Best, worst from first bizarre day of NFL Draft

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

April 28, 2017 06:04 AM
The Houston Texans took a chance by trading up for Deshaun Watson, the rookie quarterback most prepared to start in Week 1.
© USA Today Sports Images

Maybe it will make sense someday. This is not that day. What the Chicago Bears pulled off Thursday night to snag quarterback Mitchell Trubisky sure does not appear to be a stroke of front-office football genius.

The NFL Draft’s most entertaining first round in several years started to get bizarre when the Bears dealt three picks to move up one spot to take Trubisky, a one-year starter at North Carolina, at No. 2.

When we look back at this first round in five years, some of the picks will have turned out to be comical. But, seriously, who wants to wait so long to draw conclusions? Instant analysis is a major part of the draft’s attraction.

So here are the first day’s winners and losers, and same as with each play in an NFL game, it’s all subject to further review:

The biggest winners

San Francisco: John Lynch, the 49ers’ new general manager, played his cards perfectly. He duped the Bears into trading two third-round picks and a fourth-rounder to make the leap for Trubisky. San Francisco slid one spot and still got the player — defensive end Solomon Thomas from Stanford — it seemed to want all along. The 49ers need help in a lot of areas, and their defense just got a lot better. Lynch also took Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, a top-10 talent who slipped to No. 31.

Tennessee: It was going to be difficult for the Titans to screw this up. Their primary needs were at wide receiver and cornerback, and they did not screw up. Western Michigan wideout Corey Davis was a solid pick at No. 5, and Southern California corner/kick returner Adoree’ Jackson is a playmaker who should pay off at No. 18. A nine-win team just became stronger at its two weakest positions.

Houston: In desperate need of a quarterback, the Texans made a Hail Mary of a deal that will be criticized by many. Still, Bill O’Brien is coaching a playoff team that is missing one obvious piece — a quarterback. Deshaun Watson went 32-3 as a three-year starter at Clemson, where he won a national championship and twice shredded Alabama defenses stocked with NFL prospects. O’Brien gave up a lot by moving from 25th to 12th, but credit him for gambling and getting the quarterback most prepared to start in Week 1.

New York Jets: Instead of trading up for Trubisky, who’s far from a sure thing, the Jets picked a defensive player in the first round for the ninth straight time. Jamal Adams, a safety from Louisiana State, was a smart call at No. 6. The Jets’ secondary was one of the league’s worst last season. Adams, an intelligent, versatile cover guy, was projected to go third overall in a majority of mock drafts.

Best of the rest: Los Angeles Chargers (Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams at No. 7); Carolina (Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey at No. 8); Washington (Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen at No. 17); Buffalo (LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White at No. 27); Dallas (Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton at No. 28); Pittsburgh (Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt at No. 30).

The biggest losers

Kansas City: Andy Reid is a conservative coach, and Alex Smith is a checkdown quarterback. Reid got uncharacteristically bold, trading up from 27th to 10th to secure strong-armed gunslinger Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech. Mahomes is a developmental player who will not help immediately. Kansas City is a 12-win team that needs to close the gap on New England atop the AFC. Reid surrendered this year's third-round pick and a 2018 first-round pick. This was a stunner. Maybe it makes sense if Reid realizes it’s time to open up his offense for Mahomes in 2018. Maybe the deal eventually will pay off for both sides, but as of today the Bills got the best of it.

Chicago: Mike Glennon’s run as the Bears’ quarterback of the future lasted just over a month. He signed a three-year deal that will get shortened to a one-year deal with $18.5 million guaranteed. He now knows he’s one and done. Chicago shipped out three picks to go up one spot for Trubisky. When a team gives up that much to draft a quarterback that high, he’s not sitting for long. You have to love it when a plan falls apart. If Trubisky does not make multiple Pro Bowls, this is a disaster.

Jacksonville: This draft is deep in high-quality running backs. The Jaguars went for LSU’s Leonard Fournette at No. 4, and while he could be good, he’s a one-dimensional, downhill runner. There is little value in this pick, especially for a team with more urgent needs. More productive NFL backs will go in the second and third rounds.

Oakland: With a variety of outstanding defensive options available, the Raiders rolled the dice on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, a controversial player who’s facing pending legal issues. Six defensive players were picked after Conley, and an argument can be made that any of the six would have been better, safer options for Oakland.

Rest of the worst: Cincinnati (Washington wide receiver John Ross at No. 9); New York Giants (Mississippi tight end Evan Engram at No. 23); New Orleans (Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk at No. 32).

Here’s why those picks were losers: The Bengals should have bolstered their defensive front; the Giants needed an interior offensive lineman; the Saints grabbed an offensive lineman when they really needed to grab more defensive help.

What about the Cleveland Browns?

Myles Garrett, a push-rushing end from Texas A&M, was an easy decision at No. 1. And the Browns’ other two picks — Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers at No. 25 and Miami tight end David Njoku at No. 29 — were two more good decisions at the time.

But the Browns did not bank on losing out on Trubisky and then traded out of the 12th spot when Watson was on the board. Stockpiling draft picks is generally a shrewd game plan.

At the end of the day, though, Cleveland still faces a quandary at quarterback, obviously the most critical position in the NFL, so its draft grade is incomplete.

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