In what was one of the deepest draft classes in recent memories, most teams were able to come away with talent to fill needs at multiple positions. We are here with 2015 NFL Draft grades to get a handle on how each team faired. Draft grades hold limited value for long-term predictive purposes, but they can help us figure out just what to make of each team's performance. It is a thought exercise that can help us figure out a little context for the weekend that was.
First round pick DJ Humphries will complete a revamped offensive line that is in much better position to protect Carson Palmer. Third round running back David Johnson was their best pick and it wouldn't surprise me to see him run away with the starting RB role. The Cards missed on a chance to replace departed CB Antonio Cromartie but still put together a nice class.
The Falcons drafted well over the weekend filling needs with top prospects at multiple positions. Vic Beasley will be former Seattle DC and new Falcon head coach Dan Quinn's version of Bruce Irvin. Jalen Collins in round two, Tevin Coleman in round three, and Justin Hardy in round four all figure to make immediate impacts for the revamped dirty birds.
GM Ozzie Newsome continues to show why he's one of the top executives in the NFL. I'm not sure how Breshad Perriman will pan out but I love the Ravens in the middle rounds. First, trading up to take the top tight end Maxx Williams was smart. It gives them an immediate replacement for Dennis Pitta. Carl Davis in the third was incredible value for a guy many had as a fringe first rounder. Darren Waller in the sixth was sneaky pick. The big receiver showed impressive flashes in college and will benefit from not having to play right away.
The Bills didn't have a first round pick this year and they used their first pick in the second round on CB Ronald Darby. I like Darby's skill set but he figures to be playing behind two good corners in Stephon Gilmore and Leodis Mckelvin. Other than third round pick G John Miller, the Bills will likely not see to much from their four other draft picks.
The Panthers only made five selections this year and I'm not sure they addressed the needs they had along the offensive line and receiver. As of now Michael Oher and Mike Remmers/Jonathan Martin are their starting tackles. Yikes. Adding Devin Funchess was an interesting move given he's very similar to last year's first round pick Kelvin Benjamin. They did bring back Ted Ginn Jr back to stretch the field...but...it's Ted Ginn Jr.
With their first two picks the Bears filled needs by adding added a top WR (Kevin White) and top DL (Eddie Goldman) to their roster. White was considered by many the top receiver in the class and gives the Bears speed on the outside they haven't had in awhile. Goldman will be a shiny new two for DC Vic Fangio. Fourth round pick RB Jeremy Langford was a nice depth pick giving Matt Forte a formidable back up.
I really like what the Bengals did by adding two tackles with their first two picks. They aren't sexy picks by any means but as we know, championship teams are built inside out. Third round picks Paul Dawson and Tyler Kroft were both great value picks. Dawson could be the steal of the draft if he keeps his nose clean. Mario Alford in the seventh was a surprise given his speed and game breaking ability on special teams.
Cleveland Browns: B+
The Browns added 12 new prospects including several defensive lineman to help turn around the leagues worst rush defense. First round pick Danny Shelton and third rounder Xavier Cooper could end up starting together week one. CB/S Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in the seventh round is just stealing.
Dallas Cowboys: B-
The Cowboys needed some corner help and drafted combine standout Byron Jones in the first. I like Jones better a safety and the Cowboys didn't draft another defensive back. Five of the teams eight picks went to addressing the defense including second rounder Randy Gregory who fell all the way to the bottom of round two. Gregory will need to add some weight but will be playing with a major chip on his shoulder. A pick well worth the risk for a team desperately searching for a pass rush.
It was a shock to see the Broncos trade up in the first to grab sliding edge rusher Shane Ray. Denver announced a switch the 3-4 defense this offseason so Ray will need to add a significant amount of weight to his slim frame. The Broncos did address their needs along the offensive line second with T Ty Sambrailo. I really liked there third round pick Jeff Heuerman as he's one of the better blocking tight ends in the class. Fifth round corner Lorenzo Doss is criminally underrated and an absolute ball hawk.
The Lions surprised many by taking G Laken Tomlinson in the first round instead of opting to fill some hole on the interior defensive line. Tomlinson, however, was the top guard in the class by many and figures to help provide a formidable interior offensive line along with last year's draft pick Larry Warford. I wasn't a huge fan of Ameer Abdullah coming in the draft but I think Detroit is a great place for him. He'll provide a nice one-two punch with Joique Bell. I was surprised Quandre Diggs lasted until the sixth round, the Lions got really good value there.
