2015 Draft Reaction Blog, Day 1
It seems like a long time ago draft season started, but tonight it is finally here and we’re as excited as anyone.
That’s because for the first time we’ve turned our eyes to the college games and graded 870 games of FBS football to really see who the best college players were. With that chunk of tape review in our arsenal we’re going to be on hand each and every day of the draft with our first ever Draft Reaction Blog to not just offer comments on the picks and key stats you won’t get anywhere else, but to let the guys who did the grading giving you their two cents.
So bookmark the page and keep checking back because we’ll be reacting to all the rumors, all the picks and all the trades as they happen. And if you like your action in 140 characters or less (with some awesome graphics) you’ve got to follow @PFF twitter.
11:30! And so ends day one of the draft. Stay tuned for lots more content from all the PFF team and our Day 2 blog as we give you more detail on the lesser-known players than anywhere else.
32. New England Patriots
Malcom Brown, DI, Texas
Brown is a real force against the run where he finished with more defensive stops (38) than any other defensive tackle. His production rushing the passer is a bit more spotty and it may be that initially he spends more time playing on early downs as the team tries to develop into an every down threat. New England are constantly retooling their team and despite their Super Bowl success they have had some problems up the middle so it does make sense.
31. New Orleans Saints
Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
This isn’t widely regarded as a great linebacker class, but we do like the Saints picking up Anthony here, especially given the fact Shaq Thompson went higher than him. Anthony was an extremely productive player for the Tigers and had the third highest linebacker grade of all draft eligibles linebackers. He wasn’t a tackling machine at Clemson (there weren’t enough tackles to go around on that defense) but he made plays in every phase of the game. After moving on from Curtis Lofton this should be the injection of youth the defense needed.
30: Green Bay Packers
Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State
Randall finished in the top 10 overall in our safety production grades with only really his 12 missed tackles holding him back from finishing higher. This marks the second year in a row the team have invested a first round pick in a safety which tells you a lot about how they’re rebuilding their defense. The team slowly introduced HaHa Clinton-Dix into the lineup and it wouldnt be a huge surprise if they took a similar approach with Randall, with him focusing more on sub package duties initially.
29: Indianapolis Colts
Philip Dorsett, WR, Miami
Speed, speed, speed. The Colts have given Andrew Luck a vertical threat that will scare the life out of teams. He wasn’t featured as much as many would like and his quarterback in college wasn’t the most accurate deep (he only caught 9-of-27 passes on deep balls but had no drops), so there’s a bit of projecting what he’ll do in a more receiver friendly system. He’s not a big guy who will do an awful lot blocking and will struggle if you get hands on him, but speed will always get a chance in this league. Still we ask though, why no Devin Smith? Regardless the Colts really do have some weapons catching the ball.
28: Detroit Lions
Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke
We had Tomlinson going in the first in our mock draft but even we’re a little surprised with this move. Detroit have really added some bodies to their offensive line today and potentially set themselves up for the long term at the guard spot. Tomlinson is an incredibly powerful blocker who just generates movement. That’s why he finished with the second highest grade of all Power-5 tackles, allowing just four pressures all year and demonstrating an ability to hurt linebackers and caved in defensive tackles. He’s going to have to deal with much tougher competition, but we’re excited to see how he handles it.
27: Dallas Cowboys
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
Morris Claiborne, your time is running out. Jones is the long, press corner they’ve desperately tried to find and a true workout warrior. But he backed it up when he played this year (he did miss some time) where he allowed just 16.7% of passes thrown further than 10 yards in the air to be completed on him. Still he’s not without his flaws and will struggle against the quicker receivers. He’s the prototypical corner that the NFL loves right now given the success of the Seattle guys. Big, physical and with ball skills to back it up.
26: Baltimore Ravens
Breshard Perriman, WR, UCF
There’s your Torrey Smith replacement. Baltimore needed someone to stretch the field and draw those yellow flags on underthrow Flacco deep balls and Perriman has a lot of experience in doing that during his time in Central Florida. He’s not our favorite deep threat left in this draft (hello Devin Smith, how you doing?) and he has had some issues with drops (he had the 10th worst drop percentage of all college wideouts), but he has one huge redeeming feature. Speed. He doesn’t neccessarily play to his time speed but he’s got that ability to get behind a defense as his 525 yards on deep balls (11th best in the nation) show.
