First impressions of 2015 NFL draft ranked 1-32 with Jets at top
Yet another NFL draft is officially in the books.
But let's wait a few years before we slap a report card on each team's selections — it generally takes about three years to fairly assess a class' impact.
There's no better example than the Seattle Seahawks' 2012 haul, which was widely panned upon its completion. Why? Because Russell Wilson was perceived as too short to play quarterback in the NFL, no one had really heard of MLB Bobby Wagner or CB Jeremy Lane, pass rusher Bruce Irvin was a reach in Round 1 (still true, actually), and asking J.R. Sweezy to switch from the defensive line to the offensive side was hardly a slam dunk.
So we'll save the As, Bs and Cs for a few years but can at least provide first impressions of each team's 2015 rookies, ranked 1-32:
First impression: Loved it
1. New York Jets: Seemed an impressive maiden voyage for new GM Mike Maccagnan. Though the Jets hardly needed D-line help, he scooped up USC's Leonard Williams, arguably the best player in the draft, after he dropped into Maccagnan's lap at No. 6. Holes at speed receiver (Devin Smith) and pass rusher (Lorenzo Mauldin) were addressed, and Bryce Petty immediately becomes a compelling Plan C at quarterback now that he'll be afforded time to marinate behind Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The final bold stroke? Acquiring RB Zac Stacy from the Rams for a seventh rounder.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: It would not be a shock if GM Dave Caldwell's first six picks — DE/OLB Dante Fowler, Jr., RB T.J. Yeldon, G A.J. Cann, S James Sample, WR Rashad Greene and DT Michael Bennett — all become starters this season, perhaps even as early as September. That would be welcome news for a franchise that must start converting potential into production in the win column.
3. Minnesota Vikings: The first two rounds netted a pair of likely Day 1 starters — CB Trae Waynes, a needed offset to the fleet of dominant NFC North wideouts, and three-down ILB Eric Kendricks. If his foot checks out, fourth-round T T.J. Clemmings may allows this team to eventually move on from disappointing LT Matt Kalil. Clemmings aside, the Vikes added quite a bit of depth in both trenches.
4. Miami Dolphins: First rounder DeVante Parker should become the No. 1 wideout QB Ryan Tannehill has lacked in his first three seasons. Second-round NT Jordan Phillips could be a wrecking ball while Ndamukong Suh commands the double teams next to him. G Jamil Douglas and CB Bobby McCain provided depth at thin positions. And getting RB Jay Ajayi in Round 5 could be a masterful move if concerns about his knee prove unfounded.
5. St. Louis Rams: RB Todd Gurley, taken 10th, may be the draft's most compelling prospect. If he emerges as Adrian Peterson 2.0, the Rams win this draft. GM Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher spent four of their remaining eight picks on an O-line that was eviscerated after the season while snatching QB Sean Mannion — just maybe a starting candidate in 2016 if Nick Foles leaves — in the third round.
6. New Orleans Saints: Sure seems like they got a needed injection of size and toughness and telegraphed an intent to do exactly that by picking T Andrus Peat and ILB Stephone Anthony in the first round. OLB Hau'oli Kikaha had 32 sacks over the past two seasons ... or two fewer than the Saints did collectively in 2014. One of the third rounders, QB Garrett Grayson, may spell Drew Brees in a couple years while the other, P.J. Williams, should spell relief in nickel packages now.
7. Baltimore Ravens: For a minute, it seemed like Joe Flacco would be throwing every pass in 2015 to Steve Smith. But GM Ozzie Newsome came to the rescue by taking promising WR Breshad Perriman in the first round and seam-searing TE Maxx Williams in the second, giving TE Dennis Pitta more time to try and overcome his latest hip injury. NT Carl Davis may be a Round 3 plum, and fifth-round RB Javorius "Buck" Allen should be a nice foil for Justin Forsett.
8. Washington Redskins: Must have been exciting to participate in the first round for the first time since 2012. New GM Scot McCloughan set a new — and wise — tone, taking highly respected Iowa OL Brandon Scherff fifth overall. McCloughan also added other supplementary pieces that should enable him to better evaluate whether Robert Griffin III is his long-term answer under center. Keep an eye on second-round OLB Preston Smith, too.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers: They went right down the shopping list, adding a tantalizing outside linebacker (Bud Dupree), restocking the secondary (CBs Senquez Golson and Doran Grant) while procuring yet another receiver, Sammie Coates, who has huge upside but won't face the pressure of having to deliver it immediately.
