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Thumbs up, thumbs down for first-round draft picks


Our NFL Nation reporters assess the first-round draft picks.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

The Bucs were dismal on offense last year, ranking 30th in the league. Quarterbacks Josh McCown and Mike Glennon struggled mightily. The Bucs need a franchise quarterback, and Winston can be that. As long as he can avoid off-the-field issues, he has plenty of on-the-field talent and could give this team its first true franchise quarterback. Thumbs up. -- Pat Yasinskas

2. Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

I’m skeptical about his ability to do what the Titans ask their quarterback to do and about the team’s willingness to alter the offense for him. But the lure of possibilities with a new QB is understandably strong. Taking a crack with a guy with Mariota’s potential seems like the right thing to do. Thumbs up. -- Paul Kuharsky

3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida

An edge rusher was the Jaguars’ No. 1 need on defense, and they filled it with a player who doesn’t fit the typical characteristics of the leo, which is their pass-rushing end. Fowler weighs 264 pounds, which is 14 pounds heavier than the Jaguars like their leos, but he moves very well at that size (4.6-second 40-yard dash) and GM David Caldwell said the added size will help Fowler against the run. The Jaguars loved his physicality and motor, too. To be honest, the Jaguars couldn’t really go wrong here because they had the pick of all the non-QBs. Thumbs up. -- Michael DiRocco

4. Oakland Raiders
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The Raiders were one of two teams not to have a 700-yard receiver last season and haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss (60 catches for 1,005 yards) in 2005. Cooper had an SEC-record 124 catches last season. This is a gift for young quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders are now more dangerous. Thumbs up. -- Bill Williamson

5. Washington Redskins
Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

I’m surprised because not everyone viewed Scherff as a tackle (including me). But the part that I love is his demeanor; watch the kid play and you’ll fall in love with his on-field attitude. Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan just established what he wants from this team: tough, nasty, physical players. And an improved offensive line. Thumbs up. -- John Keim

6. New York Jets
Leonard Williams, DE, USC

Wow, the Jets have one scary defensive line. Obviously, they didn't need a defensive lineman -- it's their strongest unit -- but they couldn't pass on Williams, who unexpectedly tumbled to the sixth pick. He's regarded by many teams as the No. 1 prospect in the draft. New general manager Mike Maccagnan preaches the best-player-available credo, and he backed it up by grabbing Williams instead of reaching for a need. Remarkably, the Jets have used their past seven first-round picks on defensive players, including four linemen -- Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson and Williams. It could be a scary defensive line. Thumbs up. -- Rich Cimini

7. Chicago Bears
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

White lit up college football last year when he opened the season with seven consecutive 100-yard receiving games, including memorable performances against Alabama (nine catches, 143 yards, TD) and Oklahoma (10-173-1). A finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, White finished his senior year with 109 catches for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. Thumbs up. -- Jeff Dickerson

8. Atlanta Falcons
Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

He had 52.5 tackles for loss, 33 sacks and 29 quarterback pressures at Clemson. He had one sack in eight consecutive games between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. For a Falcons team desperate for pass-rushing help -- it averaged just 27 sacks per year the past two seasons -- Beasley could inject instant life as a situational player asked to go get the quarterback. Thumbs up. -- Vaughn McClure

9. New York Giants
Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

I like the pick. In spite of the high picks of Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg the past two years, the Giants still need to build the offensive line. In Flowers, they get a huge (6-foot-6, 330-pound) offensive lineman who can start right away at guard or right tackle and help upgrade the run blocking, which was one of their offseason priorities. But the Giants also believe that the 21-year-old Flowers has a high enough ceiling that he can eventually be a top left tackle. That makes it worth spending a top-10 pick on the guy. His footwork in pass protection will need some work before he can move over there and replace Will Beatty, but the Giants believe they can work with him on that and develop him into a cornerstone. Thumbs up. -- Dan Graziano

10. St. Louis Rams
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Some might view this pick as a complete surprise, but they haven't paid attention to Rams coach Jeff Fisher's affinity for the running game and running backs. Gurley is the fifth running back the Rams have drafted in four years with Fisher at the helm. He's also clearly the highest rated of those backs and the one who gives the Rams a chance to finally be the power-running team they've long wanted to be. Coming off a knee injury, Gurley doesn't come without his share of risk, but the Rams believe he's the best back to come out of the draft since Adrian Peterson. If Gurley lives up to that lofty comparison, he's worth it. Thumbs up. -- Nick Wagoner

