My take on several draft selections that were particularly astute as well as those that were head scratchers.
Landon Collins Alabama – S – Selected 33rd overall by the New York Giants Collins fills a need and the G-Men acquire the best “all-around” safety in the 2015 class. The Giants moved up to the top of the 2nd round in order to pick Collins as he surprisingly fell out of Round 1. Collins excels in run support but he is also competent in coverage and displays above-average ball skills. Alabama’s secondary struggled in 2014 but it would be unfair to lump Collins in with their struggling cornerbacks. Collins was spectacular in the box and good in the deep third. Day 1 starter on Day 2, YES!
Eric Kendricks UCLA – LB – Selected 45th overall by the Minnesota Vikings Kendricks who many believe was the lone 1st round talent at inside linebacker in this draft is not only a terrific value pick in Round 2 but the fit in Mike Zimmer’s 4-3 is divine. A true three down linebacker, Kendricks’ skill set will be invaluable in a division that plays the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford twice a year.
Randy Gregory Nebraska – DL/OLB – Selected 60th overall by the Dallas Cowboys Gregory was expected to slide to the end of the first round but his off-field transgressions and mental-makeup resulted in many teams removing him from their boards. To get perhaps the most gifted pass rusher in the entire draft, red flags and all at the end of Round 2 is a steal for a team that ranked 28th in sacks last season. Gregory’s weight is a concern but his length will help mitigate his lack of girth.
Mario Edwards Jr. Florida State – DL – Selected 35th overall by the Oakland Raiders the last time Mario Edwards made a play was during the 2014 National Championship against Auburn as far as I am concerned. He weighed as much as 310 lbs. during his Junior season and demonstrated absolutely no explosiveness in terms of a pass rush and he was less effective against the run compared to his teammate Eddie Goldman. Edwards is now down to 279 lbs. which hopefully means he will be more explosive off the line of scrimmage. The talent may be there but I feel this was too early to gamble on a player that only had 8 sacks over his three year career at FSU.
T.J. Yeldon Alabama – RB – Selected 36th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. T.J. Yeldon was the third running back selected in the 2015 NFL Draft. I understand that the Jaguars want a big, physical back but after the Toby Gerhart blunder they decided to use a high 2nd round pick on a “big” back who demonstrates little in terms of physicality. At 226 lbs. Yeldon will pair with speedster Denard Robinson but I believe it would behoove the Jaguars to make Yeldon get down to 215 lbs. Yeldon has great feet and lateral agility when playing lighter, 215 is still good size. Ultimately, there were at least five running backs not named Gurley or Gordon that I would have taken before Yeldon.
Jaquiski Tartt Samford – S – Selected 46th overall by the San Francisco 49ers there is a lot to like about Tartt’s aggressiveness and athleticism but the Samford product leaves a lot to be desired as far as coverage is concerned. More importantly the 49ers had more pressing needs in Round 2 and there were more talented players on the board. With Eric Reid (1st round pick), Jimmy Ward (1st round pick) and Antoine Bethea (Pro Bowler) all in the starting safety conversation the 49ers should have selected Denzel Perryman to replace recently retired Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. Even for a safety needy team Tartt would have had more value as a Day 3 pick.
Jordan Richards Stanford – S – Selected 64th overall by the New England Patriots the last pick of the 2nd round was a complete reach. Richards is an intelligent football player but he doesn’t offer much in terms of versatility and while he possess good ball skills I worry that his athletic limitations will hinder his ability in coverage. I’d venture a guess that one of the Patriots’ 2015 undrafted rookie free agents will have more of an impact this upcoming season than Richards.