How every 2015 first-round pick graded in rookie season

Gordon McGuinness breaks down the college and rookie NFL season grades for every 2015 first-round selection.

| 5 months ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

How every 2015 first-round pick graded in rookie season


It often takes years to truly understand the value of a draft pick, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a look back one season and see how players are progressing. Here we are going to take a look at all the players picked in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, and compare their 2014 PFF grade in college to their 2015 PFF grade as rookies in the NFL. The results were certainly interesting. We’ll follow up with some later-round picks next week, but here are the first rounders.

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2014 PFF College grade: +17.2 (12th-highest in QB class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +8.7 (13th-highest QB in NFL)

Winston’s grade in 2014 wasn’t really deserving of a first-round draft pick, let alone the top selection in the draft. That being said, he played much better in 2013, and that showed with a solid rookie year in the NFL that saw him grade positively both as a passer and as a runner.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

2014 PFF College grade: +49.9 (1st in QB class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +0.4 (21st-highest QB in NFL)

Injuries limited him to 746 snaps, but Mariota showed flashes and had a generally successful rookie season. He graded slightly negatively (-2.5) as a passer overall, but graded at +25.4 on passes between 10 and 19 yards downfield. His adjusted accuracy percentage of 67 percent was tied for eighth amongst all NFL quarterbacks.

3. Dante Fowler Jr., ED, Jacksonville Jaguars

2014 PFF College grade: +36.4 (seventh-highest edge defender in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: N/A

Injury prevented Fowler from seeing the field in 2015.

4. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders

2014 PFF College grade: +32.3 (second-highest WR in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -1.5 (72nd-highest WR in NFL)

Drops, drops, and more drops. 18 of them to be precise. Leading the NFL in drops wasn’t a good look for Cooper; however, the other aspects of his game did impress. He forced 14 missed tackles and racked up 1,070 receiving yards, both of which led all rookie receivers.

5. Brandon Scherff, OG, Washington Redskins

2014 PFF College grade: +18.7 (16th-highest in offensive tackle class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +4.4 (31st-highest guard in NFL)

He graded negatively in pass-blocking, giving up two sacks, eight hits and 26 hurries as a rookie, but did look good as a run blocker. It wasn’t a sexy pick at the time, but he showed enough as a rookie for expectations to be high heading into year two.

6. Leonard Williams, DI, New York Jets

2014 PFF College grade: +51.3 (3rd-highest interior defender in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +29.7 (12th-highest interior defender in NFL)

Williams was excellent as a rookie, and his NFL grade was similar to how he performed in college. In his final year at USC, he graded impressively overall, but much better against the run than as a pass rusher. The same was true as a rookie, though he did notch four sacks, 19 hits and 30 hurries.

7. Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears

2014 PFF College Grade: +12.9 (18th-highest WR in class)

2015 PFF NFL Grade: N/A

White missed all of his rookie season through injury.

8. Vic Beasley, ED, Atlanta Falcons

2014 PFF College grade: +32.8 (13th-highest edge defender in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +5.9 (45th-highest edge defender in NFL)

No rookie edge defender had a higher grade as a pass rusher than Beasley, with the former Clemson defender racking up four sacks, five hits and 33 hurries, injecting some life into the Falcons’ pass rush.

9. Ereck Flowers, OT, New York Giants

2014 PFF College grade: +22.4 (10th-highest OT in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -44.1 (76th-highest OT in NFL)

Flowers wasn’t horrendous in run-blocking as a rookie, though he didn’t play well, either, grading at -4.0. He was completely overwhelmed as a pass-blocker, though, allowing five sacks, 17 hits, and 47 hurries in 2015.

10. Todd Gurley, HB, St. Louis Rams

2014 PFF College grade: +11.9 (13th-highest RB in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +5.3 (22nd-highest RB in NFL)

Gurley was on pace to produce a ridiculous grade in his final year at Georgia, with his grade coming on just 239 snaps before injury wrecked his season. He was eased in for the Rams, playing just 469 snaps as a rookie, but did show flashes of the dynamic playmaker we saw at Georgia, forcing 42 missed tackles on 229 carries.

11. Trae Waynes, CB, Minnesota Vikings

2014 PFF College grade: +4.8 (48th-highest CB in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +0.1 (99th-highest CB in NFL)

Waynes earned his high draft status because of his straight-line speed, but there were concerns about his change-of-direction ability. He struggled in the preseason, and saw just 196 snaps as a rookie, but didn’t embarrass himself on the field.

12. Danny Shelton, NT, Cleveland Browns

2014 PFF College grade: +48.6 (3rd-highest DT/NT in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +0.1 (104th-highest DT/NT in NFL)

Shelton’s rookie season was as expected, with him impressing against the run but making little impact as a pass rusher. His 19 tackles resulting in a defensive stop were sixth amongst rookies on the defensive interior, so the hope will be that he can become even more of a force against the run in 2015.

13. Andrus Peat, OT, New Orleans Saints

2014 PFF College grade: +27.8 (fourth-highest OT in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -5.0 overall, +2.2 at offensive tackle (29th-highest OT in NFL)

While he graded negatively overall, it’s worth pointing out that Peat actually graded positively in 197 snaps at offensive tackle, with his negative grades coming in his starts as a guard. Given that he is likely to spend most of his career at tackle, that’s a good sign.

14. DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

2014 PFF College grade: +19.8 (seventh-highest WR in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +4.3 (41st-highest WR in NFL)

Injury held Parker back early, but there was a lot to like from the 479 snaps we did see from him. He forced seven missed tackles on 26 receptions and scored three touchdowns, flashing some of the talent we saw at Louisville.

15. Melvin Gordon, HB, San Diego Chargers

2014 PFF College grade: +31.7 (top grade in RB class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -4.6 (62nd-highest RB in NFL)

Gordon struggled to make the same impact he made in his final year at Wisconsin, and fumbled at a higher rate than we saw as a Badger. He fumbled seven times on 343 carries in 2014 in college, but six times on 184 carries as an NFL rookie.

16. Kevin Johnson, CB, Houston Texans

2014 PFF College grade: -2.0 (96th-highest CB in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -0.1 (57th-highest CB in NFL)

A better rookie season than we expected given his college grade, Johnson allowed 612 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in coverage, but did also record an interception and six pass breakups.

17. Arik Armstead, DI, San Francisco 49ers

2014 PFF College grade: +20.3 (27th-highest interior defender in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +15.1 (25th-highest interior defender in NFL)

Obviously impressive physically, Armstead is an interesting case study in whether or not it’s better to return to school or head to the NFL. He flashed enough on 384 snaps as a rookie that everyone should be excited about what he could become, with 38 total pressures recorded as a rookie. His 12.3 pass-rushing productivity rating was the highest of any 3-4 defensive end who played at least 155 pass-rushing snaps in 2015.

18. Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs

2014 PFF College grade: +6.6 (41st-highest CB in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -0.1 (57th-highest CB in NFL)

Many people thought we were harsh on Peters to not have him as our defensive rookie of the year. How can a player who recorded eight interceptions and 17 pass breakups as a rookie grade at just -0.1? Well, because he also allowed 939 yards, gave up eight touchdowns, and committed nine penalties. That being said, the number of plays he made on the ball makes his progression in 2016 a fun story to keep an eye on.

19. Cameron Erving, C, Cleveland Browns

2014 PFF College grade: +8.6 (22nd-highest C in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -29.8 (80th among guards in NFL)

Erving’s rookie season was a disaster, but it also came at a position he is unlikely to play throughout his NFL career. He likely steps into Alex Mack’s shoes as the starting center this offseason, so season two will be the big year in his development.

20. Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

2014 PFF College grade: +22.2 (fifth-highest in WR class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -15.4 (119th-highest WR in NFL)

On the field for 687 snaps in 2015, Agholor failed to make much of an impact, catching just 23 passes for 283 yards and scoring just a single touchdown. It doesn’t help when he managed to force just one missed tackle, and had four drops from the 27 catchable passes thrown his way.

21. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Cincinnati Bengals

2014 PFF College grade: +17.7 (18th-highest OT in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: 0.0 (63rd-highest OT in NFL)

Ogbuehi played just 73 snaps as he came back from injury, but looked solid enough in limited duty. It’s far too small of a sample size to get a true read on him so far, though.

22. Bud Dupree, ED, Pittsburgh Steelers

2014 PFF College grade: +30.7 (16th-highest edge defender in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -22.4 (100th-highest edge defender in NFL)

He totaled just 22 total pressures, and managed to record just 13 tackles resulting in a defensive stop, which saw him finish with the lowest grade of any rookie edge defender in 2015, while his pass-rushing productivity rating of 6.1 was the second lowest of all the edge defenders in the NFL. Dupree needs to improve drastically in year two.

23. Shane Ray, ED, Denver Broncos

2014 PFF College grade: +42.4 (fifth-highest edge defender in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -3.4 (75th-highest edge defender in NFL)

Ray didn’t play much, with just 352 snaps as a rookie, but he did flash a little bit as a pass rusher. The Bronco registered four sacks, four hits, and 15 hurries, but made very little impact against the run.

24. D.J. Humphries, OT, Arizona Cardinals

2014 PFF College grade: +6.7 (45th-highest OT in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: N/A

Humphries didn’t play at all in 2015, as head coach Bruce Arians opted to keep him off the field in favor of Bobby Massie.

25. Shaq Thompson, LB, Carolina Panthers

2014 PFF College grade: +11.0 (38th-highest LB in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +4.6 (22nd-highest LB in NFL)

Thompson came into the league as a better athlete than pure linebacker, and we saw that in his rookie year, with +3.4 of his grade coming in coverage. He should see more playing time in 2015, and his rookie season in coverage will have Panthers’ fans excited about his development.

26. Breshad Perriman, WR, Baltimore Ravens

2014 PFF College grade: +6.9 (43rd-highest WR in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: N/A

Perriman missed his rookie season due to injury.

27. Byron Jones, CB, Dallas Cowboys

2014 PFF College grade: +2.3 (67th-highest CB in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +3.4 (48th-highest CB in NFL)

The Cowboys used Jones at outside corner, slot corner, and safety in 2015. They asked a lot of the rookie, and he delivered a +6.9 grade in coverage, breaking up six passes in the process. How he’ll be used going forward remains to be seen, but it was an impressive start to his career.

