The 2017 NFL Draft itself may have finished, but there’s still a stage of it left: opining about it. Time will ultimately be the decider as to who had a good draft, but teams with a good and well executed plan usually look good in the long run, and rudderless teams usually continue to have no idea what they’re doing. And that we can judge in the present.
After years of bad drafting under Ryan Grigson, new GM Chris Ballard had himself a good weekend. Malik Hooker, Quincy Wilson, Tarell Basham, Zach Banner and Marlon Mack gave them good to great prospects at positions they needed. Grigson made the “cute” picks, Ballard made smart ones.
And this, despite Mike Mayock’s protests, was really cool.
Tampa continued to load up on help for Jameis Winston. OJ Howard could be a game changer, Chris Godwin slots in nicely on their WR depth chart, and Jeremy McNichols is a good all around option to get in the 5th.
No GM, no problem for the Redskins, who round after round took a well rated prospect: Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, Fabian Moreau, Samaje Perine, Jeremy Sprinkle. Time will tell if the draft pans out for them, but on paper you’d never know that behind the scenes the Redskins were at an all time high of disfunction.
Already such a strong recruiter that the NCAA banned some of his methods this spring, Harbaugh and Michigan had a whopping 11 players drafted, which is early 2000s Miami level of football factory. To put it another way, half their starting lineup had their name called.
The city of Philadelphia
The adulation from Thursday’s impressive first round continued throughout the weekend as media members from all over heaped praise on the city for putting on a great show with a great crowd. It led to a few memorable moments, most notably Drew Pearson cutting a great heel promo in the 2nd round and then the three man tag team of Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins and Troy Vincent returned the favor with Westbrook hyping up the crowd. The NFL Draft is an event beyond just the draft picks.
Having already set a precedent to keep the now traveling draft in the same city in back-to-back years, the only way the draft isn’t held in Philadelphia again is if Jerry Jones throws a jealous tantrum. And after the crowd at the Art Museum, the NFL can’t go back to an indoor venue without taking a step back.
Philly: You absolutely KILLED it. Best draft experience ever. The standard has been set for every future draft city to try and match— trey wingo (@wingoz) April 29, 2017
Props to the people of Philadelphia. That's how to host a draft. No city has injected that much energy, electricity, excitement into draft.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 30, 2017
Cincinnati’s first four picks are all high upside players who could easily flame out for various reasons. John Ross and Joe Mixon were among the best at their positions but not without their concerns (Ross medical, Mixon personal), with Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson thought of highly by the draft community but not so much by the NFL given their draft position. In a couple years we could look back at this as a great draft, or a waste of one.
Give the Bears this: they’re consistent. In free agency they paid a lot of money for a solid day three in the 2013 draft, and then followed it up with an equally head scratching draft. They traded up one spot for Mitch “Mitchell” Trubisky in such a hurry that neither John Fox nor Trubisky knew in advance. They made so many trades that they only made five picks, and are down a 3rd round next year. $18.5 million guaranteed for a QB no one else wanted and then a trade up for QB no one was clamoring for. Well, it’s a plan.
John Lynch had a windfall when the Bears made him the perfect offer: a bunch of picks to move back one spot to take a player they weren’t planning on taking. Lynch got lucky, but you can’t hold that against him. After that though, he had a draft that someone with absolutely no experience in any shape or form at running a draft has. He traded up for Reuben Foster, who virtually the entire league passed on and then it turns out may need surgery to a body that has serious medical concerns. In the 3rd round he traded up for CJ Beathard, who would have been a reach in the 6th. He then spent the third day drafting guys with the upside of special teamers. It’s going to be another long season in San Francisco.
A lot of people like what the Browns did, but what is the master plan? They liked DeShone Kizer so much that he was the fourth player they drafted, making him the second straight day two quarterback they’ve taken after passing on Carson Wentz.
And then there’s this:
#Browns exec Sashi Brown said as we continue to investigate Caleb Brantley incident, we may not be comfortable with keeping him— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) April 29, 2017
One league source told me of #Browns Caleb Brantley: "A coach at school told every team he talked to 'stay away even if undrafted.'''— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) April 29, 2017
This is a team with no direction.
Texans in 2018
To clear up their QB situation, Houston gave up its 2018 2nd to unload Brock Osweiler, and then gave up their 2018 1st to take DeShaun Watson. After getting it wrong over the last three seasons with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Tom Savage and Osweiler, and passing on Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater, and possibly Paxton Lynch, “QB guru” Bill O’Brien should be on his last chance to get it right with Watson.