25: Carolina Panthers
Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
They say linebacker, we see safety. Thompson is not good when blockers get on him, but looks a natural in coverage. How that fits in with Carolina in the short term is most interesting, because there’s no way you’re taking Luke Kuechly or Thomas Davis off the field on those passing downs any time soon. Thompson had the sixth highest grade in coverage of all linebackers against Power-5 opposition but was down in 25th for his work against the run. Numbers that really sum him up. We can’t fault the Panthers for not going offensive line (biggest need) given the run on linemen, but it does seem like something of a luxury pick when you’ve got some real weapons at wide receiver on the board.
24: Arizona Cardinals
D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
A favorite of a lot because of his tools and incredible athleticism, Humphries was not however someone who was tremendously impressive and productive on tape in 2014, earning a grade against Power-5 opposition that was bettered by 24 others. He had his struggles with Shane Ray, tends to lunge a lot in the running game and struggles to lock blocks on at any level. He’s got the tools teams look for, but have the Cardinals got the coaching staff to get the most out of him? It will be interesting to see where he ends up with Jared Veldheer such an impressive left tackle, could Humphries switch to the right side as a rookie? Or might he take a redshirt year.
23: Denver Broncos (Traded from Detroit Lions)
Shane Ray, ED, Missouri
Denver have said goodbye to Manny Ramirez as well as a fifth in 2015 and 2016 (along with their first round pick) so they can move up from 28th overall. But for who? Well it’s the explosive and incredibly productive Ray who didn’t do himself any favors with some questionable off the field behavior this week. He figures to be the long term replacement to DeMarcus Ware but will be ready for any playing time he gets this year. He’s got an incredibly quick first step, and any tackles slow out of their stance will simply have to watch Ray breeze past him. He had the third highest pass rushing grade of all edge rushers and will likely start life as a rotational but chiefly situational edge rusher. For the Lions they grab themselves some extra time, some extra picks, and a versatile interior lineman who is especially useful at center.
22: Pittsburgh Steelers
Bud Dupree, ED, Kentucky
As bad a pick as has been made so far based solely on tape. Dupree is a tremendous athlete, but he’s far from a tremendous football player at this point. He generated his pressure at Kentucky beating up on bad tackles and wasn’t all that productive. He’s going to need an awful lot of coaching up on a Steelers team that is in desperate need of some pass rush now given how badly Jarvis Jones has panned out. Dupree had the 23rd highest grade of edge rushers against Power 5 teams based on his production. The patient Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t likely to let their need for edge rush force them into playing Dupree before he is ready which is a blessing in a lot of ways.
21: Cincinnati Bengals
Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
Quite the get for the Bengals. They get arguably the most athletic tackle and they can ease him into things as he comes back from an injury, safe in the knowledge they are set at tackle for the 2015 season before both Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith are out of contract. Ogubehi doesn’t always look like the most physical tackle but his ability to kick and slide in pass pro is something that the Bengals must be excited about, especially with his experience at left and right tackle.
20: Philadelphia Eagles
Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
A favourite of our staff after he finished with the fourth highest receiving rating of all draft eligible wide receivers. Capable of lining up all over the field with the added bonus of being a dynamic returner, he backfills the loss of Jeremy Maclin with a higher upside and at far less cost. He’s not the strongest receiver out there but as a smooth route runner with great speed, he should fit in very nicely to the Chip Kelly offense. Not a bad consolation prize if you’ve missed out on Marcus Mariota. Watch out for him after the catch where his 17 forced missed tackles were fifth of all wide receivers.
