Utilizing our unique, objective approach to player projections and development, PredictionMachine.com presents its 2015 NFL Draft content, including a Seven Round Mock Draft, Position-by-Position Reports, Statistical Breakdowns and Future Projections for all prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft. Also available this year is the new and improved NFL Draft Machine for customizable mock drafts and comprehensive draft evaluation. All NFL Draft Content is FREE from PredictionMachine.com's Paul Bessire as well as NFL Draft Expert Matt Richner.
With the free agent acquisitions the past two seasons of Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati and now with the selection of first round pick D.J. Humphries, the Cardinals should have a solid offensive line the next few seasons. Humphries is a powerful right tackle who should solidify the run game and hopefully give Carson Palmer that extra half second to get the ball into the playmakers' hands. Their second round selection was Markus Golden (Missouri), who was one the highest rated pass rushers on our board. He should provide excellent depth and challenge for a starting spot early on this season. The Cardinals rounded out their draft taking small school prospect David Johnson (Northern Iowa), a multi-purpose back who was one of the better pass catching running backs in this draft class. Bruce Arians will find a spot for him in the running back rotation this season.
The Falcons and their new coaching staff didn't waste any time in upgrading their defensive line with their first round selection, taking dynamic pass rushing defensive end Vic Beasley (Clemson). Beasley averaged 2.11 impact plays per game while in college. The Falcons desperately needed to upgrade their pass rush and Beasley looks to fill that much needed role. Second round selection Jalen Collins (LSU) is a big, physical corner who has the measurables and size to fit into the Falcons new defensive scheme. The steal of the draft might be third round selection running back Tevin Coleman (Indiana), an elusive back who averaged over seven yards a carry throughout his college career. A combination of Coleman and Devonta Freeman give the Falcons a running back combo that can beat opponents with their speed and power. Rounding out the rest of the class was wide receiver Justin Hardy (East Carolina), a quality slot receiver and returner.
A bit of a reach in the first round for wide receiver Breshad Perriman (UCF). Receiver was a position of weakness for the Ravens, one needing immediate impact players. Perriman was the 18th
rated wide receiver in this draft class. While Perriman has the measurables he lacks the production, and he had the one of the highest drop rates of any wide receiver in this class. Maxx Williams (Minnesota) will be a quality target in the red zone and on third down for quarterback Joe Flacco this upcoming season. Third round pick Carl Davis (Iowa) is another player who has the measurables but he lacked the production and consistency to warrant a third round selection. The selection of Darren Waller (Georgia Tech) in the sixth round might end up paying off in the biggest fashion, he has the measurables and frame to be a tight end in this league. With some time and development, he could be the biggest star of this entire Ravens draft class.
With no first round pick, having traded it away last year to move up to select Sammy Watkins, the Bills had to sit tight on the first day of the draft. In the second round the Bills selected Ronald Darby (FSU), an ultra-aggressive and physical corner who looks like a perfect fit for the Rex Ryan defense. Receivers last season had a 60 percent plus catch rate against Darby, one of the highest in the class. Ryan and the rest of the Bills coaches will have their work cut out for them to get Darby up to speed and ready to start this season. The fifth round selection of Karlos Williams (FSU) could pay immediate dividends, he had a 76 percent conversion rate on short yardage situations throughout his career. With LeSean McCoy offering the big play opportunities and Williams now the power back, the Bills have a two-headed rushing monster on their hands.
: A team that is on the on the verge of taking the next step towards becoming a perennial Super Bowl contender, the Panthers despite needing help along their offensive line, selected linebacker Shaq Thompson (Washington) in the first round. While Thompson is a quality player who no doubt should have some success in the NFL, the Panthers already have one of the best linebacker units in the NFL with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. In the second round the Panthers went ahead and selected Devin Funchess (Michigan), a big-bodied, and reliable pass catching wide receiver. Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin should give opponents some trouble and be a matchup nightmare for small corners and defensive backs. The Panthers finally adding some depth to their offensive line in the third round with the selection of Daryl Williams (OT), a massive tackle who could eventually slide inside if he shows he can't handle the outside speed rushers in the NFL. The offensive line is still a major question mark for the Panthers, look for them to add some depth through undrafted free agency.
