These are 2015 NFL Draft Team Grades. I'll be posting them throughout Sunday. Follow @walterfootball
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2015 NFL Mock Draft
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: We all know by now that the Buccaneers plan on drafting Jameis Winston. With that in mind, their goal is simple: Build around by Winston by upgrading the offensive line and running back positions. Adding some better players on the defensive side of the ball, including a pass-rusher, is a must as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Buccaneers nearly accomplished everything they needed to. They drafted a quarterback, added two offensive linemen to protect their franchise signal-caller and then found some weapons for him. Tampa couldn't block whatsoever last year, but that shouldn't be the case this upcoming season.
I like the actual players that the Buccaneers drafted, for the most part. In fact, my lowest grade, save for the seventh-rounder, came on the first selection, but you can read about my thoughts on Jameis Winston in my individual NFL Draft Grades page.
Tampa's sole omission came in terms of finding a pass-rusher. They neglected to obtain someone who can get heat on the quarterback, which will hurt, given the types of signal-callers they have to go up against twice per season. However, this is more than just a 1-year rebuilding project, as I have the Buccaneers picking a defensive end in my 2016 NFL Mock Draft.
Follow @walterfootball for updates.
Tennessee Titans: A- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Titans need to come out of this draft with an upgrade at quarterback, whether that's selecting Marcus Mariota with the second-overall pick or trading for someone like Philip Rivers or Sam Bradford. This team simply cannot go into the 2015 season with Zach Mettenberger as its starting quarterback. Tennessee also needs to bolster the offensive line and secondary.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Drafting Mariota or trading for Rivers were the primary goals, and once the latter was unavailable, Tennessee's objective was clear; it had to select Mariota, barring a Herschel Walker-type trade offer. There are some who criticized the Titans for drafting Mariota solely because the owner wanted him, but that's far from the truth. Mariota was Tennessee's guy all along; in fact, the front office would've selected him over Jameis Winston.
The Titans did a good job of adding talent around Mariota on Days 2 and 3. Dorial Green-Beckham was a strong acquisition in the second round; if it wasn't for his character concerns, he would've been a top-10 pick. Jeremiah Poutasi, meanwhile, should offer an upgrade at either guard or right tackle, both of which were problem areas. Later on, David Cobb was a nice value pick, as he'll challenge Bishop Sankey for the starting running back job.
Tennessee had plenty of holes, so it was difficult to address them all. The secondary was completely neglected, and I felt like the fourth-rounder used on a fullback should've been spent on either a corner or a safety. But having said that, the Titans had an outstanding draft overall, and the fans should be excited about the team's future for the first time in a long while.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Blake Bortles was the pick last year. The Jaguars now have to make sure he has all the tools he needs to develop. They have to obtain more upgrades on the offensive line as well as a better running back. Bolstering the defense (LEO, secondary) has to be done as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I've often criticized David Caldwell in the past, but he deserves credit for what looks like an outstanding draft class. He addressed numerous needs with top available players, and as a consequence, the Jaguars will almost certainly be way more competitive this upcoming season.
A few key selections were used on defense. Dante Fowler was taken No. 3 overall, and it was the right choice. Many thought the Jaguars would take Leonard Williams, the perceived top player in the draft, but as I've been writing for months, teams believed Williams to be overrated as far as the media was concerned. Fowler was Jacksonville's top prospect, and he'll bolster the pass rush out of Gus Bradley's key LEO position. Later on, James Sample was a bargain in the fourth, and he'll have a chance to secure a starting job early in his career. Michael Bennett was also a nice choice to upgrade the defensive front. Bennett, a third-round prospect, slipped to the sixth frame.
The Jaguars did well to upgrade Bortles' supporting cast. T.J. Yeldon is going to actually make defenses worry about the run, unlike the plodding Toby Gerhart. A.J. Cann was one of the better guards in the class, and he'll add to the protection that Caldwell acquired this offseason. Rashad Greene, meanwhile, was a steal atop Round 5; he could've easily gone on Day 2.
Oakland Raiders: C+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Like the Jaguars, the Raiders need to add help to give their young quarterback the best chance to succeed. A No. 1 receiver, an upgrade on the offensive line and perhaps a running back should all be obtained. Defensive assistance is required as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Raiders spent three of their initial four selections on potential help for Carr. Amari Cooper, taken fourth overall, will give Carr a legitimate No. 1 receiver to throw to. Clive Walford seems like he'll be an upgrade at tight end. Jon Feliciano, meanwhile, could fill a need at guard, though he was a massive reach in Round 4.
General manager Reggie McKenzie made minimal upgrades to his defense. Mario Edwards was added in the second round, but the big hole at linebacker was neglected until the fifth round, though I liked the Ben Heeney selection. Max Valles, meanwhile, could contribute as a rotational pass-rusher as a rookie.
Overall, it just seems like something was missing from Oakland's draft. The team did improve itself, but outside of Cooper, I don't know if the organization added an impact player to its roster, as both Edwards and Feliciano were taken prematurely (especially the latter).
