Five Biggest Winners Of The 2015 NFL Draft
Trae Waynes: Round 1, Pick 11 (11th Overall) CB
Eric Kendricks: Round 2, Pick 13 (45th Overall) ILB
Danielle Hunter: Round 3, Pick 24 (88th Overall) DE
T.J. Clemmings: Round 4, Pick 11 (110th Overall) OT
MyCole Pruitt: Round 5, Pick 7 (143rd Overall) TE
Stefon Diggs: Round 5, Pick 10 (146th Overall) WR
Tyrus Thompson: Round 6, Pick 9 (185th Overall) OT
B.J. Dubose: Round 6, Pick 17 (193rd Overall) DE
Austin Shepherd: Round 7, Pick 11 (228th Overall) OT
Edmond Robinson: Round 7, Pick 15 (232nd Overall) OLB
Minnesota was able to hit on their most needed positions while getting extraordinary values throughout their draft giving them the title of best draft of 2015. In a division featuring star wide receivers such as Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Alshon Jeffrey, it is important to have a solid secondary to slow them down. The Vikings addressed this grabbing Trae Waynes, the top corner in this year’s draft with their first pick. Waynes excels in press coverage and should be thrust into a starting role as a rookie.
Kendricks, the inside linebacker out of UCLA is a tackling machine and is extremely efficient in pass coverage. He should slot in at the inside linebacker position as a rookie next to his former teammate at UCLA, Anthony Barr. However, the Vikings really made their draft in the later rounds. Offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings who they nabbed in the fourth round was considered a top fifteen pick in the draft up until a few weeks ago when a stress fracture was discovered in his foot. The Vikings can ease him in to a role at either tackle or guard, and he has the potential to be a franchise left tackle if developed properly.
The other pick that really sticks out is Stefon Diggs, the wide receiver out of Maryland. Diggs was one of the top wide receivers coming out of high school and although he never quite met his potential at Maryland, he has a ton of talent. He is a big play threat every time he touches the ball and will be an explosive weapon for Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings offense. The Vikings hit on their needs all while getting good value along with nabbing a few late round steals along the way making them this year’s best draft class.
New York Jets:
Leonard Williams: Round 1, Pick 6 (6th Overall) DE
Devin Smith: Round 2, Pick 5 (37th Overall) WR
Lorenzo Mauldin: Round 3, Pick 18 (82nd Overall) OLB
Bryce Petty: Round 4, Pick 4 (103rd Overall) QB
Jarvis Harrison: Round 5, Pick 16 (152nd Overall) OG
Deon Simon: Round 7, Pick 6 (223rd Overall) NT
Anytime you get the best player in the entire draft at sixth overall, you are doing something right. Leonard Willams falling to them in the first was an absolute steal and Jets brass made the right decision grabbing him even with two All-Pro caliber defensive ends in Muhammed Wikerson and Sheldon Richardson. Wilkerson, is entering a contract year and will most likely be traded or allowed to walk after the season making room for WIliams in the near future. Williams is extremely athletic and very stout against the run and has the makings of an All-Pro defensive end for the next decade plus. Adding him may be the missing piece for a Jets defense that could be elite in 2015.
In the second round the Jets added playmaker wide receiver Devin Smith out of Ohio State giving them a trio of talented wide receivers for third year quarterback Geno Smith to target next season. The added talent at the receiver position should help Geno develop into a more complete quarterback in 2015. Lorenzo Mauldin is a hard hitter and will most likely have a chip on his shoulder to succeed in the NFL after a rough upbringing.
Perhaps the most intriguing pick of the Jet’s draft was the selection of quarterback Bryce Petty in the fourth round. Petty is an absolute gunslinger with a strong arm and could potentially be the quarterback of the future. He needs some development but could challenge Smith for the starting spot in a year or two. Many draft pundits thought of Petty as the clear-cut number three quarterback in this year’s class and a likely second round selection, getting him in the beginning of the fourth was great value. Overall, I thought the Jets hit on all their picks and improved on both sides of the ball while addressing major needs. Definitely one of the Jets best drafts in years.
Breshad Perriman: Round 1, Pick 26 (26th Overall) WR
Maxx Williams: Round 2, Pick 23 (55th Overall) TE
Carl Davis: Round 3, Pick 26 (90th Overall) DT
Za’Darius Smith: Round 4, Pick 23 (122nd Overall) DE
Javorius Allen: Round 4, Pick 26 (125th Overall) RB
Tray Walker: Round 4, Pick 37 (136th Overall) CB
Nick Boyle: Round 5, Pick 35 (171st Overall) TE
Robert Myers: Round 5, Pick 40 (176th Overall) OG
Dareen Waller: Round 6, Pick 28 (204th Overall) WR
After the departure of Torry Smith and Owen Daniels in the off-season, Joe Flacco was in desperate need of weapons for the passing game. While Steve Smith Sr. had a bit of a revival year with Flacco this past season, at thirty-five years old he isn’t getting any younger and surely isn’t in their long term plans. The Ravens addressed these needs by getting wide receiver Breshad Perriman at the end of the first round. Perriman is an absolute burner and the fastest wide receiver in this year’s draft, many had him going in the top half of the first round so twenty-sixth overall was very solid value for the Ravens. He will most likely fill the role Torrey Smith left behind and could be their top receiver as a rookie.