11. Minnesota Vikings
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

The Vikings have now spent a league-high three first-round draft picks in the past four years on their secondary, and considering what they have to face in the NFC North, the strategy makes sense. Waynes seemed like a favorite for the Vikings all spring and he’ll team with Xavier Rhodes to give them two young, tall and physical corners who should help them deal with Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery and Jordy Nelson. Thumbs up. -- Ben Goessling

12. Cleveland Browns
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

It’s been so rare in Cleveland first rounds that logic and common sense prevail. In this draft, it did. The Browns made a very solid, smart and commonsense pick in taking Shelton, a run-stopping interior lineman who should help the league’s worst run defense. Thumbs up. -- Pat McManamon

13. New Orleans Saints
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

I’m not doing cartwheels, but only because this pick didn’t address one of the Saints’ most glaring needs. (They already have a rising young left tackle in Terron Armstead.) But I’ll never rip a team for drafting a high-upside offensive tackle -- especially the Saints, who need to fortify a declining offensive line. Drew Brees was sacked 37 times in 2013 and 29 times in 2014 -- the two highest totals of his career. Thumbs up. -- Mike Triplett

14. Miami Dolphins
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

The Dolphins needed a true No. 1 receiver and potentially landed one in Parker. He has the size (6-foot-2, 209 pounds) and speed (4.45 40-yard dash) the Dolphins covet, and Parker's ability to run after the catch fits in well with Bill Lazor’s offense. Thumbs up. -- James Walker

15. San Diego Chargers
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

In the first trade of the draft, the Chargers gave up a fourth-rounder in this year’s draft and a fifth-rounder next year in a deal with the 49ers to move up two spots to select Gordon. San Diego fills an obvious need by selecting the most productive running back in the draft. The former Wisconsin star is a perfect fit for San Diego’s offense and will provide some balance to the Philip Rivers-led offense by serving as the Chargers’ workhorse runner in place of the departed Ryan Mathews. Thumbs up. -- Eric D. Williams

16. Houston Texans
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

This isn’t a flashy pick, but the Texans weren’t likely to make one with the 16th pick. General manager Rick Smith said he felt Johnson was the best cornerback in the draft. They hid their public interest -- talking to Johnson only at the combine -- to help ensure he’d be there when they drafted. Corner wasn’t an urgent need but could have become one in a year if not addressed. Thumbs up. -- Tania Ganguli

17. San Francisco 49ers
Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

Niners general manager Trent Baalke acknowledged he "coveted" Armstead at No. 15, so trading down to 17th overall and scooping up two more picks in the deal and still getting his man qualifies as a coup. At 6-8, Armstead is the tallest defensive player taken in the first round since the common draft began. While he needs to get acquainted with the weight room and may not be an impact player immediately, his ceiling is just as high as he is tall. Thumbs up. -- Paul Gutierrez

18. Kansas City Chiefs
Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

There’s no question the Chiefs needed a cornerback, and from talent alone, Peters might be a solid pick. But he was suspended for one game last year and later thrown off the team for confrontations with an assistant coach. His emotional outbursts make him a risky pick. Thumbs down. -- Adam Teicher

19. Cleveland Browns
Cameron Erving, C, Florida State

This isn’t a sexy pick, but it’s the right one. Offensive line is the Browns’ money position, and Erving -- a former All-American left tackle who converted to center -- can play all five spots on the line. They can get a receiver on Day 2, and with quarterback instability they will need to run the ball 30-plus times a game. Erving can bolster the line play while potentially replacing center Alex Mack if he opts out of his contract next season. Thumbs up. -- Jeremy Fowler

20. Philadelphia Eagles
Nelson Agholor, WR, USC

If you ignore the fact that the Eagles weren’t able to get quarterback Marcus Mariota, this is not a bad pick. Agholor is a solid player who fills the need created by Chip Kelly’s inability to keep Jeremy Maclin as a free agent and cutting DeSean Jackson last year. Other pressing needs -- at defensive back especially -- remain unfilled. Thumbs down. -- Phil Sheridan

21. Cincinnati Bengals
Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

A torn left ACL didn’t deter the Bengals from drafting Ogbuehi, who contends his recovery will be complete by training camp. Although he’s highly rated, the move still falls flat for a team that’s desperate to get out of the first round of the playoffs. Ogbuehi’s addition won’t help the Bengals do that, primarily because he won’t play this season with Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth getting the bulk of the snaps at left tackle and Andre Smith playing right tackle. Thumbs down. -- Coley Harvey