Washington Redskins: C Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Washington's priority is addressing its horrid secondary. Multiple upgrades are needed there. Beyond that, the team needs to bolster the offensive line and receiving corps, and also add some depth to the thin front seven.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: So much for addressing the horrid secondary. The Redskins didn't even touch its beleaguered defensive backfield until the 181st pick in the draft, when they reached for someone named Kyshoen Jarrett. I have no idea how the defense is going to contain any competent aerial attack this upcoming season.
The Redskins made some nice picks, but were guilty of lots of reaches. It began early at No. 5 overall. Brandon Scherff was a fantastic guard prospect, but players at that position should not be selected in the top five, especially when talents like Leonard Williams and Vic Beasley are available. Scherff may play right tackle, but that's not the best fit for him. Meanwhile, the reach of Matt Jones at the bottom of the third frame was even more egregious. If Washington wanted a third-down back, it could have waited a few rounds. Why not select a cornerback or safety at that juncture?
I liked two of Washington's picks. Preston Smith was a solid choice at No. 37, as he'll challenge Trent Murphy for the starting job across from Ryan Kerrigan. The other was Arie Kouandjio, who was a solid bargain in the fourth frame. He could start at guard on Day 1. However, these two picks weren't enough to save the Redskins' pedestrian draft haul.
New York Jets: B- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Jets should be targeting a trade up for Marcus Mariota because they desperately need a quarterback. If they fail to do so, adding play-makers and pass-rushers should be their priority.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Like every other team that needed to move up for Marcus Mariota and failed to do so, the Jets will be downgraded accordingly. They ultimately found a quarterback in the fourth round in Bryce Petty, but that was a wasted pick. Petty does not have starting-caliber talent and will only be a backup, at best. The silver lining is that the Jets didn't use a second-rounder on him.
The Jets did manage to use their first three picks on play-makers and pass-rushers. They were almost forced into picking Leonard Williams at No. 6, but that's not a bad thing because he was the best player available. Lorenzo Mauldin was a decent edge rusher found in the third, while Devin Smith was coveted by several teams in the middle of the second frame. He'll be a solid deep threat for whomever the Jets have at quarterback in 2016 and beyond.
New York didn't draft a running back, but managed to trade for Zac Stacy, surrendering a seventh-round selection. The Jets barely gave anything up, so the swap was effectively pointless; I said "Yikes!" plenty of times while watching how poorly Stacy ran in 2014. He's not exactly the upgrade Geno Smith needed in the backfield, but that shouldn't spoil what was a fairly mediocre class.
Chicago Bears: A- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Bears should also be desperate to move up for Marcus Mariota. However, their chances aren't as likely because, well, why in the world would the Titans want a heartless bum quarterback? Chicago will finally replace Cutler next year - check out my 2016 NFL Mock Draft - but in the meantime, they'll need to add pieces for their new 3-4, as well as a receiver to replace Brandon Marshall and offensive linemen to have in place for their next quarterback.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Bears did indeed attempt to trade up for Mariota, but it was a hilarious, futile effort because they tried to include Cutler in the deal. Chicago would've had more luck offering dog poop to the Titans. After all, dog poop doesn't have nearly as high of a cap charge.
All kidding aside, the Bears had a terrific initial draft under this new front office. They accomplished all of their realistic goals, beginning with finding a replacement for Brandon Marshall. Kevin White was the best player available at No. 7, so he was the clear-cut correct choice. Pieces for the 3-4 were added after that. Eddie Goldman is the nose tackle Vic Fangio needed, while Adrian Amos is an athletic safety who will be able to compete for a starting job right away.
The Bears also found a couple of linemen for Cardale Jones, Christian Hackenberg, or whomever their next quarterback will be. Hroniss Grasu was the sort of replacement the Bears needed for the departed Roberto Garza at center, while guard Tayo Fabuluje was a solid value choice in the sixth round.
Atlanta Falcons: B+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Falcons will be hoping that one of the top pass-rushers will fall to them at No. 8. They desperately need to improve their ability to get to the quarterback. Beyond that, upgrades are needed at tight end, running back, guard and safety.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: One of the top pass-rushers did indeed drop to the Falcons, as Vic Beasley was somehow available in the eighth spot. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay inexplicably forgot to place Beasley in the first round of their joint mock draft, but Beasley was certainly worth the eighth choice. In fact, it could've been argued that he belonged in the top five. The Falcons are going to greatly benefit from his ability to put heavy heat on opposing signal-callers.
Atlanta upgraded one of the other three aforementioned positions, adding Tevin Coleman in the third round. Coleman could have easily gone in Round 2, so he was a bargain at that spot. Other quality picks include Justin Hardy and Grady Jarrett early on Day 3. Hardy will replace Harry Douglas, while Jarrett has terrific athleticism and tons of upside.
My only issue with the Falcons' haul was their second-round pick. I don't really have a problem with Jalen Collins, but Atlanta had Maxx Williams just sitting there. Williams fit what they look for in terms of athletic players, and he definitely would have filled a huge need, yet the Falcons passed on him, allowing a smarter front office (Baltimore) to obtain him. I have a feeling the Falcons are going to be kicking themselves after watching Joe Flacco repeatedly fire passes to Williams over the middle of the field on third downs. Williams was exactly what Matt Ryan needed after losing Tony Gonzalez.
New York Giants: B- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Giants need to bolster the trenches. They're expected to target an offensive lineman at No. 9 if Amari Cooper doesn't fall to them. They'll also be looking to find help at both defensive end and defensive tackle. The safety position is an issue as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Much like the so-called "greatest sports day evar!" the Giants' draft class was fine early, great in the middle and terrible at the end. They kicked it off by drafting Ereck Flowers, who will start at right tackle and eventually end up on the blind side after Will Beatty moves on. Flowers was a solid choice, but the Giants were hoping that their top options - Amari Cooper, Brandon Scherff - would fall to them. That didn't happen.
New York was at its best on Day 2. The team solved its safety issue by obtaining Landon Collins. I'm not as crazy about Collins as some because of his coverage issues, but he'll be a force in run support. Owa Odighizuwa, meanwhile, was the Giants' top selection. Odighizuwa was generating some late-first-round buzz, so getting him in the middle stages of the third frame was a steal. He could start in a year or two.
Just like the overhyped boxing match, Day 3 was a disappointment. The Giants reached for three prospects, including fifth-rounder Mykkele Thompson, whom I didn't have as a draftable prospect.
Overall, New York had an average draft. It definitely could've been better, but as you'll see, there are teams who did far worse.
St. Louis Rams: D+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Rams replaced their injury-prone quarterback with another one who gets hurt often (but not nearly as much). They absolutely need to make sure their offensive line is upgraded so that Nick Foles remains healthy. Various positions can be addressed as well, but the offensive line is key.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I'm convinced that the Rams' front office was caught in a time vortex on Day 2 and believed that they were drafting in the seventh round. That's the only explanation I have for the second-day selections they made. Everyone wants to talk about the Todd Gurley pick, but the wasted opportunities in Rounds 2-3 is the story of the Rams' draft.
Rob Havenstein was a late-round prospect. Jamon Brown was possible UDFA fodder. The Rams did look at big positions of need when selecting those two players, but they reached egregiously. I guess they were asleep during Senior Bowl practices when Havenstein was abused against almost every pass-rusher he went up against. And yet, he's still better than Brown!
The Rams wasted many other choices as well. Sean Mannion won't be anything more than a backup. Andrew Donnal was just OK. The Bud Sasser choice could have been better. Bryce Hager was a nice pick-up in the middle of the seventh round, but that was too little, too late.
I liked that St. Louis selected Gurley - one team called him "the next Jim Brown," so he'll have a huge impact on the offense when he gets healthy - but he won't be enough to offset all of the other poor selections the front office was guilty of.
Minnesota Vikings: A Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Receiver and cornerback are the two positions of greatest need. They'll both have to be addressed early. Elsewhere, the Vikings will have to consider a running back to replace Adrian Peterson, a left tackle for insurance, and a linebacker to improve the middle of the defense.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Vikings emerged from this weekend with one of the top classes in the 2015 NFL Draft. To quote an e-mailer who is 100-percent correct, the Vikings, quite simply, "killed it."
Their initial selections were excellent. They obtained the top cornerback in the draft with the No. 11 pick, which seems like a theft, especially after hearing that he was drawing some consideration at the seventh pick. The Vikings also secured the best prospect at another position - inside linebacker. I don't know why Eric Kendricks was available in the middle of the second round, but Minnesota got a steal.
Speaking of steals, T.J. Clemmings in the fourth qualifies as one. Even the teams that were down on Clemmings listed him as a third-rounder before his injuries came to light, so he was definitely a bargain early on Day 3. He could eventually emerge as the Vikings' starting left tackle. Not bad for a third-day selection!
Other picks like Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs made a ton of sense, and Minnesota added lots of depth to its roster elsewhere. Viking fans have to be thrilled heading into what appears to be a promising 2015 campaign.
Cleveland Browns: C- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: It'll be an absolute disaster if the Browns go into the 2015 season with Josh McCown and Johnny Rehab as their two quarterbacks. They need to make a move up for Marcus Mariota. They also have to find weapons and blocking for Mariota, as well as some help on the offensive line.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: NFL Network listed the Browns as one of the options for the winner of the 2015 NFL Draft, and I can't understand why. The Browns screwed up on so many levels, beginning with their reluctance to trade up for Marcus Mariota. This was their one chance to finally obtain a franchise quarterback, yet they were too stingy to pull the trigger. They'll regret that decision.
I have no problem with the Danny Shelton pick, but the Cameron Erving selection is baffling. The only reason Erving emerged as a first-round prospect was because of how well he played at center compared to the other positions. Yet, barring an injury to Alex Mack, Erving won't be able to play center in Cleveland. So, with that in mind, why did the Browns pick him in the first round? Did Ray Farmer not watch the appropriate film on him?
I liked some of Cleveland's other selections like Xavier Cooper and Ibraheim Campbell, but they once again failed to find a play-maker. The one receiver they drafted was Vince Mayle. They took him in the fourth round, when he probably belonged in the fifth or sixth. Ifo Ekrpe-Olomu was an awesome final choice, but given the state of his problematic torn ACL, he may not be able to salvage what appears to be an underwhelming class.
