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2015 NFL Draft: 10 Bold Predictions – 3rd QB in Round 1?

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The Sports Xchange

The unpredictable nature of the NFL Draft is what makes it riveting television. After evaluating the 2015 class for the past 12 months, here are 10 Bold Predictions from NFLDraftScout.com analysts Dane Brugler and Rob Rang.

10. Character Counts? Not as much as bottom line.

NFL teams will continue to invest early and often on players with checkered off-field pasts. It will start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers making Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston the No. 1 overall pick Thursday night.

Despite their obvious talent, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (then at Missouri) and Washington cornerback Marcus Peters were booted from their college programs. Sources suggest that some clubs have taken these players completely off of their boards, but that won’t stop another team from selecting them in the first round. And the marijuana issues of defensive ends Randy Gregory (Nebraska) and Shane Ray (Missouri), cornerback Jalen Collins (LSU) and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (two failed tests at Florida State)? They’re likely to be selected in the top 32 as well.

Al Davis may have passed a few years ago, but his legacy of “Just win, baby” will be proven alive and well throughout the draft. –Rang

9. OTs Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher will be first round picks.

This offensive tackle class is strange. How’s that for an expert opinion? This year’s class lacks a no-brainer top 10 pick at offensive tackle, but there could be five or six that land in the first round. And two of those tackles will be names not often found in mock drafts: Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi and Oregon’s Jake Fisher.

Ogbuehi was a first round prospect a few months ago, but a torn ACL in the Aggies’ bowl game put his future in doubt. Fisher is lighter than ideal, but the former tight end has the movement skills that could land him in the top 32. — Brugler

8. Veterans Stay Put.

Even on draft weekend, nothing gets NFL fans talking like the possibility of veterans being traded. With the New Orleans Saints unloading tight end Jimmy Graham, wideout Kenny Stills and guard Ben Grubbs, some have theorized that a new more trade-friendly NFL is on the horizon.

Coach Chip Kelly seems to have bought into the idea with the Philadelphia Eagles, but don’t expect established stars such as San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers or Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to be on the move. –Rang

7. Damarious Randall will be the first safety drafted, and in the first round.

If a needy team doesn’t draft its safety early, it might be on the outside looking in because there are so few players at the position that scouts project as future NFL starters from this class. Alabama’s Landon Collins is one of the safer picks in this draft for a team that needs a strong safety. But for a team seeking a free safety who can cover? Randall could be the guy, and that could get him into the later portion of round one, similar to nickelback/safety Jimmie Ward a year ago. –Brugler

6. No traditional LBs drafted in 1st round.

Reflecting the lack of talent at the position this year as well as the increasingly pass-oriented nature of the NFL, scouts, coaches and front office personnel expect the first round to slide by without a single traditional off-line-of-scrimmage linebacker getting selected.

While armchair quarterbacks love UCLA’s Eric Kendricks, Washington’s Shaq Thompson, Miami’s Denzel Perryman and Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney, among others, the appreciation isn’t matched by NFL personnel, who raise questions about size, strength and instincts for this year’s crop.

By contrast, two running backs could come off the board Thursday (Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon) after none have been selected in the first round the past two years. — Rang

5. Dante Fowler will be the first defensive prospect drafted.

Southern Cal defensive tackle Leonard Williams is the best player in the draft. That’s my opinion and the opinion of several around the league. But Fowler could conceivably be drafted ahead of Williams because of his pass rush value. Assuming quarterbacks are drafted 1-2, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have several options from Williams to wide receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin White, but Fowler could be the pick because of his fit in the defense. — Brugler

4. Seminoles establish three-year record for draft picks.

Should the draft play out as NFLDraftScout.com projects, the Florida State Seminoles will set a new three-year record for the number of prospects selected. State rival Miami (2002-2004) and Southern Cal (2008-2010) currently are tied for the three-year title with 28 players selected.

To set the record, the Seminoles would have to match the 11 players selected from the program two years ago, after seven former Florida State prospects were drafted in 2014. Appropriately enough, NFLDraftScout.com currently projects exactly 11 Seminoles to be drafted with offensive linemen Cameron Erving, Tre Jackson and Josue Matias, defensive linemen Mario Edwards, Jr. and Goldman, cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby, wide receiver Rashad Greene, tight end Nick O’Leary, running back Karlos Williams and, of course, Winston. — Rang

3. After two years of no first rounders, the running back position will have two top 20 picks.

In early April, I tweeted that an NFL scouting director told me two running backs would be drafted in the top 20. Although I received mostly “no way” responses to that prediction, I’m buying in and think there is a great chance both Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon are drafted within the top 20. We know the two-year streak of no first round running backs will be snapped, but I’ll up the ante and say two come off the board in the top 20. — Brugler

2. Receivers even better than last year?

Perhaps due in part to the extraordinary success of rookie wide receivers last season, many throughout the league expect the position to be even more popular in this year’s first round. In fact, polling high ranking scouts throughout the league indicated that at least five and perhaps as many as seven receivers could be among the first 32 players selected Thursday.

The last time six receivers were drafted in the first round was 2009, and clubs will be hoping for much better results this time around, as none of them – Darrius Heyward-Bey (Oakland Raiders), Michael Crabtree (San Francisco 49ers), Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles), Percy Harvin (Minnesota Vikings), Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants) and Kenny Britt (Tennessee Titans) have consistently played up to their lofty selection. In fact, none remain with their original team. — Rang

1. Bryce Petty will sneak into the late part of round one.

This might be the biggest surprise of the first round if it happens. It would be tough to find many who think Petty is a first rounder, but quarterbacks are always overvalued because of simple supply and demand and Petty has workable traits that coaches covet, both physically and mentally.

He is likely in the early second round mix to a team like the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams or Buffalo Bills, so it shouldn’t be a shock if one of those teams packages a third or fourth rounder to move up a few spots into the late first round to guarantee Petty, similar to what Minnesota did last year with Teddy Bridgewater. Drafting in the first round also guarantees a fifth-year club option at a very reasonable price, which is gold for a quarterback who will need time to adapt to the NFL game like Petty. – Brugler

–Dane Brugler and Rob Rang are analysts for NFLDraftScout.com, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with CBSSports.com.


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