: With a new head coach and an entire new coaching staff, the Bears are looking to make some significant upgrades on both sides of the ball. The first round selection of Kevin White (West Virginia) might grab the headlines now, but he lacked the consistent production in college to warrant such a lofty draft spot. 76 percent of White's production came during his senior season. With all the eye-popping combine measurables only 15 percent of his receptions went for 25 or more yards. With wide receiver DeVante Parker still on the board, the Bears would have been better off trading down a few spots and then selecting Parker, a more dominant and accomplished receiver. Another reach for the Bears was second round pick Eddie Goldman (FSU), a player who again has the measurables but never quite lived up the hype of being a top prospect. Opponents had a field day when running to Goldman's gap responsibility last season. The lone bright spot for the Bears was third round selection Hroniss Grasu (Oregon), a talented center who will no doubt form a lethal blocking tandem next to his former college teammate Kyle Long.
: The safest and surest bet is to always go with an offensive line prospect in the first round. The Bengals battled some injuries along their offensive line last season, and first round pick Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M) will have offer tremendous value in terms of depth and quality at either the tackle or guard spot. His versatility along the offensive line was second to none in this draft class. It was a curious but not a bad decision to select Jake Fisher (Oregon), another offensive tackle in the second round. This two offensive lineman can sit, learn, and develop for a season until they take over the starting right guard and left tackle positions in a year or two. One of the top ten rated players in this draft class, third round selection Paul Dawson (TCU) could end being one of the bigger steals of the entire draft. Watch for Dawson to challenge starting linebacker Rey Maualuga for the starting spot, and in time I believe Dawson will become one of the defensive leaders for the Bengals. The Bengals added a number of significant prospects who should provide great depth and quality at a number of positions both on offense and defense. Seventh round selection Mario Alford will be looked upon to be a consistent returner and a factor on special teams. With his speed and agility, he should have a few opportunities to see some significant action early on in his career.
: After failing to grab a player in last year's first round that produced anything more than paper headlines, this year the Browns went back to the basics. Both first round selections focused on the offensive and defensive line. First off the board was defensive tackle Danny Shelton (Washington), a mammoth defensive tackle who should form a run stuffing machine when he and current Browns tackle Phil Taylor are lined up together. Next, the Browns took center/guard Cameron Erving (FSU), a versatile offensive lineman who will provide some stability at either the center spot (if Alex Mack can't come back from injury) or the right guard position. If Mack is able to come back, this gives the Browns one of the biggest and strongest (in terms of overall talent) offensive lines in the NFL. The selection of dynamic pass rushing specialist, Nate Orchard (Utah) in the second round, will give the Browns something they have been lacking at the outside linebacker spot, which is currently filled by former first round bust Barkevious Mingo. That missing ingredient is a talented pass rusher who is capable of getting after opponents quarterback. Orchard was one of the top rated pass rushers on our board and a player who averaged 1.63 impact plays per game. In need of some playmakers on offense, the selection of Duke Johnson (Miami) should give whoever is the starting quarterback an elusive, playmaking tailback. Johnson excels in the screen game and as a pass catcher coming out of the backfield. Rounding out their draft class is the ultra-talented and the top defensive back in the entire draft, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (Oregon), who dropped because of injury concerns. When healthy he was the top rated corner throughout most of last season. If Ekpre-Olomu can regain his old form, the Browns might have picked up a corner who is capable of being a true number one cornerback in the league. Brown's fans have struggled to see a consistent winner in Cleveland for a long time, and while this draft might not bring immediate results in the win column, it was a solid draft filled with talented players who produced at a high level in college over a consistent period of time.
