2015 NFL Draft Redo

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE Danielle Hunter (LSU)

After 5 seasons, the jury is still out on the quarterback the Buccaneers took here, Jameis Winston, which is not what you want from a quarterback you select first overall. With Winston set to hit free agency, the Buccaneers are exploring all other quarterback options and seem to view Winston as a last resort. Unfortunately, there isn’t a sure fire franchise quarterback in this draft worth taking #1 overall, so the Buccaneers address another need, by adding arguably the best overall player from this draft class. 

Hunter was just a third round selection, but he has 54.5 sacks and a 13.4% pressure rate in 78 career games and has been as good as any pass rusher in the league over the past 2 seasons, with 29 sacks, 3rd in the NFL. Also a good run defender, Hunter is coming off the best overall season of his career in 2019, finishing 8th among edge defenders on Pro Football Focus, and he doesn’t even turn 26 until October. 

2. Tennessee Titans – OT Trent Brown (Florida)

Like the Buccaneers, the jury is still out on the quarterback the Titans selected here, Marcus Mariota, who the Titans are fully expected to let hit free agency this off-season. Without a good quarterback option here, the Titans address a big need at right tackle with Trent Brown. They eventually fixed their right tackle problem with the 8th overall pick in 2016 Jack Conklin, but taking Brown a year earlier would have allowed the Titans to use that pick elsewhere. Brown was just a 7th round pick originally due to weight concerns, but he’s stayed in shape and has developed into one of the best right tackles in the league. In a draft class that lacks many elite players, he’d make sense even as high as #2 overall. 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – DT Grady Jarrett (Clemson)

The Jaguars’ original pick Dante Fowler eventually developed into a solid player with the Rams, but he was never worth this pick for the Jaguars and only returned a 3rd and 5th round pick via trade. With Hunter off the board, there isn’t a top flight edge rusher available here for the Jaguars, but with Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell coming in subsequent off-seasons, defensive end hasn’t been a need for the Jaguars in recent years, which is part of why they let Fowler go.

Instead, they fill a need at defensive tackle with Grady Jarrett, who is one of the best all-around defensive tackles in the NFL, despite only being a 5th round pick originally. He’s finished 16th, 6th, and 3rd respectively on Pro Football Focus among interior defenders on PFF in the past 3 seasons, dominating as a run stuffer, ranking 3rd in the NFL among defensive tackles with 35 tackles for a loss, and totalling 17.5 sacks, 30 hits, and a 9.4% pressure rate in 46 games.  

4. Oakland Raiders – CB Marcus Peters (Washington)

The way Peters plays sometimes, he could arguably go off the board #1 in this re-draft, but he’s been inconsistent enough to already be on his 3rd team in 5 seasons in the league. He struggled so much with the Rams that they got rid of him in what amounted to a salary dump, only to watch him be one of the top cornerbacks in the league for a dominant Ravens defense the rest of the year. He’s finished 16th, 14th, and 4th among cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus in 2016, 2017, and 2019 respectively, but also 99th in 2018.

The Raiders are the kind of team willing to take the good with the bad with a player like Peters, who is originally from the Oakland area and would be a big help for a team that has had significant cornerback problems for years. Amari Cooper wasn’t a bad choice by the Raiders here originally, but considering they ended up trading him 3 and a half years later, albeit for a future first round pick, it’s likely they’d go another direction in a re-draft.

5. Washington Redskins – G Brandon Scherff (Iowa)

The Redskins have been pretty happy with their original selection of Scherff here, aside from a few injuries (15 games missed over the past 3 seasons). He’s finished in the top-27 among guards on Pro Football Focus in all 5 seasons in the league, including top-7 finishes in 2017 and 2019. He made 12.525 million on his 5th year option last season and could set a new high for the position with 14+ million annually with a new deal in free agency this off-season. He’s a candidate for the 14.915 million dollar franchise tag for a Redskins team that doesn’t want to lose one of their few building blocks on offense. 

