There was a lot on the line in the draft for the AFC West. Denver hoped to add the extra piece to get them across the finish line while the Chargers and Chiefs were looking for a few players to get them over the hump and back into the playoffs. On the other hand the Raiders hoped to build upon what was a strong effort from the 2014 draft.
Despite needing help on offense the belief moving towards the draft was Denver would look linebacker in round one and they did exactly that snatching up a free falling Shane Ray. The junior pass rusher watched his draft stock plummet in large part due to an arrest for possession of marijuana just days before the draft. Ray is in the perfect spot as the Broncos offer veteran leadership and the ability for him to slowly break into the line-up. Offensive line was addressed in round two with Tyler Sambrailo from nearby Colorado State. The hometown product is just what the Broncos want in their offensive linemen; athletic and versatile with the ability to line-up in a zone blocking scheme. With Ryan Clady going down to a knee injury in OTA’s this selection looks even better. I didn’t like the pick of Jeff Heuerman when it was made and like it less now. The tight end is an enigma as he looks the part but produces pedestrian numbers. Some will claim the system he played in at Ohio State was not prone to big numbers for a tight end but Heuerman never seemed to elevate his game. Its meaningless now as he’ll miss the season after tearing a knee ligament just weeks after the draft. Max Garcia was a terrific pick in round four and can line-up at guard or center. Fifth rounder Lorenzo Doss ran much faster than expected at the combine and is a physical corner who must learn to play to his speed while polishing his game. Darius Kilgo could be a steal in round six. He’s a natural two-gap lineman who plays with a competitive spirit, controlling the gaps and moving well in a straight line or laterally. Their late round picks were head scratchers. Trevor Siemian was fun to watch on the college level but I struggle to see how he’ll make a roster. Defensive backs Taurean Nixon and Josh Furman are solid athletes with NFL size but show little in the way of consistent ball skills. The team made up for questionable late round picks by signing Josh Watson in free agency. For some reason Watson received no love in the scouting community despite being a very good defensive lineman at Clemson the past two seasons then turning in an incredible pro-day. I think Watson will have a real chance to make the active roster.
Grade C+ Ray is a boom or bust pick and Heuerman is on the shelf before the season even begins. I think the value in this draft can be found from the linemen on both sides of the ball who will be competing for roster spots this summer.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs entered the draft with needs on both sides of the line of scrimmage but in the end felt cornerback Marcus Peters was too good to pass up. This choice comes with a bust factor but Peters has been penciled in as the starter and possesses a terrific upside. Mitch Morse was a strange selection in round two for a variety of reasons. Morse was selected a round early and though possessing all the skills necessary to play tackle (I don’t buy the short arms argument), he was drafted by the Chiefs as a center. Why? Morse played in a pass happy offense at Mizzou and did a terrific job blocking the blind side with no help. This could be insurance for the future if Eric Fisher continues to disappoint. Third rounder Chris Conley was a massive reach. While his combine workout was tremendous Conley does not transfer that athleticism onto the field and drops to many catchable throws. There were a wide variety of opinions on Steve Nelson entering the draft but in the end the Chiefs got themselves a nickel back/return specialist with their second pick of round two. Fourth rounder Ramik Wilson is a solid athlete with upside and adds depth at inside linebacker. I am a fan of linebacker DJ Alexander, the team’s first selection in round five, but don’t feel he’s a good fit for the Chiefs defense. James O’Shaugnessy, the other pick in round five, could’ve been had in free agency and is practice squad material. Rakeem Nunez-Roches was good value in round six as he’ll bring youth and depth to the defensive end spot. Da’Ron Brown could be a steal in the seventh frame as he’s a dependable underneath receiver with sure hands. I thought Kansas City did a bang up job signing players after the draft. Offensive linemen Melvin Meggs and Daniel Munyer are great fits for their system, receiver Kenny Cook is a big bodied pass catcher with solid hands and keep an eye on Sage Harold. He was a terrific pass rusher at defensive end for James Madison and offers the athleticism and skill to stand up over tackle. Finally David Irving will be an interesting watch. He showed flashes of dominance at Iowa State before being dismissed from the program but has the underlying skill to play at the next level if he matures off the field.