22. Pittsburgh Steelers
Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

The Steelers historically are a great pass-rushing team and have had unbelievable players at the outside linebacker position under Dick LeBeau. LeBeau is now in Tennessee, but things are not expected to change much from a scheme perspective. Dupree is far from a polished prospect, but his upside is through the roof. Thumbs up. -- Matt Williamson

23. Denver Broncos
Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

This was a due-diligence pick for the Broncos. Ray was considered a top-10 talent by many teams who slipped because of a citation for marijuana possession just four days before the draft. However, the Broncos still thought enough of him to flip-flop picks in the first round with the Lions and send two additional picks to the Lions as well -- fifth round this year (143rd overall) and a fifth-rounder in 2016. A risk worth taking given Ray wasn’t considered to have a character question before his traffic stop this week and given he can play immediately in the Broncos’ 3-4 scheme. Ray does start his career in the league’s substance abuse program and will be subject to increased testing (up to 10 times a month), so the Broncos need him to stay clean to make this move worth all it can be. Thumbs up. -- Jeff Legwold

24. Arizona Cardinals
D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida

I was a bit surprised with this pick because of Arizona’s need for a pass-rusher, but if Humphries is as good as advertised, the Cardinals have built a stout offensive line. And they need it. The Cardinals averaged a league-low 3.3 yards per carry last season, in part because of struggles on the offensive line. It’s likely that Humphries’ addition means the end of the road for Bobby Massie. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Humphries will compete with Massie for the starting RT job. Thumbs up. -- Josh Weinfuss

25. Carolina Panthers
Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

You look for impact players in the first round, and Thompson has a chance to do that as an outside linebacker, strong safety and on special teams. He’ll play a bigger immediate role than any offensive tackle who could have been selected and be a future replacement for 32-year-old Thomas Davis. And, he scores touchdowns and stops touchdowns. What’s not to like? Thumbs up. -- David Newton

26. Baltimore Ravens
Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF

The Ravens got the explosive playmaker they desperately needed in Perriman, who averaged 19.5 yards per catch in his career. He's a bigger and faster version of Torrey Smith, and he has the potential to become a No. 1 receiver. The only concern is his drops, but the Ravens believe his hands improved toward the end of last season. Thumbs up. -- Jamison Hensley

27. Dallas Cowboys
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut

The Cowboys went with a need and the best player available in taking Jones. He also gives the Cowboys some position flexibility with free safety in his background. He will be a cornerback first, but the Cowboys won’t rule out using him at safety. Thumbs up. -- Todd Archer

28. Detroit Lions
Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke

It looked like Manny Ramirez, whom the Lions picked up in a trade with the Broncos, would be Detroit's next left guard -- at least for a half hour. Detroit then drafted Tomlinson, an extremely talented player who should immediately slide into the starting left guard spot. He’s an extremely intelligent player and should be able to pick up Detroit’s blocking scheme easily. This fills a need and locks up a player who wouldn’t have been there in Round 2. He’s the best guard in the draft. Nice move by Martin Mayhew. Thumbs up. -- Michael Rothstein

29. Indianapolis Colts
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami

The Colts had more pressing needs on the offensive and defensive lines and safety than another offensive weapon for Andrew Luck. You can’t fault them for not taking an offensive lineman because the board had thinned out there, but Alabama safety Landon Collins and Florida State defensive lineman Eddie Goldman and Texas’ Malcom Brown were still available. Thumbs down. -- Mike Wells

30. Green Bay Packers
Damarious Randall, CB, Arizona State

The Packers allowed 22 touchdown passes to receivers last season – second-most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. If Randall can cover like he did at Arizona State, it should help cut down on that total this season, whether he plays in the slot or on the outside. Thumbs up. -- Rob Demovsky

31. New Orleans Saints
Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson

This time, the Saints did address a need (I had ILB ranked No. 1 overall heading into the draft). I wouldn’t call Anthony a "steal" (ESPN analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper had him rated 50th and 57th overall, respectively). But I have no problem with the pick because I said it would be a huge disappointment if the Saints didn’t come away with one of six top-rated inside linebackers with either pick No. 31 or 44. Thumbs up. -- Mike Triplett

32. New England Patriots
Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

Brown was one of the 10 projected targets identified for the Patriots leading into the draft, but the thought here was that he wouldn’t be available. Seems like a steal, reminiscent of the Vince Wilfork pick in 2004. Now Brown will be part of filling Wilfork’s void. Thumbs up. -- Mike Reiss