6. New York Jets – RB Todd Gurley (Georgia)

Todd Gurley was a tough one to place. He’s played like an MVP at times, but he plays a position with a short shelf life and just five years into his career he already has significant injury and durability concerns and is signed to an increasingly bad looking 4-year, 57.5 million dollar deal that has already paid him 15 million in new money even though it technically hasn’t even started yet. There are also concerns about how he would perform without all of the talent around him on the Rams’ offense. Without an obvious other option, the Jets take a chance at 6, hope to get a few great years from him, and maybe would be wise enough with full hindsight to let him walk at the end of his rookie deal. 

7. Chicago Bears – WR Amari Cooper (Alabama)

It’s crazy to think the debate for top wide receiver in this draft class was between Amari Cooper and Kevin White, who originally went 7th overall to the Bears after Cooper went 4th to the Raiders. White suffered a series of career disrupting injuries and ended up with 25 catches in 14 games with the Bears, while Cooper, though he hasn’t always played at 100% through injuries of his own, has averaged a 71/1019/7 slash line in 5 seasons in the league and is coming off of a career best at 79/1189/8, putting him 8th in the NFL in receiving yards last season. The Cowboys are unlikely to let him hit free agency this off-season, but he figures to get a massive payday either way. He would be a dream selection for a Bears team that has still had issues at the wide receiver position to this day. 

8. Atlanta Falcons – DE Trey Flowers (Arkansas)

The Falcons originally used this draft pick on Vic Beasley, who had 15.5 sacks in 2016, but otherwise had a very disappointing tenure in Atlanta. Even in that 2016 season, he struggled mightily against the run and his peripheral pass rush stats (4 hits, 11.9% pressure rate) were not as good as his sack total. Overall, Beasley had just 37.5 sacks, 18 hits, and a 9.6% pressure rate in 78 games with the Falcons, while offering little in run support, and he’s not expected to be brought back as a free agent this off-season. 

Flowers, on the other hand, has never had a big sack total, with his career high being 7.5, but he has strong peripheral pass rush numbers and is stout against the run. Over the past 3 seasons, he has 21 sacks, 46 hits, and a 13.5% pressure rate and was rewarded last off-season by the Lions with a 5-year, 90 million dollar deal in free agency. The Lions struggled defensively in Flowers’ first season in town, but he was Pro Football Focus’ 21st ranked edge defender, so he wasn’t to blame for their struggles. 

9. New York Giants – S Landon Collins (Alabama)

Collins had an unceremonious exit from the Giants last off-season with new GM Dave Gettleman in town, but he had a good 4 years with the team and is one of the better safeties in the league. The Giants originally got him in the second round, but take him 9th overall in this re-draft, rather than wasting this pick on mega-bust Ereck Flowers. Collins maxed out as Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked safety in 2016 for the Giants.

10. St. Louis Rams – WR Stefon Diggs (Maryland)

It’s hard to imagine given the receiving corps the Rams have now, but back in their St. Louis days, the Rams annually had among the worst receiving corps in the league for years. Stefon Diggs was just a 5th round pick in this draft originally, but he had an impressive 52/720/4 slash line as a rookie and has averaged a 78/976/7 slash line in 4 seasons since, despite sharing targets with top receiver Adam Theilen. If the Rams had taken him here, he could have given them a #1 receiver sooner and would have saved them from spending a first round pick to acquire Brandin Cooks. 

11. Minnesota Vikings – S Adrian Amos (Penn State)

The Vikings had two of their later picks already go in the top-10 in this re-draft (Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs), but they can at least upgrade on their original pick Trae Waynes. Waynes hasn’t been a bad cornerback, but the Vikings used a second round pick on a cornerback in 2016 (Mackenzie Alexander) and a first round pick on a cornerback in 2018 (Mike Highes) after taking Waynes in the first in 2015, so he certainly didn’t solve their cornerback problem, and, now a free agent, he’s not expected to return and could be replaced by yet another highly drafted cornerback this off-season.