19: Cleveland Browns
Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
Who saw this one? This extremely versatile offensive lineman has experience at tackle and center, which seems to suggest he could probably fit in between the two. Its a mild surprise given the Browns have such a big need at wide receiver but you would assume they’re planning for life after Alex Mack who is likely to opt out of his contract in 2016 (unless he is traded before). Erving was a revelation as a run blocker when moving to center, displaying the kind of athleticim and just enough power that you need from a center in a zone blocking scheme. The expectation is the Browns maintain most of Kyle Shanahans offense so he should be a great fit in that regard. His final two games at FSU saw him pick up a +8.3 run block grade that really caught the eye.
18: Kansas City Chiefs
Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Disclaimer time. Sam and Gordon didn’t really like many of the consensus top corners. Peters? He was another they weren’t so high on. Certainly not as high as the Chiefs anyway, who take the extremely physical cornerback with their first round pick. He only allowed 40% of throws into his coverage to be complete before being kicked off his college team, with his ability in press his strong point. He’s as good as any corner in this class in that regard. Where he might struggle is against more subtle and shiftier receivers who might expose a lack of top end closing speed. He’s not Trae Waynes in that regard where his straight line speed will bail him out of trouble at times. If he can keep his head on straight then he could prove a handy foil for Sean Smith once he’s up to NFL speed.
17: San Francisco 49ers (Traded from San Diego)
Arik Armstead, DI, Oregon
Another player who landed on his positional buyer beware list. Armstead has first round tools and barely day two tape, with him finishing only 26th out of draft eligible defensive interior. What’s worse is you’d like to see more than the 26 quarterback disruptions he managed, highlighting just how raw he is. Still the 49ers are preparing for life without Ray McDonald and possibly Justin Smith, so adding a physical freak along the defensive line was always a likely move. He should compete for playing time straight away but he might take a couple of years if he’s ever to develop into a consistent every down player.
16: Houston Texans
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Another corner off the board and another one that Sam Monson wasn’t a particularly big fan of as he landed in the Buyer Beware category of our cornerback rankings. Not a bad player, as evidenced by how against Power 5 opponents he allowed a passer rating of only 58.1, the sixth-lowest rating among cornerbacks. But too many flaws for him to go this high, chiefly a lack of speed, a susceptibility to be beat on double moves and too many missed tackles (one in every 5.1 he attempted). His coaches will have some work to do but with Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson locking down the starting spots, he won’t be thrown to the wolves.
15: San Diego Chargers (Traded from San Francisco)
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
To jump up two picks the Chargers have surrendered their first round pick, a fourth round pick this year and a fifth next year. Why? Because they want a back who has the vision and ability to power through a cut that few have. It doesn’t bode overly well for the future of Donald Brown and Branden Oliver because it’s hard to imagine Gordon not getting the bulk of the carries. He led the nation in yardage, yards after contact and tackles he forced to be missed. Key categories when looking at a running back. The Chargers will still need their other backs because he’s far from the finished article in pass protection as his negative grade in this area suggests but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of those not make it to the final 53 man roster.
14: Miami Dolphins
Devante Parker, WR, Louisville
This one worked out fantastically for Miami. There was a lot of chatter about them trading up for one of the top three wide receivers, but they stayed the course and are rewarding with the man Sam Monson declared the second best wide receiver available. Parker is a rare talent but because of his college production numbers he didn’t get the press he deserved, but when you look at his per snap production it’s a real eye opener. He had the highest yards per route run of all wide receivers against the Power 5, showing the kind of body control that means you simply have to put the ball in an area where he can make a play on it. It didn’t really work out with Mike Wallance and Ryan Tannehill but Miami have showed some real commitment to their quarterback by giving him more weapons this offseason.
13: New Orleans Saints
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Saints haven’t been overly happy with their offensive line and so it’s not a huge surprise that they’ve gone and selected Stanford tackle Andrus Peat. Peat had perhaps the toughest run of tackles to face in 2014 and it exposed some of his limitations as a player right now. Still he did only get beat for nine quarterback disruptions last year and showed the kind of power at the line of scrimmage with his blocking that is rarely witnessed against top athletes. He does struggle more when he gets to the second level but the tools are rarely not on display as to what he’s capable of. This could spell the end of Zach Strief’s long and successful spell in New Orleans, though given some of the rawness in his game he could be one more for 2016 and beyond. Time, and training camp, will tell.
