The first round of the NFL Draft is over! As expected, Jameis Winston went No. 1 to the Buccaneers, followed by Marcus Mariota to the Titans at No. 2. There were a few surprises in the draft this year and more to come. Below is my analysis of the first round.
- Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
The least surprising No. 1 pick, Winston will be the face of the Buccaneers franchise from Day 1, and head coach Lovie Smith has said that he’s comfortable with that. That great arm, though, could be his ultimate downfall—he believes so much in his ability to throw into tight windows that he’ll make some really questionable decisions.
- Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The mystery leading up to the No. 2 pick Thursday night wasn’t so much which player would be selected. It was which team would be making the choice. In the end, it was the team that held that spot all along: Tennessee. He has the physical and mental talents to be a long-term success in the league, despite coming from Oregon’s spread system. It may take him a bit, though, to adjust to a less wide-open offense. I think the Titans should alter their offense a little to fir with Mariota.
- Jaguars: Dante Fowler, Jr., DE/OLB, Florida
Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks led the Jags with 8.5 sacks in 2014, and there was a clear need for coach Gus Bradley to get his hands on a legitimate edge rusher. Bradley loves to move his pass rushers around, and Fowler, who amassed 8.5 sacks and 60 tackles last season, will be a real force in a defense that has been quietly improving over the past two seasons. Fowler needs improvement on his run defense.
- Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Raiders badly needed a true No. 1 wide receiver to pair with QB Derek Carr. They may have found one, in the form of Alabama wide receiver Cooper. Cooper is tall, big and fast which is what the Raiders need, in a major way.
- Redskins: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
There have been a lot of over-hyped Iowa linemen over the years, but Scherff isn’t one of them. The Redskins need someone to protect Griffin to keep him healthy to pass the ball to Jackson. This was a great pick for the Redskins.
- Jets: Leonard Williams, DE, USC
Leonard Williams adds even more punch to what now may be the most formidable D-line in the league. The Jets are getting back to the nitty gritty football. Building a team around defense. This defense that the Jets are forming will be a top competitor for next season.
- Bears: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
There are few players in this draft class who will make Cutler happier than Kevin White, a burner who can beat just about any coverage with his raw speed and vertical physicality. White is a great pick, but I have some concerns. While at West Virginia White lines up on the right side majority of the time. So I don’t know if he is only limited to that side or if the was W. Virginia’s offense. Time will tell.
- Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Beasley is arguably the top pass-rusher in this draft class, filling a massive need in Atlanta. Throughout his senior year there were plays were he didn’t give a 100%. Also he has some trouble in the run defense.
- Giants: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
With some technique work, Flowers could be a complete tackle, but NFL teams don’t take linemen in the top 10 to let them develop. Some of his techniques he used n college to block he will not be able to get away with in the NFL. Other than that Flowers has some speed.
- Rams: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
When general managers insist they will draft the “best player available,” this is what they have in mind. Gurley is a great fit for the Rams, he is fast and physical, he can do it all catch and run. Gurley is a real superstar.
- Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Minnesota resides in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler, so shoring up that secondary was a must. I thought the Vikings would have picked up DeVante Parker since he was still left but Waynes is still a great pick. He is very physical.
- Browns: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Simple: The Browns’ defense just got tougher. This pick was well needed for the Browns.
- Saints: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Saints have another first-round pick with which to grab a much-needed top receiver, so this is a good pick here. You have to protect Drew Brees.
- Dolphins: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Parker is a complete nightmare for cornerbacks when the ball is in the air. From the outset he ought to be Ryan Tannehill’s go-to weapon in the red zone. He will simply jump up and grab the ball out of the air cutting flight time down about two feet. Parker just has to stay healthy and beef up a little bit.
- Chargers (via San Francisco): Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Philip Rivers might want to stick and stay with the Chargers after this move. The Chargers traded for this pick to get the next LaDainian Tomlinson. Gordon has speed that is compared to Chief’s Jamaal Charles. Gordon will be a real threat coming out of the backfield with a nice offensive line.
- Texans: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
There will be much flashier selections made this year, but Johnson may be as solid a prospect as there is. He is a great and steady defender.
- 49ers (via San Diego): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
If the 49ers are thinking of rebuilding over multiple years (and with all the defections, they should be), this pick makes sense, but Armstead could be overwhelmed early on at the NFL level. Armstead can play multiple positions and is a freak athlete coming in a 6’7” and 292 pounds. If he gets a little bit faster off the snap watch out RB’s and QB’s.
- Chiefs: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Kansas City was rather stout against the pass last season as it was, but the cornerback spot needed some depth and a bruiser like Peters. Great pick!
- Browns (via Buffalo): Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
Erving does make sense here—even to distressed Browns fans who would like to know why they didn’t take a receiver with either of their first-round picks.
- Eagles: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
For the second consecutive draft, Chip Kelly and the Eagles have found themselves a wide receiver that appears to be a near-perfect fit for their unique scheme.
- Bengals: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
Cedric Ogbuehi is an interesting pick here because Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth was one of the NFL’s best blockers in 2014, but Whitworth will be 34 in December, and both he and right tackle Andre Smith are in the final years of their current contracts. Ogbeuehi should be getting groomed to take over their spots.
- Steelers: Bud Dupree, OLB/DE, Kentucky
The Pittsburgh defensive approach also could make Dupree an impact defender right away—he’s a strong, athletic force outside, at his best when he can pin his ears back and get downhill. He will learn a lot from Harrison. The Steelers are getting back to the nitty gritty Terrible Towel defense. Great pick.
- Broncos (via Detroit): Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
Ray grades out as a top-15 pick on tape, but this fall could be good for him. Side by side with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware the defense will be horrendous.
- Cardinals: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
This pick will help Arizona in 2015; it could really pay off a couple years down the road.
- Panthers: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
One thing’s for sure: If the Panthers can field a trio of Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson, they’ll have the league’s most athletic linebacker corps.
- Ravens: Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
Perriman will not be able to fill Torrey Smith’s shoes in full immediately, but he could be better than him in the long run. The Ravens just have to be a little patient. Perriman is 6’2” and 212 pounds. With his size/speed combo he will be a problem for CB’s.
- Cowboys: Byron Jones, CB, UConn
Jones scored very high in all athletic tests, and that shows up on the field; this is a great get this late in the draft. The Cowboys lucked up with this one.
- Lions (via Denver): Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke
Tomlinson is an intelligent player (as his Duke education might indicate) and can dominate defenders at the line. He is not all that agile, but the Lions’ system may not ask him to be.
- Colts: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
The Colts are clearly looking to stretch the field in a major way, making life very difficult for enemy defenses. With Dorsett being so small I wouldn’t send him across the middle but the young man is a burner running a 4.33 40-yard-dash.
- Packers: Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State
If nothing else, he’ll help Green Bay match up down the middle of the field, as Clinton-Dix has since his arrival. The league, and especially Green Bay’s division, makes having players of that ilk a necessity.
- Saints (via Seattle): Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
Trading Jimmy Graham for what amounts to Max Unger and a decent inside linebacker? Well, that will have a lot of Saints fans scratching their heads. Anthony isn’t the pass rusher or the receiving help that the Saints need. I’m confused about this pick.
- Patriots: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
A Brown was productive at Texas, and he’s a great value for New England here. Brown has the type of versatility that Bill Belichick craves up front—he can play a five-tech, a three-tech or even slide down and play nose. He is 319 pounds with a quick first step very special player.