The 2015 NFL Draft is just around the corner and this year’s prospects have the potential to have a strong impact on the league. Although many players won’t reach their full potential straight out of college, it is important for teams to draft players that can help their teams in the long run.
As expected, the controversial Jameis Winston is certain to be the top overall pick in this year’s draft. It is most likely that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were the NFL’s worst team last year, will draft the Florida State quarterback, considering the team’s apparent gaping need for a quarterback. Winston was outstanding in college, yet his pocket skills are questionable. This could be problematic in a league where defenses will exploit the weaknesses of rookie players, particularly quarterbacks such as Winston who resort to scrambling in pressure situations. The Buccaneers may be taking a gamble with Winston, yet he is still the most athletic quarterback in this year’s draft.
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota will likely be taken with the second overall pick in the draft, which is held by a Jacksonville team also desperately in need of a quarterback. Mariota has shown his athletic ability at the college level, but like Winston, his ability to scramble will be put to the test, forcing him to focus on his skills as a pocket passer.
One surprising outlook for this year’s draft is the abundance of defensive players that are expected to be drafted in the first round. Six of the top 10 draft picks are predicted to be players on the defensive side of the ball, including three outside linebackers; Bud Dupree Kentucky, Shane Ray Missouri and Vic Beasley Clemson. The NFL has gained plenty of offensive firepower in the past few years, so the ability of team’s defenses to stop other team’s skill players is a must. No matter how explosive a team’s offense is, without a defense that can make multiple stops a game, victories will be hard to come by.
Another important position that many teams will be seeking is an offensive lineman, and Iowa’s Brandon Scherff looks to be the league’s top prospect. The St. Louis Rams appear to be the team who will snag the physical guard, adding to their already skilled offensive line. Many would argue against selecting an offensive lineman in the first round, citing the depth of lineman in the draft. However, Scherff looks to be a rare talent and a team will undoubtedly take a gamble on him early in the first round.
Although many analysts are making predictions as to which players will drafted to what teams, the NFL Draft never quite goes as planned, and many players who are expected to perform to high expectations seemingly crack under the pressure their rookie year. It is unclear which rookie players will have breakout seasons and careers considering that any NFL stars were drafted in lower rounds and were never expected to become great players out of college. What is clear is that the Minnesota Vikings need to pursue as many talented players as possible, or the consequences will be the same as always: little to no victories, another disappointing season, and lots of unhappy Oles walking round campus.
Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER