We are almost at the end of the 2017 NFL season, and the power dynamics of the league have been shaken up a bit. Former MVP, and unofficial guardian angel of the state of Wisconsin, Aaron Rodgers, thought he could redeem the Packers season, but the cheeseheads fell short for the first time since 2008. The Texans, whose offense had been resurrected by their rookie QB, turned to despair when Watson went down with season-ending, non-contact, ACL injury (less than a day after the Astros won the World Series). And, an NFL owner is in the news again for making sexist and racist remarks, and unusually, it’s not Jerry Jones!
Through the course of the season, while injuries, sex scandals, racist claims, and coaching rumors seem to dominate the headlines, we forget about the outstanding rookies that have broken into the league. Third-rounders such as Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt, who are running their way into our hearts, while first-rounders, like Mitchell Trubisky, seem to have trouble with the learning curve.
That’s why it’s important for us to re-evaluate the 2017 NFL draft. With today’s knowledge of what these rookies have become, we will play general manager, and let the pieces fall into place. Who should be first overall? Which QBs will end up where? Exactly how much worse could the Browns have been? Call up Mel Kiper Jr., because we’re re-drafting the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft!
1. Cleveland Browns – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Original Pick: Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
With the first selection of the re-draft, the Cleveland Browns select, Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Clemson! While Myles Garrett was a consensus number one pick in the offseason, there is no doubt that Watson has played his way into the top spot. In just seven starts, the former CFP National Champion has taken the league by storm. He threw 19 TDs and 8 INTs, and looked electric with his legs. Unfortunately for Watson and Texans fans, the quarterback tore his ACL in practice in early November. This is his second serious knee injury, but has proven he can make a comeback, still making “D4” the top pick.
Now, would Watson be as successful in Cleveland? Many experts think not, but as you can see in the post-Watson regular season, the Texans are nothing without him. The Browns have had a history of passing up on star quarterbacks, but that ends in the re-draft. He could have been Cleveland’s savior, their football messiah.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Original Pick: Chicago Bears – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The 49ers originally traded their second overall pick to the Bears for a slew of late-rounders. In our hypothetical draft thought, hindsight rules all, and we have San Francisco grabbing rookie cornerback sensation, Marshon Lattimore, in the second spot.
With New Orleans, the 11th overall pick has dominated opposing receivers. As a rookie, Lattimore is ranked as the fourth best cornerback in the NFL by PFF. That’s insane! There is no doubt this former Buckeye is a rare talent. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of less than 40 against him this season! For reference, only Pro Bowler A.J. Bouye has a better rating! We look forward to watching Lattimore shutdown receivers in the NFC South for years to come, but in retrospect, he should be shutting down receivers in the NFC West with the 49ers.
3. Chicago Bears – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Original Pick: San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The Bears have had a tumultuous season, highlighted by victories against playoff contenders such as the Steelers, Panthers, and Ravens, yet have been overshadowed by a stagnant offense. Chicago’s receivers were banged up all year, and with a rookie quarterback at the helm, their one-dimensional run game has been essentially shut down. But, what if the Bears never jumped up to grab Trubisky? What if they rode out Glennon?
In hindsight, that’s exactly what they should have done. While Trubisky has shown some promise, his improvement throughout the season has been minimal at best. Instead of moving up one spot with San Francisco, (in which Chicago gave up an unprecedented two third rounders and fourth round pick) they should have stayed put at pick number three. We think they should have grabbed Myles Garrett to secure their defensive pass rush.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Original Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
No question here, Fournette is the best running back in the draft. He’s better than Dalvin Cook going north and south, and is a more complete runner than Hunt, McCaffrey, and Kamara. The Jags have been on an unprecedented run in 2017 with Fournette in the backfield, despite inconsistent quarterback play. With a duo of Pro Bowl cornerbacks, in Ramsey and Bouye, and dominant pass rusher in Campbell and Ngakoue, the defense has been shutting down opposing offenses, while Fournette has allowed the offense to control time of possession.
It seems like “Saxonville” is here to stay for the next few years. The former LSU standout will eclipse 1,000 yards rushing this year, and maybe, just maybe, the Jags can make a run deep into the postseason.