10. New York Giants: Owner John Mara wanted a better O-line. Check (No. 9 pick Ereck Flowers). They had a huge hole at safety. Check (Landon Collins, may be the best one in the entire draft, plus Mykkele Thompson). And third rounder Owamagbe Odighizuwa will help boost the D-line depth coordinator Steve Spagnuolo puts a premium on.
11. San Diego Chargers: They only had five picks, but that's partially due to GM Tom Telesco's decision to vault the Texans in Round 1 to pounce on RB Melvin Gordon, who might finally force Chargers fans to leave their LaDainian Tomlinson jerseys in the closet. If Gordon can get the ground attack back on track, QB Philip Rivers might also decide he wants to retire as a San Diego (or Los Angeles) Charger. Second rounder Denzel Perryman was also a quality pick — Miami (Fla.) linebackers almost always are.
First impression: Liked it
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They cast their lot with potential franchise QB Jameis Winston and two bodyguards, T Donovan Smith and OL Ali Marpet, to keep Famous Jameis in one piece. But Winston's red flags — and not the ones now adorning his helmet — are well known, and Marpet is making the jump from Division III. Prime reasons why one must assume "wait-and-see" mode when assessing a draft.
13. Cleveland Browns: Fortifying the trenches is never a bad idea, and the first three picks were devoted to NT Danny Shelton, C Cam Erving and edge man Nate Orchard. Still might have been nice to help embattled QB Johnny Manziel by nabbing one of the draft's deep group of touted receivers. But barring that, improving his blocking, a woeful defense and adding a backfield cherry on top — Miami (Fla.) rushing king Duke Johnson — doesn't hurt one bit. Landing Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in Round 7 is a heist if his torn ACL heals properly.
14. Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White looks like a stud, and maybe his presence helps salvage QB Jay Cutler. New GM Ryan Pace also obtained needed depth for the O-line and also behind RB Matt Forte after plucking Michigan State's Jeremy Langford. But did Pace do enough outside of second-round NT Eddie Goldman to revitalize an embarrassing defense?
15. Arizona Cardinals: First rounder D.J. Humphries could be the draft's top left tackle, though he might force an O-line shuffle. Second-round OLB Markus Golden helps a pass rush that managed just 35 sacks in 2014. But keep an eye on third-round RB David Johnson of Northern Iowa, who's big (6-1, 224) with great hands and could carry most of the mail while allowing Andre Ellington to do more with fewer touches in a specialty role.
16. Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper, the No. 4 overall pick, could be snagging second-year QB Derek Carr's passes for the next decade. Third-round TE Clive Walford might be a sneaky good pick-up, too. Depth at linebacker shouldn't be an issue with three selections at the position.
17. Buffalo Bills: This evaluation will ultimately be influenced by how well WR Sammy Watkins, who cost them this year's first rounder in the 2014 draft, pans out. But Ronald Darby provides Rex Ryan the deep group of corners he desires, while G John Miller and RB Karlos Williams add more power to the "ground and pound" rushing attack Ryan and OC Greg Roman espouse. Sixth-round TE Nick O'Leary is sneaky good at getting open despite limited athletic gifts.
18. Atlanta Falcons: The league's worst defense got an influx of talent at the top with hyper-athletic edge rusher Vic Beasley at No. 8 and intriguing corner prospect Jalen Collins in Round 2. Don't be surprised if explosive third-round RB Tevin Coleman is lining up behind QB Matt Ryan in the backfield on opening night.
19. Denver Broncos: No more jokes about first-round edge rusher Shane Ray, cited for marijuana possession Monday, finding a new home in Colorado. If his toe checks out, Denver's pass rush in sub packages should be fearsome with Ray joining DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. Second-round T Ty Sambrailo and fourth-round C Max Garcia could vie for playing time on an O-line undergoing a facelift.
20. Detroit Lions: Round 1 seemed a little early for G Laken Tomlinson, but he might not have been around when the Lions picked in the second round. Reacquiring veteran G Manny Ramirez should temper any concerns about the blocking in front of QB Matthew Stafford this year. The arrival of second-round RB Ameer Abdullah almost surely means Reggie Bush won't be missed. Added depth at corner might help offset potentially diminished pressure from a Suh-less defensive line.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Didn't make anything close to the splashdown people anticipated a week ago — even coach Chip Kelly seemed to feel that way. But first-round WR Nelson Agholor and second-round DB Eric Rowe should end up right in the fairway in terms of being productive picks from the jump.
22. Houston Texans: They weren't in a tenable position to acquire the promising young quarterback they still need. But continuing to put talented obstacles in the face of Andrew Luck — CB Kevin Johnson and ILB Benardrick McKinney — could eventually help the Texans dethrone the Colts from their AFC South throne. The rest of the league may end up regretting the collective decision to allow WR Jaelen Strong to drop to Houston in Round 3.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: They may not have necessarily taken the best player available at every turn, but CBs Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson, OL Mitch Morse, WR Chris Conley and ILB Ramik Wilson represent a fine blend of talent, fit for needs and potential for greater things down the road. If Peters' off-field maturation continues, he'll be a real value, even as the 18th pick.
24. Seattle Seahawks: Their draft is largely defined by the March arrival of Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham at the price of the first rounder, so it's hard to be too cool about it. Still, taking DE Frank Clark, who's got major character issues, seemed an unnecessary gamble in Round 2. Getting into position for Tyler Lockett, who should contribute immediately in the slot and as a punt returner, in Round 3 helps offset the head-scratching Clark choice.
25. Cincinnati Bengals: This may be a prime example of a draft that needs time to percolate. Cincinnati took tackles in Rounds 1 and 2, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, respectively, who might not displace incumbents Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith until 2016, when the vets become free agents. Third-round LB Paul Dawson could quickly ride to the rescue if Vontaze Burfict's knee doesn't heal. Fourth-round CB Josh Shaw and sixth-round S Derron Smith may prove major finds for the secondary.
First impression: Hmmm ...
26. Tennessee Titans: Boom. Or bust. Will QB Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 pick, fulfill his considerable potential? Or will he fail to adapt to the pro game and make coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Ruston Webster forever regret their decision to decline the numerous bounties they were reportedly offered from other clubs who coveted the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner? Second-round WR Dorial Green-Beckham may become a huge headache for defensive backs ... assuming his long rap sheet doesn't prove a headache in Tennessee.
27. Dallas Cowboys: They took a major risk by ending Randy Gregory's free fall at the bottom of Round 2 but could also realize an enormous payoff if the uber-talented pass rusher gets his head on straight. First rounder Byron Jones must prove he's as good a corner as he is an athlete. We'll know in a few months if Jerry Jones was wise not to pursue one of the draft's many quality tailbacks.
28. Green Bay Packers: GM Ted Thompson is clearly comfortable with what still appears a shallow group of inside linebackers. But the Pack do now own a deep and versatile covey of defensive backs with the additions of Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, Thompson's top two choices. Round 3 WR Ty Montgomery and Round 5 QB Brett Hundley seem like luxury picks at first blush — and especially difficult to envision Hundley ever serving a significant role in front of Aaron Rodgers, still just 31.
29. New England Patriots: Perhaps the league's model franchise — who can argue after Lombardi No. 4? — Bill Belichick's drafts are more hit-and-miss than you might expect given the organization's rep. First-round DT Malcom Brown seems a worthy successor to Vince Wilfork, and Florida State G Tre' Jackson was a deft choice in Round 4. But second-round S Jordan Richards could be a reach. And why burn a fifth rounder on a Naval Academy long snapper? Great gesture, but Midshipmen loyalist Belichick almost surely could have waited.
First impression: Maybe the second impression will be better
30. San Francisco 49ers: The defense took a slight dip in 2014 — partially due to a lack of offensive assistance — but not nearly enough to devote the top three picks to that side of the ball. First rounder Arik Armstead has the tools to be a great lineman but is anything but a sure bet. Samford S Jaquiski Tartt may have been overdrafted in Round 2, especially with that position seemingly already in good shape. Eli Harold is a potential gem in Round 3. But he plays outside linebacker, not the inside post where the Niners were ravaged by the retirements of Patrick willis and Chris Borland.
31. Indianapolis Colts: At pick 29, they obviously acquired an excellent football player in speedster WR Phillip Dorsett. But with fleet wideouts T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief already on board (not to mention vet Andre Johnson), will GM Ryan Grigson regret waiting until the middle rounds to find run defenders while passing on some decent offensive line prospects in Rounds 1 and 2?
32. Carolina Panthers: After some wheeling and dealing, they ultimately ended up with just five selections. And they might have made major reaches with the first two — Shaq Thompson, whose position was a matter of debate leading up to the draft, and fellow 'tweener Devin Funchess, who might be a wideout or tight end but could also be severely limited in either role.
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