NFL Hot Press



Many Teams Had 2nd-Round Grade on Byron Jones

Updated May 15, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



Many have stated that the Dallas Cowboys came away with three first-round picks from the 2015 NFL Draft. After taking UConn cornerback Byron Jones in the first round, the Cowboys selected Nebraska pass-rusher Randy Gregory in the second frame after he fell out of the first because of off-the-field concerns and a positive drug test. After the draft, Dallas signed a consensus first-rounder in LSU left tackle La'el Collins. Collins went undrafted because he was being interviewed by police regarding a murder investigation.

While the media has given the Cowboys draft a lot of praise, sources we spoke to say they wouldn't agree that the Cowboys came away with three first-rounders. A handful of teams told us that they all had Byron Jones graded as a second-round pick.

One team that took a defensive back in the top 20 said that Jones went in the first round because he was a workout warrior at the Combine and his pro day. They said that his game tape didn't yield a first-round grade from them. Another team that selected a defensive back in the first round told us that they had a high second-round grade on Jones. A few other teams said they had a second-round grade on Jones as well.

While Jones was graded as a second-rounder by many teams, that doesn't necessarily mean that the Cowboys reached on him late in the first round. Teams didn't have a full 32 first-round grades overall, so it was unavoidable that some players with second-round grades were going to go in the first round. According to many teams, Jones was one of those players.

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Laken Tomlinson Grades All Over the Place

Updated May 11, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



One of the surprise picks of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft was the Detroit Lions' selection of guard Laken Tomlinson. The Lions traded back with the Denver Broncos and acquired another interior lineman in Manny Ramirez to pair with Tomlinson for a revamped interior offensive line. Most projections had Tomlinson going on the second day of the draft, so hearing his name called on Thursday night surprised some organizations. After speaking to sources from teams across the league, we learned that there was some variety in grades for Tomlinson. Some teams saw the Tomlinson pick as a major reach, while others felt that draft slot was appropriate.

One team that was considering interior offensive line help early in the draft they had a third-round grade on Tomlinson. They viewed him as a power right guard. Sources from one of the Lions' divisional rivals said they had a second-round grade on Tomlinson. So to those teams, Tomlinson was a reach in the first round.

Another team that addressed the offensive line in the first round said they had Tomlinson in the 25-35 range on their draft board, and that is in line with where the Lions took him at No. 28. Another franchise that hit the offensive line hard after the first day said they had a second-round grade on Tomlinson and projected him to go in the 25-45 range. So for these two teams, Tomlinson wasn't a real reach and was in line with where they projected him.

The 6-foot-3, 323-pounder could form one of the best young guard tandems in the NFL with Larry Warford. Tomlinson, Ramirez and Warford could make a big difference for the Lions' ground game that struggled in 2014. With second-round pick Ameer Abdullah taking over at running back for Reggie Bush, Detroit looks poised to improve on its rushing attack that was ranked 28th last season.



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Patriots "Winged it" in the Draft

Updated May 8, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



Some of the picks that received the largest amount of questions and were said to be huge reaches in the 2015 NFL Draft came from the New England Patriots. Sources told us that after the Malcom Brown pick, the Patriots ran out of draftable players before their second selection. That is why New England started to take players that weren't necessarily in the round that most teams graded them.

Sources say that the Patriots only had 15-20 players they viewed as good fits for their team. Obviously, the defending champions have a veteran roster without a lot of needs, and as a result, they only had a small amount of players whom they felt could truly fill a role on game day. Sources said that after the Patriots selected Brown, the remaining players in their draft pool were all gone by the time the team was set to pick at the end of the second round. As a result, league contacts said that caused head coach Bill Belichick to "wing it" from then on, and he took players that he liked the most.

That helps to explain New England's second-round pick of Stanford safety Jordan Richards who had graded out as a day-three pick elsewhere. In the third round, the Patriots took another day-three talent in Oklahoma outside linebacker Geneo Grissom. Sources say that fourth-round picks of defensive end Trey Flowers and guard Tre Jackson were better, but the rest of New England's picks could be hard-pressed to make the roster. The Patriots also selected a long-snapper in the fifth round.

Teams from around the league approach the draft in a different manner. New England had a pool of 15-20 players that quickly evaporated, and as a result, it shouldn't be a surprise if Patriots don't get a whole lot from their 2015 draft class.

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Steelers Tried to Trade for Trae Waynes

Updated May 6, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.



Entering the 2015 NFL Draft, one of the popular projections for the Pittsburgh Steelers was having them take a cornerback in the first round. It made sense, as corner has been a need position for years. Many were projecting the Steelers to take Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson, but Johnson didn't make to Pittsburgh pick after he was snatched up by the Texans at No. 16. Pittsburgh ended up taking Kentucky outside linebacker Bud Dupree with the 22nd-overall selection to help upgrade their pass rush. While the Steelers didn't take a corner in the first round, it wasn't from a lack of trying. Sources from around the league told us that the Steelers were calling teams to see about a trade, and their target was Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes.

Pittsburgh was calling teams to gauge what it would take to get them to move down. The Steelers weren't willing to give up a huge amount of picks, and Waynes ended up going to the Vikings with the 11th-overall pick. Moving into the top 10 was too costly for the Steelers. Leading up to the draft ,they were calling teams to prepare a potential move, but with Waynes not sliding into the teens, Pittsburgh was never close to accomplishing a trade.

The Steelers ended up selecting Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson in the second round. Sources say that Golson projects as a nickel corner, and they feel that Pittsburgh will still be looking for some starting outside corners next year. The 5-foot-8 Golson doesn't project as a corner who can match up against Cincinnati's A.J. Green (6-4, 207), given Green's height advantage. Fourth-round pick Doran Grant (5-10, 200) could also compete for playing time for the Steelers, but he isn't the tall length corner that the Steelers were targeting in the first round with Waynes (6-0, 186) or Johnson (6-0, 188).

The Steelers have received a lot of praise for landing Dupree at No. 22m as many projected Dupree to go in the top half of the first round. However, Pittsburgh's plan A was moving up to get Waynes.

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