5. Tennessee Titans – Jamal Adams , S, LSU
Original Pick: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Originally, the Titans selected wide receiver Corey Davis with the fifth pick, but due to injury, he hasn’t really played that well this year. As of Week 16, he doesn’t even have a touchdown! Tennessee’s secondary was a huge issue in the offseason, and that’s what we are focusing on in the re-draft.
The Titans will select safety Jamal Adams, out of LSU. Originally taken sixth overall by the Jets, Adams has proved he has been NFL ready from the get-go. He is a hard-hitting strong safety who plays more like a linebacker. While he struggles in coverage, he just needs to learn better technique and discipline, since the athleticism is there. Even though he hasn’t played up to standards just yet, there is no doubt that Adams has a special gift. He could have been leveling receivers, who unwillingly came across the middle, in Tennessee, rather than New York.
6. New York Jets – Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
Original Pick: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The New York Jets were supposed to be the laughing stock of the NFL this year. Fitzpatrick and Petty struggled behind center in 2016, and fans were expecting a tanked season to grab a QB in 2018. But they forgot about career journeyman quarterback, Josh McCown. He kept the Jets competitive, and the defense has helped out, but still remains average.
They should have really beefed up their defensive front in the draft, and that’s why we have New York taking defensive end, Carl Lawson, out of Auburn. Lawson has been a force on the Bengals defense all year long, and is learning from some great pass rushers in Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Mel Kiper Jr. bumped Lawson up to his top rookie pass rusher, and number 6 rookie overall back in November. The fourth round pick has come a long way so far.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Original Pick: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Why are the Chargers always the best of the worst? It seems like every year, they have the talent, but always come up short in close games. Philip Rivers is aging, and they need to make a solid run in the postseason to solidify his legacy. With a healthy saturation of talent at the skill positions, the Chargers needed to beef up their line. That’s why, instead of grabbing Mike Williams, who hasn’t played much at all this year, they should have taken offensive tackle, Ryan Ramczyk, out of the University of Wisconsin.
Ramczyk has been dominant on the Saints o-line in both the run and pass game. On one hand, he can set the edge on a stretch play, allowing Ingram and Kamara to break one in the open field. On the other hand, he has quick feet, which lets him kick-step back into protection, and bully pass rushers. Imagine if he ended up in LA with Rivers and company; maybe he could help them fill their half-empty stadium!
8. Carolina Panthers – Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
Original Pick: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
After going 15-1, yet losing Super Bowl 50, the Panthers came up short again in 2016, this time going 6-10, and missing the playoffs. Their offensive line and secondary were weak, but they lacked a playmaker on offense (outside of Cam Newton). That’s why they drafted Christian McCaffrey eighth overall, but, we can’t help to think that Alvin Kamara is just slightly better than McCaffrey, so hear us out.
Kamara, originally picked up in the third-round by the Saints, is on pace for over 1,500 yards rushing and receiving combined, while McCaffrey is only on pace for 1,100. The former Tennessee Volunteer has almost twice as many touchdowns as the former Stanford Cardinal While they’re pleased with McCaffrey, I’m sure Carolina would have love to grab Kamara in our re-draft.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
Original Pick: John Ross, WR, Washington
Remember kids, speed kills, but it’s not everything. In the actual draft, the Bengals took the fastest rookie, John Ross, with the ninth overall pick. He ran a 4.22-sec 40-yard-dash at the combine and Cincy was hoping to use his speed as a weapon opposite star receiver, A.J. Green. Unfortunately, Ross hasn’t been able to stay healthy this year, and the Bengals may already be regretting their selection.
Queue our re-draft’s best receiver, Juju Smith-Schuster. Juju has won the hearts of Pittsburgh fans on and off the field, and is a clear number two receiver next to All-Pro, Antonio Brown. Could you imagine what he could have done opposite Green in Cincinnati? That combination would be deadly.
10. Kansas City Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes III, QB, Texas Tech
Original Pick: Patrick Mahomes III, QB, Texas Tech
We had to throw another curveball in the mix! Well, it’s not really a curverball, but in an article like this, you may expect us to throw out some crazy theories about who should have gone where. But, one thing we’ve learned as lifetime football fans, is that you never, ever question Bill Belichick or Andy Reid. I don’t know what it is about these guys, but they know exactly what they’re doing. That’s why the Chiefs keep Patrick Mahomes III in the re-draft, despite not playing a snap in the NFL.
