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Yesterday, I posted an interview of ‘Play The Draft’ multiple contest winner Xavier Cromartie (article here: Xavier Cromartie interview). As I got to know Xavier a little better, I could tell two things: (1) He’s passionate about Mock Drafts/the NFL Draft process. (2) He wasn’t just a lucky Draftnik who won a contest. He’s won multiple Mock Draft contests for bragging rights, free travel and accommodations, and even a new Hummer H3.
He is “good at what he does”…and he ‘does’ Mock Drafting. Spoiler alert: He’s already running #1-2 in ‘Play The Draft’ out of the gates in 2015.
A new season of “Play The Draft” has begun. ‘Play The Draft’ website
Yesterday, I claimed he is “The Best Mock Drafter in the World,” and I mean that (because you can’t disprove it anyway). It’s one thing to debate the talent of any and all prospects. It’s a whole other skill to have your pulse on the football information and misinformation, and to be able to accurately predict what’s going to happen in the NFL Draft. I piss and moan about what SHOULD happen. He just predicts what WILL happen.
I love Mock Drafts. I just don’t do them. I’m terrible at them, because I see the players and the NFL Draft process completely differently than the NFL teams themselves. I spew three-thousand words about why a 6th-round player is actually one of the best 15 players available in the draft—that’s my gift (or curse). I’m a bad ‘Mocker’, but I still wanted our websites to have something relevant to offer for Mock Draft aficionados, and when we discussed how we could do that this year—I said, “Why don’t we just ask the person who just won contests doing Mocks (again)? Let’s ask Xavier.”
He agreed to share his 2015 Mock Draft insights, and we’re happy to publish them here. Below is a three-round Mock Draft, with commentary on the 1st-round picks. This is not a list for a list’s sake—this is what he feels is going to happen based on the early information from his materials and sources. Obviously, things are going to change as time rolls on, especially after the NFL Combine. Xavier is going to keep updating as often as he can to keep this fluid list as fresh as possible.
The first couple of picks here are standard fare, but you’ll start to see his divergence of opinion start to unfurl quickly. I can tell you, in my ‘early book’, he’s ahead of the national experts on many of his later 1st-round picks.
Here goes Xavier Cromartie’s Mock Draft 1.0 for 2015… @xaviercromartie on Twitter
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston
The Bucs struggled to generate offense last season and have not treated Glennon like he is their guy. The pick should come down to Winston v Mariota. It will end up the same way as any relationship choice made between an ‘alpha bad-boy’ and a ‘beta nice guy.’ The Bucs may talk about liking Mariota, but when it’s time to ‘hop into bed,’ Winston is the likely winner. His character concerns are vastly overblown, and I expect him to surprise the masses with a 25-30 on the Wonderlic.
2) Tennessee Titans: DE Leonard Williams
I think that the Titans are serious about giving Mettenberger a chance to start. He has some ‘Cutleresque’ appeal (statistically speaking). The Titans are the type of team that will overpay Mark Sanchez in free agency as a backup plan. Williams fits a need for improved interior D-line play in their 3-4.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Randy Gregory
The mindset in Jacksonville is likely that the offense has a lot of young talent, and it’s in the hands of Bortles now. Gregory would play the Leo position. The Jags do not seem to be afraid of ‘project’ picks.
4) Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper
Oakland probably feels that they have a young nucleus on defense with Mack, Moore, and Hayden. The thinking here is likely to be that inserting young explosive offensive talents Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper around Carr will make Carr something better than the low-end starter he is.
5) Washington Pigskins: OLB Dante Fowler
Washington has the luxury of being able to blame anything that goes wrong on offense on RG3. They need to fix their defense anyway. Orakpo will be gone, and so another 3-4 OLB is needed. No secondary player is worth this pick.
6) New York Jets: QB Marcus Mariota
Geno Smith has been one of the worst starting QBs in the league for two years. If either Mariota or Winston are available, the Jets would have to pick him.
7) Chicago Bears: NT Danny Shelton
The Bears are surely targeting defense. They are expected to move to a 3-4. Shelton is exactly the kind of behemoth in the middle of the defense that the Bears need.
8) Atlanta Falcons: DE Shane Ray
Everyone expects the Falcons to look for a pass-rusher. Ray is another ‘Leo’ type who seems like the best fit.
