NFL Mock Draft 2015: Philadelphia Eagles Trade up, Take Jameis Winston


Until it is officially reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select Marcus Mariota with the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the off-season will be dominated by the hypothetical of whether the Eagles should “mortgage the future” to trade up for Chip Kelly’s former college Quarterback.

That said, all indications seem to suggest that everyone who has spent the past month (at least) discussing Mariota, is doing nothing but ultimately wasting their time.

10 days ago, ESPN’s Chris Mortenson said (not reported) that he believed, among other things, new Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter’s ties to current Oregon Head-Coach Mark Helfrich meant that the “stars were aligning” for the team to make Marcus Mariota the number one pick in the draft.

Not many are against the idea of the Eagles at least considering trading up for Mariota if he falls to the 8-12 range in the draft, but it would literally be impossible for the Eagles to trade up from number 20 to number 1 to take Mariota. No sports radio, Nick Foles and a couple first-round picks won’t get the job done.

But what if Mariota goes number one overall, and the Titans decide to move forward with Zach Mettenberger (which some reports have suggested that they will do)? Certainly, the Jets or Rams could take Jameis Winston, but his off-the-field history could be enough to scare them away. And then all of a sudden, Jameis Winston has fallen out of the top 10, and forced the Eagles to take a hard look at him. That’s what happened in this edition of the 2015 NFL mock draft simulations.

Pre-Draft Notes

  • The purpose of these simulations is not to say that this is how I, or anyone at Section 215, feel the draft board will ultimately fall. This is less of a mock-draft where I control the draft, and more of a war-room situation. In this draft, I control only the Eagles side of things, and any trades that we purpose or accept. All other teams are free to make whatever picks they make based off of their individual team needs and player rankings.
  • One upgrade to this year’s system from last year’s is that you can make trades. Last year, I could make manual trades up and the system had no choice but to accept it. This year, I can propose a trade, but that doesn’t mean the system will accept it. So gone is the idea that I can flick my wrists and the Eagles will be in a position to draft Marcus Mariota.
  • The NFL Mock Draft simulator is not a perfect system. It follows a handful of big-boards, but only really takes those into account. It can’t take into account whether a team is wary of Jameis Winston’s off-the-field history or if a team feels Marcus Mariota would not be able to thrive in their non-spread offense.
  • Another example of the system’s flaws; each team has a list of six positions that need to be upgraded. This is before free-agency. So teams tend to draft for their needs in April, which is with their free-agent additions and subtractions. The draft is not perfect, neither are most picks in February.

Here is how the draft-board fell in this simulation.

1. player. 48. 2014 Hesiman Trophy Winner. QB. Oregon. Marcus Mariota

35. 2014 Unanimous All-American and Heisman Trophy Finalist. WR. Alabama. Amari Cooper. 2. player

DT. USC. Leonard Williams. 3. player. 52. First-Team All Pac-12 and First-Team All-American in both 2013 and 2014

DE/OLB. Florida. Dante Fowler Jr.. 4. player. 28. Second-Team All Pac-12 in 2013

DE. Nebraska. Randy Gregory. 6. player. 30. First-Team All Big 10 in 2014

DE. Missouri. Shane Ray. 7. player. 57. Unanimous All-American and 2014 SEC Defensive Player of the Year

44. First-Team All-Sec and 2014 Jacobs Blocking Trophy Award Winner. OT. LSU. La'el Collins. 8. player

player. 31. 2014 Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year and Unanimous All-American. OT. Iowa. Brandon Scherff. 9

51. 2014 First-Team All-American and Hornung Award winner. QB. Florida State. Shaq Thompson. 10. player

11. player. 60. First-Team All Big-Ten in 2014. CB. Michigan State. Trae Waynes

DE. Oregon. Arik Armstead. 12. player. 53. Key cog in Oregon’s defense, which helped them to reach the National Title game. Was not in first-round in previous mock.

player. 15. 2014 First-Team All-ACC. DT. Florida State. Eddie Goldman. 13

14. player. 59. Unanimous All-American and 2014 First-Team All-Sec. Safety. Alabama. Landon Collins

Jameis Winston. 15. player. 54. 2013 Heisman Trophy Award Winner. QB. Florida State

WR. Louisville. Devante Parker. 16. player. 10. 2013 ACC touchdown catch leader

player. 13. 2014 Doak Walker Award Winner and Unanimous All-American. RB. Wisconson. Melvin Gordon. 17

