MH: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Texans don’t have Andre Johnson anymore, and DeAndre Hopkins can only take them so far by himself. Strong and Breshad Perriman will fight for the next receiver taken in this draft, but I think strong is more physically gifted than Perriman.
17. San Diego Chargers
JM: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (To Tennessee Titans, via trade with San Diego Chargers)
After trading down, the Titans will go with the “boring” pick and get some help at right tackle. The Titans signed Michael Oher to a huge deal last season before releasing him in February. Drafting Flowers would give them two young tackles, with Flowers playing on the opposite side of Taylor Lewan.
MH: Malcom Brown, DE/DT, Texas (To San Francisco 49ers, via trade with San Diego Chargers)
The 49ers could easily go after Todd Gurley here, but I think they’ll stay conservative with their pick and draft someone for the defensive line. Browns is a beast and can play multiple positions, something that could help the 49ers lack of depth.
18. Kansas City Chiefs
JM: D.J. Humphries, OT/G, Florida
The Chiefs went into this offseason and added a receiver (Jeremy Maclin), traded for Ben Grubbs at left guard, franchise tagged Justin Houston and re-signed Derrick Johnson. All solid moves. But they are still left with backups at center and right guard now. There’s only one center on the roster, and right now Jeff Allen, who only played one game last year, would be starting at guard.
MH: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
It’s no mystery that the Chiefs could use some help on the offensive line, and through the trades above them, Flowers may fall all the way to No. 18. If he does, the Chiefs will pick him and should be happy.
19. Cleveland Browns
JM: La’el Collins, G/OT, LSU
There was talk last year about the Browns taking Jake Matthews to eventually replace Mitchell Schwartz on the right side of the line. Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel happened instead, but it would be a good move to grab that replacement now.
MH: La’el Collins, G/OT, LSU
This could come down to whether the Browns believe Humphries or Collins would be a better fit, but I’ll go with the expert.
20. Philadelphia Eagles
JM: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Much like the Saints, people just assume the Eagles probably have the receiver situation figured out. Not so much. Jordan Matthews is certainly a fine option, but without Maclin, they’re down to Riley Cooper and Josh Huff as their other starters.
MH: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Boy oh boy, it will be tough for the Eagles to pass on a wide receiver. But I think a cornerback that falls should pique their interest. Chip Kelly could easily trade this pick and go for something greater, but I’m doubting it still.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
JM: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Cincinnati signed Reggie Nelson this offseason to sure up their free safety spot, but the secondary could still use some help. George Iloka isn’t going to cut it as a starting strong safety.
MH: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Yikes! Here we are, agreeing on another AFC North pick. The Bengals could easily go cornerback here, but that hole isn’t as obvious as at safety. Two straight Collins sounds fun to me.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
JM: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
I’m always of the belief that in the draft, teams should just take the pick that other teams wouldn’t want you to make. What would the rest of the AFC North not want to see the Steelers get? Another pass rusher. The cookie cutter answer here is to say that Pittsburgh needs to grab someone for the secondary, but pairing Gregory and Ryan Shazier is a dangerous, dangerous proposition.
MH: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
The Ravens would love to have this, but the Steelers lost out on Collins in the previous slot, so Johnson is a must. The Steelers need secondary help more than anything and Johnson has proven he can contribute immediately.
23. Detroit Lions
JM: Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
Even though the Lions traded for Haloti Ngata this offseason, they lost Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to free agency, which leaves two spots along the defensive line up. Ngata’s contract is also up at the end of this year and will be seeking another large deal, so taking Phillips now would be Ngata insurance for next offseason.
MH: D.J. Humphries, OT/G, Florida
Yes, there are a few needs that the Lions have that outweigh offensive linemen. However, Humphries is the best player available at this point in this draft and the Lions could use another strong lineman. Don’t be surprised if Melvin Gordon goes here, though.