New Orleans Saints: B- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Saints had a fire sale in free agency. They'll need to plug the holes they created (tight end, guard, receiver, linebacker) and also address the positions that already were major liabilities (edge rusher, cornerback).
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: New Orleans' first three selections were underwhelming. Andrus Peat, while being a solid prospect, didn't fill one of the huge needs I listed above, though perhaps it'll allow one of the current tackles to move inside. Stephone Anthony was a bit of a reach. Hau'oli Kikaha, meanwhile, carries a major injury risk. While I was a bit harsh in the individual grade, the fact remains that some teams had him off their board because of the medical. Perhaps the Saints will be right on Kikaha, and if so, he should be a good pro, but he was too much of a gamble in the second round as far as I'm concerned.
I liked the Saints' draft after that. Their next three picks - P.J. Williams, Davis Tull, Tyeler Davison - all filled needs while provided solid value for where they were chosen. The final two selections weren't bad either.
In summary, New Orleans filled 3-4 of the six needs I listed above, neglecting tight end and receiver. The roster as a whole is a bit better after the 2015 NFL Draft, but the team's haul could have been better.
Miami Dolphins: B Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Vikings and Dolphins have very similar goals. They both need a receiver and a cornerback, but instead of a left tackle and a running back, Miami has to find a guard and a safety.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Dolphins came away from the draft with a solid class. Its two best picks will help the offense. DeVante Parker was a mini-steal at No. 14, as he was being discussed as a possibility for the Rams (10th), Vikings (11th) and Browns (12th). He can't possibly have worse chemistry with Ryan Tannehill than Mike Wallace did as the team's No. 1 receiver. The other top selection was Jay Ajayi in the fifth round. Ajayi would have gone in the second frame if his knee wasn't "bone on bone," as Mike Mayock described it. If he can get over that issue, he has the ability to emerge as Miami's starting running back.
One area in which the Dolphins disappointed was their inability to find help in the secondary. They waited until the fifth round to take their initial defensive back. I would have gone with a corner or a safety in the second frame instead of the overhyped Jordan Phillips.
Miami had what seemed like a thousand fifth-round choices, and it may have hit on most of them. After Ajayi, the best of the bunch seems like Tony Lippett, who can play both receiver and cornerback. I imagine the Dolphins will be using him at the latter position, given their huge need there.
San Francisco 49ers: D Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The 49ers have had a disastrous offseason, losing players left and right because of free agency and retirement. They have so many holes on their roster that they basically have to select the best player available at every juncture.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: So much for taking the best player available. The 49ers selected a second-round prospect in the middle of the first, a fringe Day 2 talent early on Friday, a punter in the fifth round and an undraftable player in the sixth.
I can't imagine how frustrated and upset logical 49er fans must be right now. Fifteen months ago, San Francisco was in Super Bowl contention, thanks to a loaded roster and a top-three NFL head coach. Trent Baalke has ruined everything, exiling Jim Harbaugh, chasing away skilled veterans into retirement and free agency, and failing to find proper replacements for his departed talents. The 49ers are going to be one of the worst teams in the league in 2015, and this draft class barely did anything to help.
There's one thing saving the 49ers from a dreaded Millen grade. That would be Eli Harold, who was a steal in the third round. Discussed as a late-first-round possibility, Harold could eventually start at outside linebacker. However, he may not see much action this season because of what the team already has at the position.
Houston Texans: A- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: I've slotted Todd Gurley in my 2015 NFL Mock Draft for a while now. Some haven't understood it, but Gurley will probably be the pick if he's available at No. 16. The Texans have no quarterback, so they need to make sure they run the ball as well as possible. Arian Foster is injury-prone, so Gurley would give Houston great insurance. Elsewhere, the team needs to add to the receiving and linebacking corps, as well as the secondary.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The medical reports on Todd Gurley were so positive that there was no way he was going to last until No. 16. The Texans were fine with that because they were able to obtain the No. 2 player on their realistic draft board for the 16th pick, Kevin Johnson. The tall Wake corner was generating a ton of buzz heading into the draft, as multiple teams told us to move him into the top 16 of our mock drafts. Johnson will start across from Kareem Jackson in 2016 and beyond, and he'll provide needed depth this season.
The Texans traded up for a pair of players on Day 2. I'm normally not a fan of teams moving up, but both of Houston's transactions made a ton of sense. The team coveted Benardrick McKinney, but he was not going to fall to them. Viewed by some as the No. 1 inside linebacker in this class, McKinney will be able to displace the disappointing Brian Cushing. Jaelen Strong, meanwhile, was an absolute steal in the third round, given that he was considered to be a fringe first-day prospect. He could emerge as the No. 2 receiver as a rookie.
Despite these two deals, the Texans still had four selections on Day 3. The best one was Christian Covington, who was a bargain in the seventh round. I wasn't a fan of the team's third-day choices before that, however.
Overall, I really liked what Houston did in the draft. The team filled its biggest needs with talented players, and it'll be better in 2015 as a result. Now, if only the Texans had a quarterback...