Jaelen Strong. 18. player. 124. One of three wide receivers in school history to have over 1,000 receiving yards in consecutive years. WR. Arizona State

2014 First-Team All-American, who also was a three-time Academic All Pac-12 selection. DT. Washington. Danny Shelton. 19. player. 53

42. 2014 First-Team All-Sec. DE. Kentucky. Alvin Dupree. 20. player

56. 2014 First-Team All-ACC. OT. Notre Dame. T.J. Clemmings. 21. player

Clemson. Vic Beasley. 22. player. 55. First-Team All-ACC in 2013 and 2014;Consensus All-American in 2013. DE/OLB

First-Team All-ACC in 2014. DE. Florida State. Mario Edwards Jr.. 23. player. 50

32. 2014 Ten Hendricks Award Winner. DE. Utah. Nate Orchard. 24. player

player. 87. 2014 Second-Team All-American. G. South Carolina. A.J. Cann. 25

P.J. Williams. 26. player. 26. First-Team All-ACC and 2014 BCS National Championship Game Defensive MVP. CB. Florida State

CB. LSU. Jalen Collins. 27. player. 123. 2012 Freshman All-SEC

Florida State. Cameron Erving. 28. player. 45. 2013 First-Team All-American. C/OT

29. player. 46. 2014 Second-Team All-ACC. OT. Miami. Ereck Flowers

player. 49. Former high school track/football star who was dismissed from Washington football team during Redshirt Junior season. CB. Washington. Marcus Peters. 30

Kevin White. 31. player. 36. 2014 coach’s All-American Selection. WR. West Virginia

47. 2014 Second-Team All-Big Ten. DT. Iowa. Carl Davis. 32. player

Trade Details

The Eagles traded their first-round selection (20th overall) and their third-round selection (84th overall) to the 49ers for their first-round selection (15th overall) and their sixth-round selection (175th overall).

With Winston falling, I waited until Jameis Winston was in the range that I believe the Eagles will like him at. Regardless of whether or not you think Winston is better than Mariota, Chip Kelly does not value him as highly because he doesn’t have the hands-on experience in his system. But that doesn’t mean that at the right spot Chip Kelly wouldn’t be interested in selecting him to hand the keys of the franchise to.

Our own Somers Price wrote about the possibility of the Eagles taking a hard look at the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner in the draft last month.

"Unlike Mariota, who uses his running ability and knowledge of the read-option based Oregon attack to attack opposing defenses, Jameis Winston is more in the mold of what seems to be the new ‘model quarterback’ in most NFL schemes. Similar to players like Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, and even Tony Romo to an extent; Winston’s combination of escapability, functional athleticism, and elite arm strength make him a nightmare to defend. At 6’4″, 230 lbs he is a handful to bring down and can pick up chunk yardage if he has to improvise. Winston will probably never be the type of explosive running threat that Mariota is, but he remains a top prospect because he is still more athletic than probably 90% of NFL quarterbacks."

Bio: 21 years-old, 6’4″, 230 pounds

Background: Winston played two seasons in college. He was red-shirted his true Freshman year, and decided to forego his Junior and Senior seasons (on the field) to enter the NFL Draft.

Award history: Winston was the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner. In addition to that he won the AP Player of the year award and was first-team All-ACC. In 2014, Winston’s list of accomplishments wasn’t quite as long in his second season as starter, but he repeated as a first-team All-ACC selection and was named the ACC athlete of the year. Of course, his biggest accomplishment was leading Florida State to the 2014 BCS National title game, which they won on his game-winning touchdown pass to now Carolina Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Winston was named the offensive MVP of the game.


Quarterback Breakdown

Winston statistically took a step back in 2014 from his 2013 season, in which he won the Heisman, and did struggle with turnovers. However, Winston is still by far the best passer from inside the pocket in this year’s draft. He also featured more than enough mobility to extend plays in the NFL. He doesn’t have Mariota type speed, but has more than enough speed that teams would have to respect his ability to run the zone-read, or he could have a field-day in Kelly’s offense running the ball.

Beyond off-the-field questions that really can’t be answered by anything but Winston’s actions moving forward (and perhaps a few judges), he doesn’t have a ton of on-the-field questions. He stayed healthy in two years at Florida State, and the team only lost one game under him over the course of what was an otherwise tumultuous two seasons in terms of media coverage of the team.

Jameis Winston has learned to deal with his critics. And in many cases, at least on the field, he has silenced them. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

For Winston to be most successful in the NFL, Chip Kelly would be best served bringing him along slowly. Winston did turn the ball over more often than you would like in his final college season,and perhaps limiting the throws that he has to make early would help to instill confidence in Winston.

The best thing about Winston would be that once Kelly feels that he has a full-grasp of the playbook, he has the capability to make all of the NFL throws. He’s much more accurate downfield and in tight spots than Marcus Mariota. He’s also much better at looking off defenders and scanning the field.

Frankly, after reviewing the tape and scouting reports on both, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that Jameis Winston is the better prospect. That said, Winston comes with a poor off-the-field reputation, while Mariota is the type of guy that you would want your daughter to bring home.

All that said, if Mariota were to go number one and the Eagles took Winston, it would be far from a loss. Some could even say that if Kelly gets creative with Winston, the Eagles may be better served with Winston’s arm long-term.

Character Issues a Concern?

Would the Eagles shy away from Winston because of some of his off-the-field troubles considering Chip Kelly’s emphasis on culture? Perhaps not. Admittedly, no one besides Kelly knows exactly what he defines as “culture”. Certainly, being accused of rape is much worse than any conduct detrimental to the team in a sports locker-room. But the way that Winston’s case has gone through numerous outlets, there at least seems to be enough evidence to believe that he won’t ever be proven to have raped his accuser.

I don’t know if he’s innocent or guilty of rape, I was not there. But if he doesn’t get convicted, much like Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger weren’t convicted, his career goes on. And despite him being accused of raping someone, stealing crab legs and screaming obscenities on the Florida State campus, you never heard Jimbo Fisher once question Jameis Winston the football player. By all accounts, Winston was not only an elite Quarterback in college, but he was the type of leader that you would want to go into battle with.

Football-wise, Winston shouldn’t struggle to impress in NFL draft combine interviews. Despite the feeling that based on what some perceive as below-average speaking skills, I don’t think Winston is stupid. If he can convince NFL teams that the days of him being “young and dumb” (that does not refer to the rape charges) are behind him, then someone like Chip Kelly could fall in love with his competitive nature.

What happens to Nick Foles?

The idea that Chip Kelly is going to trade up for Winston, or any Quarterback, and then have that Quarterback sit on the sideline for a year is probably foolish. If the Eagles draft a Quarterback in the first-round, in this case Winston, Nick Foles is not going to be an Eagle next year.

If the board falls this way for the Eagles, they actually have numerous potential trade partners for Foles.

More from Section 215

At number two, the Titans passed on taking Winston and instead added perhaps the most talented skill-player in the draft in Alabama’s Amari Cooper. Most reports indicate that they plan to stick with Zach Mettenberger at the Quarterback spot going into 2015, but both Eliot Shorr-Parks of and Walter Football have both reported that the Titans would be interested in Foles if he were to become available.

At 10, the Rams also passed on Winston, and depending on what they choose to do with Sam Bradford moving forward, Shorr-Parks also reports that the Rams would have interest in Foles.

In this draft, the Eagles actually moved up ahead of the Texans in terms of position in the first-round, which really doesn’t change much of anything. The Eagles aren’t going to take Winston and then turn around and trade for the Texans first-round pick using Nick Foles, unless they are willing to package another mid-round pick to do so.

Either way, taking Winston and having none of the three teams reportedly interested in Foles taking Quarterbacks sets the Eagles up well to obtain a second pick in the second-round. What else they bring back with that second-round pick (another relatively draft-pick?) may help to define this draft.

Aren’t the Eagles better served going after a Cornerback?

The previous mock-draft simulation that I conducted featured the Eagles selecting Florida State Cornerback P.J. Williams at 20. While I like Williams’ athleticism and believe he is a fit somewhere in a secondary in the NFL, I admitted that I wouldn’t be thrilled with the Eagles taking him at the 20th spot.

That said, he fills perhaps the most pressing need for the team. Given the knee-injury to Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, character concerns for Washington’s (if you wan’t to associate him with that school) Marcus Peters and the sky-rocketing draft stock of Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, Williams may be the only real option at his position for the Eagles in the first-round. In this draft, he dropped closer to the bottom half of the first-round. Perhaps if Williams falls down that far, the Eagles would consider trading down to take him, similar to what they did in selecting Marcus Smith last year, while obtaining another late-round pick.