4 Questions: First Round Review
Though the first day of the 2015 NFL Draft didn’t have many trades, it certainly didn’t lack excitement. The first draft for us where we’ve had a full season of college football grading under our belts, we had strong opinion amongst our analysts on several players.
The first day brought several questions, both looking back on yesterday, and ahead to later today, with plenty of players we think can be big contributors still on the board. So with that in mind let’s gets to it with 4 Questions after Day 1 of the NFL Draft.
1. What was your favorite pick on Day 1 of the Draft?
Gordon McGuinness: Picking at No. 4, the Raiders had a wealth of talent to choose from, including the player many expected to be a Top-5 pick in Leonard Williams. For me, though, Amari Cooper was the best player in this draft. I’ve heard people say that Kevin White has a higher ceiling than Cooper, and they might not be wrong, but Cooper, who forced 26 missed tackles last year, has such a high floor that I really think he’s going to be a very good receiver from Day 1.
Michael Mountford: I really didn’t think the Dolphins had a shot at landing DeVante Parker without trading up. Thanks to the draft falling in their favor, though, they land their guy without having to give anything up. Parker gives the Dolphins a very good young core to build around, pairing with Kenny Stills on the outside and with Jarvis Landry in the slot. Parker lead the draft class with a ridiculous 4.21 Yards Per Route Run against Power 5 teams in yards per route run, and might give Ryan Tannehill the best receiver he’s had since entering the league.
Mike Renner: Nelson Agholor at No. 20 to the Eagles was the perfect blend of need, value, and fit. The USC receiver is already polished beyond his years and a spitting image of Jeremy Maclin. I think he steps in from the get-go and becomes the No. 1 guy and is my early frontrunner for rookie of the year.
Thomas Maney: The Falcons pick of Clemson’s Vic Beasley at No. 8. He has some work to do in run defense, but Atlanta needed a pass rusher after grading among the four worst teams there in each of the last two years. They got one in Beasley, who’s an explosive player with great burst on the outside – roughly two-thirds of his pressures last season came to the outside shoulder of opposing tackles – and he finished with the fourth-highest pass rushing grade of all edge defenders.
2. What was your least favourite pick?
GM: I can see why people like Philip Dorsett. He has the speed you look for, he didn’t drop a single pass that was thrown 20 or more yards through the air. You can even point to some poor quarterback play as to why he didn’t put up bigger numbers. My worry with Dorsett, though, is that he simply isn’t strong enough to succeed in the NFL. Too often I watched him get pushed to the sideline and out of a route. Can he improve on that in the NFL? Absolutely. I just don’t see it yet and would have gone with Ohio State’s Devin Smith over him.
MM: Trae Waynes may have speed to burn in a straight line, but he struggles with change of direction and it’s really not something that seems to comes natural to him. What makes this pick worse for me is who else was available at the time. DeVante Parker would have been an excellent pick, giving Teddy Bridgewater a top target to grow with. Instead they opted for need at cornerback, but it was just too much of a reach for me.
MR: With Leonard Williams still on the board the Redskins selected a guard with the fifth overall pick. Even if Brandon Scherff is a pro bowl guard, you’ve still selected him ahead of a handful of impact players at impact positions. The thing is I don’t foresee Scherff having a Year 1 impact akin to Zach Martin’s. Scherff lost control of blocks on the edge and at the second level far too quickly. Even in his post-selection highlight reel they showed Scherff losing control of a block immediately at the second level. There is far too much projection here for me to get on board with a guard in the Top 5.
TM: I wasn’t a huge fan of Shaq Thompson to Carolina. It’s easy to like him athletically – he’s fast and fluid changing direction and finished with the sixth-highest coverage grade among his peers in this class. However, Thompson just wasn’t very productive in run defense. His 7.3% Run Stop Percentage ranked 41st out of 58 draft-eligible players and 55 linebackers graded better against the run. A round too early for a player who had that much trouble defeating blocks at the second level.
3. Who is the Best Player Available as we begin Day 2?
GM: I said I’d have taken him over Dorsett, and that’s because I think Devin Smith is the best player still available in this draft. His 754 yards gained on deep passes last year were by far the most in this draft class, and when you watch him locate the ball of those big throws it’s hard to not think he’ll have a big impact in the NFL.
MM: The best player without question for me is Henry Anderson. Anderson is a one-gap penetrating 3-4 Defensive End, who despite having a few issues was incredibly productive. If a team can fix the small issues he has–he plays with a very narrow base that gets him closer to the ground than you’d like–he could be one of the best picks in this draft. The production Anderson showed last year in college was huge, finishing second in Run Stop Percentage, first in total pressures and a 12.2 Pass Rushing Productivity score against Power 5 opponents.
MR: There are still two defensive linemen who I see as being impact players year one still on the board. Trey Flowers and Henry Anderson have the ability to immediately be plugged in as starters and at least provide a force in the run game where they were first and second in Run Stop Percentage, respectively. While both aren’t necessarily scheme dependent, if I’m running a 3-4 I’d take Anderson first and in a 4-3 I’d go with Flowers.
TM: Character concerns aside, it’s Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, a player we had going in the Top 10 in our mock draft. Against Power 5 opponents, Gregory graded among the five best edge rushers in this class and in those games he actually had the highest Pass Rushing Productivity rating when rushing from the right side at 13.8. He displayed both explosiveness and power as a rusher – his play against top ten pick Ereck Flowers (1Q, 6:55) is an example of the latter.
4. Where should the Titans be looking with the 33rd overall pick?
GM: If the issue involving the police isn’t a factor La’el Collins almost definitely goes in the first round. The best offensive tackle available in the draft, the Titans have to give him serious consideration if they don’t believe it’s an issue. I fully understand why teams are wary to draft him with this hanging over his head, and it might make him undraftable to many, but from a pure football standpoint, he would have gone well before now.
MM: While I think Anderson is going to be a great pro, I don’t think he is the best fit for the Titans’ version of the 3-4 defense since they are moving more to Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 that wants a more two-gapping defensive end. With that said, I would look at linebacker Paul Dawson to put next to Avery Williamson who came well as a rookie last season. Dawson was off the charts in Run Stop Percentage at 23.3% against Power 5 teams last year–second was at 14.3 so, if the Titans want to help out their run defense here, they should look no further than him.
MR: The Titans could go one of many ways with all the quality talent still left on the board and with the holes littered all over their depth chart. I’d like to give Marcus Mariota someone to throw to though to ensure his development isn’t hindered by the talent around him. Devin Smith will provide whatever team he goes to a deep threat the moment he steps on the field. He may take some time to refine the rest of his game, but his speed and ball skills make him dangerous already.
TM: Tennessee has a lot of money allocated to edge defenders after adding Brian Orakpo and re-signing Derrick Morgan this offseason, but I would still take the best player available and that’s Randy Gregory, assuming they’re comfortable with his off-field issues. There’s no guarantee that Orakpo can stay healthy, but either way teams can never have enough pass rush. I think they should take a player who had 53 combined pressures and four batted passes last season and figure out a way to find snaps for him, even if it’s just on third downs early on.