Now that the regular season is over and there are only two teams left in contention for the Super Bowl, fans of the other 30 teams have turned most of their attention to the upcoming NFL Draft. Over the next few months, you will see players get measured and put onto big boards by hundreds of different analysts, and we won’t know who goes where until draft day arrives.
Before we turn our attention to the 2016 NFL Draft, and now that the season has almost come to an end, we want to take a look back at the 2015 NFL Draft and the first round in particular. There were a lot of stars that came out of last year’s draft that made instant impact with their teams, but where would they go in the draft if teams had an option to do it all over again?
Here is a look at last year’s draft, and who the 32 teams in the first round would have selected if they were able to get a second choice. Some of the teams would have stood pat while others would have changed plans dramatically.
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32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jameis Winston, QB - Florida State)
Original Pick - Jameis Winston, QB (Florida State)
There is little doubt that if given another chance, the Buccaneers would stick with their original pick in Jameis Winston. The franchise was in desperate need of a quarterback, and Winston showed that he certainly has the potential to fill that role. In 2015, Winston threw for 4,042 yards with 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Winston also added 213 rushing yards and six touchdowns as the Bucs improved from 2-14 to to 6-10.
31 Tennessee Titans (Marcus Mariota, QB - Oregon)
Original Pick - Marcus Mariota, QB (Oregon)
The Titans found themselves in a similar situation as the Buccaneers after the 2014 season, looking for a franchise quarterback. There were a lot of people that thought Marcus Mariota wouldn’t be able to handle that role, but he did look impressive in his rookie season. Mariota threw for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and also rushed for two touchdowns and 252 yards. Mariota will be recovering from an injury this offseason, but should bounce back in 2016.
30 Jacksonville Jaguars (Leonard Williams, DE - USC)
Original Pick - Dante Fowler, LB (Florida)
Dante Fowler was the original pick, but unfortunately suffered a season ending injury in his first practice with the Jaguars. We’re not sure what to expect of Fowler, and there is still potential that he will have a fantastic first season, but it’s hard to ignore what Leonard Williams did in his rookie year. Williams finished with 63 total tackles and three sacks, and was one of the steals in the first part of the draft for the Jets.
29 Oakland Raiders (Amari Cooper, WR - Alabama)
Original Pick - Amari Cooper, WR (Alabama)
Coming into 2015, second year quarterback Derek Carr needed some weapons to help the Raiders offense excel, and they found one in Amari Cooper. Cooper was a big part of the Raiders offense in his first season as he finished with 72 receptions, 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. There is no doubt that the organization and their fans are happy with what Cooper has done so far.
28 Washington Redskins (Ronald Darby, CB - Florida State)
Original Pick - Brandon Scherff, OT (Iowa)
Brandon Scherff has proven to be a solid player as a guard for the Redskins, but so far doesn’t seem to be worth a top five pick. The lack of depth in the Redskins secondary became very apparent in the postseason against Green Bay as they were picked apart by Aaron Rodgers. Had they drafted a standout like Ronald Darby in the first round, they would have had a bona fide starter from day one and bolstered their depth.
27 New York Jets (Mario Edwards, Jr., DE - Florida State)
Original Pick - Leonard Williams, DE (USC)
The Jets would certainly love to draft Leonard Williams all over again, but he is already off the board in our re-draft. To fill his spot, the Jets would likely select the next available player at his position, Mario Edwards Jr. Edwards Jr. was selected with the 35th overall pick by the Raiders, and finished his rookie season with 42 total tackles with two sacks and three forced fumbles. A neck injury sidelined him at the end of the regular season, but it shouldn’t hurt his development.
26 Chicago Bears (Marcus Peters, CB - Washington)
Original Pick - Kevin White, WR (West Virginia)
The Bears are in the same boat in this draft as the Jaguars since their first round pick didn’t get to see the field before suffering a serious injury. Knowing what the Bears know now, they might have secured another cornerback to put alongside Kyle Fuller in a division where every team is trying to stop the Green Bay offense. Marcus Peters would have been a good pick for that, as he finished with a league high eight interceptions for the Chiefs.
