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Re-Picking the 2015 NFL Draft

Saturday, March 26, 2016

 

Marcus Mariota

The bulk of this offseason's free agency agreements have been signed, sealed and delivered. If teams still have glaring weaknesses on their rosters, they'll likely turn to the upcoming draft to patch up those holes. There's still plenty of time to fret over how teams should approach the 2016 NFL Draft, however.

Instead, PointAfter looked into the rear-view mirror and evaluated how teams would react if given a chance to renege on their first-round selection of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Some mini-spoilers: Exactly half of the 2015 first-round picks remained in the top 32 selections of the re-draft. Though the majority of the top five stayed intact, there was plenty of movement thereafter — only six prospects were picked in the same slot they were originally chosen, and two undrafted players jumped into the proceedings.

Note: Teams who traded up/down in the first round will be granted the slot they traded for. For example, the Chargers moved up two spots to No. 15 in a trade with San Francisco, and will be drafting at No. 15 in this re-draft.

#1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston

 

Original No. 1 pick: Winston
Original slot for Winston: First round, No. 1 overall

No surprises here. Though Winston endured a rough beginning to his professional career, he recovered to log a 4,000-yard season and make the Pro Bowl (albeit as an alternate after a record amount of quarterbacks dropped out). The Buccaneers aren't in a position to turn their noses up at that.

#2. Tennessee Titans: QB Marcus Mariota

 

Original No. 2 pick: Mariota
Original slot for Mariota: First round, No. 2 overall

The Titans were probably even more encouraged by their rookie QB than the Bucs, as Mariota recorded better efficiency statistics across the board compared to Winston. The fact that the No. 2 overall pick missed the last four games of the season due to a knee injury shouldn't temper the optimism generated by Mariota's debut campaign.

#3. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT/DE Leonard Williams

 

Original No. 3 pick: DE Dante Fowler Jr.
Original slot for Williams: First round, No. 6 overall

The player-team relationship between Jacksonville and Fowler was inauspicious from the beginning, as the former Florida Gator tore his ACL during his first practice as a Jaguar. Though he could mature into a solid pass rusher, Jacksonville would likely jump for a safer prospect if given another shot.

It'd be a tough decision here for Jacksonville between Williams and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Marcus Peters. Ultimately, it'd be best for the Jags to take the prospect with the higher ceiling. That's still Williams, who was eased along in New York during his rookie campaign. The Jets could afford to do that, since they already have a loaded defensive line. In Jacksonville, Williams would step in and be the most talented lineman from day one.

#4. Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper

 

Original No. 4 pick: Cooper
Original slot for Cooper: First round, No. 4 overall

Though Cooper's 10 drops, tied for second-most in the NFL, partially marred his first professional season, he also showcased the dazzling athleticism and route-running skills that made him a top-five pick. Oakland's main priority is to aid the development of Derek Carr, so there's no way Oakland would choose anyone else at the No. 4 spot.

#5. Washington Redskins: CB Marcus Peters

 

Original No. 5 pick: OT/OG Brandon Scherff
Original slot for Peters: First round, No. 18 overall

The Defensive Rookie of the Year and a second-team All-Pro selection, Peters tied for the NFL lead in both interceptions (eight) and passes defensed (26). He returned two of those picks for scores and also forced a fumble. Washington could use his knack for big plays on defense, as the team tied for 21st with 11 interceptions in 2015.

#6. New York Jets: RB Todd Gurley

 

Original No. 6 pick: DT/DE Leonard Williams
Original slot for Gurley: First round, No. 10 overall

It's en vogue to treat running backs as replaceable parts, and teams are loath to spend a first-round pick on one. However, Gurley is the rare exception. Here's a guy who captured Offensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors during his debut campaign.

Furthermore, Gurley would be a perfect fit with the Jets, a run-first team. He could have been eased in last year with Chris Ivory in the fold, then handed the reins heading into 2016 with Matt Forte as a change-of-pace option rather than the No. 1 back.

#7. Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White

 

Original No. 7 pick: White
Original slot for White: First round, No. 7 overall

Even though the Bears don't know what they have in White, who missed all of last season with a stress fracture in his shin, they seem confident in the charismatic, potentially explosive contributor.

Though Chicago could certainly use help on the offensive line, the 2015 draft has yet to yield any game-changing hogs. White could team up with Alshon Jeffery to give Jay Cutler the weapons he needs to finally succeed in the Windy City.

