In the 2015 draft over April 30–May 2, we saw the storylines of Jameis Winston of Florida State and Marcus Mariota, as well as the numerous character red flags team, put on prospects.
After flip-flopping who would be number-one pick as well as first quarterback taken, draft pundits finally agreed that Winston would be the first one off the board. It came to fruition as Commissioner Roger Goodell announced “with the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State.”
The intrigue of the draft came at number two. Tennessee held that draft selection. The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner gives head coach Lovie Smith a potent one-two punch with Winston and 2014 first-round draft pick Mike Evans. ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay has said that Winston is as good a prospect he has seen since Andrew Luck. At number two we would get the questions we wanted answered. Would Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles be able to move up for his Marcus Mariota?
The question everyone wanted to know was whether or not there would be a trade to take the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner at number two, or the Titans would simply take him there. Commissioner Goodell announced that Mariota would be the selection at number two to the Tennessee Titans. Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt now has Mariota and 2014 sixth-round draft pick Zach Mettenberger of LSU as his top two signal callers heading into the 2015 season.
The first round we noticed a trend: Red flagged character prospects would be pushed down. Teams have been unwilling to pull the trigger on many of those prospects in recent years, and this year was no different. These teams wanted to steer clear in the first round.
First round talents Shane Ray, Randy Gregory and La’el Collins saw their stock drop far and hard. Ray is a top-10 pass rushing prospect from the University of Missouri, who dropped down to the 23rd selection. The Denver Broncos traded up from their 28th spot with the Detroit Lions in exchange for one fifth-round selection this year and next year, as well as offensive lineman Manny Ramirez to select Ray at 23. Randy Gregory of Nebraska was also a touted pass rusher who had a top-10 grade from many draft experts.
In the second round at pick 60, the Dallas Cowboys took a chance and selected Gregory. They are hoping the Nebraska product can produce sacks the way Demarcus Ware did for them for several years. Collins, the offensive tackle from LSU, did not hear his name called in the draft. He is planning to meet with authorities in an investigation. His representatives had hoped that he could re-enter the draft in 2016, but NFL rules state that is not an option.
Offensive linemen were being selected left and right in the first round. At number five, the Washington Redskins selected the 2014 Outland Trophy winner offensive tackle Brandon Scherff from Iowa. Draft experts described the offensive tackle and interior lineman class to be very thin after Scherff and Collins. At number nine, the New York Giants chose Ereck Flowers of the University of Miami. At 14 we saw the New Orleans Saints take Andrus Peat of Stanford. Cameron Erving went to the Cleveland Browns at 19. The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M at 21. The Arizona Cardinals took D.J. Humphries of Florida at 24.
The Detroit Lions moved back from 23 to 28 in the draft and chose Duke interior lineman Laken Tomlinson to pair with one of the best young guards in Larry Warford, giving Detroit one of the best pair of guards in the NFL. Other notable selections were former Oregon Duck Arik Armstead, who projects as a defensive end with the San Francisco 49ers. They are hoping he can replace recent Justin Smith if he does not decide to return for the 2015 season. The Pac 12 and the ACC led the draft with nine first-round picks over the SEC with seven.
Joining Mariota and Armstead for the Oregon Ducks was offensive tackle Jake Fisher in round two as the 53rd selection to the
Cincinnati Bengals; center Hroniss Grasu who went in the third round 71st overall to the Chicago Bears; and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who went in the seventh round to the Cleveland Browns. Ekpre-Olomu was projected to be a first-round pick last fall, but he tore his ACL during the season to drop in the draft.
The Oregon State Beavers had their first selections in round three picks 89 and 98, respectively. Quarterback Sean Mannion was the first Beaver off the board to the St. Louis Rams. Cornerback Steven Nelson went nine picks later to the Kansas City Chiefs. He would be joined by teammate D.J. Alexander, linebacker, picked in round five. Obum Gwacham, a wide receiver converted defensive end, and safety Ryan Murphy were selected by the Seattle Seahawks in rounds six and seven, respectively. Mannion will compete with recently-acquired Nick Foles and Case Keenum to be the starting quarterback for the Rams.
Some final notes were that the Dallas Cowboys passed on drafting a runningback to help ease the loss of Demarco Murray, who signed as a free agent to the Philadelphia Eagles. They will lean on free agent signing Darren McFadden and 2013 fifth-round draft pick Joseph Randle. Gerald Christian, a tight end from Louisville, was selected with the 256th pick (the final pick) in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.