Grade C: Peters could turn into a solid starter at cornerback but after that I feel the Chiefs reached for a lot of players and came away with few first teamers.
The Raiders, again saddled with a top eight selection, had needs at the skill positions as well as cornerback but were staring at the best player in the draft when Leonard Williams fell into their laps. Oakland bypassed Williams choosing instead the second ranked player on my board and why not? Amari Cooper is a difference maker at receiver and a pass catcher who will hasten the development of Derek Carr. There’s a lot to like about his game, which was far and away the best of any receiver available in the 2015 draft. They next gambled in round two on Mario Edwards Jr. The defensive lineman underachieved in college, occasionally dominating the action only to disappear for long stretches. Though I’ve never been a fan the talent is available for Edwards but until he proves otherwise, the determination and fire are not. Clive Walford is the perfect compliment for the tight ends presently on the depth chart. Walford is not the downfield threat of starter Mychal Rivera rather a much better blocker and comes with better hands than number two tight end Lee Smith. The team went back to the Miami Hurricanes in the next round, selecting guard Jon Feliciano. I had the senior graded as a 6th rounder but feel he has starting potential down the road. The team selected a pair of linebackers in round five and may hit pay dirt. In Ben Heeney they’re getting a smallish but explosive run defender with great instincts. Henney has the speed to play sideline-to-sideline and is great in pursuit. Neiron Ball will be a terrific fit for the Raiders and could see action as a rookie if his knee is healthy. I don’t feel the same way about Max Valles whom I thought made a mistake entering the draft. He offers nice size but lacks speed and strength at the point. I felt Valles was best in a 3-4 and is a long ways from being NFL ready. Anthony Morris, the first of their trio of picks in round seven, is a massive blocker with practice squad potential. Andre Debose comes off a disappointing senior season but was drafted for his return skills as much as anything. Dexter McDonald was worth a last round pick as he’s athletic and a big bodied defensive back who needs to improve the consistency of his play. Josh Harper, who is very familiar with quarterback Derek Carr, was a major steal after the draft and will challenge to line-up in the slot this season. Safety Tevin McDonald and cornerback SaQwan Edwards are two more UDFA’s to watch this summer.
Grade B: The only reason I didn’t give this effort a B+ was the fact many of Oakland’s middle round picks were slight reaches on my board. That said I could see 6-to-7 of these picks making the active roster this September and another handful of players selected in the draft or signed afterwards being stashed on the practice squad.
San Diego Chargers
Word was the Chargers would broach the topic of moving up for quarterback Marcus Mariota the week before the draft but when they could not pull a trade off the team chose running back Melvin Gordon in round one. In Gordon the team is getting a feature back who will be an excellent fit for the offense as well as quarterback Philip Rivers. The selection of Denzel Perryman in round two strengthens the Chargers run defense and offers a defender who’ll be a nice addition next to Manti Te’o. Texas State cornerback Craig Mager went a little earlier than many thought but he’ll offer the Chargers a nickel back/special teams player. I love the selection of Kyle Emanuel in round five as he’s a natural pass rusher with great intensity. Melvin Ingram has not live up to expectations while Jeremiah Attaochu flashed as a rookie so the opportunity is there for Emanuel. Darius Philon is a developmental prospect with a good amount of upside and worth the use of a sixth round pick. If he’s healthy and ready to go, UDFA receiver Titus Davis could make the active roster.
Grade B: The team was limited with a handful of selections bit did a terrific job with their five picks. Gordon and Perryman should contribute immediately while Mager and Emanuel could see action in sub-packages this fall.
For the second straight season, the AFC South held two of the draft’s top three picks. The Jaguars picked third in both years, and that’s where much of the intrigue with this year’s draft began after the top-rated quarterbacks went with the first two picks. Chris Tripodi breaks down the division’s draft hauls.
