Updated 2015 NFL draft order, team needs: Week 14
With only three weeks left in the NFL's regular season, there will be a ton of jockeying for playoff position. It's going to be fun to watch how the teams stack up for that final push.
It's also interesting to watch how the 2015 NFL draft order begins to take shape. Oakland's win over San Francisco last week jumbled up the top of the draft, and brought new teams to the front of the line.
Draft order is set for the first 20 picks (teams that did not make the playoffs) in reverse order of finish. Ties are broken by strength of schedule. The playoff teams will be placed in the draft order as they get knocked out. The Super Bowl winner gets the 32nd pick, the loser No. 31.
To keep from predicting playoff winners and losers, teams that are currently slated for the playoffs will be placed in reverse order of finish and ties broken just like the non-playoff teams; strength of schedule.
If the season ended today, here's what the NFL draft order would be:
2014 Record: 2-11 Strength of Schedule: .473
Notes: A few weeks ago, we all wondered if the Bucs were going to have to trade up in the draft to grab their franchise quarterback. That won't be necessary any longer as Tampa Bay finds itself in the prime spot of being able to decide between Mariota and Jameis Winston.
With the No. 1 pick in the draft, the Buccaneers take: Marcus Mariota, QB -- Oregon
2014 Record: 2-11 Strength of Schedule: .524
Notes: In a world of best-case scenarios, Zach Mettenberger, who was a sixth-round pick last year, would have emerged as the Titans' quarterback of the future. Not only did he leave doubt with his performance on the field, he now may miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, giving Tennessee plenty of time to ponder what life would be like with a new, top-of-the-draft-class passer.
With the No. 2 pick in the draft, the Titans take: Jameis Winston, QB -- Florida State
2014 Record: 2-11 Strength of Schedule: .536
Notes: The Jaguars are in a tough situation with the third pick in the draft. They need help along the offensive line, but grabbing a tackle here would be a reach. Jacksonville could either trade down (with both top-rated passers gone, the value of the third pick is diminished), or grab the highest-rated player on most draft boards.
With the No. 3 pick in the draft, the Jaguars take: Leonard Williams, DT -- USC
2014 Record: 2-11 Strength of Schedule: .568
Notes: If either Mariota or Winston were available here, the Jets would love to grab a quarterback that could take this team to new heights. Since that's out of the question, an explosive edge rusher is something this defense could surely use. Maybe New York can look at a quarterback in Round 2.
With the No. 4 pick in the draft, the Jets take: Shane Ray, DE -- Missouri
2014 Record: 2-11 Strength of Schedule: .580
Notes: By beating the 49ers last week, Oakland dropped from the first pick to the fifth. While winning the Bay Area rivalry was nice, now the Raiders can't trade out of the top spot and add loads of extra picks. A fierce pass rush can change the level of play of any team, and Randy Gregory would look nice next to last-year's first-rounder Khalil Mack. But it's time to give Derek Carr a shiny new toy to play with.
With the No. 5 pick in the draft, the Raiders take: Amari Cooper, WR -- Alabama
2014 Record: 3-10 Strength of Schedule: .485
Notes: The combination of Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III was sacked seven times in Week 14. Whoever is throwing passes next season for Washington needs better protection. The Redskins really need a pass-rusher, and Randy Gregory is an option here. But protecting the quarterback might get addressed first.
With the No. 6 pick in the draft, the Redskins take: Brandon Scherff, OT -- Iowa
2014 Record: 4-9 Strength of Schedule: .533
Notes: I was in Nashville on Sunday and saw, first hand, how the Giants' front seven abused both Zach Mettenberger and Jake Locker (eight sacks, two hits, six hurries and two forced fumbles). But that fierce attack was more a result of Tennessee's inept line, not New York's great pass rush. This is still an area of need.
With the No. 7 pick in the draft, the Giants take: Randy Gregory, DE -- Nebraska
2014 Record: 4-8-1 Strength of Schedule: .530
Notes: With Amari Cooper off the board, Carolina won't be tempted to add him to play next to Kelvin Benjamin (stop drooling). The Panthers could also use a pass-rusher, but the top options there are gone too. The biggest area of need in Charlotte is at offensive tackle. It's time to fix the protection up front.