12: Cleveland Browns
Danny Shelton, DI, Washington
Cleveland had their pick of a wide receiver or Danny Shelton as the stars aligned for them, and they nabbed themselves a big man. The 350 lbs Shelton isn’t the quickest guy but you just need to watch the tape to know how disruptive a player he is, leading to Ben Stockwell labelling him his top defensive interior product suggesting he has the size to be a nose tackle and the ability to penetrate to play a three technique if you wanted him to. He had the third highest grade in run defense of all draft eligible defensive tackles against the Power-5 whilst finishing second at the spot for total pressures. He can really do it all and stiffens up a Browns defense that needed it.
11: Minnesota Vikings
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
That large thud you just heard was Sam Monson smacking his head on a table. He’s not best amused with the selection of Waynes, chiefly sighting that as quick as Waynes is he has real struggles changing direction. So while he may not get beaten deep an awful lot (he held QBs to a 21.9 passer rating when they threw the ball 20+ yards into his coverage) he does struggle more so on intermediate routes against the shiftier receivers with 43% of his total yards allowed coming on throws that went 10-19 yards in the air. His selection could relegate Captain Munnerlyn to a nickel role, though given the history Mike Zimmer has with first round cornerbacks it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Waynes sit and develop in his early years in the league.
10: St Louis Rams
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
A running back is gone in the first 10 picks, thus ensuring PFF founder Neil Hornsby has ample opportunity to get on his soap box and bemoan the lack of value in the pick. Gurley is obviously coming off an ACL injury, but the wonders of modern medicine and his incredible physical gifts were too much for a Rams team to pass up giving who they at the running back spot right now. His 2014 sample size was relatively small but enough to produce these nuggets. Gurley led the nation with 3.98 yards after contact per attempt against Power-5 competition and also had the highest elusive rating in that regard. He’s a unique talent and despite only carrying the ball 123 times he still had the sixth highest rushing grade of all draft eligible backs.
9: New York Giants
Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
Consider this one something of a surprise. Flowers has a lot to like about his game because he’s a big powerful tackle who will get movement in the run game. Still he’ll need some coaching up if he wants to push Justin Pugh inside to guard, Flowers was constantly late out of his stance in college and had a habit of making life easier for edge rushers than he needed to. Still he didn’t allow any Power-5 sacks and had the third highest overall grade against Power-5 opposition of all draft eligible left tackles. He might not been an immediate hit but definitely has the tools to upgrade a Giants line that has struggled to get close to the level of five years ago.
8: Atlanta Falcons
Vic Beasley, ED, Clemson
Could this draft have gone any better for Atlanta? In the words of Ben Stockwell they’ve drafted the best pure pass rusher in this draft, a need so glaring that it was nearly impossible to imagine Atlanta going elsewhere. Beasley had the fourth highest pass rushing grade of all edge defenders with his explosiveness off the edge being unmatched in this class. He can turn the corner in a way the Falcons have sorely missed since the days of John Abraham. He is a little lightweight against the run and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if the team used him in a similar fashion to how the 49ers used Aldon Smith as a rookie; sub package superstar who is told to get up field and get at the quarterback.
7: Chicago Bears
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Brandon Marshall is gone but fear not Bears fans because Kevin White is in town. A beast of a receiver, his physicality and ability to win downfield scared many a college defensive back and promise to do the same in the NFL. Only Amari Cooper forced more missed tackles, and only Devin Smith had more deep touchdowns (7) than the talented wideout. A truly explosive player, the tandem of him and Alshon Jeffery is one that rightly has the Bears fans in attendance sitting very pretty. This fit makes all kinds of sense.
6: New York Jets
Leonard Williams, DI, USC
The mini-slide ends. Williams ends up in New York and what that means for the future contract of Muhammad Wilkerson is anyone’s guess. Williams is a monster against the run but disappointed us a little with some inconsistent production as a pass rusher, especially on third down where he was all too often invisible. Still with his rare gifts how much better can he be given he led the nation at the defensive interior spot with a 13.9 run stop percentage. The big question is how will the Jets get him on the field with Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison while still finding some legitimate edge rush. That was the big weakness on this defense and this isn’t a pick that addresses it.
