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Saints, Browns among teams that can control 2015 NFL Draft

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Each draft has its own tapestry, and the design to this year's event makes one thing abundantly clear:

The guys making the calls will have to earn their money in the first round.

2015 NFL DRAFT

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The class isn't as strong as last year's, but it's not as weak as 2013's group. And what it's missing in blue-chip talent, it makes up for in uncertainty. At a number of positions, there's a glaring lack of consensus on rank, and a sizable group of players who will fall where they do largely because of the preferences of those picking.

As one NFC personnel executive puts it, "You're gonna find out who can scout."

There are, of course, reasons that things are this way:

» Last year's top four overall picks and half of the first 34 selections were underclassmen, a fact that robbed some of the would-be elite from this year's draft.

» The number of early declarations is down, but almost every scout, personnel chief and general manager I've spoken with agrees that the number of enticing young juniors (20 years old, or barely 21) is high, which means the focus is on guys who aren't as developed, have less tape and have less of a track record.

» Although there aren't all that many blue-chip players, there are a ton of red-chip guys.

"The gaps aren't as dramatic this year between the players at each position," said one college scouting director. "There's no clear-cut No. 1 offensive lineman -- you could say (Brandon) Scherff, but a lot of people think he's a guard. ... Overall, there are a lot of good players, but the top tier isn't quite as good."

So as we eye the teams that control the draft (as we did in 2014), note that this is a year in which having a high volume of picks can be a plus -- with depth at certain positions lasting a few rounds and teams having a realistic chance of coming away with multiple building blocks.

Who has that strength in numbers?

(NOTE: Click on each team name for a full list of 2015 draft picks.)

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Total picks: 9
Top-50 picks: 3
Top-100 picks: 5

Outlook: The Saints paid a price to have five picks among the top 78 selections, trading away Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham and a promising young receiver in Kenny Stills. So the team has added need at those positions. And word around the league is that Sean Payton has put a renewed emphasis this year on finding the right type of guys, from a character standpoint, which could be a little limiting. But there's no question that Payton and GM Mickey Loomis are in prime position to rebuild the defense and the interior of the offensive line -- and maybe move around the board some, too -- with this impressive war chest of draft capital.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Total picks: 10
Top-50 picks: 3
Top-100 picks: 4

Outlook: Last year's Sammy Watkins trade has the Browns selecting twice in the top 20 (Nos. 12 and 19 overall), and the team is well-equipped later on, as well, with multiple selections in the fourth and sixth rounds. That's good, because there'll be a focus on getting help for whoever ends up quarterbacking in Cleveland, along with strong, deep groups at both tailback and receiver. How could that pay off? Well, so long as Ray Farmer doesn't trade the farm for Marcus Mariota -- those who've worked in the building the last two years know well Farmer's affinity for the Oregon QB -- it could give the Browns the flexibility to take a chance on a guy like Todd Gurley at 12, knowing they've got a larger margin for error with a high number of total picks.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Total picks: 9
Top-50 picks: 1
Top-100 picks: 4

Outlook: Two of New England's nine picks are compensatory and can't be traded, but the other seven are certainly in play to be moved. The Patriots have the last pick of the second round, two picks in the third and the second pick in the fourth, which should allow them to move up or down to address needs on the offensive and defense lines, at linebacker and at corner. But the most likely scenario, given New England's history, is a pick or two being moved out to 2016; Bill Belichick has typically preyed on regimes with fleeting job security, dealing current-year picks for next-year picks a round higher. And as it's unlikely that the champs will have nine rookies make their team in 2015, this could be a year to go back to that well-worn game plan.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Total picks: 10
Top-50 picks: 2
Top-100 picks: 4

Outlook: The Chiefs have four compensatory selections, so their ability to trade is severely limited. But their picks are well spread out, from 18 to 233 overall, and with needs matching some positions of depth in this particular class, GM John Dorsey should be in position to improve the roster. And at the very least, having the compensatory picks should make it easier for the Chiefs to wrap their heads around the idea of using the selections in between them (118, 193) as currency.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Total picks: 10
Top-50 picks: 1
Top-100 picks: 3

Outlook: The Ravens have long been masters of playing the compensatory-pick formula, and this year is no exception -- Baltimore wound up with six picks between 122 and 176 overall. That'll make the Ravens a powerbroker going into Saturday and could give Ozzie Newsome and Co. the chance to add another top-100 pick on Friday -- if the right player falls.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Total picks: 11
Top-50 picks: 0
Top-100 picks: 2

Outlook: Odds aren't great the Seahawks will come away with a Day 1 difference-maker (they don't currently have a first-round pick), but Seattle doesn't need many more of those, with a roster that remains loaded. GM John Schneider is, on the other hand, in a position to own Saturday (nine Day 3 selections) and replenish the back end of his roster with developmental players who could grow into bigger roles as the rest of the league starts to poach the second tier of the Seahawks' roster down the line.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.

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