2015 NFL Draft Winners, Losers, Surprises & Disappointments
The 2015 NFL Draft ended late Saturday in Chicago. Now that all 32 teams have finished making their picks, let’s see which franchises and players fared best (and worst):
2015 NFL Draft: Winners
Atlanta Falcons — Getting stud pass rusher Vic Beasley at the eighth pick was exactly what the defensively challenged Falcons needed. Snagging LSU cornerback Jalen Collins in the second round and Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett in the fifth were even better. The Falcons’ new talent won’t make star quarterbacks Drew Brees or Cam Newton as comfortable as their predecessors have in the NFC South over the past two seasons.
Jacksonville Jaguars — The Jags still need a lot of help, but no one can argue with adding the talent of pass-rushing beast Dante Fowler Jr. in the first round, spritely running back T.J. Yeldon in the second and underrated defensive tackle Michael Bennett in the sixth. Even Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack should help the Jacksonville attack. That’s incredible value in one draft day.
St. Louis Rams — In addition to adding explosive running back Todd Gurley of Georgia in the first round, the Rams addressed their pathetic offensive line by taking Wisconsin tackle Rob Havenstein in the second round, Louisville tackle Jamon Brown in the third, Iowa tackle Andrew Donnal in the fourth and Fresno State guard Cody Wichmann in the sixth. With the team’s already stout defensive line and a potentially dangerous passing attack led by newly acquired quarterback Nick Foles in development, St. Louis could soon find itself thinking playoffs.
2015 NFL Draft: Losers
San Francisco 49ers – The Niners needed to prove that they’d be OK without coach Jim Harbaugh helping build the team. It didn’t happen. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead is a building-sized building block, but he might not be able to help right away. Receiver Deandre Smelter of Georgia Tech is still recovering from a knee injury suffered last December, so he might be a late-comer, too. The rebuilding in the Bay Area may take longer than expected.
Indianapolis Colts — Taking fleet wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first-round was an odd move by the Colts, who have Andre Johnson and T.Y. Hilton in the fold. If Indy wanted to get closer to the Super Bowl, it needed to fortify its defense early — or make a deal to maximize the pick.
Buffalo Bills — The Bills were without a first-round pick thanks to last year’s acquisition of receiver Sammy Watkins, but they didn’t get much value after choosing cornerback Ronald Darby in the second round. Coach Rex Ryan always seems to be in win-now mode, but he may find himself wishing he was able to count on more than one young player from this draft.
Low Picks That Could Surprise
Daryl Williams, Carolina Panthers — A skilled offensive tackle from Oklahoma, Daryl Williams was a potential steal for the Panthers. Expected to go in the second or third round, Williams lasted until Saturday’s fourth round. The 6’6”, 329-pound tackle should make an impact in Carolina this season.
T.J. Clemmings, Minnesota Vikings G – Stress-fractures in his left foot scared teams off Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings, who would have been a first-round pick otherwise. The Vikings scooped up this impressive talent in the fourth round. He should be clearing holes in the NFL this fall.
Grady Jarrett, Atlanta Falcons DT – Projected to go in the second round on most draft boards, Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett somehow lasted until the fifth round. Oh – and his house caught fire. Great weekend, right? He’ll be motivated in Atlanta. No one should be surprised if he winds up in the Pro Bowl someday.
High Picks That Might Disappoint
Andrus Peat, New Orleans Saints T – The Saints have an aging offensive line, so they needed to start the replacement process this year. While the gigantic (6’7″, 313 lbs.) Peat played in a great program at Stanford, he has been inconsistent – something that will have to change to justify going top 15 in this deep draft.
Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers WR — The Panthers traded up 16 spots to take this versatile receiver out of Michigan in the second round. They probably didn’t have to. Somewhere in-between a tight end and wideout, Funchess didn’t project as high as Devin Smith, Jaelen Strong, Sammie Coates or Rashad Greene — all of whom went well after him.
Erick Flowers, New York Giants G — The Giants must believe that they can coach the 6’6” 330-pound Flowers into a true high first-round talent. He’s a better run blocker than a pass protector. Aging Eli Manning might not want to have Flowers keeping the bull rushers in the NFC East out of the pocket just yet.
Player Who Could Still Change A Team’s Fortunes
La’el Collins, LSU T – Offensive tackle La’el Collins was a first-round talent, but after it was revealed that he’ll meet with homicide detectives Monday in Baton Rouge “in connection with the murder of a woman believed to be his former girlfriend,” no NFL team drafted him.
After recent problems with high-profile player conduct cases, NFL teams stayed far away from Collins, who has not been charged in connection with any crime. He’ll likely soon sign with a team as an undrafted free agent, making that team’s “draft class” much better.