The NFL Draft is a time where every franchise has an opportunity to make improvements for their team. The draft coupled with free agency gives teams a chance to fill positions on the roster that are weaknesses, and the draft is the most convenient option for doing so. Teams can replenish their rosters on the cheap as opposed to free agency, and the best teams typically build through the draft. Prospects from universities all over the country wait to hear their names called in late April to determine where their careers will begin.
What is out of these prospects hand is where they get picked up in the draft, and a team’s decision in the draft room is usually either applauded or looked down on. In recent years some teams have been willing to trade multiple draft picks to move up and select a player they think will be a game changer. Other teams are just a few players away from being a super bowl contender and select players solely based on need at their weakest position, or have so many holes to fill that they just select the best player available when it’s their turn to pick. Every draft has winners and losers.
Here are 8 winners and 7 losers from the 2017 NFL draft:
15. Winner: San Francisco 49ers
It is hard to imagine a team that has had two coaches fired and front office turmoil the past two years would be headed in the right direction, but rookie GM John Lynch has been able to do just that purely just in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Lynch wasted no time fleecing the Bears in a trade that moved them back from the second to third pick in the draft. The 49ers received the 67th, 111th, and a 2018 third round pick in the deal, and still got the player they coveted in defensive end Solomon Thomas. Then Lynch got the 49ers back into the back end of the first round to select stud linebacker Ruben Foster. It appears that Lynch is creating a defense in San Francisco that could resemble the Buccaneers defense that Lynch was a part of that won Super Bowl XXXVII.
14. Loser: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were one two point conversion away from making it to the AFC championship game last season, and getting a player that could get them over the hump in the draft would be a plausible strategy. Instead the Chiefs traded up to draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. This selection could turn out to be a great pick, but Mahomes will not make an impact on the field at all in 2017 barring an injury to starting quarterback Alex Smith. Then they drafted a bit of a project defensive end in Tanoh Kpassagnon from Villanova in the second round. The Chiefs waited until the fourth round to fill one of their biggest weaknesses at the wide receiver position, and they would have been better suited drafting a skill player in the first or second round.
13. Winner: Gareon Conley
It may be strange seeing Gareon Conley listed as a winner in this draft after being thought of as an early to mid first rounder a week prior to the NFL draft. Conley was selected 24th overall by the Oakland Raiders despite being accused of rape when a 23-year-old woman claimed that Conley sexually assaulted her in his Cleveland hotel room on April 9th. Many thought this would plummet Conley’s draft stock in the same manor that La’el Collins went from a lock first round pick to undrafted after he was questioned in a murder case, but Conley was fortunate that he still was selected in the first round. Being a first round pick is much more financially rewarding than being a later round draft pick, and the Raiders made Conley breathe a huge sigh of relief after a rough lead up to draft day.
12. Loser: Reuben Foster
Reuben Foster was thought of as a dynamic linebacker coming out of Alabama, and it was almost a no brainer that he would be selected in the top ten of the 2017 NFL Draft prior to the combine. Then the off the field troubles started to come out and concern teams about Foster. He was sent home from the combine for a verbal altercation with a hospital employee, and this was only the beginning of problems during the pre-draft process. It was then reported that Foster failed a drug test at the combine due to a diluted sample. Foster is also recovering from rotator cuff surgery, but the incidents off the field are what have worried teams the most. Foster slipped all the way to pick number 31 in the first round where he was taken by the San Francisco 49ers.
11. Winner: New Orleans Saints
The Saints have had one of the most putrid defenses in the NFL in recent years, so when offensive players were getting scooped up unexpectedly in the top 10 of the draft the best cornerback prospect in the draft fell to the New Orleans Saints at pick number 11. Marshon Lattimore should be an instant upgrade in the Saints secondary. They also nabbed arguably the best offensive tackle in the draft Ryan Ramcyzk out of Wisconsin, and giving future hall of famer Drew Brees even more protection is crucial as he gets older.
The Saints were able to again improve their secondary by drafting Marcus Williams a safety out of Utah, and added a great combo running back in Alvin Kamara out of Tennessee. The NFC South could be one of the best divisions in football with the Saints now on the rise.
10. Loser: New York Giants
The New York Giants had a fantastic free agency period once again this offseason when they acquired Brandon Marshall, but their moves in the draft have been questionable. Their first selection was a talented tight end Evan Engram out of Ole Miss. At 23, a better tight end in David Njoku was available, but the Giants went with Engram who is built like a wide receiver and may have trouble blocking in the NFL. Speaking of blocking the Giants had an atrocious offensive line last season. The offensive line was the weakness of the team, but the Giants have failed to take an offensive lineman early in the draft. Instead they drafted a quarterback in the third round who won’t have an impact on the team until Eli Manning retires.
9. Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a straight up steal in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft when the best tight end prospect O.J. Howard fell to them at the 19th pick. The departure of Vincent Jackson left a void at the wide receiver position that can now be filled by one of the best deep threats in college football last season Chris Godwin, and Jameis Winston now has a speedster on one side in Godwin and a physical all pro receiver in Mike Evans on the other side. The suspension of Doug Martin has left the Bucs thin at the running back position. A talented running back from Boise State Jeremy McNichols fell to the Bucs all the way in the fifth round, and McNichols can help in the run and pass game because of his experience at the receiver position.
