2015 NFL Draft: 10 Great Value Picks Outside the First Round
Let's face it, despite the stigma of why a team has the No. 1 pick (or even top 10) in the draft, the chance to grab one of the most talented college prospects of the year is a big deal and a possible change of fortune for a franchise.
The first round may not always be stacked top to bottom with the most talented players overall, it's still considered the cream of the crop for providing instant, starting-caliber bodies with an eye towards filling holes in week one.
But some teams may have found their best picks after day one, and here are my picks for the 10 best (you could call them steals) from rounds two through six (I already covered round seven here).
1. Randy Gregory DE Dallas Cowboys 60th overall.
Call him a boom-or-bust candidate, but if he starts making better choices, he will be one of the best choices in this entire draft. Forget about the fact that the Cowboys seemed to need a running back more than anything, Gregory immediately upgrades this pass-rush, and adds some versatility in every aspect of defensive play. He was a top 10 pick by all standards, and was a steal at 60th.
2. A. J. Cann OG Jacksonville Jaguars 67th overall.
Here was an imposing presence on the offensive line for South Carolina who would have filled a huge need for the Patriots at the end of the first round; instead, he falls to the Jaguars in the third round. Cann is one of the top-rated offensive linemen and will be a starter right away in Jacksonville.
3. Jaelen Strong WR Houston Texans 70th overall.
Some thought that Strong was the best receiver in the draft, and that translates to a huge steal for the Texans, who already have a couple of good receivers in Cecil Shorts and DeAndre Hopkins. Mike Mayock likened Strong to Larry Fitzgerald. If that isn't high enough praise, what is?
4. Carl Davis DT Baltimore Ravens 90th overall.
A lage first round projection who got lost in the shuffle despite several teams who needed a big body in the middle of their defensive fronts. Davis gets into the backfield a lot and makes tackles. He will frustrate a lot of plays as a pro.
5. Steven Nelson CB Kansas City Chiefs 98th overall.
Not a flashy pick, but one of the more consistent corners in college football, Nelson held his own for the Beavers, as well as, having a strong showing at the senior bowl. What Nelson lacks in size he compensates in tenacity and good technique. He will start very soon in K.C.
6. Trey Flowers DE New England Patriots 101st overall.
If you haven't heard of Flowers, just ask around the SEC, because they have heard of the Arkansas product. He led his defense in sacks and tackles for loss and was also a Combine Top Performer in the Vertical Jump, Long Jump, and 60 yd. shuttle run. Flowers adds depth to a suspect outside rush in a unit that needs to increase its QB pressure immediately.
7. David Cobb RB Tennessee Titans 138th overall.
He won't wow you with speed or elusiveness, but Cobb can hammer his way through holes, and if he fixes his fumblitis, will have a good career in the NFL. After 1200 yards in 2013, he followed with 1600 in 2014. He notched 35 TDs at Minnesota in just three years. He is so much like Stevan Ridley it's scary.
8. Brett Hundley QB Green Bay Packers 147th overall.
The only knock on this kid was that he didn't play in a pro-style offense. Other than that, he was one of the best QBs in this draft class... if you go by stats and all that. He gets to learn from one of the best coaches and one of the best QBs in the game today. The sky is the limit.
9. Jay Ajayi RB Miami Dolphins 149th overall.
It was the knee injury. But he was a top-performer at the combine in the vertical jump, broad jump, short shuttle and long shuttle. How about 1800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a single season? What's not to like... if he stays on the field. The kid is a beast.
10. Tony Lippett WR Miami Dolphins 156th overall.
If all I said was that he started at receiver and cornerback for the Spartans and excelled at both, we should agree that he is a steal in the fifth round. He looks like a prototypical slot receiver who doesn't have to burn the defense to make big plays. And when corner depth is challenged, Lippett can easily step in and do the job.
There were a few others who could have found room if this list were longer, but I thought this draft was pretty deep at certain positions and not a few teams made significant progress in improving their overall depth and talent. While some of these players will likely get smothered in bad systems, the cream will rise to the top in the right environments.
Talent is often less important than work ethic. Most of the guys in this category will find great successbecause of it, even surpassing some more talented players. That is what separates the men from the boys in the NFL.