Now, there were some shakeups when free agency hit as the Seattle Seahawks gave their first round selection to the New Orleans Saints, and more than likely the Saints will use the 31st pick on a quarterback. It allows New Orleans to have a 5th year option, which comes in handy on a quarterback with an aging Drew Brees at the helm.
2015 NFL Draft: Picks 1-10
2015 NFL Draft: Picks 11-20
21. Cincinnati Bengals (posted 2/26/15)
Even though the Bengals were 12th in total defense last season, the smart money has them targeting either a defensive edge rusher or a linebacker with their 21st pick.
DT/DE Arik Armstead (Oregon) lacks the ideal body for an inside player, and his 5.1 40-time takes him out of the running of playing defensive end, but has the one thing that scouts always say: potential. A project like Armstead might be too much of a risk for the first round however.
Since Guenther became the DC through the path of being a linebacker’s coach, look for Cincinnati to select LB Shaq Thompson (Washington) or Alvin “Bud” Dupree (Kentucky). Although Thompson has shown not to keep his weight during the season (reported dropping down to 219) this “tweener” will have to prove he can either keep the weight to be a formidable SAM or WILL linebacker, or will he make the jump to the secondary. Reports say with the right coordinator, he could be a player in the league.
Dupree could be their best bet if he is still available with the 21st pick. Speed and explosiveness are evident in this 6’4” 269 pound linebacker, and taking him will serve the Bengals in two ways: give them a great talent, and keep him from the Steelers (who pick 22nd and have showed interest as well).
There is an outside chance that Cincinnati could take T Andrus Peat (Stanford), T La’el Collins (LSU) or DT Eddie Goldman (FSU). Peat, who has the feet of a left tackle, but the mentality of a right tackle, is a very well rounded player who is unlikely to be still on the board. Collins, who is listed at a tackle could be the replacement for Andrew Whitworth or of things doing work out at tackle, could shift to guard. Goldman is better suited to anchor a 3-4 front, could be an option, but again is too high to take with the 21st pick.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers (posted 2/27/15)
The Steelers find themselves in a precarious position picking 22nd in this year’s draft: one spot behind division rival Cincinnati. Butler being a linebackers coach for the past 12 years might want to build his defense at that position and the two names on their radar are Alvin Dupree (Kentucky) and Vic Beasley (Clemson). Dupree being 6’4” 264 certainly fits the mold of being a ‘Steeler’ linebacker, but is said to be a project, and one that is too high to take in the first round.
Everyone by now has seen the onslaught that Beasley showed at the combine, and might have proven to be too late for the Steelers to pick him up, unless they trade up. Unlikely, but stranger things have happened at the draft.
If the Steelers decide to go with the secondary with their 1st pick, look for them to target 3: CB Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest), CB P.J. Williams (FSU) and CB Trae Waynes (Michigan State). It is pretty much a wash for Johnson and Williams as they are parallel talents, but Waynes showed a mix of speed and explosiveness at the combine that might tilt the scales in his direction.
Depending on what happens with Polamalu, S Landon Collins (Alabama) could be the pick if he falls to them. Collins is a hard-hitting safety that would work well within the 3-4 scheme, provided he can correct some of his weaknesses in the passing game.
23. Detroit Lions (posted 2/28/15)
Depending on what happens with the current front of the Detroit Lions will very much dictate what they do in the draft come April 30th. The top names on the list for the Lions are DT Eddie Goldman (FSU), NT Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma), and DT Malcom Brown (Texas). Goldman and Brown played in a 4-3, which is what the Lions run and both would come at a much cheaper price than any of the 3 incumbents. The question will be can they have the impact that the Suh, Fairley and Mosley had? Phillips is the odd man out, as he played in a 3-4, but hopefully his 6’5” 329 pound frame can transition to a different front where he has primary gap control. Smart money says he will be a player in the league.
In the copycat league that the NFL is, the Lions could surprise everyone and take the first running back in the draft and select Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin). He is not the “banger” that Lacy or Peterson are, and isn’t as good at picking up the blitz as Forte, but his blend of sheer athleticism and speed could give the Lions another dimension to their offense, and a new toy for OC Joe Lombardi to play with. He worked with Drew Brees and rookie Reggie Bush when he was in New Orleans and during that time Bush averaged 80 receptions over his first two seasons. With Gordon catching some passes in space, and Bell banging in between the tackles, the Lions may shift their philosophy in 2015. They might dip defensively, but will make up for it with an explosive offense.
24. Arizona Cardinals (posted 3/2/15)
Arizona will be in play for the best available tight end (which hype appears to indicate to be Maxx Williams (Minnesota)), if available. They also have pressing needs at linebacker because of the uncertainty with Washington. While LB Kevin Minter has been a solid addition, the outside will need depth and this draft will be full of it in the first 3 rounds. They could take a swing at running back. The team has been supportive of RB Andre Ellington being the feature back but he has just been too inconsistent to count on. They could also look for guard play. Cutting ties via release with veteran players will create this need but I wouldn't say this is a definite for the top 3 rounds. Wide receiver will be pretty depleted this late in the 1st round. While this is a great draft for that position, it will take the team falling in love with someone to pull the trigger in the first.
25. Carolina Panthers (posted 3/2/15)
The Panthers would benefit from trading this pick away. While they do have a glaring need at adding wide receiver depth and will go on the hunt for a left tackle, the value they get for moving down might be the best thing for them. While free agency will not be plentiful with left tackles, wide recievers are a different story.
T DJ Humphries (Florida), T TJ Clemmings (Pittsburgh) and T Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M) would be solid fits. If T Andrus Peat (Stanford) is still available (he shouldn’t be), he would be the pick.
The team will also need to find a pass rusher and this draft is full of them. The group is so deep, they make take this in the 2nd round or even wait until the 3rd. Of course all this changes if the team trades down.