After a couple of seasons of following a solid script of upgrading their offensive line and focusing on building their foundation, the Cowboys decided to gamble a little bit this year and go for more of a risk vs. reward type of plan. First round selection Byron Jones (Connecticut), a player who can be a lockdown corner, tested out of this world at the combine, but when asked to play in zone coverage he struggled in college. He has his flaws, but the pure athletic ability he possesses was too enticing for the Cowboys to pass up. Remember, this is the same Cowboys staff that thought rather highly of former first round bust Morris Claiborne a few years ago. The selection of second round pick Randy Gregory (Nebraska) is a pure risk versus reward. He has failed multiple drug tests, and according to multiple media reports he skipped a few meetings with various NFL teams. The production on the field is evident. He was one of the best pass rushers in this class and if he could have kept himself out of the headlines he might have been a top ten pick. The Cowboys needed a pass rusher to pair up with last year's second round selection Demarcus Lawrence, who we had rated as the top pass rusher in last year's class. Gregory will have to make sure he walks a straight line or else he won't be given many chances in the NFL. The rest of the Cowboys draft was built around adding depth along the offensive and defensive lines. I don't expect any of their later round selections to be anything more than backups and special teams players this first year.
: In a win-now type of mode, the Broncos traded up in the first round to select outside linebacker Shane Ray (Missouri). Ray was the ninth rated defensive end prospect in this draft. Ray averaged 1.3 impact plays per game, which was below former college teammate Markus Golden who averaged 1.47 impact plays per game in college and was selected in the second round by the Arizona Cardinals. I thought it was a reach to take Ray in the first round, but the Broncos hope Ray can learn and become an understudy to future hall of famer DeMarcus Ware. The Broncos made a concerted effort to upgrade their talent and depth along the offensive line with the selection of Ty Sambrailo (Colorado) and Max Garcia (Florida). One prospect who looks to see some immediate playing time is fifth round defensive back Lorenzo Doss (Tulane). A ball hawk on the outside, Doss had 15 interceptions during his college career.
: They were able to add a couple of extra draft picks, move down a few spots in the first round and still manage to select the best interior offensive guard in the draft in Laken Tomlinson (Duke). The addition of Tomlinson alongside third year standout Larry Warford gives the Browns two punishing run blocking guards capable of shutting downs opponents' interior pass rushers. Getting Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska) in the second round will turn out to be a great value pick. He can provide a new weapon in the screen and short yardage game, similar to the way Darren Sproles has been so effective throughout his career. While third round selection Alex Carter (Stanford) might get more attention, sixth round selection Quandre Diggs (Texas) could be the prospect who starts first. Diggs is a playmaker at the cornerback position as he had 11 interceptions and four forced fumbles compared to Carter who only had two interceptions and four forced fumbles in his career.
Green Bay Packers
: The Packers have one of the most trusted and proven track records for scouting, and developing talented players in the NFL. This year's class is filled with a handful of players who have shown promise and impressive skill sets but are still young and need time to grow and learn. First round pick Damarious Randall (Arizona State) has only played in 25 games, but he managed six interceptions and four forced fumbles. Randall is a true ball-hawking saftey capable of playing the deep center field role on the Packers defense. A former point guard on his college basketball team, Quinten Rollins (Miami, OH) only played one season of college football but still managed to record seven interceptions. Jake Ryan (Michigan), a fourth round selection, is a versatile player who can rush the pass in sub packages or stand up and drop into coverage. While he might not have the measurables some teams are looking for, he's a good player who looks to have a bright future. The Packers have been struggling to find a long term backup at the quarterback position and for their sake, hopefully Brett Hundley (UCLA) fills that void. While I don't think he is anything more than a backup, taking him in the 5th
round is the perfect scenario of not overdrafting a player based on need and allowing him to come to you.
