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'15 NFL Draft: Kiper projects Winston, Williams Nos. 1 and 2


JACKSONVILLE – No. 1 is pretty much what you'd expect.

How Mel Kiper, Jr. sees the No. 2 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft perhaps isn't as obvious, but it does leave the Jaguars with a lot of options at No. 3.

Kiper, ESPN's top NFL Draft analyst, held a conference call Thursday, his first since the recent 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Kiper projects Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston as the No. 1 selection, adding that he expects Southern California defensive end/tackle Leonard Williams to go No. 2.

Williams "is probably going to be the second in the draft," Kiper said.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the No. 1 overall selection, and the Tennessee Titans hold the No. 2 selection in the '15 draft, which will be held April 30-May 2 in Chicago, Illinois.

Under that scenario, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota would slip from the top two, which could benefit the Jaguars. They hold the No. 3 overall selection, and potentially could trade that selection to a team wanting Mariota in exchange for multiple selections.

Kiper's scenario also leaves the Jaguars options at pass rusher, with players such as Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr., Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, Clemson linebacker Vic Beasley and Missouri defensive end Shane Ray still on the board.

"They'll all be impact guys," Kiper said.

The Jaguars have been connected with pass rushers at No. 3 by many analysts projecting the draft.

Kiper spent extensive time Thursday discussing the top pass rushers, calling Fowler – who impressed many at the combine – "a guy who is awesome in terms of his power." While Fowler did just 19 repetitions with the 225-pound bench press, Kiper said Fowler's on-field play reveals a stronger player.

"He played like he did 35 reps," Kiper said. "He's as powerful with pads on as any defensive end you've seen in a while. This kid is productive. He has unbelievable strength."

Kiper also agreed with many draft analysts that Beasley emerged from the combine as perhaps a stronger prospect than Gregory. Kiper said Beasley, who impressed with his speed and power at the combine, almost certainly will be selected in the Top 10.

Gregory, on the other hand, didn't appear as strong as the other pass rushers at the combine. While Kiper said Gregory "could be spectacular in this league," he called Gregory a "developmental guy" and said he was in danger of slipping in the draft.

"He has to get a little stronger," Kiper said.

Also on Thursday:

*Kiper said while the Cleveland Browns potentially could use the Nos. 12 and 19 selections in the first round to trade up for a player such as Cooper late in the Top 10, he doubts Cleveland would move as high as No. 2 to get Mariota. …

*Kiper said several teams with selections in the teens could try to trade up if Cooper – projected by some as a Top 5 selection – slides to late in the Top 10. He said teams also could trade up into the Top 10 for West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White or possibly Louisville wide receiver DaVonte Parker. …

*Kiper called the tight end class "weak," and said the group didn't fare well at the combine. "They didn't get the job done," Kiper said. …

*Kiper also said that even beyond Cooper and White it's a deep class at the position for a second consecutive year with at least 35 receivers likely to be selected. In addition to Cooper and White, he said Parker also could be selected in the Top 10. …

*While many draft analysts have moved White past Cooper on their draft boards, Kiper said he still rates Cooper as the top receiver and said he could go as high as No. 4. …

*While Kentucky defensive end Bud Dupree projects as a Top 15-to-25 selection based on combine performance, he didn't show "consistent domination" in college. "He's a first-round pick, but you want to see if you can level him off and make him more consistent," Kiper said. …

*Kiper said Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty could have a chance to be the third quarterback taken behind Winston and Mariota. He also said Brett Hundley of UCLA may have slid to the fifth quarterback position behind Winston, Mariota, Petty and Garrett Grayson of Colorado State. …

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