8. Loser: Latavius Murray
Latavius Murray chose to sign with the Minnesota Vikings in large part because of the departure of Adrian Peterson in Minnesota and rumors swirling that Marshawn Lynch wanted to come out of retirement and play for the Oakland Raiders. The Vikings had a terrible running attack in 2016, and Murray was slated to be the feature back who would get a bulk of the carries. Murray had 12 rushing touchdowns in 2016 and was rated the third best blocking running back in football.
Day 2 of the 2017 NFL draft rolls around and the Vikings with their first selection take running back Dalvin Cook, and it is now apparent that Murray will not be the feature back and the Vikings will have a running back by committee approach this upcoming season.
7. Winner: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings did not have a first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still find some pieces to make massive improvements to their roster. The Vikings traded up in the second round to select running back Dalvin Cook out of Florida State, and Cook was widely thought of as one of the best running backs in the draft. Without having a first round pick the Vikings got a player with first round talent. In the third round the Vikings got the best center in the draft in Pat Elflein, and this will greatly help a Viking offensive line that was beat up in 2016. The Vikings then got some defensive players in the later rounds to build depth to an already great defense.
6. Loser: Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard
Prior to the 2016 NFL season the Bengals had a solid running back duo in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, but declining numbers and injuries have caused Cincinnati to look to the draft to improve the position. Early in the second round, the Bengals selected running back Joe Mixon. The selection was controversial due to Mixon having a past of domestic violence, but he is a versatile back who can run in between the tackles and play a factor in the passing game.
Bernard was hampered by injuries last season and Hill struggled to rush for 50 yards a game in 2016. These two players’ production and health issues could greatly diminish their roles in the offense, and Mixon could be the benefactor of these two halfbacks’ lessened roles.
5. Winner: Buffalo Bills
New head coach Sean McDermott got the team rolling in the right direction after the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bills were unwilling to shell out big bucks for cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and instead opted to draft Tre’Davious White who is one of the best cornerback prospects coming into the draft. Another glaring weakness of the Bills was filled when they drafted wide receiver Zay Jones in the second round. Jones is great at getting yards after the catch, and is a great second option with Sammy Watkins being the primary receiver. The Bills also greatly improved their offensive line when selecting guard Dion Dawkins out of Temple, and got great value in quarterback Nathan Peterman out of the University of Pittsburgh when he fell to them in the fifth round.
4. Loser: Chicago Bears
Viewers across the country were shocked when they saw that the Chicago Bears had traded up one spot to the second pick in the draft with the San Fransisco 49ers. The Bears gave up the 67th, 111th, and a 2018 third round pick to move up one spot which was surprising, but then the player they selected with the second pick was a bit confusing. Solomon Thomas seemed to be the popular selection at number two. The Bears instead chose to go with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who only started 13 games in college compiling an 8-5 record. What made this a head scratcher is the fact that the Bears just shelled out big money to free agent quarterback Mike Glennon this offseason. The Bears could have used this selection to bolster their defense, but they now have gone all in on Mitchell Trubisky who many do not believe is the best quarterback in this year’s draft class.
3. Winner: Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins were shocked to see that the number one defensive line prospect in many experts’ eyes was still on the board at pick number 17. Jonathan Allen was promptly selected at pick number 17, and along with Alabama teammate Ryan Anderson they should greatly help a Washington defense that ranked toward the bottom of the NFL last season. The Redskins also got great value in the third round by selecting Fabian Moreau in the third round. Moreau tore his pectoral muscle before the draft, but before the injury was thought of as a late first early second round talent.
After bolstering the defense the Redskins took Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine. Perine was a great value pick in the fourth round, and could be the weapon that encourages Kirk Cousins to stay with the team long term.
2. Loser: Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are still a playoff caliber team, but they have steadily been declining since they made two appearances in back to back Super Bowls. The Seahawks traded down twice in the first round completely vacating the opening round of the draft. Then they selected defensive tackle Malik McDowell with the 35th pick in the draft, which was confusing because of the team’s top two positions of need being offensive line and cornerback. The Seahawks did select a corner in the third round in Shaquill Griffin and two offensive linemen in the draft as well. It was also mind boggling that they selected three safeties considering they have All Pros at the position in Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, and the Seahawks are hopeful that a few of their late round selections pan out like in years past.
1. Winner: The City of Philadelphia
Philadelphia certainly put on a show for this year’s NFL draft. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered Thursday through Saturday to celebrate the many young men whose lives were changed when their names were read, and the fact that many of the festivities surrounding the draft were free of charge made it all the more great. Kids played in a fountain pool on a hot Saturday afternoon which would not be possible in many of the previous draft settings. Philadelphia was fortunate to have amazing weather during the draft, and having the event actually take place outdoors could be the new standard for future NFL drafts. The NFL has an option to bring the draft back to Philadelphia in 2018, and based off the success in 2017 they would be foolish not to exercise that option.
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