: The Texans are a team that has a lot of the pieces in place with the league's top rated pass rusher in J.J. Watt, and last year's number one overall pick Jadevon Clowney. The Texans need to upgrade the quarterback position and they won't turn the corner until they get a long term answer at that position. This year's class didn't offer them an opportunity to pick up that guy, so they took the approach of upgrading an already dominant defensive unit with their first two picks. Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest) provides the Texans a big, lanky cornerback capable of matching up and going one-on-one with the bigger, taller wideouts in the NFL. He is smart player who displays great ball skills and while I had other cornerbacks rated higher than Johnson, I believe he will be a solid player in the NFL. Second round pick Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi State) is a player who I believe is likely to be a draft bust. McKinney has repeatedly shown to be a liability in coverage and opponents routinely attacked his weakness in covering one-on-one. On film he missed tackles in the open field, allowing for significant yards after the catch and yards after contact these past two seasons. One player to keep an eye on is sixth round selection Christian Covington (Rice), he had the third highest average with 1.35 impact plays per game amongst all defensive tackles in this draft class.
: If there is one thing we are starting to realize about the Colts front office is their desire to build a team around speed and quickness. Maybe they are turning into the Al Davis 2.0 era in Indy? First round pick Phillip Dorsett (Miami) was one of the fastest guys at the combine and is capable of being a deep downfield target for the Colts. I'm not sure how he and T.Y. Hilton are going to work together because both work in similar areas of the field. If the coaching staff can find a way to blend these two dynamic speedsters together, then the sky is the limit. The Colts still need to upgrade both their offensive and defensive lines. D'Joun Smith (FAU), a hard hitting and quality press cover corner in the second round looks to be a great selection. The Colts did a good job at finding value and impact players in the sixth round with the selection of Josh Robinson (Mississippi State) and Amarlo Herrera (Georgia). With a thin linebacker core already for the Colts, look for Herrera to see some significant playing time this upcoming season.
: An already improving defense just got an instant upgrade at the defensive end spot with Dante Fowler Jr. (Florida). The third overall rated defensive end on my board, Fowler Jr. is no doubt a difference maker coming off the edge. He averaged 1.5 impact plays per game last season. From a pure value standpoint, I thought Leonard Williams (USC) would have been a better fit and player for the Jaguars. The addition of T.J. Yeldon (Alabama) at running back was a position of weakness and need for the Jags. A lot of coaches I talked to around the league thought Yeldon was right behind Gordon and Gurley on the running back board. One pick I think might be overshadowed with this class is Rashad Greene (FSU), a player who has incredible hands with a drop rate below 4 percent last season. A player built in a similar fashion to current Jags wide receivers Marqise Lee and Alan Robinson, the Jags are doing everything in their power to surround their young quarterback with talented, reliable pass catchers and playmakers. I'm not sure why sixth round pick Michael Bennett (Ohio State) dropped that far, few players in this class can rush the pass from the interior like Bennett. He's a bit undersized but his speed and quickness will make him a valuable tool that head coach Gus Bradley will utilize this season.
Kansas City Chiefs
: If there was one position on defense the Chiefs needed to improve upon it was their secondary and they took two major impact players in first round pick Marcus Peters (Washington) and third rounder Steven Nelson (Oregon State). Peters had some issues both on and off the field that are well documented, without those incidents he would have been a top-10 pick. Peters is a talented player who will need guidance and a stable environment. Nelson, the best nickel corner in this class, is a guy who likes to press and get into opponents bubble having the strength to push guys off their route. Nelson is a solid selection and the number two ranked cornerback on my board in this draft. One late round prospect to keep an eye on is Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Southern Miss.), he averaged 1.13 impact plays per game throughout his career. If he can put everything together he could develop into a solid starter in the NFL.