24. Arizona Cardinals
JM: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
The Cardinals could definitely use some help along the offensive line, and a pass rusher. But Arizona’s offense last season was the problem they couldn’t do anything. Obviously all of those injuries to their quarterbacks didn’t help, but there was literally no running game to be found here. Andre Ellington is a fine player, but he’s not an every-down back.
MH: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
We’re so close to the Ravens picking Gordon, but it would be too tough for Gordon’s name to slip through the Lions and Cardinals. Unless they somehow get Adrian Peterson, the Cardinals will be looking at Gordon with this pick.
25. Carolina Panthers
JM: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Plain and simple here, just get Cam Newton some protection.
MH: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Woah, we’ve got two straight picks lining up. I feel like both are pretty sure bets, given these teams’ neesds. Peat would solidify a spot on a weak Panthers line. With Cam Newton as quarterback, a strong offensive line is a must.
26. Baltimore Ravens
JM: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb missed a combined 12 games last season. Smith is a perfectly fine corner, but Webb gave up a quarterback rating of 99 to his opponents last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and gave up nine receptions in Baltimore’s Wild Card game against the Steelers. Running back would also be an option here for the Ravens, but I already have Gurley and Gordon off the board in this scenario.
MH: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Alright, I’ll stop copying off of Jon’s draft board, but this is my team, so I can pick what I want. Peters is a cornerback and the Ravens aren’t sure what they’ll get from Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, or any of the other names that shuffle in and out of the No. 3 corner spot. I wish Melvin Gordon would fall here, but it just won’t happen. Peters is a great pick here. LET’S GO RAVENS.
27. Dallas Cowboys
JM: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE/OLB, UCLA
I cannot wait for Roger Goodell to try to pronounce this guy’s name. Just putting that out there. But seriously, it amazes me the Cowboys were as good as they were last year with the defensive personnel they had. I don’t see them getting that lucky two years in a row.
MH: Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
The Cowboys don’t have many needs on the offensive side of the ball, but a defensive lineman could really bolster their pass rush. Armstead is an underrated guy that could have an immediate impact for the Cowboys.
28. Denver Broncos
JM: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Terrance Knighton replacement.
MH: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE/OLB, UCLA
The Broncos do have Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, but they could use another man behind them that can come in without a let off. Odighizuwa has a cool name and could add some depth.
29. Indianapolis Colts
JM: Cameron Erving, OT/G/C, Florida State
Get my boy Andrew Luck some protection.
MH: Cameron Erving, OT/G/C, Florida State
Get Jon’s boy Andrew Luck some protection.
30. Green Bay Packers
JM: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
The Packers basically won this offseason by just re-signing their own guys. But if there’s any place they need help, it’s at inside linebacker. They released A.J. Hawk, who I kind of forgot was still even in the league, and Clay Matthews is coming off his only true healthy season in the league.
MH: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
The Packers really want to focus on stopping the run this season, and Goldman would be a steal at this point. With a strong defense, the Packers may have made the Super Bowl last season. And when I say may have, I mean definitely would have.
31. New Orleans Saints
JM: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
They did sign Brandon Browner in the offseason (somehow) after spending a ton of money on Jairus Byrd last offseason, but look at the receivers the Saints have to face twice a year: Julio Jones, Roddy White, Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.
MH: Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
Perriman is the next best wide receiver and the Saints could definitely use some depth at the receiver position. Yes, you have a young early round pick in Brandin Cooks, but Perriman could add to the options for Drew Brees. Don’t be surprised if Dorial Green-Beckham goes here.
32. New England Patriots
JM:Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
Bill Belichick does have a terrible track record of drafting receivers and developing them. Somehow, it always seems to work out for the Patriots (they did win the Super Bowl, after all) but if there is one weakness that’s worth pointing out on this team, it’s at receiver.
MH: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
I think Jones is better than this spot in the first round, but looking at other mock drafts, I won’t move him much higher. The Patriots could use another physical talent to pair with Brandon Browner.