In the second round the Ravens grabbed the best tight end in this year’s draft in Maxx Williams out of Minnesota. Williams is a big body and sure to be one of Flacco’s favorite Red-zone targets. He is a reliable target and a play-maker in the receiving game, 82% of his catches this past season were either for a first down or a touchdown.
In the third round the Ravens got one of the biggest steals of the draft in defensive tackle Carl Davis out of Iowa. Most had him as a late first, early second round pick and the Ravens should be thrilled to have grabbed him at the end of the third round. For a big guy he is very quick and extremely powerful. He has all the tools to be a successful defensive tackle in this league.
Za’Darius Smith looks to be a solid rotational defensive end who could see playing time as early as a rookie and late round pick Nick Boyle is another big target for Flacco that should see a good amount of looks in two tight end sets. Overall, this was a very solid draft for the Ravens filled with value throughout the draft.
Byron Jones: Round 1, Pick 27 (27th Overall) CB
Randy Gregory: Round 2, Pick 28 (60th Overall) OLB
Chaz Green: Round 3, Pick 27 (91st Overall) OT
Damien Wilson: Round 4, Pick 28 (127th Overall) ILB
Ryan Russell: Round 5, Pick 27 (163rd Overall) DE
Mark Nzechoa: Round 7, Pick 19 (236th Overall) OLB
Laurence Gibson: Round 7, Pick 26 (243rd Overall) OT
Geoff Swaim: Round 7, Pick 29 (246th Overall) TE
Going into the draft the Cowboys had one of the best offenses in the league anchored by the best offensive line in the NFL and several holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. They were able to address their defense early and often, taking a defender with five of their first six picks while getting extremely solid value in the process.
Many draft pundits criticized the Cowboys draft mostly for neglecting to address the running back position after losing defending Offensive Player Of The Year Demarco Murray to the Eagles. However, the Cowboys clearly feel confident that they will have an effective running game in 2015 behind their offensive line regardless of who the running back is.
Byron Jones was one of the fastest risers the few weeks leading up to the draft and it is easy to see why. He is extremely athletic and talented and should make an immediate impact on their defense as a rookie at the number two cornerback or nickel corner. This pick filled a need while delivering solid value. It is very unlikely he would have slide past the Packers or Patriots had they decided to go elsewhere with their first round selection.
The Cowboys selection of Randy Gregory with the sixtieth overall pick has the potential to go down as the biggest steal of this year’s draft. Gregory is one of the top edge rusher in the class and has the potential to be a star in the league. Prior to failing a drug test for marijuana usage and missing multiple meetings with team officials, Gregory was considered a sure-fire top ten pick in the draft. Having said that, his talent is undeniable and if the Cowboys are able to keep his head screwed on straight (similar to how they kept Dez Bryant in line,) they will have quite the player on his hands. Don’t be surprised if he fills the pass-rushing void Demarcus Ware left after when he was released.
Fourth round pick Damien Wilson, was an extremely productive linebacker in college and a tackling machine. He adds some much needed depth at the position and should be a solid special teamer as a rookie with the potential to start in the next few years. Add in offensive tackle Chaz Green who could be a future right tackle for the Cowboys and the Cowboys had one of the best drafts.
New York Giants:
Ereck Flowers: Round 1, Pick 9 (9th Overall) OT
Landon Collins: Round 2, Pick 1 (33rd Overall) SS
Owamagbe Odighizuwa: Round 3, Pick 10 (74th Overall) DE
Mykkele Thompson: Round 5, Pick 8 (144th Overall) FS
Geremy Davis: Round 6, Pick 10 (186th Overall) WR
Bobby Hart: Round 7, Pick 9 (226th Overall) OG
As I mentioned in my previous article grading the Giants draft, the Giants three most pressing needs were offensive tackle, safety, and pass rusher. The Giants were able to address all three needs with their first three picks. Furthermore, they got two of the best value picks in the entire draft with Landon Collins in the second and Owamagbe Odighizuwa in the third.
The Giants addressed their biggest need in the first round by picking offensive tackle Ereck Flowers. Flowers at ninth overall was considered a reach by some draft pundits; however, he is extremely young and raw at just twenty-one years old and has a ton of potential. He will most likely start at right tackle, allowing Justin Pugh to move inside to one of the guard positions where he is better suited. If Flowers develops and works on his footwork he has the tools to be a very good offensive tackle in the NFL.
Landon Collins was considered a potential landing spot for the Giants at ninth overall. While Jerry Reese and company elected to pass on him in the first round, when he was still available in the second, the Giants elected to trade up and grab him at thirty-third overall. Collins is the most talented safety in the entire draft class and is extremely strong against the run. He slots in to start at the strong safety position as a rookie and should make an immediate impact.
With the rehiring of Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants needed to upgrade their weapons to suit his aggressive defense. Owamagbe Odighizuwa was exactly what they needed and a steal in the third. Had he not had surgery on his hip he was most likely a top forty-five pick in the draft. He is absolutely shredded and is relentless, never giving up on a play. He should see time as a rookie as a rotational defensive end and in Spagnuolo’s Ace Package on passing downs. Most likely looking at a long time starter at one of the defensive end positions after a year or two.
While Mykkele Thompson was a bit of a head scratcher, he is another player who fits a need and is the only pure free safety on the Giants roster. Late round flyer Geremy Davis is extremely talented and suffered from extremely poor quarterback play while at UCONN. Add in offensive guard Bobby Hart who should provide much needed depth for the Giants, and the Giants had an extremely successful draft.