2017 NFL Draft Winners, Losers, Surprises & Disappointments
NFL fans can finally rest: after three days, 253 picks and lots of trades, the 2017 NFL Draft ended in Philadelphia last night. Who fared best? Worst? Meh? Find out:
Carolina Panthers — Just a year removed from playing in the Super Bowl, Carolina needed to focus on getting quarterback Cam Newton some help if they hoped to return to the Big Game soon. They drafted running back Christian McCaffrey of Stanford in the first round, and wideout Curtis Samuel of Ohio State and offensive tackle Taylor Moton of Western Michigan in the second round; all three players will have immediate positive impact in Charlotte. For good measure, the Panthers added fullback Alex Armah of West Georgia in the sixth round. Carolina’s haul should allow its offense to once again pressure teams, while its defense grinds them down.
Cleveland Browns — Finally, Cleveland had a draft that Browns fans — what’s left of them, anyway — can feel good about. Cleveland addressed glaring needs in the first round, choosing three of the best players available: defensive end Myles Garrett of Texas A&M, safety Jabril Peppers of Michigan and tight end David Njoku. On top of that haul, the Browns added quarterback DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame in the second round. Kizer had as much talent as any of the first-round QBs this year, and he might be the future face of the franchise. Adding underrated tackle Roderick Johnson of Florida State in the sixth round was just a bonus to Cleveland’s impressive class.
The City of Philadelphia — Admit it: the setting of the draft — outdoors, in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and surrounded by crazed masses — was a perfect-for-TV spectacle. Even national media members who so readily trot out tired, snowballs-at-Santa tropes couldn’t help but remark how intense the audience was (thanks for the stimulus, Drew Pearson). Former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins summed it up on the start of Day Three: “You have set the bar of what the Draft is supposed to be like. That’s how you do it. That’s how we do it.”
Philly’s NFL team did pretty well, too, getting Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round, injured Washington defensive back Sidney Jones in the second round and Rasul Douglas from West Virginia in the third. Taking both North Carolina wide receiver Mack Hollins and San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round added offensive depth for the Eagles.
Chicago Bears — WHAAAAAT!?! Starting from trading two third-round picks and a fourth-rounder to the San Francisco 49ers to move up one pick to choose relatively inexperienced North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to burning a second-round pick on Division II tight end Adam Shaheen to taking Tarik Cohen of FCS school North Carolina A&T late, Chicago GM Ryan Pace kept reaching, while Bears fans kept praying. If the off-season signing of dreadful free agent quarterback Mike Glennon wasn’t enough to make you scratch your head, this draft should.
Kansas City Chiefs — Unlike the 2015 NFL Draft, when quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota seemed like sure things, the 2017 draft offered signal-callers with more questions than skills. Kansas City gave up a third-round pick and a first-rounder in 2018 to trade up and take Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes — one of those passers with lots of questions. While Mahomes has a cannon arm, Texas Tech QBs haven’t really been NFL juggernauts. Worse, the Chiefs addressed the depletion of their defensive line by taking defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon of FCS school Villanova in round two. He’s more long-term project than polished player. Lastly, selecting Toledo running back Kareem Hunt in the third round was a middling solution to the team’s lack of backfield depth.
Standards of Conduct — It is pretty clear that scouts don’t measure character — and that teams aren’t about to start doing so. Allegations aren’t convictions, but a slew of this year’s NFL draft picks — from Oakland first-rounder Gareon Conley of Ohio State to Denver’s Mr. Irrelevant, quarterback Chad Kelly of Ole Miss — were selected despite lingering behavioral concerns.
Gareon Conley, CB, Oakland Raiders (No. 24): Pending sexual-assault allegations
Reuben Foster, LB, San Francisco 49ers (No. 31): Argument with hospital worker at combine; diluted urine sample
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (No. 48): Punched a woman in an altercation in 2014
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Dallas Cowboys (No. 92): Pending court date for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 110): Two arrests for domestic violence; allegedly kicked out of scouting combine interview
Caleb Brantley, DT, Cleveland Browns (No. 185): Pending misdemeanor battery charge
Chad Kelly, QB, Denver Broncos (No. 253): Dismissed from Clemson; had invitation to the scouting combine rescinded
Yes, players who have been convicted of worse have played in the NFL, but it might be refreshing if the league seemed to be dealing with less of these issues instead of more of them.
Low Picks That Might Surprise
Desmond King, Defensive Back; Los Angeles Chargers (No. 152) — Defensive back Desmond King of Iowa was one of the most versatile defensive players in the NFL Draft. However, teams seemed to focus on what might be wrong with King’s size, speed and strength than what is right with his football skills. The Chargers finally pounced on him in the fifth round. Experienced, athletic players who can move around a secondary are always in demand. Maybe he’s not a Pro Bowler, but if he starts at any point this season, he’s a draft day steal.
Nathan Peterman, QB, Buffalo Bills (No. 171) — Buffalo has seemingly been searching for a solid starting quarterback since Jim Kelly left town. Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman might not be on Kelly’s level, but he has way too much talent — and experience in a pro-style system — not to get a shot to play regularly. He makes good decisions and has plus-mobility.
Elijah Qualls, DT, Philadelphia Eagles (No. 217) — An absolute monster of a man at 6’1”; 313 lbs., Qualls is an athletic defensive lineman who could turn into a pass-rushing star in Philly under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Qualls has football intellect that coaches love and, if he sticks, he could be the kind of player that Eagles’ fans worship. That’s great value at pick 217.
High Picks That Might Disappoint
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans (No. 5) — Western Michigan’s Corey Davis is an athletic receiver who piled up yards after the catch against weaker competition. It’s hard to imagine that Tennessee liked him better than Clemson’s Mike Williams or Washington’s John Ross. Davis fits into the Titans attack, but both Williams and Ross have All-Pro potential. If they get there and he doesn’t, it will be disappointing.
Garett Bolles, OT, Denver Broncos (No. 20) — You can’t teach the size (6’5”, 297 lbs.) that Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles possesses. However, Bolles is 25 years old; not as strong as you’d like for his size, and terribly inconsistent at a position that demands consistency. He’s not a reach in a draft that was light on good offensive linemen, but he needs to do plenty of work to live up to this pick.
Malik McDowell, DE, Seattle Seahawks (No. 36) — Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will be the first to tell you how great he is at motivating guys. He’ll need to do so with the talented — but underachieving — Malik McDowell of Michigan State. McDowell’s obvious skills earned him Seattle’s trust high in the second round, but his penchant for slacking on some downs could make him a bust in the NFL.
Lessons learned in the first round on Thursday.