#8. Atlanta Falcons: LB Eric Kendricks

 

Original No. 8 pick: DE/LB Vic Beasley
Original slot for Kendricks: Second round, No. 45 overall

The Falcons desperately need help in their front seven. Though Beasley played through a torn labrum to lead Atlanta with four sacks last year, he's not a three-down end even at his best. Kendricks also totaled four sacks in 2015, and would shore up a linebacking corps that is currently among the NFL's worst by providing support in both run and pass defense.

#9. New York Giants: WR Stefon Diggs

 

Original No. 9 pick: OT Ereck Flowers
Original slot for Diggs: Fifth round, No. 146 overall

The Giants have tried to shore up most of the defensive weaknesses they displayed in 2015 through free agency this offseason. But they still need a reliable complement to Odell Beckham Jr., especially after Reuben Randle signed with Philadelphia on March 23.

Victor Cruz hasn't been able to stay on the field in several years, and it'd be ill-advised to count on him as a No. 2 wideout. However, he could contribute in some manner and serve as an able mentor to Diggs, who could follow in the former's footsteps as a pesky slot receiver.

#10. St. Louis Rams: RB David Johnson

 

Original No. 10 pick: RB Todd Gurley
Original slot for Johnson: Third round, No. 86 overall

With Gurley off the board on this re-draft, the Rams sorely need a playmaker at tailback. Let's pencil in Johnson, who proved to be a versatile touchdown machine for the Cardinals down the stretch last year. With his size (6-foot-1, 225 lbs.) and speed, he'd be a burly battering ram (pun intended) for the franchise to build upon in Los Angeles if Gurley wasn't available.

#11. Minnesota Vikings: OT/OG Brandon Scherff

 

Original No. 11 pick: CB Trae Waynes
Original slot for Scherff: First round, No. 5 overall

After the Vikings' decision makers finish cursing out the Giants for taking their only legitimate receiver in Stefon Diggs, they'd settle down. Taking any of the remaining receivers would be a reach, and coach Mike Zimmer has expressed a desire for tougher offensive linemen amidst a crew that could see a lot of changes in 2016. Scherff could provide just that, along with some needed positional versatility.

Scherff was thrown into the fire from Week 1 in Washington last year, and he struggled right off the bat. However, he improved tremendously as the season went on, and is already an above-average run blocker. That's obviously important in Minnesota, where Adrian Peterson is still the focal point of the offense.

#12. Cleveland Browns: WR/KR Tyler Lockett

 

Original No. 12 pick: DT Danny Shelton
Original slot for Lockett: Third round, No. 69 overall

How do you start rebuilding a team like the Browns, who have holes nearly everywhere on the field? Conventional wisdom wouldn't say wide receiver, but Lockett is no average wideout. He's a speedy dude who could take over punt returning duties from the departed Travis Benjamin while also giving Cleveland a much-needed jolt on offense.

#13. New Orleans Saints: CB Ronald Darby

 

Original No. 13 pick: OT Andrus Peat
Original slot for Darby: Second round, No. 50 overall

Brandon Browner was an unmitigated disaster in the Saints' secondary last year. Darby, meanwhile, started 15 games for the Bills and logged 21 passes defensed, the fifth-highest total in the NFL. It's not always the best idea to draft to fill a need, but the speedy Darby (4.38 40-yard dash) would be too perfect of a fit for New Orleans to pass up.

#14. Miami Dolphins: RB Thomas Rawls

 

Original No. 14 pick: WR DeVante Parker
Original slot for Rawls: Undrafted

After filling several defensive holes via trade this offseason, the Dolphins have been on the hunt for a running back to pair with Jay Ajayi in their backfield. Why not spring for Rawls, who could be the thunder to Ajayi's lightning?

The Central Michigan product proved to be a superb replacement for Marshawn Lynch in Seattle while Beast Mode battled injuries during his final year in the league. Rawls tallied four 100-yard games in his stead and paced the NFL in yards per attempt (5.6) during his rookie year.

#15. San Diego Chargers: OG/C Mitch Morse

Mitch Morse Center 2015 NFL Draft

Original No. 15 pick: RB Melvin Gordon
Original slot for Morse: Second round, No. 49 overall

Centers are rarely drafted in the first round. However, the Chargers have reaped remarkably poor performances from the interior of their line over the last two seasons. Some of that is due to injury luck, but they haven't had much talent there to begin with.

Morse, who primarily played tackle in college, could conceivably slot in anywhere on San Diego's line. Originally drafted as a guard, he made 15 starts for the Chiefs at center last year — quite an achievement for a rookie who was just learning the ropes of their scheme.

