2015 NFL Draft Recap

AmariCooper

In an earlier article I discussed how five teams were looking to improve in this year’s draft. Now that the draft is over, we can take a look to see if they addressed their biggest needs. Some teams had some very impressive drafts, others left us scratching our heads with some controversial picks.

Dallas Cowboys

Pick (overall pick number in parentheses) Player Position College
Rd 1 Pick 27 (27) Byron Jones CB Connecticut
Rd 2 Pick 28 (60) Randy Gregory OLB Nebraska
Rd 3 Pick 27 (91) Chaz Green OT Florida
Rd 4 Pick 28 (127) Damien Wilson ILB Minnesota
Rd 5 Pick 27 (163) Ryan Russell DE Purdue
Rd 7 Pick 19 (236) Mark Nzeocha OLB Wyoming
Rd 7 Pick 26 (243) Laurence Gibson OT Virginia Tech
Rd 7 Pick 29 (246) Geoff Swaim TE Texas

Dallas’ two biggest needs were cornerback and running back. Well, their first round pick, Byron Jones, will help immediately, they didn’t draft a single running back. Looks like the Dallas faithful will be watching a backfield trio of Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle in 2015. There was also for a need at linebacker, and they addressed that with a high-risk, high-reward pick in Randy Gregory in the second round. He is a first round talent, but the off-field issues are rather concerning. From this draft, the Cowboys defense will see an immediate impact. The Cowboys brought in Greg Hardy this offseason, and he and Gregory carry some baggage with them.  Expect Gregory and Jones in particular to help out the Cowboys defense and help them improve upon last year’s record. The Cowboys didn’t do much to address the offensive side of the ball, but the loss of DeMarco Murray

Houston Texans

Pick (overall pick number in parentheses) Player Position College
Rd 1 Pick 16 (16) Kevin Johnson CB Wake Forest
Rd 2 Pick 11 (43) Benardrick McKinney ILB Mississippi St.
Rd 3 Pick 6 (70) Jaelen Strong WR Arizona St.
Rd 5 Pick 39 (175) Keith Mumphery WR Michigan St.
Rd 6 Pick 35 (211) Reshard Cliett OLB South Florida
Rd 6 Pick 40 (216) Christian Covington DT Rice
Rd 7 Pick 18 (235) Kenny Hilliard RB LSU

It looks as if Houston is going to go into the season with a quarterback trio of Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage. Houston had a mindset and they nailed this draft, especially with their first three picks. Johnson will be an immediate factor on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the nickel package. Houston drafted him with the hopes of being a starter in a couple seasons. McKinney is a run-stopping linebacker, something Houston desperately needed. Regular starter Brian Cushing is fragile, so this pick made a lot of sense. Strong was a first round talent that fell to the third round and Houston snatched him right up. He will lineup opposite of DeAndre Hopkins and he has big shoes to fill as the replacement of the great Andre Johnson. While Houston’s offense may sputter at times, look for the defense to keep them in game like they did in 2014. Houston could very well win 10 games this season with a consistent offense and Strong should help with that.

Oakland Raiders

Pick (overall pick number in parentheses) Player Position College
Rd 1 Pick 4 (4) Amari Cooper WR Alabama
Rd 2 Pick 3 (35) Mario Edwards, Jr. DT Florida St.
Rd 3 Pick 4 (68) Clive Walford TE Miami
Rd 4 Pick 29 (128) Jon Feliciano OG Miami
Rd 5 Pick 4 (140) Ben Heeney ILB Kansas
Rd 5 Pick 25 (161) Neiron Ball OLB Florida
Rd 6 Pick 3 (179) Max Valles OLB Virginia
Rd 7 Pick 1 (218) Anthony Morris OL Tennessee St.
Rd 7 Pick 4 (221) Andre Debose WR Florida
Rd 7 Pick 25 (242) Dexter McDonald CB Kansas

Cooper headlines the team’s draft class, but Edwards and Debose are solid picks as well. Cooper will step right in as the go-to guy in Oakland, which will help quarterback Derek Carr’s progression. Edwards will help the team’s defensive line, but there are weight concerns with the defensive end. He was 272 pounds at his pro day, but weighed in at 310 a couple months later. If he can stay around the 280 range, he could be a steal in the second round. People should have expected the Debose selection in the later rounds, because he is exactly who Oakland goes for at the tail end of drafts. He is extremely fast and will likely only contribute to the special teams in his rookie season. With their young players progressing and this year’s draft class, Oakland is poised to improve upon their record, but they are still a few years away from being good. However, a Carr-Cooper combination could be something worth seeing as early as this season.

New England Patriots

Pick (overall pick number in parentheses) Player Position College
Rd 1 Pick 32 (32) Malcom Brown DT Texas
Rd 2 Pick 32 (64) Jordan Richards SS Stanford
Rd 3 Pick 33 (97) Geneo Grissom DE Oklahoma
Rd 4 Pick 2 (101) Trey Flowers DE Arkansas
Rd 4 Pick 12 (111) Tre’ Jackson OG Florida St.
Rd 4 Pick 32 (131) Shaq Mason C Georgia Tech
Rd 5 Pick 30 (166) Joe Cardona LS Navy
Rd 6 Pick 2 (178) Matthew Wells LB Mississippi St.
Rd 6 Pick 26 (202) A.J. Derby TE Arkansas
Rd 7 Pick 30 (247) Darryl Roberts CB Marshall
Rd 7 Pick 36 (253) Xzavier Dickson OLB Alabama

The reigning Super Bowl champions had a plan and they nailed it. They took defensive lineman with three of their four picks, and they expect Brown to fill the void left by the departure of Vince Wilfork.  Their first of two picks in the seventh round, Roberts, is a fascinating selection, seeing as his pro day numbers jumped off the chart. He will need some work, but it could be as early as 2015 that we see Roberts in a high leverage role. The only knock on the Patriots’ draft was that they failed to get a wide receiver. Expect another year of Tom Brady making average receivers (other than Julian Edelman) look decent. Just like in previous years, New England is a team that you will want to see.

Cleveland Browns

Pick (overall pick number in parentheses) Player Position College
Rd 1 Pick 12 (12) Danny Shelton NT Washington
Rd 1 Pick 19 (19) Cameron Erving C Florida St.
Rd 2 Pick 19 (51) Nate Orchard DE Utah
Rd 3 Pick 13 (77) Duke Johnson RB Miami
Rd 3 Pick 32 (96) Xavier Cooper DT Washington St.
Rd 4 Pick 16 (115) Ibraheim Campbell SS Northwestern
Rd 4 Pick 24 (123) Vince Mayle WR Washington St.
Rd 6 Pick 13 (289) Charles Gaines CB Louisville
Rd 6 Pick 19 195) Malcolm Johnson TE Mississippi St.
Rd 6 Pick 22 (198) Randall Telfer TE USC
Rd 7 Pick 2 (219) Hayes Pullard ILB USC
Rd 7 Pick 24 (241) Ifo Ekpre-Olomu CB Oregon

Cleveland is a much better team than last year already. They were the worst team against the run last year, but Shelton and Orchard will help with that immediately. Ekpre-Olomu was a first round talent, but a torn ACL at practice cause his draft stock to fall. He landed in the Browns lap at pick 241 and when he gets healthy, he could be a major contributor early to this team. They didn’t attack a better wideout in this draft, so they will rely on Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe for the 2015 season. Manziel could be in for a long season. Their defense improved, which needed to happen, seeing as they face the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals a combined six times every year. The offense could sputter at times, especially if Johnny Football isn’t effective.

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