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2015 NFL Draft: 1st Round Recap (oh, no, the Jets!)

I went into this draft with high hopes. I had multiple plausible scenarios in my head for the Jets including:

  • Jets trading up to #2 and getting Marcus Mariota (using the #6 overall pick and Muhammed Wilkerson as bait)
  • Amari Cooper somehow falling to them at #6 -- struck me as unlikely because I thought the Raiders would take him for sure, but in a world where Leonard Williams was available at #4, I thought it was a possibility that Cooper could still be on the board at #6.
  • Fowler somehow getting to the Jets
  • Barring all that -- Brandon Scherff, who I really like and think is way underrated by the draftniks and is just a terrific mauler, would be the Jets' safety pick.

None of that came to pass -- all of them were taken ahead of the Jets and the Jets took Leonard Williams. A position of least need and a pick I'm not a terrible fan of. I should note that I'm distinctly in the minority as people seem to love this pick, but more on that in a second.

Thoughts on a number of the 1st round picks.

#1: Tampa Bay takes Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State)
I don't understand this pick at all. Obviously this has been projected for months now -- but Jameis' off the field issues seem so significant to me that I can't imagine a team would place essentially their team in his hands. See this very troubling New York Times article on the rape investigation [link]. On the field, I won't deny that he's a tremendous talent, but I do think that with the exception of Gruden, not enough has been made about his poor decision making in terms of throws. Gruden also makes an excellent point re: FSU's false start penalties and how that's Winston's responsibility. Personally, Winston would've been off the board for me. Oh, and here are more goodies from draft day including Winston installing a red carpet at his home [link] and him tweeting out a link of him eating crab legs on draft night (a reference to him being caught shoplifting crab legs from a supermarket while at FSU) [link]. OFF. MY. BOARD.

#2: Tennessee takes Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
Love Mariota. #1 player in the draft for me. Excellent on the field. Excellent off the field. Some early draft boards had him falling as far as #6 to the Jets -- which makes me really question some of these draft boards. The QB position is simply too important. Its impact on the game is franchise-changing. No way he fell past #2. Tennessee will be very happy with this pick.

#3: Jacksonville takes Dante Fowler Jr. (DE, Florida)
I thought Jacksonville might take Cooper here -- but they took two WRs in the 2nd round last year (Marquise Lee + Allen Robinson). They didn't have stand-out years, but I don't think it's unreasonable for Jacksonville to want to give it some more time to see what they have with them. In recent years, receivers have really contributed significantly in their rookie season, but that historically has not been the case. Historically, receivers took at least 1 year to acclimate themselves. Love Fowler though. Freakish athlete with terrific motor. Reminds me of Jevon Kearse. Check out this highlights video of him -- really impressive. [link]

#4: Oakland takes Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
Cooper is amazing. One of the best prospects I've ever seen. He's silky smooth on tape. My friend Gavin and I actually discussed early on when Kevin White was bantered about as potentially the top WR in this draft -- that a lot of it was the Cooper is almost too good. He just runs by his receiver so he doesn't have to make contested catches. His route running is excellent, he can run every route, and he's a hard worker. Excellent pick and a terrific #1 option for Derek Carr. 

#5: Washington takes Brandon Scherff (OT, Iowa)
Love Scherff. Watch this incredible highlights video of him that Iowa put together [link]. The draftniks have been down on him (arm length?) -- but this guy is a flat out mauler. Reminds me of Tony Boselli. I'm not as familiar with Washington's needs -- but this is an excellent pick and Scherff was one of my favorite players in the draft. Also, you can never have a strong enough offensive line. Look at the Cowboys last year.

#6: NY Jets take Leonard Williams (DT, USC)
Man, this is a tough one for me. Williams was projected to go as high as #2 to Tennessee early on and I believe Kiper had him #1 overall on his Big Board. I think Williams is good. I grew more concerned with Williams after Pro Football Focus did an analysis on him and raised significant concerns about his pass rushing abilities. I think on 3rd and longs, he only got pressure on something like 8 out of 93 plays. Not good. Their analysis was that he may be a really good run stuffer, but that he's not a particularly instinctive pass rusher. Their comp of him was... Tyson Jackson. After watching more tape of him, I was also concerned that while Williams seemed technically solid and the tape was good -- he didn't strike me as particularly explosive. Many of my favorites did not fall to this position including Mariota (unrealistic), Cooper + Fowler (unlikely but possible), and Scherff (I don't believe I saw a single mock draft that projected Scherff going before #6 overall -- so that was a surprise.) Personally, I would've taken Todd Gurley here. But, with Richardson, Wilkerson, and now Leonard Williams -- that should take an excellent defensive line to... well, I don't know where it goes from here, but it's adding another good (and hopefully great) football player to it.

#7: Chicago Bears take Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
I still don't know why the Bears traded Brandon Marshall to the Jets for so little (it was him + a 7th for a 5th) especially considering his contract calls for a very reasonable $7.5MM. Obviously he wore out his welcome. But here we are then -- and the Bears need a WR. I like Kevin White. He reminds me on some level of Julio Jones. I'm not that scared off that he only had 1 year of production at West Virginia but Gruden's comment that he basically only lined up on the right-side last year -- that does worry me. Would it have worried me enough not to take him? Maybe this high. Also, there are other WRs I like a lot too including Agholor and Dorsett.

