NFL Draft 2015: Top Rookie Team-Scheme Fits

Matt Bowen NFL National Lead WriterMay 5, 2015

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Here are five prospects from the first three rounds of the 2015 NFL draft who landed in ideal situations. These are players who, based on the personnel and scheme of their new teams, have a great opportunity to produce as rookies.


Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

Gurley came off the board a little earlier than I expected (No. 10 overall), given that he won't be game-ready in Week 1 due to an ACL injury, but I can't look past the top-tier skill set he has at the running back position. He is a true No. 1 back, a rare talent (see my predraft analysis here) who landed with a team that wants to lean on the downhill, power-running game.

Think about the makeup of this football team, with head coach Jeff Fisher's approach to running the ball and the nasty defense led by coordinator Gregg Williams. When Gurley is healthy and ready to play in the St. Louis backfield, the Rams will lean on that run game to control tempo, move the sticks and create play-action opportunities for new quarterback Nick Foles. That caters to Gurley's skills as a lead back, a prospect who can carry the load, produce and eventually close out games. 

The philosophy here is to build a tough, old-school football team on both sides of the ball that controls the line of scrimmage and physically whips opponents. But to do that, you need a legit talent at running back with the power and the speed to get through the hole. That's where Gurley comes in for this Rams team, one that is also building a model for the future by drafting four offensive linemen in this year's class. 

The power-running game never goes out of style, despite the narratives of wide-open offenses and quarterbacks who sling the ball all over the field. And Gurley will see plenty of off-tackle runs for a team that wants to push opponents around up front. 


Danny Shelton, NT, Browns

Shelton was one of my predraft favorites, because he can toss guys around, take on double-teams and eat up space in the middle of the defensive front. At 6'2", 339 pounds, he has the NFL frame, strength and quickness to hold down the nose tackle position.

That's a perfect fit for the Browns and their 3-4 defensive system.

Plus, every team targets prospects based on their divisional opponents. The AFC North? That's big-boy football. Shelton can play a key role as a rookie against Le'Veon Bell and the Steelers' counter OF (weak-side power run with counter action), the Bengals' power game and the Ravens' zone-based schemes. To win in this division, teams have to control the front, play in the nasty weather and stop the run. Shelton gives you that.

This is the first guy I would want to walk off the bus when the team arrives at the stadium. He's big, physical and should be an anchor for the Browns' defensive front for years. Nose tackles don't have the first-round hype of a quarterback, wide receiver or defensive back, but they are so crucial to the success of any 30 front in the NFL. This is a great pick.


Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs

Peters has a press-man skill set, good size (6'0", 197 pounds) and the leaping ability (37.5" vertical jump) to go up and make plays down the field on contested throws. This is a really solid fit for a Chiefs secondary that wants to line up, challenge receivers at the snap and impact the receiving routes against Peyton Manning and the AFC West.

Based on pure talent, Peters was a top-10 guy. Due to off-field concerns, he slipped to the back half of the first round. That allowed the Chiefs to get value at No. 18 in a cornerback who meshes with their philosophy on defense. They want cornerbacks who have the size, footwork and technique to jam opposing receivers in Cover 1 (man-free), Cover 4 (four-deep, three under zone) and man-blitz schemes.

As a first-round pick, Peters will get every opportunity to win a job in the base package, and he will be expected to play a vital role in the sub-package personnel. He's a corner who can align outside of the numbers and go to work.


Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles

With all the draft-night talk on the Eagles and the possibility of their moving up to get quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Agholor pick at No. 20 got lost in the mix. But that will change once the USC product starts catching passes in Chip Kelly's system. The rookie can slide in, essentially replacing Jeremy Maclin, and put up a lot of numbers in this offense.

In Kelly's playbook, the Eagles can cater to Agholor's advanced route-running and ability to get open through formations and pre-snap movement, creating opportunities for the rookie to work the middle of the field. Agholar has good straight-line speed (4.42-second 40 at the combine), catches the ball cleanly with his hands and has a good feel for finding throwing lanes.

At 6'0", 198 pounds, Agholor doesn't have the freakish measurables of some of the first-round wide receivers in this class, but don't let that impact your view on how productive he can be. 


Maxx Williams, TE, Ravens

This tight end class didn't have a true first-round prospect, and the group lacked depth, but Williams was the No. 1 player at the position because of his ability to catch the ball as a "move" tight end. That's going to sell for the Ravens and new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

Looking back at how Trestman featured tight end Martellus Bennett in Chicago, we should expect Williams to run routes from multiple alignments and be a key target on third downs and in the red zone.

Trestman will put Williams in favorable matchups in crucial down-and-distance situations, allowing quarterback Joe Flacco to target the rookie tight end. Whether that is middle-of-the-field route concepts or with Williams aligned as a receiver outside of the formation, the Minnesota product should be active in the game plan as a pass-catching tight end who can also block in the run game.

Williams doesn't have great top-end speed (4.78 40) and can improve as a route-runner, but with his size (6'4", 249 pounds) and the fit I see in Trestman's system, this is an outstanding pick in the second round to go along with the ridiculous vertical speed and upside that first-round wide receiver Breshad Perriman brings to Baltimore.


Seven-year NFL veteran Matt Bowen is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.