Kansas City fans never expected Reid and company to give up a first, third, and seventhround pick to jump a few spots and grab the former Texas Tech quarterback. What about Alex Smith? Despite solid play this year, will he be traded in the offseason? Is Mahomes the future? There are plenty of questions to answer, and we will see how they play out in the coming years.
11. New Orleans Saints – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Original Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Sean Payton and Drew Brees are regarded for their up-tempo offense, essentially outscoring opponents and relying on timely turnovers from the defense. In 2017 though, we have seen a 180 degree turnaround in the Saints. The defense is shutting down opponents and Pro Bowl running back duo, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, allow New Orleans to dominate time of possession.
In our re-draft though, the Saints’ rookie standouts (spoiler), RB Kamara and CB Lattimore, are already off the board. That leaves their star rookie, safety Marcus Williams. But, on the hypothetical draft board, there are better options. Malik Hooker out of Ohio State was a force on the Colts before he suffered a season-ending knee injury. We think New Orleans would take the good with the bad, and choose Hooker over Williams.
12. Cleveland Browns – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Original Pick: Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
As we said before, we didn’t re-draft just to spew out senseless picks. The truth is that Houston would have never moved up to the 12th spot to grab Mitchell Trubisky. Therefore, the Browns maintain their pick. As much as we dog on Cleveland, we have to give them the benefit of the doubt, and in the re-draft, they would select Solomon Thomas, defensive end out of Stanford.
Originally, Thomas went third overall to the 49ers, so why did he fall so much in our re-draft? He still has a lot of developing to do, but is clearly a solid edge rusher. For those of you thinking, “I thought the Browns already drafted a pass rusher with the top pick?” Technically, you’re right, but that’s not the scenario that plays out today. Keep reading to find out what happens!
13. Arizona Cardinals – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Original Pick: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Knowing what we know now, there is no doubt that Reuben Foster would have went in the top half of the first round. Originally, he fell to San Francisco at 31st overall due to a combination of a failed drug test, shoulder surgery, and anger issues at the NFL Combine. Despite these controversies, Foster has played out of his mind this year. So much so, that GM John Lynch let All-Pro linebacker, NaVorro Bowman, walk, leaving Foster as the leader of the 49ers defense.
According to Pro Football Focus, Foster is ranked as a top-5 linebacker. While I’m sure Arizona is happy with the development of Haason Reddick, Foster could have made more of an impact on the Cardinals defense. If Arizona can figure out their quarterback situation in the future, we fully expect them to be contenders in the NFC West again.
14. Philadelphia Eagles – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Original Pick: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Poor Eagles fans. Everything seemed to be going right this season until Carson Wentz decided to tear his ACL late in the season. It’s clear that Philadelphia needed a pass rusher in the offseason, as they were the tied for 29th overall in sacks in 2016. Their main priority though was obtaining a top running back. With the addition of LeGarrette Blount as a power back, the Eagles should have grabbed the versatile Heisman trophy finalist, Christian McCaffrey.
In reality, the Panthers snagged McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick, but in this re-draft, there were better options available for Carolina at the time. The former Stanford standout would be a shifty weapon for Wentz, especially in the open field. Who knows, maybe the Eagles would have never traded for Jay Ajayi if they had McCaffrey lightening the load.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Original Pick: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Colts GM, Chris Ballard, has always stated that he wants to build a team from the ground up. That is, use high draft picks on OL and DL, controlling the trenches, while developing late-round skill players into Pro Bowlers. That would be fine if they had a quarterback that could stay healthy. Andrew Luck’s shoulder injury looks more serious than originally thought, and we don’t know if he will be able to dominate at a high level when he comes back in 2018.
That being said, while it’s important to protect Luck, it’s difficult to envision Indianapolis passing up on a one-of-a-kind cornerback like Tre’Davious White. With Gilmore and Robey-Coleman departing from Buffalo in the offseason, White has stepped up mightily. PFF even has him ranked as the number three cornerback in all of the NFL. The former All-American would have flourished in the AFC South, a division notorious for poor quarterback play.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Original Pick: Marlon Humprey, CB, Alabama
After the 2016 season, it was clear the Ravens were lacking at receiver, cornerback, and linebacker. It’s hard to gauge the success of Baltimore’s receivers, since the offense pounds the ball up the middle and rarely throws it more than ten yards down the field. In the actual draft, Baltimore addressed their need of a cornerback by selecting Marlon Humphrey, but in our re-draft, we feel that a stand-up linebacker, who can both rush the QB on late-downs and take on a second blocker in the run game, would be more beneficial to the Ravens defense.
