Looking back at the 2015 NFL Draft haul, the team received high praise from sportscasters and NFL media outlets alike. They addressed major needs while staying true the course of their draft philosophy which is best player available. Although some will say they reached for cornerback Senquez Golson in round 2, if he turns into a Brent Grimes-like starter, possibly midway through this year or next, then those critics will shut up.
1. Bud Dupree-This pick wasn’t going to change, and in my eyes, was still a no-brainer for Kevin Colbert when the team’s pick was up. It doesn’t matter how much coaching Keith Butler and outside linebackers coach Joey Porter work with him, you simply cannot coach 6-foot-4 and 269 pounds. Give him an inch and he’s right there with last year’s #1 overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney. That’s some amazing athleticism folks, as athletes that big aren’t meant to move that fast and possess such freaky intangibles.
2. La’el Collins-This pick may draw some criticisms, but the main point of this write-up is a re-do. Pairing Collins with All-Pro center, Maurkice Pouncey and budding star at guard, David DeCastro along the offensive line would give them the most dominant interior trio in the league. Many will argue “why not a cornerback here” and my argument will be that the team will take a page out of the Dallas Cowboys’ 2014 gameplan and that’s controlling the clock, keeping their questionable defense off the field, and fresh for when they’re on it. Besides, as you’ll later see, I didn’t neglect the position at all, I in fact believe I solidified it with a player who, pre-injury, was considered to be the first corner off the board, over the likes of Michigan State’s Trae Waynes.
3. Steven Nelson-This guy seems like a slightly larger version of Golson to me. The team had him in for a pre-draft visit, and without a doubt he was on their draft boards. It’s argued the team jumped the gun on Golson, and he may or may not have been here in this third round slot. Nobody knows, but both project to be excellent pros, with Golson the better ball skills and Nelson the more physical one.
4. DeAndre Smelter-A big, speedy wide receiver who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work. He would maybe have to begin the season on the PUP list as he’s recovering from a late-season ACL tear in the bowl game. However, he wouldn’t notch much playing time anyways with Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant in front of him. Let him heal and recover, as he had the look of a very nice pro while at Georgia Tech.
5. Jesse James-This pick would undoubtedly remain the same as I believe they picked an arguable second or third round talent two rounds later than expected. Watching this kid at Penn State the last several years, I’m a firm believer his NFL career will be many times better than that of his one as a Nittany Lion, where I believe he was criminally under-used. At his pro day, he displayed better numbers in several areas than current All-pros Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.
6. Josh Robinson-I love the way Robinson runs the football, and although not as explosive as Maurice Jones-Drew, one can’t help connect the dots between the two due to their stature and the power they pack in that short frame, because Robinson is not a small back by any means. If their free-agent pickup DeAngelo Williams gets hurt, the team could be in deep trouble, and Frank Gore isn’t a spring chicken by any means for Indianapolis. Robinson could be their workhorse of the future.
6. Deon Simon-A small school guy, but at his size at 6-foot-4 and 321 pounds, he put up 35 reps of 225 at the combine. That’s monster strength. The team’s real-life sixth rounder, L.T. Walton has all the makings of a very good pro, but at this juncture in the draft, Simon would be the guy I’d take. Let defensive line coach John Mitchell get his hands on him, and you could have the next Damon “Big Snack” Harrison, the starting nose tackle for the Jets who was an undrafted out of William Penn (who?) college.
7. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu-Finally the team grabs their second corner, albeit 7 rounds late as he’s on the mend from an ACL tear late in the season. The PUP list is a likely destination for him, as it is Smelter who I mentioned above, but this is a situation where the rewards at the end of the rainbow could far outweigh the risks. Ekpre-Olomu was a first round lock before his torn up knee. In some circles, their real-life seventh rounder, Gerod Holliman was a first rounder until scouts realized he shows an affinity for not wanting to be a tackler. When comparing the two, we have an injured, soon-to-be starter versus Holliman, who may end up getting cut in training camp, despite his excellent ball skills. Ekpre-Olomu is my pick.