San Diego Chargers: C+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Chargers could trade Philip Rivers for Marcus Mariota. Regardless, they need to upgrade the offensive line and running back stable for whichever quarterback is starting for them next year. Another running back, pass-rusher and cornerback are needed as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Chargers are the only Marcus Mariota-eligible team that won't be downgraded for not trading for him. That's because they still have an awesome signal-caller in Philip Rivers. It's still questionable whether Rivers will make the dreaded move to Los Angeles - former teammate LaDainian Tomlinson called Rivers' retirement threats "very valid" - but San Diego will at least have great quarterbacking play in 2015.
The Chargers made sure to give Rivers a weapon, selecting Melvin Gordon in the first round. I discussed in my NFL Draft Grades page why trading up for him was unnecessary, but the fact remains that San Diego now has a Jamaal Charles clone in its backfield. If he lives up to the hype, Gordon will help the Chargers' offense immeasurably.
San Diego had just four other picks because of the trade, and it was a mixed bag. I liked the Denzel Perryman and Kyle Emanuel selections, but Craig Mager was a reach, though he did potentially fill a need for cornerback depth.
The Chargers came away from this draft with a couple of decent potential starters next season in Gordon and Perryman, but I wasn't a major fan of the class because the front office neglected the offensive line entirely. Rivers struggled last year because of pass-protection issues, and those now figure to linger in 2015.
Kansas City Chiefs: C+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Kansas City's offensive ineptitude must be addressed. Receivers need to score touchdowns, so an upgrade across from Jeremy Maclin has to be obtained. Help on the offensive line would allow Alex Smith to have time to find these wideouts. Elsewhere, the inside linebacker, cornerback and safety positions need to be bolstered.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Chiefs did indeed fill needs with their first three picks, but they did so in risky and/or disappointing fashion. First-rounder Marcus Peters was the gamble. Andy Reid visited Peters' hometown during the pre-draft process to dig up information on the former Washington cornerback, so it's safe to assume he liked what he saw. However, Reid has taken chances on players with character issues before, and it has backfired. Peters will be a huge upgrade at corner if he pans out, but he could just as easily quit on the team. After that, Mitch Morse and Chris Conley both made sense, but they were slight reaches. The former should be able to start this upcoming season, but only because the offensive line is in terrible shape. Conley, however, is a project.
I liked the Chiefs' picks after that, for the most part. Their next two selections, Steve Nelson and Ramik Wilson, were solid values who filled needs. Kansas City made no terrible choices on Day 3.
The Chiefs' goal entering the 2015 NFL Draft was to find help to bolster their offense. Unfortunately, they didn't do enough. Morse will help, but Conley is so raw that he may not be able to play as a rookie. No other receivers of note were added, and there weren't enough upgrades made on the offensive line.
Buffalo Bills: B- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: With no first-round pick, it'll be difficult for the Bills to make a big splash in the draft. They'll have to think about adding a young quarterback, but otherwise spending their other picks on the best players available.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Many expected the Bills to draft Bryce Petty, especially after they met with him the week of the draft. Fortunately for them, they weren't duped into the media hype surrounding the Baylor quarterback; some teams had an undrafted grade on him, so taking him at No. 50 would have been disastrous.
Buffalo's 50th-overall pick was much better, as they took a cornerback in Ronald Darby, who figures to enter the lineup in 2016. Darby was one of the three Florida State products the Bills selected. I wasn't a fan of the Karlos Williams choice, but Nick O'Leary was a steal in the sixth round.
The rest of the Bills' class ended up being a mixed bag. John Miller figures to help at guard, but he was taken a bit prematurely. Tony Steward was just a "meh" pick, as he'll be just a special-teamer. On the other hand, Dezmin Lewis, viewed by some as the next Cecil Shorts, could be an even greater steal in the seventh than O'Leary was one round earlier.
Philadelphia Eagles: C+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Could all of Philadelphia's maneuvering in the offseason been to move up for Marcus Mariota? Trade proposals have been discussed, as you can see on the Marcus Mariota Trade Page. Unless the Eagles are asked to actually mortgage their future, they should make a move for Mariota, as the injury-prone Sam Bradford is not a good fit in Chip Kelly's offense. At any rate, Philadelphia has to bolster its secondary and receiving corps in addition to trading up.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It's fair to question Kelly's strategy. He acquired an injury-prone quarterback who probably won't be able to make it through the 2015 season instead of a superior signal-caller who would be a terrific fit in his offense. Even if Sam Bradford somehow stays healthy in 2015, what if he signs a big contract as a result and then tears his ACL prior to the 2016 campaign? It's a very realistic scenario. The Eagles should've done everything in their power to trade for Mariota, but they simply did not do enough.
Having said that, Philadelphia's draft class wasn't a disaster. Nelson Agholor was a slight reach at No. 20, but he should be able to start this upcoming season. Eric Rowe, meanwhile, was a better choice. He fits perfectly into the Eagles' defense, and he's versatile enough to play either cornerback or safety.
Curiously, Agholor and Rowe were the only Pac-12 prospects Kelly acquired. But that doesn't mean the picks were better. Jordan Hicks, the third-rounder, was a slight reach and didn't fill a need. JaCorey Shepherd, meanwhile, doesn't fit what the Eagles want from a size and athletic standpoint.