In this re-draft, the Vikings take a safety instead, adding another talented safety to play alongside Harrison Smith. Drafting Amos, who originally fell to the Bears in the 5th round, would keep him from one divisional rival and potentially from another, the Packers, if the Vikings were able to sign him long-term after his rookie deal. An underrated player, Amos has been a top-32 safety on Pro Football Focus in all 5 seasons in the league, including 3 seasons in the top-17 and a career best 3rd ranked finish in 2017.

12. Cleveland Browns – DE Frank Clark (Michigan)

The Browns went with a defensive tackle here originally, taking Danny Shelton, but I thought defensive end was a more pressing need. Shelton never panned out any way, nor did Nate Orchard, the defensive end they selected in the 2nd round, who had just 5 sacks in 34 games with the Browns. The Browns didn’t have a single pass rusher with more than 6 sacks in either 2015 or 2016 and, while the addition of Myles Garrett #1 overall in 2017 certainly helped, they could have used another talented defensive end opposite him. Adding Clark here saves them from having to trade their top offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler to acquire Olivier Vernon before the 2019 season.

Originally a second round selection, Clark has 41 sacks, 37 hits, and a 12.2% pressure rate over the past 4 seasons, while playing also playing the run well. He could have gone in the top-10, but I dropped him a little because of off-the-field concerns. He’s stayed out of trouble as a professional and earned a 5-year, 104 million dollar deal from the Chiefs last off-season, but his troubling history in college was why he fell out of the first round originally and some teams might still not view him as an option for that reason.

13. New Orleans Saints – MLB Eric Kendricks (UCLA)

The Saints blew chances to get Drew Brees another shot at a ring in 2014, 2015, 2016 when they supported when with arguably the worst defense in the league every season. They eventually made some significant upgrades on their defense, but they needed help in all three levels in 2015 and instead used this pick on offensive lineman Andrus Peat, who turned out to be an inconsistent and injury prone starter in 5 seasons with the team. 

In this re-draft, they take the top defensive player available, Eric Kendricks. Kendricks has made 70 starts in 5 seasons in the league and, while he was a solid if unspectacular starter for the first 4 seasons, he is coming off of a dominant 2019 campaign in which he finished as Pro Football Focus’ 1st ranked linebacker. He’s an obvious upgrade over Stephone Anthony, a megabust linebacker that the Saints drafted 31st overall in 2015 later in the first round.

14. Miami Dolphins – G Shaq Mason (Georgia Tech)

The Dolphins have seemingly needed upgrades across their offensive line for years and 2015 was no exception. Miami’s division rival New England found a steal in the 4th round in 2015 with Shaq Mason and locked him up on a very reasonable 5-year, 45 million dollar extension in 2018. At his best, Mason is one of the best guards in the league, topping out as Pro Football Focus’ 1st ranked guard in 2018 and finishing in the top-12 at his position in each of the past 4 seasons.

15. San Diego Chargers – C David Andrews (Georgia)

Here is another diamond in the rough that the Patriots found on their offensive line in 2015, although Andrews wasn’t even drafted. Andrews developed into Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked center in 2017 and their 11th ranked center in 2018 and his absence in 2019 with blood clots was as big of a reason as any for the Patriots’ offensive struggles. He’s expected back at full strength in 2020 and would be a welcome return. In this re-draft, he’d be a welcome addition for a Chargers team that much like Miami has needed help across their offensive line for years. He’d replace the recently retired Nick Hardwick at center.

16. Houston Texans – CB Byron Jones (Connecticut)

The Texans originally used this pick on Kevin Johnson, but he was often injured throughout his tenure with the Texans and ended up playing just 35 games in 4 seasons with the team. In this re-draft, they take a different cornerback. Not only has Jones stayed relatively healthy (1 game missed in 5 seasons), but he also maxed out as Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked cornerback in 2018 and has the versatility to play safety as well, which has also been a problem position for the Texans over the years. He’s been a bit inconsistent, but he’d be a welcome addition for the Texans and figures to get a sizable deal from someone as a free agent this off-season.

17. San Francisco 49ers – DE Za’Darius Smith (Kentucky)

The 49ers originally used this pick on Arik Armstead, who broke out as a pass rusher during the 49ers run to the Super Bowl in 2019, but in this re-draft they use this pick on a player who broke out earlier. Smith may seem like a one-year wonder because he wasn’t a household name until his dominant 2019 season in the first year of a 4-year, 66 million dollar deal with the Packers, but there’s a reason he got that big contract in the first place.

In his final 2 seasons in Baltimore, the former 4th round pick had 12 sacks, 32 hits, and a 12.4% pressure rate as a part-time player. As an every down player in Green Bay, Smith flourished with 13.5 sacks, 24 hits, and a league best 17.1% pressure rate. Smith isn’t the best run defender, but he took a big step forward in that area this season and finished as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked edge defender overall. He didn’t do much for the first couple years of his career, but he’s worth the wait and could have broken out as a high level player sooner if he had more opportunity early in his career.

18. Kansas City Chiefs – MLB Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi)

The Chiefs lacked linebacker depth behind a then-33-year-old Derrick Johnson during the 2015 season and linebacker has been even more of a problem since Johnson left following the 2017 season. The Chiefs managed to win the Super Bowl without good linebackers, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a talented every down linebacker like McKinney. McKinney has finished in the top-30 among linebackers on Pro Football Focus in all 5 seasons in the league (73 starts), maxing out at 9th in 2018. He’s a capable edge rusher in addition to being above average against the run and in coverage as a traditional linebacker.

19. Cleveland Browns – OT Rob Havenstein (Wisconsin)

The Browns originally used this pick on offensive lineman Cameron Erving, with the idea that he would replace either center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who were going into the final year of their contracts. The Browns wound up losing both Mack and Schwartz and Erving struggled wherever the Browns tried him, including guard. They eventually sent him to the Chiefs for a 5th round pick after just 2 seasons with the team. 

Instead, they take right tackle Rob Havenstein to replace Schwartz at right tackle in this re-draft. Havenstein had a down year due to injuries in 2019, but he made 59 starts in his first 4 seasons in the league, was an above average starter in all 4 seasons, and ranked 3rd among offensive tackles on Pro Football Focus as recently as 2018. He has obvious bounce back potential in 2020 and would be a welcome addition to the Browns who have struggled to replace Schwartz to this day. The 5-year, 36.5 million dollar deal they gave to ex-Steeler Chris Hubbard two off-seasons ago has not worked out.

20. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Leonard Williams (USC)

The Eagles love having a deep defensive line and have lacked a true counterpart for Fletcher Cox for years so Leonard Williams is too good for them to pass on at this point. He’s never posted the big sack numbers, with just 17.5 in his career and only a half sack last season, but his peripheral pass rush stats are much better, 86 hits and a 10.0% pressure rate, and he’s a strong run stuffer as well. He’s maxed out as Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked interior defender in 2016 and has finished in the top-28 three times.

Williams had a down year last year and was traded by the Jets to the Giants at the deadline for a 3rd and 5th round pick, with the Jets unwilling to meet his asking price in long-term negotiations, but the Giants reportedly value him highly enough to keep him on the franchise tag if needed. He’d be a good addition for the Eagles if they could get their hands on him, as defensive tackle remains a need for them to this day.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – OT La’El Collins (LSU)

The Bengals used their first two draft picks in 2015 on offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, but somehow both were complete busts and offensive tackle remains a need to this day. Maybe if La’el Collins weren’t unfortunately under investigation for murder (he was cleared a few days later) at the time of the draft, the Bengals would have taken him with one of those two picks, but instead he fell out of the draft completely and then signed with the Cowboys when his name was cleared. Collins took a few years to develop, in part because he played out of position at guard early in his career, but he’s seemingly gotten better every season and has turned into one of the top right tackles in the league. Last season was his best, as he finished as Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked offensive tackle overall.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Bud Dupree (Kentucky)