I think the Pack reached for a lot of their picks including their first two picks Damarious Randall and Quentin Collins. But both are CB/S prospects and the Packers have done a great job of putting guys like that in the best position to succeed. I like the Jake Ryan (LB) pick to help push Clay Matthews back outside. The Brett Hundley pick was purely about value. I doubt he ever sees a meaningful snap for the Pack (barring injury) but he could be a nice trading trip if they can develop him.
Houston Texans: A-
The Texans got three immediate starters with their first three picks. CB Kevin Johnson is a technician with some of the best cover skills in the draft. LB Benardrick McKinney is a physical presence in the middle of the field who get's down hill quick. WR Jaelen Strong is a really nice compliment to DeAndre Hopkins. Strong will need to become a better route runner but he give the Texans two big, athletic receivers capable of changing a game in a matter of seconds.
The Colts surprised everyone taking WR Phillip Dorsett in the first round. His skill set is similar to that of T.Y. Hilton and it's not clear how he'll be used with Hilton, Andre Johnson, and Donte Moncrief all figured to earn significant playing time. They didn't grab a top corner like many thought but I did like the DE Henry Anderson pick in the third.
The Jags have put two impressive drafts together in the last two years. Each of their first six picks could play significant roles in the 2015 season. Dante Fowler Jr. is the best pass rusher in the class and will be exciting to watch in the coming years. Second round pick TJ Yeldon will push Denard Robinson to a complimentary role and third round pick AJ Cann should be an immediate starter on a young offensive line. Rashad Greene in the fifth is a steal and could be a nightmare in the slot. Oh and DL Michael Bennett in the sixth was sugar on top. He's one of the more productive players to go so late and I'm not really sure why.
I love the Marcus Peters pick and think the Chiefs got a steal in round one. Beyond that the class was just ok. WR Chris Conley needs a lot of work but he's big, physical, and an absolute burner. I'm not sure I like him in the third but the Chiefs need all the help they can get at WR and Conley has good upside.
The Dolphins aced their first two picks getting one of the top WRs DeVante Parker and landing stud DL Jordan Phillips. Miami then ended the slide of RB Jay Ajayi in the fifth round. It's a great value pick that late even with the concerns over his knee. Tony Lippett was announced as a defensive back and could be another late steal. Lippett played both corner and receiver at Michigan State but will focus on corner now. At 6-2 and great ball skills; Lippett is another high upside pick for the Dolphins.
Pick for pick, I'm not sure another team got more value through the first five rounds than the Vikings did. 1st: CB Trae Waynes; 2nd: ILB Eric Kendricks; 3rd: EDGE Danielle Hunter; 4th: T TJ Clemmings; 5th : TE/FB MyCole Pruitt; 5th: WR Stefon Diggs. Waiting to address the need on the offensive line paid off landing what many considered first round talent in Cummings.
A long snapper in the fifth? Sometimes I think Bill Belichick picks his spots to troll everyone and he does it so well.
The Pats had 11 picks including three defensive linemen in the first four rounds. I like Malcom Brown but he has big shoes to fill replacing Vince Wilfork, even for the 319-poundBrown. Jordan Richards was a bit of a reach in the second. Fourth round Edge rusher Trey Flowers will be a perfect fit for Belichick's hybrid defense.
There's a lot to like about what the Saints did over the weekend. Andrus Peat won't have to play LT right away and will still be able to contribute on the right side. I can't way to see how DC Rob Ryan uses LB Stephone Anthony who will be a very good defender in this league. QB Garret Grayson was drafted in the third as the heir to Drew Brees. The Saints also drafted CB PJ Williams in the third. Williams has fringe first round talent and should compete for a starting job right away.
New York Giants: B-
Ereck Flowers at ninth overall was a bit high for me. Flowers is a big road-grader who I think projects better on the right side. We'll see how the Giants plan to use him. I like adding S Landon Collins in the second and think he be an effective starter right away. DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa is a perfect fit for the Giants defensive front and great value in the third round.