With the No. 8 pick in the draft, the Panthers take: Andrus Peat, OT -- Stanford
2014 Record: 5-8 Strength of Schedule: .524
Notes: When it comes to fixing the defense in Chicago, should the Bears use their first-round pick on help in the secondary or grab a guy that can attack the quarterback? Both Landon Collins and Dante Fowler Jr. make sense here, but help at safety might be more pressing.
With the No. 9 pick in the draft, the Bears take: Landon Collins, S -- Alabama
2014 Record: 5-8 Strength of Schedule: .524
Notes: No one saw the Saints' loss to Carolina in Week 14 coming, especially not in that fashion. What that loss showed was that without pressure on an opposing quarterback, this New Orleans defense will always get picked apart. The Saints need another pass-rush piece up front.
With the No. 10 pick in the draft, the Saints take: Dante Fowler, Jr., OLB -- Florida
2014 Record: 6-7 Strength of Schedule: .464
Notes: There are a number of reasons why the Vikings could take a wide receiver here. Adding another skilled piece could help an offense that ranks 30th in passing yards. An offensive tackle would make sense here as well. But the linebacker corps could use some attention.
With the No. 11 pick in the draft, the Vikings take: Shaq Thompson, OLB -- Washington
2014 Record: 6-7 Strength of Schedule: .527
Notes: Outside of a good quarterback, which isn't an option with the 12th pick, St. Louis might consider offensive line help. Cornerback is another option, but free agency might hurt along the big men up front, and the Rams' passer, whoever it may end up being, needs more time to work.
With the No. 12 pick in the draft, the Rams take: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT -- Texas A&M
2014 Record: 7-6 Strength of Schedule: .429
Notes: Houston could sorely use a quarterback in the draft, but not with the 13th pick in the draft. Andre Johnson's days with the Texans are numbered, and whoever ends up chucking passes for Houston would love two young and talented targets.
With the No. 13 pick in the draft, the Texans take: DeVante Parker, WR -- Louisville
2014 Record: 7-6 Strength of Schedule: .435
Notes: Johnny Manziel has just been named the starting quarterback in Cleveland. This new era requires the Browns to look at protecting their new passer, or giving him more weapons to make him better suited to succeed.
With the No. 14 pick in the draft, the Browns take: Kevin White, WR -- West Virginia
2014 Record: 7-6 Strength of Schedule: .503
Notes: The 49ers could take a wide receiver here, but not just because they feel the pressure of a mini run of receivers (Parker and White went with the picks prior). San Francisco ranks 26th in the league in scoring, and has averaged 12.3 points per game (two wins, two losses) in its last four contests.
With the No. 15 pick in the draft, the 49ers take: Devin Funchess, WR -- Michigan
2014 Record: 7-6 (Buffalo) Strength of Schedule: .515
Notes: Two picks ago, the Browns decided to take Kevin White to add to new quarterback Johnny Manziel's arsenal. Now its time to help protect their quarterback of the future.
With the No. 16 pick in the draft, the Browns take: La'El Collins, OT -- LSU
2014 Record: 7-6 Strength of Schedule: .515 (Buffalo)
Notes: Outside of Brent Grimes, the cornerback situation in Miami is borderline grim. While the Dolphins could address the offensive line or even add a pass-rusher, it will be hard to pass up the top cornerback in the draft.
With the No. 17 pick in the draft, the Dolphins take: Trae Waynes, CB -- Michigan State
2014 Record: 7-6 Strength of Schedule: .533
Notes: Kansas City is ranked 21st in the NFL in passing. Part of that has to do with the lack of talent on the outside at receiver, and Alex Smith's protection up front is to blame as well. Adding a receiver here gives this offense more of an instant impact.
With the No. 18 pick in the draft, the Chiefs take: Jaelen Strong, WR -- Arizona State
2014 Record: 8-5 Strength of Schedule: .488
Notes: It's hard not to look at Baltimore's secondary and think about new additions. The Ravens rank 31st in passing defense, and "torched" is a figure of speech used too often when calling Ravens' games.
With the No. 19 pick in the draft, the Ravens take: Marcus Peters, CB -- Washington
2014 Record: 9-4 Strength of Schedule: .432
Notes: Dallas has a number of needs here in the first round, more than a team that has a 9-4 record should have. But when they see Vic Beasley on the board, the pass-rusher bell will go off in Jerry Jones' head. And it should.