26. Baltimore Ravens (posted 3/3/15)
Holding the 26th pick isn’t too reassuring when there are as many needs that the Ravens have, but they could benefit from trading back to acquire more picks, and give themselves a cheaper option to add some depth. In a deep class of wide receivers, the smart money is on WR Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri). A big target standing at 6’5” and weighing 237, he resembles the twin towers that occupied the outside in Chicago during Trestman’s time there. If the Ravens don’t clear any room to make some moves in free agency, Green-Beckham could be their pick.
WR Breshad Perriman (Central Florida) is another big-bodied receiver that could appeal to Trestman if Green-Beckham is off the board and if both are gone, Sammie Coates (Auburn) also possesses the skills to be a playmaker for the Ravens.
Being that Forsett is not a long-term solution playing for 5 teams in 8 years, the Ravens could select either RB Todd Gurley (Georgia) or RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin) with the 26th pick. While in Chicago Matt Forte, under Trestman, was targeted 225 times, and pulled in 176 receptions in two seasons. Throwing to the running backs is a good way to give your quarterback an easy spike in his completion percentage and with the absence of Ray Rice the Ravens were missing that dimension to their offense last season.
27. Dallas Cowboys (posted 3/5/15)
Dallas could shock the world and draft a running back if they don’t feel the value in the free agency class fits their needs. If RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin) is still on the board, Jones may not be able to control himself. Most of the running backs are being projected to slide into the 2nd or 3rd round. The team’s best chance to get their player of choice would be at the 27th selection in the 1st round, which would not be unreasonable.
ILB Denzel Perryman (Miami) could also be a fit. Given the team will need to add a bit of depth into the linebacker core, Perryman would be able to acclimate if Lee is healthy and would be an immediate contributor in passing situations.
Some projections have DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA) as a first round selection; others have him as low as the third round. This is not a player who is going to go outside an opposing player on the pass rush. He could slide inside to DT given his size and make up but he has quite a bit of work to do technically. While I am sure he interests the Cowboys, he would only be selected if the team thought his raw talent could be shaped to fit what they need.
Defensive tackles grow on trees in college. They will be able to address this position at any time in the draft, possibly multiple times.
28. Denver Broncos (posted 3/4/15)
Watch out for the backend of the first round. Denver holds a very intriguing pick. The bottom of the first round has been a popular place for teams to trade into in order to acquire a player with an affordable 5th year option. While they will probably field a lot of offers for this spot, if they are looking for the quarterback of the future, they may be able to secure one in this spot. Who that QB will be is debatable.
Defensive tackle will also be an area of need. The free agent market could fill the need for the team but the last thing the organization should do is get older and older. Pursuing a defensive tackle in the 2nd or 3rd as well as capitalizing on the wide receiver depth in the 4th or 5th rounds is the likely plan of attack. They will need support in the linebacker core given the age of players like DeMarcus Ware who is under contract for a while.
29. Indianapolis Colts (posted 3/6/15)
The Colts may part ways with their first round selection for one of two reasons:
Minnesota calls (see below), or a team contacts them about trading back into the first round to select a player while still retaining a 5th year option. To be honest, they don’t really need this pick.
They will continue to look for defensive line depth in the later rounds.
The second round selection will either be a WR or CB based on the run of the position with the rest of the draft. They will also look to add an RB in the 3rd or 4th round.
30. Green Bay Packers (posted 3/7/15)
As stated on the Quick Guide to the Rookie Wage Scale if a player is selected in the first round, the team that selects him will have a 5th year option on his contract if the team chooses to pick it up. This is what the Minnesota Vikings did in last year’s draft with Teddy Bridgewater. The Packers don’t have any glaring ‘needs’ that they need to address, so if the phone rings with a team who wants to have a player with the 5th year option, Green Bay might trade out.
If they don’t trade out, and they can’t come to terms with Raji or Guion, they might look toward Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma) or Eddie Goldman (FSU).
Phillips 6’5” 329 is an ideal two-gap player who can work with Capers’ scheme and can cause some trouble up front for opponents.
Goldman can make plays from the NT position, not just being a player who will plug the middle, but doesn’t generate much of a pass rush.
Either of these selections would fit with the Packers.
Green Bay might have tipped their hand with the recent release of AJ Hawk. If that is the case, look for ILB Eric Kendricks (UCLA), Benardrick McKinney (Miss St) or Stephone Anthony (Clemson) to be the selection.
Kendricks has some NFL pedigree with his brother Mychal being a linebacker for the Eagles, but might be better suited in a 4-3 due to his size.
McKinney recorded a 40-inch vertical to go along with a 4.66 40-time, and could be the defining factor for Martellus Bennett, Eric Ebron and Kyle Ruldolph in the NFC North.
Anthony blew away the 40 with a 4.56 and seems to be more athletic than instinctive.
31. New Orleans Saints (from Seattle, posted on 2/18/15)
The plus side is that RBs, CBs and Guards are available late in the draft, where LBs can be the focus at the top of the draft class. WR is also an amazingly deep position, so they can look to improve here this year or invest in a QB for the future, as they haven’t drafted this high since 2008. QB Brett Hundley (UCLA) would be a stretch as early in the 1st round as the Saints are selecting, but a trade down while retaining a first round pick would allow them to secure either a center or quarterback of the future.
32. New England Patriots (posted 3/9/15)
The Patriots have had very little luck in drafting impact WRs in the past. They will again need to address this position this off-season.
Never one to grab a running back too early in the draft, expect them to dig for a 4th round value since they will be losing two running backs to free agency.
Defensive tackle is the most glaring hole. This will have to be the pick in the 1st round.
2015 NFL Draft: Picks 1-10
2015 NFL Draft: Picks 11-20