Just a season after drafting first overall, Houston found itself in the middle of the first round despite getting nothing from 2014 top pick Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans again bolstered their defense, drafting Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson with the 16th pick. Johnathan Joseph is set to be a free agent next season, and Johnson is capable of playing the slot as a rookie then taking over on the outside in 2016 if Joseph isn’t retained. A physical player despite his thin build, Johnson shows excellent instincts in coverage and is capable in both man and zone. He must add strength and improve his tackling but if he does, Johnson can be a plus starter. Mississippi State linebacker Bernardrick McKinney was the choice at No. 43 and should start immediately on the strong side. An explosive defender with the strength to stack and shed as well as the ability to cover and play effectively in space, McKinney is a fundamentally sound player who follows his assignments. He could eventually kick inside next to Brian Cushing, but his versatility adds value to his projection. The Texans traded up in the third round to select Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong at No. 70. A firm second-rounder on our board, Strong stands 6-2, 217 pounds with 4.43 speed, but doesn’t play to that speed and isn’t a deep threat. He high points passes extremely well and shows great body control, effectively using his frame to win out in battles. He can be inconsistent at times, but his talent was well worth a third-round pick, and he could eventually take injury-prone Cecil Shorts’ starting role. Houston added another weapon in the fifth round with Michigan State receiver Keith Mumphery. Like Strong, Mumphery’s body control and ball-tracking skills are excellent and he shows the skills to be a threat after the catch. He didn’t produce much with the Spartans, but has long-term upside if he improves his route-running. With two sixth-round choices, the Texans went back to the defensive side of the ball, drafting South Florida linebacker Reshard Cliett and Rice defensive tackle Christian Covington. Cliett is undersized at 6-2, 223, but has great range and is effective in space. He will fit in well on special teams. Covington was building momentum as a potential Day 2 prospect before dislocating his kneecap in November. A surprise early entrant as a junior, Covington is explosive out of his stance, stays low off the snap and disrupts plays in the backfield. He’s not the best fit as a five-technique in Houston’s 3-4 defense, but has good upside as a gap penetrator if he recovers from his injury. With their final choice, the Texans snagged LSU running back Kenny Hilliard in the seventh round. A 226-pounder best used as a downhill runner, Hilliard has nice burst on inside runs and is effective after first contact. He can be a useful short-yardage back. Houston also added a few players with late-round grades on our board after the draft: Norfolk State defensive end Lynden Trail who fell due to character concenrs, Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond and Oregon linebacker Tony Washington. Trail is a great athlete who started his college career at Florida and has nice upside, but is a long-term project. Drummond disappointed as a senior, but is solid against both the run and the pass and has starter-level talent. Washington is a hustle player with decent size (6-3, 247) but poor speed. He should stand out on special teams and may be effective as a situational rusher.
Grade: B+ The Texans got great value from their first three picks, adding players who should be key contributors in short order. Their late-round picks and UDFA signings are brimming with upside potential and Houston may look back at this draft as the one that pushed them back into contention a few years down the line.
The Colts made one of the surprise picks of the first round, taking speedy Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett at No. 29. Viewed as insurance in the event T.Y. Hilton leaves as a free agent, Dorsett joins a crowded group of receivers in Indianapolis. His slight frame is a mild concern, but Dorsett plays to his elite 4.33 speed with great acceleration and the skills to effectively track passes downfield. After trading back four slots near the end of the second round, the Colts drafted Florida Atlantic cornerback D’Joun Smith with the 65th pick. An athletic defensive back with fluid hips and 4.4 speed, Smith stays tight in coverage and shows good timing and instincts. While he lacks strength, Smith is a solid run defender who should settle immediately into a sub-package role. With Greg Toler hitting free agency next offseason, Smith could find himself in the starting lineup in 2016. Indianapolis took Stanford defensive lineman Henry Anderson at No. 93, and his versatility should help their front seven. Quick off the snap and tough, Anderson can hold his ground in the middle of the line as well as bend around the edge. We had him rated as a second-round prospect. The Colts continued to add to their defense in the fourth round, grabbing Central Florida safety Clayton Geathers. A prototypical strong safety with good instincts, Geathers wraps up well when tackling and can play the role of enforcer in the back end. He struggles in man coverage and doesn’t change direction well, but can be an impact player if used correctly. Indianapolis went back to Stanford for their fifth-round pick, nose tackle David Parry. A hard worker who fits the label of overachiever, Parry uses a quick first step and powerful lower body to bull rush lineman off the ball and force runners to change their attack angles. He holds his ground well and allows linebackers to flow to the football, and is a player whose contributions won’t show up on the stat sheet. Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson was the choice in the sixth round, and is a short, stocky pile-mover with good burst and vision. An average receiver who loses momentum in and out of his cuts, Robinson has limitations but could find a role on an unsettled depth chart behind Frank Gore. Two picks later at No. 207, the Colts grabbed Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera. A fifth-rounder on our board, Herrera plays assignment football and has outstanding quickness. He isn’t great in space and gets swallowed up in the trash in the middle of the field, but could become a starter in time. With its final pick, Indianapolis drafted Mars Hill tackle Denzelle Good. A transfer from N.C. State, Good is a 6-7, 320-pound mauler who lacks foot speed and agility. A move inside to guard may be in his future if he expects to stick in the NFL. Two notable undrafted additions were Yale fullback Tyler Varga and Western Michigan corner Donald Celiscar. Varga stood out at the Senior Bowl and shows potential as both a lead blocker and pass catcher. Celiscar has good ball skills and flashes ability against the run, but at 5-11, 193 with 4.6 speed, is likely bound for special teams and sub-package work.
