We have almost seen those drafted in the 2017 draft for two seasons. It’s a good time to start analyzing the draft, and seeing which players were mistakes to draft. Last year’s draft had a ton of talent; so much talent that it could overlook a lot of the players who haven’t lived up to expectations. Some of these players could overcome their struggles and play at a high level, while other players may not be able to do that.
Teams aren’t going to score on every pick, but these teams are going to wish they selected other players instead. It always sucks when you look back and see that you drafted a player who has struggled, with a star player still available. Analysts work hard to find out about these players that come out of college, but some of these players really improve in the process of becoming a professional.
While some players really improve, others can’t keep up with the NFL. While they could’ve been great college players, maybe they don’t fit in the professional level. It’s a different game that doesn’t translate to college. Just because a player was good in college doesn’t mean anything. If you want to be a successful NFL player, you have to work your butt off to get faster, stronger and smart. Those who put in the effort to do so are usually rewarded, while others are left behind. Then, there’s those who can’t control anything and suffer injuries which hurt their career. Sometimes you think you have the world, and you get complacent and struggle.
20 Mistake: Sidney Jones - Philadelphia Eagles (43rd Overall)
You have to appreciate the chance the Eagles gave Sidney Jones. Jones suffered a crucial injury in the Washington Pro Day, that dropped his draft stock. Jones was expected to be a first-round cornerback before the cameras flashed of him dropping to the turf.
The Eagles took a chance, banking on Jones getting healthy and being able to contribute in a big way quickly. In this case, it hasn’t worked out so far. Jones continues to deal with injuries as his career plays out. If they want to get their value for him, they need to be patient. For now, he has yet to get back to his college form.
19 New Pick: Joe Mixon (Drafted 48th Overall)
Put aside all off-the-field drama with Joe Mixon from college, and he’s been as impressive as any running back from the 2017 draft. Jay Ajayi took over as the Eagles running back mid-way through the 2017 season because LeGarrette Blount couldn’t handle carrying it on his own. From the beginning, they should’ve known Blount needs to play in a committee.
While Mixon might not have the flash that Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara have shown on the field, Mixon is as complete a back as you can ask for. He's been a bright spot on this Bengals offense all season, while Philly continues to struggle in the running game.
18 Mistake: DeShone Kizer - Cleveland Browns (52nd Overall)
Now, the Packers have DeShone Kizer, but the Browns certainly wish they didn’t draft him. When the Browns drafted Kizer, they thought that they found their franchise quarterback. They passed on Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky in the first round. Unfortunately, Kizer is no longer with the team, as they traded him for Damarious Randall and a swap of picks. This came a season after he threw 22 interceptions.
Maybe it wasn’t completely fair, as the Browns didn’t have many weapons. They had a solid 2017 draft that patched up the defense. Kizer has a lot of potential, but the Browns threw him into the fire way too early. Needless to say, it was a waste of a pick for them.
17 New Pick: Alvin Kamara (Drafted 67th Overall)
While it would be tempting to go the wide receiver route here, given that the Browns no longer have Josh Gordon, from where the Browns stood in 2017, Alvin Kamara would've been a perfect pick for them in the 2nd round. Kamara is essentially a receiver coming out of the backfield and makes life easier on his quarterback. Back in 2017, the Browns didn't have Nick Chubb yet. Rather, they had an underwhelming backfield featuring Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.
Putting Kamara in this backfield would have made life easier for any QB the Browns would've had and would have them in a better position for 2018.
16 Mistake: Reuben Foster - San Francisco 49ers (31st Overall)
From the day of the draft, Reuben Foster had some red flags. Following another off-field issue this season, the 49ers part ways with their first-round draft pick out of Alabama. When Foster is on the field, he’s terrific. However, some poor decision-making seems to have caught up with him and his career is in jeopardy.
When a team's first round pick is no longer on the roster by his second year, there's clearly gotta be some major regret from the 49ers' point of view. If the 49ers could go back, Foster would have never been a 49er. Instead, the 49ers could've found a solid building block for their defense with the pick.
