The latest news out of South Beach this fall is that the Miami Dolphins are reportedly asking for a third round draft pick in return for their 2015 prized pick, WR Devante Parker. Parker’s tenure in Miami has been…uneventful. The oft-injured receiver made a big splash in 2015 as a rookie before spending the better part of the next 3 years amid the walking wounded. When he was on the field, Parker was terrific. But now, Parker is the latest in a long line of 2015 busts.
If you can think of it, Parker has had it. And 2018 was supposed to be his third straight ‘coming out party’ and big breakout. It hasn’t happened. Instead, Parker was a healthy scratch on Sunday against the Lions.
Parker is hardly the only 2015 first round pick to flame out already. As a matter of fact, he’s outlived eleven of his fellow first rounders from that 2015 Draft class in tenure with his original team. So where are they now?
EDIT – WR Amari Cooper – Traded in 2018 by the Raiders
Jon Gruden, you wild dog! When I first penned this article this morning, Cooper was a member of the Oakland Raiders. Just a few short hours later, here I am amending my own article to include the former 4th overall selection from 2015.
Cooper was a player I personally liked a ton. He was my 15th rated player in the entire class…and for the 2015/2016 seasons, he played like it! Cooper logged 2,223 receiving yards in his first two seasons with the Raiders before drops took over in 2017.
Cooper’s stats slid in 2017, but he at least set a career high in touchdown receptions that year with 7.
ENTER JON GRUDEN. Gruden seems to have this weird fetish about shipping off good football players because they aren’t guys he picked to be here. (Keep your head on a swivel, Derek Carr.) Cooper’s career has yet to be written definitively one way or another. I’m not sure I’d call this a bust yet…especially now that he’s out of Oakland.
OT Ereck Flowers – Cut in 2018 by the Giants
Yikes. Flowers started 48 games for the Giants at Left Tackle before they ultimately decided they’d had enough. Flowers was putrid in New York, giving up 180 total pressures in 48 games (according to our friends at Pro Football Focus).
What went wrong? The Giants grossly over drafted him at No. 9 overall. I myself was too high on him, assuming development would take his play to the next level. But even still, I held a 2nd round grade on Flowers and he was the 44th rated player on my 2015 board.
I missed, I just didn’t miss as badly as the Giants did.
DT Danny Shelton – Traded to New England in 2018
Weird, it’s almost like taking a 2-down nose tackle in the top 15 is a bad idea. The Browns drafted Danny Shelton 12th overall and he never really got traction going as a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Shelton did start 45 games in three seasons as a member of the team, but he logged just 1.5 sacks over that span and was deemed expendable…so they flipped him and a 2019 5th round pick for a 2019 3rd round selection.
Shelton is a solid enough nose tackle, the value at 12 just didn’t make sense. Yours truly graded Shelton as a…drum roll please….third round value and he was my 86th rated player on the board.
CB Marcus Peters – Traded to Los Angeles Rams in 2018
You think the Chiefs miss Peters? The team was giving up 28.7 points per game entering SNF this past weekend and struggles to stop teams through the air. Peters was a huge boom for the Chiefs, logging 19 interceptions and an additional 55 passes defensed in his three years with the Chiefs.
So what went wrong? How can a player with so much production get flipped for a 2018 4th round pick and a 2019 2nd round pick?
Well…Peters was suspended late in the 2017 season for a game after reportedly butting heads with the Chiefs coaches. How bad is the league perception of Peters? According to a report by CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson, the Chiefs shopped Peters to all 31 other NFL franchises…28 told them they weren’t interested in the two time Pro Bowl corner.
Peters, who was the 18th overall selection, rated slightly higher on my personal board. I had him scored 12th overall. This pick, even if it didn’t work out in the long haul, was a hit.
OL Cam Erving – Traded to Kansas City in 2017
Erving had promising physical tools. But his selection in 2015 as a top-20 pick was an ambitious one. It was also clearly not one that worked out. The Browns jettisoned Erving for a 2018 5th round pick last summer.
Erving struggled to find a home after being bounced around the line, seemingly a victim of his own athleticism and versatility. To be fair to the Browns, I held Erving in a similar light, he was my 33rd rated prospect. Neither me or the Browns can claim a victory here.