Philadelphia helped itself a bit in this draft, but it could have done much better - even without trading for Mariota. But as mentioned, any team that needed to trade up for Mariota and failed to do so will be penalized in the overall grade.
Cincinnati Bengals: C+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: A weapon for Andy Dalton is needed, but the Bengals' biggest concern is the defensive line. Both the end and tackle positions must be addressed. The linebacking corps should be looked into as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Bengals addressed the trenches - but they took players on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage. They apparently don't believe that Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith will be on the roster in 2016 and beyond, as they selected a pair of offensive tackles with their first two picks. The Jake Fisher choice made sense, given how much of a value he was in the middle of the second round. However, Cedric Ogbuehi was a major reach. Some teams we spoke to had a third-round grade on him.
Cincinnati made a few quality picks after that, including Paul Dawson, who wouldn't have been a reach had he snuck into the second round. I also like Josh Shaw, a talented defensive back who dropped because of character issues that don't sound too terrible.
Marcus Hardison was also a good option at the end of Round 4, but he was the first defensive lineman Cincinnati selected. This was a big problem area last year, and it appears as though the Bengals will once again struggle to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2015. Cincinnati also failed to acquire a weapon for Dalton, so the offense will continue to sputter against playoff-caliber defenses.
Pittsburgh Steelers: A- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Steelers will do what they usually do. They'll wait for the best-available players to drop to them. I imagine they'll be able to land someone like Randy Gregory, Shane Ray or Landon Collins at No. 22. That'll allow them to address the cornerback position a bit later.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It's amazing how, year after year, the Steelers manage to land a talented prospect who falls to them. I initially thought it would be Landon Collins, but then shifted my focus to either Randy Gregory or Shane Ray. At least I had the right position; I did not expect Alvin Dupree to be available. His fall was bizarre to watch. Sure, he's a bit raw, but his athleticism and upside are off the charts. The Steelers managed to obtain a player who could be a monstrous pass rusher in two seasons.
Many of Pittsburgh's other selections were solid. Third-rounder Sammie Coates was a steal, as he was once discussed as a potential first-round prospect. Cornerback Doran Grant also provided good value in the fourth frame. The next three choices - Jesse James, Leterrius Walton and Anthony Chickillo - filled needs and addressed holes on the roster, and they all could have gone earlier than where they were selected.
The one blemish in the Steelers' class was second-rounder Senquez Golson, whom I had in the fifth frame. Golson doesn't fit the size and athletic prerequisites for Pittsburgh's secondary, so the selection was curious. But outside of that, the Steelers had an excellent draft.
Detroit Lions: B+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Lions lost both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley this offseason, so they'll obviously have to replenish the defensive tackle position. Other priorities include finding a lead running back and upgrading the right tackle spot.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Lions didn't manage to find potential help at right tackle until late in the draft, but they did address other positions of need early on. They managed to obtain a stout guard after trading down in the first round. While Laken Tomlinson was a bit of a reach, I liked that the Lions at least added some other picks before selecting him.
Detroit's two second-day selections provided more value. Ameer Abdullah, who will replace Reggie Bush as a speedy complement to Joique Bell, could have been taken in the first half of Round 2. Alex Carter, meanwhile, was also a second-round prospect who was obtained in the bottom half of the following frame. He should be able to take Rashean Mathis' spot once the veteran corner moves on.
The Lions made some value picks on Saturday, namely the aforementioned right tackle. Corey Robinson was a mega steal in Round 7, as I actually had Detroit selecting him with the 88th-overall choice. Any seventh-rounder is a long shot to make the roster in his first year, but perhaps Robinson will have a good chance because he could have been taken earlier.
This was a quality draft for Detroit. The team improved the offensive line, found a weapon for Matthew Stafford and managed to get help for the secondary. Even the defensive tackle position was addressed in the fourth round via Gabe Wright, who was also a solid pick.
Arizona Cardinals: B- Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Cardinals have to find some replacements for players they've lost recently, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback, inside linebacker, defensive end and rush linebacker are all positions that need to be addressed. On offense, another running back has to be acquired because Andre Ellington can't carry the load himself.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: FOX Sports' Mike Jurecki said all along that right tackle was a sleeper option for the Cardinals, and surely enough, that's the direction they went when D.J. Humphries dropped to them at No. 24. Humphries was a solid pick, as he'll displace Bobbie Massie, who was responsible for Carson Palmer's injury last year.
The Cardinals addressed many of their needs after that. They nabbed a pair of pass-rushers in Markus Golden and Shaquille Riddick, though the former was a slight reach at the end of the second frame. Running back David Johnson was a much greater value toward the end of the next round. He projects as a perfect complement for Ellington.
I liked most of Arizona's draft, but I had a couple of issues with it. First, Rodney Gunter was a major reach in the fourth round. Also, the Cardinals failed to upgrade the secondary and inside linebacker positions. They've had immense problems covering tight ends, and now they'll have to deal with Jimmy Graham twice per season. Their reluctance to add to the linebacking corps could prove to be costly, and it's the primary reason why this grade is not in the B+ range.
