Day 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books and as expected, other than the first overall pick, every mock draft went out the window after Chicago decided to trade up for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. I found night one to be exciting and intriguing with some surprising trades and selections. From teams seeking their potential future franchise quarterback, to teams looking to add that next weapon in their secondary or along the line of scrimmage. There were surprises, and some prospects who took some tumbles downs the board ... including the San Francisco 49ers’ second pick of the evening, Reuben Foster.
With that said, every draft has it’s winners and it’s losers. Let’s take a closer look at the teams who struck potential gold and also some teams that might have left us scratching our heads. It will be interesting to see how these picks pan out in the long term. That is, of course, the great mystery that comes with the NFL Draft. With that said, our big winners of the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft are…
Cleveland Browns: Yes, I am giving the factory of sadness a tally in the left column. Rumors aside, Cleveland made the easiest, no-brainer decision selecting the best player in this draft. Myles Garrett is a once-in-a-generational talent who is going to be a cornerstone of the Brown’s defense for years to come. His presence will instantly make them a better unit. His motor, first step, and absolute ruthless ability to get to the opposing teams quarterback is going to put offensive lineman on notice moving forward. In addition, Cleveland is a winner for the trade back, obtaining an addition first round pick in 2018 and continuing to build up draft capital, especially within the first three rounds. Jabrill Peppers is a versatile weapon who can be plugged at multiple spots along the field, and David Njoku is a big bodied target for whoever will be under center. No, Cleveland didn't draft their quarterback of the future, but they addressed three positions of need and continued to build draft capital in the process. A good night at the office for the Browns organization.
New York Jets: A few years ago, the Jets were sitting at the 6th overall pick. The number one rated player on most expert’s big boards were Leonard Williams. Somehow Williams fell in the Jet’s lap. Lightning struck twice for the Jets when Jamal Adams fell in their lap. Now, Adams might not be the number one overall rated prospect in this draft, but he is the best defensive back prospect, and someone who will be an instant day 1 starter for Gang Green. Adams is going to make a positive impact, and Jet’s fans have to feel more confident about their secondary moving forward. Yes, a cornerback still needs to be addressed, but when you are a team that sorely needs talent across the board…selecting the best defensive back is a win in my book.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What an offseason it has been for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that is now headlined by DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. Add on former first round picks Mike Evans and Jameis Winston and lastly tight end Cameron Brate and this offensive is looking dangerous. O.J. Howard is a top 10 talent who fell to pick 19. Tampa is getting the best tight end to come out of college in the last three years who can block in running and passing packages, and line up as a receiver, and stretch the field. This offense will be fun to watch in the sunshine state.
Washington: Yes, the front office and organization is a mess, however if we are grading strictly on draft selection, then Washington is a winner. At pick 17, they selected Jonathan Allen, the defensive player of the year in college football this past season, and a top 5 overall prospect on most, if not all big boards. Not to mention, he is a seamless fit in the Washington defense and a defensive lineman that former 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula will be thrilled to work with and develop at the next level. There are concerns with his shoulders, but the positives and on-field production far-outweigh the negatives, and I expect Allen to be an immediate starter on Washington’s defensive line in 2017.
San Francisco 49ers: I would say it was a successful first night for general manager John Lynch. He started off by trading back one spot and obtaining multiple draft picks this year and next year from the Chicago Bears. With that third pick, Lynch selected the guy they wanted all along, Solomon Thomas, the defensive end out of Stanford. Thomas is an elite talent, who might be the best player this draft has to offer after Myles Garrett. Thomas is going to be a major positive addition to the defensive line. Not only can he get to the quarterback, but he is a superb defender against the run. Just when we thought the 49ers night was over, they moved back up into the end of the first round to pick 31, trading with, wait for it…Seattle. After trading the 34th and 111th pick, the 49ers addressed another major need on defense with the best linebacker this draft has to offer, Reuben Foster out of Alabama. Foster dropped most likely due to a shoulder concern, but it doesn't change the fact that he is still the number one linebacker in this draft. So, to recap, the 49ers select two top 10 players, obtain more draft capital this year and next year, and improve one of the worst ranked defenses from last year…Yes, this was a great night and a win for our San Francisco 49ers! Welcome Thomas & Foster!
Chicago Bears: Opinions on quarterbacks are going to vary. As you all probably know by now my number one ranked passer in this draft was Deshaun Watson. I still believe this is the case, and that he will have a great career with Houston. I never got the hype with Mitchell Trubisky. Maybe I was missing something, but not only did Chicago overdraft Trubisky by a long shot, but they gave up a considerable amount of draft capital (All better for us!) in the process. The Bears have needs all over, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and leaving prospects such as Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore, and Jonathan Allen on the board is confusing. Bottom line, they are betting on a guy who started 13 games and couldn’t earn the starting job until this past season. I do respect the fact that if you identify a quarterback, you do what you have to do to get your guy. I just don't agree with the pick or the trade they made (Though I’ll take it as a 49ers faithful!).
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs paid a big price for Patrick Mahomes. I hope it pays off for them. Another passer who was hyped up throughout the draft process. Last year, the LA Rams paid a heavy price for another air-raid passer. If you got the Rams brass behind a closed door I’m sure they would gladly turn back the clock and take a mulligan on that pick. Alex Smith is still in the driver’s seat, and I don't think Mahomes will be ready to take the reins of the Chief’s offense. Mahomes has a high ceiling, but the value and draft capital the Chiefs gave up for him was too high in my opinion. The Chiefs could have stayed put and addressed another need who could make a day 1 impact, with quarterback options at better value on day 2.
Cincinnati Bengals: Hard to give the loser tag to the fastest man in the combine, however the Bengals reached at pick 9, leaving a lot more intriguing talent on the board. John Ross is electric, and will serve as a great deep threat when healthy. However, I believe there are too many concerns with his durability and health in the long term. The Bengals could have addressed their defensive line or linebacker concerns with better value at pick 9 (Jonathan Allen & Reuben Foster), while addressing receiver on day two with prospects such as Cooper Kupp and Zay Jones amongst others.
What are your thoughts on my winners and losers? Are there other teams who won on night one? Are there other teams that made you scratch your head? Are the 49ers winners of day 1? Please share in the comments below!