2015 NFL Draft: AFC North Analysis and Grades
1 (26): Breshad Perriman - WR, Central Florida
2 (23): Maxx Williams - TE, Minnesota
3 (26): Carl Davis - DT, Iowa
4 (23): Za'Darius Smith - DE, Kentucky
4 (26): Javorius Allen - RB, USC
4 (37): Tray Walker - CB, Texas Southern
5 (35): Nick Boyle - TE, Delaware
5 (40): Robert Myers - OG, Tennessee State
6 (28): Darren Waller - WR, Georgia Tech
The Ravens biggest holes coming into the draft were at receiver, defensive line, and cornerback. They got lucky in the first round, having Breshad Perriman fall right to them. He is the perfect replacement for Torrey Smith, and has more upside. Trading up for Maxx Williams was a mild surprise, but Crockett Gillmore does not have the pass catching skill set that Williams possesses. Carl Davis was one of the best values in the draft, as he was a potential first-rounder, but seemingly a lock to go before them in the second round. He will make for an excellent starter beside Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan. Za'Darius Smith is a bit of a tweener, but he can see the field as a situational pass rusher. Javorius Allen won't see too many snaps early on with Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro ahead of him, but he is an all-around back that should be able to have a decent impact when on the field. Tray Walker is an intriguing prospect, as his height and ball skills give him a high ceiling, but he is far too raw to start. This may have looked a little early, but a lot of teams were looking at him because he possesses rare traits for a corner. Nick Boyle was an odd pick, as the Ravens have themselves plenty of tight ends already. He is a fairly big guy with some receiving skills, but will not be anything more than a number two tight end in his career. He is likely a special teamer for now. Starting guard was never an issue for them, as they have a nice due in Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda, but depth was needed. Robert Myers has some holes in his game, but he has a higher ceiling than most fifth-round picks. Darren Walker is another raw, late-round pick. At 6-foot-6 with 4.4 speed, he has the physical traits that teams covet, but he also has hands to make an impact. The problem with him is that he is not very quick and will have to work on his routes to get separation at the next level. The Ravens did a good job filling two of their biggest needs early, and got some raw talent later in the draft. The only issue I see is waiting too long to get a corner.
Best Pick: Carl Davis - DT, Iowa
Occasionally projected to go in the end of the first round, Carl Davis is most definitely a steal in the third round. He lacks a pass rushing prowess, but he should make for a great run stopper. With Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan already on the team, the Ravens have one of the youngest and most talented defensive lines.
Worst Pick: Nick Boyle - TE, Delaware
The Ravens had a pretty good haul, so the third tight end they drafted in the past two years makes it as their worst pick. With Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore ahead of him, I do not see Nick Boyle having an impact on offense.
1 (21): Cedric Ogbuehi - OT, Texas A&M
2 (21): Jake Fisher - OT, Oregon
3 (21): Tyler Kroft - TE, Rutgers
3 (35): Paul Dawson - ILB, TCU
4 (21): Josh Shaw - CB, USC
4 (36): Marcus Hardison - DE, Arizona State
5 (21): C.J. Uzomah - TE, Auburn
6 (21): Derron Smith - FS, Fresno State
7 (21): Mario Alford - WR, West Virginia
The Bengals have a talented team, with most of their issues being depth. They took tackles with both of their first two picks, which surprised many people. Both Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith are on contract years, and with Whitworth turning 34 before the end of the season, his replacement was expected to be drafted early. Smith' however, is 28 and has a plenty of years left in his career. This shows that they are not planning to re-sign either tackle. Cedric Ogbuehi will likely start on the left side, as he was drafted first. He and Jake Fisher are both athletic tackles that are capable of starting, but both are on the weaker side of linemen. Tight ends Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah will likely play number two and three tight end, respectively. Tyler Eifert is expected to get the starting job, but Kroft can compete for the spot. He is more of a hybrid than a pure receiving tight end, while Uzomah has the ability to be a pass catcher from all around the field. Paul Dawson may have been one of the best picks in the third round. I had him going to them in the first round earlier in the year, and while he stock has dropped since then, he is still an excellent fit and of great value where they picked him. Josh Shaw gives then depth at corner and safety. He possesses good size and decent athleticism, but is limited in man coverage. Marcus Hardison was an excellent pick, as has the ceiling of a poor man's Geno Atkins. He will need some time to develop, but he has starting potential. While many did not see free safety as one of the Bengals' bigger needs, Reggie Nelson is a soon-to-be 32-year-old on a contract year. In the sixth-round, Derron Smith is of tremendous value, as he fell due to size and injury concerns. 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds is adequate for a safety while there is no risk involved in a sixth-round pick. He has a solid, all-around game that spells starter. Mario Alford is known for having great speed, but he is lacking in size and is not as quick as one would prefer. While he is unlikely to be able to crack the starting lineup, he can do work on screens and special teams. Dawson, Hardison, and Smith are all excellent values, while they got the needed depth early in the draft. It was a great draft for the future, but they waited too long to get a receiver and did not get enough immediate impact to earn an A.