Carolina Panthers: D Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: It's well known which two positions the Panthers have to address in the draft: receiver and offensive tackle. They do have other needs, though. A third linebacker, an upgrade at safety and another running back have to be acquired.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I slotted Shaq Thompson to the Panthers at No. 25 in one of my final mock drafts because I knew they liked him, but I ultimately made the decision to move him to Carolina's pick in the second round because I thought he was too much of a reach with the 25th-overall choice. Other teams we spoke to felt the same way, slotting Thompson in the second frame. Thus, it's apparent the Panthers reached for him. Thompson doesn't have a truly defined position in the NFL, so using a first-rounder on him is a curious move.
Having said that, taking Thompson at No. 25 was brilliant compared to what happened next. The Panthers dealt multiple picks to move up for Devin Funchess, another player who doesn't have a real position. Funchess is too small to be a tight end and too slow to be a receiver, so where does he fit in? He was expected to slide, so if the Panthers truly coveted him, they could have obtained him (or a similarly talented receiver/tight end) with their own selection in the second round. Taking a major reach is bad enough; using multiple resources to do so is beyond disastrous.
Two of Carolina's third-day selections salvaged this grade from being a Millen. Daryl Williams was a nice bargain pick and could end up starting, while Cameron Artis-Payne provided great value in Round 6. However, neither prospect is good enough to offset what transpired earlier, as well as the fact that the Panthers made only one upgrade to their beleaguered offensive line.
Baltimore Ravens: A+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: There are numerous positions the Ravens are expected to address, including receiver, cornerback, tight end, running back, edge rusher and defensive end. The first two in that list are top priorities, but I'm sure that Ozzie Newsome, one of the top general managers in the NFL, is well aware of that.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It's no surprise that the Ravens came away with one of this year's best draft classes. Their first pick was just OK; Breshad Perriman was an overhyped prospect heading into the 2015 NFL Draft, but the No. 26 spot was about right for him. The Ravens, however, were able to win with numerous other selections.
Newsome landed a pair of steals on Day 2. Maxx Williams, who had a chance to go late in the first round, somehow slipped all the way to No 55. He'll be a dependable weapon for Joe Flacco over the middle of the field. The next selection, Carl Davis, also was discussed as a Thursday possibility, but fell because he interviewed poorly at the Senior Bowl and Combine. Nevertheless, he provided enormous value at the end of the third frame as a replacement for Haloti Ngata.
The Ravens made numerous quality choices on Saturday, namely Robert Myers, whom I had mocked to Baltimore a round before he was actually chosen. As a result of all of these selections, Newsome was able to address every single position I listed on the team's need list. It's clearer than ever that he's the top general manager in the NFL.
Dallas Cowboys: B+ Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Many expect the Cowboys to go defensive tackle at No. 27, but that's unlikely to happen because the team doesn't value the one-technique position very much. Dallas could upgrade that position later. In the meantime, cornerback and safety will be looked at early on.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I received an e-mail from a Cowboy fan who was concerned about the Byron Jones selection, wondering if it was wise that Dallas took a "late-round prospect" in the first frame because of his Combine performance. Jones is more than just a workout warrior; teams considered him to be a second-round prospect prior to his Combine, so the bump up to No. 27 makes sense. Jones also fills a glaring need in the secondary.
Of course, the big story regarding Dallas' draft class is Randy Gregory. I mocked Gregory to the Cowboys in the first round because I was aware that they liked him. I would've been OK with him at No. 27, but there's no denying that getting him at the end of the second round is a steal. Gregory has major issues beyond his positive drug test, but he would've been a top-five pick had he been clean off the field. He was absolutely worth the gamble with the 60th-overall selection.
Other Cowboys' selections weren't discussed as much, but the front office made some wise decisions. Swing tackle Chaz Green was one of Charlie's sleeper picks; Damien Wilson figures to be a quality linebacker for Dallas going forward; while Laurence Gibson was a steal in the final round.
Dallas has improved its drafting ability ever since Jerry Jones relinquished some control. The team has made major strides out of mediocrity as a consequence, and it figures to be even better in the near future because of the players acquired in this draft.
Denver Broncos: B Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Peyton Manning doesn't have much time left in this league, so the Broncos have to do everything in their power to surround him with the best talent available so that they can win a Super Bowl in the next year or two. At the same time, however, I wouldn't be surprised if Denver uses a second-day choice on a signal-caller to eventually replace Manning.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Did the Broncos do "everything in their power" to surround Manning with the pieces for a final Super Bowl run? It sure seems as though they tried to. I liked that they moved up for Shane Ray at the end of the first round. Ray may not have made it to their pick, so the trade was necessary. He'll be a future starter once DeMarcus Ware moves on, but his primary function right away will be providing needed depth at outside linebacker.
Most of Denver's other choices were solid choices. Jeff Heuerman, Max Garcia and Lorenzo Doss all fit the range and addressed positions of need that Denver had on its roster. Heuerman and Garcia have a shot to start as rookies.
The one pick of John Elway's that I didn't like very much was Ty Sambrailo in the second round. He also fills a need, but happened to be a reach. However, that one blemish won't be enough to move Denver out of the solid "B" range for its overall grade.