Here is a rare case of a team sticking with their original pick. Dupree was a bit of a disappointment through his first 4 seasons as he was an average starting outside linebacker who never topped 6 sacks in a season, but he broke out in the final year of his rookie deal in 2019, with 11.5 sacks, 9 hits, and a 9.4% pressure rate, while finishing as Pro Football Focus’ 25th ranked edge defender overall. The Steelers are understandably wary about locking him up long-term on a big extension with significant guaranteed money based on one big year, but they don’t want to let him go either, so he’ll almost definitely be franchise tagged this off-season. If he showed his top form more consistently, he would go higher in this re-draft, but I think the Steelers would still take him again at 22 if they had these choices and full hindsight.

23. Denver Broncos – QB Jameis Winston (Florida State)

Jameis Winston was arguably the toughest player to slot in this re-draft. He’s made 70 starts in 5 seasons with the Buccaneers, but seemed to never progress as a decision maker and the Buccaneers are reportedly exploring all other quarterback options this off-season, with Winston returning seemingly a last resort option. Most teams have had at least one quarterback better than Winston in the 5 years since this draft and he’s unlikely to have a significant market as a free agent if the Buccaneers don’t bring him back, so he wouldn’t be a high pick this time around, but he could still go in the first round in a draft without another good quarterback option and the Broncos would make a lot of sense, as they are one of the few teams that hasn’t had a better quarterback than Winston over the past 5 seasons. 

At the time of this draft, the Broncos had a washed up Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler under contract and both left the following off-season, leading to the Broncos wasting a first round pick in 2016 on Paxton Lynch and starting players like Trevor Siemian, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, and Brandon Allen before eventually potentially finding something with 2019 2nd round pick Drew Lock, who went 4-1 in rookie year starts. Perhaps the Broncos will think they could get more out of Winston than the Buccaneers did and even if they don’t he’d still be arguably the best quarterback they’ve had in 5 years. They could be an option to sign him in free agency this off-season if they’re looking for competition for Lock.

24. Arizona Cardinals – OLB Dante Fowler (Florida)

The 2015 Cardinals made it to the NFC Championship, but their team leader in sacks was 35-year-old passing down specialist Dwight Freeney with 8 and no one else had more than 5. They acquired Chandler Jones the following off-season, but have lacked a consistent complement opposite him. Dante Fowler was originally the 3rd overall pick in this draft, but missed his rookie year with a torn ACL and was buried on the depth chart when he returned, playing just 1,198 snaps total in 39 games for the Jaguars before they traded him to the Rams for a 3rd and 5th round pick. 

Fowler’s first half season with the Rams was underwhelming, but he took his play to another level in 2019, totaling 11.5 sacks, 6 hits, and a 13.2% pressure rate while finishing as Pro Football Focus’ 35th ranked edge defender. Still only going into his age 26 season, Fowler’s best may still be yet to come now that he’s past his early career injuries. His slow start to his career drops him into the late first round in this re-draft, but he’d be valuable for the Cardinals. 

25. Carolina Panthers – CB Steven Nelson (Oregon State)

The Panthers originally used this pick on linebacker Shaq Thompson, who has been a solid player, but he was stuck as a part-time 3rd linebacker behind Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis in his first four seasons in the league, so the Panthers address another position. Cornerback was their biggest need going into the 2015 off-season and it was one they never addressed. They were able to make it to the Super Bowl the following season as a cornerback group led by breakout player Josh Norman overperformed, but Norman left the following off-season and cornerback has been a position of need in the years since he left. 

Originally a 3rd round pick, Nelson has made 53 starts over the past 4 seasons for the Chiefs and Steelers and has seemingly gotten better every year. His best year with the Chiefs was his final one in 2018 when he finished 27th among cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus and he was even better in 2019 in the first year of a 3-year, 25.5 million dollar deal with the Steelers, finishing 6th among cornerbacks. 

