There are likely members of all 32 NFL fanbases making Super Bowl plans already after the first three rounds of the NFL draft.
Unbridled optimism is the name of the game with any draft, and the 2015 edition was no exception. There were potential franchise quarterbacks, game-changing receivers, physical cornerbacks and line help on both sides of the ball available, and plenty of teams filled needs and landed prospects with sky-high ceilings.
While the actual result-based grades for the 2015 draft class won’t be solidified for years, some teams had a better first three rounds of the draft than others based on upside and the needs each prospect fills for next season and beyond.
Here is a look at the full results from the first three rounds, early grades for each team and some of the top prospects available for the draft’s final four rounds.
|2015 NFL Draft Results and Grades|
|Team||Draft Picks||Grade||Quick-Hit Analysis|
|Dallas Cowboys||CB Byron Jones, DE/OLB Randy Gregory, OT Chaz Green||B||High risk, high reward with Gregory, but addressed some needs.|
|Philadelphia Eagles||WR Nelson Agholor, CB Eric Rowe, LB Jordan Hicks||B-||Not the flashy draft many expected.|
|Washington||OT Brandon Scherff, DE Preston Smith, RB Matt Jones||C+||All solid players, but better value was available at each pick.|
|New York Giants||OT Ereck Flowers, S Landon Collins, DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa||B+||Collins still a work in progress against pass, but first-round quality pick in second round and fills big need.|
|Chicago Bears||WR Kevin White, DT Eddie Goldman, C Hroniss Grasu||A-||White and Goldman could start right away.|
|Green Bay Packers||S Damarious Randall, CB Quinten Rollins, WR Ty Montgomery||B||Better value available early, but Montgomery a steal.|
|Detroit Lions||G Laken Tomlinson, RB Ameer Abdullah, CB Alex Carter||B-||Abdullah the highlight of Detroit's draft and ready to step on field right away.|
|Minnesota Vikings||CB Trae Waynes, LB Eric Kendricks, DE Danielle Hunter||A||Love the Waynes pick in a division with pass-happy Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford.|
|Carolina Panthers||LB Shaq Thompson, TE Devin Funchess||B||Thompson somewhat of an early reach, but Funchess has high upside.|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||QB Jameis Winston, OT Donovan Smith, C Ali Marpet||A||Needed a franchise quarterback and then grabbed protection up front for Winston.|
|New Orleans Saints||OT Andrus Peat, LB Stephone Anthony, LB Kikaha Hau'oli, QB Garrett Grayson, CB P.J. Williams||B||Impressive late value with Grayson and Williams.|
|Atlanta Falcons||OLB/DE Vic Beasley, CB Jalen Collins, RB Tevin Coleman||A||Needed to improve defense and did exactly that. Also grabbed impressive back in Coleman.|
|San Francisco 49ers||DE Arik Armstead, S Jaquiski Tartt, LB Eli Harold||C||Armstead more of a workout warrior than anything else at this point.|
|St. Louis Rams||RB Todd Gurley, OT Rob Havenstein, OT Jamon Brown, QB Sean Mannion||B||Gurley an injury risk with superstar potential; got offensive line help needed.|
|Seattle Seahawks||DE Frank Clark, WR Tyler Lockett||C+||Off-field concerns with Clark, but Lockett solid pick.|
|Arizona Cardinals||OT D.J. Humphries, DE Markus Golden, RB David Johnson||C+||Needed stability at the running back position, personally think better backs available than Johnson.|
|New York Jets||DE Leonard Williams, WR Devin Smith, LB Lorenzo Mauldin||A+||Williams is best player in draft, Smith is best deep threat in draft outside Amari Cooper and Kevin White.|
|Miami Dolphins||WR DeVante Parker, DT Jordan Phillips||B||Needed depth at wide receiver and got just that.|
|New England Patriots||DT Malcom Brown, S Jordan Richards, DE Geneo Grissom||B+||Malcom Brown was steal of the first round.|
|Buffalo Bills||CB Ronald Darby, G John Miller||B-||No first-round picks, added solid value in second day.|
|Cincinnati Bengals||OT Cedric Ogbuehi, OT Jake Fisher, TE Tyler Kroft, LB Paul Dawson||C-||Felt as if there was better value available at each pick for Bengals.|
|Cleveland Browns||DT Danny Shelton, C Cameron Erving, DE Nate Orchard, RB Duke Johnson, DT Xavier Cooper||B-||Wide receivers are apparently an overrated part of the game, but Johnson and Orchard are both ready to contribute.|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||DE Alvin "Bud" Dupree, CB Senquez Golson, WR Sammie Coates||B||This would have been better with Maxx Williams, but Dupree represents great value late in first round.|
|Baltimore Ravens||WR Breshad Perriman, TE Maxx Williams, DT Carl Davis||B+||Needed Williams. Got Williams.|
|Indianapolis Colts||WR Phillip Dorsett, CB D'Joun Smith, DE Henry Anderson||C||Dorsett was a reach, and nothing else really moved the needle|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||DE/OLB Dante Fowler Jr., RB T.J. Yeldon, G A.J. Cann||B-||Fowler an impressive player, but better running backs were on the board than Yeldon.|
