It's hard to lose in the NFL draft grades department when the 2015 class was so deep at most positions.
Other than quarterback, of course.
Still, the 2015 grades are more positive than in years past because it's hard for a front office to take a misstep unless it outright ignores major needs. Even perceived "reaches" aren't knock-worthy because how a single team views a prospect may differ in dramatic fashion from the public consensus.
In the aftermath, let's pick up the pieces by taking a brief look at each class, then break down a few in detail.
|Arizona Cardinals||C||Bruce Arians and Co. played it smart with D.J. Humphries, but the rest of the value left something to be desired.|
|Atlanta Falcons||A+||Vic Beasley was a no-brainer. The risk on Jalen Collins is perfect. Tevin Coleman might be the steal of the draft. Easily the best class of 2015.|
|Baltimore Ravens||A||Baltimore swaps Torrey Smith for Breshad Perriman, steals Maxx Williams in Round 2 and Carl Davis in Round 3. That's how it's done.|
|Buffalo Bills||C||Buffalo tried to hit areas of need with few picks but didn't do anything noteworthy.|
|Carolina Panthers||C||Shaq Thompson's an odd choice, and Devin Funchess needs to improve his catch rate.|
|Chicago Bears||A||Kevin White makes sense. Eddie Goldman fixes a huge hole on defense. Hroniss Grasu was the best at his position and a third-rounder. Great draft.|
|Cincinnati Bengals||A+||Cincinnati shores up both offensive tackle spots, steals Paul Dawson at the end of the third and gets an outstanding safety in Derron Smith in Round 6.|
|Cleveland Browns||C||Cleveland shored up its defense with Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper, the latter an absolute steal in the third round. No quarterback, though? Or an early-round wide receiver?|
|Dallas Cowboys||D||Byron Jones in the first is questionable as his flashy numbers need to match on-field play, and Randy Gregory's an iffy gamble to spend a second-round pick on.|
|Denver Broncos||B||It's odd to trade up for Shane Ray, but Denver did do a good job of picking up Jeff Heuerman in the third round.|
|Detroit Lions||B||Detroit did a nice job of filling needs with good value in limited opportunities.|
|Green Bay Packers||C||Damarious Radall's good but an odd choice given the structure of Green Bay's roster. Ty Montgomery's an absolute reach.|
|Houston Texans||A+||What. A. Draft. Kevin Johnson in the first, Benardrick McKinney in the second and Jaelen Strong in the third is perfect.|
|Indianapolis Colts||B||Adding another receiver is an odd choice. Josh Robinson might turn out to be the steal of the draft in the sixth round.|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||C||It's hard to go wrong with Dante Fowler Jr., but T.J. Yeldon in the second round doesn't make a ton of sense given the value still on the board in the sixth round—just ask the Colts.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||B||Kansas City is smart to gamble on Marcus Peters. Steven Nelson in the third round is a steal.|
|Miami Dolphins||B||DeVante Parker gives the offense a No. 1 wideout, and Jordan Phillips is the pefect complement to Ndamukong Suh.|
|Minnesota Vikings||A+||Mike Zimmer can't seem to do any wrong on draft day, getting a starting corner and linebacker in the first two rounds, then stealing T.J. Clemmings and Stefon Diggs later.|
|New England Patriots||C||Malcom Brown was an obvious choice, but it's a mishmash of odd decisions after that.|
|New Orleans Saints||A||Andrus Peat will keep Drew Brees' jersey clean, and Rob Ryan has a pair of athletic linebackers to work with, not to mention a great value with P.J. Williams in the third round.|
|New York Giants||A||Landon Collins at the top of the second is a steal. Owamagbe Odighizuwa's a typical Giants end and steal in the third round.|
|New York Jets||A||Look at the new Jets go. Leonard Williams is a perfect fit, and Bryce Petty may start despite being a fourth-round pick.|
|Oakland Raiders||A||Derek Carr gets to throw to Amari Cooper and a criminally underrated Clive Walford. Perfect draft.|
|Philadelphia Eagles||B||Nelson Agholor fits well, and Eric Rowe's a great value in Round 2. The rest was decent value.|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||A||Alvin Dupree falls in Pittsburgh's lap in the first, but the pick folks will talk about for a long time is Senquez Golson in the second.|
|San Diego Chargers||C||Melvin Gordon's a reach given the depth of the class, and the rest of the class could have been better.|
|San Francisco 49ers||B||San Francisco lined up needs and knocked them down, although Jaquiski Tartt's a bit of a reach.|
|Seattle Seahawks||C+||Frank Clark's a talent, but with a ton of baggage. Tyler Lockett fits well, but the rest of the class is mixed.|
|St. Louis Rams||C||Todd Gurley's a great pick, but it felt like the Rams were just pulling names out of a hat to fix the offensive trenches.|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||B||Pretty straightforward. Take the best quarterback in the class and then follow with two high-upside offensive linemen. The Anthony Collins nightmare is fully over.|
|Tennessee Titans||B||Since incomplete won't work, a B will have to do. Marcus Mariota needs to adjust to the pro level, and Dorial Green-Beckham's a major risk. Huge, huge reward with both, though.|
|Washington||B||Scherff was an interesting pick. Preston Smith's destined for big things.|
Draft's Best Quick Turnaround: Pittsburgh Steelers
This is why the Pittsburgh Steelers always hang around in playoff contention, folks.