Grade: B- The Colts didn’t reach for any one player and got good value in their draft, but Dorsett was a luxury pick at arguably the team’s strong position. For a team that’s built to win now with a leaky run defense, that pick may have been better used on the defensive side of the ball. The Colts did well after the first round, but the Dorsett pick is still a head-scratcher.
After drafting their quarterback of the future with last year’s No. 3 overall pick, the Jaguars went defense with that pick this season, selecting Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. Fowler shows good burst and bend and is a fluid mover who plays hard on every down. He was overwhelmed at times by larger opponents at just 261 pounds, but was very disruptive for the Gators. Unfortunately, Jacksonville will have to wait until 2016 to see Fowler in action, as he tore his ACL at rookie mini-camp. A player they won’t need to wait to watch is their second-round pick, Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon burst onto the scene as a freshman behind Eddie Lacy with the Crimson Tide and has feature-back size at 6-1, 226. A patient runner, Yeldon plays with strength, balance and quick, agile feet and poses a receiving threat out of the backfield. He will be a Week 1 starter on an offense looking for balance. Jacksonville added a blocker for Yeldon in the third round, grabbing South Carolina guard A.J. Cann. Our second-rated guard, Cann uses a violent hand punch and good pad level to get great movement against the run. He is ineffective blocking in motion but holds his own in pass protection and is a good fit for the power run game the Jaguars will look to employ. Fourth-round pick James Sample was a top-70 player on our board and is a complete safety. He shows good discipline and route recognition while flashing a quick burst to the ball and good hands for the interception. A wrap-up tackler who takes good angles to the action, Sample could surprise if he breaks into the starting lineup quickly. In the fifth, the Jaguars added another weapon for Bortles in Florida State receiver Rashad Greene. Greene was an extremely reliable target for Jameis Winston with the Seminoles and uses his quickness and great route-running ability to get open underneath. He has excellent hands and creates yardage after the catch, but his size (5-11, 182) and speed (4.53) will limit him to slot duties in the NFL. Jacksonville ended the fall of Ohio State tackle Michael Bennett in the sixth round, a player we had a second-round grade on. His size (6-2, 294) was a deterrent for NFL teams, but Bennett has great quickness and fires through gaps to disrupt plays in the backfield. He has great technique that helps him overcome his size deficiencies and has starting potential if surrounded by stronger defenders. The Jags added two more pieces to their offense in the seventh round, taking Monmouth receiver Neil Sterling and Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack. We ranked Sterling as a tight end, as he uses size and strength to create separation. He could be useful as a move tight end. Koyack is a solid route-runner who catches the ball well away from his frame, but has average strength as a blocker. He will be groomed to be Julius Thomas’ eventual backup. Jacksonville also added cornerback Nick Marshall from Auburn as a UDFA. The Tigers’ quarterback will attempt to transition to defense, and displayed the smooth athleticism and fluidity to prove himself worthy of an opportunity at the Senior Bowl.
Grade: B+ The Jaguars came into this draft with a plan and executed it beautifully. Their picks complement each other well on both sides of the ball and they were able to fill needs with excellent value, ending up with four players in our top 70. Fowler will need to recover from his season-ending injury next season for this draft to live up to its grade, however.
