The NFL draft can be a circus, and yesterday proved to be no different. A lot has been said about the depth of talent at running back, defensive back, linebacker, and defensive line in this draft class. The quarterbacks have been described as a “wait till next year to draft a QB” type of class while the wide receivers have been called an average group compared to years past.
And yet, we see fireworks in the first round as 3 QBs, 3WRs, and 2 RBs are taken in the first 12 picks. All of the mock drafts were wrong. I managed to get a few players destinations right in my latest mock draft, maybe not at the pick number I was expecting though.
All three teams to take a QB traded up to do so. One of those teams was NOT the Cleveland Browns.
Multiple teams traded back, including the Seahawks, who traded back twice, ended up not picking in the first round, and now have six picks on Day 2 (two in the 2nd rd, four in the 3rd).
So who won and who lost on Day One of the draft? Here are my thoughts:
San Francisco – John Lynch acted like a seasoned pro in his first draft as a GM, fleecing the Bears out of their first and third picks this year, as well as a third next year, just so the 49ers could move down one pick and take the guy they were probably going to pick anyways in DE Soloman Thomas. Not only that, Lynch traded back up into the first round, using one of his third rounders from the Bears, to take LB Reuben Foster, who many considered a top 5 pick before his failed drug test from the combine.
Cleveland – The Browns managed not to “Brown” the draft and took Myles Garrett, just as they should have, with the first overall pick. The Browns then traded back from 12, when everyone thought they would trade UP for a QB, to let the Texans take Deshaun Watson, and picked LB/S Jabrill Peppers to help with the run defense. But they were not done there as they traded back up into the first round to take TE David Njoku, the replacement for Gary Barnidge (who has been told by the Browns today he will be released). The tide could be turning in Cleveland, but we still need to wait and see.
Wide Receivers – Corey Davis will become the top WR target for Marcus Mariota for the foreseeable future. Mike Williams joins a high flying offense in the Chargers with Philip Rivers to throw to him. John Ross surprisingly gets picked in the top 10 by the Bengals to add a field stretching weapon for Andy Dalton to go along with AJ Green and Tyler Boyd.
Chicago – I am not saying that Trubiski will be a bust. He very well could turn out to be a productive QB for the Bears. However, GM Ryan Pace looked like a rookie when he traded his first, third and next year’s third round picks, to move up JUST ONE SPOT, when the 49ers were not going to take a QB in the first place. The only thing I can guess is that the 49ers made Pace think there was another team wanting to trade up to the second overall pick for a QB and the Bears panicked.
Oakland – I understand that the Raiders have never been too concerned about their image off the field. Hence, the move to Las Vegas, and the selection of Gareon Conley. The deciding factor for Oakland taking him at this point in the draft was Conley passing a polygraph test. And while the investigation is still going and the accusations against him seem a little bit sketchy with the evidence that is out so far, this seems like a big risk for the Raiders to take with LBs Foster and Watt, and a ton of other CBs still available when they made their selection.
Marshon Lattimore & Malik Hooker – Both of these DBs were expected to go in the top 5-8 picks. The teams that drafted them (Lattimore – Saints, Hooker – Colts) will both benefit greatly from their presence on defenses that struggled mightily in 2016. While the draft positions are disappointing for the players, the teams that got them are getting steals.