The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine began yesterday in Indianapolis. For draft prospects, the Combine is an important step in the evaluation process leading up to the NFL Draft in April. In the meantime, NFL teams are in the midst of creating their draft boards. Those boards will likely be adjusted after the Combine to reflect individual player results, prospect interviews and medical examinations.
There are many different types of draft boards. The configuration of a draft board is limited only by the imagination of the individuals who create them. The 125-player draft board included herein is team specific. I create my initial board every year in February. The board lists the various team positions, then places players into rounds 1-7 at each position. It consists of players I believe should be of interest to the Rams at various points in the draft, and an estimation of the round each player will be selected in. If one your favourites didn't make the board, it's likely because of the self-imposed 125-player limit. A typical NFL draft value board consists of anywhere from 75 to 140 players.
2015 NFL Draft
SB Nation's Danny Kelly wrote a fine article last March examining how players land on a teams draft board. Greg Gabriel, a retired scout with 29 years in the NFL, outlined how NFL teams put together a Big Board for the draft, in an article published last year.
The accompanying chart presents my first St. Louis Rams Top-125 Big Board of the year:
|Position||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Rounds 5,6,7|
|Center||Cameron Erving||Reese Dismukes||Max Garcia||B.J. Finney|
|Hroniss Grasu||Andy Gallik||Greg Mancz|
|Offensive Guard||A.J. Cann||Arie Kouandjio||Tre' Jackson||Shaquille Mason||Aundrey Walker|
|Laken Tomlinson||Ali Marpet||John Miller||Jamil Douglas|
|Josue Matias||Dallas Lewallen|
|Offensive Tackle||Ereck Flowers||Cedric Ogbuehi||Jeremiah Poutasi||Daryl Williams|
|Brandon Scherff||D.J. Humphries||Ty Sambrailo||Corey Robinson|
|La'el Collins||Donovan Smith||Tyrus Thompson||Robert Myers|
|Andrus Peat||Rob Havenstein||Jake Fisher|
|Tight End||Maxx Williams||Clive Walford||Jeff Heuerman||C.J. Uzomah|
|Nick O'Leary||Ben Koyack|
|Wide Receiver||Kevin White||Dorial Green-Beckham||Breshad Perryman||Stefon Diggs|
|Amari Cooper||Devin Funchess||Tyler Lockett|
|DeVante Parker||Sammie Coates|
|Jaelen Strong||Rashad Greene|
|Running Back||Todd Gurley||Ameer Abdullah||Jay Ajayi||David Johnson|
|Melvin Gordon||T.J. Yeldon||Mike Davis||Karlos Williams|
|Quarterback||Jameis Winston||Bryce Petty||Sean Mannion||Bryan Bennett|
|Marcus Mariota||Garrett Grayson||Brandon Bridge||Shane Carden|
|Defensive Tackle||Danny Shelton||Carl Davis||Ellis McCarthy||Xavier Williams|
|Eddie Goldman||Michael Bennett|
|Mario Edwards Jr.|
|Defensive End||Leonard Williams||Owamagbe Odighizuwa|
|Randy Gregory||Arik Armstead|
|Dante Fowler Jr.|
|Outside Linebacker/||Vic Beasley||Danielle Hunter||Tony Washington||Lynden Trail|
|Edge Rusher||Shaq Thompson||Paul Dawson||Zach Hodges|
|Alvin Dupree||Lorenzo Mauldin|
|Inside Linebacker||Benardrick McKinney||Denzel Perryman||Ramik Wilson||Mike Hull||Terrance Plummer|
|Eric Kendricks||Stephone Anthony||A.J. Johnson|
|Cornerback||Marcus Peters||Ifo Ekpre-Olomu||Jacoby Glenn|
|Trae Waynes||Jalen Collins||Ronald Darby|
|P.J. Williams||Kevin Johnson|
|Safety||Landon Collins||Derron Smith||Jaquiski Tartt||Ibraheim Campbell||Tevin McDonald|
|Cody Prewitt||Chris Hackett||Damarious Randall|
Observations And Commentary
There are 95 prospects listed in the first three rounds, with just 30 listed in the remaining rounds. The Rams only have 2 selections beyond the first three rounds (5th and 7th). By comparison, the Rams entered the 2014 NFL Draft with 8 picks in rounds 4 through 7. The board is weighted to reflect the dearth of late-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft.
The board is comprised of 71 offensive players and 54 defensive players. The disparity in numbers between offensive and defensive players is a reflection of the Rams' needs on offense relative to their needs on defense. There are far more holes to address on the offensive side of the football. To further complicate matters, the Rams have 14 players (currently on the roster) eligible for Free Agency on March 10. 11 of them are on offense, while only 3 are on defense.
There are 34 offensive linemen on the board, easily the highest number among the positional groupings/units. Prioritization of team needs and offensive line depth in the draft are the primary reasons for the high number. The offensive line will likely be the Rams' biggest need heading into the draft.
The Rams currently have 5 selections in the 2015 NFL Draft. NFL compensatory picks are normally announced in the third week of March. The formula for determining compensatory picks is closely guarded by the NFL. Net gains/losses of players in Free Agency is the biggest determining factor in assigning compensatory picks. Average annual value of the contract signed with a new team also plays a significant role. Small adjustments are made for playing time and post-season honors.
The Rams lost four players who qualify for compensatory picks: Kellen Clemens, Chris Williams, Shelley Smith and Darian Stewart. In turn, the Rams signed four Free Agents who enter into the equation: Shaun Hill, Alex Carrington, Kenny Britt and Davin Joseph. Chris Williams holds the key in the compensation pick discussion. He signed a 4-year $13.15 million contract with the Bills (the highest value of the 8 players mentioned), yet only started three games while battling injuries. It's reasonable to suggest the Rams could receive one compensatory pick (likely in the 7th round).
In last weeks look at the top collegiate players at each position, I highlighted the strengths/weaknesses in this years draft, the draft's composition and the Rams' team needs.
10 players to watch at this weeks Combine:
- Brandon Bridge - QB - South Alabama
- Brett Hundley - QB - UCLA
- David Johnson - RB - Northern Iowa
- Kevin White - WR - West Virginia
- La'el Collins - G/T - LSU
- Brandon Scherff - G/T - Iowa
- Cameron Erving - C/T - Florida St.
- Ereck Flowers - OT - Miami (Fla.)
- Mario Edwards Jr. - DL - Florida St.
- Eric Kendricks - LB - UCLA
The ten players listed are among my favorite prospects in the upcoming draft. Let the Combine begin!!