By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 6, 2015
2015 NFL Draft Winners and Losers – Day 2:
There were three teams that by the end of Day 2 had secured three players who could be considered first-round talents, and the Texans’ selections make for the most clear-cut winner of those three. After getting Kevin Johnson in the first round, Houston landed the top inside linebacker in the 2015 NFL Draft in Bernardrick McKinney. Sources from teams said they had graded McKinney as a late first-rounder, so that was an excellent value for the Texans.
Houston followed that selection with a trade up for wide receiver Jaelen Strong. Many projected Strong to be a first-round pick, and he also was a fringe first-round grade. Strong gives the Texans a big, physical receiver to help replace Andre Johnson, while McKinney gives them a starting inside linebacker to pair with Brian Cushing. Houston was able to have a very effective draft that saw the team nail three first-round talents and potentially impact starters. By the end of second day, the Texans had done a lot to improve the talent of their offense and defense.
The Ravens were another team that came away with three players who could be considered first-round talents. After taking wide receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round, Baltimore landed Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams in the second round. Tight end was a big roster need, so to get the draft’s best player at that position in the back half of the second round was a steal. Williams could have gone at the end of the first round without having been considered a serious reach.
In the third round, Baltimore secured a potential impact defensive linemen in Carl Davis to help replace Haloti Ngata. Davis is big, powerful and fast. He fell in the 2015 NFL Draft because teams didn’t like his work ethic and attitude, and how obvious those issues were in their pre-draft interviews. However by the third round, Davis became a real steal athletically, and perhaps the Ravens will have a more motivated player considering how far he fell in the draft. Davis, Williams and Perriman all have skill sets of a late first-rounders, so this could be another superb draft from Ozzie Newsome and his scouting staff.
New York Giants
The Giants were the third and final team to come away with perhaps three first-round talents. New York traded up to pick No. 33 to take safety Landon Collins, which made a lot of sense as the organization is weak at safety. Many NFL teams had a second-round grade on Collins, but he is better in New York than at most other teams because the Giants have to contend with the potent rushing attacks of the Eagles, Redskins and Cowboys. Collins is a tough in-the-box safety who will definitely improve the Giants’ run defense and make up for their weakness at linebacker.
In the third round, the Giants were able to land UCLA defensive end Owa Odighizuwa. He has first-round skill set, but was held back in college by injuries. Odighizuwa could be a starting defensive end with Jason Pierre-Paul and gives New York another speed rusher off the edge. Odighizuwa is similar to other good former Giants defensive linemen Justin Tuck and Osi Uymenyioura in his ability to move inside in passing situations. Odighizuwa should help New York re-establish its deep group of edge rushers to pressure the quarterback.
NFL teams viewed the 2015 NFL Draft as having only three explosive, three-down running backs: Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and T.J. Yeldon. It was huge for the Jaguars to land Yeldon at the top of the second round. Sources had told WalterFootball.com that Jacksonville was targeting Yeldon, and we predicted they would take him at pick No. 36. Yeldon immediately gives the Jaguars an upgrade at running back and could really help quarterback Blake Bortles to make strides in his second season.
In the third round, the Jaguars landed a quality guard prospect in A.J. Cann. Some of Jacksonville’s recent offensive line picks haven’t been all that impressive, but Cann was an appropriate value in the third round, and he could replace some of those disappointing players. With the interior defensive linemen with the Texans and Titans, the Jaguars had to upgrade their guards and were able to do that with Cann. This draft was much better than previous two classes under general manager David Caldwell, and perhaps Jacksonville is finally starting to get a more talented roster to be more competitive on Sundays.
If Randy Gregory is able to stay out of trouble and on the field, the Cowboys could easily have come away with the steal of the 2015 Draft in the second round. Gregory was the best pure pass-rusher in this draft and has the talent of a top-10 pick. Dallas is in win-now mode with the age of Tony Romo, so it’s worth the risk for the organization to take a talented pass-rusher in Gregory. The Cowboys had to improve their ability to get after the quarterback, which Gregory does that immediately.
In the third round, the Cowboys added a talented, underrated tackle in Chaz Green. He could play guard or right tackle for Dallas, and in the long run, he could be the replacement for Doug Free. Don’t be surprised if Green ends up being another steal for Dallas.
The Vikings landed one of the biggest steals on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft in UCLA linebacker Erik Kendricks. Reuniting Kendricks with former teammate Anthony Barr could be lethal for Minnesota. Many projected Kendricks to be a late first-round pick, but the Vikings were able to land him in the middle of the second round. They needed a young talent at middle linebacker, and Kendricks is a tackling machine with the ability to cover in the passing game.
In the third round, the Vikings took LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter. He should give them another edge rusher. Some teams graded Hunter in the third round, while others gave him a third-day grade. Thus, I have the Vikings a notch below the teams above. However, Minnesota’s defense definitely got better on the first two days of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Not only did the Panthers make a questionable pick in Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess in the second round, but they paid a huge price to make selection as they traded away their third-round pick in order to move up for Funchess. It seems doubtful that Carolina had to move up for Funchess considering that no receivers were selected between were the organization had been and when it took Funchess. In fact, other more highly rated receivers like Jaelen Strong and Tyler Lockett fell to the third round.
With Funchess, the Panthers added a receiver who is too slow to maanage separation from the majority of NFL defensive backs while not being big, strong or physical enough to play tight end. Carolina now has some twin towers at receiver with Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin, but the offensive line is weak and the team’s second-day picks would have been better spent on upgrading Cam Newton’s blocking.
New England Patriots
The Patriots made one of the biggest reaches in the first two rounds when they took Stanford safety Jordan Richards at the end of the second round. Most teams had him graded as a third-day pick, and Richards did not have a good senior year. He was drafted at least two rounds too early, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this pick is a bust. When you look at who the Patriots passed on for Richards, this selection is especially painful.
Considering the weakness of New England’s receivers, it looks very questionable to have taken Richards rather than Jaelen Strong, Tyler Lockett or Sammie Coates. The Patriots also could have gotten a good running back such as Duke Johnson or Tevin Coleman. For an edge rusher, New England passed on Eli Harold. There also were some good cornerbacks available in D.J. Smith, P.J. Williams and Alex Carter.
The Patriots followed up the Jordan Richards pick with Geneo Grissom in the third round. Grissom is just a backup quality player. He was a decent edge defender for Oklahoma, but really doesn’t have the skill set to be special in the NFL. New England was in need some depth on the edge, but Grissom was a reach in the third round. As a pair of picks, the Patriots would have done better addressing the same positions by taking Eli Harold in the second round and James Sample in the third round.
St. Louis Rams
It feels as if every year, I like what the Rams did in the first round and then dislike a pick or two on the second day. In the past, I didn’t like the selections of Isaiah Pead and Brian Quick in the second round. That trend continued this year as I loved St. Louis’ pick of Todd Gurley in the first round, but didn’t like the second-round selection of Rob Havenstein. Havenstein is a powerful road-grading right tackle, but he struggles with speed rushers, and I think he’s going to be liability in pass protection.
The Rams followed that trend with Louisville guard Jamon Brown in Round 3. I think Brown and Havenstein will form a strong run-blocking tandem on the right side, but they will have major issues in pass protection. I don’t like their chances of protecting Nick Foles when they go against the Seahawks’ pass-rushers. Brown and Havenstein were reach selections at positions of need, but more well-rounded players were available. I think the Rams will be happy with Gurley, but could easily regret their second-day offensive linemen.
St. Louis also took quarterback Sean Mannion in the third round, but probably could have nabbed him on the third day of the 2015 NFL Draft.
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