Therefore, with the 16th overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens select, Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. On the field with the Cardinals this year, Reddick hasn’t lived up to his first-round pick, but his true athleticism shows. In a staunch defense, and under DC Dean Pees, Reddick could have learned proper discipline and technique to take his game to the next level.
17. Washington Redskins – Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
Original Pick: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
It’s been clear throughout the 2017 season that the Redskins are lacking at wide receiver. Pryor fell way short of expectations, and youngsters, Crowder and Doctson, have been inefficient. But with Kirk Cousins’ future in jeopardy in Washington, owner Dan Snyder decided to focus on the defense in the draft instead, selecting Jonathan Allen, defensive tackle out of the University of Alabama.
We think the Redskins made the right choice. Originally projected to be a top-5 talent, Allen’s draft stock fell when teams got wind of his shoulder issues. He only appeared in a few games this year, but there is no doubting his ability. Hopefully, his arthritic shoulder doesn’t hinder his career, and he can keep clogging up the middle in the NFC East for years to come.
18. Tennessee Titans – Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
Original Pick: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
With quarterback Marcus Mariota under center, the Titans looked like the team to beat in 2017. The problem was that the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” couldn’t do everything himself. A priority in the offseason was getting a true number one receiver to help out the Tennessee offense. Originally, they drafted Corey Davis out of Western Michigan. He had every skill set to be a top receiver in the draft, but despite great number in college, Davis has been hampered by injury, and we still don’t know his true worth in the NFL.
That’s where Cooper Kupp, third-round receiver out Eastern Washington, comes in. He has flourished on the Rams’ revamped offense under new head coach, Sean McVay. It’s safe to assume he will be a reliable target, and at this point in time, he jumps ahead of Davis on our hypothetical draft board.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
Original Pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
After the nation watched the Buccaneers in the HBO Series, Hard Knocks, we thought they would be contending for a title in the NFC South. Unfortunately, injuries and off-field distractions plagued third-year quarterback Jameis Winston, and their defense has not stepped in to help out. On top of all this, their once 1,000-yard rusher, Doug Martin, was suspended for four games for a substance abuse violation, and hasn’t been the same since.
While their original pick, O.J. Howard, will make a fine tight end someday, in hindsight, it would be hard to see Tampa passing on Kareem Hunt, running back out of Toledo. With Kansas City, the third rounder has ran his way into the hearts of Chiefs fans. Imagine what he could have done down in Tampa.
20. Denver Broncos – Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
Original Pick: Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
We didn’t say every pick in our re-draft was going to change. In 2016, the Broncos o-line rarely gave Trevor Siemian any time in the pocket. They needed to strengthen the edge, and the only moved that made sense was to pick up Bolles. As a teenager, Bolles struggled with drugs and alcohol, but used football as his oasis, channeling his frustrations towards opposing d-lines.
Now with the Denver, the former Utah Ute has a lot of work to do to improve his game. While he has quick feet and discipline, Bolles tends to overextend his arms, allowing pass rushers to maneuver around him. In college, he could get away with this technique against weaker defenses, but with the agility and strength of today’s edge rushers, we would like to see Bolles improve his hand skills to cement his position as an elite tackle.
21. Detroit Lions – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Original pick: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
2016 saw the emergence of Golden Tate III and Marvin Jones Jr. as viable weapons for Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense. But, there were still some questions about the strength of Detroit’s defense. They needed a versatile linebacker who could stop the run and still drop into coverage in late-downs, which is why they drafted Jarrad Davis. The former University Florida linebacker has played well, but in our hypothetical re-draft, there are better options on the board.
Therefore, with the 21st pick of our 2017 NFL re-draft, the Detroit Lions select, Derek Barnett, defensive end, Tennessee. With the Eagles, Barnett has been a force on the edge, and if he was opposite Pro Bowler Ziggy Ansah in Detroit, they would be one of the best pass rushing duos in the league!
