The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is now officially in the books, and it was arguably one of the more entertaining ones in recent memory. There were plenty of trades that came early and often and a few top-rated players that fell out of the first round completely.
Obviously, if you ask every front office they will say that they are “extremely happy” with how their first-round selections played out. But this is professional sports, not some bullcrap 21st-century youth league where every snotty nosed kid gets a trophy. After one round, there were some pretty blatant winners, and some teams that, let’s just say, I am happy that I am not one of their faithful fans.
NFL First Round Winners And Losers
Winner: The San Francisco 49ers
John Lynch looked more like a veteran general manager rather than one that was partaking in his first draft as the head honcho. When the day began, the 49ers owned the number two overall pick but made it very clear that they were willing to move back. Lynch made that happen.
The Bears took the bait and swapped picks with the Niners for an astronomical price. The #3 pick, 3rd and 4th rounders in 2017, and a 3rd rounder in 2018 to move up one spot. San Francisco moved to three and took Solomon Thomas, the guy that they were probably going to take at two anyway.
Thomas is a homegrown guy that put his ceiling on display in the Sun Bowl. He compliments a very young and talented defensive line group and should make an impact day one.
But Lynch wasn’t done there.
Another major need for the 49ers was at the inside linebacker position. One of the big storylines during day one was spiraling tumble that Alabama standout Reuben Foster took. He was pretty much a consensus top-5 talent, but recent shoulder surgery and a diluted drug test at the NFL combine were contributors to his fall.
Once he fell past the Raiders at 24, Lynch pounced and made a trade with the Seahawks to get back into the first round at 31. There they found Reuben Foster and solidified a tremendous day one.
Loser: The Chicago Bears
1985 was a long time ago, and decisions like this potentially make it seem even further back in history. As mentioned above, the Bears gave up a ton to move up one spot and take quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Were they that worried that the Niners were going to take him, or did Lynch just punk the crap out of Ryan Pace? It also begs the question, if the Bears wanted Trubisky so bad all along why the hell did they give Mike Glennon $45 million for three years (basically only one year is guaranteed)?
But who am I to say that Trubisky won’t be a franchise quarterback, I hope that he is, seems like a great kid. I just don’t see why you sell the farm for a guy after you just signed a free agent for big money one month prior. Maybe it’s the Osweiler effect? Pace wanted a solidified backup plan in case Glennon flames out after only a few games.
Whatever his plan is it has me truly scratching my head.
Winner: The Cleveland Browns
I can’t remember the last time I wrote this but the Cleveland Browns are a big time winner after day one. Cleveland turned their huge stockpile of draft picks into three first rounders.
As expected and yet nervously anticipated, the Browns took Myles Garrett at one overall. The most NFL-ready player in the draft and if he comes anywhere close to his comparison Julius Peppers, this pick is a home run.
Then the Browns swapped their 12th pick with the Texans (moving back to 25 and gaining a 1st rounder in 2018) and acquired the draft rights to swiss army knife Jabrill Peppers. This is a great pick at 25 as Peppers was one of my favorite players in the entire draft. His stock slipped due to a diluted drug test as well. However, the Browns found merit in taking him late in the 1st and add a defensive player that has the skill set of T.J. Ward, whom they originally drafted back in 2010 and is a Pro Bowl safety and Super Bowl Champion for the Denver Broncos
By all accounts, this was a great 1st round and heeded the logical advice of not reaching for a quarterback, but they weren’t done yet.
Cleveland traded back into the first round for the Packers 29th overall pick and selected the extremely talented tight end David Njoku out of Miami. Gary Barnidge is aging, and let’s face it, really only had one great season, and the Browns could use as many weapons on offense as possible. Love what Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson did in the first.
Loser: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs traded up from the 27th pick in order to take their quarterback of the future. In exchange for the Bills 10th overall pick, Buffalo received the 27th, a 3rd rounder in 2017, and a 1st rounder in 2018. At 10, the Chiefs selected quarterback Patrick Mahomes II out of Texas Tech.
I actually had Kansas City taking Mahomes in my final mock, but not at 10, and not at the price they had to pay. There is no denying the arm strength of Mahomes, and John Gruden seems to love his “gunslinger” mentality, but he is extremely raw, has very sloppy mechanics, and played in an offensive system that does not translate to the NFL.
Translation: worth taking one first round flyer on a 2-3 year project, not two first rounders and a third rounder. The Chiefs got the guy they wanted all along but spent way too much in the process.
The Jets moved up in the second round of last year’s draft to select Christian Hackenberg, where they proceeded to redshirt him, and he may not even see playing time this season. This is essentially what Kansas City will do with Mahomes, except they took him 10th overall.
Loser: Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have a lot of needs to get back to the playoff team that they were a few years ago. They need an edge rusher badly, an inside linebacker nearly as bad, and offensive line help maybe the most. Every offensive lineman was available at nine (although I wouldn’t have taken one that early), along with Haason Reddick, Derek Barnett, Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen, and Jarrad Davis. And yet the Bengals decided to take John Ross.
Nothing against Ross, who is a very talented receiver, but he is not the player they should have taken at nine overall. The main reason being this: Tyler Boyd (6’1″ 197 pounds) is pretty much the exact same type of receiver and they took him not one year ago in the second round of the 2016 draft.
Doesn’t make any sense why you take essentially the same player when you have so many other needs. And you can’t even make the “best player available” argument because all of the players listed above were ranked higher on my board. In fact, I didn’t even have Ross going in the first round. To me, he is basically a faster Tavon Austin. He will compliment A.J. Green but it is not the route that I would have run.