#8: Atlanta takes Vic Beasley (OLB, Clemson)
Dislike. I'm a huge fan of Pro Football Focus and they had him rated #3 overall on their Big Board. But in the Gruden / Kiper special -- Gruden crushes Beasley for basically being useless in the run. Worse, it appears it's a matter of interest and effort with Beasley. He just wants to rush the passer. PFF acknowledges this and suggests that (Atlanta) could just use him as a situational pass rusher. Maybe that's what they'll do. I don't know. I'm not a huge fan of taking players that have enormous gaps in their playing ability -- especially this high. 

#10: St. Louis takes Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
Love. Just an excellent runner who smashes defenders. Not great in pass protection but is willing to put in the effort. He'll get better. Significantly better pass catcher than Melvin Gordon. Significantly. I've been completely confounded by how teams have undervalued the running back position in recent years. It's still close to 50% of your offensive plays right? (and I saw one article that tried to side step this by arguing offensive yards and not plays -- which I think is basically manipulating stats or a misunderstanding of football) I don't understand why teams don't invest more in this position and Gurley was my favorite in this draft, even coming off the injury -- but I can understand why that might make some teams weary.

#15: San Diego takes Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
He's an excellent runner. No doubt. He is not a good pass catcher. On ESPN's Draft Camp, I saw video of him working with Jordan Palmer on catching and it was not pretty. Hopefully he'll get better. 

#18: Kansas City takes Marcus Peters (CB, Washington)
I'd love to see a detailed explanation of why Peters got kicked off of Washington. That's pretty significant. As Gruden said, coaches don't kick off their best players. It's a pretty big red flag to me -- but, and I'm sure Kansas City did this, if it was me, I would've just done a lot of diligence on figuring out if I was comfortable with him as a person or not and how much I would discount him for getting kicked off. #18 is not nothing, but Kiper said he otherwise would've been a top-10 pick.

#20: Philadelphia takes Nelson Agholor (WR, USC)
Chip Kelly strikes again. Love. I like Jordan Matthews and he had a really productive rookie season, but this makes me much more comfortable with Philly's wide receiving corps. Agholor was a fast riser and his tape is excellent. Smart pick. 

#23: Denver takes Shane Ray (OLB, Missouri)
Love. Before his turf toe injury and getting pulled over with pot a few days before the draft, I saw Ray as high as maybe #6 to the Jets? So Ray paid a significant price for his indiscretion (and injury) -- but not as high as folks suggested. Some folks on NFL Live suggested he was out of the first round (Bill Polian) and another commentator suggested he might go in the 3rd or 4th round. (I believe that's right, but I don't remember exactly) The consensus seemed that he would fall to at least the 2nd round. Personally, that struck me as too much of a drop for what happened and that some team would take him sooner -- but that's partially borne out of how much I liked his tape (excellent tape, excellent motor) and his personal story (covered in ESPN's Draft Camp -- but his father basically walked out on him and his family and his father was the single season sack holder at Missouri I believe. So Ray not only went to Missouri in the hopes of reuniting with his father, but when that didn't happen, he set out to erase his father's record. And did it. That's a motor.) I don't know who Denver was worried might take Ray (I believe they traded 2 5s to move up 5 slots) -- but I love this move. I think Ray screwed up and will get his head on straight. Denver also has some excellent locker room folks, including Demarcus Ware, who can mentor Ray. Ray is a special talent and this pick will pay off big for Denver.

#26: Baltimore takes Breshad Perriman (WR, UCF)
Gruden covers this quite extensively -- but Perriman's drops are atrocious. Atrocious. Kiper calls them "concentration drops" -- which seems somewhat laughable in how it seems to mitigate the drops. There's no doubt that Perriman is a physical freak. I believe he ran a 4.20 40. But the #1 job of a WR is to catch the ball. #1. It really scares me when football players are not good at the thing that their position demands the most. And at wide receiver, that's catching the ball. (See Darius Heyward-Bey) We'll see what Baltimore does with him.

#28: Detroit takes Laken Tomlinson (OG, Duke)
I wasn't familiar with Tomlinson before the draft, but his tape is really solid, he's a 4-year starter, he's big, and he's smart (pre-med at Duke). But most importantly, his tape was good. He looks like a very good addition for the Lions (who got him and picked up 2 5s in the process). 

#29: Indy takes Philip Dorsett (WR, Miami)
Love. His tape is just great. He now gets to play with Andrew Luck and a stacked wide receiving corps including T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson. With the draft, the prognosticators are really dogmatic in terms of rankings but ultimately, it's all projections. And frankly, if you gave me the choice of Kevin White, Nelson Agholor, or Philip Dorsett -- I'm not terribly certain who I would take. I like them all. So to get that caliber of player at #29, that's an excellent pick.

#32: Pats take Malcolm Brown (DT, Texas)
I hate the Patriots. This guy is really good and they got him at #32. Almost at any draft position, if you sit back -- good players fall. And a really good one fell to the Patriots. He also fills a need for them with Wilfork's departure. The rich get richer. Belichick is just so good at what he does.