The AFC North acquired five players in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Only three of them remain with their original teams. Only one of them saw their fifth-year option picked up. That would be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ outside linebacker, Bud Dupree, who was the second-latest selection in the round within the division.
Yesterday was the final day for teams to decide whether or not they were going to pick up the fifth-year options of 2015 first-round draft picks. The Steelers chose to do so with Dupree, meaning that 2013 first-round pick Jarvis Jones remains the only player for whom they have not picked up the option.
Given that the team came out of the draft without any help at outside linebacker, it’s probably wise for them to have done so, even if they remain thin behind their two starters and seem to be banking on 2017 seventh-round pick Keion Adams to emerge.
That draft doesn’t really look so glamorous in hindsight, somewhat similar though not as poorly as the 2013 draft. Three players in the top 10 did not have their option picked up, and it gets worse from there. But nobody did worse than the AFC North.
We might as well start at the top, or the bottom, depending on your perspective. The Cleveland Browns selected two players in the top 20, including nose tackle Danny Shelton and offensive lineman Cameron Erving. They ended up trading both of them, Shelton most recently to the Patriots for a third-round pick. Neither of them had their options picked up by their new teams.
Next up was the Cincinnati Bengals, who believed they would be getting their heir apparent to Andrew Whitworth at left tackle when they drafted Cedric Ogbuehi with the 21st selection. Not only did he fail, so too did Jake Fisher, another tackle that they took a round later.
The Baltimore Ravens dipped their toes back into the first-round wide receiver pool with Breshad Perriman. While his career began with some injury issues, he has really struggled to be involved for the past two years and was a virtual afterthought this past season.
Considering the fact that they just signed three wide receivers in free agency and drafted two more over the weekend, there is a pretty good chance that Perriman doesn’t even make their 53-man roster, which would mean three of the five first-round picks in the AFC North from 2015 will not have even completed their rookie deals with their original team.
In all, 12 of the 32 2015 first-round draft picks failed to have their fifth-year options exercised, with many of them having found themselves traded, meaning that a new team that did not draft them wielded that option. One third of those players were drafted in the AFC North. Damarious Randall, acquired by the Browns via trade from the Green Bay Packers, is the only other 2015 first-round pick within the division to have his option picked up.