#16. Houston Texans: OG La'el Collins

 

Original No. 16 pick: CB Kevin Johnson
Original slot for Collins: Undrafted

Collins was regarded as a top-20 talent before bizarre circumstances linked him to a double homicide right before draft day. He dropped out of the draft altogether, was cleared shortly after and signed with Dallas. He then made good on his promise, breaking through Dallas' talented front to establish himself as one of the best young interior lineman in the league.

The Texans made some of free agency's sexiest moves to fortify their offensive skill positions, but lost some talent in the trenches. Adding Collins would help fortify protection for their new offensive investments, Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller.

#17. San Francisco 49ers: DE Dante Fowler Jr.

 

Original No. 17 pick: DL Arik Armstead
Original slot for Fowler: First round, No. 3 overall

Armstead wasn't a poor pick by San Francisco by any means. But it'd be tough for the Niners to pass up on Fowler, who's basically a smaller, more athletic version of Armstead perceived to have a higher ceiling.

#18. Kansas City Chiefs: DE/LB Preston Smith

 

Original No. 18 pick: CB Marcus Peters
Original slot for Smith: Second round, No. 38 overall

Originally a defensive end in college at Mississippi State, Smith transitioned to linebacker in Washington's 3-4 scheme and led all rookies with eight sacks last year. That's including five in Washington's last three regular season games, and not counting a takedown of Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs that resulted in a safety.

He could make a similar impact for the Chiefs, whose defensive core is still rock-solid but aging. Tamba Hali has started to decline, and Smith could be his heir apparent in Kansas City.

#19. Cleveland Browns: DT Malcom Brown

 

Original No. 19 pick: C Cameron Erving
Original slot for Brown: First round, No. 32 overall

Time for the Browns to beef up after using their first selection on do-it-all wideout Tyler Lockett. Cleveland could use help everywhere, especially in the trenches, and Brown represents one of the top talents available. He's certainly an upgrade over Danny Shelton, whom they originally selected at No. 12 last summer.

Brown was regarded as a steal when the Patriots grabbed him at the end of the first round last year. He ended up being one of New England's key contributors in the trenches, and has the skills to be a three-down player.

#20. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Kevin Johnson

 

Original No. 20 pick: WR Nelson Agholor
Original slot for Johnson: First round, No. 16 overall

Johnson seamlessly stepped into the Texans' starting unit as a rookie and held his own, playing the most snaps of all their defensive backs. Philadelphia doesn't own a better cornerback on its roster after trading Byron Maxwell, so Johnson would provide the same sort of value in head coach Doug Pederson's revamped defense.

#21. Cincinnati Bengals: DE Mario Edwards Jr.

 

Original No. 21 pick: OT Cedric Ogbuehi
Original slot for Edwards: Second round, No. 35 overall

Edwards dropped out of the first round last year due to character and effort concerns. The former Florida State Seminole showed during his rookie year that his talent outweighed any perceived lack of effort he displayed during college.

Edwards looked dominant at times in Oakland, racking up 11 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack in a Week 10 matchup against Minnesota. His mean streak would play well in the Bengals' hard-nosed defense alongside All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

#22. Pittsburgh Steelers: DE/LB Vic Beasley Jr.

 

Original No. 22 pick: DE/LB Bud Dupree
Original slot for Beasley: First round, No. 8 overall

The Steelers made the right move by drafting an edge rusher last year, but Beasley would represent a slight upgrade over Dupree. As a guy who played with a torn muscle in his shoulder for the entire 2015 season, he embodies Pittsburgh's long-established identity of defensive toughness, and has plenty of room to grow.

#23. Denver Broncos: LB Shaq Thompson

 

Original No. 23 pick: DE Shane Ray
Original slot for Thompson: First round, No. 25 overall

The Broncos have lost a few defensive pieces from their Super Bowl-winning team this offseason, including leading tackler Danny Trevathan.

So, why not swipe a promising young linebacker from their Super Bowl opponents? They got a first-hand look at Thompson, who tied for third among Carolina defenders with five tackles, including one for loss, in Super Bowl 50. The 21-year-old was a full-time starter for Carolina alongside Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, and would fill a sudden need for Denver.

#24. Arizona Cardinals: DE/LB Bud Dupree

 

Original No. 24 pick: OT D.J. Humphries
Original slot for Dupree: First round, No. 22 overall

The lack of a pass rush doomed Arizona in its humiliating 49-15 dismantling in the NFC Championship. The Cardinals only sacked Cam Newton once as the reigning MVP picked apart Arizona's secondary, which wasn't at full strength due to Tyrann Mathieu's absence.

Arizona partially patched up this hole by trading for Chandler Jones in March, but could use some more help in that area as Dwight Freeney continues to age. Enter Dupree, who notched four sacks in Pittsburgh's first eight games before seemingly hitting a rookie wall. He's still a promising piece who projects as a plus defender against the run, too.

#25. Carolina Panthers: OT Donovan Smith

 

Original No. 25 pick: LB Shaq Thompson
Original slot for Smith: Second round, No. 34 overall

Smith was undervalued during the draft last year, and he might have even lasted too long in this re-draft. A left tackle who ably protected Jameis Winston for all 16 games last season, he could replace Michael Oher at the all-important left tackle position for Carolina. Oher faded as the season went on, and will only get worse as he nears age 30 in May.

#26. Baltimore Ravens: WR Dorial Green-Beckham

 

Original No. 27 pick: WR Breshad Perriman
Original slot for Green-Beckham: Second round, No. 40 overall

The Ravens' receiving corps was a joke last year. After Steve Smith was lost for the season, Kamar Aiken filled the No. 1 wideout role and a bunch of no-names dropped in line behind him.

Perriman is currently just another undersized, speedy guy on a team that has several of those types with Smith and new addition Mike Wallace. Green-Beckham is a physical specimen who fell in the draft due to character concerns, but flashed potential in Tennessee as a rookie. He averaged 17.2 yards per catch despite Marcus Mariota missing four games, and would give Baltimore's passing game a coveted downfield dimension.

#27. Dallas Cowboys: CB Byron Jones

 

Original No. 27 pick: Jones
Original slot for Jones: First round, No. 27 overall

Jones was Dallas' only above-average secondary member in 2015, so they'd happily pluck him in this spot again. A versatile defensive back who played corner at Connecticut before switching to safety for the Cowboys last season, expect Jones to stick in the Lone Star State for a long time.

#28. Detroit Lions: OT Rob Havenstein

 

Original No. 28 pick: OG Laken Tomlinson
Original slot for Havenstein: Second round, No. 57 overall

Detroit fell short of expectations last season, and the lion's share of the blame must fall on the offensive line (pun intended). The team's rushing attack gained a league-low 1,335 yards, or just 83.4 yards per game. They also ranked in the bottom 10 in sacks allowed (44).

Michael Ola is not the long-term answer at right tackle, but Havenstein could be. He didn't allow a sack in 13 starts for St. Louis while doing his part in the run game for Todd Gurley.

#29. Indianapolis Colts: S Adrian Amos

Adrian Amos 2015 NFL Draft

Original No. 29 pick: WR Philip Dorsett
Original slot for Amos: Fifth round, No. 142 overall

Amos started all 16 games for the Bears last season and made the All-Rookie Team. Though he doesn't yet possess any outstanding traits in a safety, he outperformed his draft slot and would fill a glaring need for a Colts defense that gave up 40 pass plays of at least 25 yards last season, the worst tally in the NFL.

#30. Green Bay Packers: DT Eddie Goldman

 

Original No. 30 pick: S Damarious Randall
Original slot for Goldman: Second round, No. 39 overall

Goldman can function as the fulcrum or end of a 3-4 defense, as he showed in Chicago last season. The Packers would love to steal him from their rivals, especially in the wake of B.J. Raji's retirement.

#31. New Orleans Saints: Stephone Anthony

Stephone Anthony

Original No. 31 pick: Anthony
Original slot for Anthony: First round, No. 31 overall

Though Anthony racked up a team-high 112 tackles for New Orleans, his gaudy numbers benefited from the ineptitude of the Saints' other defenders. In that sense, he's similar to Paul Worrilow of the Atlanta Falcons, a guy who's averaged more than 120 tackles during his three professional seasons but isn't regarded as someone who's particularly valuable outside that organization.

For that reason, Anthony drops to the end of the first round again, and the Saints keep a sure tackler for a defense that's starving for an influx of talent.

#32. New England Patriots: LB Kwon Alexander

Kwon Alexander

Original No. 32 pick: DT Malcom Brown
Original slot for Alexander: Fourth round, No. 124 overall

The Patriots' linebacking corps took a hit in February when Jerod Mayo announced his retirement. They could replace him with another former SEC linebacker in Alexander, who totaled 93 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in a similar 4-3 scheme for Tampa Bay last year.

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