Winners and Losers after Round 1 of NFL Draft

Forecasting the NFL draft is usually a futile exercise, but this year’s first round was as unpredictable as any in recent memory.

While the number one selection came as little surprise, the rest of the first round unfolded as a guessing game with teams paying hefty prices to move up and snag a quarterback, position runs and questionable picks.

Here are winners and losers of the draft’s first day:

Cleveland Browns

No, the Cleveland Browns didn’t screw up the draft. In fact, the franchise that’s been a punchline for years and years actually made smart moves and came away better for it.

With the number one overall pick, they went with the safest and best player on the board in defensive end Myles Garrett before tabbing safety Jabrill Peppers at No25 and tight end David Njoku at No29.

Aside from netting three high-upside prospects, Cleveland also left with an extra first rounder in 2018 thanks to their trade with Houston, which saw them move down from No12 to No25, where they selected Peppers.

It’s fair to wonder why the Browns didn’t just stay at No12 and take the player the Texans did, quarterback Deshaun Watson, when that’s the position that’s truly keeping them from competing. Cleveland, however, clearly weren’t in love with any of the quarterbacks on the board so there was no point taking one just for the sake of it.

Myles Garrett.

Myles Garrett.

San Francisco 49ers

So far, so good for first-time general manager John lynch.

Somehow, Lynch convinced Chicago to swap their third overall pick for San Francisco’s second for the price of the Bears’ third-rounder, fourth-rounder and a 2018 third-rounder. It was a massive haul for the 49ers, who were never taking quarterback Mitchell Trubisky anyways, and they grabbed the guy they wanted all along in defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

After fleecing Chicago, Lynch later gave up the fourth-rounder he received in the trade and a second-rounder to move back into the first round at No31, where he selected linebacker Reuben Foster. The Alabama product slipped because of a combine altercation and failed drug test due to a diluted sample, but he’s a top-tier talent and a tremendous value at the end of the first round.

Running backs

Two running backs went in the top eight, with Jacksonville taking Leonard Fournette at No4 and Carolina adding Christian McCaffrey at No8.

In today’s NFL, we’ve reached the point where it’s universally known that the value of individual running backs are as low as ever. There are so many talented and versatile backs in the over-saturated market that investing heavily in one, unless they are literally one of the very best in the league, is taking a big risk.

Taking Ezekiel Elliott at No4 worked out great for Dallas last season, but he also ran behind one of the top offensive lines. Fournette and McCaffrey are both can’t-miss talents, but their stock was boosted at least a little by the Elliott effect.

Leonard Fournette.

Leonard Fournette.

New Orleans Saints

They came away with the top cornerback in the draft, Marshon Lattimore, and all they had to do was sit and wait patiently at No11.

This also means a trade for New England cornerback Malcolm Butler is much less likely, but even if Lattimore doesn’t develop into a similar player, the Saints won’t have to give up assets or a big contract.

There may be hope of New Orleans having a much-improved defence yet.

Chicago Bears

They must really believe Trubisky is ‘the guy’ because they sure did spend a lot to get him.

If you truly think you have your quarterback of the future, there’s nothing wrong with going all-in. The mistake Chicago made was they could have just waited to take Trubisky at No3 instead of giving up three picks to move up one spot. If San Francisco was going to take Trubisky, they wouldn’t have made the trade and the fact they were willing should have been a clear indication for the Bears to stay pat. Maybe another team was also bidding for No2, but it’s more likely the 49ers played Chicago.

Mitch Trubisky.

Mitch Trubisky.

Oakland Raiders

At No24, Oakland made the risky decision of pegging cornerback Gareon Conley, who has a sexual-assault allegation hanging over his head.

There’s no doubting Conley’s talent and it’s impossible to ascertain whether or not he’s guilty of the crime he’s accused of, but the Raiders could have waited until the second or maybe even third round to take a player who could face legal trouble or be subject to the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

This was simply a case of taking an unnecessary steep risk too early.

Offensive linemen

For the first time in five years, the first round didn’t feature two offensive lineman going within the first 10 picks. The only lineman selected were Garett Bolles at No20 by Denver and Ryan Ramczyk at No32 by New Orleans.

An outlier year at a position that’s still heavily valued in the NFL.

Source link