|Tennessee Titans||QB Marcus Mariota, WR Dorial Green-Beckham, G Jeremiah Poutasi||A||Got a franchise quarterback and a target and protection for him.|
|Houston Texans||CB Kevin Johnson, LB Benardrick McKinney, WR Jaelen Strong||B||Great value with Strong and McKinney during the second day|
|San Diego Chargers||RB Melvin Gordon, LB Denzel Perryman, CB Craig Mager||B||Gordon has superstar potential.|
|Denver Broncos||DE Shane Ray, OT Ty Sambrailo, TE Jeff Heuerman||B||Ray is ready to contribute right away and Peyton Manning can work with Heuerman.|
|Oakland Raiders||WR Amari Cooper, DE Mario Edwards Jr., TE Clive Walford||A||Cooper and Edwards Jr. are pros.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||CB Marcus Peters, G Mitch Morse, WR Chris Conley, CB Steven Nelson||B-||Peters would have been an earlier pick if weren't off-field concerns. Great talent.|
Top Prospects Still Available
Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
There was a time early in the predraft process that many saw defensive tackle Michael Bennett as a potential first-round pick, especially in the glow of Ohio State's national championship run.
He was a critical cog in the Buckeyes defense that came together in the last three games of the season. While Joey Bosa drew most of the headlines along the defensive line, it was Bennett who frequently occupied multiple blockers and freed the superstar defensive end up to make plays and disrupt the quarterback.
When offensive lines started doubling Bosa, Bennett proved how difficult he is to handle with a single blocker and racked up two sacks against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game and a sack in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch pointed out that Bennett played some of his best football against top-notch competition:
Bennett discussed his tendency to come up clutch when it mattered most, per Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch: “I had an opportunity to play in a lot of big games, and I think I played well in them. I think my draft stock is higher than people realize it is because of those last three games. A lot of coaches tell me they were really impressed with how I played, particularly against Wisconsin and Alabama.”
Bennett has impressive burst off the snap and the strength to create penetration up front against the run. He has first-round talent when healthy, but a groin injury held him out of most of the NFL Scouting Combine drills.
Despite the durability questions, Bennett started all 28 games for the Buckeyes the past two seasons. Whichever team drafts him Saturday will get an absolute steal late in the draft.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State
Speaking of injuries hurting an otherwise promising draft stock, Boise State running back Jay Ajayi did not hear his name called in the first three rounds. Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com commented on those health concerns:
Ajayi may be a risk, but there is also a high ceiling in place. He tallied a head-turning 1,823 rushing yards, 535 receiving yards and 32 total touchdowns last season and became the only player in FBS history to top 1,800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in one year. Production like that is impossible to find.
Throw in the fact that he is 221 pounds with explosive burst in the hole, and Ajayi is ready to contribute at the NFL level. He is built to pick up yards after contact during critical short-yardage situations in the red zone and is more than capable of getting involved in the passing game on third downs.
A number of NFL teams use running-back-by-committee approaches in the backfield, and Ajayi is versatile enough to fill a handful of roles. He can block and catch in passing situations, bulldoze his way to the end zone near the goal line and explode for critical first downs in the middle of the field.
Ajayi is worth a flier in the fourth round.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Clearly some of Bryce Petty's production in college can be explained away by Baylor's uptempo, spread attack, but he still deserves recognition for throwing for a combined 8,055 yards and 61 touchdowns the past two seasons.
That recognition will likely come Saturday when a team in need of quarterback depth comes calling.
While NFL defenses are much stronger than the lackluster Big 12 ones he faced at Baylor, Petty is a prototypical quarterback size at 6'3" and has solid touch on his deep balls to go along with impressive arm strength. A team looking for stability at the quarterback position can draft him Saturday and groom him for a few years behind an established starter.
Petty demonstrates impressive mobility both inside and outside the pocket and the ability to hit receivers on the run on intermediate and deep throws. Yes, he is a project and did most of his work out of shotgun in a spread attack, but the talent is in place.
If given a couple of years to learn a pro-style system, Petty could develop into a formidable NFL quarterback down the line.
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