The first three rounds of the NFL Draft are highly important to a team’s development. The three rounds are constant nerve centers for teams to find starters, key role players, and quality depth chart fillers. The 2017 NFL Draft kicked off in it’s usual high-energy fashion on Thursday night. After all of the interesting picks that occurred within the first two days of the draft, which teams emerged as “winners” and who left a lot of questions to be unanswered as the draft’s losers? Let’s take a look.
Los Angeles Chargers – The Chargers entered the draft sitting at 7th overall and while most felt the Chargers would have went defense, they instead grabbed WR Mike Williams out of Clemson to team with Keenan Allen, who the Chargers are hoping can remain healthy during the upcoming season. Williams will get the headlines but the selections of guards Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney gives the Chargers the two best guards in the entire draft. Both were also considered first round possibilities. They did not address the defense but the offense is much, much better.
Cleveland Browns – I will admit, I was not much of a fan of taking DB/LB Jabrill Peppers at 25th but hopefully Cleveland finds a fit for him. I was however in favor of taking the cornerstone pass rusher in Myles Garrett at 1st overall. I was also a fan of taking the athletic tight end David Njoku at 29. You can also consider me in agreement with the selection of QB DeShone Kizer at pick 52. The Browns added skill. It may take a couple of seasons to see the payoff but the Browns walked away with much needed talent on both sides.
Indianapolis Colts – The Colts found themselves as lucky winners at 15th overall, where they landed my #3 overall prospect in free safety Malik Hooker. An instinctual safety with game changing ball skills and the ability to alter the way teams attack the Colts secondary. Getting CB Quincy Wilson gives the team a much-needed aggressive corner with size. Adding depth with DE Tarell Basham adds another pass rusher to the equation in which the Colts desperately needed to improve this offseason. Pat yourself on the back, GM Chris Ballard.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – If the mission was to add more weapons around third-year quarterback Jameis Winston, the Bucs have accomplished that assignment. Taking tight end O.J. Howard at 19th overall probably was not in their plans before the draft. The team drafted a savvy receiver in Chris Godwin in the 3rd round rounds out a dangerous receiving trio in Tampa. Athletic safety Justin Evans is a presence the team has not had at safety in quite some time. Tampa is knocking on the door of a playoff spot.
Baltimore Ravens – Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has firmly established a reputation around the league as an architect. His reputation reared it’s face in the first three rounds and Newsome has upgraded the defense in a tremendous way. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey was the team’s first rounder and defines what the team has had in the past at the position. Outside linebackers Tyus Bowser (2nd round) and Tim Williams (3rd round) are the team’s next duo in getting after the quarterback. The two will pick the brain of Ravens veteran Terrell Suggs which will pay huge dividends. Defensive lineman Chris Wormley is big and has athleticism not often seen in 300-pounders. The first three rounds in this draft may wind up being the foundation for a productive defense over the next several seasons.
Dallas Cowboys – There was no doubt that defense was the clear focal point for the Cowboys in this draft. Defensive end Taco Charlton gives the Cowboys great value at 28th overall. A secondary that was gutted in the offseason gets two sound cornerbacks in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. It’ll be interesting to see if the Cowboys address wide receiver and tight end later in the draft but for now, Dallas has added three players that can improve the Cowboys defense in 2017.
San Francisco 49ers – Rookie general manager John Lynch has made the NFL Draft his playground. Impressive maneuvering via trades landed DE Solomon Thomas and LB Reuben Foster in the first round, which gives the Niners two elite prospects to help improve the average defense. The 49ers also acquired a 2018 second round pick from the New Orleans Saints. The selections of Thomas and Foster alone gives their overall draft class a tremendous boost. Lynch deserves a tip of the cap.
New York Jets – The team did not address the average set of running backs, the below average offensive line, or the lack of skill at the tight end position. Instead, the Jets decided to draft two safeties (Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye) and a receiver that will be a quality producer of YAC. Bringing in receiver ArDarius Stewart provides a gritty target but mediocre play at quarterback will make that a little harder than normal. The team is still in need of addressing their much bigger needs.
Chicago Bears – Who made the oddest trade of the draft so far? Look no further than the Bears. The team traded up one spot from 3rd to 2nd overall to take a quarterback that they appeared to be the only team in a quest for early on. In the process, the team gave away three key picks. Next, the team added a weapon for QB Mitch Trubisky in Ashland’s Adam Shaheen, a raw tight end that has potential but not the refined technique of other tight ends on the draft board. As if things were not already confusing in Chicago.
Jets safety Calvin Pryor – A guy who was not drafted on this weekend, but Pryor may have seen the writing on the wall with the first two selections by the Jets. Pryor has reached bust status and his ability does not have the versatility as Adams and Maye provide. Pryor is reportedly being offered in trade talks during the draft and may very well be moved before the draft is complete.
Cincinnati Bengals running backs – At some point in the draft, one team was going to take a chance on RB Joe Mixon. Despite the turmoil hanging over his head from an incident in 2014 where he struck a female. The Bengals were that one team that decided to step out and take a chance on the him. Current Bengals running backs Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard will now have the fend off a prospect that is considered a top 15 player in the draft’s overall rankings. What makes the selection even more interesting is that Mixon is capable of being a #1 back. Hill and Bernard will have their hands full trying to prevent the extra talented Mixon from stealing quality playing time.