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Grading Every Pick in the First Round of the NFL Draft

Updated on May 1, 2015
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pick: Quarterback Jameis Winston, Florida State University.

Grade: A

Winston is the best pro style quarterback available, who has the arm strength to excel in the Buccaneer's offensive system. His knowledge of the game and his film study habits give him the opportunity to become a franchise quarterback for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have plenty of other needs besides quarterback, but adding Jameis Winston fills their biggest need along with giving them the best player available.

Tennessee Titans

Pick: Quarterback Marcus Mariota, University of Oregon.

Grade: B

While Mariota is one of the best players available to the Titans with this pick, they have Zach Mettenberger as a strong option to be their starting quarterback. Mariota does not immediately fit a pro style offense, despite his smooth footwork and quick release at the quarterback position. Tennessee could have traded out of this pick to add much needed upgrades on their defense, while providing Mettenberger with better offensive weapons.


Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: Dante Fowler Jr.

Grade: A

Fowler fits the Jaguars defensive needs as a great pass rusher with the athleticism to play coverage. An impact player as an edge rusher gives the Jaguars the chance to improve their pass defense by disrupting the passer within the pocket. By drafting one of the best players available and filling a significant need, the Jaguars get a top grade with the selection of Dante Fowler Jr.


Oakland Raiders

Pick: Wide receiver Amari Cooper, University of Alabama

Grade: A

Amari Cooper fits the Raiders' need and he is the best player available with this pick, as a potential number one wide receiver. Cooper has the burst to rival the production of Antonio Brown, with the work ethic to run great routes at the NFL level. Derek Carr finally gets some offensive help with a grade A pick by the Oakland Raiders in the first round.

Washington Redskins

Pick: Brandon Scherff

Grade: C

The Redskins did not select the best player available with this draft pick, and they did not get great value in a player that is likely to move to guard. This pick should help them to protect Robert Griffin in the coming season, but the Redskins had other significant needs with great defenders still on the board. This pick is slightly above average because of Scherff's talent, but it was a bit surprising considering the Redskins could have taken a quality guard later in the draft.

New York Jets

Pick: Leonard Williams

Grade: A+

The Jets took the best player available on the board. They could have used a quarterback, but with the top two QBs off the board, they made the smart move by taking the best player available. With a great defensive line being put in place, the Jets now has the front to complement a great secondary that they have constructed in free agency.

Chicago Bears

Pick: Kevin White

Grade: A

After trading away Brandon Marshall this offseason, the Bears take the best player available with their first round pick by selecting Kevin White. White's physicality and athleticism should allow him to become a dominant number one threat at the NFL level. Chicago now has another great wide receiver to pair with Alshon Jeffrey, following which they can focus on their defensive needs in the second round and later.

Atlanta Falcons

Pick: Vic Beasley

Grade: A

The Falcons selected the best player available on the board, and possibly filled their biggest need. The edge rushing ability of Vic Beasley gives the Falcons the disruptive force needed to make their secondary better in pass coverage. The Falcons get a top grade based on the fact that they selected a great player and filled a significant need on the team's defense.

New York Giants

Pick: Ereck Flowers

Grade: A

The New York Giants needed the best player available on the offensive line, and Ereck Flowers was the pick to make here. The Giants now have the opportunity to improve their running game along with protecting quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants get an A for this pick because they addressed a need with the best player available, after struggling mightily along the offensive line last season.

St. Louis Rams

Pick: Todd Gurley

Grade: B-

Todd Gurley was one of the best players available on the board for St. Louis, but with good running backs already on their roster, this was a risky pick for the Rams. The Rams had needs at cornerback and offensive tackle, that probably should have been addressed in the first round. This pick is slightly above average because of the impact talent that Todd Gurley brings to the Rams.

Minnesota Vikings

Pick: Cornerback Trae Waynes, Michigan State University

Grade: A

The Vikings selected the best player available, and took the best defensive back in the draft. Trae Waynes has Richard Sherman-like ability to develop into a top flight cornerback at the NFL level. This pick fills a need for the Vikings and is a grade A pick because they got the best player available.

Cleveland Browns

Pick: Defensive tackle Danny Shelton, University of Washington

Grade: A

The Browns needed to add to their defensive front, and they were able to do just that by selecting the impact nose tackle out of Washington. Danny Shelton is an excellent two gap player who could quickly become one of the best space eating nose tackles in the game. The Browns get a high grade for taking the best player available 12th overall.