Troy Polamalu's gone and the predraft depth chart at corner was a mess, so what do the Steelers do? They go out and grab Senquez Golson in the second round and Doran Grant in the fourth.
Both are amazing value. Folks might not know about Golson, but he touts elite upside and will start right away. A conclusion by NFL.com's Lance Zierlein hints at his staggering upside:
Golson has the twitch, ball skills and instincts to be an outstanding cornerback in the NFL. Despite playing so much zone in college, there is no reason to believe he can't transition to any coverage asked of him. He's well put-together, but his lack of height could force some teams to view him as a slot-only corner. Golson has Pro Bowl potential.
Heck, Pittsburgh might already have a Polamalu replacement with a seventh-round pick. Louisville's Gerod Holliman needs some time to develop, but he's a special talent.
A quote captured by Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says it all:
Notice how this hasn't even touched on the team's first-round pick, Alvin "Bud" Dupree out of Kentucky?
It should speak volumes to how great the class is. Dupree's an elite, disruptive talent who will help a defense coming off a season in which it totaled just 33 sacks.
The class as a whole, though, is what's impressive. Pittsburgh needed to keep pace in the tough AFC North and does so with a superb defensive class.
Not Head-Turning, But Effective: Miami Dolphins
After spending the offseason as one of the league's more interesting teams, the Miami Dolphins fell a bit silent on draft day.
There was no epic trade, nor did an elite running back join the roster.
Instead, the Dolphins were happy to welcome the elite wideout prospect from Louisville, DeVante Parker, aboard, a sure-handed No. 1 wideout who puts an end to the Mike Wallace nightmare in emphatic fashion.
Parker joins a depth chart featuring Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, meaning quarterback Ryan Tannehill has an impressive crop of weapons. Look ahead to the fifth round, too, where the team found running back Jay Ajayi sitting around.
|Jay Ajayi Stats|
As Ajayi's numbers over his last two seasons at Boise State show, he can be an every-down starter for the Dolphins right out of the gate.
As for defense, Jordan Phillips is the gigantic, space-eating tackle the Dolphins need next to Ndamukong Suh to form one of the league's best defensive fronts. NFL Network's Mike Mayock explained the tremendous value after the pick, per NFL.com:
"Phillips has first-round ability all over him. He can dominate at the point of attack. He controls the run game. He reminds me of Terrance Knighton. People question his football character, which is why he's being selected in the second round and not in the first."
So to summarize, in a quiet manner Miami's offense just put a serious step forward, and the defense secured the perfect complement to its best player. It's not the "wow" draft some predicted, but it might be one of the most high-impact classes of the draft.
Value Hunters: New Orleans Saints
There were odd expectations surrounding the New Orleans Saints going into the draft, too.
So it goes for a team wanting to go all-in around Drew Brees, but doing so by shipping away tight end Jimmy Graham and Stills. Still, Andrus Peat is left-tackle material and a great pick in the first round. He can play anywhere, too, which will help keep Brees' jersey clean.
Most of the Saints' attention went to the defensive side of the ball, though, which makes sense after a Rob Ryan-directed unit only tallied 34 sacks last season.
To reload the unit, the Saints scored a great value with Clemson's Stephone Anthony in the first round, who will act as an enforcer in the middle. Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha in the second round is another pass-rusher Ryan can move all over the field, and he's a complement to Junior Galette the unit missed in a big way last season.
Even the third-round gamble on Florida State corner P.J. Williams makes sense, as the team needed more bodies to run with Keenan Lewis and Brandon Browner.
The Saints even found great value in the fifth round with Davis Tull, a high-upside prospect oozing potential. ESPN's Matt Williamson sums up the move:
In the hands of a mind like Ryan and his free-for-all scheme, Tull might make an impact as a rookie.
With a wealth of incoming talent on defense thanks to a high-value class, it's going to be more difficult than ever for teams around the league to keep pace with New Orleans' aerial assault.
Right now, the class might not jump off the page, but the value and talent in Ryan's hands could shock the league in time.