Tampa Bay and Tennessee: you're doing it wrong.
The 2015 NFL Draft will be defined by the careers of the top two picks, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The two quarterbacks are tasked with revitalizing two feeble franchises - immediately - and spent the weekend basking in praise and promise from every football analyst from Seattle to South Beach.
Historically, whenever there have been quarterbacks taken No. 1 and No. 2 overall one of the signal callers goes on to have a great career while the other is a dud. Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer. Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin. I think it would be an upset if Winston and Mariota follow that trend because, frankly, I don't think either one of them is going to be very good.
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Winston's character flaws aren't just off the field. He is a questionable decision maker in all facets and he looks more like a mix between Leaf and JaMarcus Russell to me than he does a franchise quarterback. His crab leg fiasco after being chosen was just the exclamation point on a decision that I think we'll be mocking within five years.
Mariota hasn't taken a snap under center since high school and is the latest in a long line of underwhelming Oregon quarterbacks. Can he learn an NFL offense? Can he complete passes to covered receivers? Nobody knows! So he was totally worth the No. 2 pick, right? The fact that the Titans could've added a veteran quarterback like Phil Rivers or Sam Bradford but chose not to will likely end up haunting this franchise.
Further, both Tampa Bay and Tennessee needed a whole lot more than a quarterback to turn things around. Just because they drafted a guy under center that doesn't mean they are going to be improved this year. Now it means that along with all the other problems that they still have on their rosters now they have to deal with the problem that a rookie quarterback brings to the table. So good luck with that.
The rest of the NFL draft was window dressing. I don't get amped up for the draft because A) there is nothing more overrated than rookie contributions in sports and B) I think more than half of the teams draft foolishly and based on false premises.
Regardless, this weekend's decisions will have long-lasting ramifications for every team in the NFL and every gambler that attempts to turn a profit on this bloodsport. So without further ado let's provide some hasty draft analysis and full-on NFL draft grades for this weekend's action:
New England (A) - Malcolm Brown fell into their laps at the end of the first round. You have to like it when that happens. The Patriots loaded up at the point of attack, and five of their first six picks were along the lines, with most coming from blueblood programs. I don't think you can ask for much more than that.
New York Jets (A-) - I liked every one of the Jets' first five picks. And that is a sentence I don't think I've ever typed before. They added two more defenders, and Devin Smith is a wild card. I also thought Bryce Petty was excellent value in the fourth round. There's really not much to say: the Jets had a good weekend.
Miami (C+) - I was noncommittal about what Miami did. DeVante Parker could be a perfect fit in their offensive system. But was wide receiver their biggest need? Their next two picks - Jordan Phillips and Jamil Douglas - did absolutely nothing for me.
Buffalo (D+) - These idiots traded their first-round pick as part of the Sammy Watkins trade. That deal looks even more ridiculous now when you consider the other wideouts that they could've drafted last year if they had just stayed pat. But then again this is the Bills we are talking about.
Cincinnati (B+) - The Bengals are another team that have quietly had very solid drafts the past four years, and they have gotten good at recognizing and developing raw talent. They used their first four picks on big guys on both sides of the ball, which I love. And as long as they hit on one of the two offensive linemen this draft will be a success.
Baltimore (A-) - I am just giving Ozzie Newsome an A or A- every year. He deserves it. Baltimore has consistently dominated the draft, and they excel at finding mid-round gems that fit their system perfectly. I am interested to see how Maxx Williams pans out for them.
Pittsburgh (B+) - They needed defense. They drafted defense. Now the Steelers need to prove that they can develop some of this talent. Because over the last few years I think they've had drafts comparable to this one only to see their selections underperform. I think it is a coaching issue more than a front office issue.
Cleveland (B) - This draft was quieter than Browns fans wanted. But that's a good thing. They used four of their top five picks on big guys. That gets thumbs up from me. And Duke Johnson has a world of potential in the backfield. Ibraheim Campbell, a safety from Northwestern, is another player to keep an eye on.
Indianapolis (C-) - The Colts just continue to throw resources into propping up Andrew Luck. They only had one pick in the first 64, and they used it on an injury-prone receiver. They scrambled and used their next four picks on defense (although D'Juon Smith is a bit of a reach). But that's the only thing that saved them from a D.
