The NFL draft happened last week. I am guessing you already knew this. I mean, really in 2017 is it possible for anyone, even those who have zero interest in the NFL, to escape the fact the draft is happening? I have tackled the subject of the overblown production that has become the three-day draft in the past and I still don’t like it. I don’t take any time out of my day to sit and watch (on pins and needles if Roger Goodell had his way) them open the envelopes and shake the hands of the various young men who will attempt to go on to fame in the league. That does not mean I don’t pay attention though. Here are my top five takeaways from last week’s spectacle.
1. Myles Garrett is as suspect an overall number one as Jadeveon Clowney was back in 2014. I am of the opinion that if you aren’t getting a franchise quarterback or running back with that first draft pick then you are probably better off drafting further down. That said, I cannot argue with Garrett being the best guy on the board and the Browns did what they had to do. Now, they wait and hope Garrett turns out to be the next Reggie White rather than the next Clowney.
2. That said, I think Cleveland did a pretty fantastic job remaking their franchise. Let’s be honest here, the Browns seem like the most cursed franchise in the NFL. Especially since they moved to Baltimore, won a Super Bowl and then were reborn as the new Cleveland Browns. This is a franchise that has had two winning seasons in the past 20 years. So yeah, they needed some help and they got some. Having three first round picks certainly helped and they added Jabril Peppers (who I think was probably the best pure football player on the board) and David Njoku with those first-round selections. Then, in the second round they just might have found their franchise quarterback in Notre Dame’s DeShaun Kizer. There are a lot of question marks around Kizer, but he could very well have been a first-round pick, so maybe Cleveland got four first-round type players. Time will tell, but I certainly believe this year’s Browns squad will be a lot better than last year’s.
3. I don’t think the Bears gave up too much to draft Mitch Trubisky. There is no more important position in the NFL than quarterback. You just don’t win without a good one. So, Chicago was wise to give up a couple picks in later drafts to move up one spot and get the guy who most people seemed to think was the top signal caller available.
4. I don’t know that I feel the same way about the Houston Texans drafting Deshaun Watson. Houston had a lot further to climb to get to the 12th pick so they could snare Watson, so they had to give up a lot more which means they will not have a first-round pick next year (barring some sort of deal). When you factor in the team also gave away their second-round pick next year just to dump former quarterback Brock Osweiler’s enormous contract it becomes apparent the Texans are all in on Watson. It could work out. The guy was certainly good in college and seems to be a proven winner. But I feel like there are a lot of question marks about his skills translating to the NFL game to take such a huge gamble.
5. Rolling the dice for the franchise QB seemed to be a running theme during the first round. The Kansas City Chiefs did it too, giving up their first-round selection in 2018 so they could pick Pat Mahomes. Fortunately for Kansas City fans, Mahomes has the luxury of sitting and learning behind Alex Smith, but the overall implications are the same. You must have a quarterback to win in the NFL.
Those teams that do will be the ones competing for the Super Bowl. Those who do not will always be on the outside looking in, willing to risk their futures for a shot at landing that difference-making player.