26. Baltimore Ravens – WR Tyler Lockett (Kansas State)

Lockett’s first three seasons in the league were underwhelming as he never topped 664 yards receiving, but he’s emerged as the Seahawks’ top wide receiver over the past 2 seasons, posting 57/965/10 and 82/1057/8 slash lines despite playing on a run heavy offense. He’s averaged 1.97 yards per route run and 11.2 yards per target over the past 2 seasons as Russell Wilson’s top option and it’s not hard to imagine how he could have a similar impact playing with Lamar Jackson or even catching deep bombs from Joe Flacco like Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace.

27. Dallas Cowboys – MLB Shaq Thompson (Washington)

The Cowboys now have an impressive linebacker duo of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Brown, but for years they lacked depth behind the oft injured Sean Lee. Shaq Thompson didn’t get a lot of playing time early in his career behind Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, but he could have shined in a bigger role in Dallas. He had always flashed in limited action playing about 38.1 snaps per game in his first 4 seasons in the league and finished last season as Pro Football Focus’ 16th ranked linebacker in his first season as an every down player.

28. Detroit Lions – DT Eddie Goldman (Florida State)

Defensive tackle was a need in 2015 for a Lions team that had just lost Ndamukong Suh to the Dolphins. Goldman isn’t quite on Suh’s level, but he’s a talented defensive tackle that the Lions would be taking away from their division rival Chicago Bears. Not just a big run stuffer at 6-4 320, Goldman also has 12.5 sacks, 8 hits, and a 7.0% pressure rate in 5 seasons in the league and his best could still be yet to come, only going into his age 26 season.

29. Indianapolis Colts – G Ali Marpet (Hobart)

Offensive line was an obvious need for the Colts for years, but they didn’t figure out the unit until late in Andrew Luck’s career and by then he had already suffered enough injuries to want to retire. If they had protected him better, perhaps he would still be playing. Even if he wouldn’t be, he certainly would have benefited from better play in front of him throughout his career. Marpet has made 72 starts for the Buccaneers in 5 seasons and has been an above average starter at all three interior offensive line spots at different points in his career. He’d be a great addition for the Colts.

30. Green Bay Packers – MLB Jordan Hicks (Texas)

The Packers’ linebacker problems were obvious in their loss to the 49ers in the 2019 NFC Championship, but their issues at that position go back much further. Adding someone like Jordan Hicks in 2015 would have been a big boost. Hicks plays like one of the best linebackers in the league at times, finishing 3rd among linebackers on Pro Football Focus in 2016 and 12th in 2018, but he’s inconsistent and injury prone (missing 21 of a possible 80 games in 5 seasons in the league), which makes him available at the end of the first round. The Packers did well in free agency last off-season, but would have benefited from outbidding the 4-year, 34 million dollar deal the ex-Eagle Hicks got from the Cardinals last off-season.

31. New Orleans Saints – DE Preston Smith (Mississippi State)

The Saints continue to add to what was probably the worst defense in the league at the time. Preston is the lesser known of the two Smith “brothers” on the Packers, but he got a big-money deal as well, coming over from the Redskins on a 4-year, 52 million dollar contract. While Smith is a dominant edge rusher, Smith is a more complete player. He has just 36.5 sacks in 80 career games (66 starts), but he has a 10.9% pressure rate and plays great run defense as well. 

32. New England Patriots – DE Arik Armstead (Oregon)

Originally the 17th overall pick by the 49ers, Armstead had just 9 sacks in his first 4 seasons in the league and missed 18 of 64 games with injury, but he was always a strong run stuffer and he broke out as a pass rusher in 2019, with 10 sacks, 9 hits, and a 12.5% pressure rate. Overall, he finished last season as Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked edge defender. The 49ers pass on him in this re-draft for someone who broke out faster, but the Patriots will take a shot that they can get it out of him earlier. Both defensive end and defensive tackle were needs for the Patriots back in 2015 and Armstead can play both spots, much like Trey Flowers, who was originally a 4th round pick of the Patriots.

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