25 Atlanta Falcons (Vic Beasley, LB - Clemson)
Original Pick - Vic Beasley, LB (Clemson)
The Atlanta Falcons needed someone to help with their pass rush at the eighth overall selection, and took Vic Beasley out of Clemson to play defensive end. Although he wasn’t exactly a world beater in 2015 with just four sacks, an interception and 26 total tackles, he did it all with a torn labrum. There was a lot of potential there for Beasley to become a better pass rusher, so the Falcons might want to give him a second chance.
24 New York Giants (Todd Gurley, RB - Georgia)
Original Pick - Ereck Flowers, OT (Miami, FL)
The Giants weren’t exactly off base in selecting Ereck Flowers as he had a fine rookie season, but it was painfully obvious in 2015 that their rushing game needed a lot of work. An instant upgrade to their attack would have been Todd Gurley, who ran for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in his rookie season. The Giants finished 19th in rushing yards per game, and Gurley would have put them much higher in the rankings.
23 St. Louis Rams (Thomas Rawls, RB - Central Michigan)
Original Pick - Todd Gurley, RB (Georgia)
The Rams have been more than pleased with Todd Gurley’s development after coming off of a major injury, but in our re-draft, he was just taken by the Giants. With that said, the Rams might want to stick with their plans of drafting a running back, and the second best selection would have been Thomas Rawls from Central Michigan, who went undrafted. For the Seahawks, Rawls had 830 yards on just 147 carries and four touchdowns, and also appears to be the franchise’s running back of the future.
22 11. Minnesota Vikings (Tyler Lockett, WR - Kansas State)
Original Pick - Trae Waynes, CB (Michigan State)
The Vikings needed an upgrade at cornerback before the season, but Trae Waynes didn’t wow anybody in that role. The 11th overall pick could have been an opportunity to land a weapon for Teddy Bridgewater, and the surprising Tyler Lockett would have been a fine choice. For the Seahawks, Lockett had 664 yards with six touchdowns, and was one of the best special teams performers in the league. Stefon Diggs was good in his rookie season, but Lockett was just a little better.
21 Cleveland Browns (La’el Collins, OT - LSU)
Original Pick - Danny Shelton, DT (Washington)
Cleveland took Danny Shelton with the 12th overall pick, and he has shown flashes of being a solid nose tackle, but the priority should have lied in protecting the carousel of quarterbacks. Austin Davis, Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown took 53 total sacks in 2015, which would have been the most in the league if they all congealed into one awful quarterback. Undrafted rookie La’el Collins would have been an instant upgrade on the offensive line as he started 10 games for the Cowboys, who have a much better unit.
20 New Orleans Saints (Byron Jones, CB - UConn)
Original Pick - Andrus Peat, OT (Stanford)
Andrus Peat has not been a bad selection for the Saints, but their need of players in the secondary was so glaring that it could blind you. The Saints gave up 284 passing yards per game and 413.8 total yards per game, both of which were 31st in the league. Byron Jones could have started from day one for the Saints, especially over Brandon Browner. Jones didn’t have any interceptions, but definitely made his presence known and is very versatile.
19 Miami Dolphins (Ereck Flowers, OT - Miami, FL)
Original Pick - DeVante Parker, WR (Louisville)
Now that you have seen what Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry can do for the Dolphins, a third receiver seemed like kind of a waste with the 14th overall pick. Instead, the Dolphins really needed someone to help protect Ryan Tannehill, who was sacked 45 times in 2015, good for third most in the league. Ereck Flowers of the Giants would have been a safer pick, and it showed as Eli Manning was sacked 18 fewer times than Tannehill.
18 San Diego Chargers from San Francisco (Brandon Scherff, OT - Iowa)
Original Pick - Melvin Gordon, RB (Wisconsin)
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen Melvin Gordon come close to reaching his ceiling in the NFL yet, and a lot of that has to do with just how bad the Chargers offensive line was in 2015. The Chargers would have been smart to wait a year for a running back and bolster their run blocking game, and Brandon Scherff could have done that. Scherff is also durable, only missing one snap in 2015, and that was because his shoe fell off. Healthy offensive linemen have been a rarity in San Diego for a while now.
17 Houston Texans (David Johnson, RB - Northern Iowa)
Original Pick - Kevin Johnson, CB (Wake Forest)
You can’t really predict injuries, but you can expect a running back to not play much past the age of 30, especially one that has had as much wear on the tires as Arian Foster. Once Foster went down, the Texans run game struggled with a few different backs coming in, but that problem could have been solved quickly with David Johnson. Johnson was drafted 86th overall by Arizona, and looks to be their future workhorse as he had a total of 1,038 yards and 12 touchdowns, and some think he is the next Matt Forte.