5: Washington Redskins
Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
The first real surprise of this draft and it’s one that has a few of us stumped. Scherff didn’t put out the most impressive tape at tackle in 2014 that has many projecting him to guard. He’s a guy who did come back from a knee injury so you wonder how that impacted his performance, but given the lesson Joe Schobert taught him with pure speed and some of the issues he had anchoring and sealing blocks, this feels like something of a reach. Scherff has experience in a zone blocking scheme where his explosive first step and great angles helped him to fourth best run blocking score of all left tackles throughout the 2014 season. Where he starts in Washington is something of a guess with nothing beyond Trent Williams a lock.
4: Oakland Raiders
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Raiders need to make life as easy for possible for Derek Carr, so getting the smoothest, most polished wide receiver available goes a long way towards that. Cooper might not be the athlete say of a Kevin White, but our grading found that White isn’t the receiver that Cooper is. Nobody is. He was our top ranked wide receiver, forced more missed tackles than any other draft eligible wide receiver and QBs had a 127.6 NFL Rating when throwing at him. He’s a stud and immediately becomes their go to guy ahead of the likes of James Jones and Michael Crabtree.
3: Jacksonville Jaguars
Dante Fowler, EDGE, Florida
The Jaguars have such glaring needs that they couldn’t really go wrong. They’ve landed one of the cream of the crop of edge rushers with the every down threat Dante Fowler. Fowler had the sixth highest grade of all edge defenders for his work in 2014, grading positively against the run and the pass and played well enough that Cris Collinsworth called him the best player in the draft. The Jaguars took the band aid approach to their edge rush last year with Chris Clemons, but Fowler promises to upgrade the spot given how productive he was in college against good competition. His 17.7 Pass Rushing Productivity score on third down was third best in the entire class.
2: Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
It doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a trade but it does seem to make it unlikely. The Zach Mettenberger era might be a short one with this choice because you don’t tend to draft a quarterback high and not throw them into the starting lineup. The much critiqued quarterback had the highest grade of all quarterbacks in our CFF ratings in 2014 and is a true dual threat running back who could revitalize a franchise that has struggled in recent years. There are some questions over his accuracy, but a 75.8 adjusted accuracy percentage against Power-5 teams was third highest of all QBs.
1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
No surprises here as the Bucs make Jameis Winston the face of their franchise. He’s coming off a pretty average 2014 season and comes with a lot of baggage, but if you go back and watch his 2013 season then this pick is a slam dunk. Steve Palazzolo broke Winston down in great detail here and it would be a surprise if he isn’t starting come Week 1 with only Mike Glennon in his way. Winston has earned comparisons to Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger with his play, with his Roethlisberger like ability for keeping plays alive highlighted by how only 12.1% of the plays he was pressured on turned into sacks against Power-5 teams. That was the third best number out there.
19:59: And so it begins …
19.45! Rumors. That’s all that is flying about right now and it centers around the second overall pick in the draft. Will the Titans trade it or will they stand still and make Marcus Mariota Tennessee bound? There’s a lot of teams being linked to him, and a lot of these links being shot down. Currently it’s the Bears who are getting the most traction with rumors of Jay Cutler and picks going one way, but Adam Schefter has shut that down which makes perfect sense given how Cutler played last year and how much money he’d cost.
19.30! We are getting closer, but for now we have the excruciating/ exhilarating gold carpet walk for the soon to be drafted future stars of the game. Suffice to say some of these outfits would be getting the dreaded -2.0 grade for how offensive they are on the eyes. If you can take your eyes off that for a second catch up with all our draft preview coverage right here.
19:00! We’re under an hour away and we’re expecting things to heat up in the next 60 minutes as teams frantically work their board and work the phones to get in position to make their teams better. We’re on hand for the rest of the night to comment on all of it.