2015 NFL Draft: Live Fantasy Recap (Round 1)
The 2015 NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 30th with the first round. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday (beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET), while the remainder of the draft will finish up on Saturday (12 p.m. ET). Coverage is on ESPN and the NFL Network.
Throughout the first round, I'll be updating this page with player evaluation from our very own Brandon Niles, along with my take on the player's opportunity and potential fantasy impact in 2015. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second and third rounds. Brandon will be taking over on Saturday to summarize the mid- to late-round picks.
1.01 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
Winston is a strong-armed quarterback with experience in a pro-style offense and a competitive swagger that has translated into tremendous success on the football field. His career record as a starter was 26-1 in college, and he won the National Title two seasons ago. He’s proven his ability to run through progressions and identify open receivers, and he’s able to deliver the ball, even when he takes a big hit. Winston is a fantastic on-field prospect, but he has glaring character concerns. His swagger can be interpreted as arrogance, and he’s been disciplined at both the high school and college levels for attitude and maturity issues. Additionally, he was accused of sexual assault in 2012, a red flag that will be scrutinized as he enters a league with well-documented domestic violence abuse issues.
Winston is nearly a shoo-in to start immediately, so opportunity is plentiful. He has two established weapons to throw to in receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is expected to make strides in his second season. The situation from a skill position standpoint is very good, though the offensive line isn't. Rookie QBs are generally poor fantasy bets, but Winston should be a committee/streaming option in 12-team leagues.
1.02 - Tennessee Titans - QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Mariota is an elite athlete with a good arm who was extremely productive in his 41 starts. The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, Mariota is a stellar off-field prospect with some concerns in his on-field game; namely his footwork and his ability to play in a pro-style offense. Mariota wasn’t asked to run through progressions much in college, and he often relied on his tremendous athleticism to make plays, rather than just his arm. However, he made strides in both categories during his junior year, and he’s likely to bulk up his lean frame a little once he enters an NFL strength program. Mariota is less polished as a thrower than other elite quarterback prospects have been, but he’s a smart, accurate, and hard-working player with all the elite traits you look for from the quarterback position.
It remains to be seen if the Titans hold onto Mariota, as there was plenty of predraft speculation that the pick would be traded. Zach Mettenberger has a year of experience on Mariota, but given the investment, Mariota will be expected to start sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, the Titans don’t have a ton of talent in the receiving corps. Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker are nice, but after that, the Titans aren’t much to look at. His rookie season fantasy value may depend on how many rushing yards he’s able to rack up with his legs.
1.04 - Oakland Raiders - WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
Last season Cooper had an elite year, catching 124 balls for over 1,700 yards and 16 touchdowns. Cooper has enough size and speed to make it as a WR1 in the NFL, but his measurables would best be described as adequate for an NFL receiver. However, Cooper displays an uncanny ability to separate and track the ball when it’s in the air. He plays physical, but also with the kind of intelligence usually seen from veterans at the next level, using his hands and body positioning to supplement his physical traits and make him difficult to cover. Cooper is an elite prospect.
Oakland would not typically be a good landing spot for a top receiver, but now that the team seems to have a quarterback in Derek Carr, there's some potential here. Barring a surprise, he should have a chance to start immediately since the Raider receiving corps doesn't boast a player of his pedigree. While it's a big upgrade for Carr, it's an obvious downgrade for James Jones, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes and the newly acquired Michael Crabtree. Cooper has a good chance to be a fantasy starter this year.
1.07 - Chicago Bears - WR Kevin White, West Virginia
White is a tall receiver who had a productive senior year at West Virginia in 2014. He has incredible hands, and is a proven downfield target that can track the ball in the air and elevate over defenders to make tough catches. White ran a 4.35 second 40 yard dash at the combine, showing elite speed despite his 6’3, 215lbs frame. This kind of athleticism combined with the type of hands and downfield talent he showed at the college level has drawn comparisons to Randy Moss. White is an elite athlete who already has polish and should have no problems transitioning to the NFL game.
White replaces Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Jets. He has a capable quarterback in Jay Cutler, though he comes in as the clear #2 option to the already established Alshon Jeffery. Marshall averaged 8.2 targets per game last season, but that was with Marc Trestman calling the plays. New OC Adam Gase figures to call a more balanced offense. White is a great talent and should be a fantasy factor as a rookie — just don’t expect WR1-type targets with Jeffery in the mix.
1.10 - St. Louis Rams - RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
Gurley is coming off an injury-plagued college career, and specifically off an ACL tear last season. He is a violent runner who missed time with ankle and hip injuries in previous years, and durability is the only question mark for this elite prospect. Gurley averaged over seven yards per carry before getting injured last year, and he has a rare combination of size, speed and vision that should make him one of the best in the league if he can stay on the field. Not only is he an exceptional runner, he also catches the ball well and contributes heavily on passing downs. Recent reports have his rehab going well, and that he’ll be ready for training camp. Gurley is an exceptional talent and a rare all-around back with vision, power, speed, and patience.
