While in Chicago I was able to attend the NFL Draft on April 30- May 2. Football fans from all across the nation gathered in Grant Park to celebrate and share the draft experience. I didn’t waste this golden opportunity however, and decided to see how the everyday guys wearing the team’s memorabilia felt about their favorite teams first round selections. I also included my own two cents about how I felt about this selection and graded each franchise accordingly. (Note: not all teams’ fans were interviewed for this story, but the ones I could hear from are included as “fan’s take”).
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B
The pick: Jameis Winston QB, FSU
Analysis: "he's the obvious choice for number 1 overall if you ask any talent evaluator out there. Prototypical size, arm strength is good, football intelligence, leadership, and the intangibles are all there for him. Off the field is a bit murkier. Several "distractions" (including a rape allegations and shoplifting) could have derailed his draft stock if not for the shallow pool of competent quarterbacks in the 2015 class. Offensive line is still suspect which could hurt a mainly pocket quarterback like Winston develop.
Fan's take: "If he can keep his nose clean, work hard, study the playbook there seems to be no reason [Winstom] can't be a successful passer for the Buccaneers. We have mike Evans and Vincent Jackson to throw to, it's up to him to make it happen."
- Tennessee Titans: B+
The pick: Marcus Mariotta QB, Oregon
Analysis: Extremely prolific college player, Heisman trophy winner as the conductor of one of the highest scoring offenses in the NCAA. Similar size to Winston but is much quicker and more elusive in the pocket as well as creating something out of nothing when everything breaks down. Questions exist because of the lack of under center snaps he took at Oregon, is more of a project than Winston. Could benefit sitting a year and learning an NFL style offense but that is unlikely to happen however because of the investment a number two overall pick brings.
Fan’s take: “I really like what I’ve seen from Mariotta as a leader off the field compared to Winston. If it were me, I’d rather have Marcus based solely off of character.”
- Jacksonville Jaguars: A-
The pick: Dante Fowler Jr. DE, Florida
Analysis: Great edge rusher, who thrives on third and long situations. Needs improvement in run defense but has promise if he hits the weight room. Will feel comfortable getting after the passer in Gus Bradley defense as he looks to tighten up a defense which allowed the second most points per game in the league.
- Oakland Raiders: A
The pick: Amari Cooper WR, Alabama
Analysis: Phenomenal route runner is as smooth as it gets for a guy his age in and out of his cuts. Has the size you want at 6’1” 200 LBS to contend for jump balls and box out smaller cornerbacks. One area of improvement would be his focus when receiving passes; 13 drops in two seasons isn’t terrible, but can cost you a couple wins at the next level.
Fan’s take: “Cooper reminds me a lot of Anquan Boldin mixed with Marvin Harrison. He seems to have the toughness of a guy like Boldin, but has the smarts and instincts of a player similar to Harrison. I’m excited to see Derek Carr and him put up some points for Oakland.
- Washington Redskins: B-
The pick: Brandon Scherff OL, Iowa
Analysis: Big, nasty kid from the Big 10 Conference who can step in immediately and find a spot on almost any offensive line spot in the league. He’s versatile and can play many positions in the trenches. Looking for a little more life on tape, but a solid run blocker nonetheless. Is a little lost at times in pass protection when the defense sends pressure outside, guard seems like a logical fit.
Fan’s take: “I wish the Redskins would have grabbed the Williams kid from USC but that’s just me. I think our defense could’ve benefitted more from this pick, but oh well.”
- New York Jets: B+
The pick: Leonard Williams DT, USC
Analysis: An absolute beast up front, many experts believe to be the best talent in the entire draft. Can seamlessly line up in a 4-3 base as a pass rushing interior tackle, or can split double teams and snuff out the run if drafted by a 3-4 preferred squad.
Fan’s take: “Great pickup! I cannot believe this monster fell to us; although it isn’t a need for the team necessarily I could see trading another lineman in order for him to fit in.”
- Chicago Bears: B
The pick: Kevin White WR, West Virginia
Analysis: Long, strong kid with speed to kill. Was a junior college transfer with only a single year of division one football experience but tore it up. Has a ton of boom or bust potential but is fortunate to land in a situation where there is already an established wide receiver to take some of the pressure off (Alshon Jeffery).
Fan’s take: “It’s not a bad pick, but our defense was historically terrible last season. Adding White helps with the loss of Brandon Marshall, but I think we would’ve been better off with a cornerback or a pass rusher.”
- Atlanta Falcons: A-
The pick: Vic Beasley DE/OLB, Clemson
Analysis: Freak athlete, put on a show at the combine with his 4.53 40 time and 35 repetitions on the bench press. He’s everything you would look for in a pass rusher. Could play standing up as a linebacker or put his hand on the ground and fire off the edge. Will probably start the season as a situational pass rusher, while learning how to set the edge in run support.
- New York Giants: C+
The pick: Ereck Flowers OL, Miami, FL
Analysis: Great run blocker for a tackle has the strength and technique to seal off his man in man on man blocking schemes. Has a mean streak and is known as being highly competitive among his teammates. His footwork needs coaching and his hand placement is suspect; when a defender beats him off the snap of the ball he tends to get a bit too grabby.
Fan’s take: “Hardly heard of the guy to be honest with you, I wished we would’ve taken a cornerback or traded back for more selections. This draft was pretty top heavy in my opinion.”
- St. Louis Rams: A-
The pick: Todd Gurley RB, Georgia
Analysis: Unique blend of size and speed that is comparable to Marshawn Lynch. Has good vision, is able to stay compact through running lanes to maximize yards gained. Rarely runs out of bounds, is always looking to finish runs. He’s missed more games than you’d like from a running back. Three in 2013 from an ankle injury and was lost due to an ACL tear in November of last season. Will need time to heal, may not be read for week 1 but the Rams have a potential star in Gurley.
Fan’s take: “It’s clear that ownership notices the business model of other teams in our division and wants to replicate that. I love the Gurley pick, I think he’s a once in a draft kind of talent. Hopefully Foles is the savior at quarterback Jeff Fisher needs to right the ship.”
- Minnesota Vikings: A-
The pick: Trae Waynes CB, Michigan State
Analysis: Waynes is a press coverage cornerback who can stick with any wide receiver deep down the field. He’s comfortable mixing it up at the line of scrimmage and can turn and run with his 4.31 speed. Will need to bulk up in order to battle it out with Alshon Jefferey, Calvin Johnson, and Jordy Nelson twice a year but is well coached. Run support was disappointing at times, hopefully Mike Zimmer can teach this prospect a thing or two.
Fan’s Take: “Deep down I was hoping for another weapon for Teddy (Bridgewater) in the passing game, but I think Waynes will be a stellar player. He’s tough, fast, smart and is willing to learn. The NFL is a passing league, and I think it was necessary to find a complement to Xavier Rhodes in the secondary.”