16 San Francisco 49ers from San Diego (Stefon Diggs, WR - Maryland)
Original Pick - Arik Armstead, DE (Oregon)
Arik Armstead was pretty inconsistent for the 49ers in his rookie season and hardly made an impact for the defense. While the defense as a whole didn’t impress, there was a more glaring need on the offense, especially in the passing game that finished 29th in the league. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith were mediocre at best, and a re-draft could have seen them pick up Stefon Diggs out of Maryland, a fifth round pick for the Vikings out of Maryland that finished with 720 yards and four touchdowns.
15 Kansas City Chiefs (Andrus Peat, T - Stanford)
Original Pick - Marcus Peters, CB (Washington)
Certainly, the Chiefs would love to have Marcus Peters again, but in the re-draft he has already been selected. The Chiefs could have used some help on the offensive line as their tackles (especially Eric Fisher), haven’t lived up to expectations. Alex Smith was sacked 45 times in 2015, tied for the third most. Andrus Peat from Stanford is still available in our re-draft, so Kansas City seems like a good landing spot.
14 Cleveland Browns from Buffalo (Landon Collins, S - Alabama)
Original Pick - Cameron Erving, C (Florida State)
Surely the Browns had a bigger need at 19th overall than Cameron Erving. In 2015, the Browns finished 27th in total defense, allowing 379.2 yards per game. Landon Collins, the 33rd overall pick by the Giants, wasn’t able to help New York avoid the cellar in terms of total defense, but it was clear he still had an impact. Collins is a great tackler, finishing with 112 total tackles and was strong in run defense, which the Browns weren’t.
13 Philadelphia Eagles (Laken Tomlinson, G - Duke)
Original Pick - Nelson Agholor, WR (USC)
The final first round pick in the Chip Kelly era, Nelson Agholor was a dud in his rookie season, and it’s unclear how he will fit in the team’s future plans. With only 283 yards and one touchdown, helping the offensive line would have been a better bet. Allen Barbre should not be in a starting lineup (just ask Packers fans), so a guard like Laken Tomlinson is an instant upgrade. Tomlinson wasn’t flashy with the Lions in 2015, but he was better than anything the Eagles had.
12 Cincinnati Bengals (Preston Smith, LB - Mississippi State)
Original Pick - Cedric Ogbuehi, OT (Texas A&M)
There is still a good chance that Cedric Ogbuehi is the right tackle of the future for the Bengals, but the sample size isn’t big enough to suggest that it’s a sure thing. After seeing the emergence of Redskins linebacker Preston Smith in the later parts of the 2015 season, he would probably have bumped himself into the first round and Cincinnati would be a good spot for him. Smith finished the season with eight sacks and four forced fumbles as the Redskins improved dramatically to win the NFC East.
11 Pittsburgh Steelers (Bud Dupree, LB - Kentucky)
Original Pick - Bud Dupree, LB (Kentucky)
This late in the first round, you can consider yourself lucky if you get someone that can play every game and also start. That’s what the Steelers got from Bud Dupree out of Kentucky, who finished with four sacks. He tailed off a bit toward the end of the season in terms of production, but the future does look bright. Considering the success the Steelers have had with linebackers over the years, there’s a good chance that Dupree could become a star in the coming years.
10 Denver Broncos from Detroit (Shane Ray, LB - Missouri)
Original Pick - Shane Ray, DE (Missouri)
The Broncos took a chance in the 2015 NFL Draft by trading up for Shane Ray out of Missouri at 23rd overall. Ray was thought to be a top five talent with a fourth round head, so the Broncos were hoping to get the former out of him. Ray filled in for Demarcus Ware when he was injured, and they have long term plans for Ray, so they probably would have done it again. Ray finished his rookie season with four sacks and will eventually be their starter.
9 Arizona Cardinals (T.J. Yeldon, RB - Alabama)
Original Pick - D.J. Humphries, OT (Florida)
D.J. Humphries hasn’t seen the field for the Cardinals in 2015, so if they were to do the draft all over again, they would probably want David Johnson in the first round. Since he has already been selected, another young running back would fit the bill and T.J. Yeldon isn’t a bad consolation prize. The 36th overall pick, Yeldon played in 12 games for Jacksonville and still had more than 1,000 total yards with three touchdowns.