The Jets really did well this year. Leonard Williams adds to what was already considered one of he best defensive lines in the league and give the Jets some options with Mo Wilkerson. Adding Devin Smith in the second was smart. The speedster will add another element to the Jets receiving core in a make or break year for Geno Smith. Edge rusher Lorenzo Mauldin is an underrated pass rusher that can really pressure the pocket. Adding QB Bryce Petty in the fourth gives the Jets a plan B should Smith struggle again this year. I think Petty ends up sitting behind Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick and could push for a starting job in 2016.
Oakland Raiders: B-
I think the Raiders will regret passing on Leonard Williams. But Cooper is a safe pick and should be a nice option for second year QB David Carr. DL Mario Edwards in the second has a ton of upside but struggle with consistency and weight issues. I do like the pick of Clive Walford in the third. He's one of the best pass catching tight ends in the class. Would have liked to seen the Raiders add a running back.
With all the hype leading up to the draft about Chip Kelly trading up to get QB Marcus Mariota, the Eagles stood pat and took WR Nelson Agholor. Agholor will be a nice compliment to Jordan Matthews. More importantly the Eagles needed corners and the drafted three of them including the versatile Eric Rowe. Sixth round pick CB JaCorey Sheppard is a former WR with great ball skills and high upside.
The Steelers were able to land Bud Dupree in the first round in what was a bit of a surprise to some at 22. Their biggest need coming into the weekend was corner and they drafted two: Senquez Golson is a slight framed corner with decent coverage skills and Doran Grant a physical defender capable of playing CB or S. The Steelers also added athletic WR Sammie Coates to their receiver corps. S Gerod Holliman seems like a steal in the seventh round.
The Chargers only had five picks but made the most of the first two selecting RB Melvin Gordon and ILB Denzel Perryman. Both figure to earn significant playing time in 2015. Gordon is a nice compliment to Phillip Rivers' aggressive style.
In a draft where many, myself included, felt the 49ers needed to land an immediate impact player in the first round, the 49ers looked to the future. And did the same with just about every pick. Of the 10 players the 49ers drafted, not one figure to earn significant playing time (barring injury).
Arik Armstead has impressive size and athleticism but is very raw and faces a logjam of competition along the defensive line. I really like S Jaquiski Tartt but I don't see him unseating Antoine Bethea in 2015. Eli Harold was a great value pick in round three but again will probably play behind Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, and Aaron Lynch. Blake Bell caught only 18 passes in college as a TE and will also be a project. RB Mike Davis might make the biggest impact of the entire class backing up Carlos Hyde. The physical downhill runner excels in the same areas as Hyde. I like DeAndre Smelter and the combination of size and speed he brings but, alas, Smelter is recovering from a late season knee injury and is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season.
Lets not forget the selection of punter Bradley Pinion in the fifth round. Don't get me wrong; Pinion is worthy of the pick...if they plan on letting Andy Lee go.
The 49ers may not admit to being in rebuilding mode, but their draft strategy seems to suggest otherwise.
The Seahawks didn't have a first round pick and spent their second on edge rusher Frank Clark. Clark comes with a bevy of off the field issues but may have gone to the best place to start over. The addition of WR Tyler Lockett gives Seattle another small receiver but one with speed to stretch the field.
I really like the Rams selection of Todd Gurley in the first. I think he's the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson. The Rams then went on to add four offensive linemen: a major goal of theirs in the offseason. They also selected developmental QB Sean Mannion.
The addition of QB Jameis Winston alone makes their class. But the Bucs recognized the need to protect their new franchise QB and used their next two picks on massive T Donovan Smith and athletic guard/center Ali Marpet. The fifth round addition of WR Kenny Bell was great value.
Tennessee Titans: B+
I'm not sure how QB Marcus Mariota will translate in Ken Whisenhunt's offense but he was too talented to pass on at number two overall. I liked the second round addition WR Dorial Green-Beckham who will combine with Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright, and Harry Douglas give Marota plenty of offensive firepower. The Titans also got great value in the fifth with big RB David Cobb who could start right away. The seventh round pick of WR Tre McBride was another notable value pick for a really nice Titans class.
Some will knock the Scherff selection given the big need Washington had at edge rusher. Scherff, however, was widely considered the top offensive linemen in the class and can play three or four positions. Waiting on edge rusher allowed them to snag Preston Smith who, like Scherff can play multiple positions. G Arie Kouandjio was a smart depth pick in round four.