Tennessee was on the clock well before the draft started, with Jameis Winston to Tampa Bay nothing more than a formality since early in the draft process. After unsuccessfully trying to trade down, according to reports, the Titans stood pat and drafted Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota second overall. Our top-rated quarterback, Mariota has a quick release and the arm strength to drive passes down the field. Coming out of an offensive system that created open receivers with ease, Mariota’s pass placement is a work in progress. A hard worker with great athleticism and a quiet demeanor, Mariota has all the physical skills to develop into a future star at the position. Tennessee added a weapon for Mariota early in the second round, taking a chance on Oklahoma receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Green-Beckham had well-publicized off-the-field issues and never played a down with the Sooners, the combination of which kept him out of serious Day 1 consideration. A first-round talent who controls the game with his size (6-5, 237) and speed (4.49), Green-Beckham is unlikely to become anything but a star or a bust. His route-running needs work and he needs to keep himself clean off the field to hit his massive potential. The Titans grabbed Utah tackle Jeremiah Poutasi in the third round. A player we had projected for a move inside to guard, Poutasi will get a shot at right tackle in Tennessee. A big, nasty blocker who uses strong hands to drive opponents off their spot, Poutasi is stiff and struggles protecting the edge as a tackle. Auburn defensive tackle Angelo Blackson was the pick at No. 100, and is a prospect we feel is underrated. Quick and fluid in pursuit and changing directions, Blackson is tenacious and tough to handle inside. He didn’t produce much with the Tigers and needs to use his hands better to keep blockers off his body, but is a nice developmental prospect. Eight picks later, the Titans went to the other side of the Iron Bowl rivalry, drafting Alabama fullback Jalston Fowler. Rated as a sixth-rounder on our board, Fowler doesn’t create space well as a lead blocker but occupies defenders and shows ability as a receiver. In today’s NFL, this pick was a significant reach. Tennessee added another player to their backfield in the fifth round, drafting Minnesota running back David Cobb. A north-south runner with great vision, Cobb creates yardage after contact and shows good agility in his cuts. He isn’t a great receiver and struggles beating defenders in the open field, but Cobb will have a legitimate opportunity behind disappointing 2014 second-round pick Bishop Sankey and veteran Shonn Greene. Sixth-round linebacker Deiontrez Mount out of Louisville has great size (6-4, 250) and speed (4.56) and was productive as a senior with the Cardinals. He beats blocks and changes direction well to redirect the action, but struggles in coverage and has a motor that runs hot and cold. Mount is a project, but one with the physical tools to develop into a situational threat off the edge. The Titans moved back to the offensive side of the ball with their second sixth-rounder, drafting Boston College center Andy Gallik. While Gallik lacks a dominant base and great power at just 306 pounds, he’s smart and tough with good vision and awareness in the middle of the offensive line. A productive player with the Eagles, Gallik has starting ability if he’s surrounded by strength at the guard position. Tennessee finished their draft by taking William & Mary receiver Tre McBride with the 245th pick. McBride has the speed to stretch the field (4.41 40-yard dash), good size (6-0, 210) and a quick release off the line. A solid route-runner with strong, soft hands, McBride must adjust to the NFL level of competition but has great upside for a late pick. Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt was a UDFA steal as a player we had ranked in the top-75. A big hitter who shows good discipline, Prewitt struggles in coverage but will be a nice special teams piece initially with the upside for more. The Titans also added Tennessee-Chattanooga defensive tackle Derrick Lott after the draft. Lott is a good athlete at 6-4, 314 pounds with 4.95 speed and plays nasty, but must improving his playing strength and consistency.
Grade: C+ The Titans’ draft will be remembered for Mariota’s contributions to the team’s future, but throwing him to the wolves immediately like the team plans on doing could stunt his potential growth. Green-Beckham was a risky pick in the second round, and Poutasi may not find his true position until his second season. Most of their late-round picks came with some value, but this was a very boom-or-bust draft for the Titans that could either keep them at the top of the draft board for years to come, or push them into playoff contention within a couple seasons.
Chris Tripodi has been writing draft reviews and rookie reports for Draft Insider since 2008. He is also an ACC and Conference USA scout for Optimum Scouting and writes about the New York Jets for Pro Football Spot. Follow him on Twitter @christripodi to talk NFL Draft and Jets football.
