What an fantastic night. No major shocks but a lot of great football players and a lot more to come. Here’s my initial breakdown of the first round. For more analysis make sure you check out my first round reaction podcast and be sure to follow ukendzone.com throughout the weekend for continued, in-depth, coverage.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (#2 my board)
In my opinion he’s the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. He steps into a situation where he can win, win big and win big immediately. With a Lovie Smith coached defense, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and a growing offensive line (needs to be addressed rounds 2-7) the Bucs are set for lift off. He’s going to get into the Bucs facility on Monday and galvanise everyone. He’s a leader and a winner. He’ll lead and win at the next level.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (#5)
The Titans land their franchise quarterback after turning down a number of trade offers that included some mega deals. Mariota’s a special player who can stress defenses on the run and from the pocket. He can shred teams with his arm or legs, he’s a workout warrior and unbelievable team-mate. The key question, can he (and Ken Whisenhunt) adapt their styles to find an offense that suits both coach and quarterback? Whisenhunt has adjusted his style before and Mariota ran more pro concepts at Oregon than he’s been given credit for. He’s going to be a great player.
Dante Fowler Jr, DE, Florida (#6)
Fowler was the premier edge threat in this draft. He’s a perfect fit for what head coach Gus Bradley is looking for. He’s a hybrid (leo) DE/OLB who can line up all over the defensive formation and can get to the quarterback with a great first step, speed to power and a variety of pass rushing moves (bull, swim, spin). What I love about Fowler is his mentality to attack the run and pass. He’s an aggressive player who loves football and loves to light people up.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (#3)
Amari Cooper is an isolation receiver who can align anywhere, draw double-teams and reveal coverages. Derek Carr gets a new, franchise, weapon who carried an average Alabama offense in 2014. Cooper’s an exceptional route runner with great hands and underrated speed. He’s not a true burner on the watch, but he’s quicker on the tape than the likes of Kevin White and Breshad Perriman due to his ability to get in and out of breaks.
Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (#7)
The safest bet in the draft. Scherff will be a pro bowler wherever he starts; at right tackle, guard or left tackle. He’s an outstanding run blocker who takes pleasure in pummelling edge rushers. Paired opposite Trent Williams the Redskins now have bookend tackles and can now go about evaluating their quaterback spot. I thought they may move back and gather assets but it’s a fantastic pick who’s going to be terrific for years.
Leonard Williams, DE, USC (#1)
I hate grades but this is an A+ pick. He’s the best player in the entire class a 300lb 5-technique who’ll dominate the POA, shedding blockers at will and shutting down the run.
The Jets front, as scary as it already was, just became the best front in the league. I honestly can’t believe he fell to six. He is a scheme versatile player who can move all over the defensive front and play as a 3-technique, 5-technique or over the center nose tackle. He never has to come off the field. Great player and an absolute steal.
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (#4)
White is a big time play maker who’s a dynamic threat whenever the ball is in his hands. He has an immense catching radius and an innate ability to go up and get it. He reminds me of Julio Jones; He can stretch the field, high point the ball and dominate at the point of the catch. He is a big, physical receiver and bullies corners in press coverage. Paired alongside Alshon Jeffrey the Bears now have one of the best one-two punches in the league.
Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson (#20)
Beasley is a great athlete but I’m not a huge fan of the pick. He’s a sub package player who the Falcons took with a top-ten pick. Beasley is allergic to the run and doesn’t want to fall at the bottom of the pile. But I do love him as a speed edge-rusher. He’s not a great speed to power player but he has an elite first step and a terrific motor.
Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (FL) (#13)
Flowers is my favourite tackle in this class (I see Scherff as a guard). He’s an absolute monster of a human being – 6-6, 329. People at his size just don’t move as well as he does. Flowers is a passionate leader who demands everything from his team mates and leads by example on and off the field. He’s a huge, powerful, run blocker and he continues to improve his mirroring and hands in pass protection. He’s a right tackle on day one but I do think he has the natural talent and relentless aggression to play on the left side down the road.
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (#9)
I Love this pick. Gurley is an elite prospect who runs like a combination of Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. He’s a between the tackles runner with elite top end speed and vision.