Houston (B+) - I like what Houston did here. Now they just need the guys to go out and perform. They took two more defensive players with their top two picks and just continue to load up on that side of the ball. Jaelen Strong is really indistinguishable from a lot of the other wideouts that went in the first four rounds. But I mean that as a compliment; I think Houston got solid value on him in Round 3.
Tennessee (F) - If any of the rumors about what the Titans could've gotten for the No. 2 pick are true then these guys are idiots. They cast their lot with Mariota. But he is third quarterback that they have wasted a Top 10 pick on in the last decade! That's awful! If I were the Titans I would've made a deal for Rivers and a No. 1 pick. That would've been more than enough. But the fact that they didn't get anything but a highly-questionable quarterback means that they failed to make their team better in either the short or the long term.
Jacksonville (B) - The Jaguars went after a running back too early. I like T.J. Yeldon, and he fits the trapping scheme that Jacksonville wants to run. But I felt like if they were going to go for it with a skill position guy it should've been at receiver. The guys to watch in this draft are A.J. Cann and James Sample. And the Jaguars better have been right by taking Dante Fowler over Leonard Williams or it will haunt them.
San Diego (B-) - The Chargers only had five picks. And they committed the cardinal sin of taking a running back in the first round. But I still give them a ton of credit because they left the weekend with Philip Rivers still under center. Also, I think Denzel Perryman has a lot of upside and should be a strong starter for them over the next several years.
Denver (C-) - They definitely took a big gamble on Shane Ray. But the bottom line is that the Broncos know they have a one-year Super Bowl window and they took a chance on a guy that they feel could have an instant impact. That's not really a smart way to run a franchise, though. I did like the Lorenzo Doss pick in Round 5. He's a long shot, but I'll be rooting for him.
Oakland (B+) - Normally I am mocking the Raiders for a first round offensive skill position player reach. But I have to say that I really liked the Amari Cooper pick. The guy is a beast. He fits a need, and I don't think they expect the world from him right away. The Raiders went long on big-time athletes from the Florida schools. That puts the onus on the coaching staff to mold that athleticism into something.
Kansas City (C+) - Andy Reid loves going after offensive and defensive linemen with his top picks, so I was a touch surprised that they grabbed a cornerback. But it is an area they had to address, and they did so aggressively. I thought that Chris Conley was a huge reach in Round 3, and if they wanted to go after a receiver there were a lot of better options.
Dallas (B-) - Well, the Cowboys are all-in on Character Guys now, aren't they? Randy Gregory is one of the strangest stories of the draft. But there's no denying his talent, and if this guy can figure things out mentally (and I hope he does) then he could be a steal. Byron Jones has a lot of upside. But I think they need to pick a position for him and developing him as either a corner or a safety. He can't be both.
Philadelphia (C-) - The biggest disappointment for the Eagles is that for all the talk and the hype about what moves they would make they weren't able to pull anything off. I'm not in love with Nelson Agholor in the first round because I feel Chip Kelly has a plug-and-play offense. I think they would've been better off grabbing some help in the secondary (which, admittedly, they did with their next pick) or along the offensive line.
New York Giants (C) - I don't think that Ereck Flowers is going to become the player the Giants are hoping for here and I think he has the potential to be a huge bust for this team. I did like their next two picks though, as Landon Collins and Owamagbe Odighizuwa both fit the profile of NFL players.
Washington (B+) - I liked Washington's first-round pick and I really liked the Preston Smith selection at the top of Round 2. They did what I scream that every team should do with their top two picks: grab the biggest, meanest, nastiest guys along the lines that you can. My only knock is that if they wanted a running back I felt they could've done better than the underwhelming Jones. In fact, I though he was a reach overall. But on the whole things didn't look that bad for this perpetual underachiever. Of course, Daniel Snyder will quickly infect these guys with his bile, so who knows how this will look a few years from now.
Minnesota (B-) - I'm going to give Mike Zimmer a little leeway here. Trae Waynes is a boom-or-bust pick. But they desperately needed secondary help. Zimmer was instrumental in developing all that defensive talent in Cincinnati, and he used his first three picks on that side of the ball. If Stefon Diggs can ever stay healthy he could be a fifth-round steal.
