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Two Alabama stars projected to be top picks in ESPN’s first 2015 mock NFL draft

Alabama safety Landon Collins makes a tackle during the Tide's victory over Southern Miss.
Alabama safety Landon Collins makes a tackle during the Tide’s victory over Southern Miss.

College football bowl season is only days away, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start predicting where these players will end up in the NFL.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay released his first mock draft of the season — It’s on ESPN Insider so you’ll need a subscription — for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Alabama had two players make the cut this time with wide receiver and Biletnikoff Award winner Amari Cooper and safety Landon Collins both ranked in the top 10.

As it currently stands today, McShay has Cooper going sixth overall to the New York Jets, a team whose city Cooper just visited for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Collins is slated to go at No. 9 by McShay, landing him on the Chicago Bears. A safety like Collins is an asset the Bears desperately need, and an elite receiver like Cooper would give the Jets quarterback — whoever that ends up being — a potent weapon to rely on.

Cooper and Collins join a total of 10 SEC players in McShay’s first top 32, and four in the top 10. They are clearly Alabama’s most touted players of the season, being named first-team All-Americans by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Associated Press, the Sporting News, American Football Coaches Association and Football Writers Association of America.

In this first mock draft, McShay has Oregon quarterback and 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota going first overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, followed quickly by 2013 Heisman winner, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who is predicted to go second overall to the Tennessee Titans. After Winston, McShay projects five of the next six picks to be defensive ends.

Collins is the only safety projected to be picked in the first round by McShay, and Cooper is the highest-ranked receiver of the five predicted to go in the first round.

Obviously, it’s December and this is subject to change. Mock drafts are continuously adapting and are really a way to fill the space in between now and the NFL Draft. Teams may not finish in this order, draft picks are regularly traded, and these analysts aren’t necessarily known for their accuracy. But regardless of which teams gets the No. 1 overall pick or who needs what, Cooper and Collins will both be selected in the first round.

And remember, Alabama punter JK Scott can’t be drafted yet. He’s only a freshman.

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