22. Miami Dolphins – T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
Original Pick: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Even though the Dolphins added veteran linebacker, Lawrence Timmons, in free agency, they needed to secure the edge on defense. Originally, they drafted Charles Harris, who has performed decently this season, but definitely not up to the standards of a first round pick. At this point in our hypothetical re-draft, the best available edge rusher would be the outside linebacker out of Wisconsin, T.J. Watt.
Watt has bursted onto the scene with the Steelers, who originally took him late in the first round. Along with veterans Heyward and Harrison, Pittsburgh’s pass rush has been vital to their regular season success. While Miami didn’t expect their quarterback to go down with a knee injury in the preseason, Watt still could have helped them mightily, and maybe they would still be in playoff contention.
23. New York Giants – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Original Pick: New York Giants – Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
With Eli Manning aging, and OBJ and Marshall looking to monopolize the highlight reel, the Giants were primed to take back the NFC East in 2017. Although, due to injuries, poor offensive line play, and a horrendous coach, the Giants are sitting at the bottom of the east, contending for a future top-5 pick.
So, what exactly went wrong? Besides the injuries, Eli hasn’t had time in the pocket due to piss poor blocking. We think that if GM Jerry Reese had any sense, he should have taken tackle Cam Robinson, out of Alabama with the 23rd overall pick. He has been improving in Jacksonville, and looks to be a future top-10 tackle in the league. In reality, with Eli’s limited time left, it’s unfortunate that the Giants let him down.
24. Oakland Raiders – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Original Pick: Gareon Conley, CB, Alabama
In 2016, Oakland breezed through the regular season, and were looking to make a run deep into January. Unfortunately, their franchise QB, Derek Carr, broke his leg late in the year, erasing hopes for any postseason success. A serious issue that needed to be addressed in the draft though was cornerback, as they ranked 24th overall in pass defense the prior year.
They went out and grabbed Gareon Conley in the actual draft, but the former Buckeye cornerback has fallen flat in his rookie campaign. In our re-draft, with Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey still on the board, there’s no doubt Oakland would have chosen him over Conley. With the Ravens this year, Humphrey started off slow, but has gained his footing in the defensive backfield, ranking in the top-25 among cornerbacks. He could have played an essential role in an otherwise weak secondary in Oakland.
25. Houston Texans – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Original Pick: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
It’s time to start really shaking things up! In the actual draft, Houston moved up to the 12th spot in the draft to take quarterback Deshaun Watson out of Clemson. But, what if he wasn’t on the board anymore? Would the Texans shore up their subpar and aging secondary? Or possibly grab a franchise tackle to protect the quarterback?
The problem is that none of those options address the root of Houston’s problem, mediocre quarterback play. They were freed from the shackles of Brock Osweiler’s contract in the offseason, and I think the fans would have been outraged if Rick Smith didn’t grab a gunslinger in the draft. With Watson gone by this time, they probably would have grabbed Trubisky. The former UNC QB has had his ups and downs, but with Bill O’Brien being the alleged quarterback whisperer, maybe he could have whipped Trubisky into playing shape.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Desmond King, CB, Iowa
Original Pick: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
As we discussed previously, the Falcons didn’t move up in our re-draft, so Seattle retains the 26th pick. While the Seahawk’s biggest need of the offseason was offensive tackle, we feel like there would have been no offensive linemen available at this point in the re-draft worthy of a first-round pick. Therefore, we move onto utility man, and rising star, CB Desmond King out of Iowa.
With the Chargers, King has excelled in both run defense and pass coverage. He even ranks just outside the top 10 among cornerbacks, at number 11, according to PFF. Despite the Chargers’ average record, their secondary has been commanding, and much of that has to do with King’s staunch coverage out of the slot. The fifth rounder earned a spot in the first round of the re-draft, and would make a great fit in Seattle.
27. Buffalo Bills – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Original Pick: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
With the 27th overall pick of the 2017 NFL, the Buffalo Bills select, Corey Davis, wide receiver, Western Michigan University!
