What was the biggest surprise in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft? Were there any surprises at all? There was plenty of action, but a lot of it could have been predicted if we listened the the reports.
The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs were expected to trade up and draft a quarterback. Alabama’s stars LB Reuben Foster and DL Jonathan Allen were expected to drop due to injury concerns, while TE O.J. Howard just doesn’t play a position that teams consider worth a top 15 pick.
I would rank the three biggest surprises as:
- The Chicago Bears trading up to select QB Mitchell Trubisky.
- Three wide receivers going in the top 10.
- Ohio State FS Malik Hooker falling to the Indianapolis Colts at #15.
I’ll give a small shoutout to Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey being the first Alabama player of the board and to the Cleveland Browns for taking three players without adding a quarterback, but those are lesser surprises.
Let’s break down the first day.
Bears trade up to select QB Mitchell Trubisky
The Bears constructed a pretty fair trade with the San Francisco 49ers to move up to the #2 spot and I feel like the 49ers played this perfectly. The Bears were quiet about their interest in Trubisky for most of the offseason, but there were reports that the Cleveland Browns were interested in trading up with the 49ers for Trubisky.
So the 49ers likely went to the Bears and said, “one-up the Browns offer to get Trubisky.”
The Bears answered, moved up, and got their quarterback. The question is whether Trubisky is truly a franchise quarterback and only time will tell. Both the front office and coaching staff of the Bears are on the hot seat, so perhaps adding a rookie quarterback will buy them an extra year or two.
The 49ers wanted either DL Solomon Thomas or LB Reuben Foster at the top of the draft and ended up taking both of them over the course of the first round. Chalk it up to a major win for rookie general manager John Lynch.
Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross all went in the top 10
Davis went to the Titans, Williams to the Chargers, and Ross to the Bengals. I gave each pick a B, D, and C grade, respectively, and not because of the quality of the players. I think all three players will succeed in the NFL because of their different strengths.
I compare Davis to A.J. Green, Williams to Dez Bryant, and Ross to T.Y. Hilton, and the trio join good offensive rosters led by Marcus Mariota, Philip Rivers, and Andy Dalton, respectively. They should all produce.
It comes to a question of value. The Titans don’t have a good wide receiver, so Davis makes a lot of sense. Williams joins a crowded receiver depth chart in Los Angeles, so the value doesn’t make any sense. Ross should take some pressure off of Green, but the Bengals need serious work on defense.
All three players were likely to go in the first round, so as Michael Lombardi says, sometimes you have to make the pick earlier than you would hope because the player won’t be around for your next pick. Still, I can’t help but think Williams and Ross are going to be Shiny Hood Ornaments on teams with bigger needs.
Malik Hooker dropped into the middle of the first round
I hate seeing good players going to the Colts, but this is a great merger of talent and need. Hooker was compared to Ed Reed as a prospect and could be the next great centerfield safety. Most expected him to go in the top 10, if not the top five- and yet he was there for the Colts at #15. Great luck for the Colts.
AFC East review
Jets: LSU SS Jamal Adams
Adams is an outstanding prospect and was possibly the second-best prospect in the draft. The Jets will need Adams to match-up with the Patriots tight ends and help shore up one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Fantastic pick.
Bills: LSU CB Tre’Davious White, 91st, 2018 first round pick
The Bills did a good job maneuvering the board, adding a solid press coverage cornerback to replace Stephon Gilmore, along with a midround pick in a deep draft and a future first round pick. Another great day for a Patriots division rival.
Dolphins: Missouri EDGE Charles Harris
Harris is loved in scouting circles, but is an extremely limited athlete that struggles against the run. The Dolphins are looking for Harris to be the eventual heir to Cameron Wake, but he’s a big project. The Dolphins first round pick isn’t as clear-cut of a win like the Jets or Bills.
Browns make 3 first round picks- and none of them were a QB
The Browns drafted EDGE Myles Garrett (#1), S Jabrill Peppers (#25), and TE David Njoku (#29). All three are mega-athletes for which the Browns coaching staff will have to find roles.
Garrett’s role is obvious as a pass rusher, while Peppers makes a lot of sense when you look at how Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams transformed Mark Barron with the Rams. Njoku is a project tight end that could be a major star in 2018.
But the Browns next picks aren’t until #52 and #65 and the team still hasn’t added a quarterback. Prospects like Cal QB Davis Webb, Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer, and Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman are available, and some link Cleveland to Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs.
No matter how much work the Browns have done, they still are missing a key player at the most important role on the team. Maybe they’re setting up a roster that will be ready to cash in all their chips in 2018.
Seahawks add great value by trading down
The Seahawks started the day with the #26 overall pick. They traded down with the Atlanta Falcons to #31 and picked up a third and seventh round pick. The Seahawks then traded down from #31 with the San Francisco 49ers to #34 and added a fourth round pick.
Seahawks have gained the equivalent of a mid-4th round pick by trading down. pic.twitter.com/yKMCHOT7pP— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) April 28, 2017
Seattle won both trades via the draft value chart and the combined winnings resulted in the addition of what is equivalent to a 4th round pick in extra value. In other words, the Seahawks moved down eight draft spots and gained the equivalent of a third, two fourths, and a seventh round pick. Great work by the Seattle front office.
Top Patriots prospects still on the board
The Patriots didn’t make a move on the opening day of the draft, but that also implies that CB Malcolm Butler will remain on the team in 2017, pushing the need for a cornerback into the 2018 offseason. The Patriots still need help at edge defender and three down linebacker and could be interested in adding talent at offensive tackle, strong safety, tight end, and interior offensive line.
Here are the best players still on the board at each position of Patriots need.
EDGE: Houston EDGE Tyus Bowser, Michigan DL Chris Wormley, Auburn EDGE Carl Lawson, Alabama EDGE Tim Williams, Kansas State EDGE Jordan Willis, Ohio EDGE Tarell Basham, Alabama EDGE Ryan Anderson, Youngstown State EDGE Derek Rivers, Florida State EDGE DeMarcus Walker
LB: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham, Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillan, LSU LB Duke Riley
OL: Western Kentucky OL Forrest Lamp, Alabama OT Cam Robinson, Temple OL Dion Dawkins, Indiana OG Dan Feeney, Ohio State IOL Pat Elflein, Pittsburgh OG Dorian Johnson, LSU C Ethan Pocic, Utah OG Isaac Asiata, Western Michigan OL Taylor Moton, Florida State OT Roderick Johnson, Troy OT Antonio Garcia
S: Washington FS Budda Baker, Utah FS Marcus Williams, Florida FS Marcus Maye, N.C. State SS Josh Jones, Connecticut SS Obi Melifonwu, Iowa DB Desmond King
TE: Ashland TE Adam Shaheen, South Alabama TE Gerald Everett, Michigan TE Jake Butt
The Patriots are scheduled to pick at #72 and #96 on the second day of the draft. The draft is pretty shallow at linebacker and tight end, so don’t be surprised if the Patriots ignore the position on day two and address them during the later rounds with high ceiling, low floor prospects.
In the third round, look for the Patriots to bolster their defensive line and safety positions with the hope that one or more of the offensive interior prospects will on the board when the Patriots are on the clock in the fourth round.