Re-drafts are the best. A snarky journalist with the benefit of hindsight telling multi-billion-dollar corporations how wrong they were a number of years ago? Awesome stuff.
We joke, of course. The 2015 NFL Draft is most known for the draft in which Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went numbers one and two, respectively.
With the aforementioned benefit of hindsight to our advantage, though, that isn’t exactly how things would shape out if the league ran it all back. Let’s take a look at how a re-draft of the 2015 NFL Draft would look.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brandon Scherff, Iowa
While the Bucs needed a quarterback, one would think they wouldn’t select Jameis Winston again if given the chance. Instead, they begin building a wall up front, led by the powerful Hawkeye.
- Tennessee Titans: WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland
This actually fits very well. Tennessee didn’t have a ground-breaking receiver at the time, and Diggs would prove to be that, and then some, with Minnesota, and now Buffalo. Similar to the Bucs, with what we know now, Tennessee should wait another year to take a quarterback.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Danielle Hunter, LSU
Hunter has become one of the premier defensive linemen in football. The two-time Pro Bowler had consecutive seasons with 14.5 sacks in 2018 and 2019 and has been the anchor of the Vikings’ defense. In this scenario, the Jaguars get a dominant force to build around for the foreseeable future, making up for the line of bad defensive linemen selections that would ensue.
- Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
It would make sense for the Raiders to still take Cooper. He and Derek Carr made good music together in Oakland before he was sent to Dallas. Maybe in this reality, Cooper stays put with the Raiders, and the quarterback-receiver duo lead them on multiple playoff runs.
- Washington Commanders: TE Darren Waller, Georgia Tech
Washington’s offensive identity was waning. Robert Griffin III was on soon to be gone, and they didn’t have a solidified go-to target. Bringing in Waller would make Washington fans feel like they were back in the days of Chris Cooley, only Waller would end up being much better.
- New York Jets: CB Marcus Peters, Washington
The Jets had Darrelle Revis from the late 2000s through the early 2010s, and he ended up being one of the best cornerbacks of all time. Since Revis, though, New York has struggled to find stability at the position. In this instance, they transition from Revis into Peters, hitting the defensive back jackpot twice in less than a decade.
- Chicago Bears: EDGE Frank Clark, Michigan
What made the Bears a constant playoff team throughout the 2000s was their defense. Bringing in a force like Clark would have usher in that next era of dominant Chicago defense a few years early.
- Atlanta Falcons: RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
Gurley finds himself in Atlanta a half-decade earlier in this scenario, and it would have paid dividends for the Falcons. Imagine that 2016 season that Ryan had, alongside Gurley, who would go on a three-year run of being one of the best players in football. Atlanta probably holds onto the 28-3 lead, and the Atlanta Falcons have a Super Bowl.
- New York Giants: OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
The Giants have been an offensive line-needy team for what feels like forever. The end of the Eli Manning era was ruined by the plague of poor offensive line play, among other things. Instead of taking Ereck Flowers here, they grab Peat, who has had a very good career in New Orleans.
- Louis Rams: G Ali Marpet, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
No one knew what Hobert and William Smith Colleges was before Ali Marpet was drafted in 2015. The Buccaneers took the future Pro Bowler in the second round, but he gets bumped up in this reality.
- Minnesota Vikings: CB Byron Jones, UConn
The Vikings have proven rather poor at drafting cornerbacks. Trae Waynes, Mike Hughes- both within just a few years of each other, both ended up not panning out. Jones is one of the better cornerbacks in football, and the Vikings would have benefitted much more from selecting the UConn Husky.
- Cleveland Browns: EDGE Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky
Smith wasn’t taken until the fourth round by the Ravens but has proven to be a steal. The two-time All-Pro has been a force for both Baltimore and Green Bay, and the Browns would have been better by selecting him rather than Danny Shelton.
- New Orleans Saints: WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Imagine what Drew Brees, who was still at the relative top of his game in 2015, could have done with Tyler Lockett. This would have been a fun duo to watch for the waning years of Brees’ career, and the Saints needed receiver help at the time. This would have been fun.
- Miami Dolphins: LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
The Dolphins linebackers of the time were nothing to write home about. Kendricks would have been an immediate impact defender for the Dolphins the way he has been for Minnesota since he was drafted.
- San Diego Chargers: EDGE Bud Dupree, Kentucky
Dupree started off slow with Pittsburgh, but once he got going, it was a sight to see. He and T.J. Watt put up franchise-record numbers in their stint together with the Steelers before the Titans gave Dupree a big pay day for a job well done.
