The 2015 NFL Draft was historic for a variety of reasons. It was the first draft in 50 years to not be held in New York City. The draft was held in Auditorium Theatre in Chicago and was the first draft ever feature an outdoor component. The area across the street from the Auditorium Theatre, aptly named Draft Town, was open to the public where they could view NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as he spoke from the podium inside the venue when announcing picks. The 2015 draft was also the first in which two Heisman Trophy winners were selected with the first and second picks. Here’s how the top five picks have done in the NFL this year.
Winston was the first pick out of Florida State where he led the Seminoles to a national championship in 2013. For his efforts, he was also awarded that season’s Heisman Trophy. He led FSU back to the inaugural College Football Playoff, but his Seminoles were beaten by Oregon, 59-20.
Tampa Bay selected Winston with the first pick and penciled him into the starting lineup. For a rookie, Winston has not played all that poorly. Through seven games this season, Winston is completing 59 percent of his passes and has 1,471 yards and nine touchdowns. He has thrown seven interceptions, including four in a loss to Carolina.
His best game so far may have been his efforts in a 31-30 loss to the Redskins. Winston completed 21-of-29 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception. The former FSU star also led the Bucs to a 23-20 upset over Atlanta in early November giving Tampa Bay a 3-4 record on the season.
The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner was selected with the second pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. In a rare occurrence, the No. 1 and No. 2 picks wound up starting and facing each other in an NFL season opener this year. Mariota would complete 13-of-15 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-14 win over Tampa Bay and No. 1 pick Jameis Winston.
Unfortunately, it is the only game that Mariota has won this year. The former Oregon star lost four straight before injuring a knee in a loss to Miami. So far, Mariota has completed 103-of-161 (64 percent) passes for 1,239 yards and nine touchdowns. He has missed two games and it is unclear when he will return. Tennessee is 1-6 this season.
A 6-3, 265-pound speedy defensive end, Fowler was selected with the third pick in last year’s draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a perfect fit for the Florida native who played his college football at the University of Florida.
On the first day of mini-camp back in May, Fowler tore an ACL in drills and subsequently had surgery to repair the torn ligament. He will miss the entire season and return next year. Just four days after the injury, Jacksonville signed Fowler to a four-year contract worth $23.5 million.
The 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner is making a name for himself as an Oakland Raider. After leading the nation in receiving during the 2014 NCAA season, Cooper finds himself contributing to the 4-3 Raiders. Oakland has won its last two games, beating San Diego and the New York Jets. Cooper had five catches for 133 yards and a touchdowns against the Chargers and five more receptions against the Jets for 46 yards. His most productive game came in another win, a 27-20 victory over Cleveland. Cooper caught eight passes for 134 yards. For the season, Cooper has 33 catches, 519 yards, and three touchdowns.
At 6-5, 315 pounds, Scherff was the first offensive lineman taken in the 2015 draft. The winner of the 2014 Outland Trophy, Scherff was the anchor of the Iowa offensive line. A high school quarterback as a sophomore, Scherff was thrust into the starting lineup of the Washington Redskins and has performed admirably. Scherff starts at right guard for Washington and has been praised by the likes of NFL defensive star Ndamukong Suh. The Redskins are not all that great on offense, but Scherff is developing into a very good NFL offensive lineman.
While it is still early in the 2015 season and very early in the young careers of the top five draft picks, only time will tell if each was worth the investment by their respective teams. While both have struggled, neither Winston nor Mariota appears to be a bust as of yet. Fowler will get his chance in 2016 and both Cooper and Scherff appear headed for long careers in the league.