2015 NFL Draft: A Day 1 Recap


Daniel Kitchen, Staff Writer

With a first day in the books that lacked the chaos of the typical opening night of the draft, it’s nice to take a brief look at which teams made some of the better (or not so much) choices of the opening round. Listed below are three of the best and worst picks from the first round, along with the 20 best players who were not selected last night.

Best Picks

Everyone from Picks 1-9

I decided to lump all nine of these selections into one entry because they shared a refreshing, common theme: teams at the top of the draft making safe picks that fill their biggest needs rather than going for the home run. The home runs make the draft exciting, but all nine of these teams made picks that should help them pick a few spots later next season. Some were small risks with the potential for high rewards (Jacksonville picking Fowler over Williams, Chicago taking Kevin White), other teams were willing to reach slightly to guarantee a major need was filled (Washington & the Giants taking offensive linemen), and other teams didn’t overthink their picks when excellent prospects fell into their laps (Oakland, the Jets, Atlanta). None of the first nine teams shocked Roosevelt Theatre, and that’s alright. They made the picks that will help them down the line.

Minnesota picking Trae Waynes

When Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite college receiver, DeVante Parker, made it past teams to the 11th spot, I thought Minnesota would go for the obvious connection to bolster their offense. Instead, Minnesota made what may be an even better pick, getting the draft’s best corner. There was definitely room in Minnesota’s secondary for another talented cornerback, and I fully expect Waynes to be the team’s starter by the end of the season. If Xavier Rhodes can develop alongside Waynes the next couple seasons, Minnesota will have an excellent trio in the secondary of Rhodes, Waynes, and Harrison Smith.

St. Louis makes the first surprise by picking Todd Gurley

And after two years of running backs missing out on the first round, they’re back in a blaze of glory. We had heard rumors that Gurley or Melvin Gordon could not only make it to the first round, but crack the Top 10, but as the Rams came onto the clock, it looked like the backs would have to wait. The Rams pulled the trigger on Gurley, and it’s not exactly a bad fit. Zac Stacy disappointed as a starter, and Tre Mason, despite his performances last season, doesn’t have the Pro Bowl potential that Gurley will have the moment he steps onto the field. Sure, the Rams had other needs they could have targeted, especially along the offensive line, but as long as they focus on that in both rounds Day 2, Gurley is a welcome pick to the Rams.

Worst Picks

Cleveland doesn’t learn from previous mistakes

Last draft, Cleveland had one position that they couldn’t go without drafting: wide receiver. After drafting Johnny Manziel to be the franchise savior, it seemed a given Cleveland would pick a new weapon for their new quarterback. Instead, Cleveland seemed content to let any quarterback they used burn from lack of quality receivers. But surely Cleveland couldn’t be foolish enough to dig their quarterback graveyard deeper by passing on multiple first-round, franchise receivers, could they? Apparently so, as Cleveland drafted two linemen and no receivers in the first. The Danny Shelton pick can be forgiven, because even with DeVante Parker still on the board, Shelton is an improvement to a promising defense. But at 19, the Browns had three franchise receivers available in Jaelen Strong, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor. It would have been a reach for the Browns to pick one, but the need was so great no one would have batted an eye. Instead, the Browns drafted Cameron Erving. His versatility will be useful along the line, but Cleveland’s line was already playable, but their receivers still aren’t. If the Browns don’t pick a receiver on Day 2, I wouldn’t be surprised if every QB on their roster requested a trade (if they haven’t already).

Green Bay picks the right side of the ball, wrong position

In identifying team needs for every team before the draft, I had needs of varying degrees for 9 of the 13 major positions in Green Bay. One of the four positions I thought was already secure was safety – between Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Packers looked set. Apparently not, as the Packers selected Damarious Randall over every option in the class at their biggest area of weakness: inside linebacker. When you have to move your Pro Bowl edge rusher inside because your inside linebackers are so inadequate, it seems like a fairly obvious sign that you should improve the position. Eric Kendricks, Denzel Perryman, Benardrick McKinney, and Stephone Anthony were all there, waiting to help Clay Matthews return to his role of terrorizing quarterbacks. Instead, Green Bay just created a crowded position at safety.

Indy returns to the previous era’s roots

Andrew Luck must be the happiest man in Indiana right now. He already had T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief burning down the sidelines, and the team had just signed Andre Johnson to give him three targets. So instead of filling another position, Indianapolis drafted another receiver in Phillip Dorsett. Unless the team plans on running their offense out of four wide receiver sets most of the time, this is a pick that does nothing more than crowd the depth chart. I had two primary needs for the Colts entering the draft: inside linebacker and safety. Not a single player at either position was off the board yet, adding insult to injury. Indy fans should be watching the board and hoping players from those positions continue to slide.

Best Remaining Players

(Numbers in parenthesis indicate their ranking on my final Big Board)

  1. Landon Collins, S, Alabama (15)
  2. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida St. (21)
  3. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St. (22)
  4. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma (23)
  5. Jalen Collins, CB, LSU (24)
  6. Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA (25)
  7. La’el Collins, OL, LSU (29)
  8. Ronald Darby, CB, Florida St. (32)
  9. Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia (33)
  10. Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska (36)
  11. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA (37)
  12. Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami (FL) (39)
  13. Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota (41)
  14. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (FL) (42)
  15. Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi St. (43)
  16. Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon (44)
  17. Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi St. (45)
  18. Hau’oli Kikaha, DE, Washington (46)
  19. Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan (47)
  20. P.J. Williams, CB, Florida St. (48)

As always, if you have any comments on this list or my analysis of the draft in general, feel free to send them to my Twitter account @DanKitchendraft, and be sure to tune in to Kitchen’s Corner tonight beginning at seven for coverage of the NFL Draft!