The first round of the 2015 NFL Draft is coming up tomorrow, so I collected a few mock drafts to see where we should expect to see players from the SEC go.
Top Five: Dante Fowler, Jr.
The electric pass rusher from Florida is the only player to be in the top five in every mock. Three of them have him going to Jacksonville with the third pick, three have him headed to Washington with the fifth pick, and one other has him off to Oakland in the four spot. It'll be a race between him and USC's Leonard Williams for first defensive player off the board.
Top Ten: Amari Cooper
He is only other player besides Fowler in the top ten of every mock. If you've seen him play, you know why. There isn't a strong consensus on where he might go, though three of the drafts have him going to Chicago with the seventh pick.
Top Ten, Maybe: Bud Dupree
The big defensive tackle from Kentucky didn't get a lot of press in college, with the fact he played for Kentucky being a large reason why. He found the top ten of the draft in five of the mocks, but he was 27th in Will Brinson's and didn't even appear in the first round mock from the AP. If he goes in the top ten, the mocks collectively would have you believe it'll happen in the 6 to 8 range of NY Jets, Chicago, and Atlanta.
Edge Top Ten to Teens: La'el Collins and Todd Gurley
Offensive tackle is always a position of need in the NFL, and Collins is a good one. His position raises his ceiling to the top ten, as he was ninth (NY Giants) in two and tenth (St. Louis) in two. He also fell to 17th (San Diego) in one and 19th (Cleveland) in the last two.
Collins had a major issue come up yesterday, though, as police want to question him in regards to the shooting death of a pregnant woman believed to be a former girlfriend of his. He's not a suspect right now, but obviously Baton Rouge police believe he might know something that could help the investigation. I don't need to even invoke Aaron Hernandez to relay the seriousness of the situation, as any life lost this way is terrible. Collins' attorney is using a private investigator to lock down an alibi for him, but if that doesn't come in by tomorrow evening, it's hard to imagine this not affecting him. None of the mock drafts have had an update since this news broke.
Gurley got one top ten vote at 8th, but he was in the teens in four and the 20s in two others. We know he's an amazing combination of speed and power when healthy, but running back just isn't as valuable a position as it once was. It helps his cause that he can catch the ball from the backfield, though. His most common landing place was 14th to Miami, followed closely by 17th to San Diego.
The Wildcard: Shane Ray
Only two of the mock drafts I looked at have had an update since Ray's marijuana citation from Monday, so I can't say for sure where the consensus on him is. Pete Prisco's mock did get an update during the process of writing this, and in it Ray fell from the 16th pick at Houston to the 24th pick with Arizona due to that citation.
The big issue here isn't the NFL being puritanical about weed, because we all know it's not. It's more that he put himself in position to get in trouble in the week of the draft, which shows really poor judgment. Ray is still a first rounder in the two mocks that came after his citation, with his landing spot being New England at 32 in Peter King's at SI. As dumb as getting busted for pot possession a few days before the draft is, it's ultimately not that big a transgression. Ray's pass rushing ability should keep him in the first round, but it'll almost certainly be in the late teens to 20s rather than the high teens.
Solid 20s: D.J. Humphries
The former Gator is one of the great risers of this year's draft process, declaring with a third round grade before shooting up to first round projections. He's in six of the seven mocks, and five of them have him going back home to Carolina at the 25th pick.
Less Solid 20s: Landon Collins
The safety from Alabama is a first rounder in five of the seven mocks. His ceiling is the 20th pick with Philadelphia, though no one is quite certain what Chip Kelly is going to be doing. His floor, among those that have him at all, is the 29th pick to Indianapolis. Two have him to Philly, two have him to Indy, and one other has him to Pittsburgh at 22.
Borderline 20s: Jalen Collins
It's a big year for SEC players named Collins, as three of them might hear their names tomorrow night. Jalen is the last SEC player in at least half of the mocks at four, and he's all over the map. One has him as high as 18th to Kansas City, while two have him down at 30 to Green Bay.
The Other Wildcard: Dorial Green-Beckham
I know he's going to count for Oklahoma thanks to his transfer there, but I'm noting him anyway because he only ever saw the field for Mizzou. His troubles run deeper than Ray's do, which is why he can be out of four mocks and going at either 18 to KC or 20 to Philadelphia in three others. He's an amazing combination of size and speed that you don't see much even at the NFL level.
If his red flag was merely his history of marijuana, then it'd be easier for teams to get past. Instead, he's also been accused of (though not charged for) pushing a woman down some stairs. The post-Ray Rice NFL is particularly leery about violence against women—as it should be—so who knows where Green-Beckham will end up.
The Others: Cedric Ogbuehi and Berdardrick McKinney
An Ogbuehi selection would push Texas A&M's streak of having a first rounder out to five and its streak of first round O-linemen out to three. His ACL tear from the bowl game is the reason he's only in two of the mocks. Both have him at 28 to Denver, who everyone agrees is taking an offensive lineman. For what it's worth, Peter King says Cincy is considering him at 21, figuring that him missing a few games to start the 2015 campaign might not be too high a price for locking in a great tackle for many years to come.
McKinney got one vote, with the AP pegging him at 31 to New Orleans. The tackling machine from Starkville is probably going to be an NFL mainstay for a long time, so it wouldn't shock me if he snuck into the first round. He doesn't have any characteristics that make him one of those good kinds of freaks, which is why he's not commonly expected to go on Thursday. Even so, it only takes one team to be high on a guy to make him a first rounder.