New Orleans Saints

Pick: Offensive tackle Andrus Peat, Stanford University

Grade: B-

Andrus Peat is a good player with a first round grade, but he is also a player that was likely to fall to the second round. With good size and athleticism, Peat could become a left tackle for New Orleans. His lack of physicality as a player on the offensive line, is what prevents this from being a high graded pick for the New Orleans Saints.

Miami Dolphins

Pick: Wide receiver Devante Parker, University of Louisville

Grade: A

The Dolphins selected the best player available, and a player at a huge position of need after trading Mike Wallace this offseason. Parker possesses the speed and catch radius to be a number one wide receiver, but his route running ability helps this to be an even better pick. The Dolphins get a top grade for getting the best player available with the 14th pick in the draft.

San Diego Chargers

Pick: Running back Melvin Gordon, University of Wisconsin

Grade: B

Melvin Gordon was one of the best players available on the board, but the Chargers traded up to draft a player who plays a position of depth in this draft. Gordon should provide the Chargers with an impact player as a starting running back, but less value has been placed on the running back position in recent drafts. This was a good pick at a position of need for the Chargers, however an offensive linemen was probably a bigger need in the first round.

Houston Texans

Pick: Cornerback Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest

Grade: A

The Texans took the best player available while adding the necessary defensive back depth to put together a great secondary. Johnson should start right away for the Texans, and he has the ability to become a top flight corner while playing defense behind the great Houston pass rushers. This is a grade A pick for Houston, and it will allow their defense to return to dominance in the near future.

San Francisco 49ers

Pick: Arik Armstead

Grade: B

The 49ers selected a quality pass rusher and a player that might be a fit in their defense. Armstead was a four front defensive end in college, but might not fit in a three front at the NFL level. His size does not make him a great fit at the outside linebacker position, however the 49ers took a great football player with the 17th overall pick.

Kansas City Chiefs

Pick: Cornerback Marcus Peters, University of Washington

Grade: A-

The Chiefs took the best player available on the board with the three top wide receivers gone by the 18th pick. They did not fill their needs on the offensive line or at inside linebacker with this pick, but taking a player from either position may have been considered a reach here. By drafting Marcus Peters, the Chiefs improve one of the best pass defenses in football from last season.

Cleveland Browns

Pick: Center Cameron Erving, Florida State University

Grade: B+

With their second quality pick in the first round, the Browns were able to beef up the interior of their lines on both sides of the ball. Cameron Erving gives the Browns the best interior offensive linemen in this draft class, allowing them to get back to smash mouth football in the AFC North. This is a well above average pick for a team that is perceived to have significant needs elsewhere.

Philadelphia Eagles

Pick: Wide receiver Nelson Agholor, University of Southern California

Grade: B

The Philadelphia Eagles missed out on Marcus Mariota, and with the top wide receivers off the board they took the next best player available at the position. Agholor is a great route runner with great speed to become an impact player for the Eagles on the perimeter. With wide receivers with more flashy tools still left on the board, this pick may not be the most popular, but the reality is that the Eagles selected a quality player who could develop into the team's number one receiving threat in the future.

Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M

Grade: B

With plenty of opinions changing on what is proving to be a deep draft class at offensive tackle, Cedric Ogbuehi emerged late as one of the best prospects here. The Bengals were able to fill a need with this pick, as being strong up front is often the key to success against tough division opponents in the AFC North. The Bengals get an above average grade for this pick after addressing one of their biggest needs as a team.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: Outside linebacker Bud Dupree, University of Kentucky

Grade: A

Bud Dupree was one of the players who was expected to benefit from Shane Ray and Randy Gregory falling in the draft. For whatever reason he was not high on the draft boards of many teams, and the Steelers were more than willing to draft him once they were on the clock. The Steelers get an A grade for this pick, by selecting the best player available to address one of their biggest needs.

Denver Broncos

Pick: Outside linebacker Shane Ray, University of Missouri

Grade: A

The Broncos were the team in the first round that showed the willingness to take a risk in order to acquire a great player. As soon as Bud Dupree went off the board to the Steelers, the Broncos moved up to take the last great pass rusher left on the board at the outside linebacker position. By getting the best player available at a position of need, the Broncos made a top graded selection in the first round.

Arizona Cardinals

Pick: Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, University of Florida

Grade: B+

The Cardinals did well to help improve their offensive line play by selecting the best available tackle when it was their turn to pick in the first round. With Humphries size and lateral quickness, Humphries can play either side of the line, but the Cardinals would prefer him to end up as their left tackle. By drafting the best offensive linemen available, the Cardinals get a high grade for their first round selection.

Carolina Panthers

Pick: Outside linebacker Shaq Thompson, University of Washington

Grade: A-

The Panthers definitely took the best player available when they selected Shaq Thompson 25th overall. Thompson brings elite athleticism to an area that was not a position of need for the Panthers, but adding him to their group of linebackers, makes a strength even better heading into next season. By adding the best player available, the Panthers get a high grade for their first round selection.

Baltimore Ravens

Pick: Wide receiver Breshad Perriman, University of Central Florida

Grade: C+

Perriman was not the best player available with the 26th pick, with both Jaelen Strong and Phillip Dorsett left on the board. Perriman however is a player with great potential, as he possesses significant size and speed to win against coverage at the NFL level. Perriman's inconsistency catching the football is what makes this pick only slightly above average.

Dallas Cowboys

Pick: Cornerback Byron Jones, University of Connecticut

Grade: A

The Cowboys had a need at the cornerback position, and they took the best player available with their pick near the end of the first round. Byron Jones is one of the most athletic cornerback prospects in the draft class, and he has the potential to develop into a top flight corner. For a second straight year, the Dallas Cowboys get a high grade for their first round selection.

Detroit Lions

Pick: Offensive guard Laken Tomlinson, Duke University

Grade: B-

The Detroit Lions did have a need at guard in this draft, and Laken Tomlinson is a very good player. Guard is not a premium position however, and teams can take a talented tackle to move them to that position. With Eddie Goldman and Malcolm Brown still on the board at this pick, the Lions did not address their biggest need or get the best player available.

Indianapolis Colts

Pick: Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, University of Miami

Grade: A

The Colts drafted the best player available when they drafted deep threat Phillip Dorsett in the first round of the draft. Dorsett has the opportunity to be an impact player for the Colts immediately, while taking attention away from T.Y. Hilton by providing Indianapolis with a second deep threat opposite him. The Colts get a high grade for addressing their need with the best player available.

Green Bay Packers

Pick: Safety Damarius Randall, Arizona State

Grade: B+

With the Packers taking a safety out of Alabama with their first round pick last year, they decided not go in that direction again this year. By taking Damarius Randall, the Packers were able to add the safety with the range to play deep coverage in centerfield for the team defensively. The Packers get a high grade for drafting a strong player that fills a need for the team.


New Orleans Saints

Pick: Inside linebacker Stephone Anthony, Clemson

Grade: A-

The New Orleans Saints did better with their second pick in the first round, when they took the best inside linebacker available. Anthony possesses the size and explosive ability to be an enforcer in the middle of the New Orleans' defense. By taking the best player available at a position of need, the Saints earned a high grade for this pick.


New England Patriots

Pick: Defensive tackle Malcolm Brown, University of Texas

Grade: A

The Patriots did a great job of finding their replacement for Vince Wilfork along their defensive front. Playing alongside of Alan Branch, should allow Malcolm Brown to use his size and athleticism to his advantage by dominating the line of scrimmage for New England. New England earned a high grade for taking the best player available with their first round pick.


Comment Section

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    • Josh Ruga profile imageAUTHOR

      Joshua Ruga 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks for commenting. I think Cutler will have a bounce back season.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      3 years ago from Texas

      An excellent analysis of the first round Josh Ruga. I was extremely happy with my Bears pick, although I still don't think they should have traded Marshall. Ive still got my fingers crossed to see a news flash that they have traded/got rid of Cutler. thumbs up on your hub.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great analysis!

    • Sam Montana profile image

      Sam Montana 

      3 years ago

      The Broncos picking Shane Ray should make their defense interesting along with Von Miller and Ware.

    • Josh Ruga profile imageAUTHOR

      Joshua Ruga 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      Agreed lions, all that was crazy how it played out.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      3 years ago from Auburn, WA

      I'm a little upset that Scherff went to the 'Skins but I like Flowers too. He's got the attitude and size. So they filled a need. I still get the impression that the Titans did not really want Mariota but had no choice. Apparrently Whisenhunt was influenced by a call with Andy Reid? I still would have taken the Eagles' offer. Doubt Whisenhunt can coach up a young QB. Voted up and shared.

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