The first night of the 2015 National Football League Draft did not bring with it the drama that was involved in last year’s edition of the player selection process. There was no Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel or greatest wide receiver class ever to hit the draft this time around, and thus the storylines that occurred on the first night of the draft were minimal to say the least. All of the rumors regarding potential multi-team trades and historic transactions that would have made headlines all around the world proved to be unfounded, and beat reporters from different parts of the United States were left looking rather silly due to the predictions that they made leading up to the draft.
Scouts, general managers and executives from around the NFL stated in the days leading up to the draft that this class had, at most, two potential franchise quarterbacks worthy of being selected in the first round. That is exactly what occurred, and those quarterbacks went one-two to teams that do not, on paper, have QBs capable of leading a roster to a Super Bowl. Both of those individuals have flaws, personal and/or off of the field, and it is possible that neither will amount to much of anything in pro football. Both could also have the goods to be great quarterbacks for the next decade.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the first night of the 2015 NFL Draft was that two running backs went in the top-15 picks at a time when the position is being overlooked by many supposed pro football experts. Both of those talents have been compared with some of the best running backs in the game today. Meanwhile, big names such as Randy Gregory and La’el Collins fell out of the first round because of character concerns. Those young men have served as a reminder that the choices that we make dictate the lives that we lead. Surround yourselves with good people who will always have your best interests at heart, young football players.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Nelson Agholor, USC
The Eagles elected to pass up on potential wide receiver targets Breshad Perrimon, Jaelen Strong and others to snag the USC prospect. Agholor made a name for himself when he lit it up against Notre Dame, snagging 12 passes and going for 120 receiving yards and a touchdown in that contest. He is a bit undersized compared to others in the draft class, checking in at 6-foot even and 198 pounds. Agholor will now be looking to prove doubters who would have taken a different wide receiver or a different player, in general, wrong starting right out of the gates this coming fall.
19. Cleveland Browns: OG/C Cameron Erving, Florida State
With multiple talented wide receivers on the board and All-Pro center Alex Mack on the roster, those running the Browns kept true to their draft board and bolstered the offensive line. Erving is a former defensive end who made the transition to left tackle and then to center, and he has the physical skills to play just about anywhere on the offensive line. General manager Ray Farmer loves the footwork that Erving displayed during his college days, and the lineman has the intellect and work ethic necessary to replace one of two players who featured on the Cleveland offensive line in 2014.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Marcus Peters, Washington
Does anybody out there still think that the playoff meltdown the defense of the Chiefs suffered against the Indianapolis Colts in January 2014 is still not haunting that franchise? Kansas City over-reaching for Peters proves otherwise. Peters entered the draft with character concerns, and head coach Andy Reid will be tasked with keeping the rookie in check. Offensive lineman La’el Collins had repeatedly been linked with the Chiefs in NFL mock drafts up through the start of the week of the draft, but a legal matter resulted in those in the Kansas City front office removing Collins from the team’s draft board.
17. San Francisco 49ers: DL Arik Armstead, Oregon
The Niners could end up being one of the big winners of the 2015 NFL Draft. San Francisco traded down with help from the San Diego Chargers, earning multiple future draft picks and also acquiring the player that had been atop the team’s big board all along. Armstead had been linked with the 49ers in NFL mock drafts for literally months, and he, on paper, fills a noticeable hole on the team’s roster. The Niners may not be one player away from being able to compete for a Super Bowl berth this coming season, but that does not change the fact that Armstead is a good get for the team here.
16. Houston Texans: CB Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
A plethora of experts expected that the Texans would go with a defensive player here, but the team had repeatedly been linked with a lineman in mock drafts. Houston instead surprised some by grabbing the cornerback out of Wake Forest, a young man who surrendered an average of two receptions per start in his final college football season. Johnson was ranked lower than several defensive backs on multiple draft big boards put out there by college football analysts, but the Texans do have the need at the position. Johnson will be asked to be a starter in September 2015.
15. San Diego Chargers: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
The Chargers were said to be in for a running back for weeks leading up to the first night of the NFL Draft, and that proved to be even more true than some thought. San Diego moved up in the draft order to grab the product of Wisconsin, a young man believed by some to be the best running back in this class. Some have compared Gordon, who put up historic numbers in college, to Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs. Gordon has had problems holding onto the football during games in the past, and that is something that he will have to work on if he is to evolve into an elite running back.
14. Miami Dolphins: WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
Rather than having to reach on a wide receiver who was advertised to be a project, the Dolphins instead lucked out and were able to select who may be the top player at the position in this draft class. Parker would have been a top-ten talent in other drafts, and the 6-3 rookie has the goods to go up and get the football against the more dominant defensive backs in the NFL. The Dolphins allowed two different wide receivers, Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, to depart the club via free agency this past offseason. Parker was selected to be an immediate replacement for those men.
13. New Orleans Saints: OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
There were some out there who had Peat as the young man who had the highest upside of any offensive lineman in this draft class. The prospect out of Stanford will be plugged into the New Orleans offensive line right away, and his job will be made clear in training camp: Keep veteran quarterback Drew Brees on his feet and safe. Brees is no longer in the prime of his career, and the Saints desperately needed to address this need in the first round. Whether or not the Saints had La’el Collins ahead of Peat on the team’s overall draft board will likely never be known, but what is done is done.
12. Cleveland Browns: DT Danny Shelton, Washington
Cleveland general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine both said in the days leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft that the team would not be desperate on April 30. That meant not trading up to snag a quarterback who will likely not be ready to play this coming September. The Browns instead kept true to the team’s draft board and grabbed Shelton, a defensive tackle who can stuff the run and who can get to the quarterback. Cleveland was responsible for the worst run defense in all of the NFL in 2014, and Shelton will hopefully be a piece of the puzzle who rectifies that problem.
