The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft came and went on Thursday night, and it did not disappoint when it came to shock and intrigue. Nobody was surprised to see the Cleveland Browns wisely take Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett with the top pick, but from that point on, insanity ensued.
The Chicago Bears tossed the first curveball of the night, trading up for the right to draft North Carolina quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky. The San Francisco 49ers happily obliged, racking up extra draft picks and moving down one slot to pick the guy they seemingly wanted all along – Stanford pass rusher, Solomon Thomas.
It got even crazier from there, as the Titans made a huge splash by trading up and making wide receiver Corey Davis the #5 pick in the draft, while both Patrick Mahomes (10th) and Deshaun Watson (12th) gave us two more quarterbacks selections within the first 12 picks.
Ultimately, several teams enjoyed a thoroughly successful outing, while others either handed into laughable gaffes or wasted their opportunities. Let’s rehash round one of the 2017 NFL Draft by looking back at the teams that did the best (and worst) on Thursday night:
Yes, that’s right, the Browns absolutely crushed the 2017 NFL Draft. Cleveland made the no-brainer call of selecting elite edge rusher Myles Garrett with the top pick, potentially bringing on a game-changer for a sluggish defense. They then potentially made an even better move by not panicking their way into a quarterback pick they didn’t love.
Instead, the Browns traded down to the 25th spot, where physical specimen Jabrill Peppers slid due to a failed drug test. Peppers is an athletic freak that boasts insane upside, and could project as a stud safety going forward for Cleveland.
Cleveland naturally racked up picks in the process, which allowed them to unload a few assets to trade back into round one and nab athletic tight end, David Njoku out of Miami. Cleveland addressed serious defensive needs and added a supreme offensive weapon, all the while emphasizing high level athleticism and major upside.
Anyone can bust for any team, but the Browns made fantastic picks and got outstanding value with their second and third picks in round one. Something tells us the Browns aren’t done wheeling and dealing just yet, but even if they are, there’s a budding argument they’ve already won the draft.
San Francisco 49ers
Don’t call new 49ers GM John Lynch a rookie, as he found a way to school other decision-makers while adding two high level prospects to an ailing San Francisco defense. Lynch played it cool when he traded down with a reaching Bears team, sliding from the #2 spot to #3, still getting his man in Solomon Thomas and racking up extra assets in the process.
San Francisco long said their defensive line was a strength, but adding a versatile pass rusher like Thomas makes that more a fact than ever. Lynch and the Niners weren’t done there, however, as they found their way to a second pick in round one, re-entering the bottom of the draft to take sliding Alabama linebacker, Reuben Foster.
Foster was without a doubt seen as this draft’s top interior linebacker, but character concerns had him take an epic fall. The Niners knew not to let him slide any further, however, as they grabbed a solution to the middle of their defense and with two picks completely overhauled a struggling unit.
The 49ers still don’t have a franchise passer and have other areas to address, but they absolutely nailed these two picks. If this is a sign of things, Niners fans certainly should be encouraged with the direction of this organization.
Washington only had one pick, but they made fantastic use of it by addressing a need on the defensive line and also picking up insane value via sliding defensive line prospect, Jonathan Allen.
Allen was at one point in the discussion to go #1 overall and absolutely was a top-5 prospect throughout the entire draft process. Need played into his free fall, as other teams valued other positions more than upgrading their defensive line. That works just fine for the Redskins, who picked up an athletic, versatile and NFL-ready beast in the trenches.
The Redskins still have work to do to truly “win” in this year’s draft, but this might be the top value pick in the entire first round.
Anytime you can use more than one pick in the first round you’re giving yourself a chance to pull in serious value. The Titans went about that path differently than some (traded up to #5), but they addressed a key need and then brought in crazy value with their second selection.
Landing Corey Davis was worth the trade up, as the stud wide receiver has the size and deep speed to be a star at the next level. That’s the upside, but worst case, the Titans went out and got Marcus Mariota a weapon he can work with (and deserves).
After making a sexy splash, the Titans calmed it down with a ho-hum addition of solid USC cornerback, Adoree Jackson. Jackson was a mild reach at 18, but he was always a fringe first round talent and at worst a high day two prospect. This also filled a major need for a Titans defense that really needed some more talent in their secondary.
Two picks down, and the Titans made great use of their time in the first round. We call that a win.
Indy nailed another killer value pick, as they saw stud Ohio State safety Malik Hooker slide all the way down to the 15th spot and couldn’t possibly pass him up. An elite ball hawk safety, Hooker has tons of experience at excelling against high level competition. This balanced, fiery leader could help patch up a shaky Colts defense and give Chuck Pagano a real difference-maker to start building an elite unit around.
Indy has a ton of work to do and has several holes to consider moving forward, but they went after (arguably) the best available talent here and hit a homerun.
Green Bay Packers
This is more of an incomplete than anything else, as Packers GM Ted Thompson traded out of the first round in classic fashion. The jury remains out for Green Bay’s stay in the 2017 NFL Draft, as they did collect more picks and will have the first pick of round two, as well as two selections during that round.
Green Bay can still have a highly successful draft and accrue more impact players with extra early selections, but they were in position to grab a stud pass rusher in T.J. Watt, a feature running back in Dalvin Cook or a stud inside linebacker in Reuben Foster. Watt and Foster would have both been fantastic additions to a defense that was atrocious a year ago, but at least Cook is still on the board when the green and gold go back on the clock on Friday.
While the Packers can turn this around, they did not come away with a win in round one. If things don’t turn around quickly, they could end up being big time losers for the entire draft.
It’s always a shaky bet to spend a first round pick on a player with a troubled past, but it’s potentially far worse when their problems arise the week of the draft. Oakland took a big risk by selecting star cornerback Gareon Conley with their first round pick, despite the stud Ohio State product having rape accusations thrown his way heading into the draft.
Reports suggest Conley is likely innocent of the claims and the Raiders supposedly did their due diligence, but this is still a massive gamble. If this negative attention goes away this will end up being one of the top steals of round one, but it could also easily blow up in Oakland’s face. With quality players like Jabrill Peppers, Tre’Davious White and Takkarist McKinley available at the 24th pick, Oakland may have taken an unnecessary roll of the dice.
The Packers can still make good on their many draft choices and Conley could end up being a huge steal, but the Bears mortgaged their future for a raw franchise quarterback (Mitchell Trubisky) that they probably won’t be using in 2017.
This is a team that just let Jay Cutler go and moved on to sign Mike Glennon on to be their starter, and then they pull a head-scratching move where they trade assets to move up one spot to get a guy that very well could have slid one more spot to where they were – the 3rd overall pick. It’s an odd move simply because Chicago just brought in Glennon and had a slew of holes to fix on the defensive side of the football.
Who knows; perhaps Trubisky will be worth the fuss and will save the Bears from futility in the coming years. In the interim this move does nothing to make the Bears better for next season and it’s quite possible the raw passer may never realize the potential the #2 overall selection begs of him.
Got your own winners and losers from day one of the 2017 NFL Draft? Want to comment on the ones we brought up? Feel free to get the conversation going in the comments below!
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