Just like that, the 2017 NFL Draft is completed. For many people, it concludes a marathon of mock drafts, player rankings, and countless interviews of prospects trying to say the right thing and teams keeping coy about their true intentions.
Here are a couple of thoughts I have on the draft and its aftermath:
It was expected that Myles Garrett would be the first overall selection; the world just wasn’t sure if the Cleveland Browns would go with conventional thinking. It turns out they did and continued to do so throughout much of the draft. What we’ve learned about GM Sashi Brown and the Browns’ front office is that they appear to have done their due diligence on their draft board. Each of the three picks they made in the first round—DE Myles Garrett, S/LB Jabrill Peppers, and TE David Njoku—had a decorated 2016 season. Each player has a high potential to be better than they were in the college ranks. It’s obvious that the Browns needed a QB, but they didn’t chase after it like other teams did; they stayed pat, taking the best player available instead. They did eventually select DeShone Kizer in the second round, who some people projected as a first-round talent.
The Browns are a young team, and drafting extraordinary talent in early rounds in the draft will not lead to an immediate payoff. However, Cleveland appears to be building a foundation; they have a vision for the future that is now transparent to those outside the Brea, Ohio team facility.
So much for quarterbacks being a low-grade commodity in the 2017 draft: three QBs were selected in the first ten picks. Even though the 2017 group of quarterbacks did not compare to the other classes, this drafting strategy illustrated that finding a franchise passer is a priority that teams will gamble upon.
The Chicago Bears were willing to place all of their chips on Mitchell Tribusky, trading up from the third to second overall selection in order to secure a player who they feel will be the face of the Bears for years to come. The move puts pressure on all those involved, from GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. Tribusky needs to be a success soon, since the aforementioned men may lose their jobs if he doesn’t live up to expectations. With former Bills GM Doug Whaley fired after the draft, shouldering the blame for the failure of EJ Manuel, the NFL remains a league that focuses on the question “What have you done for me lately?”
Many people have pegged the 2017 running back class as being the best one in almost a decade. Not only was the top of the group talented, there was also plenty of depth in the number of quality backs available. However, after the dust cleared in the first round, only two running backs were selected. While Leonard Fournette being selected fourth overall by the Jaguars and Christian McCaffrey going eighth to the Panthers was an improvement from the 2016 draft, in which only one running back was selected in the first round, perhaps it was a bit ambitious to assume that a couple more backs would go that early. FSU’s Dalvin Cook entered the weekend with serious questions regarding his lifestyle away from the field, and Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara’s production came primarily in one season. In addition, the class was diluted by some backs’ decision to return to campus for their senior years. Nevertheless, this class still has the potential to be one of the best rookie RB groups in the last 10 years.
2017 Draft Takeaways
- Wide receivers are still remain in demand, even if they’re not selected as a number one option the following season.
- Pass rushers, specifically those defenders coming off the edge, remain a high commodity.
- If concerns about your character outweigh your talent, you’re at best a mid-round selection.
- If your talent is graded high enough, public perception still matters to a significant number of teams.
- With three QBs selected in the first round, there are teams that are holding out until the 2018 draft.
- If your fan base cheers for an offensive line selection, the situation is probably as bad as it can get.