11. Minnesota Vikings: CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
Rather than link quarterback Teddy Bridgewater back up with fellow Louisville product wide receiver DeVante Parker, the Vikings instead took a flier out on a player who was not the top cornerback on most draft big boards. Waynes shot up NFL mock draft predictions when he emerged as the second-fastest player at the 2015 NFL Combine, and he remained a top prospect for the Vikings even though several talented wide receivers were available with this pick. The Vikings did fill a need with this pick, but some may suggest that Minnesota should have gone with an offensive play-maker here.
10. St. Louis Rams: RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
Gurley could have been a top-five overall pick had he not suffered a serious knee injury in the fall of 2014. The powerful and speedy running back out of Georgia has been likened to names such as Eddie George and even Adrian Peterson. He is believed to be healing from the torn ACL at a positive rate, and Gurley could have the talent to put on shows while playing on the friendly St. Louis turf. Gurley could also be a future mega-star featured in national advertising campaigns if those stories about the Rams moving to Los Angeles in the near future are, in fact, accurate.
9. New York Giants: OT Ereck Flowers, Miami
That sound Hoboken residents heard on the evening of April 30 was Giants quarterback Eli Manning rejoicing upon learning of this pick. New York’s offensive line has been the worst in the NFC East over the past two seasons, and Flowers will serve as an upgrade up front. He can open things up for the running game, and Flowers is also able to keep his quarterback standing and safe inside of the pocket. Some projected that the Giants had Flowers and not Brandon Scherff out of Iowa as the team’s top overall player in this draft class. Rejoice, Giants fans, as the team has filled its biggest roster hole via the draft.
8. Atlanta Falcons: OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson
Why bother trading up in the draft order when you can stay where you are and get the pass rusher that you wanted all along? The Falcons had been linked with a running back, specifically Todd Gurley, in NFL mock drafts, but Atlanta instead grabbed a top-five talent seen by some to be the best overall defensive prospect in this class. Beasley is an elite edge rusher with ideal athleticism for the position. Of all of the picks that occurred in the first round, Beasley falling to the Falcons at pick No. 8 could end up being the top steal of the entire draft.
7. Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White, Virginia
White shot up draft boards after leaving some speechless with his performance at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, so much so that some experts had him rated ahead of Amari Cooper out of Alabama. While the Bears could have gone with a defensive player, perhaps Danny Shelton, without receiving criticism from fans and experts, the club instead made White a hero among the hometown crowd that attended the NFL Draft. White is an explosive talent who will be asked to be an immediate replacement for Brandon Marshall. Marshall joined the Jets during the offseason.
6. New York Jets: DT Leonard Williams, USC
Yes, the Jets needed both an elite pass rusher and also a wide receiver heading into the first night of the 2015 NFL Draft. Those running the club probably could not help but run in order to get this pick in upon learning that Williams dropped all the way down to pick No. 6. Williams was advertised by some to be the best overall player of this draft class, and he was the most valuable player for USC during his senior season. This selection also puts the Jets in a better position to move Muhammad Wilkerson via a trade if the club decides that such a move would benefit the roster moving forward.
5. Washington Redskins: OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
Washington prevented division rivals the New York Giants from getting who made have been the top player on Big Blue’s big board when the Redskins snagged Scherff with the fifth overall selection. The winner of the Outland Trophy – given to the best offensive lineman in college football – for 2014, Scherff is an athletic blocker who started his football career as a quarterback. He was only moved to offensive line because he was so much bigger than the high school center who played in front of him. Mr. Scherff probably owes the coach who made that switch a thank you if not a check.
4. Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
Cooper entered January as the top wide receiver of this draft class, and he remained as such up through the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Oakland Raiders did well to stack up on talent in last year’s draft, and second-year quarterback Derek Carr will love slinging the rock to the Alabama product who is strong enough to out-muscle safeties and who can go up and retrieve the football in the red zone. Oakland could have taken one of the best defensive linemen available with this pick, but the Raiders instead stuck with the plan and grabbed college football’s best wide receiver.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: OLB Dante Fowler, Florida
It was a little over a month ago when whispers began swirling that the Jaguars had Fowler as the best player on the team’s big board, and those rumors were proven true when Jacksonville passed on several other players to grab the linebacker out of Florida. Fowler was a dominant pass rusher in college, and he consistently hassled QBs in his senior season. Jacksonville went all-in on offense early in the 2014 NFL Draft, and thus it made sense that the Jaguars would be defensive-minded with the third overall pick this time around. Fowler could be a superstar on day one of his pro football career.
2. Tennessee Titans: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Just about every rumor that somebody could have conjured up regarding the Titans selling this pick up saw the light of day in the hours leading up to 8:00 pm ET on the first night of the NFL Draft. Tennessee reportedly wanted a ridiculous ransom that even head coach Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles did not want to pay for the selection, and thus the Titans instead went with the young man who is going to be a project. There have been stories put out there that those running the Titans may plan on starting Mariota this coming September, and that could prove to be a mistake if he is not ready as some believe he will not be.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
Those running the Buccaneers reportedly did all of the necessary investigating leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, and they were not at all turned off of Winston by what they learned. Winston is far and away the top quarterback, physically speaking, of this draft class, and it really isn’t close. It is now on the man who was the youngest player in history to ever win the Heisman Trophy to remain on his best behavior and to put in all of the required work in order to be the franchise quarterback that the Bucs have not had since the day before forever.
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