Finding a franchise quarterback is the easiest way to save your NFL job. Yet, some would say that it's the most difficult job to find that alluring franchise quarterback. The NFL Draft of 2017 changed NFL scenery forever. The series will look into the good, bad and WTFs from the 2017 iteration.
How It Unfolded
Cleveland Browns had the first pick in the draft and they went with the clubhouse favorite in defensive end Myles Garrett from Texas A&M University. Myles Garrett has been a dominant force in the league but given the fact that the Browns needed a quarterback and Patrick Mahomes & Deshaun Watson were on the board, it was a borderline crime in hindsight. Chicago traded up a spot, gave away a fortune to pick a quarterback and they chose Mitch 'Mitchell' Trubisky. Ryan Pace still has a job in 2020. It was an eventful draft with a lot of prominent players changing the NFL in the future.
Jaguars selected running back, Leonard Fournette with the 4th pick while Kansas City Chiefs selected Kareem Hunt with their 86th pick and New Orleans drafted Alvin Kamara with the 67th pick. Dalvin Cook was another efficient and ultra shifty running back drafted in the 2nd round.
George Kittle went to the 49ers in the 5th round.
Woohee! This is some draft class.
All The Right Moves
Round 1 Pick 10
DRAFTEE - Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs - QB
Patrick Mahomes is the future of NFL. He has already become the face of this league as a 3rd year player. Mahomes sat out his rookie year behind Alex Smith and then won the league MVP and the SuperBowl in his next two seasons. Mahomes' arm strength is unlike any other and he is a sneaky athlete. Sean Payton was waiting to pick him up as the next QB for Saints behind Drew Brees with their 11th pick but Kansas City and Andy Reid had other plans. Kansas City traded up to 10th pick from 27th. Most people questioned Chiefs' decision to bet on a raw talent. Mahomes proved again that it is never too early to pick a QB you trust. Mahomes has the potential to become the greatest of all time and that simply means that 9 teams committed a profound error.
Round 1 Pick 12
DRAFTEE - Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans - QB
Deshaun Watson falling to the 12th pick felt like a carnage in the moment. Deshaun Watson had a lot of tape from college and that went against him in the draft. The biggest fallacy of the draft is that they hype the unknown. Watson defeated Nick Saban's Alabama in a comeback effort in the biggest stage of college football. His coach called him Michael Jordan. He was a leader, he was enigmatic and got wrongly denied a Heisman award. Hue Jackson (Cleveland head coach who never won) didn't think he was good enough. That should abolish him from any coaching job ever. Cleveland traded their 12th pick to Houston and Watson has kept Bill O'Brien's job intact. The only drawback has been his injuries & light build but Watson's upside has proven to be worth every risk. If not for Mahomes, Watson would have been the cream of the crop. Will Watson V Mahomes become the next Brady V Peyton Manning for the next 10 years in AFC?
Round 1 Pick 30
DRAFTEE - T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers - LB
After the injury of Ryan Shazier, T.J. Watt has taken over the leadership role in Steelers defense. T.J will forever be compared to his brother and future hall of famer J.J. Watt. He has played as a top 10 NFL defensive talent since entering the league. T.J. Watt has every potential to become a future DPOY after finishing 3rd in this years ballot. That's a win for the ever calculated Pittsburgh Steelers.
Round 5 Pick 150
DRAFTEE - George Kittle, San Fransisco 49ers - TE
3 Years later, George Kittle looks like the most unstoppable force in NFL and he was the 9th tight end selected in the draft. The pre draft assessment system is sometime stupid and George Kittle is a walking-talking-ass whooping proof. Kittle's game winning monster run against the Saints in gameweek 14 last year made me get up from my couch and start laughing uncontrollably. That's how ridiculous Kittle is.
Round 3 Pick 67
DRAFTEE - Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints, RB
The saddest truth about NFL is that the best years for a RB is the young rookie seasons. The idea of paying a running back for their second contract has not bode well for any team. The best RB value has come from mid round picks at the position. Alvin Kamara was my favorite RB coming out of college and he still remains my favorite running back from an immensely talented running back draft class. He has been an immense addition to the Saints offense since joining. Kamara's 3 down capabilities remain unparalleled in opening up for Michael Thomas and Taysom Hill. I think Kamara can seamlessly transition into a slot wide out for the longer career. Kamara gets extra point for being a beautiful runner.
There are so many blue chip players in this draft class that shortlisting a top 5 is almost impossible but I am good with the impossible.
Not The Best Moves
Hidden in all the era defining draft moves remain the head scratchers. Unfortunately, there will always be players that don't pan out.
Round 1 Pick 2
DRAFTEE - Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears - QB
Chicago Bears traded up 1 spot by giving away a fortune to the 49ers. They picked up Trubisky with their pick ahead of quarterback - Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky has struggled with reading defenses, vision and anything to do with throwing the ball. The development has halted to the point where Bears traded for Nick Foles with the Jags and called it an open competition. It looks more than unlikely that Trubisky will receive a 2nd contract. Chicago's relationship with QB is like Michael Bay and cars - Combustable.