With the No. 20 pick in the draft, the Cowboys take: Vic Beasley, DE -- Clemson
2014 Record: 5-8 Strength of Schedule: .479
Notes: Atlanta's offensive line is coming together of late. That said, and with the promise of players returning from injury, the Falcons won't look at this position with their first pick. They will, however, run to the podium to take a great pass-rusher.
With the No. 21 pick in the draft, the Falcons take: Alvin Dupree, DE -- Kentucky
2014 Record: 8-5 Strength of Schedule: .426
Notes: With their 42-21 beatdown of Cincinnati last week, the Steelers moved from the 14th pick to a playoff spot at No. 22. Even though Pittsburgh is drafting eight spots later now, the need for an offensive tackle is still the same.
With the No. 22 pick in the draft, the Steelers take: T.J. Clemmings, OT -- Pittsburgh
2014 Record: 8-5 Strength of Schedule: .485
Notes: There are still a couple of offensive tackles that the Chargers could consider with the No. 23 pick. But they'll get a better value by taking a defensive tackle right now. And the need is great at both positions.
With the No. 23 pick in the draft, the Chargers take: Danny Shelton, DT -- Washington
2014 Record: 8-4-1 Strength of Schedule: .459
Notes: The Bengals will be tempted to grab a player here that can troll along the line of scrimmage, either on offense or defense. But where there's a real impact is at the linebacker position.
With the No. 24 pick in the draft, the Bengals take: Benardrick McKinney, ILB -- Mississippi State
2014 Record: 9-4 Strength of Schedule: .459
Notes: Believe it or not, the Lions have only two wins against teams that would currently be in the playoffs. They're other seven victories came at the hands of bottom-feeders. That said, it may be time to add a piece that can really make this offense sizzle. If there is a mass exodus at defensive tackle via free agency, this pick might obviously change.
With the No. 25 pick in the draft, the Lions take: Melvin Gordon, RB -- Wisconsin
2014 Record: 9-4 Strength of Schedule: .476
Notes: It's never a bad idea to protect such a valuable asset as Andrew Luck, so look for the Colts to consider offensive line help with this pick. But Indianapolis has given up at least 24 points in five of its last six games. It's time to look at some help in the secondary.
With the No. 26 pick in the draft, the Colts take: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB -- Oregon
2014 Record: 9-4 Strength of Schedule: .488
Notes: The Eagles are allowing opponents 258.1 yards per game through the air. That makes the need for an aggressive playmaker in the secondary a must.
With the No. 27 pick in the draft, the Eagles take: P.J. Williams, CB -- Florida State
2014 Record: 9-4 Strength of Schedule: .530
Notes: Seattle could certainly go big with a wideout here at No. 28, but offering Russell Wilson some protection along the offensive line is the pick that makes the most sense.
With the No. 28 pick in the draft, the Seahawks take: Ronnie Stanley, OT -- Notre Dame
2014 Record: 10-3 Strength of Schedule: .488
Notes: When the secondary gets beat up on like Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan abused the Packers on Monday Night Football (375 passing yards and four touchdowns), it starts teams thinking about upgrades. Johnson is a fast-rising cornerback in the upcoming draft, and has the size to excel in the NFL.
With the No. 29 pick in the draft, the Packers take: Kevin Johnson, CB -- Wake Forest
2014 Record: 10-3 Strength of Schedule: .536
Notes: The Patriots have a long history of success with the draft, and it will be hard for them to pass up such a solid prospect along the defensive line as Goldman. New England may also look at a wide receiver here.
With the No. 30 pick in the draft, the Patriots take: Eddie Goldman, DT -- FSU
2014 Record: 10-3 Strength of Schedule: .521
Notes: The Cardinals might consider it a gift to have Leonard Floyd sitting on the board at the 31st pick in the draft. Floyd is an awesome attack specialist at an outside linebacker position that is a need right now in Arizona.
With the No. 31 pick in the draft, the Cardinals take: Leonard Floyd, OLB -- Georgia
2014 Record: 10-3 Strength of Schedule: .538
Notes: The Broncos could reach for an offensive tackle here, but their efforts may be better suited to focus on the defensive line. Grabbing a pass-rusher here would help Denvers defense, especially a player with a ton of upside.
With the No. 32 pick in the draft, the Broncos take: Shilique Calhoun, DE -- Michigan State