NFL Draft 2015 Winners

The 2015 NFL Draft is officially in the books so let’s get into initial thoughts as all 32 teams looked to add pieces to improve their rosters and ultimately put their franchise in position to compete this season and in the future. Who accomplished that goal this weekend?

Winner: Atlanta Falcons

1st Round – DE Vic Beasley
2nd Round – CB Jalen Collins
3rd Round – RB Telvin Coleman
4th Round – WR Justin Hardy
5th Round – DT Grady Jarrett
7th Round – OT Jake Rodgers
7th Round – CB Akeem King

The Atlanta Falcons, GM Scott Pioli, and first year head coach Dan Quinn absolutely killed the draft. They come away with five players that will play pivotal roles immediately. Already in short order Quinn has substantially improved the defensive roster via free agency and continued throughout the draft with the addition of Vic Beasley, Jalen Collins, and underrated inside pass rusher Grady Jarrett. The biggest addition is of course Beasley who the Falcons could not have been more pleased with as they did not need to trade up to get the player they coveted. Beasley brings speed, length, and athleticism to a pass defense ranked dead last in sacks over the last 3 seasons lacking that element since the days of John Abraham. Beasley fits Quinn’s LEO pass rushing scheme “to a T” and should be an immediate impact. In the second round the Falcons selected talented but highly inexperienced cornerback Jalen Collins who brings yet another fast, athletic, long player to the defense. Clearly the organization is using the blueprint Quinn is accustomed to with his days in Seattle building a physically imposing defense that plays with length and speed. In the next two rounds the Falcons went offense with running back Tevin Coleman and wide receiver Justin Hardy addressing offensive needs while getting great value at the same time. Both Coleman and Hardy received second round grades as the draft fell perfectly for the Falcons adding two players in the middle rounds who will contribute in a Matt Ryan led offense. Coleman an absolute third round steal for the Falcons is a 5’11 206 pound one cut back with top end speed tailor made to run in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. With the departure of slot receiver Harry Douglas via free agency the Falcons selected Hardy in the fourth round of the draft who instantly provides toughness and physicality in the slot possessing the ability to separate quickly from defenders as well as having arguably the best set of hands coming out of the draft. In the fifth round of the draft the Falcons put the icing on the cake trading up to the first pick of the fifth round and selecting disruptive three technique defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (son of former Falcon great Jessie Tuggle). Jarrett brings a interior pass rush dimension that the Falcons have lacked since Jonathan Babineaux was in his prime. Jarrett now joins his fellow Clemson Tiger teammate Beasley in Atlanta and hope to continue dominating opposing offensive lineman like they did in the ACC. Seventh round selection cornerback Akeem King is an interesting late round pick as the former wide receiver stands at 6’3 212 pounds, sounds familiar? The Dan Quinn era looks to be starting off on the right track.

Winner: Cleveland Browns

1st Round – DT Danny Shelton
1st Round – OL Cameron Erving
2nd Round – OLB Nate Orchard
3rd Round – RB Duke Johnson
3rd Round – DT Xavier Cooper
4th Round – S Ibraheim Campbell
4th Round – WR Vince Mayle
6th Round – CB Charles Gaines
6th Round – TE Malcolm Johnson
6th Round – TE Randall Telfer
7th Round – ILB Hayes Pullard
7th Round – CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