Round 2 Pick 45
DRAFTEE - Adam Shaheen, Chicago Bears - TE
I do not want to pile up on Bears GM, Ryan Pace but it was a rough few days for him and the franchise in hind sight. They picked up an unknown injury prone tight end from Ashland (Ashland?!) ahead of George Kittle. 3 years into his career and Shaheen has less than 250 yards from scrimmage and 4 TD to show for the 2nd round valuation.
Round 1 Pick 4
DRAFTEE - Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars - RB
When you pick a player as high as pick no. 4, the most important caveat is that they end up becoming the best player at the position in the draft board. Looking back, Fournette is far from the best running back in the class. Jacksonville had Blake Bortles as their quarterback and they rolled with a running back, that's exactly how you go backwards as a franchise. In the last 3 years, Leonard Fournette has been suspended, fought with the coaches and been a complete disappointment. He will more than likely get released next year and the saga of rebuild will continue in Jaguarland.
Round 1 Wide Receivers
Pick 5 - Corey Davis, Titans
Pick 7 - Mike Williams, Chargers
Pick 9 - John Ross, Bengals
Three wide receivers were chosen inside top 10 and it is an understatement to call it a bust. Corey Davis was liked by many as a big bodied small school prospect but has been irrelevant at most in Titans offense. Top 10 pick means a WR1 production but it has been far from that. John Ross rose up the board after clocking the fastest combine run in history but injuries and inefficiency in the Bengals front room has dwindled Ross' career into a failure. Mike Williams has been a good WR2 behind Keenan Allen but fell short of the expectation.
In the moment it looked crazy to think the wide receivers going that high and remains true to the date.
Underrated Draft Move
Late Round Wide Receivers
Pick 62 - Juju-Smith Schuster, Steelers
Pick 69 - Cooper Kupp, Rams
Pick 84 - Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
After the failure of early round wide receivers, the teams lucked out. Juju overtook Antonio Brown as their #1 target while Kupp has been Goff's favorite target in LA and Mike Evans-Chris Godwin is the best tandem in the league. NFL's best value will forever remain in day 2 of the draft.
The Running Back Class
I will just put out the names of the pertinent running backs chosen in the NFL 2017 draft and it will more than likely be known as one of the all time RB group. The running backs get lost in the shuffle of Trubisky, Mahomes and Watson saga.
Pick 4 - Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
Pick 8 - Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
Pick 41 - Dalvin Cook, Vikings
Pick 48 - Joe Mixon, Bengals
Pick 67 - Alvin Kamara, Saints
Pick 86 - Kareem Hunt, Chiefs
Pick 105 - James Conner, Steelers
Pick 119 - Tareek Cohen, Bears
Pick 143 - Marlon Mack, Colts
Pick 182 - Aaron Jones, Packers
Pick 249 - Chris Carson, Seahawks
Those are bunch of good players. Christian McCaffrey was unstoppable in the 2019 season and Dalvin Cook was the force driving the Vikings. Kareem Hunt has struggled with off field issues but has been a leading NFL rusher in his short NFL career. Aaron Jones was the best player for a Green Bay team with quarterback Aaron Rodgers' name in the team sheet. This running back group has 5 players with MVP buzz at some point or the other in their past 3 seasons.
What-If This Happened?
Round 1 Pick 1
Cleveland Browns draft Patrick Mahomes with the 1st pick in the draft
Patrick Mahomes ending up in Cleveland is a great NFL edition butterfly effect plotline. Myles Garrett was a great prospect and has been a solid defensive player for the Browns but they went winless in the 2017 season after choosing DeShone Kizer in the 2nd round as their QB and passing up on Mahomes because of bad scouting job by the franchise. If Mahomes moved to Cleveland, he wouldn't have had Alex Smith to learn from or Andy Reid to design plays for him. Instead he would have been stuck in a bad situation with Hue Jackson and the Browns front office confusion. That being said, Mahomes has enough pedigree and raw talent to overcome bad management. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are successful QBs who sat out their 1st year in the league. So, it might be very well true that Mahomes situation helped him flourish this quick but I would like to bet my money on the imaginary situation that Mahomes succeeded in a Browns jersey anyhow. That would mean Hue Jackson might still be coaching, the analytics driven Cleveland Browns front office system would become more famous in the NFL. Joe Thomas might still be toughing it out and Odell Beckham Jr might be Patrick Mahomes' WR1? More than all, Browns fan's would be out of their misery and drowning themselves in happy Bud lights.
Re-Rank The Draft Board
If we had to re-rank all the prospects based on their 3 season report card, how would a 15 man draft board look?
1. Patrick Mahomes - QB
2. Deshaun Watson - QB
3. Christian McCaffrey - RB
4. George Kittle - TE
5. T.J. Watt - LB
6. Myles Garrett - Edge
7. Jamal Adams - S
8. Alvin Kamara - RB
9. Marshon Lattimore - CB
10. Eddie Jackson - S
11. Dalvin Cook - RB
12. Cooper Kupp - WR
13. Ryan Ramczyk - T
14. Tre'Davious White - CB
15. Chris Godwin - WR
It is a draft class for the ages. I will be fascinated to look back 5 years later and definitively state who is the best running back from NFL Draft 2017 and does Mitchell Trubisky resurrect his career somewhere else? Only time will tell because lets face it, draft nerds know nothing.