Lessons Learned From the First Round of the 2017 NFL Draft
The 2017 NFL Draft began Thursday night in Philadelphia, as NFL teams selected the college players who best filled the holes in their respective rosters. Here are the most important takeaways from the night:
1. It’s Still A Quarterbacks League
Three quarterbacks went in the first round on Thursday, with each of their respective drafting teams unloading multiple picks to move up and select passers with potential. Chicago traded two third-round picks and a fourth-rounder to the San Francisco 49ers, who allowed the Bears to move up one spot to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky second-overall. Later, the Kansas City Chiefs traded the No. 27 overall pick, a third-round pick and their 2018 first-rounder to the Buffalo Bills to move up to the 10th slot, where they grabbed Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes. Finally, quarterback-challenged Houston gave up a 2018 first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns so that the Texans could select Clemson's Deshaun Watson at No. 12.
The best quarterback talent in the draft was gone in the early rounds, but the Niners, Bills and Browns all stockpiled picks that might help the foundering franchises build a better team (someday). The scary part: none of the QBs selected are remotely sure-thing superstars of the future. At least Watson has a national championship to his credit.
2. Myles Garrett Was A Smart Pick By The Browns
Like almost every year, the hapless Browns had a high first-round draft pick (three, actually). Unlike past years, Cleveland chose wisely with the first-overall pick, selecting Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. A physical marvel, Garrett was clearly the most valuable player on the board. If he and Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, whom the Browns took at No. 25, help solidify the defense, Cleveland fans might forget that Brock Osweiler is now their starting quarterback.
3. Running Backs Went High …
Call it the Zeke Effect. A year after the Dallas Cowboys chose running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth-overall pick, two running backs were selected in the first eight picks this year: LSU's Leonard Fournette went fourth-overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey went eighth to the Carolina Panthers.
In a deep draft for running backs, Fournette and McCaffrey were certainly the best available. Now, all they have to do is help their offenses be as efficient as Dallas was on its way to the NFC East title last season. Of course, the Jags and Panthers O-lines aren’t anywhere near as good as the Cowboys, but why nit-pick?
4. … Offensive Linemen Did Not
No offensive linemen were drafted in the top 15 — the first time that’s happened since 1967. Just two OLs were selected in the first round: Utah tackle Garett Bolles by Denver at No. 20, and tackle Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin by the New Orleans Saints at No. 32
The skinny: if your team needed a behemoth to protect your quarterback —or open holes for your running game — they probably didn’t get him.
5. The Raiders Reached On Gareon Conley
Proving that they won’t wait until they relocate to Las Vegas to gamble, the Oakland Raiders chose cornerback Gareon Conley of Ohio State at No. 24. The stellar defender has been accused of sexual assault, and could face penalties if charged.
Conley followed former Buckeye secondary mates Marshon Lattimore (No. 11 to New Orleans) and Malik Hooker (No. 15 to Indianapolis) to the podium on Thursday.
Oakland did need help shoring up its pass defense, but did it need Conley’s baggage? Probably not. His legal woes might have allowed him to slide to the third round, or beyond. The Raiders likely saw the run on talented defensive backs in the first round leading up to pick No. 24 and, um, rolled the dice on Conley.
There are still two days of drafting left:
Rds. 2-3: Friday, 7 p.m on ESPN
Rds. 4-7: Saturday, noon on ESPN