9) New York Giants: S Landon Collins
Consensus is that it’s not a deep safety class. The Giants have a history of taking DBs early in the draft, and they must be frustrated at the safety position. D-line is a concern as well, but there don’t seem to be any good matches available here.
10) St. Louis Rams: RT/G Brandon Scherff
Scherff is frequently described as a top prospect but is more of a run blocker. Therefore, he’s a good fit for the run-heavy Rams, who are always looking to improve their offense.
11) Minnesota Vikings: WR DeVante Parker
It’s not just a sweet Louisville connection story. WR is the Vikings most valued position of need, and Parker is likely the highest valued player here.
12) Cleveland Browns: WR Kevin White
White has been compared to both Julio Jones (4.34) and Larry Fitzgerald (4.63), strangely. Last season, they knew they wouldn’t have Josh Gordon, but they ignored WR. I would expect the pressure to be strong not to repeat that mistake.
13) New Orleans Saints: CB Trae Waynes
They should obviously work on repairing their disastrous defense. Better coverage in the secondary would be a good start. All they have is Keenan Lewis.
14) Miami Dolphins: RT/G La’el Collins
Despite their good rushing numbers, the Dolphins o-line was really as terrible as expected, especially at guard. LT Branden Albert is recovering from a torn ACL. Collins would be valued by the Dolphins for his ability to shuffle between guard and tackle.
15) San Francisco 49ers: CB Marcus Peters
Although WR is a need, and they’ve taken them in round one before, I don’t think they’ll prioritize it. The 49ers want to build their team like the Seahawks. CB is a need. Peters is more of an “attitude” question than “character” (criminal). The conflict was with a particular coaching staff, not necessarily all coaching staffs. He just needs to interview well and talk about what it would mean to him to return to the Bay Area.
16) Houston Texans: RT TJ Clemmings
The Texans should continue doing what has worked for years: pounding Arian Foster. The defense played fairly well last season, and so they should keep the o-line strong.
17) San Diego Chargers: LT Andrus Peat
The Chargers are an all-around average team with multiple needs. I think they’ll be most frustrated by their late-season offensive struggles. Rather than take a RB in round one, they take a solid run-blocking left tackle to help rebuild the o-line.
18) Kansas City Chiefs: LT/RT Erick Flowers
WRs are ghosts in this offense, so why bother taking one? The Chiefs are much like the Texans. They are solid on defense, and their best bet is to keep controlling the game with Jamaal Charles/Knile Davis.
19) Cleveland Browns: NT Jordan Phillips
The Browns were gashed pretty badly by the run last season, and it hindered the ability of their own rushing attack to control the game. Phillips is a much-needed true nose tackle for their 3-4 scheme.
20) Philadelphia Eagles: OLB Vic Beasley
Beasley is a perfect complement opposite Connor Barwin. Barwin is the more versatile, pass-coverage OLB. What the Eagles are lacking is the pure edge rusher on the other side.
21) Cincinnati Bengals: DT Malcom Brown
The Bengals need to improve their defensive line play. They like versatility, and so Brown is a great fit. He’s a penetrator who can shift positions on the line.
22) Pittsburgh Steelers: OLB Alvin Dupree
The only question here is which defensive player they’ll value the most. When a pass-rusher is a need, it’s the best bet. Dupree is a bit of a raw athlete with big upside, but the Steelers tend to ease in rookies anyway.
23) Detroit Lions: RB Melvin Gordon III
The Lions need to figure out how to improve on offense, other than getting a better QB. The run on O-Linemen is over. They were one of the worst rushing teams last season. Bell and Bush are nearing 30. Time for a fresh stud.
24) Arizona Cardinals: OLB Eli Harold
The offensive side just needs a healthy QB and can find a RB later. The Cardinals defense has been great recently, but it lacks an impact pass-rusher. Harold is a 3-4 rusher who should rise into the first round with a good Combine.
25) Carolina Panthers: WR Phillip Dorsett
After the Combine, Dorsett is likely to shoot into the first round. The Panthers need a speed receiver opposite Kelvin Benjamin. O-Line might be a reach here.
26) Baltimore Ravens: DE Arik Armstead
The Ravens tend to wait on WRs. Best defender available is always a good bet with them. Armstead is a 3-4 DE commonly compared to Calais Campbell. He’s another raw athlete who can provide needed depth for now and eventually become an impact starter.