Indianapolis Colts: C Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Colts have done a good job of upgrading their roster this offseason, but two areas of concern still remain: the secondary and offensive line. Protecting Andrew Luck is paramount, while being able to actually stop Tom Brady is obviously important as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Indianapolis managed to add to its secondary, but the front office must not have been as concerned about the offensive line. It didn't address that area until the penultimate pick of the draft when the team took a prospect from the fake Boris College... I mean, Mars Hill.
I don't understand this. Having a cerebral, mobile quarterback like Andrew Luck allows for some leeway in terms of maintaining the offensive line, but Luck does need some help. Indianapolis could have used its first-round selection on a blocker, but instead chose Phillip Dorsett, who may not be able to contribute this season because of the depth at receiver. The Colts are ready to win now, so stashing a wideout, albeit a talented one, doesn't seem like the most logical move.
The Colts' next three choices made sense, as two of them addressed the struggling secondary, while a third bolstered the defensive front line. I also liked the Josh Robinson pick in Round 6. He'll have a chance to see playing time as a rookie.
Unfortunately, Indianapolis made some other questionable picks on Day 3. A couple were reaches, like David Parry and Amarlo Herrera. It would've been one thing had the Colts reached on blockers for Luck, but they curiously neglected that area of their roster.
Green Bay Packers: B Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Packers lost several cornerbacks in free agency this offseason, so that is a position that will have to be remedied. However, the inside linebacker spot remains the greatest priority, as it's not exactly ideal to have Clay Matthews playing there.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I wrote that inside linebacker was the team's greatest priority, but Ted Thompson apparently disagreed, as he ignored that position until the fourth round. Instead, he spent his first two selections on the troubled secondary. I can't exactly blame him; after all of the departures Green Bay incurred there, it was an area that absolutely had to be addressed. Thompson did well, taking two players who fit the range.
The inside linebacker Thompson acquired is a solid one; Jake Ryan could have been taken in the third frame without any complaints. He may not start right away, but he should be able to eventually push Clay Matthews back outside. Of course, the "biggest" name Green Bay took came in the following round when it grabbed Brett Hundley. I loved the pick; Hundley doesn't know how to play quarterback yet, but has first-round physical talent. The Packers could develop him and flip him for a second-round choice in the future. In the meantime, Hundley won't be a terrible option if Aaron Rodgers gets hurt again.
The Packers usually draft well, and this year doesn't appear to be any different. I would have gone in another direction with some of their picks - Ty Montgomery, a couple seventh-rounders - but Green Bay had a solid haul overall.
Seattle Seahawks: B Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: The Seahawks traded their first-round pick for Jimmy Graham, so they'll use their other picks to bolster the trenches. Upgrades are needed on both the offensive and defensive lines, and the secondary and linebacking corps need to be addressed as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Seattle did indeed make a concerted effort to improve the trenches by spending five of their eight selections - including three of their first four - on offensive and defensive linemen. The team wanted Ali Marpet at the end of Round 2, but the Buccaneers moved ahead of them and snatched him off the board. This forced the Seahawks into taking Frank Clark perhaps a bit prematurely. Clark has close to first-round talent, but carries some major character concerns. The Seahawks have been rewarded for taking chances on troubled players before, so Clark could work out for them as a talented pass-rusher.
Two offensive linemen were taken in the fourth round - Terry Poole, Mark Glowinski - and they were both solid choices who could make an impact this year. Some athletic pass-rushers were added late, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Seattle's successful draft strategy.
The Seahawks' other picks made sense; they obtained some help at receiver and an athletic, tall cornerback. Once again, Seahawk fans should be familiar with this sort of draft planning.
Overall, Seattle did well. Nothing really stood out as spectacular, thanks in part to there being no first-round pick, but the front office once again did a decent job of upgrading the roster.
New England Patriots: C+ Grade
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Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Will Bill Belichick continue to draft Urban Meyer-coached players and prospects from both Rutgers and Florida State, or will he go out of his comfort zone for once? Either way, the Patriots have to upgrade the offensive line so that Tom Brady's protection is better next year. Replacements for Vince Wilfork and Darrelle Revis must be acquired as well.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Patriots addressed two of the three areas they had to improve entering the 2015 NFL Draft. One came immediately when they selected Malcom Brown with the final pick of the opening round. Wilfork's departure created a massive hole at nose tackle, which Brown should be able to fill right away. A replacement for Revis, however, was not found; New England didn't even draft a cornerback until No. 247 overall.
The other spot the Patriots fixed was the offensive line. They didn't take care of that massive need early, but they used a pair of fourth-round choices on versatile, interior linemen. Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason both have a chance to start as rookies, and they should offer better protection than Brady had this past season.
This mostly seems great for New England thus far, but the team was guilty of some questionable selections. Both day-two picks were major reaches. Jordan Richards, chosen in the second frame, was considered a Day 3 option. The same could be said for third-rounder Geneo Grissom. The Patriots made up for it with some quality prospects like Trey Flowers, but those two blemishes, as well as the long-snapper pick, simply cannot be overlooked.
Stay tuned for my 2016 NFL Mock Draft, which will be updated on Tuesday. Charlie will be posting his tomorrow.
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