This pick shakes up the running back ranks, since Tre Mason was previously going in the 3rd round. Long-term, this is a good spot for Gurley, since HC Jeff Fisher loves to run the football. In the short-term, the Miami Herald reported that the rookie would miss the first month of the season “conservatively,” since Gurley tore his ACL in November. So it remains to be seen just how much fantasy value Gurley will have in 2015. His progress will be closely monitored this summer.
1.14 - Miami Dolphins - WR DaVante Parker, Louisville
Parker was Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target at Louisville and it’s easy to see why. He’s a big target who can run every route and has proven hands. Parker missed the first seven games of the 2014 season due to a foot injury he suffered last summer that required surgery, but finished the season strong with 855 yards and a 19.9 yard average. Aside from the durability concerns, Parker has shown elite toughness. He gets into his routes cleanly and doesn’t shy away from press coverage. He’s dangerous after the catch and has powerful legs that help him break tackles. While not a speedster, he can get downfield and does a good job positioning his body to win jump balls.
The Dolphins recently unloaded Mike Wallace, but traded for Kenny Stills and signed Greg Jennings, so this pick throws their value (specifically Stills’, who was going in the 7th round) up in the air. Parker is in a good long term situation with QB Ryan Tannehill and OC Bill Lazor, but as a rookie, he’ll have to beat out the very capable Stills for snaps and targets. Parker should be ready to play right away, so he’ll be someone to monitor closely this summer. The signing is a big upgrade for Tannehill, who has a very young but very talented receiving corps to utilize.
1.15 - San Diego Chargers - RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Gordon runs with the vision and leverage of Maurice Jones-Drew, but he has more size to help withstand the inevitable pounding he’s likely to take at the next level. Gordon also has the speed to be a playmaker in the NFL. He was highly productive in college last year, finishing the season with over 250 yards and three touchdowns against Auburn, cementing his status as an elite running back prospect. Gordon’s only real knock is ball security, but an NFL coach should be able to teach him how to carry the rock so that it doesn’t get jarred loose as often. Gordon projects as an every down back at the next level who excels in the running game and is a solid pass blocker and receiver out of the backfield.
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so I’d expect they’ll use him early and often in 2015. Ryan Mathews is gone, so it’s Gordon’s job to lose. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so I’d expect that Danny Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down while Gordon establishes himself as a good weapon out of the backfield. Given Todd Gurley’s ACL recovery, I’d also expect that Gordon will be the first rookie running back off the board (in the 3rd round?), though the Dallas Cowboys may have something to say about that.
1.20 - Philadelphia Eagles - WR Nelson Agholor, USC
Agholor uses his body well to get in and out of breaks and outmuscle defenders for the ball, and while he’s had some routine drops for the Trojans, he more often than not makes the tough and timely catch. Agholor has the kind of toughness and talent after the catch to compare favorably to an Anquan Boldin-type of physical receiver. He has a knack for finding soft spots in the defense, and he uses that ability to overcome his lack of elite measurables.
The grade might be higher if the Eagles were settled at quarterback. Regardless, Agholor joins a receiving corps that has lost its best receiver (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin) in each of the past two offseasons. I'd expect him to beat out Riley Cooper, Josh Huff and Miles Austin for a starter’s role opposite Jordan Matthews. If he does, he’ll certainly be fantasy relevant in 2015.
1.26 - Baltimore Ravens - WR Breshad Perriman, UCF
Perriman ran well at the combine and he’s a tall, long-striding receiver with the potential to become a big time playmaker at the next level. He has shown inconsistent hands, and while he posted solid stat lines at UCF, he didn’t light the world on fire. Perriman’s start and stop skills will be tested at the next level, as he doesn’t demonstrate suddenness out of his breaks and doesn’t seem to fully understand how to use his frame. He’s a project beaming with raw potential and elite measurables.
The Ravens needed a receiver to replace Torrey Smith and Perriman fits the bill. He has great speed, so he’ll complement Steve L. Smith’s intermediate game. Throw in a pass-happy OC Marc Trestman and a solid quarterback in Joe Flacco and it all adds up to potentially heavy snaps and targets for Perriman, presuming he can pick things up quickly as a rookie. It's obviously an upgrade for Flacco, considering how the recieving corps was shaping up prior to the draft.
1.29 - Indianapolis Colts - WR Phillip Dorsett, Miami
Dorsett is an undersized speed demon who needs to work on polishing up his routes. At 5’9 and 185 pounds, he hasn’t shown the strength to separate in close and intermediate routes, even though he’s shown the toughness to take hits across the middle. Dorsett should likely benefit from an NFL strength program, and there’s always room for an accomplished deep threat and return specialist at the next level. Dorsett has glaring weaknesses in his game, but you can’t coach speed and effort, both of which he has in spades.
Long-term, Dorsett is in a good situation, but he’s going to have a tough time getting on the field as a rookie with T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief all but locked in as the Colts’ top three receivers. Unless he explodes onto the scene or ascends via attrition, I wouldn’t expect a ton of snaps for Dorsett in his rookie season.