- Houston Texans: S Landon Collins, Alabama
Having J.J. Watt still playing near the top of his game when healthy, along with Jadeveon Clowney, gave Houston a solid pairing in their front seven. A dominant safety on the backend would have made them an even more feared unit. Collins’ stint in Washington may not have gone as planned thus far, but his time in New York was nothing short of excellent. If he landed in Houston, this is a Texans team that could have made multiple deep playoff runs.
- San Francisco 49ers: DE Arik Armstead
I’d imagine the 49ers would take Armstead again. He has grown to be a pivotal part of their defense, and the 49ers ended up giving him an extension. This one stays as it was.
- Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE Preston Smith, Mississippi State
Smith has utilized his size and speed since coming into the league. While it was an up-and-down ride in Washington, he has found a level of consistency with Green Bay, where he is one of the better edge rushers in the game today.
- Cleveland Browns: OT La’el Collins, LSU
A first-round haul of Smith and Collins would have done wonders for the Browns, and perhaps gone down as one of the best first rounds for a team in NFL history. We know the story with Collins. He went undrafted despite being very talented. Off-field issues scared teams away, but he has become one of the best offensive linemen in the game today.
- Philadelphia Eagles: RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa
I would have loved to see the Eagles go from LeSean McCoy to David Johnson. Both possess a similar skill set; both are versatile guys. While Johnson’s peak was very brief, it was a peak that saw him become one of the best running backs in the NFL.
- Cincinnati Bengals: DE Leonard Williams, USC
Williams is one of those guys where if he would have been drafted somewhere else, his career could have been much better. While with the Jets, the talent was evident, but the organization could never quite take that next step. He has taken steps forward with the Giants, including an 11.5 sack season in 2020, but it would be great to see him join a contender and have more national eyes on him.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Ronald Darby, Florida State
The Steelers’ secondary in the mid-2010s was not what the organization had grown used to when they were winning Super Bowls. Darby would have been a day-one starter and could have helped propel Pittsburgh in the AFC. With a stronger secondary, maybe Pittsburgh makes it to another Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger.
- Denver Broncos: LB Kwon Alexander, LSU
Well, Shane Ray was the original pick for Denver and that didn’t exactly pan out. Taking Alexander would have made their defense even more amazing that season, as they rode the “No Fly Zone” to a Super Bowl Championship.
- Arizona Cardinals: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Instead of having David Johnson, the Cardinals get Melvin Gordon, who would have been equally, if not better, suited for the Cardinals offense under Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer. This would have been a fun show in the desert.
- Carolina Panthers: WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
The Panthers didn’t exactly have a “who’s who” of receiving talent in 2015. Parker would have been an instant go-to for Cam Newton as the Panthers would embark on their first trip to the Super Bowl in over a decade.
- Baltimore Ravens: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
This is basically to say that John Harbaugh does what he did with Lamar Jackson four years early. That’s not to say that Mariota would reach the peak that Jackson has, but in that exact style of offense, I find it hard to believe Mariota wouldn’t have found more success than he did in Tennessee.
- Dallas Cowboys: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
You really think that with an aging, injury-prone Tony Romo, Jerry Jones wouldn’t sprint to the podium himself to announce the Cowboys were taking Jameis? This is the same man who wanted to draft Johnny Manziel and Paxton Lynch. Seeing what Jameis potentially could have been, Jerry would have done the worm over an ocean of broken glass to get a guy like that.
- Detroit Lions: OT Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
Getting protection for Matthew Stafford was never a bad idea. Havenstein spent his entire career with the Rams and was one of the better tackles in the league during that span. Detroit would have had a building block to build around up front for over a half-decade.
- Indianapolis Colts: OT Trent Brown, Florida
I’m sure Andrew Luck would have loved this, considering he was ripped to shreds by opposing defenses throughout the vast majority of his career. If the Colts had the 6-foot-8, 380-pound behemoth of a man protecting Luck, maybe he wouldn’t have had to pray to whatever God would listen every time he said “hut.”
- Green Bay Packers: CB Quandre Diggs, Texas
The Packers had a solid secondary in 2015. Micah Hyde and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix made a very solid safety duo, and Sam Shields was coming off a Pro Bowl season. Putting Diggs on the other side of Shields would have made for quite the top four in a relatively deep Green Bay defensive backfield.
- New Orleans Saints: LB Jordan Hicks, Texas
After getting Tyler Lockett, the Saints add some strength to the defensive side of the ball. Hicks has been a very good starter for both the Eagles and Cardinals since coming into the league. He would give a Saints defense, who at the time weren’t exactly a defensive powerhouse, some stability in the middle of the field.
- New England Patriots: DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State
Goldman was a consistent presence for the Bears interior defensive line for six seasons. He was a very good run stopper and had a good nose for the ball. While his career was somewhat brief, he did well in the six seasons in which he played and would have been a favorite of Bill Belichick.