Originally drafted by the Titans in the top-10, Davis has been hampered by injury throughout the year, and has yet to show us his true talent. With the Bills cleaning house at receiver in the offseason, Davis would have been a great fit in Western New York. The Bills ended up trading Sammy Watkins to the Rams shortly before the season started, only to acquire Kelvin Benjamin before the trade deadline. In the aftermath of this re-draft, maybe Kelvin Benjamin would still be in Carolina!
28. Dallas Cowboys – Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
Original Pick: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
It’s hard to make sense of Dallas’ season thus far. With their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, out with a six-game suspension, the Cowboys have been extremely inconsistent. There is no doubt that they needed help on the defensive side of the ball, especially at pass rusher. That’s why they took Taco Charlton originally. But, the former Michigan Wolverine hasn’t lived up to expectations, and with Bruce Irving dominating the edge, we have to look to other position needs.
Queue original fourth round pick of the Bears, Eddie Jackson, safety from Alabama. Recently he has jumped into the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation, as he is only the second rookie ever to record 50+ tackles, 2+ interceptions, and 3+ fumble recoveries. The last person to do that was Luke Kuechly in 2012, when he won Defensive Rookie of the Year.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Green Bay) – Marcus Williams, S, Utah
Original Pick: Cleveland Browns (from Green Bay) – David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fl)
The Green Bay Packers are known to trade their early picks in order to stockpile talent in the later rounds, so why wouldn’t they do that in this hypothetical re-draft? We have Tampa Bay moving up to grab Marcus Williams, safety out of the University of Utah.
In reality, the Saints grabbed Williams in the second, but he’s played out of his mind this year, which is why he got bumped up to the first round. The Bucs needed to stabilize their weak secondary and could have benefited from the All-Rookie Team candidate. Pro Football Focus has Williams ranked as a top-25 safety in the league, and he only continues to rise. For each selection though, we have to take into account if the player fits within the team’s system, but with Williams’ versatility, he could excel anywhere.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
Original Pick: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
The Steelers are perennial contenders, but always seem to fall a bit short in the AFC. They have the best QB/RB/WR trio in the game with the “Killer B’s,” but that’s really all of their weapons. Instead of shoring up the defensive front, they should have grabbed a freak of a tight end, Evan Engram, out of Ole Miss.
With the Giants this year, Engram has exploded as reliable pass-catching option on a roster decimated by injury at the receiver position. He’s on pace for over 70 catches and 800 yards in his rookie campaign. Imagine how much better he could be doing on the Steelers, with defenses primarily focused on Bell and Brown. While his run blocking needs some improvement, it’s Engram, not Howard, who is the best rookie TE in the NFL.
31. Atlanta Falcons – Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State
Original Pick: San Francisco 49ers, Reuben Foster, LB Alabama
The penultimate first-round pick of the draft originally went to San Francisco, via Seattle and Atlanta, but what if that never happened? Super Bowl chokers, the Atlanta Falcons, would have retained their pick. After that brutal loss against Brady in February, we could see that the only thing stopping the Falcons from continued dominance, was their defense. In reality, they chose Takkarist McKinley to help rush the quarterback, but what if they just focused on their offense, kind of like the Houston Rockets of football?
In the re-draft, Atlanta selects former Rimington Trophy winner, Pat Elflein, center out of Ohio State, who was originally drafted by the Vikings. Despite All-Pro caliber center Alex Mack, the Falcons need to develop their interior line to protect Matt Ryan. They could play Elflein for a few years at guard, acclimating him to the NFL, and then eventually switch him back to center. During his time in Minnesota, Elflein has been dominant in the redzone, and helped lead the Vikings to the playoffs. Maybe he could have helped out Atlanta instead!
32. New Orleans Saints – Dalvin Cook, RB
Original Selection: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
I think we all knew, that going into the draft, the Saints needed to focus on their offensive line, which is what they did in reality. But, when it comes to Ramczyk, who’s a beast of linemen out of the University of Wisconsin, in our scenario, he is off the board by now. So, how would the Saints use their second first round pick (which they received, along with a third-round pick, from the Patriots for WR Brandin Cooks) ?
Seeing that New Orleans is dominating with the dual-threat run game this year, we have to go with Dalvin Cook. In the offseason, Cook developed his receiving game out of the backfield, and would dominate in the Saints screen packages. Despite only playing a quarter of the season, Cook will be a staple on any NFL roster for years to come.
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