NFL Draft recap: Marcus Mariota Goes No. 2 to Tennessee, nine Pac-12 players picked
The Pac-12 set a conference record with nine first-round selections in the 2015 NFL draft Thursday in Chicago. The nine picks tied the ACC for the most selections in the first round this year. Marcus Mariota led the way by going No. 2 to the Tennessee Titans, while Leonard Williams also was a top-10 pick by going sixth to the Jets. The night was capped off by Arizona State's Damarious Randall, who was the first safety selected at No. 30 by Green Bay.
As expected, former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was the No. 2 overall pick. Despite trade rumors galore, the Tennessee Titans decided to hold on to their pick to select the Heisman Trophy winner. Mariota becomes the highest Pac-12 player selected since Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck went No. 1 overall to the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 and the highest Duck since quarterback George Shaw went No. 1 overall to the Baltimore Colts in 1955.
— Tennessee Titans (@TennesseeTitans) May 1, 2015
— Oregon Football (@WinTheDay) May 1, 2015
[Related Marcus Mariota highlights]
Leonard Williams thought he should be the No. 1 pick while many experts believed the USC star was likely going third or fourth overall. Some even considered Williams to be the most talented player in the draft. Turns out, the stud defensive lineman was selected sixth overall by the New York Jets. He is the first Trojan to go in the top 10 since tackle Matt Kalil went fourth to the Vikings back in 2012, and the third USC guy to be a top-10 selection in the last five drafts (tackle Tyron Smith went ninth to the Cowboys in 2011). Kyle Bonagura puts things in perspective for us:
No one "falls" in the draft. Everyone needs to stop putting so much stock in mock drafts. How have we as a people not learned this yet?
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) May 1, 2015
— SB Nation (@SBNation) May 1, 2015
[Related Leonard Williams highlights]
Danny Shelton was the next Pac-12er off the board, as the defensive lineman out of U-Dub went 12th overall to the Cleveland Browns. The first-team All-American and first-team Academic All-American dominated the trenches with 93 tackles (for a nose tackle… WOW) and nine sacks in 2014. He’s a pretty strong dude, as Roger Goodell soon discovered:
— SB Nation (@SBNation) May 1, 2015
[Related: 39 Pac-12 players selected at 2015 NFL Draft]
The New Orleans Saints had protection issues last year, so they decided to get some help from The Farm and draft Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat 13th overall. Considered a prototypical left tackle (6’7’’, 316 pounds), Peat was named a first-team All-American by The Sporting News and SI.com. Projections had Peat going anywhere from the top 10 to the back end of the first round, so No. 13 is a pretty lucky number for the Chandler, Ariz., native.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) May 1, 2015
— Stepfan Taylor (@KULABAFI) May 1, 2015
Multiple mock drafts had the San Francisco 49ers selecting Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead, be it in the first round with their No. 15 selection or in the second round at No. 46. Turns out that the Niners took Armstead off the board at No. 17 after trading down with the San Diego Chargers. Armstead will help the Niners in creating havoc for opposing signal callers, as the Sac-Town kid led the Ducks in quarterback hurries in 2014. This is the second time in three years that Oregon had two guys go in the first round, as Dion Jordan went third and Kyle Long 20th in 2013.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) May 1, 2015
[Related Arik Armstead highlights]
Right after Armstead heard his name called, fellow Pac-12 North defensive player Marcus Peters out of Washington went 18th to the Kansas City Chiefs. Some thought character questions (he was dismissed from the Dawgs during the 2014 season) might drop Peters out of the first round, but there is no denying his talent – NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. rated him as the top cornerback in the 2015 draft (ESPN Insider link). It’s the first time in 20 years that two Huskies were selected in the first round (Napoleon Kaufman and Mark Bruener in 1995).
— Marcus Peters (@marcuspeters) May 1, 2015
Pac-12 players were dropping like flies off the draft board by this point, and it wasn’t much longer until Nelson Agholor went 20th overall to Philadelphia. The latest in a long line of studly USC wide receivers, Agholor led the Trojans with an astounding 104 catches for 1,313 yards and 12 TD grabs in 2014. Chip Kelly sure likes his Pac-12 players, doesn’t he?
Chip Kelly took a Pac-12 player? You don't say. pic.twitter.com/sLgRYr3neC
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 1, 2015
Chip Kelly needed a USC WR for all his USC QBs to throw to. pic.twitter.com/HbIQpB65Bg
— SportsNation (@SportsNation) May 1, 2015
Some thought that Shaq Thompson would have to wait until Friday to find out where his professional football career would start, but a pleasant surprise came his way when the Carolina Panthers nabbed the linebacker-slash-RB with the No. 25 pick. A big-time athlete, Thompson won the 2014 Paul Hornung Award that goes to the nation’s most versatile player (456 rushing yards and 81 tackles for a season sounds pretty versatile to me). It’s the first time in NFL Draft history that three Huskies were selected in the first round.
— UW Football (@UW_Football) May 1, 2015
[Related Shaq Thompson highlights]
Arizona State got some first-round love Thursday night when Sun Devil safety Damarious Randall went 30th overall to the Green Bay Packers. One of the best safeties in the nation in 2014, Randall posted 87 solo tackles (fourth all-time in Sun Devil history for a single season) and tied for the team lead with three picks. Originally thought to be a Friday kinda guy when the 2014 college football season ended, Randall helped his stock with his Arizona State pro day, and pundits seemed to fall in love with him even more as draft day neared.
Green Bay takes ASU safety Damarious Randall at No. 30. Randall becomes ASU's first first-round pick since 2003. pic.twitter.com/icKvmpkUji
— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) May 1, 2015