2015 NFL Draft Winners and Losers

Winners and Losers – Day 2 | Winners and Losers – Day 3

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 5, 2015

2015 NFL Draft Winners and Losers – Day 1:


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
The Bucs could finally have something they never had: a franchise quarterback. Winston was the right pick and the only pick for Tampa Bay. The organization was smart to resist going with any other player or taking a trade offers. As a player, Winston is the real deal, and the Buccaneers are now in a position to have a quarterback who can go head-to-head with Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan. That quarterback deficiency has led to Tampa Bay missing the playoffs for the past eight years, while the other teams in the NFC South have gone multiple times and have all won at least one playoff game. At last, Tampa Bay’s fans finally have a reason to hope their team has an elite quarterback.

Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Titans are in the same position as Tampa Bay. In the passing-driven NFL, if you don’t have a good quarterback your chances of making the playoffs are reduced tremendously. Tennessee needed a play-maker at quarterback and have a shot at having that after taking Mariota. He needs development for the NFL, but he has the physical skill set to be a good starter. Mariota could be the franchise quarterback for the Titans in time. Perhaps he will be similar to Steve McNair when the raw McNair developed into a star after coming from Alcorn State. In the 2015 NFL Draft, Mariota was a worthy gamble with the second-overall pick, and Tennessee was smart to take him and resist a position player or a trade down.

St. Louis Rams: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Rams weren’t in a position to add a franchise quarterback or an elite, rare receiver with the 10th-overall pick. However, St. Louis still came away with a difference-maker on offense in Gurley. He’s the best running back prospect to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson and gives the Rams an offensive identity. Gurley gives them a game-changer on offense to match up against the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals. The power back Gurley, was deemed too good to pass on and the organization deserves credit for taking the best talent available even though he didn’t fill a position of real need. I had Gurley as the second-rated player on my big board, and he truly is a rare talent with his combination of size and speed. Gurley could be enough to help the Rams get over the hump and make the playoffs.

New York Giants: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
Any time you land the best tackle in the NFL Draft with the ninth-overall pick, you know you came away with a great value. The Giants were able to do that with Flowers, and they now have a difference-maker on an offensive line that has allowed too much heat on Eli Manning. Flowers will also help New York to improve its ability to run the ball. He will start out at right tackle as a rookie, but in time, he should be Will Beatty’s replacement at left tackle. Flowers is only 20 years old and has a ton of upside. When analysts review the 2015 class years from now, Flowers could easily be one of the top players to come out of this draft.

San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
I’m not a fan of the Chargers trading up for Gordon, but they had to get a difference-maker at the running back position and were able to do that. San Diego and quarterback Phillip Rivers were at their best when they had a potent ground game to help them. Gordon could make the difference there as soon as this fall. With the Chargers’ big offensive line paving the way, Gordon could have an immediate impact in pushing the team to the postseason next year.


Carolina Panthers: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
I surveyed five teams months ago, and none of them had Thompson graded as a first-round pick. All of them had him as a second-day prospect. Carolina reached for a player who doesn’t have a true position between linebacker, safety and running back. Playing next to Luke Kuechly will help Thompson to pan out, but he was a reach in the first round when there were other better talents available at positions of need.

Detroit Lions: Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke
The Lions trading down makes this pick a bit easier to swallow, but it still was a reach. WalterFootball.com knows multiple teams that had Tomlinson graded as a second-day prospect, and yet the Lions took him with the 28th-overall pick. There were other better prospects available at positions of need, including defensive tackle Malcom Brown and running back T.J. Yeldon. Tomlinson will pair with Larry Warford to lock down Detroit’s guards for years to come, but those two aren’t going to help the Lions block the Packers edge rushers of Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. Tomlinson is a solid player, but going in the first round was just too rich for his talent level.

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