The intrigue in the NFC West moving towards the draft centered on the St Louis Rams, who held a top ten pick. Would they move up? Move down? Or stay pat? With Seattle no longer in round one it was front and center for the other teams in the division.
The feeling was the Cardinals would address needs on the defensive side of the ball early in the draft but they surprised some by selecting offensive tackle D.J.Humphries. The athletic junior was on the of better pure left tackles in this draft, which made the pick even more intriguing as the Cardinals have pricey free agent Jared Veldheer protecting the blind side. Humphries is not yet NFL ready but comes with an upside which makes this an interesting one to watch. Hoping to improve their pass rush the team went with Markus Golden in round two. Golden will move from defensive end to outside linebacker but should due well as a situational pass rusher this season. David Johnson swiftly charged up boards in the weeks leading to the draft and the Cardinals snagged him in round three. He’s a versatile back with the power to grind it out on the inside while also displaying competent hands as a pass catcher. Rodney Gunter was a head scratcher in round four. We were one of the few who completed a report on the defensive lineman and though witnessing flashes of skill on film the past two years there was also a lot of inconsistency and I saw a player who disappeared for stretches. Those who played against Gunter have labeled him soft. Conversely I love the pick of Shaq Riddick in round five. One of the most overlooked pass rushers in the draft, Riddick was snubbed from the combine but has the underlying skill to start at the next level. Small but explosive, JJ Nelson brings great speed to the Cardinals offense and could make it as a fifth receiver if he shows well returning kicks this summer. Gerald Christian is a consistent pass catcher with size/speed limitations. Receiver Jaxon Shipley, cornerback CJ Roberts and outside linebacker Zack Wagenmann could be great free agent signings.
Grade B: The top three picks should see action as rookies while both fifth round choices can also contribute this season. I’m really looking forward to see if the UDFA’s mentioned make an active roster or are stashed on the practice squad. Gunter in round four is the only thing holding this draft back half a grade.
St Louis Rams
The Rams were one of the biggest mysteries even before the first round got underway. Rumors were rampant they would try and move up for Marcus Mariota. I reported several times the team would add a linebacker in the early rounds to improve their interior run defense. There was also word they would look towards Andrus Peat in round one. In the end they did none of the above rather selected Todd Gurley. Once Gurley received positive medical reports on his surgically repaired knee his draft stock understandably soared. I thought there were other areas of need but the Rams claim Gurley was the second best player on their board and this is a franchise that had a lot of success with Steven Jackson, a former first round back. While I understand the Gurley pick I can’t say the same for the rest of the draft. I thought Rob Havenstein was selected at least a round and a half early and available blockers such as Ty Sambrailo as well as Ali Marpet were much higher rated. Havenstein is a big bodied lineman who plays smart football but must develop a nasty streak. I was one of the few who thought Jamon Brown would be drafted, albeit in the sixth round. Brown has the skill and an NFL body but needs to properly condition himself and pick up the intensity. In the end he’s best at offensive guard. There are a variety of opinions on third round selection Sean Mannion and mine is not complimentary. As a sophomore I thought Mannion had the tools to be a big time prospect but on film his game never took off the past two years. Hopefully the Rams coaching staff maximize his talents. Fourth round choice Andrew Donnal is a versatile lineman with upside but was no better than a 7th round pick. Larry Sasser in round six was another head scratcher as was the other choice in the frame, Cody Wichmann. Sasser offers nice size, good hands but poor speed and quickness. Wichmann is a size prospect with very limited athleticism and upside. Bryce Hager was a solid last round pick who could help solve their run defense woes on the interior. He lacks great size but is instinctive and tough as hell. I don’t see how final pick Martin Ifedi fits the Rams defense. He’s small for the interior and lacks pass rushing skill for end.
Grade C- : The Rams received my lowest grade to date as I see a collection of players that represent need over value. They best hit on a few of these offensive linemen for the sake of this draft and the performance of Todd Gurley.
