So much of the pre draft chatter focused on the quarterback position, and the possible landing spots for the three or four most highly rated passers.
Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, DeShaun Watson and DeShone Kizer were all considered borderline first round prospects at the very least. The thirst and desire to find your franchise quarterback drove the Bears, Chiefs, Texans to trade significant draft stock in order to get their man.
First time General Manager, John Lynch in San Francisco received an envious call from Bears’ GM, Ryan Pace offering an abundance of picks in order to simply swap places (3rd overall to 2nd overall), so the Bears could take Trubisky in a surprising move.
The Chiefs ascended all the way from 27th overall to 10th overall, in a trade with the Bills to take long-term project quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. The Browns, who are in quarterbacking purgatory themselves, traded out of the 12th spot with the Texans who desired DeShaun Watson. Cleveland waited until day 2, where they nabbed DeShone Kizer.
The insatiable need for that franchise quarterback drove these three aggressive trades, even though none of the quarterbacks above are seen as surefire day 1 starters or future pro bowlers. The Trubisky pick was particularly unexpected. Chicago just signed Mike Glennon in free agency, and with $18 million guaranteed owed to Glennon, there was little indication that the Bears were interested. Furthermore there’re fair questions as to whether Trubisky has the runs on the board to succeed at the the pro level.
The Browns with 11 accumulated draft picks, had the ability to play aggressive, which they did, making three first round selections. Edge rusher, Myles Garrett 1st overall, safety Jabrill Peppers 25th overall, and tight end David Njoku 29th overall, are impressive playmakers that should improve their roster immediately.
Another surprise was the early run on wide receivers, with Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross all disappearing off the board in the top ten overall. Davis was coveted by the Titans, Williams snared by the Chargers, and Ross selected by the Bengals in a very surprising selection at 9. The Ross pick comes only a year after the Bengals took Tyler Boyd in the second round, and with AJ Green and Tyler Eifert leading the receiving options in Cincinnati, Ross’ addition makes this Bengals offence very dangerous indeed.
Cincinnati also waded into controversy with their second round selection of running back, Joe Mixon, who viciously punched a woman in the face back in 2014, the footage of which has been seared into the brains of all scouts, coaches and general managers across the league. Multiple, indeed quite possibly a majority of franchises removed Mixon completely from their draft boards. But according to the Bengals Head Coach, Marvin Lewis, “We’ve done such a lot of work regarding Joe Mixon, throughout the entire process this year and based on all the time, all the research, we felt that we can continue to move forward.”
Regardless of the Bengals research and diligence, regarding Mixon, it remains a poor look for the NFL that has vowed a zero tolerance policy on domestic violence, as incidents continue to plague the league.
The Colts meanwhile, have had a sneaky good offseason as they look to end their two-year hiatus from the playoffs. Malik Hooker’s slide out of the top 10, turned into a dream for first year GM, Chris Ballard. They also added a nice cornerback in Quincy Wilson in the second round to greatly strengthen the secondary.
Dallas too needed upgrades on defence to offset free agency losses, and their top three picks certainly filled those needs. Defensive end, Taco Charlton, and cornerbacks Chindobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis will all be needed to contribute if the Cowboys are to keep pace with the class of the NFC this season.
Washington will be delighted that health concerns with Jonathan Allen’s shoulders, saw him drop to 17 and into their grateful hands. Allen’s presence is a greatly needed addition to the Skins’ interior defence, which lost their best defensive tackle, Chris Baker to Tampa Bay in free agency.
Speaking of Tampa Bay, their offseason has been extremely productive thus far. Their draft performance only added to the hype around them for 2017. The offence are the primary beneficiaries, with blue-chip tight end O.J Howard joining a potentially explosive group in Florida. But the Buccaneers weren’t done there, they added wide receiver, Chris Godwin and underrated running back, Jeremy McNichols.
With their second first rounder at 32 (acquired in the Brandin Cooks trade), the Saints were extremely disappointed to miss out on the falling linebacker, Reuben Foster, whom they were on the phone to, before the 49ers traded back into the first round ahead of them (31) to virtually pull Foster out of their grasp.
Arguably the most ‘feel good’ story of the draft, came from new Atlanta Falcons edge rusher, Takkarist McKinley. The young Falcon was extremely emotional and boisterous as he made his way onto stage, carrying a picture of his deceased Grandmother. McKinley and his grandmother were extremely close in his formative years, and he vowed on her deathbed that someday he’d make it to the NFL and change the families fortunes. Considering that, and the circumstances in which the young man found fame and financial fortune, it’s an outstanding testament to himself and his grandmother.
As draftees and undrafted free agents fill out a majority of the remaining space on team’s rosters, all rookie projections are now officially useless. The real test now is how these young men will adapt to pro environments, advanced playbooks, and the rigours and pressures of the NFL.