With the first day of 2015 NFL draft in the books, columnist Nic Radoff took a look at what transpired yesterday and what it means for the remaining Stanford prospects.
David Shaw looked on from the NFL Network booth as star tackle Andrus Peat went 13th overall to the New Orleans Saints. Peat is the highest draft pick for Stanford since Andrew Luck was taken as the No. 1 overall pick in 2012. He is also the fourth-highest pick for a Stanford offensive lineman since 1967, when the NFL started tracking overall selections. In addition, Peat is the highest selection of an offensive lineman since Bob Whitfield, father of Peat’s teammate and safety Kodi Whitfield, was taken eighth by the Atlanta Falcons in 1992.
Originally, it was expected that Peat would be drafted ninth by the Giants, or perhaps by the Jets as a long-term replacement for D’Brickashaw Ferguson at sixth. Peat, who was largely considered the best tackle in the draft was indeed the first tackle taken off the board.
Instead, Peat will be the heir apparent for tackle Zach Strief, who is 31. The pick is fantastic for Peat; there were some grumblings that he might slip due to struggling against elite speed rushers and occasionally in the run game, but he ended up as the top tackle in the draft, in the top 15 and one of 11 Stanford players ever taken in the first half of the first round (again, since 1967).
It is also great for Stanford football, whose reputation for churning out NFL-caliber linemen will continue to precede itself. It was a little strange to see two guards taken over a tackle. Tackle is traditionally one of the most important and thus highly valued positions in the draft. It is rare to see a year where there is not a tackle taken in the top 10. The selections of Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers speak to the talent of the two guards.
Peat was the only Stanford player taken in the first round, which was not altogether surprising. Alex Carter probably won’t have to wait long on the second day of the draft to hear his name. The draft was also not full of surprises. The first 10 picks went as expected. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will hang up their helmets in the near future and the league has seen more turnover at the quarterback position. What’s more, there is almost no room for error for quarterbacks entering the league. The Johnny Manziel experiment is all but over after a handful of games. So it was no shock to see the two elite quarterbacks taken with the first two picks: Jameis Winston at one to the Buccaneers and Marcus Mariota at two. Eight of the 32 players selected in the first round hail from the Pac-12.
Maybe the first surprise of the draft was the lack of a blockbuster trade that had been rumored. The San Diego Chargers were considering trading Philip Rivers and picks to get to Marcus Mariota, and the Browns were also in the mix, though the Browns looking to move up for a quarterback is increasingly becoming a constant in the draft. The Eagles were also mentioned in those rumors, but there is no telling what Chip Kelly will do these days. Speaking of Chip Kelly, the coach raised a few eyebrows by taking the ultra-talented, yet relatively unproductive wide receiver Nelson Agholor at 20.
Not seeing the ultra-talented OLB Randy Gregory taken in the first round was shocking. Gregory, worthy of a top-10 pick, failed his drug test at the combine and had a number of other off-the-field issues. Many, myself included, thought that would mean a slide to the second half of the first round, but he will have to wait until day two to hear his name called. Likewise, Landon Collins, the safety from Alabama, was surprisingly noticeably absent. Collins was the highest-rated safety by most and was passed over for ASU’s Damarius Randall.
The wide receivers might be the real story of the draft. Six were taken in the first round, more than any other position. I discussed the depth of the wide receivers in our last roundtable and there are wide receivers that are first-round quality that have yet to be taken. Jaelen Strong is still available. Speedster Devin Smith, Dorial Green-Beckham, Sammie Coates, Devin Funchess, Tyler Lockett and Stanford’s Ty Montgomery are all still available and highly rated. In a normal year, Strong, Smith and Funchess might have heard their names called in the first round.
Contact Nicholas Radoff at nradoff ‘at’ stanford.edu.