McShay: 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
Mariota goes No. 1 overall in first projection of all 32 first-round picks
Marcus Mariota versus Jameis Winston will be the big draft discussion for the next four months (including their head-to-head matchup in the Oregon-Florida State national semifinal on Jan. 1). Both QBs have the potential to be great in the NFL, but both also come with warning signs.
That's the debate that kicks off our first mock draft for 2015, which projects all 32 first-round picks. It goes without saying that a lot will change between now and April 30, draft night, including the draft order, team needs (which will be affected not only by the final few weeks of the season and playoffs but also free agency) and the stocks of many of the top prospects. Some of the players included here are underclassmen who haven't yet decided whether they'll enter the 2015 draft, and there are some teams that could be undergoing regime changes in the coming weeks.
But this mock draft can serve as an early primer on where the draft board stands right now, and the prospects teams could be considering with their picks in 2015. (Note: I'd have included Georgia pass-rusher Leonard Floyd on here, but UGA coach Mark Richt said this week that Floyd would be returning to school.)
How will things play out? Here's our first mock draft for 2015.
(A note on the draft order: It is listed here as though the season ended today, with teams not currently in the playoff field ordered 1-20 based on record and the reverse strength-of-schedule tiebreaker used in the actual draft order. Teams 21-32 are then listed the same way.)
Analysis: Mariota is a dynamic athlete with excellent top-end speed. He is elite at throwing on the run. He has a quick and compact over-the-shoulder release, and he possesses excellent intangibles. The concern I have with him is that while he's good with his anticipation and accuracy when passing from inside the pocket (and he's gotten better at it this season), he isn't great -- and that's the most important quality for QBs transitioning to the NFL level. Is that enough of a risk for the Bucs, a team in serious need of a franchise quarterback, to pass on him? Maybe, or perhaps they would wind up giving Winston a higher grade. But I just can't see either of these guys sliding out of the top 10. This is as shallow of a draft at the QB position as I can remember -- at least in the past several years.