8 Carolina Panthers (Danielle Hunter, DE - LSU)
Original Pick - Shaq Thompson, LB (Washington)
After watching the 2015 season, it’s clear that the Panthers don’t have a lot of holes in their roster. They took Shaq Thompson with the 25th overall pick, and it looks like he may have been a second round talent so far. With an aging Jared Allen on the squad, a defensive end would have been a better selection, and third rounder Danielle Hunter of the Vikings would have been better suited in the role. Hunter finished his rookie season with six sacks and a forced fumble as the Vikings reached the playoffs.
7 Baltimore Ravens (Kevin Johnson, CB - Wake Forest)
Original Pick - Breshad Perriman, WR (UCF)
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see what Breshad Perriman could do in the Ravens offense in 2015 as a knee injury ended his season before it started. While he still might be a good receiver in the future, they could have gotten an instant impact from Kevin Johnson out of Wake Forest. Johnson was the 16th overall pick by Houston, and could have been a good complement for the Ravens secondary. Johnson had 54 tackles with nine pass deflections and an interception in his rookie year.
6 Dallas Cowboys (Damarious Randall, CB - Arizona State)
Original Pick - Byron Jones, CB (UConn)
Byron Jones was a solid cornerback for the Cowboys in his first year, but he went to the Saints with the 13th overall pick in the re-draft. If Dallas was still looking to add to their pass defense that finished fifth with Jones in the secondary, Damarious Randall (the 30th overall pick) would have been a good replacement. Randall had three interceptions in the regular season for the Packers, and added another one in the postseason and also finished with 58 combined tackles.
5 Detroit Lions from Denver (Donovan Smith, OT - Penn State)
Original Pick - Laken Tomlinson, G (Duke)
Laken Tomlinson has had solid value for the Lions so far at the 28th overall spot, and in our re-draft he is already with the Eagles. Matthew Stafford was still sacked 44 times in 2015, so offensive line would have been a need either way. LaAdrian Waddle did not have a good season at right tackle for Detroit, and Donovan Smith from Penn State would have been a possible upgrade. Smith was the 34th overall pick and started all 16 games for Tampa Bay.
4 Indianapolis Colts (Eddie Goldman, DT - Florida State)
Original Pick - Phillip Dorsett, WR (Miami, FL)
Selecting Phillip Dorsett with the 29th overall pick left a lot of people scratching their heads. With Andre Johnson, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief already on the roster, it didn’t seem like there was a spot for Dorsett. Running a 3-4 defense, the Colts surely could have used a nose tackle, and Eddie Goldman could have started right away. For the Bears, Goldman (the 39th overall pick) had 4.5 sacks and 22 combined tackles in his first season.
3 Green Bay Packers (Danny Shelton, DT - Washington)
Original Pick - Damarious Randall, S (Arizona State)
After a strong showing, the Packers would probably bring Damarious Randall back since he was certainly worth the 30th overall pick. Since he went to Dallas in the re-draft, the Packers might have considered finding an eventual replacement for B.J. Raji since he was only in a one-year deal. Shelton would have been a decent alternative, who finished with 36 combined tackles from the nose tackle position.
2 New Orleans Saints from Seattle (Quinten Rollins, CB - Miami, OH)
Original Pick - Stephone Anthony, LB (Clemson)
The Saints already took a cornerback earlier in the re-draft, but one wouldn’t have been enough. Stephone Anthony was a decent player with 112 combined tackles, but that secondary certainly needed more help. Quinten Rollins of the Packers, who was selected 62nd overall, proved that he could be a starter with the right situation, and New Orleans would have been that situation. Rollins finished with a sack and a pair of interceptions to help the Packers clinch a Wild Card spot.
1 New England Patriots (Kwon Alexander, LB - LSU)
Original Pick - Malcom Brown, DT (Texas)
Malcom Brown has been a decent player for the Patriots so far in his rookie season, but in terms of value, Kwon Alexander would have been a better selection. Alexander was drafted in the fourth round and missed four games due to a suspension, but still had 93 tackles with three sacks and a pair of both forced fumbles and interceptions. The 12 game production alone would get Alexander back into the first round.
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