His IQ and anticipation are off the charts. Behind the Rams offensive line, which I’m sure they’ll address on day two and three, he’ll be a pro bowler early and often.
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (#22)
I had Marcus Peters as my #1 corner but it was close. Waynes’ is a lockdown one half of the field corner. He’s a press corner who can get grabby when playing off man. He’s a perfect fit for Mike Zimmer’s base cover-3 defense, that now boasts; Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. The Vikings secondary is loaded.
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington (#12)
Shelton is a perfect two-gapping nose tackle for Mike Pettine’s system. He’s a dominant run stopper at the POA and is a safe bet in the trenches, which is what the Browns really needed. He’s flashed the ability to collapse the pocket but is still a work in progress as a pass rusher. However, he’ll make his name (and money) with his ability to manoeuvre lineman at will and stuff the run.
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford (#18)
The best pure left tackle on my board and in this class. He’s a prototypical blindside protector with great length and athletic ability. He’s a work in progress who has flimsy hands (does not pack a punch) and needs to continue to work on his feet. He’ll start on the right side and joins a line that features; Terron Armstead, Senio Kelemete, Max Unger, Jahri Evans and Zach Strieff. It’s a perfect match for Peat who can either start or wait his turn and go when he’s ready.
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (#15)
DeVante Parker is AJ Green 2.0. He shows an elite ability to go up and get the ball in contested situations. He’s a red zone nightmare with a huge catching radius. He stretches the field vertically and, for me, was the best receiver in the class at catching footballs with poor ball location. Nice fit for Ryan Tannehill.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (#19)
Great player, great fit, great pick. Gordon is a violent, nasty, zone runner. He has a lethal jump cut and could end up being even better than Todd Gurley. He has elite vision, world-class speed, an ability to get in and out of creases and he’s willing to do the dirty work between the tackles and in pass protection. He’s more of an outside the tackle runner but it’s a wonderful fit with head coach Mike McCoy and change-up back Danny Woodhead.
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (#23)
I didn’t see this pick coming. I thought the Texans would go wide receiver or defensive line. Johnson has the best movement skills in the class. He’s a great athlete with good instincts. His biggest issues are his size and frame as well as his eye discipline. He often gets caught staring in the backfield and bites on double moves and pump fakes.
Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon (#11)
My favourite team/player fit in the draft. The number eleven overall player on my board. He’s a complete physical freak who’s extremely raw and he flashes hot and cold. He’s a prototypical 5-technique who plays with immense leverage and has great instincts in the run game. He’s flexible for a 6-7 player and he has the raw tools to be a special player vs the pass if he’s coached up.
Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (#21)
I was taken aback by this pick, like everyone I thought it’d be receiver or Cam Erving. However, Peters was the number one corner on my board. He’s a true press man corner who will be an impact player in year one if he sorts his attitude out and concentrates on football. The Chiefs are a great organisation with a great work environment. It’s a gamble pick but they gambled on the best player at his position.
Cameron Erving, C, Florida State (#14)
I love this pick. I wanted the Browns to go offensive line and they did. It’s interesting that they went with Erving who can play any position along the line. Now they have a loaded offensive line with Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Joel Bitonio and now Erving. Of course they need offensive weapons but the Browns have to build inside out and they grabbed two lineman in round one. Smart football move. Erving also offers the Browns protection for the future with franchise center, Alex Mack, able to opt-out of his contract at the end of next year.
Nelson Agholor, WR, USC (#40)
Chip Kelly’s run on PAC-12 players continues. Agholor is the best route runner in the class not named Amari Cooper. He can line up anywhere; in the slot, backfield, outside the numbers and can return punts/kicks. He’s a deadly after the catch threat and will be a force in the bubble screen game.
Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (#52)
Ogbuehi tore his ACL and he’s continuing to rehab it. He has a lot of upside and potential but he needs to continue to work on his hands and balance against speed to power moves. Ogbuehi has great feet and eyes and is a force as pulling tackle and at the second level. It’s a long-term pick.
Alvin ‘Bud’ Dupree, OLB, Kentucky (#17)
The Steelers have to revamp their defense and it starts with Dupree who slid down the board. Dupree is a powerful, gifted, athlete who’s extremely versatile and athletic. He is inconsistent and can struggle at the POA. But he’s explosive and a big time effort player who leaves everything on the field. To me, he’s a perfect Steeler and I couldn’t think of a better fit for him.
Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri (#16)
A great value pick for the Broncos who moved up to go get their guy. They now have two of the most elite first steps in football in Ray and Von Miller. Ray’s an exceptional athlete with another world first step.
He’s stout at the POA and crushes people when he arrives in the pocket. The biggest concern with Ray is his play against length. he struggles against longer offensive lineman and if he doesn’t win with that initial burst. He’ll likely be a sub-package edge rusher in year one but he has the ability to play every down as he’s a more than willing run defender and has an outstanding motor and closing burst. The other concern is obviously the off the field stuff. Ray has had trouble with drugs and a toe injury.
D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida (#46)
The Cardinals have gone out of their way to get more physical in a tough division. Humphries is a good fit on an offensive line that was blown off the ball consistently in 2014. He’s a great kick and slide player in the run game and a natural pass protector, who was excellent head to head vs Shane Ray.
Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington (#37)
There were lots of great prospects still available to the Panthers at twenty-five. Breshad Perriman, Malcolm Brown, Philip Dorsett and Thompson who they selected. I had Thompson higher on my board than most because I love his versatility as an OLB or safety and what he can do for the Panthers defensive alignment who already play a lot of two-man linebacker combinations. It’s a surprise because of their needs at tackle and receiver. However, they loved Cedric Ogbuehi and La’El Collins at twenty-five and it’s possible the Collins news changed their thinking. A risky pick but it has great upside.
Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF (#32)
The Ravens grab an elite height-weight-speed outside receiver. He ran a 4.2 dead at his pro day at 6-2, 212. That’s just unheard off. He had a worrying drop rate in 2014 and he was inconsistent on the simple plays but he makes the most acrobatic, impossible, catches series after series. He has the chance to be a superstar opposite Steve Smith and with Joe Flacco’s arm talent. Look for him to be a year one vertical threat while they refine his route and combination running.
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut (47)
Jones fits a need for the Cowboys. Jones is an elite press corner prospect. He can get grabby when he plays off man. I love his ability in the run/bubble screen game. He’s not always right but he’s willing, physical and he makes plays. He also offers versatility as a free safety where he may start his career or playing inside in the slot.
Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke (#56)
The Lions crushed this. They got a talented guard, and the player they wanted, while moving back and gathering assets. He’s a powerful player who moves the pile and gets off the ball extremely well. They added Manny Ramirez in the Denver trade and now have; Riley Reiff, Travis Swanson, Larry Warford, LaAdrian Waddle, Ramirez and Tomlinson to choose from and plug into the best line possible. They may even add a RT in rounds two or three. Not a glamerous pick but a pick that improves their football team.
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (FL) (#45)
I love Dorsett as a player he’s basically T.Y. Hilton. But to me it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. The Colts need help on their offensive line and defense and they had their pick of Landon Collins, Malcolm Brown, Randy Gregory or any tackle they wanted. Again, I love Dorsett and he’ll be great for them but they missed a chance to balance their team where they could have found another really talented wide receiver later in the draft.
Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State (#67)
I’m not a big Randall fan even though he flew up draft boards in the past month. He’s a great cover safety and easily the best in a poor safety class. He has good instincts and ball skills. But to me he’s just not physical enough. He’ll be sensational in the slot and matching up on tight ends or running backs. The Packers need to get better and more physical in the middle and it’s something they’ll have to address through the remainder of the class. I have so much respect for Ted Thompson the pick will certainly make me go back and re-watch the tape.
Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson (#54)
I like Anthony but he’s the third inside linebacker on my board. He’s a downhill thumper with good instincts and great sideline to sideline range. He has a tendency to guess and over pursue. but he’s an elite athlete who can cover and get to the backfield from the interior.
Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas (#27)
The Patriots had an embarrassment of riches to choose from with the last pick in the first round. Malcolm Brown is a steal at thirty-two. He’s a big time run stopping defensive tackle who’ll immediately command double teams. He’s flashed the ability to generate pressure on the interior and collapse the pocket. But his best ability and main assignment is to command double teams and give one on one matchups to the likes of Chandler Jones.
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
Jalen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma