The NFL Draft is one of the most exciting parts of the NFL offseason. The top college prospects in the country are rewarded for their hard work and dedication by being selected by one of the 32 teams in the NFL. The NFL Draft has become extremely interesting as we have seen top prospects fail, and weaker prospects succeed. This helps make the draft even more exciting as fans and teams never truly know what to expect from their new players.
In last year’s NFL draft, the #1 overall pick, Jared Goff, was outplayed by the #135 overall pick, Dak Prescott. An unusual event happened where both Tony Romo and Kellen Moore were hurt in the preseason, allowing Dak Prescott to take the starting spot as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Dak Prescott won Offensive Rookie of the Year and lead his team to win the NFC East with a 13-3 record. Another surprise in last year’s draft was with Jordan Howard, the #150 overall pick by the Chicago Bears. Howard finished his season ranking #2 in yards as a running back with 1,313 yards.
These players that were drafted in the later rounds help made this year’s NFL Draft, especially exciting. Fans were on the edge of their seats all three days waiting to find out who their next star player would be. This year’s NFL Draft was filled with many trades and shocking picks.
Here are the 8 NFL Rookies Who Will Thrive And 7 Who Will Bust:
15 Thrive: Juju Smith-Schuster - Pittsburgh Steelers
Juju Smith-Schuster was picked in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wide receiver from USC was known for his route running skills and speed. Smith helps add more talent to the receiving corps, helping take away some of the pressure from Antonio Brown. This pick helps give Ben Roethlisberger another threat down the field with the past suspensions of Martavis Bryant. Juju Smith-Schuster will see a lot of action on the field in 2017 with defenses trying to double team Antonio Brown. With a future Hall of Famer quarterback, this is a great landing spot for the former USC wide receiver. Smith-Schuster was great with slant routes, which can help Big Ben on short down conversions. If Bryant can stay on the field, an offense loaded with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Juju Smith-Schuster, could be a tough wide receiver corps to defend on Sundays.
14 Bust: Corey Davis - Tennessee Titans
Corey Davis looked phenomenal coming out of Western Michigan. According to ESPN, in 2016 he ended the season with 19 touchdowns and 1,500 yards. Everything seems great, except the fact that he was drafted into a division with some tough cornerbacks to go up against. The cornerbacks that Corey Davis would have to be able to go up against would include: Jalen Ramsey and A.J. BouyeFor a rookie wide receiver, it could be very difficult going up against tough cornerbacks to start your NFL career. It also doesn’t help that Marcus Mariota just came off of a season ending injury. It also may not help that former star of the Denver Broncos; Eric Decker was signed this offseason. For Corey Davis, there are high expectations being the #5 overall pick, drafted by a team that is known to be on their way to success. For Corey Davis, he will be known as one of the busts of the 2017 NFL Draft.
13 Thrive: Ryan Switzer- Dallas Cowboys
Ryan Switzer may be this year’s shocking star player to be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys after the Dallas Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott. The ironic part about this situation, both Ryan Switzer and Dak Prescott were both drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Ryan Switzer has a very similar game play to the Cowboys’ slot receiver, Cole Beasley. Cole Beasley was Dak’s go to guy in many situations. To add another receiver with a very similar style will only benefit Prescott. A four-receiver set with Switzer included would set up like this: Bryant, Williams, Beasley, and Switzer. This could be a nightmare for defenses to cover having two big guys on the edge and two smaller guys in the slot- this also doesn’t include Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield. Switzer has the potential to be another Wes Welker in the league, and will begin his career with some of the NFL’s new star players, and the NFL’s best offensive line. Ryan Switzer follow his teammate Dak Prescott and become another hidden gem, that the Dallas Cowboys draft in the fourth round.
12 Bust: Jabrill Peppers - Cleveland Browns
Jabrill Peppers may have been able to do it all in college, but the NFL is a completely different ball game. Jabrill Peppers played so many different positions in college, that Hue Jackson has to analyze Peppers in the offseason to see where he fits best. The only player fans have seen truly succeed on both sides of the ball, was Deion Sanders. Unfortunately, analysts don’t seem to see that same skill level from Peppers that was of Sanders. Jabrill Peppers was a versatile player for the University of Michigan, but was never really considered a dominant threat at his most known position: safety. With the loss of Jordan Poyer, it may seem likely that the Browns will place Peppers at safety. Unfortunately for the Browns, Peppers struggled heavily in coverage.
With the division he’s in, it won’t be any easier. Having to face Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, and Andy Dalton twice a year, will not be an easy task. Peppers also faces a high risk of injury playing both sides of the ball. Jabrill Peppers was a risky pick, and will fail due to the inability to stay committed to one position and the risk of injury playing multiple positions.
11 Thrive: Charles Harris - Miami Dolphins
Charles Harris draft stock continued to rise as the offseason went on and the 2017 NFL Draft came closer. The Miami Dolphins got a steal with teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons just a few draft picks later. Harris is the NFL fan definition of a “war daddy.” He’s a big defensive end with a lot of power. This is a great pickup for the Miami Dolphins when two of their rivals being the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills having troubles at the tackle position. This gives an advantage already to the Dolphins for Harris to make an immediate impact and disrupt divisional quarterbacks. Adding Charles Harris to a defensive line already stacked with Cameron Wake and Mario Williams, can make this defensive line become one of the most dangerous in the game. Charles Harris ability to get to the quarterback helps this defensive line become what could become one of the best in the NFL.
10 Bust: Sidney Jones - Philadelphia Eagles
Sidney Jones finished the 2016 season looking to become one of the 2017 NFL draft’s top cornerback prospect. Unfortunately, during the University of Washing pro-day, Jones dropped to the floor, suffering a torn Achilles. This injury could entirely effect his game play on Sundays, and may even cost him some time off in the 2017 season. What makes this situation even worse, is Sidney Jones heads to an Eagles team that faces some of the best receivers in the NFL including Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, and Terrelle Pryor.
Together these players have 12 Pro Bowl selections. For any rookie cornerback, it is tough to go up against wide receivers of those caliber, to be a second-round rookie cornerback that is coming off a torn Achilles injury, it is even harder. Unfortunately the injury Sidney Jones faced during his pro-day will have hurt his NFL career.
9 Thrive: Jonathan Allen - Washington Redskins
Jonathan Allen on many draft boards were very high. Many NFL Mock Drafts had Jonathan Allen as a top-10 pick. Allen has an eye to help keep his feet leveled to play against the run or the pass. The 6”3, 286-pound pass rusher is a steal for the Washington Redskins. In a division with some of the toughest offenses to face, Allen is a great defensive end to pick up. His strength and ability to face the run will specifically be helpful to play against the Dallas Cowboys offensive line and Ezekiel Elliot. His ability as a pass rusher allows him to compete with offensive tackles and get passed them. Allen’s shoulder problems may have been the cause for him to drop further back in the draft, but if he lives up to his potential he will become a stud.
8 Garett Bolles - Denver Broncos (Bust)
This year’s NFL Draft lacked star offensive linemen. Unfortunately for many teams with offensive lineman needs, they had to put that need off to the site due to the lack of talent in this year’s draft. A team heavily in need of an offensive lineman was the Denver Broncos. With their first pick of the NFL Draft, they selected Garett Boles from the University of Utah. A major problem with many NFL players run into are off the field problems. Before Bolles played for Utah, he was kicked out of five schools. Many times, in the NFL, a player who gets involved with problems off the field, can never overcome that issue. A major struggle for Bolles is the ability to go up against outside linebackers and be able to gain momentum against them.
Playing in the AFC West, Bolles will immediately be asked to play against outside linebackers such as Khalil Mack, Justin Houston, and Bruce Irvin. Also a player he will have to play against, is #3 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Joey Bosa. Not to mention, Bolles will be entering his rookie season at the age of 25. With the mix of age, struggles against outside linebackers, and off the field issues, the NFL does not seem like a place that Garett Bolles will find a successful job.
7 Thrive: Joe Mixon - Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Mixon was the most controversial draft pick in this year’s draft. A video was release of Mixon punching a girl in the face in July 2014. Unfortunately for Mixon, he faces one of the same issues that Bolles faces: off the field issues. Fortunately, enough for Mixon, his talent gives him a lot of upside of his future in the NFL. Mixon would have been one of the top running backs in this year’s draft before this video was released. Mixon ran a 4.53 in the 40 yard dash. He has the ability and vision to succeed running in between tackles as well as being a receiver. Mixon runs a similar style of Demarco Murray along with being able to play as a pass catcher. Mixon plays as an old school running back that can do it all. This was a steal for the Bengals and helps them both in the run game and the pass game. If Mixon can stay clean, he will be a great fit to the Bengals offense.
6 Bust: David Njoku - Cleveland Browns
David Njoku plays as a tight end that can both block and catch passes. Njoku was the second ranked tight end in this year’s draft. A 6’4 246-pound tight end, he has the perfect structure to be a dominant force in the league. The team he was drafted by however, is the worst team in the NFL, and has been one of the worst teams in the league having not had a winning season since 2007. The Browns have holes all around their team that will take years to cover up. In order for Njoku to be known as a success, he needs a quarterback that can throw to him. The Browns quarterback situation is currently up in the air after signing Brock Osweiler and drafting DeShone Kizer. Unfortunately for Njoku, Osweiler has been so bad that the Texans had to offer the Browns a second-round draft pick just so that the Browns could pick up his mighty contract.
And for Kizer, he is still a work in progress that may not see the field anytime soon. Although Njoku has a lot of talent, it will not be shown due to the lack of skill sets around him. This will lead to Njoku being a bust, which may make the New York Giants look good for drafting Evan Engram over Njoku.
5 Thrive: Evan Engram - New York Giants
Fortunate enough for Evan Engram, he was not selected by the Cleveland Browns. The New York Giants selected Engram with the #23 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Giants had many other holes that could have been filled, but instead decided to go with a pick to help load up their offensive weapons. Even with the loss of Victor Cruz, the Giants still were able to load up by drafting Engram and signing Brandon Marshall during the offseason. Engram plays as a physical, yet speedy receiver. The addition of Engram allows the Eli Manning to spread the ball around between the four receivers. Engram poses a problem for many defenses that will have to use defensive backs to cover him. Even with other needs, this draft pick helps the Giants offense load up against demoralized secondary in the NFC East. Something the Giants may want to work on with Engram will be his blocking skills, but this draft pick could help take the New York Giants offense to the next level.
4 Bust: Mitchell Trubisky - Chicago Bears
When the Chicago Bears gave up four picks to move up one spot in this year’s NFL Draft, many fans were in shock and confused. The Bears traded an abundance of draft picks to move up one spot to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky even after they signed Mike Glennon to a 3-year $45 million contract. Trubisky is not as bad as many fans believe he may be, but he also isn’t worth giving up four picks to move up one spot to a team who had no intentions of drafting him. Trubisky was a one year start for the University of North Carolina. In that year, he threw for 30 touchdown passes and 3,748 yards. Trubisky helped take the UNC Tar Heels to the Sun Bowl where he lost to Stanford. In a game where the pressure was on him, Trubisky forced 3 turnovers, which contributed to his loss. Trubisky has some talent, but also struggles in some areas. Under pressure and long passes seem to be a struggle for him.
On top of that, the team that drafted him just lost their top receiver and don’t have many offensive weapons to help Trubisky. The Bears are also in a confusing situation where they don’t know who will be the starter week one. Unfortunately the Bears trading many draft picks for Trubisky leads to high expectations that he will not be able to live up to.
3 O.J. Howard - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Thrive)
Many reporters and journalists already claim that O.J. Howard will be guaranteed to be a Pro-Bowl starter. He was in many reporters’ mock drafts as a top-10 draft pick. O.J. Howard has all the tools to be a complete tight end in the NFL. His long arms and big hands give him a great value at the tight end position. These advantages allow him to reach over defenders and give him an immediate advantage when in man coverage. The men around him with Jameis Winston, DeSean Jackson, and Mike Evans help keep the pressure off of Howard, but allow him to make an impact. The addition of Howard makes the Buccaneers have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. Howard will have to improve as a blocker to help the run game. Against weak defenses in the NFC South with the exception of the Atlanta Falcons, O.J. Howard will be able to have an immediate impact on the team and become one of the premier tight ends of the future.
2 Bust: Christian McCaffrey - Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey may be the biggest shocker on this last to be a bust, but unfortunately not every college star lives up to their expectations. For the Carolina Panthers, they still have major gaps in the offensive line. In order for McCaffrey to perform at a high level, that offensive line is going to need to improve. This offensive line is the same offensive line that the 2015 NFL MVP, Cam Newton struggled to play behind last year. Unfortunately, McCaffrey doesn’t have the size to bulldoze over defenders from time to time to make plays. McCaffrey plays a similar game that Darren Sproles plays. Darren Sproles was a fifth-round pick. He’s good, but he isn’t great. This goes for McCaffrey as well.
He is a flashy back that can run and catch. But what Cam needs is help on that offensive line, and a man that can constantly make defenders miss. McCaffrey may have a couple decent years in the league, but he will never live up to his potential. What seems to be a steal in this year’s draft, may have been a mistake for a Panthers team that is trying to head back to the Super Bowl after their heartbreaking Super Bowl 50 loss.
1 Deshaun Watson - Houston Texans (Thrive)
The NFL rookie to achieve the most in his career from the 2017 NFL Draft: Deshaun Watson. Many people may be reading this confused and that is fine. Watson was not by any means the best player in this draft, and he may not even be one of the top 10 players that were drafted. But, Deshaun Watson is going into the perfect situation possible. The Houston Texans have everything needed to make a Super Bowl run, the only thing they are missing is their franchise quarterback. On Thursday, April 27th, the Houston Texans found their guy. The two-time Pro Bowl finalist finally brought the BCS Championship back to Clemson after tossing a game winning touchdown pass with 0:01 seconds left to go against Alabama. Watson may not physically be the best quarterback out there, but he has a winning mentality. Watson is a long ball threat and can also make plays on his feet. He can play well under pressure, but occasionally makes poor decisions.
Joining a team with many of the pieces put together to go the distance, Watson completes that and makes the Houston Texans a legitimate threat in the AFC. It may not happen overnight, but Watson will take the Texans to multiple playoff appearances and achieve greatness. Watson could be the Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys. The Texans landed their man from Clemson.