Best Pick: Paul Dawson - ILB, TCU
Paul Dawson lacks the character and athletic ability teams want to see in their early-round picks, but Dawson is one of the more instinctive prospects in this draft. The Bengals needed another linebacker on their roster, so this is not only a great value, but it satisfies as a need.
Worst Pick: Cedric Ogbuehi - OT, Texas A&M
In itself it is not a horrible pick, but with the selection of Jake Fisher in the second round, this pick could have been used on a different position. They could have gotten defensive tackle Malcom Brown or leapfrogged the Eagles to grab Nelson Agholor, among other options.
1 (12): Danny Shelton - NT, Washington
1 (19): Cameron Erving - C, Florida State
2 (19): Nate Orchard - DE, Utah
3 (13): Duke Johnson - RB, Miami
3 (32): Xavier Cooper - DT, Washington State
4 (16): Ibraheim Campbell - SS, Northwestern
4 (24): Vince Mayle - WR, Washington State
6 (13): Charles Gaines - CB, Louisville
6 (19): Malcolm Johnson - TE, Mississippi State
6 (22): Randall Telfer - TE, USC
7 (2): Hayes Pullard - ILB, USC
7 (24): Ifo Ekpre-Olomu - CB, Oregon
Despite the recent acquisitions, the Browns needed help at running back, receiver, and defensive line. In the first round, they played it safe, selecting two linemen. Danny Shelton was the first of the two, and is a great fit for a team that struggled against the run last year. This will keep Randy Starks, Phil Taylor, and their other linemen working a solid rotation at defensive end. Cameron Erving was an unexpected pick, but a safe one. Alex Mack could void his contract after this season, while John Greco is turning 30, and Mitchell Schwartz is on a contract year. I do not think they will move him to right tackle, they should instead re-sign Mitchell Schwartz or draft a replacement next year. While this was a safe pick, it may have not been the smartest one. In the first round, where plenty of talented players are available at positions of need, they picked up a player that plays positions where they have players they should be able to retain. They could have gotten a player capable of doing the same later in the draft. Nate Orchard in the middle of the second carries some risk, as he had only one year of production and has only above average athleticism. His technique will have to get better to anything more than a situational pass rusher. However, he will be given time to develop, with Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo ahead of him. Duke Johnson was one of the better fits in the draft, as while he may not be the workload back that gets all the attention, he has the explosive traits that make him relevant in a committee backfield. As explained in my last mock draft, where I had the Browns getting Johnson in the third round, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell were impressive as rookies, but both lack the speed and pass-catching ability that Johnson has. This pick gives the Browns a very young and talented backfield. Trading up for Xavier Cooper was a decent pick, as he can contribute early as an interior pass rusher in a rotation of linemen. He has starter potential, but must balance out his game. Ibraheim Campbell will act as insurance for Donte Whitner early on and could eventually be his replacement. Campbell possesses the traits teams want in their box safety, while he has enough athleticism to hold his own in coverage. However, his instincts will need some time to develop. Vince Mayle has the skill set to become a solid possession receiver, but he will need to improve his craft behind the scenes, as he is too raw to contribute early on. Charles Gaines and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu were both great late-round picks, as both are sticky cover corners capable of holding their own inside. Outside of size, the lone concerns for the two corners are a lack of playmaking ability and injury, respectively. They waited a little long to address the loss of Jordan Cameron, but Malcolm Johnson and Randall Telfer can both contribute early on. Johnson is a versatile player that can line up anywhere on the field while Telfer has immediate value as a blocker. Hayes Pullard has solid linebacker traits, with both his size and athleticism being average, but he will not see much time on defense beyond the many guys the Browns have at the position. Pullard is likely a special teamer for them. The Browns got plenty of value throughout the draft, but they still need speed at the receiver position. I do not like the Erving pick in the middle of the first round and how they did not get a receiver early, but the rest of their draft was too good to drop them to a C.