Green Bay (A-) - I don't know that Brett Hundley will be around long enough to pay dividends for this team (Aaron Rodgers still has a lot of great years left). But I thought they absolutely stole him in Round 5. I think Ty Montgomery was an excellent pick in the third round, and they aggressively addressed an area of need with their first two selections in the secondary. Look, I rarely give a grade this good for a team that doesn't take any linemen. But I thought the Packers played the hand they were dealt perfectly.
Chicago (D) - I'm calling it right now that Kevin White is going to be a bust. He was a one-year wonder in the pass-crazy Big 12. Big deal. The Bears have fielded the two worst defenses in franchise history the past two seasons. For some reason they are switching to a 3-4 defense despite being woefully short on linebackers. Instead of taking Vic Beasley, who could be an impact guy and fits a gaping need, they drafted a receiver that will eventually take his place in Chicago's WR graveyard.
Detroit (B+) - By trading down and adding Denver linemen Manny Ramirez, and then eventually taking Duke guard Laken Tomlinson, the Lions may have added two offensive line starters with one pick. They couldn't do much better than that.
New Orleans (C+) - I liked what the Saints did early in the draft. They have serious salary cap issues so they didn't reach for anyone and took two guys, Andrus Peat and Stephone Anthony, which could be productive starters for them within the next three years. The Garrett Grayson pick was a huge reach, though. That guy will never be an NFL quarterback and that was a wasted pick.
Atlanta (B+) - The Falcons desperately needed a pass rusher, and Vic Beasley fell into their laps. Their next three picks were solid also, although I was surprised to see them grab a running back so early. I have no idea how Thomas Dimitroff still has a job. But he had a decent weekend mainly because this was his quietest draft yet.
Carolina (C+) - Carolina's draft wasn't nearly as bad as some people have proclaimed. They just didn't have a ton of picks to work with. Shaq Thompson will make or break this draft for them. They got Newton some token receiving help, and I think Daryl Williams may end up starting for them. I don't think that's a good thing, but I do think he could become a reliable player in time.
Tampa Bay (D) - I couldn't help but make a straight-line connection between two of the biggest "winners" of the weekend: Jameis Winston and Floyd Mayweather. These are two of the most despicable, vile, detestable human beings in sports (or anywhere else). But there they were - an alleged rapist and an unrepentant woman beater - preening and prancing this weekend and enjoying the riches and adulation that comes from being sports royalty. Our society is doomed.
Forget the fact that Winston is a scumbag. I just don't think he's going to be any good. I think he is Cam Newton if Cam Newton couldn't run. That's not a good thing. Winston is a turnover machine, and I don't think he'll have a good NFL career at all. Caveat emptor, Buccaneers.
Arizona (B) - The Cardinals kept it simple and efficient. They avoided a pratfall by not taking a running back early. Instead they beefed up the offensive and defensive lines. More teams need to take notes because that's exactly what the draft is for.
San Francisco (C-) - I don't know what the 49ers were doing in this draft. But that's par for the course since I have no idea what they were doing this entire offseason. This franchise is a glorious mess right now. They bought four lottery tickets with their top five picks. So this draft could end up looking outstanding if a couple guys ever reach their potential.
Seattle (B+) - You have to factor the addition of Jimmy Graham into Seattle's draft. And while I think that Max Unger was underrated, adding Graham completely changes the complexion of the Seahawks offense. I was a big fan of the Tyler Lockett selection, and I thought he slipped further than he should've. I found it interesting that they took two Oregon State defenders late. Think Pete Carroll, with his Pac-12 ties, knows something most don't? I do.
St. Louis (C-) - Maybe Todd Gurley will return at 100 percent and be the factor at running back that everyone thinks he could be. But after just going through the heartbreak of repeated knee injuries with Sam Bradford was Gurley worth the risk? I don't think so, especially when you consider the resources they've poured into their backfield the past few years. The only thing that may salvage this draft was their dedication to grabbing offensive linemen. I'm always a fan of that strategy.
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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