October 08, 2015 - Greg Gabriel
How have the Top 16 of the First Round Played to Date?
During the draft, both clubs and fans are usually excited about the player they just chose in the opening round of the NFL Draft. The reality is some of these players start out very quickly and contribute while others are going through a learning curve and adjusting to life in the NFL. Granted, four games doesn’t make a season, but we can still get a feel for how these players are trending. Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay – The first overall pick in the draft has struggled while starting every game. His accuracy and decision making has been average and he has thrown seven interceptions. In fairness, his receivers haven’t played up to par in this early part of the season. Marcus Mariota – Tennessee – Following an opening game where Mariota looked like a future Pro Bowler, Mariota’s game fell off some but he still has put up some outstanding numbers for a rookie. He has completed 61 of 97 passes in three games for 833 yards, eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. He looks like he could become a great NFL quarterback. Dante Fowler – Jacksonville – Fowler's rookie year ended on the first day of rookie minicamp when he tore his ACL while going through drills. He will spend the rest of his rookie season rehabbing his knee and learning the Jags defense. He should be ready to go for OTA’s next spring. Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders – Cooper was looked at as the most NFL ready wide receiver in the draft. To date he has not disappointed with 24 receptions for 339 yards and two touchdowns in his first four games. Brandon Scherff – Washington Redskins - It was a bit of a surprise that Scherff went as high as he did, but he has been a starter at guard for the Redskins since OTA’s. He has played very consistent football and looks like he will be a future All Pro type player. Leonard Williams – New York Jets - Going into draft day, the Jets never figured they would have a shot at the best interior defensive lineman in the draft. He has played very good football as a starter at defensive end, with 18 total tackles and a half sack in the Jets first four games. Kevin White – Chicago Bears – After looking outstanding during the early part of OTA’s, White developed a stress fracture in his tibia. Going into training camp, the injury never healed and White had surgery to have a rod inserted to speed recovery. There is an outside chance he will be able to play the last third of the season. Vic Beasley – Atlanta Falcons – Beasley lines up at defensive end and just may be the Falcons best pass rusher. Through four games he has 11 total tackles and 2.0 sacks. Ereck Flowers – New York Giants – The early plan was for Flowers to play on the right side. When the Giants line got hit by injuries, Flowers was inserted at left tackle and the Giants haven’t looked back. Flowers has excellent size and length to go along with very good strength and power. Todd Gurley – St. Louis Rams – The plan was for Gurley to be brought around slowly and not let him play until his knee was 100% ready. He did not play until game three against Pittsburgh and that was his “preseason”. Sunday against the Cardinals, Gurley showed how good he can be, running for 146 yards. As he gets healthier, he will keep getting better! Trea Waynes – Minnesota Vikings – In the Vikings first two games, Waynes only played on special teams. In game three when starter Xavier Rhodes got injured, Waynes came in and recorded five total tackles and a pass break up. Last Sunday he was back to being a special teams player. Danny Shelton – Cleveland Browns – Shelton hasn’t quite lived up to expectations in this early part of his rookie season. In four games he has 11 total tackles and no sacks. He didn’t record a tackle in Sunday’s loss to San Diego. Andrus Peat – New Orleans Saints – When an offensive lineman is drafted in the top 15 of the first round, he is expected to become a starter. Peat is a backup right now with the versatility to play every position along the line except center. That has to be a disappointment for the Saints. Devante Parker – Miami Dolphins – Parker had some injury issues early on and that has slowed his development. In four games, he has caught only four passes for 49 yards. The Dolphins have to hope that he comes on soon. Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers – Gordon starts at running back and has done fairly well. He is the Chargers leading rusher with 228 yards on 56 carries but no touchdowns. He also has six receptions for 34 yards. Gordon was drafted for his game breaking ability but to date his long run is only 27 yards. Kevin Johnson – Houston Texans – While Johnson isn’t a starter, he gets a lot of play time. To date he has 12 total tackles and two passes defensed. He looks to have a bright future in Houston. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe