The 2015 NFL Draft is now less than a week away, and a number of touted SEC prospects are preparing to hear their names called during the first round of the draft in Chicago on Thursday night.

Players have no control over where they’re selected once the draft is underway (unless you’re Eli Manning, I suppose), and sometimes whether or not a player lands with the right team can determine the success of his entire career.

Most players want to go as high as possible for the bragging rights and the steeper pay checks, but sometimes falling in the draft to a better team can land that player to enormous contracts later in his career. Fit in the NFL is as critical as any other element to the draft, which is why we tried to determine the best NFL fit for seven of the SEC’s top draft prospects.

To clarify, these are not predictions as to when these players will be picked or by which team. These are just our thoughts on where these players would fit best, taking into account the estimated range of picks in which a given player may come off the board.

Without further ado, check out our top SEC-to-NFL fits in this year’s draft:


Best fit: St. Louis Rams. The Rams now have a proven pocket passer in Nick Foles leading their offense, and the new signal caller will enjoy working with big-bodied possession receiver Kenny Britt on the outside and one of the most explosive playmakers from the slot in the NFL in Tavon Austin. What the Rams passing offense really needs, however, is a star No. 1 receiver, and Cooper could fill that role perfectly if he were to fall to No. 10, which would likely result in West Virginia’s Kevin White coming off the board before Cooper. The Alabama record-holder is lightning quick and as polished as any wideout in the class, and with the players St. Louis has in place already, he could rise to the top of the league in a short amount of time.


Best fit: Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons only logged 22 sacks as a team a year ago, and no member of the team recorded more than 4.5 on his own during the course of the year. Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is now Atlanta’s head coach, and the hope is he’ll be able to revitalize the pass rush in an effort to retool the Falcons back into a playoff contender. Dupree could go a long way in aiding in that effort. He’s risen to as high as No. 3 in some mock drafts, and he was certainly one of this year’s “combine heroes” after running a sub-4.7 40-yard dash and posting a vertical leap of greater than 40 inches, all after measuring in at 6-foot-4 and 269 pounds. He’s as athletic a pass rusher as there is in this draft, and he has experience playing a traditional defensive end role and as a standing outside linebacker, which should abbreviate his learning curve. He needs to get stronger, more fundamentally sound and less reliant on his athleticism, but he has the makings of one of the NFL’s future dominant sack artists.


Best fit: Jacksonville Jaguars. Lucky for Fowler, a Florida native and former Gator, not only would he be a great fit in Jacksonville but there’s a great chance he lands there at the No. 3 overall pick. Jacksonville ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in pass rushing a year ago, and Fowler’s versatility as a defender who can play standing or with a hand in the ground would only help that pass rush rise to an elite level. Considering the Jaguars will embark on an eight-week stretch this fall featuring only one game in Jacksonville, having a dominant defensive front that can travel could be one way the Jags wether that storm. Fowler would help push that dominant front over the top, and he could quickly become a fan favorite as a local product from the Sunshine State.


Best fit: San Francisco 49ers. 49ers fans have felt a bit deflated this offseason as seemingly every meaningful member of San Fran’s core the last three years is gone with the exception of Colin Kaepernick. However, if the Niners are to rebuild, what better place to start than with one of the most athletically gifted wideouts in recent NFL Draft memory in Green-Beckham. Kaepernick needs a go-to weapon on offense that San Francisco sorely lacks, and at 6-foot-5 and nearly 240 pounds, DGB can be that guy. He’s built like a tight end but runs better and faster than most receivers thanks to his long strides. There’s not a defensive back in the league who can out-jump Green-Beckham, making him an immediate threat in the red zone, and if he and Kaepernick can develop a rapport they could become a dynamic duo much like Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in Detroit. Speaking of the Lions…


Best fit: Detroit Lions. What makes Gurley such a special back is how complete a player he is at every element of the position: He can run physically between the tackles, he’s elusive enough to do damage as a runner on the perimeter, he can catch balls out of the backfield and can pass protect. He’s a true every-down back who can handle any situation in a game, and he’d be a perfect fit for a Detroit offense with an electric passing attack but limited rushing attack. Detroit picks 23rd, and it remains somewhat of a mystery how much the ACL tear Gurley is rehabbing will impact his draft stock, but if he fell to the Lions he could carry their rushing attack right away. Gurley could make defenses pay as a checkdown option in the passing game, he could help buy more time in the pocket for Matt Stafford, and he could post 1,200 yards a season on the ground as an improvement from Joicque Bell.


Best fit: Carolina Panthers. It’s no secret the Panthers are in search of reinforcements along the offensive line after boasting some of the NFL’s worst protection in front of Cam Newton during last year’s 7-9 season (a season that still featured a division title and a road playoff win). Carolina is looking for a bookend tackle, and if Humphries can fall all the way to No. 25 in the draft (some mock drafts have him falling this far behind the likes of La’el Collins and Andrus Peat) he would be a perfect fit for Carolina and its athletic quarterback. Humphries is a gifted athlete in his own right and he moves extremely well, although some teams want him to put on weight before the start of the season. Nevertheless, if he winds up in Carolina, there’s a good chance he’ll be a difference-maker right away.


Best fit: Washington Redskins. The Redskins bid farewell to longtime leading pass rusher Brian Orakpo, leaving a vacancy at outside linebacker the Skins hope to fill with a natural pass rusher. Ray could fit that role perfectly, utilizing his quick first step, impressive athleticism and instinctual pass rushing skills to cause trouble for opposing offenses off the edge. Washington has one consistent outside linebacker in place in Ryan Kerrigan, who is an above-average pass rusher in his own right, but they need a complement to Kerrigan to round out the defense, and Ray could be just that at Washington’s No. 5 slot in the draft (there’s still a chance Washington trades back and still gets Ray amid worries over Ray’s injured toe).