One of America’s most enduring economies of nonsense is the grading of the NFL Draft. How can we hand out A’s or F’s if we literally have no idea how the player will perform? This is akin to predicting whether you will have a good day three years from tomorrow. “April 29, 2020? You know, looking at my past April 29ths, and knowing it falls at a time of year where the weather is getting warmer, plus it’s the NBA Playoffs, I think I’ll have a B+ day.”
But fans love the instant analysis, and we all have gut feelings on players we’ve watched in college, combined with team needs. So instead of an old school letter grading system, I divided the 2017 NFL Draft’s first round into five categories. These were my thoughts in real time on the 32 picks:
Picks I Love:
1) Browns – Myles Garrett. No-brainer. Cornerstone pass rusher, best player in the draft. Didn’t get too cute for their own good.
4) Jaguars – Leonard Fournette. Power, speed, Earl Campbell 2.0. Take pressure off Bortles. Love it.
12) Texans – DeShaun Watson. Perfect. Far superior option to Tony Romo for a year. He’ll be fantastic. Giving up a 1st next year is small potatoes if he’s your franchise guy. Hope Bill O’Brien doesn’t ruin him.
19) Bucs – OJ Howard. Now you have a ton of weapons for Jameis. Thought he’d go higher. Could be an enormous addition to a fringe playoff team.
Picks I Like:
3) Niners – Solomon Thomas. Pass rusher, versatile. Need help all over the field in SF to build a better defense.
6) Jets – Jamal Adams. LSU is DB U. Explosive. Tough. Aggressive. Looks ready for a challenge.
7) Chargers – Mike Williams. Best WR in this class. Like him much better than Corey Davis. Great target for Rivers.
8) Panthers – Christian McCaffrey. He’ll be productive. He can play. Might be a little high to take a non-transcendent RB in Top 10. But solid pick.
10) Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes. KC has neglected the position for years. I would’ve taken Watson, but he can redshirt behind Alex Smith for a year. Maybe a little rich giving up next year’s pick, but if it works out? Doesn’t matter.
13) Cardinals – Haason Reddick. I love guys who go from walk-on to star. Could be a Khalil Mack type. Small school, big production.
14) Eagles – Derek Barnett. Like him as a pass rusher at a good value spot. Disrupter, they need one badly.
17) Washington – Jonathan Allen. Great talent at that draft slot. Figured he’d be drafted much higher than that.
26) Falcons – Takk McKinley. Speed-based defense that adds another piece. Can never have too many. Falcons don’t have many holes. Love his wingspan. Effort guy. I think he’ll be solid under Dan Quinn.
28) Cowboys – Taco Charlton. Need defense badly, he’s a little raw but that’s what you get late in the first round. His size and athleticism translates well.
29) Browns – David Njoku. He’s just a huge, athletic target who’s only a 20-year old rookie. I have to say, I think the Browns may have crushed it with their three picks.
Picks I’m Torn:
20) Broncos – Garrett Bolles. If he’s committed and doesn’t flame out like his wild child persona it’s an important piece at a position of need. But discipline is always a worry with him. And he’s already 25. He’ll be almost thirty after his rookie deal. Kicked out of 5 schools? Can you count on him?
23) Giants – Evan Engram. He has to play something close to TE for this to be worth it. He must get better at blocking and protection or else he’s just another WR, and Giants have plenty of those. Considered a liability at blocking. If he can block, great pick.
24) Raiders – Gareon Conley. Any time you have a sexual assault allegation on you the week of the draft, the celebration is tempered.
25) Browns – Jabrill Peppers. Tweener, I just have a hard time trusting he finds a permanent position and is great at it. He has great ball instincts, and the Browns need everything. But if he gets comfortable at CB or S, I love his intangibles. Very boom or bust.
31) Niners – Reuben Foster. Anyone who fights a medic at the combine has a red flag, but to get him at the end of 1st round could be a steal.
9) Bengals – John Ross. Not a huge fan. Small. I’m never wowed by simple speed. The best 40 times often turn into nothing players. Injuries w/ ACL and shoulder worry me.
11) Saints – Marshon Lattimore. Need defense badly, but inconsistent, lacks experience, durability a question. Worries me.
15) Colts – Malik Hooker. Tackling issues scares me at the NFL level where WRs are bigger and stronger. Plus he’s had injuries. Colts need a defensive standout.
16) Ravens – Marlon Humphrey. Took plays off, inconsistent. Not thrilled with that. I like his bloodlines.
18) Titans – Adoree Jackson. I think he’ll be a great special teams player, but not a great corner. He has to be a great CB for this to be worth it.
21) Lions – Jarrad Davis. Don’t love his size for an ILB. But if he starts from Day 1 as projected, that’s great.
22) Dolphins – Charles Harris. Can’t play run, must get better with that. Love Mizzou tradition of pass rushers, and Phins could have a nasty front 7.
27) Bills – Tre’Davious White. Hard to argue with the DBs that come out of LSU. Buffalo needs help everywhere. Steady, but not thrilling.
30) Steelers – TJ Watt. They keep stacking defensive talent in the 1st round over last few years. Some have worked (Dupree, Shazier), some have not (Jones). Great motor, but I wonder if he can beat offensive lineman at next level.
32) Saints – Ryan Ramczyk. Saints need help on line to keep aging Drew Brees upright. Great size, but he’s a bit of a one-year wonder.
Picks I Don’t Like:
2) Bears – Mitch Trubisky. That’s really high. Plus you also spent a ton of money on Glennon. Shows there was no long term plan this offseason.
5) Titans – Corey Davis. I just think this is too high. I like getting Mariota a nice target. PJ Fleck raved about Davis to me. But the ankle injury scares me and it’s extremely high for him. This feels like a Darius Heyward-Bey or Troy Williamson. Outsized expectations could sink him. Although I’m not scared by level of talent at MAC. What worries me way more is the drops.
If I don’t speak to you soon, I’ll see everyone on April 20, 2020!
D.A. hosts 9am-12 pm ET on the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has hosted The D.A. Show (aka “The Mothership”) in Boston, Miami, Kansas City and Ft. Myers, FL. You can often catch him on the NFL Network’s series “Top 10.” D.A. graduated from Syracuse University in ’01, and began looking for ways to make a sports radio show into a quirky 1970’s sci-fi television series. Follow D.A. on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page. D.A. lives in NYC, and is a native of Warwick, NY.