28. Laken Tomlinson, OG, Detroit Lions

2014 PFF College grade: +41.7 (second-highest guard in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -9.0 (56th-highest guard in NFL)

A tough transition to the NFL for Tomlinson, who had the second-lowest run-blocking grade of any rookie guard. He had the eighth-best pass-blocking grade, though, so Lions’ fans shouldn’t give up hope yet.

29. Phillip Dorsett, WR, Indianapolis Colts

2014 PFF College grade: +12.1 (22nd-highest WR in class) 

2015 PFF NFL grade: -0.9 (69th-highest WR in NFL)

Injury limited him to just 215 snaps, and he didn’t make a huge impact on the field with just 18 receptions before the injury.

30. Damarious Randall, CB, Green Bay Packers

2014 PFF College grade: +14.4 (10th-highest safety in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -1.0 (63rd-highest CB in NFL)

Randall switched from safety to cornerback as he entered the NFL, and held his own for much of his rookie season. He gave up 738 receiving yards, but also came away with three interceptions and 10 pass breakups.

31. Stephone Anthony, LB, New Orleans Saints

2014 PFF College grade: +27.2 (third-highest LB in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: -14.3 (71st-highest LB in NFL)

Anthony needs to improve on a poor rookie season after missing 15 tackles in his first year in the NFL. He missed just five in his final season at Clemson, and needs to get back to that level, while also improving his work in coverage in year two.

32. Malcolm Brown, DI, New England Patriots

2014 PFF College grade: +47.0 (sixth-highest interior defender in class)

2015 PFF NFL grade: +5.7 (53rd-highest interior defender in NFL)

A much better run defender than pass rusher in college, that carried over into the NFL. His run-stop percentage of 11.2 was fourth amongst all defensive tackles in the NFL last season.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Jim Smith

    I’ll preface my comment with the knowledge that I am a Steelers fan. I find the grade of Bud Dupree a little cheap and exaggerated. I’m quite sure that Gordon’s knowledge is leaps and bounds ahead of mine, and I do consider personal bias into my argument here. I, however, saw a much different Bud Dupree than Gordon did. I saw a pass-rusher who used his athleticism early in the season to pick up a few sacks while being used in rotation. I also saw a rookie who showed his lack of knowledge of the playbook, the game, and the position during the majority of the middle section of the season. However, I saw a vastly improved player who, later in the year, applied enough pressure and made enough of an impact to be made a starter. Both Dupree and Jones made significant strides, especially in play recognition and run-stopping, especially in the two playoff games. Although he struggled, I find it unfair to grade him as the worst pass-rusher, especially one who at least flashed productivity and potential at the beginning and end of the season. I understand this is a year-based article and I definitely agree that he needs to improve. Another year in the system should allow for that to happen.

    • SeattleSteve

      I saw someone that sucked and had to sit behind a washed up James Harrison.

      • Ike Evans

        Then you didnt see much….bud plays on the left side with arthur moats…..harrison plays on the right with jarvis jones….he didnt have to sit behind harrison at all…and he started over moats halfway thru the year

    • Phil

      162 Pass-Rushing snaps and he only pressured the QB 14 times. 5 of those 14 came unblocked. Not a good sign when he’s making a play on less then 12% of the time he was actually rushing the QB.

    • James Winslow

      Dupree is a project player, he is bad now but that was to be expected.

    • Jason B

      You do understand what you read here right? This isn’t some opinion piece. The author didn’t just rank them based on where he thought they should be ranked. So no matter how good the author thought the player was he couldn’t just change the players rating. So I’m not really sure what you’re trying to “argue” here. So no, the players grade wasn’t unfair. It’s exactly how he preformed.

    • Alex K

      I’m a Steelers fan and I’ve watch Dupree plenty. I don’t know that he ever straight up beat a tackle all year as most of his sacks where effort/coverage sacks. Dupree needs to learn some new pass rushing moves. He’s just a predictable speed rusher.

      Here’s hoping he improves in year 2. He certainly has the athleticism.

  • hereqwegobrowniesherewego

    “Danny Shelton …. (104th-highest DT/NT in class)”

    Check your wording and how it lines up with your other entries, Gordon. I don’t think there were 104 DTs or NTs in the draft class. 😉

    • phil

      It’s a typo, look at every other player and you can obviously see the error guy.

      • herewegobrowniesherewego

        I know, noting these things to Gordon and other writers seems typical though.

  • KAO

    I saved the old article by PFF comparing Winston and Mariota 2014 college season. Winston grade was -1.0 range then but now its +17.2???? Dafuq? smdh

  • Terrance Robinson

    I will have to disagree with the grading of Marcus Peter’s most of that yards were given up in the first half of the season we made progressions throughout the year and gave up considerably less yards over second half of the season. I find it amazing that you don’t grade him as the number one rookie corner of this draft

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      they grade the whole year, why wouldn’t they? lol. his second half improvement was remarkable tho, if only cause he was giving up a TD a game in the first 8 weeks