Winners and Losers of the 2017 NFL Draft
It’s tradition after every NFL Draft to pick the teams who made all the right moves, as well as the teams who didn’t. The important thing to remember about picking winners and losers of the draft, is that it’s hard to tell who really won and lost right away. We won’t really be able to tell until a few years down the road after we see how each player turns out.
After a couple days of analyzing each teams draft picks, I’ve chosen my winners and losers of the 2017 NFL Draft. As mentioned above, it’s hard to tell right away who the winners and losers really are. For that reason, I’ve chosen my winners and losers based on two things: Team needs and the value of a player chosen with each pick.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns may have finally learned how to draft. They made smart decisions in this draft, especially with their early picks. Taking Myles Garrett at number 1 was an easy choice, but the real reason they get a win in this draft is for what they did with their next 3 picks. They ended up with 2 more first round picks, selecting DB Jabrill Peppers (25th) and TE David Njoku (29th). In the second round they selected QB DeShone Kizer (52nd). Cleveland was able to acquire a lot of talent in the first round. They didn’t come out of round 1 with a QB, but instead found players who can build their team. Taking Kizer in the second round was a smart move because they didn’t have to reach to get him. They stayed put and he fell into their lap. Kizer has the potential to be a starting QB in the NFL over time, but he needs to put some things together. If it doesn’t end up working out with Kizer, Cleveland won’t be heavily criticized like they have been in the past when they’ve taken QB’s Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden, and many others before them. Overall, the Browns got a lot of talented players who can build this roster. For a team that went 1-15 last season, that’s exactly what they needed.
New England Patriots: Some might say the Patriots lost the draft because they only made 4 picks, but what they don’t realize is what the Patriots did before the draft. Their first round pick (32nd) was traded to the Saints for WR Brandin Cooks. They traded their second round pick for DE Kony Ealy, a fourth for TE Dwayne Allen, a fifth for TE James O’Shaughnessy, and another fifth for RB Mike Gillislee. What do all of those players have in common? They’re all proven players in the NFL. Instead of picking players who might not pan out, the Patriots took players who have already produced. With their five trades, they acquired players they don’t have too guess on. New England could have made 0 picks in this draft and still would have been a winner. Just to mention one of their draft picks, I have no idea how they scored DE Derek Rivers in the third round. He’s a monster pass rusher from Youngstown State who recorded 41 sacks during his college career. That’s a school record. Rivers could have been a first round pick. The reigning Super Bowl champions got even better than they already were.
Dallas Cowboys: Dallas gets a win because of the needs they filled during this draft. Their biggest needs were at DE, CB, and S. They’ve needed a pass rush for several years now, and they lost 4 DB starters in free-agency this offseason. First round pick Taco Charlton gives them a big body on the defensive line who can get to the opposing QB. They took CB’s Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis in the second and third rounds. Getting Awuzie at pick 60 was a steal. He was projected by many to go in the top 20. Lewis would have gone much higher if it weren’t for his off the field issues. If everything off the field works out for Lewis, he’ll be a great addition to the Cowboys secondary. The Cowboys also picked up WR Ryan Switzer in the fourth round. He’s got the build of and same game as Cole Beasley, except Switzer is a better return man. He had 7 punts returned for TD’s in college. He also had a few more that were called back because of penalties. In the later rounds, Dallas added players in the secondary and on the defensive line who will add quality depth. The Cowboys added players they desperately needed. Their defense is young, but has the potential to be great. They may not be great right away, but with a few years of experience under their belts, Dallas could finally have the defense they’ve wanted for years.
Chicago Bears: Chicago needed a QB, and they got one in Mitchell Trubisky. The thing I don’t get is why they moved up from pick 3 to pick 2 to take him. They traded their number 3 overall pick, a third round pick, a fourth round pick, and a first round pick next year to the 49ers to move up 1 spot. The 49ers selected Solomon Thomas with the 3rd overall pick, who is the player they would have drafted at number 2 anyway. There was no reason for the Bears to move up and give up their picks. When you take a QB so high in the draft, you want to put weapons around him so he’ll be successful. That’s not what the Bears did with their second round pick. At 45th overall, Chicago selected TE Adam Shaheen. Shaheen has a big body (6’6″, 278 lbs), but he’s not great at running routes or getting separation. At 45th overall, there were still several play makers better suited to help Trubisky right away. Who’s Trubisky going to throw to this season? They lost Alshon Jeffery to the Eagles. Without him they don’t really have any playmaking receivers.
Los Angeles Rams: Losing this draft has a lot to with trading up for and selecting QB Jared Goff in last years draft. The Rams didn’t have a first round pick, causing them to miss out on a lot of talented players. With their second round pick (44th), they selected TE Gerald Everett. Everett is a quicker Tight End who moves with ease. He could be a nice weapon for Goff down the road, but may not have as much of an impact as the Rams would like right away. The reason I don’t like this pick, is because at 44th overall there were better play makers available. If there’s one thing the Rams need, it’s play makers. They needed to grab a true number 1 WR. They took Cooper Kupp in the third round, but I don’t see him being anything more than a third option. The Rams got some nice depth players who may be contributors in their careers, but they didn’t get the game changing player everyone thought they needed.
Cincinnati Bengals: Taking John Ross with the 9th overall pick doesn’t make sense. Yes, he ran the fastest 40 time ever at the NFL combine, but he has injury concerns. Ross has had shoulder and knee issues (ACL) in the past. A player with that kind of medical history is too risky to take at 9th overall. If Ross stays healthy, he’ll be a great addition to the offense. He’ll be able to take the top off of NFL defenses, freeing things up for A.J. Green, but if he doesn’t stay healthy the Bengals wasted a high draft pick. Moving into round 2, the Bengals selected RB Joe Mixon. Everyone who’s been following the draft knows about Mixon’s domestic violence issue from a few years ago. If it weren’t for that, Mixon would have easily been a first round pick. Because of the domestic violence issue, Mixon shouldn’t have been drafted that high, if at all. A lot of teams took Mixon off their board, meaning Cincinnati probably could have waited longer to get him. They could have taken a talented player with a clean background in the second round instead. It’s just too risky to take a players with those concerns as high as they did. I will give the Bengals credit for selecting DE’s Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson in the third and fourth rounds. Willis had first round potential. Overall, I didn’t like the risks taken by the Bengals in this draft.
Keep in mind there are many other teams who had great drafts, as well as other teams who didn’t. Based on team needs and value of players at each pick, these are the teams I think won and lost the 2017 NFL Draft. I could very easily be proven wrong a few years down the road, but we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out.