: The top rated wide receiver in this draft remarkably fell down to the 14th
overall spot in the first round and Miami just might have found their long term answer and a number one wide receiver in DeVante Parker (Louisville). Parker's statistical production and efficiency metrics closely resemble those of Pro Bowl standout A.J. Green. An offense built around Parker, Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, and Jarvis Landry has the possibility of being one of the top offenses in the NFL. A run stuffing clog in Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma) will help provide some depth and protection for high priced free agent acquisition Ndamukong Suh. While his production in college warranted a second or third round grade, health issues dropped running back Jay Ajayi (Boise State). A number of running backs have come into the league as late round or undrafted free agents and gone on to become leading rushers and superstars in this league. If Ajayi can stay healthy and prove to skeptics that he is a complete back, then Miami might have found themselves a hidden gem in the later rounds of this draft.
: There's no denying the fact that the Vikings play against some of the best offenses and offensive playmakers in the NFL. They have concentrated on upgrading their defensive secondary the past couple of seasons. Two years ago they took Xavier Rhodes in the first round and now this year they selected Trae Waynes (Michigan State) in the first round. Waynes comes from a system in college that put him in a lot of one-on-one situations on the outside. Head Coach Mike Zimmer defenses calls for multiple pass rushers and requires the defensive secondary to be left out there on an island. If Waynes can add some more bulk and get stronger in his press coverage the Vikings will have a young, talented secondary that could quickly be the focal point of the Vikings defense. Second round pick Eric Kendricks (UCLA) is a tackling machine that is capable of filling in running lanes and dropping into coverage. A three down linebacker, he was one the best linebackers in this class and a steal for the Vikings in the second round. Fourth round selection T.J. Clemmings has the talent and production of a first round caliber player, but health concerns dropped him in this draft. He might not have a long career, but in the short term he could provide much needed depth along the offense line.
New England Patriots
: Sometimes the rich get richer and by holding onto the 32 spot in the first round, they were lucky to have Malcom Brown (Texas) drop into their lap. A ferocious interior pass rusher who is also a run stuffing clog in the middle, Brown is a capable three down lineman for the Patriots. Fourth round selection Trey Flowers (Arkansas) will be asked to take on blockers and stop opponents' rushing attack, two areas of his game he excelled in at college. Upgrading the interior of the offensive line with the selections of Tre Jackson (FSU) and Shaw Mason (Georgia Tech) suggests that the Patriots know they that their division rivals all upgraded their defensive line this past offseason.
New Orleans Saints
: After trading away a number of their skill position players in Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this offseason, the Saints went back to the basics and upgraded their foundation. First round selection Andrus Peat (Stanford) was the top rated offensive tackle on my board in this draft. Peat is a big, agile tackle who still has to develop his technique but the talent and production are there. He can shut down opponents' speed or power rushers. Stephone Anthony (Clemson) is a much needed upgrade at the inside linebacker position for the Saints. While I had Kendricks and Dawson rated higher than Anthony, he is still a talented player who excels in pass coverage and being a vocal leader on defense, which is something the Saints desperately need. Second rounder Hau'Oli Kikaha (Washington) was one of the more accomplished pass rushers in this draft class with 35.5 sacks and Rob Ryan will find ways for him to attack opposing quarterbacks from all different angles. I really like the selection of Garrett Grayson (Colorado State), he is smart player who shows good accuracy and ability to make all the throws. A perfect second string quarterback for a couple of years, he can sit and learn behind Drew Brees. Grayson is similar to a Tony Romo, whom Head Coach Sean Payton developed in Dallas. Keep an eye out for David Tull (Chattanooga), the tenth rated defensive end on my board, and a player who averaged 2.25 impact plays per game.