San Francisco 49ers
“Defense! Defense!” was the cry of Niners fans heading towards the draft as, amongst other reasons, several unexpected retirements made the defensive side of the ball a priority. The team’s desire for Arik Armstead was documented long before the draft and the Niners were able to get their man after moving down a few slots. In Armstead they are getting a physically gifted three down lineman with incredible upside. There will be bumps in the road early on, but if properly coached he’ll cause an impact up front. Considering the team drafted a safety in the first round during each of the previous two draft’s selecting Jaquiski Tartt in round two was a head scratcher. From a physical skills standpoint I understand the selection but Tartt needs a lot of work on his game and may take a while before he’s NFL ready. The team came back with Eli Harold in round three and it was a terrific selection. Considering the tenuous situation surrounding Aldon Smith, Harold is a prospect they can line-up as a pass rusher this season then develop as a fulltime starter should Smith implode. The team had three selections in the fourth frame and all are boom or bust type picks. Blake Bell is a physical beast who showed flashes of dominance at tight end last season but is far from the finished product. Mike Davis is a nice ball carrier but offers no outstanding attribute to his game. DeAndre Smelter is a big bodied receiver with dependable hands and the ability to contribute returning punts but is coming off a serious knee injury which he sustained last December. Fifth round pick Bradley Pinion was one of the best punters on the board. Ian Silberman in round six was another head scratcher. I scouted him at Boston College the past two years and while I like his game, I never rated him as draftable. He’s a nasty mauler with potential as a back-up. Trenton Brown and Rory Anderson were both worth a roll of the dice in the final round. Brown is a massive lineman with a solid game but a prospect who must loosen up and improve his mechanics. Anderson was hampered by a hamstring issue throughout the pre-draft process but is an athletic move tight end that creates mismatches in the secondary. San Francisco signed two free agents of note after the draft. Dres Anderson was highly rated entering the 2014 season but was sent to the sidelines midway through the campaign with a knee issue. Looking at the depth chart he’ll have a real opportunity to make the Niners roster as the number four receiver if he’s healthy. Marcus Rush was a terrific college player who turned in a tremendous pro-day workout. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make the active roster as a designated pass rusher/core special teamer.
Grade C: Armstead and Harold aside, there’s a lot of risk in this draft. Better players were available in the second and fourth rounds. Many of the selections are try hard guys, which team’s need on a roster, but it seems San Francisco selected need over best available player.
The Seahawks entered the draft without a first round pick after trading it away for tight end Jimmy Graham. That filled a need for a pass catcher though the team still wanted to add receivers and offensive linemen with the picks at their disposal. Seattle turned to the defensive side of the ball with their initial pick, the 63rd of the draft, and chose pass rusher Frank Clark. I had reported that Clark was rising up draft boards as most teams believed the well documented off the field issues were not as bad as reported. He’s a tremendous edge rusher who could eventually take over for veteran Cliff Avril. There next selection, Tyler Lockett, immediately injects much needed speed at receiver and the return game. Lockett is a game breaker who can score from any point of the field. This selection along with the trade for Graham just makes quarterback Russell Wilson that much stronger. The team addressed offensive line needs with a pair of picks in round four. Terry Poole was a college tackle who can also play guard and a player I believe will start in the future. Mark Glowinski is probably more NFL ready than people believe and a natural guard with underrated athleticism. Seattle took a risk with Tye Smith in round six and why not? Smith shutdown opponents on the IAA level then held his own at the Shrine Game. I could definitely see him lining up in dime packages/special teams this season. Back in September I brought the name of Obum Gwacham to the forefront as the former high jumper turned wide receiver then defensive end displayed a lot of natural pass rush skills. He’s an incredible athlete with great upside but I’d expect to see him on the practice squad this fall. Kristjan Sokoli drew a lot of pre-draft press when people took notice of his measurables. Sokoli is a smart, tough football player and a terrific athlete but needs a lot of work before he’ll be NFL ready. Safety Ryan Murphy does not have great speed but is smart, efficient and can line-up in zone coverage. UDFA Ronald Martin is a prospect I like and someone I expect to compete for the fourth safety spot. Martin was a terrific player at LSU then impressed scouts when he showed up at pro-day just over 202-pounds, down 16lbs from his playing weight.
Grade: B+ You have to factor Jimmy Graham as part of this draft, and that alone is worth half a grade. I expect Clark and Lockett to produce as rookies and they’ll have another future first teamer coming from the fourth round. I would expect the rest of the draft to make a roster or practice squad for Seattle or somewhere else in the league.