Best Pick: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu - CB, Oregon
Duke Johnson was here initially, but Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, one of the most talented corners in this draft, has the be one of the best values. It really all depends on how he checks out medically. If he fully recovers, he will easily be one of the biggest steals, and seeing how it is a seventh-round pick, there is no risk.
Worst Pick: Cameron Erving - C, Florida State
Cameron Erving is not a bad player, but he was really hyped going into the draft. 19 is a little high for him, and he does not fill a particular need for the Browns. He is projected as a fit for guard and center, and as explained earlier, he does not really have a place in Cleveland.
1 (22): Bud Dupree - OLB, Kentucky
2 (24): Senquez Golson - CB, Mississippi
3 (23): Sammie Coates - WR, Auburn
4 (22): Doran Grant - CB, Ohio State
5 (24): Jesse James - TE, Penn State
6 (23): Leterrius Walton - DT, Central Michigan
6 (36): Anthony Chickillo - DE, Miami
7 (22): Gerod Holliman - FS, Louisville
Outside of depth and future replacement, the Steelers' offense was fine, but they came into the draft with multiple holes on defense. In the first round, they could have addressed corner or safety, but Bud Dupree was the best value there. With Jarvis Jones and James Harrison at the position, this makes too much sense. Jones may be given another chance, but Harrison is 37 years old and his snaps will have to be monitored throughout the year. Both players should start at the beginning of the season, allowing the raw Dupree to work as just a situational pass rusher and slowly take snaps away from the guys ahead of him. In the second round, they went for arguably their biggest need. Senquez Golson is a smaller guy, at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds, but he is as talented and sticky in coverage as anyone in this draft. Whether or not he will play outside or in the nickel remains to be seen, but his skill set should allow him to do either one at a high level. The other corner they got, Doran Grant, can work inside with his smart, aggressive style of play. Sammie Coates was a surprising pick in the third round, as safety or defensive line seemed to be of higher priority. However, Markus Wheaton has yet to grow into his own and will be limited to the slot. Coates has what it takes to play on the perimeter, but he will need a year or two to get down the nuances of the position. If Coates develops properly, he will be teamed with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant to create one of the most athletic and talented receiving corps. Jesse James will not be Heath Miller's successor, but he can develop into a solid number two tight end. He has enough pass catching ability and can be a decent blocker. Leterrius Walton is a big man with underrated athleticism, but he is too raw to contribute anytime soon. He will work as a developmental project behind Cameron Heyward and last year's second-round pick Stephon Tuitt. Anthony Chickillo is likely a special teamer, as he is not a true fit for a position on the Steelers' defense. With their last pick, they got a player that could have gone much earlier, Gerod Holliman. His ball-hawking skills put him on the radar, but his lack of athleticism and previous production kept his stock from raising too high. He will not be Troy Polamalu's replacement, but he could develop a more disciplined mindset and take over at free safety in a few years, where they currently have Mike Mitchell. They got good players early and some potential value later in the draft, but overall it was a fairly average draft. Whether or not Coates comes into his own could determine which way this goes.
Best Pick: Bud Dupree - OLB, Kentucky
Bud Dupree was projected to go around here early in the draft process, but his stock rose to where many expected him to go in the top ten. With him being one of the more physically imposing prospects in this draft, the Steelers definitely got a steal.
Worst Pick: Anthony Chickillo - DE, Miami
I do not like the Sammie Coates pick, but he has the potential develop into a dangerous weapon on the outside in a few years. Anthony Chickillo is a tweener that will likely see most of his work on special teams. He does not have the burst to make it as an edge rusher and he is too small to move down to the line.