27) Dallas Cowboys: LB/S Shaq Thompson
A powerful offense masked an average defense. The top pass rushers are off the board. Thompson seems like he would intrigue a team that has struggled at both LB and S. He could play a hybrid role.
28) Denver Broncos: DE Eddie Goldman
My understanding is that Wade Phillips has a little bit of an unorthodox 3-4 scheme that would suit the metrics and abilities of Goldman. D-line is also one of the Broncos biggest needs at the moment.
29) Indianapolis Colts: OLB Lorenzo Mauldin
Edge rusher is such a need here, and all of their other positions of need are of lower value. Mauldin is going to be a riser up until the draft.
30) Green Bay Packers: CB Quinten Rollins
Considering how their season ended, I’d imagine that they’ll want to buff up their defense. CB is also their most valuable position of need. Rollins is considered a blank slate with high upside.
31) Seattle Seahawks: WR Jaelen Strong
It’s fair to say that a WR with size is a position of need in Seattle. Strong provides exactly what Seattle needed on the last play of their season: physicality. He would be a red-zone threat.
32) New England Patriots: RB Todd Gurley
Another ‘torn ACL’ pick for the Patriots this year. It’s one of their biggest needs. Vereen is likely gone. Gurley has to be considered one of the best talents available at this point.
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33: Tennessee: OLB Owamagbe Odighizuwa
34: Tampa Bay: G AJ Cann
35: Oakland: DT Carl Davis
36: Jacksonville: TE Maxx Williams
37: New York Jets: CB Jalen Collins
38: Washington: CB PJ Williams
39: Chicago: ILB Denzel Perryman
40: New York Giants: ILB Bernardrick McKinney
41: Saint Louis: WR Dorial Green-Beckham
42: Atlanta: C Cameron Erving
43: Cleveland: QB Brett Hundley
44: New Orleans: RB Jay Ajayi
45: Minnesota: LB Eric Kendricks
46: San Francisco: WR Sammie Coates
47: Miami: CB Kevin Johnson
48: San Diego: RB Duke Johnson
49: Kansas City: WR Devin Funchess
50: Buffalo: RT Ty Sambrailo
51: Houston: CB Kevin White
52: Philadelphia: S Cody Prewitt
53: Cincinnati: OLB Paul Dawson
54: Detroit: DT Michael Bennett
55: Arizona: RB Tevin Coleman
56: Pittsburgh: CB Alex Carter
57: Carolina: LT Donovan Smith
58: Baltimore: WR Devin Smith
59: Denver: TE Clive Walford
60: Dallas: DE Danielle Hunter
61: Indianapolis: RB Ameer Abdullah
62: Green Bay: DE Preston Smith
63: Seattle: CB Ronald Darby
64: New England: G Laken Tomlinson
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65: Tampa Bay: DE Nate Orchard
66: Tennessee: S Gerod Holliman
67: Jacksonville: RT Daryl Williams
68: Oakland: RT Jake Fisher
69: Washington: S Chris Hackett
70: New York Jets: OLB Hau’oli Kikaha
71: Chicago: S: Derron Smith
72: Saint Louis: LT Cedric Ogbuehi
73: Atlanta: RB TJ Yeldon
74: New York Giants: DE Markus Golden
75: New Orleans: G Arie Kouandjio
76: Minnesota: G Tre Jackson
77: Cleveland: CB D’Joun Smith
78: Miami: WR Breshad Perriman
79: San Francisco: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
80: Kansas City: ILB Stephone Anthony
81: Buffalo: DE Mario Edwards
82: Houston: WR Jamison Crowder
83: San Diego: CB Steven Nelson
84: Philadelphia: CB Jacoby Glenn
85: Cincinnati: WR Rashad Greene
86: Arizona: CB Senquez Golson
87: Pittsburgh: RB David Johnson
88: Detroit: RT Jeremiah Poutasi
89: Carolina: G Josue Matias
90: Baltimore: OLB Trey Flowers
91: Dallas: S Ibraheim Campbell
92: Denver: C Reese Dismukes
93: Indianapolis: WR Nelson Agholor
94: Green Bay: TE Nick Boyle
95: Seattle: DT Xavier Cooper
96: New England: WR Josh Harper
97: Compensatory: RB David Cobb
98: Compensatory: S Anthony Harris
99: Compensatory: C Hroniss Grasu
100: Compensatory: DE Za’Darius Smith