15 New Pick: Budda Baker (36th Overall)
Not only could the 49ers have found a productive player for their defense, but they could've prevented a budding star from going to a division rival. While the Cardinals may have whiffed on their first round pick last year (Haason Reddick) they more than made up for it by grabbing Budda Baker in the 2nd round at 36th overall. Baker made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last season and has been one of the bright spots on a bottom feeding Cardinals team. By drafting Baker in 2017, the 49ers could've had a secondary this season featuring Baker and Richard Sherman.
14 Mistake: Taco Charlton - Dallas Cowboys (28th Overall)
Out of the past five first-round picks selected by the Cowboys, Taco Charlton has to be the most disappointing. He’s missed games due to a shoulder injury and has struggled to get to the quarterback. The one positive thing he’s done so far is he’s been good against the run.
At the time, the Cowboys needed another pass rusher. They thought since Charlton had no pre-existing injuries going into the draft, it was a safe pick. You know this was a bad idea, considering the Cowboys usually select the best available player, opposed to their needs. Who knows though, going by team need worked out in the 2018 draft.
13 New Pick: T.J. Watt (Drafted 30th Overall)
Then and now, Cowboys fans wanted T.J. Watt. There was already some concern for injuries which is why they passed up on him, and now they’re regretting it. Watt has demonstrated that his pass rushing skills have translated to the NFL. He’s the playmaker that can turn the Cowboys defense into a Super Bowl contender if they aren’t already.
Watt has been light years better than Charlton, and he’s only going to get better. Just imagine how good he would be playing alongside DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jaylon Smith. It would be a scary situation for opposing teams.
12 Mistake: John Ross - Cincinnati Bengals (9th Overall)
Tyler Boyd may be the wide receiver the Bengals hoped John Ross would be. Ross has not been the wide receiver the Bengals would’ve hoped for. While Ross has started to find the end zone, he really hasn’t found a role in this offense.
Ross became a popular name when he ran a historic 40-yard dash, but that hasn’t helped him on the football field. Maybe it’s the Bengals who haven’t used him properly, or maybe he is just a fast player who doesn’t transition well into the NFL. When the Bengals look at the talent that was available later on, they have to be kicking themselves.
11 New Pick: JuJu Smith-Schuster (Drafted 62nd Overall)
Nobody expected JuJu Smith-Schuster to be this good. In fact, he’s good enough to be a No. 1 wide receiver. Pair him up on the opposite side of Antonio Brown, and you have yourself a scary receiving corps. There’s no guarantee that he would be as good without the system in Pittsburgh, but if he's good enough to be a no.2 opposite of Antonio Brown, he'd certainly be good enough to line up opposite of A.J. Green.
Smith-Schuster has big play ability, and the speed to outrun cornerbacks. If the Bengals drafted him and had a duo of Green and Smith-Schuster, they'd be fielding the best receiving duo in the NFL, and it would've significantly affected the Steelers. There's nothing like weakening a division rival while getting stronger.
10 Mistake: Solomon Thomas - San Francisco 49ers (3rd Overall)
The 49ers pulled off some draft day magic by trading down from pick no.2 to no.3 while getting a solid trade package from the Chicago Bears, who were desperate to take Mitchell Trubisky. While the 49ers were lauded for their draft day trades, their selections are now looking highly questionable. The 49ers felt Solomon Thomas would be a player that could transform their defense, but so far, Thomas has not really emerged for them. While he has started to see some more snaps as the second season has gone on, the 49ers defense remains stagnant. From where the Niners were picking, they could've gotten a real impact player.
9 New Pick: Christian McCaffrey (Drafted 8th Overall)
While Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara emerged as the star running backs of the 2017 draft class, Christian McCaffrey is often overlooked. McCaffrey has proven that he can be a true workhorse running back, as well as be a factor in the passing game. The 49ers have been looking for a top running back and have not been able to find one. In Kyle Shanahan's offense McCaffrey, who went to college just up the road from San Fran, could've immediately infused some production in this offense. While 3rd overall might feel a little high for a running back, it would've filled a big need for the Niners.
8 Mistake: Mitchell Trubisky - Chicago Bears (2nd Overall)
This is not in any way meant to be a slight to Mitchell Trubisky, who has shown a lot of improvement in his second year. While Trubisky still has his limitations as a passer, he's very mobile and strong and with an improved receiving corps, he's proven that he wan win in the NFL. However, Trubisky being picked 2nd overall still feels very high, considering the array of talent the 2017 draft had. While head coach Matt Nagy has implemented a system that highlights Trubisky's strengths while masking his weaknesses, there's one QB that REALLY would've shined in Nagy's system.
