NFL

10 Statements Made in the 2015 NFL Draft

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The NFL Draft isn’t always just about value and need.

Sometimes teams go into the draft with a purpose—they want to get bigger, more physical, faster or tougher. Whatever it is, every year, teams head into draft weekend with the idea that they want a certain type of player or certain combination of players, and if they’re able to manage getting that statement made, it can completely change the future of the franchise.

It can also change the way other teams look at and prepare for the franchise, and that alone can win some games in the upcoming season.

Other teams can go into the draft without wanting to make a statement, but the board falls to them a certain way, ensuring they do anyway.

Without further ado, here are 10 statements made in the 2015 NFL Draft.

 

“We’re ready to put up some points.”—Tennessee Titans

In 2014, the Titans only scored 15.9 points per game—third worst in the league. Though that can’t all be attributed to quarterback Zach Mettenberger, it was clear that they didn’t view him as their franchise passer after those efforts. So, Marcus Mariota was drafted and wide receivers Dorial Green-Beckham and Tre McBride were added to give him more capable targets.

They also added an offensive lineman, a running back and a fullback.

It might take a while for things to mesh together, and there’s a big bust possibility from both Mariota and DGB, but this could be a potent offensive team in a hurry if things work out.

 

Andy Dalton will stay upright.”—Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals grabbed two of my highest-ranked offensive linemen with their first two picks—Cedric Ogbuehi from Texas A&M and Jake Fisher from Oregon. Both players will need to fight to earn a starting spot right off the bat, but their additions will allow the team to field the best possible line this season with flexibility heading into the future.

 

“We’re all in on Jameis Winston.”—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The first pick alone made a statement, as did the Buccaneers seemingly unwavering support for the troubled prospect since early on in the draft process. Yet, the third pick of their draft in Hobart center Ali Marpet (their second of two offensive linemen) and subsequent picks at wide receiver show that they’re willing to get him all the help he needs. Oh, remember also that he’s got wide receiver Mike Evans (among others) from last year’s draft.

 

“Quarterbacks should fear us.”—Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons need a pass rusher—this is one of those statements made before the draft that was repeated so often that it seemed people believed they could will it into existence. Well, with Clemson pass rusher Vic Beasley in the first round, they grabbed my top rusher in the draft. They also added one of my top corners in Arizona State’s Jalen Collins and a severely underrated tackle in Clemson’s Grady Jarrett.

 

“Jump balls, jump balls everywhere.”—Carolina Panthers

The Panthers didn’t have a ton of picks in the draft class, but I was pleased to see them pick up Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess in the second round, signaling they officially have a type in the passing game. Combined with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen, the Panthers now have a receiving corps with one of the best catch radii in the entire league. Quarterback Cam Newton will be happy.

 

We’re a power-running team.”—Detroit Lions

With their first-round pick, the Lions traded down to grab Denver Broncos guard Manny Ramirez and then drafted Duke guard Laken Tomlinson with the pick a few slots later. Tomlinson will likely pair with Larry Warford to form a crushing guard tandem while Ramirez will compete for other spots on the line or contribute to depth. The addition of running back Ameer Abdullah replaces Reggie Bush who is now with the 49ers.

This sets up an offense that is prepared to pound the ball with Joique Bell, take deep shots to wide receiver Calvin Johnson, tight end Eric Ebron and utilize both Abdullah and wide receiver Golden Tate as top-notch safety valves. It’s all going to start up front, though, where the Lions continue to add beef to the offensive trenches.

 

“This defense isn’t going anywhere.”—Pittsburgh Steelers

The addition of explosive pass rusher Alvin “Bud” Dupree from Kentucky in the first round might be the most impactful pick of the draft that no one is talking about. Pound for pound, Dupree was the best athlete of the draft class, and he’ll provide pressure the team wanted from Jarvis Jones a few years back. The rest of the class was lackluster—outside of the upside of late-round picks, Miami pass rusher Anthony Chickillo and Louisville safety Gerod Holliman—but the Dupree pick alone makes me take the Steelers defense a little more seriously.

 

We’re still ready to compete in the toughest division in football.”—San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers did what they haven’t been willing to do in recent years and took 10 players in the NFL draft, getting tremendous value in the middle to later rounds with an eye toward the future. After an offseason of hemorrhaging talent, though, some of those players might be needed sooner rather than later.

Oregon defensive end Arik Armstead, Virginia pass rusher Eli Harold and Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt will all earn a role on defense sooner rather than later, while the team added bulk and talent on offense with tight end Blake Bell and running back Mike Davis. The most 49er-ish pick, though, might have been Georgia Tech wide receiver DeAndre Smelter who has great measurables, but it really raw coming out of the option offense.

 

“We won’t be a laughing stock any longer.”—Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings had one of the quietest, solid drafts of the weekend and it meshes perfectly with what their new regime has been doing.

Starting with Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes, the Vikings made 10 picks in the draft and it’s possible that five or six of those picks could have an immediate impact for the Vikings next season. UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks and Pittsburgh offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings should join Waynes in starting next season. Add in underrated tight end MyCole Pruitt, and you have a number of players that could hear their names both called out by commentators and chanted by fans in 2015.

 

“We’re not an offensive pushover anymore.”—St. Louis Rams

The Rams have spent a lot of capital over the past few seasons to try and match the rest of the NFC West defensively, but their offense has continued to be a complete pushover both from the quarterback position and over the rest of the field. They’ve been able to stand up to teams on toughness and grit, but in terms of consistency and scoring punch, they’d never be able to consistently win with the team they had in 2014.

Now, with Nick Foles under center, the Rams have given him Georgia running back Todd Gurley and a whole host of gigantic offensive linemen to rebuild the Rams’ power rushing game along with current promising back Tre Mason.

Overall, they didn’t add the most impact players of any team in the draft, but they added a handful of players that completely change how teams have to prepare for them in 2015, and have paired a tough running game with their already physical defense.


About Michael Schottey

Michael Schottey

Michael Schottey has been covering football in various capacities for a decade and his work can be found in numerous outlets around the globe, primarily Bleacher Report where he is and NFL National Lead Writer. Schottey has appeared regularly on CNN, Headline News, Al Jazeera America, Sirius/XM and countless other national and local radio spots.