WR Breshad Perriman – Cut in 2018 by the Ravens
This move was, in all honesty, long overdue. Perriman didn’t play during the 2015 season and then hauled in 33 catches on 66 targets in 2016. Then came the abysmal 2017: 10 catches for 77 yards. That’s not ideal.
Perriman’s biggest struggle was that he couldn’t actually catch the ball, his hands were/are terrible. If only they could have seen this coming…
“Has some discouraging drops, appears to have trouble locating the football.”
Oh, well then. Those words come straight from my 2015 report on Perriman, where he landed 79th on the big board. Baltimore over-drafted Perriman based on a team need, making Breshad the latest poster child in the argument against drafting based on need.
OG Laken Tomlinson – Traded to San Francisco in 2017
Alright…this one is weird. Tomlinson was drafted by the Detroit Lions to play in a power scheme, yet after 24 starts in two seasons the Lions dealt Tomlinson to San Francisco to play for Coach Kyle Shanahan in a zone rushing offense.
And Tomlinson, who was openly regarded as a heavy footed guard, has thrived in the latter. For whatever reason, Tomlinson and Detroit wasn’t a match. Now? The 49ers have paid Tomlinson a three year, $18M extension to be a long term starter on their offensive line.
His value has been about expected, even if it hasn’t come in the offensive system logic would have suggested. Tomlinson was rated 59th overall on my personal draft board, a value that feels fair for a modest starting offensive lineman.
WR Phillip Dorsett – Traded to New England in 2017
Didn’t we just get done chastising the Ravens for drafting based off of need? Well…meet Phillip Dorsett. The Colts drafted Dorsett 29th overall (he was 67th on my personal big board). It made sense at the time, because they had the exact same skill set on the roster in T.Y. Hilton.
Hey…wait a minute…that actually doesn’t make any sense at all.
Of all the picks in the first round, this one was right at the top of the most odd. Dorsett flamed out quickly in Indianapolis, starting 9 games in two seasons before being traded straight up for Patriots back-up QB Jacoby Brissett.
DB Damarious Randall – Traded to Cleveland in 2018
One of the things coaches can do to help their players be the best versions of themselves is to put them in the best position to be successful. Bear that in mind and read the following quote from Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthey, where Randall played from 2015-2017.
“I think (free safety) is his natural position. I think we all recognize that. Him playing as much corner for us was the best thing for our defense at the time, with Morgan (Burnett) and Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) and really utilizing the players the best way we can.”
So let’s just set the record straight. Randall played three seasons as a boundary cornerback for the Packers when they knew all along he wasn’t a boundary corner. What could possibly go wrong?
To be fair to Randall, he did play well in stretches for the Packers. But they ultimately decided to move him to Cleveland in the spring. Now, we’ll see what he’s all about. Randall was my top rated Safety in 2015 (45th overall on the board) and he should have every chance to redefine his career in Cleveland.
LB Stephone Anthony – Traded to Miami in 2017
This was my personal worst whiff. I was a big fan of Anthony in the pre-draft process coming out of Clemson (23rd overall). The Saints drafted him shortly thereafter, 31st overall.
And here’s the thing, Anthony was okay as a rookie. He started all 16 games and his athleticism looked to be a big plus quality. In the two and a half years since? Anthony has logged just 24 solo tackles.
The Saints traded Anthony mid-way through the 2017 season to the linebacker hungry Miami Dolphins, and he hasn’t started there either.
Add in the recent news of Parker on the trade block and nearly half of the damn 1st round is on the move or getting ready to be. But if you haven’t been traded and were picked in the first round, odds are you’ve done well for yourself.
Eight 2015 first round picks have been named to the Pro Bowl, including Marcus Peters. Just six players from the 2015 class who weren’t first round picks have managed to become Pro Bowl players. They are:
– Giants SAF Landon Collins (33rd overall)
– Seahawks WR/KR Tyler Lockett (69th overall)
– Cardinals RB David Johnson (83rd overall)
– Bucs LB Kwon Alexander (124th overall)
– Eagles (and Dolphins) RB Jay Ajayi (149th overall)
– Eagles (and Chiefs) ST D.J. Alexander (172nd overall)
So should the 2015 class be considered a failure? Not exactly. It, can be best described in the same light as Devante Parker. It was boom or bust.