7 New Pick: Patrick Mahomes (Drafted 10th Overall)
Matt Nagy was Patrick Mahomes's offensive coordinator in Kansas City last year. A lot of what we've seen in KC has been implemented in Chicago and if Trubisky could thrive under Nagy, just imagine what Mahomes could have done. Yes, Nagy wasn't in place for the Bears back in 2017, but much like Kansas City did, the Bears could've sat him for a year, while letting Mahomes develop. Mahomes has the strong arm to succeed in a cold weather city like Chicago and it's hard to imagine that anybody would take Trubisky over Mahomes, looking back at that draft.
6 Mistake: Garett Bolles - Denver Broncos (20th Overall)
Broncos fans certainly aren’t pleased with this pick, and it hasn’t looked all that pretty for their former first-round pick, Garett Bolles. Bolles is a highly penalized player, who has struggled in pass protection. Some analysts believe it’s him, while others would put blame on the poor pocket presence by the quarterbacks the Broncos have fielded.
Whenever you have a player who is pushing the chain backward, it’s a bad sign. Bolles also sustained an injury that cost him much of this season. Right now, John Elway is probably looking back at this draft wishing he selected someone else, considering the team is on the verge of success.
5 New Pick: Ryan Ramcyzk (Drafted 32nd Overall)
There’s a reason Broncos fans don’t like Bolles, and that is because they passed up on Ryan Ramcyzk. So of course, he becomes the replacement. In 2018, Ramcyzk has been a top five offensive tackle. A key reason why he’s been able to be so dominant is that Drew Brees is not the type of quarterback to hold on to the football long.
Regardless, it was a good pick for the Saints, one the Broncos wish they would’ve taken. They could’ve even traded back their pick and got additional draft picks, while still getting their guy. Instead, they’re stuck with a struggling young player.
4 Mistake: DeMarcus Walker - Denver Broncos (51st Overall)
DeMarcus Walker was considered a possible late first-round draft pick but then fell down the draft boards. He landed in the second round where the Denver Broncos once again made another mistake and drafted him. Walker was a steal at the time, considering how well he played in college. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown that booming potential that the team would’ve expected. That was back-to-back poor draft picks by John Elway, which is really hard to take in. It was proven that they didn’t believe in Walker, as they drafted Bradley Chubb with the fifth overall pick in 2018. At least their 2018 draft board looks impressive so far.
3 New Pick: Cooper Kupp (Drafted 69th Overall)
You can never have too many wide receivers, but you may wonder why the Broncos would draft a wide receiver so high. There was a plan to eventually move on from one of their star receivers, as evidenced when they traded Demaryius Thomas. Emmanuel Sanders has been terrific, but he will be 32 years old coming back from a torn Achilles next season.
In the 2018 draft, the Broncos selected Courtland Sutton who has been good but the Broncos still need another option. Cooper Kupp is a great route runner with incredible speed to break loose. Kupp is young, so you would really save money in the receiving corps.
2 Mistake: Charles Harris - Miami Dolphins (22nd Overall)
Charles Harris has the physical traits to be a war daddy, but he’s failed to be that for the Dolphins. This team has invested so much into their defensive line, and it has yet to show up. Harris’s stock continued to go up as the draft came closer, as many analysts believed he had a lot of potential.
Harris continues to struggle to get to the quarterback, while many other defensive ends have been really good from this draft. Harris is still just in his second year, but it's clear the Dolphins were hoping for more from him at this point.
1 New Pick: Takkarist McKinley (Drafted 26th Overall)
A safer bet at defensive end would have been Takkarist McKinley. Maybe it wasn’t expected, but McKinley has been as solid as it gets through his first two seasons. He finished with six sacks his rookie season and has posted similar numbers in his second season.
It wasn’t really a discussion if McKinley would get drafted that early, but the Dolphins, looking back, would love for him to have dropped. While he hasn’t been a star, he’s been consistent on the defensive line. That would just be a stepping stone in the right direction for a Dolphins defensive line that hasn’t been that good.