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Bucky's Big Board: Leonard Williams debuts atop rankings

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With the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl completed and the NFL Scouting Combine about to get under way in Indianapolis, the pre-draft process has swung into high gear.

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With that in mind, I thought I would release my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board 1.0 based on information gathered from talking to scouts and watching film over the past few weeks. While I know my subtle changes will lead to a few interesting comments on Twitter (@BuckyBrooks), I'm more than happy to explain my rankings in greater detail.

1. Leonard Williams, USC, DT
Smooth-moving athlete with explosive quickness and impressive hand skills. Williams is just scratching the surface of his immense potential, but he is clearly the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 draft class.

2. Jameis Winston, Florida State, QB
The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner's off-field behavior overshadows his on-field skills, which show a pro-ready passer with a game that's ready for primetime. Winston's big-game moxie and leadership skills could help him become an elite quarterback early in his career.

3. Amari Cooper, Alabama, WR
Cooper is a polished playmaker with the tools to be a WR1 in any offense. Cooper is a precise route runner with strong hands and exceptional ball skills, plus he enters the NFL with valuable experience playing multiple positions in a pro-style offense that is the foundation for several teams across the league.

4. Kevin White, West Virginia, WR
The big-bodied pass catcher is soaring up the charts after exhibiting exceptional skills as the Mountaineers' WR1. White's exceptional hands and ball skills remind some evaluators of Larry Fitzgerald, which says a lot about his potential to anchor a passing game on the perimeter.

5. Marcus Mariota, Oregon, QB
The Heisman Trophy winner is an ultra-athletic playmaker capable of delivering explosive plays with his feet or arm. Although he will need some time to transition to the pro game after working in the Ducks' zone-read system, Mariota's athleticism and impeccable intangibles make him a worthwhile gamble as a franchise quarterback.

6. Danny Shelton, Washington, DT
Shelton is a dominant nose tackle with nimble feet, balance and body control. Shelton controls the point of attack as a run stuffer, yet is a credible threat as a pass rusher from the nose tackle position.

7. Landon Collins, Alabama, S
Collins is a rare breed as a rangy ball hawk with the instincts, toughness and physicality to be an effective run stopper near the box. He can play as a pure SS or make his living patrolling the deep middle as an active FS in a single-high safety system.

8. Brandon Scherff, Iowa, OT
Scherff is a big, physical edge blocker with exceptional strength and power. He might lack the athleticism to handle elite rushers off the edge, but he could move inside and become an elite offensive guard in a power-based offense.

9. DeVante Parker, Louisville, WR
Parker is a smooth route runner with outstanding hands and ball skills. Parker is a natural WR1 with big-play ability on the perimeter, yet he is capable of doing all of the dirty work between the hashes.

10. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin, RB
Gordon is the most explosive runner in the 2015 class. He possesses the speed, quickness and burst to turn the corner, yet also flashes the power to survive and thrive between the tackles. Critics will suggest he is the product of the Badgers' system, but Gordon is a more talented back than the other runners who've thrived in the scheme before him.

11. Randy Gregory, Nebraska, OLB
The ultra-athletic Gregory is a long, rangy pass rusher with a knack for winning off the edge. He lacks elite first-step quickness, but his "bend and burst" makes him a nightmare to defend in one-on-one matchups.

12. Eddie Goldman, Florida State, DT
It's hard to find athletic interior defenders with Goldman's combination of size, strength and quickness. He can win with power or finish at the point of attack and shows a non-stop motor for a 300-pound playmaker.

13. Shane Ray, Missouri, DE
Ray is an explosive pass rusher with rare first-step quickness and burst. He can win with speed or power off the edge, yet displays the hand-to-hand combat skills to escape blockers on inside moves. Concerns about his size and athleticism prevent Ray from ranking higher on the list, but his non-stop motor will make him a hot commodity in the draft.

14. Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida, DE
Fowler is a hard-nosed football player with outstanding instincts, awareness and anticipation. Fowler lacks some key blue-chip traits (first-step quickness and snap-count anticipation) for a pass rusher, but he is a violent player capable of wreaking havoc as a complementary rusher.

15. Andrus Peat, Stanford, OT
The talented technician has been underappreciated throughout the draft process, but Peat will work his way up the charts when teams spend more time investigating his game. He is one of the few left tackle prospects in the class, and his savvy technique and sound footwork will allow him to shine at the marquee position as a pro.

16. Arik Armstead, Oregon, DE
It's uncommon to see a big, athletic defensive end with Armstead's length, body control and balance. He is just scratching the surface on his talent and potential, yet he is already exhibiting dominant qualities as a classic five-technique.

17. Ereck Flowers, Miami (Fla.), OT
Scouts are raving about Flowers' potential as a left tackle because of his balance, body control and agility. Although he remains a work in progress at the position, he exhibits the blue-chip traits evaluators covet in standout edge blockers at the next level.

18. Marcus Peters, Washington, CB
Despite the character concerns scouts have about Peters after his midseason dismissal at Washington, the long, rangy cover corner is arguably the most talented player at the position. He is a natural bump-and-run corner capable of also playing in zone coverage utilizing "off" technique and a polished back pedal.

19. Trae Waynes, Michigan State, CB
After playing field corner (wide side of the field) for the Spartans a season ago because of Darqueze Dennard's presence, Waynes displayed impressive talents as a lockdown corner in man coverage in 2014. He thrived as the Spartans' boundary corner (short side of the field) while exhibiting the footwork, athleticism and grit evaluators desire in top defensive backs.

20. Todd Gurley, Georgia, RB
If not for an ACL injury that prematurely ended Gurley's junior season, he would rank as a top-10 talent on this list. He is a big-bodied runner with exceptional balance, vision, body control and burst. If Gurley returns to form in 2015, the NFL must prepare for a Marshawn Lynch-like clone with big-time potential.

21. T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh, OT
A disappointing Senior Bowl exposed Clemmings' inexperience and limitations at offensive tackle, but the defensive end-turned-pass protector remains a tantalizing talent with big-time potential. He is light and active on his feet and displays the body control needed to eventually transition to left tackle as a pro.

22. Vic Beasley, Clemson, DE/OLB
The most polarizing prospect in the 2015 class possesses rare first-step quickness and burst as a pass rusher. Yet scouts have a tough time getting fired up over a 220-pound edge player with limitations as a run defender. Despite those concerns, Beasley will rank high on some boards because of his exceptional speed, athleticism and pass-rush prowess.

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23. La'el Collins, LSU, OT
Collins is a rugged blocker with a powerful frame and solid technical skills. He is ideally suited to play right tackle or guard as a pro, but a team in need of a marquee tackle will give him every opportunity to play on the left to see if he has the savvy and athleticism to neutralize elite rushers in the NFL.

24. Maxx Williams, Minnesota, TE
Williams isn't a household name, but offensive coordinators around the NFL are salivating over his potential as a between-the-hashes playmaker. He is an exceptional pass catcher with strong hands and ball skills. He will remind some evaluators of a young Jeremy Shockey on the perimeter.

25. Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State, ILB
There is always a place in the NFL for a hard-nosed inside linebacker with outstanding instincts, awareness and anticipation. McKinney is a thumper in the middle, and his menacing presence will upgrade a defense in need of a playmaker in the box.

26. Malcom Brown, Texas, DT
Brown is a classic nose tackle with the size and girth to hold the point of attack in the middle. Brown is adept at snuffing out the run and flashes enough rush skills to push the pocket up the gut.

27. Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri, WR
The ultra-talented pass catcher is the biggest wild card in the 2015 class because of the risk vs. reward question that scouts will face regarding his playmaking potential and character concerns. On the field, he is a matchup nightmare with the size, athleticism and ball skills to dominate smallish defenders on the perimeter.

28. Denzel Perryman, Miami (Fla.), ILB
After dominating practices at the Senior Bowl, Perryman has the scouting community buzzing about his prospects as a "Mike" linebacker in the NFL. He is one of the most ferocious hitters in the college game, and his instincts could make him a star at the next level.

29. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State, WR
Strong is a rangy pass catcher with outstanding ball skills and hands. He is an intriguing WR1 candidate because of his size, but he must display better route-running skills and explosiveness in workouts to solidify that opinion in league circles.

30. Devin Funchess, Michigan, WR
The Michigan standout is listed as a wide receiver at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he might carve out a role as a hybrid tight end as a pro. He is a natural pass catcher with strong hands and sneaky athleticism. Although consistency has been an issue throughout his career, it is hard to find a talented, big-bodied playmaker with Funchess' potential.

31. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest, CB
Johnson is a solid cover corner with the length and instincts to be a solid starter in the NFL. He lacks elite speed or burst, but consistently wins in coverage with savvy and guile.

32. Shaq Thompson, Washington, OLB
It's possible Thompson's athleticism and versatility will torpedo his stock on draft day. Scouts are uncertain about which position -- RB, SS or LB -- ideally suits his skills as a pro, which is why the team that selects him must have a clear plan for getting Thompson on the field. Given the impact a SS can have on the passing game as an enforcer in the middle, Thompson could be destined for a Kam Chancellor-like role as a pro.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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