The Cleveland Browns did their very best to erase the sting of last year’s disappointing draft by successfully accomplishing what a rebuilding team should do in the draft: stock pile a plethora of picks and making it count by adding beef within the trenches. And by beef I mean 340 pound first round selection Danny Shelton who will surely sure up a run defense that ranked dead last in 2014 and was consistently gashed by opposing running backs last season. Shelton not only stuffs the one and two gaps but is talented enough to make plays on the edges with his relentless motor. Not at all satisfied within the trenches the Browns went to the other side of the ball with their second pick in the first round selecting the most versatile offensive lineman in the draft Cameron Erving. At Florida State Erving played left tackle before transitioning over to center mid way through last season. Erving can play all five positions on the offensive line but will more than likely play guard or right tackle for the Browns this season as center Alex Mack is in his final year of his contract. On day 2 the Browns added three players that can contribute and improve their respective positions rotation. Nate Orchard, a highly decorated pass rusher from Utah compiled 18.5 sacks last season leading the Nation with 1.42 sacks per game. Duke Johnson joins a crowded backfield with second year guys Isaiah Crowell and Terrence West already in the fold but Duke brings a dimension in the passing game coupled with his explosiveness that the other two Browns running backs lack. Defensive tackle Xavier Cooper provides an extra body in the interior that can get after the quarterback on passing downs. The Browns’ draft went on to add 7 more players in day 3 giving them a draft high total of 12 players selected. Safety Ibraheim Campbell was a four year starter and captain at Northwestern who is a solid in the box safety with great instincts and tackling ability that will play in sub packages and can come in immediately and help on special teams. The Browns finally drafted a receiver in Vince Mayle out of Washington State as they failed to do so last season and early on in the 2015 draft. Mayle was highly productive in Mike Leach’s pass happy offense but will merely be the fourth or fifth wide receiver on the Browns roster and will more than likely have inconsistent play from the quarterback position this upcoming season. The Browns finished their 2015 draft strong selecting 7th round steals inside linebacker Haynes Pullard and former highly touted cornerback Ike Ekpre-Olomu who was an All-American in 2014 and was a potential 1st round pick before tearing his ACL in December. Coach Mike Pettine appears to be following mentor Rex Ryan’s formula to play tough defense and run the ball effectively. But like Ryan the play of his QB could end up being his demise. With all that said this was a great draft for the Browns.

Winner: Minnesota Vikings

1st Round – CB Trae Waynes
2nd Round – LB Eric Kendricks
3rd Round – DE Danielle Hunter
4th Round – OT T.J. Clemmings
5th Round – TE MyCole Pruitt
5th Round – WR Stefon Diggs
6th Round – OT Tyrus Thompson
6th Round – DE B.J. Dubose
7th Round – OT Austin Shepherd
7th Round – LB Edmond Robinson

Enough can’t be said of second year coach Mike Zimmer who came to Minnesota last season and drastically improved the Vikings’ defense and if history serves us right that Mike Zimmer defense will only improve from here on out. Zimmer led the Vikings who allowed the most points and second most yards in 2013 under Leslie Frazier to ranking 11th in scoring defense and 14th in yards allowed. So what did Zimmer do in the 2015 draft? Draft the best available defensive players in the first three rounds. In a division with the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford the Vikings will now be a defensive force to be reckoned with. First round pick Trae Waynes provides a Mike Zimmer esque man-to man-press cover guy to go opposite former first round pick and much improved player last season Xavier Rhodes. With the addition of Terrence Newman in the off-season Waynes has a great mentor with the understanding of what Zimmer expects from his corners. Second round selection Eric Kendricks (who CPGM had a first round grade on) is another player that fits the Zimmer mold as he is a three down linebacker with the ability to cover. Add Kendricks with Chad Greenway and former UCLA Bruin teammate Anthony Barr and you have one of the best and most athletic linebacking corps. in all of football. In the third round the Vikings selected one of the most freakishly gifted athletes in defensive end Danielle Hunter whose length, explosiveness, and potential could of easily come off the board in the second round but his lack of experience and pass rushing moves resulted in a fall to the third round. With Zimmer’s tutelage and background of getting the most out of his pass rushers, the sky is the limit for Hunter. The Vikings’ biggest question mark coming into the draft in my opinion was upgrading their offensive line, which they addressed in the fourth round and could potentially be the biggest steal in the entire draft with the selection of T.J. Clemmings, a first round talent who fell due to injury concerns and inexperience. The Vikings also picked up two more lineman later on in the draft, the biggest concern coming into the 2015 season will be if they did enough to protect Teddy Bridgewater. Minnesota managed to add two more weapons to Bridgewater’s arsenal in the fifth round with move tight end MyCole Pruitt and underrated wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The Vikings should take another step with the development of second year QB Bridgewater (CPGM’s number one rated QB in the 2014 draft) whom mind you has YET to play a snap with All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson, and a potential top ten Vikings’ defense.

Honorable mention – Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints



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