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Which prospects are in mix to go No. 1 in 2015 NFL Draft?

The widespread belief that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are primed to take a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft grew even stronger Wednesday with the release of Josh McCown.

Yes, it certainly appears as though the Bucs will be deciding between drafting Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the consensus top two signal-callers available this year. Unexpected things can happen between now and the draft, though, and we don't know the Bucs' plans for certain. It seems like an extreme longshot that Tampa Bay will go in any direction other than quarterback with the top pick, but any prudent franchise would at least do its due diligence when it comes to evaluating some other options to go No. 1.

With that in mind, here are the prospects that can make the strongest case as a No. 1-worthy talent (listed in alphabetical order), and the reasons why the Bucs might pass for each.

Note: Neither of the top WRs in this draft, Alabama's Amari Cooper and West Virginia's Kevin White, made this list, but I think they're both excellent players. However, the league has shown that it's notoriously shy about drafting a receiver No. 1. I'm not sure Cooper or White have the ability to bring about a major philosophical shift this year and put themselves in the mix to go No. 1.

Randy Gregory, edge rusher, Nebraska

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Why he could go No. 1: Mariota has just about every trait a team would look for in a franchise quarterback. His intangibles are off the charts, too, while his top competition for the title of top-ranked QB in this draft, Jameis Winston, comes with a significant list of off-field transgressions.
Why the Bucs could pass: There are questions about how Mariota's game will translate at the next level coming out of Oregon's spread system. Is it worth taking the risk on a guy who hasn't been playing in a pro-style offense? There's talk that Mariota will need a year to develop in the NFL before being thrust into game action, but, these days, you're not sitting a QB if you're taking him No. 1.

Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

Why he could go No. 1: If the Bucs really believe in the comparisons to five-time All-Pro Haloti Ngata, then it certainly makes sense for Shelton to be under consideration. That is monster praise. I've seen him play in person and I really like him. He's not just a nose tackle -- he has some versatility, and think about how much more Bucs DT Gerald McCoy could be freed up to make plays if he's playing alongside Shelton.
Why the Bucs could pass: I'm not sold that Shelton is the next Ngata, and the team still has that huge need at QB. I think Shelton would make a lot of sense for Tampa Bay if it found a trade partner and moved down from the first slot.

Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Why he could go No. 1: He's likely the top player on the board for many teams and he could easily be the best player in this draft. Williams is a tremendous prospect and pairing him with Gerald McCoy on the defensive line whould make for a dominant tandem.
Why the Bucs could pass: I don't see Williams as the player that will get Tampa Bay to the level it's trying to reach. It's hard to see the Bucs taking a chance on him at No. 1 with such a glaring need for a quarterback who can get them some wins in a division where they're competing against the likes of Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan.

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Why he could go No. 1: It's well established that Winston is considered by many to be the top QB available and the most pro-ready of the players available at his position.
Why the Bucs could pass: The Bucs have to vet all of the off-field issues in Winston's past, and the organization will have to make a decision about whether it's willing to make Winston the face of the franchise, despite those concerns. He's done immature things along the way and the team that picks Winston has to make sure it's turning the ball over to a guy who will mature as he moves on to the next level. Mariota might have more on-field questions to answer than Winston, but off the field, Mariota checks every box.

Follow Charles Davis on Twitter *@CFD22.*

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