Grading the First Round of the 2015 NFL Draft

Athlon passes out its grades for Thursday's night 32 picks

Until the new crop of NFL first-rounders hits the field, grading the first round of the NFL Draft is just educated guesswork.


Having said that, fans in Tampa Bay and Tennessee should be brimming with excitement as they welcome new starting quarterbacks. Others are left scratching their heads.


Below are four different grades for the 32 first-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft:


A: Franchise-changing selection. A great value at key position of need.


B: An instant starter who contributes right away.


C: Solid pick but has a question of value, upside, risk or position of need.


F: A questionable selection with poor value and heavy risk.


Grade: A


Name Team Pick Pos. NCAA
Jameis Winston No. 1 QB Florida State
The best QB prospect since Andrew Luck is a complete package at the position... on the field.
Amari Cooper No. 4 WR Alabama
Complete professional at the position. Elite hands, speed and polish. Immediate starter and outside star for Derek Carr.
Leonard Williams No. 6 DL USC
Arguably the best player in the draft at No. 6? Lined up next to Sheldon Richardson? Are you kidding?
Andrus Peat No. 13 OT Stanford
The best offensive tackle prospect in the draft is a perfect value and need for the Saints.
Shaq Thompson No. 25 OLB Washington
One of the best pure athletes in the draft who can play multiple positions on multiple sides of the ball. Take him and find a spot for him later.


Grade: B


Name Team Pick Pos. NCAA
Marcus Mariota No. 2 QB Oregon
Game-changer at most important position makes this franchise instantly interesting and watchable again.
Dante Fowler Jr. No. 3 OLB Florida
Lack of consistency keeps him from being an "A," but is a star in the making otherwise.
Kevin White No. 7 WR West Virginia
Loads of upside and talent but has plenty of work left to his game. Was this the most pressing need for the Bears?
Vic Beasley No. 8 OLB Clemson
Awesome player who might be best "B" on the list. Productive big-play machine who was a leader for a winning program.
Todd Gurley No. 10 RB Georgia
Elite talent, potentially the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson... if he's fully healthy. Injury history keeps him off the "A" line.
DeVante Parker No. 14 WR Louisville
Got their guy and provided Ryan Tannehill with a playmaker. Big, physical, talent but needs to stay on the field.
Melvin Gordon No. 15 RB Wisconsin
Only slightly less talented than Gurley. Extremely intelligent and hard-working player with plenty of burst.
Cam Erving No. 19 OL Florida State
Versatile prospect who excelled at both center and tackle. Immediately helps everyone on the offense.
Nelson Agholor No. 20 WR USC
Smaller version of Cooper. Extremely polished pro's pro at the position. Will need no preparation to play and will help special teams too.
Bud Dupree No. 22 OLB Kentucky
Productive and dependable player who fits a need and defensive scheme perfectly. A great value as well.
Shane Ray No. 23 OLB Missouri
Extremely talented player whose character isn't nearly as big a question mark as late slide indicated. Excellent value.
Laken Tomlinson No. 28 OG Duke
What's not to like? A terrifyingly strong road-grader to protect Matthew Stafford who wants to be a neurosurgeon.
Malcom Brown No. 32 DT Texas
One of the best values in the first round. Elite defensive space-eater will flourish in Pats system.


Grade: C


Name Team Pick Pos. NCAA
Brandon Scherff No. 5 OG Iowa
Really solid potential guard but won't play tackle and may never be a star. A huge reach passing on Cat Williams.
Ereck Flowers No. 9 OT Miami
Big-time upside but a project who lacked consistency against only moderate competition. Needs development and could have been a reach.  
Trae Waynes No. 11 CB Michigan State
Thin draft class pushed Waynes higher on the boards. Fills a need but questions about his upside remain.
Danny Shelton No. 12 DT Washington
Giant space-eater improves physicality but may lack overall quickness, explosiveness to be a star.
Kevin Johnson No. 16 CB Wake Forest
Solid but not elite player taken early in the round at a position that may not have been the top need.
Marcus Peters No. 18 CB Washington
Could be best pure coverman in the draft but drops to a "C" due to discipline question marks.
Cedric Ogbuehi No. 21 OT Texas A&M
Very athletic and lean but large prospect. Major knee injury in January and some underachievement last fall drop him to "C."
D.J. Humphries No. 24 OT Florida
Talented upside but lacks overall size and polish to contribute right away. Has also had major injury issues in the past.
Damarious Randall No. 30 S Arizona State
Will likely play cornerback. Has major size for that position but questions about his transition. Would inside linebacker been a better option?


Grade: F


Name Team Pick Pos. NCAA
Arik Armstead No. 17 DT Oregon
A+ for snagging extra picks but few players did less with more than Armstead while in college. Huge risk selection.  
Breshad Perriman No. 26 WR UCF
More talented, more productive options all over the board and it feels like a luxury pick in the first round.  
Byron Jones No. 27 CB UConn
Combine creation who never excelled in a lower-tiered league. Was never even all-league in the American Athletic Conference.
Phillip Dorsett No. 29 WR Miami
Speedy player but a one-trick pony who isn't much better than other small, slot receivers. Other positions were a greater need.
Stephone Anthony No. 31 ILB Clemson
Solid player at a position of need... if this was the end of the second round. Never was an elite player despite elite physical tools.


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