New York Giants
: A surprise selection, though not based on position but based on value, Ereck Flowers (Miami) was the sixth rated offensive tackle on my board. The Giants had the opportunity to select Andrus Peat, but chose to go with the young, athletic tackle that has more question marks than answers to his game. They might have been able to trade down, collected more picks and still pick up Flowers. Upgrading your offensive line is always a smart priority, hopefully Flowers turns out to be a long term answer at left tackle. He will likely be asked to start right away. The Giants are team that is in a win-now type of mode with an aging quarterback and coach on the hot seat. Second round pick Landon Collins (Alabama) is an in the box type of safety who is more comfortable coming down and stopping opponents' rushing attack than he is playing deep coverage. While some thought he might be a first round caliber talent, a number of question to his game, most specifically his ability to cover bigger more physical tight ends, caused him to drop. With very few instant playmakers in this draft class, last year's draft class will be asked to take on more responsibility and leadership for this team to make the playoffs.
New York Jets
: With a new front office in play, the Jets looked to have finally found a stable front office unit that is capable of making smart, sound, logical decisions with their draft picks. They were smart and even though defensive tackle is an area of strength for them, selecting Leonard Williams (USC), the top overall player in this draft. In the second round they were able to snag an elite pass catching and deep downfield target in Devin Smith (Ohio State). Smith was the fourth highest rated wide receiver on my board, and a player who averaged over 20 yards per reception throughout his college career. Geno Smith will have no more excuses if he can't get the Jets offense out of first gear this season. Fifth round selection Jarvis Harrison (Texas A&M) is a mauler who will make an instant impact in the run game. He might not be the most agile and athletic guard, but if he gets his hands on you, he will run you over and out of the play. A steal for the Jets in the fifth round.
: With a young quarterback (David Carr) in place for the Raiders, they are starting to surround him with quality talent, the first piece being first round pick Amari Cooper (Alabama). He graded out to be the second best wide receiver in this class and a player whose metrics closely resemble that of a young Reggie Wayne. This is a team with a lot of needs, but adding Cooper is a good step in the right direction to making this team competitive once again. Clive Walford (Miami) is another piece on offense at the tight end spot that can hopefully develop into a top target for quarterback Derek Carr. Walford isn't that great in pass protection, but he is an accomplished route runner and a dangerous weapon in the open field. Two late round prospects who could be starters down the road are Ben Heeney (Kansas) and Max Valles (Virginia). Heeney, an accomplished open field tackler, won't allow many yards after contact and can be a three down linebacker. Valles was the second rated outside linebacker in this draft class. With only 22 career games, he still managed to produce an incredible 2.14 impact plays per game. It might take him a season or two to develop but I believe he could be a true star in this league.
: With all the intrigue and talk leading up to the draft about how the Eagles were going to jump up to the second spot to take Marcus Mariota, the Eagles decided to stay in their draft spot. They wound up with a solid playmaker in Nelson Agholor (USC), who will be asked to step into the role vacated by Jeremy Maclin. A combination of Agholor, Jordan Matthews, DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, and Zach Ertz gives the Eagles a dynamic offense capable of shredding opponents in both the run and the passing game. The Eagles focused the rest of the draft on defense, selecting Eric Rowe (Utah) a versatile safety/cornerback who has the length that the Eagles defensive staff likes out of their secondary players. Sixth round selection JaCorey Shepherd (Kansas) might not have the length but he does possess the ability to slide inside and become a nickel corner for the Eagles. A tough competitor, he won't back down from a challenge and can play press corner if asked. The Eagles really like Brandon Boykin but Shepherd will be his understudy for the upcoming season.
: The top rated outside linebacker and my number two rated pass rusher in this class, Bud Dupree (Kentucky) fell right into the Steelers laps with the 22nd
overall selection. In 2014 his average snap-to-hit time was a blazing fast 2.32 seconds, a rate that is similar to what Von Miller posted his final year of college. If Dupree can maintain his consistent and productive form, he along with Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones can form a triple pass rushing threat in Pittsburgh. It looks as though the Steelers have a recipe for wide receivers and it involves selecting wideouts who had more than 33 percent of their receptions for 20 or more yards in college. Last year Martavis Bryant had a mark of 36 percent of his college receptions for more than 20 yards, and this year third round selection Sammie Coates had a mark of 33 percent. Fifth round selection Jesse James (Penn State) might be limited in terms of blocking, but he is an instant target and a matchup nightmare in the red zone as he stands 6'7”.
San Diego Chargers
: While they didn't have the depth and the quantity of picks as a lot of other teams, in terms of value and quality I'm not sure any team did much better. They started off grabbing a top five player on my board in Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin) in the first round. Gordon had the highest running back grade in this year's draft class at 105.53. For comparison sake, Jamaal Charles had the closest grade to this for running back over the past ten seasons. If Gordon can develop and produce as well as Jamaal Charles, along with stable quarterback play from Phillip Rivers, the Chargers might finally be heading for a deep playoff run these next couple of seasons. Their second round pick, Denzel Perryman, lacked the height, weight, and speed measurables most prototypical scouts are looking for from an inside linebacker. What he doesn't lack is the skill set to be a dominant force for the Chargers. One NFL coach referred to Perryman as the hammer and every NFL teams needs at least one of them on their roster. Perryman has a unique skill set in forcing fumbles, proven by his seven forced fumbles for his career. Lastly, an underrated player and a possible late round steal is sixth round selection Darius Philon (Arkansas). A young, still developing prospect, he only played 25 games in college. A true run stuffing defensive tackle, he can stay stout at the point of attack and occupy blockers, which will free up the talented linebackers right behind him the freedom to make plays. Watch out for undrafted free agent signing Titus Davis (Central Michigan). He should have every opportunity to make the 53 man roster and will excel as a slot receiver in the NFL if he can continue his development.
San Francisco 49ers
: I'm not certain I understand the direction and plan the 49ers have put into place. A team that not too long ago was one of the perennial powers in the NFL, with a trip to the Super Bowl and multiple NFC Championship games, now look adrift in their route back to the top. First round pick Arik Armstead (Oregon), who had an undrafted rating in our board, is a player who has the size and speed but lacks the production. He only registered two pass breakups in his career despite being 6'7” and 292 pounds. He will need a couple of years to develop into a starting caliber player in the NFL. The 49ers have spent a first or second round selection at the saftey position each of the past three seasons. This year they drafted Jaquiski Tartt (Samford), a small school prospect who failed to dominate and be a catalyst for his college team despite player against sub-par competition. He might have had a good Senior Bowl week but he only averaged 1.22 impact plays per game in college, ranking him 22nd
overall amongst this year safety class. Fourth rounder Eli Harold (Virginia) is the most accomplished player in this draft and projects to have the most success early on in the NFL. Two intriguing prospects who could see immediate playing time next season are Mike Davis (South Carolina) and DeAndre Smelter (Georgia Tech). Davis is a scat back who can be used as a third down target and Smelter is a big-bodied wide receiver who adds size and strength to an undersized unit. The 49ers used to build their draft class on the offensive and defensive lines, taking accomplished and polished players. In terms of overall player's value additions, the 49ers had the lowest and possibly worst draft class in the NFL.
: Without a first round pick, having traded it to the Saints for the rights to Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks already improved a glaring weakness on their roster at the tight end position. With few starting positions open for almost any rookie, this year's class was designed to add depth at a few key positions. Second round selection Frank Clark (Michigan) fits the mold of last year's fourth round selection Cassius Marsh and starting outside linebacker/rush end Bruce Irvin. With Irvin slotted to be a free agent next season, Clark will most likely be an understudy this year and possibly take over the starting spot in year two. Clark's never displayed the dominant production one would expect from a second round pick, with only 11.5 sacks and an average of 1.15 impact plays per game, which ranks him 32nd
amongst this year's defensive end prospects. Third round selection Tyler Lockett (Kansas State) was the top slot wide receiver in this year's class. Lockett has the highest total of all-purpose yards of any wide receiver in this draft class with 6,591 yards. With Graham working the deep portions of the field, look for Lockett to be a consistent target in the short to intermediate passing game for quarterback Russell Wilson. Finally, the Seahawks filled out the rest of their draft class with a stable of young offensive lineman who all have the versatility to play tackle or guard.
St. Louis Rams
: A much needed upgrade at the running back position was sorely needed for the Rams as they have missed a 1,000 yard rusher since the days of Steven Jackson. First round pick Todd Gurley (Georgia) runs with such balance allowing Gurley to plow through defenders, showcasing the strength to stiff-arm would-be tacklers and pick up large chunks of yards. Rarely going down on initial contact, Gurley is constantly fighting for extra yards. Even with a bruising, physical style of play, Gurley displayed excellent ball security only fumbling three tims with a fumble rate of .5 percent. With a new quarterback and a new found rushing attack, upgrading the offensive line was next on the Rams to-do list and they accomplished that by taking Robert Havenstein (Wisconsin) and Jamon Brown (Louisville). Both players can expect an opportunity to see some starting minutes. Havenstein is a road-grading, physical blocker and one of the better tackles in this draft. Two late round prospects to watch out for on defense are Bryce Hager (Baylor) and Martin Ifedi (Memphis), both players had quality production while in college and could provide immediate impact on special teams in year one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
: No surprise with their first round selection, Jameis Winston (FSU), the highest rated quarterback on my board and a player who if he stays clean off the field should develop into the next Matt Ryan. The Bucs have a core of big, talented group of playmakers at wide receiver and tight end for Winston to grow and develop with. If he can develop and grow on the field, look for the Bucs to be a playoff caliber team in a year or two. The offensive line was in desperate need of a talent upgrade. Donovan Smith (Penn State) is a decent player, they had an opportunity to take Jake Fisher, but decided to pass on him. Ali Marpet (Hobart) is a small school offensive guard who dominated his level of competition. It might take him a season to get up to speed in the NFL as he is jumping from Division III all the way to the NFL. Overall a good class and one that builds on the talent and production of last year's accomplished and impressive rookie class.
: With everyone knowing who the Bucs were taking at number one, all the talk and chatter leading up to the draft was surrounding the Titans and if they were going to trade down or keep the pick. While we might not ever know what was formally offered to the Titans, it was a smart move to hold tight and select quarterback Marcus Mariota (Oregon). There is no way he is sitting on the bench for his rookie season, the Titans front office and coaching staff are on thin ice and expect him to come in and play right away. The surprise pick of the draft for the Titans was second rounder Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri), a player who had a high drop rate, and while talented had a number of off-field issues. He was the 13th
ranked wide receiver on my board, a bit of a reach for a second rounder when Jalen Strong was still available to them. This was a foundation draft, built along upgrading their offensive and defensive lines. The Titans still might be picking in the top five next year but at least they will have a long term answer at quarterback.
: Taking a page out of his old playbook on building the 49ers, current general manager Scott McCloughan focused on building his offensive line with power run blockers. In the first round they took Brandon Scherff (Iowa). Already having Trent Williams at left tackle, a bookend right tackle in Scherff gives them two solid young players that they can build around for a long period of time. It might not be the sexiest pick in the draft but in terms of production and value to a team having a dominant offensive line will pay immediate dividends as well as down the road. Preston Smith (Mississippi State) is a player who plays well against the run and can maintain his gap responsibility. With pass rushers Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy coming off the edge, Smith has the ability to take on multiple blockers and free up some space for his teammates. Washington best round in the draft came in the fourth picking up a talented slot wide receiver and an excellent kickoff returner in Jamison Crowder (Duke). They followed that pick up with Arie Kouandjio (Alabama), a player built for a power blocking scheme. He might not have graded out very well at the combine but his production and ability to pass protect will help in the development of becoming a starter down the road. An overall good draft that was used on building the foundation and cornerstone of the Redskins.