NFL trade deadline reveals ugly truth of 2015 draft class

NFL columnist
Yahoo Sports

Week by week, offseason by offseason, and now trade deadline by trade deadline, the first round of the 2015 NFL draft is unraveling before our eyes.

With the Jacksonville Jaguars finally giving up on edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. on Tuesday – dealing him to the Los Angeles Rams for a third- and fifth-round pick – that makes 11 of the 32 first-round picks from 2015 jettisoned by their original team. That doesn’t place 2015 in the same company as the 2013 first round (which is easily one of the worst collections in the last several decades), but it is definitely climbing the infamy charts. And it could get a lot worse.

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In a do-over of the 2015 NFL draft, Rams running back Todd Gurley would be the unquestionable No. 1 pick. (AP)
In a do-over of the 2015 NFL draft, Rams running back Todd Gurley would be the unquestionable No. 1 pick. (AP)

No. 1 pick, QB Jameis Winston: Driving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of their minds with the same mistakes he has been making since he was drafted.

No. 2, QB Marcus Mariota: Despite all the optimism that continues to be pumped out by the Tennessee Titans’ front office, he is oft-injured and can’t seem to turn a corner.

Nos. 3 and 4 (see below)

No. 5, OG Brandon Scherff: An anchor starter and Pro Bowler for the Washington Redskins who – compared to the top of this draft – has actually been worth his selection.

No. 6, DE Leonard Williams: Once looked like a world-beating defensive end for the New York Jets but hasn’t come close to living up to that hype.

No. 7, WR Kevin White: Absolute disaster for the Chicago Bears. Injuries. Mental toughness issues. Not remotely worth the buzz that drove him up the draft boards in 2015. He has 263 receiving yards in his career. Yikes.

No. 8, DE Vic Beasley: A total conundrum for the Atlanta Falcons who had one epic 15½ sack season in 2016 followed by mediocrity. For someone with so much talent, he also has some embarrassing moments on film.

No. 9 (see below)

No. 10, RB Todd Gurley: The guy who should have gone No. 1 overall and would have been worth it … even as a running back. He has an argument to be the NFL’s MVP this season and has been one of the best offensive players in football since 2015.

That’s a pretty ugly collection – and those are the guys who have hung on with their franchises through the end of Year 4. But 11 others from the 2015 first round haven’t – and that’s what sets this up to be a horrific first round. Particularly considering the very likely dumping of some of the aforementioned guys in the top 10. With that in mind, here are the guys who have already been floated out to sea by their original teams:

No. 3 overall, Fowler: He lost his rookie season to a knee injury and never fully turned a corner in Jacksonville as the dominant edge rusher the Jaguars thought they were getting. Now he’ll get his shot with Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

No. 4, WR Amari Cooper: He started like gangbusters for the Oakland Raiders, with two Pro Bowl nods his first two years, then ran into a wave of injuries and dropped passes. His last 20 games were uninspiring enough for new coach Jon Gruden (and some fans) to consider a first-round pick from the Dallas Cowboys as a huge win. Now he’ll try to get back on track with Dak Prescott, starting this week.

The Giants had enough of offensive lineman Ereck Flowers, cutting him earlier this month. (Getty Images)
The Giants had enough of offensive lineman Ereck Flowers, cutting him earlier this month. (Getty Images)

No. 9, OT Ereck Flowers: A guy who seemed to be a reach on draft day by the New York Giants turned out to be the definition of a bust. He drove coaches nuts, nearly got Eli Manning killed on a regular basis, and basically made pass rushers drool in anticipation of being matched up with him. He was cut this season and is now with the Jaguars.

No. 12, DT Danny Shelton: Billed as a massive run plugger who had the power to collapse pockets from the interior for the Cleveland Browns, Shelton rarely looked special in the NFL. He started for three seasons on bad defenses but probably should have been nothing more than a rotational cog. That’s what he has become for the New England Patriots, who acquired Shelton and a fifth-round pick last offseason for a third-rounder.

No. 18, CB Marcus Peters: One of the rare instances of a special player who was the right pick for the Kansas City Chiefs, but wore out his welcome in three seasons. Peters was a Pro Bowler, All Pro and defensive rookie of the year in Kansas City. He was also mercurial, moody, at odds with the defensive coordinator and not always the happiest locker room guy. As one source said of him, “We didn’t have to worry about him Sundays. We had to worry about him Wednesdays.” That got Peters and a sixth-round pick dealt to the Rams last offseason, in exchange for a second- and fourth-round selection. The Rams love him and he’ll also get paid the contract in L.A. that he likely was never going to get in Kansas City.

No. 19, OL Cameron Erving: The other Browns first-round pick to get bounced from that disastrous 2015 draft, Erving arrived with a lot of work to do in basically every area of his game. He was a project that Cleveland didn’t see coming. At all. The Chiefs got him for peanuts in the 2017 offseason (a fifth-round pick) and he has turned into a serviceable starting guard there.

No. 26, WR Breshad Perriman: The Baltimore Ravens fell in love with his size and speed in the draft process and locked on after Perriman ran a pair of sub-4.3 second 40-yard dashes at his pro day at UCF. When he arrived, Baltimore quickly realized he was a raw project player. Knee injuries derailed him and ended with the Ravens refusing his fifth-year option. He bounced from the Washington Redskins to the Browns, where he currently has one catch for 6 yards.

No. 28, OG Laken Tomlinson: The Detroit Lions thought they were getting a 10-year starter at guard with Tomlinson. But he was inconsistent for two years and a poor fit for what a new front office wanted from its offensive line. He was dealt to the San Francisco 49ers for a fifth-round pick in 2017 and has been a steady starter for them ever since.

No. 29, WR Phillip Dorsett: A deep burner who was supposed to tear the top off defenses for Andrew Luck was an oft-injured player who could never lock down a starting job. Just a lot of straight-line speed and little else, which is something the Patriots have found out after dealing quarterback Jacoby Brissett for him. A trade the Colts have won in resounding fashion, by the way.

No. 30, SS Damarious Randall: Actually a pretty solid pick at times for the Green Bay Packers, making plays and showing flashes of talent. But he was also maddeningly inconsistent and when the front office was handed over to a new regime, he was the first to go in a trade to the Browns for quarterback DeShone Kizer. He’s been much the same player for the Browns, as a quality starter who is dealing with injuries but also flashing talent.

No. 31, LB Stephone Anthony: He came out of the gate fast for the New Orleans Saints, looking every bit like the thumper they hoped they were getting as a rookie. But a position change to strongside linebacker and ensuing injuries sent his career sideways and he still hasn’t recovered. The Saints dumped him to the Dolphins for a fifth-round pick in 2017 and haven’t regretted it as Anthony has struggled to be anything but a bit player.

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