compiled by Andrew Potter
For this special NFL draft edition of Audibles, as with our regular Audibles feature, the FO staff sends around email comments about the draft. We share information, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed as we watch. We then compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these emails are written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of the draft. That means we aren't going to discuss every pick, or every talking point. We watch the draft as fans as well as analysts, so the discussion may be colored by our rooting interests and some aspects of the draft may not be covered to your fullest desires, or even at all.
2017 NFL Draft -- Rounds 2 & 3
Bryan Knowles: Some good talent out there as we get going. Cam Robinson (Seattle at 34?), Forrest Lamp (L.A. Rams at 37?), Dalvin Cook (Philadelphia at 43?). Really good to be the Seahawks today; lots of talent at positions they could stand to bolster, and six picks to do it with.
Tom Gower: Excited to see where the quarterbacks and character and injury risk flags go, and, of course, who trades up to draft Zane Gonzalez.
Bryan Knowles: The Seahawks trade down again -- just one slot, just like we saw in the second pick yesterday. Something tells me they didn't get quite as big of a haul as the 49ers did, but hey, more picks for the Hawks.
I have to guess this is for Cam Robinson, yeah? No quarterback worth moving for here, he said for the fourth time this draft...
Aaron Schatz: Yes! The Jaguars took Robinson.
So I thought, OK, maybe the Seahawks take Forrest Lamp. Or a cornerback? Nope, they took Malik McDowell. My first instinct is to say "Uh, guys, you already have defensive linemen. You need OFFENSIVE linemen." But is it somewhat hypocritical to criticize Seattle for skipping over offensive linemen they clearly feel aren't worth that draft position given that I have no problem with Cleveland continuously skipping over quarterbacks they feel aren't worth that draft position?
Bryan Knowles: Adding Budda Baker and Haason Reddick to that Cardinals defense is very interesting. They're looking for athletes who they can move all around the field, and they're doing a great job at getting 'em. The run on quarterbacks in the first round may have been the best thing that could have happened to Arizona.
Vince Verhei: First of all, let it be known that I called that Seahawks third trade down yesterday. Thank you very much.
That said, I wonder if they would have made the move if Green Bay hadn't taken Kevin King at 33. A 6-foot-3 corner who killed it at the combine. Seems like it would have been a great fit. Of course, if they really wanted him, they could have just taken him instead of trading down twice.
Anyway, they miss out on King and offensive tackle Cam Robinson, either of whom would have fit in their biggest need. And they end up with Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell -- a less obvious need, but Ahtyba Rubin will be 31, and now McDowell and Jarran Reed, last year's second-rounder, will in theory keep their defense strong for years. When in doubt, Pete Carroll will pretty much always get a defensive lineman or running back.
Wow, Cardinals then take Budda Baker, who is awfully similar to Tyrann Mathieu -- an all-purpose Swiss army knife of a defender who can do a little bit of everything. Going to be fun to see the packages the Cardinals use with the two of them.
There is a big difference between a lousy team like Cleveland skipping quarterbacks in the first round. A perennial playoff team like Seattle ignoring its biggest needs in the second round is totally different. But they still have another pick in the second and now four in the third, so there is still time.
Rivers McCown: I love McDowell. He's got as good a chance as anyone in this draft to be an impact pass rusher from inside.
Bryan Knowles: The Jets take safety Marcus Maye, which is a good player...but they took Jamaal Adams in the first round, so they have doubled down on the position. I get that it was a need, but the Jets need a lot. Someone like Quincy Wilson or Jourdan Lewis might have made more sense if you were looking to bolster the secondary, yeah?
Vince Verhei: Carolina doubles down at running back with Curtis Samuel, but like Christian McCaffery, Samuel's a great receiver -- actually had more receiving yards than rushing yards last year. Pair those two scatbacks with a giant wide receiver in Kelvin Benjamin and a very good tight end in Greg Olson, and a quarterback who can run you over too, and that team just got a lot tougher to defend.
Aaron Schatz: By the way, notice how everyone has forgotten about Devin Funchess already? They didn't mention him on NFL Network just now... tweets about the Samuel pick and all the weapons don't seem to mention him either. Funchess was the No. 41 pick just TWO years ago. Just a reminder that not all of the players drafted today are going to plug the holes you want them to plug.
Bryan Knowles: Philly fans are very upset the Vikings traded up and snagged Dalvin Cook there. There were mocks pre-draft that had the Eagles taking Cook in the first round.
BackCAST loves him too. I know that the NFL Network was saying "oh, this could be Mixon," but Cook's better even before considering anything off the field.
That being said, good lord, Cook is going to get clobbered if the Vikings don't get an offensive line, and soon.
Sidney Jones to the Eagles, hrm? Well, no doubting it's a major need, but you're picking up someone with a torn Achilles tendon. He's going to go on PUP, and not be ready for on-field action until September at the earliest, so you're kind of writing your second-round pick off for a decent chunk of 2017. I'm always iffy about drafting players with recent injuries, especially when you consider Philly doesn't pick again until pick No. 99 (they lost their third-round pick in the trade for Timmy Jernigan).
Rivers McCown: If he didn't get hurt he's a first-round pick. It cuts both ways.
Aaron Schatz: I always thought Achilles tendon recoveries were not as sure as recovering from broken bones or even torn ACLs. But all the talk on the Twitter seems to be that his surgery went well and he'll recover fully.
Tom Gower: I thought the story on Achilles was it's likely either career-crippling or not that big a deal, and the reports say Jones is of the latter category. But how good do you think he has to be if he's going to miss at least the first half of this year and maybe the whole thing? And when was the last player for whom this strategy of drafting an injured player works? Aaron Colvin, maybe, but he was a fourth-round pick and is now a slot corner behind two highly-rated guys (Ramsey and Bouye). The last early rounder who it worked out for was Willis McGahee, maybe?
Rivers McCown: Gurley. (Yes, I know 2016 happened.)
Carl Yedor: There had been some talk (mostly local to the Seattle area) that all three Washington defensive backs (King, Baker, Jones) could have ended up going in the first round had Jones not gotten hurt at their Pro Day. None actually did, but they only had to wait 11 picks on Day 2 for them all to find their new teams. All three now play for teams that play the Seahawks at least once this year.
Rob Weintraub: Speaking as a Bengals fan, I was quite upset when ESPN went through the entire process of the Vikings/Cook pick and even talked about Mixon without mentioning a single time that Minny had traded in to Cincy's spot, nor what they gave the Stripes to do so. I mean, that's kinda pertinent info, no? I realize there are only 17 Bengals fans, but c'mon.
And the Bengals get the guy at 48 who they would have taken at 41 -- that man, Joe Mixon. Conflicted feelings but the team met with him extensively and the apostle Mike Brown obviously believes he deserves a shot at redemption.
Aaron Schatz: Does Mixon suggest the eventual departure of Jeremy Hill, or Giovanni Bernard? I'm guessing the former.
Tom Gower: Jeremy Hill, maybe sooner rather than later, later being when his contract expires after this season.
Nathan Forster: With Joe Mixon coming off the board, I thought this might be a good time to say that I feel much more uncertain about my various draft projections than I usually do. There are just too many X-factors that complicate BackCAST and SackSEER's more extreme projections. I feel fine about BackCAST's optimism about Fournette, but all it takes is one off-the-field issue to derail positive statistical outlooks for Cook and Mixon. I feel good about Myles Garret's projection, but I'm a little uneasy about Harris, given that he performed much better at his pro day than his combine and his pro day is more in-line with his scouting reports. Other than those two, most of SackSEER's other projections are middle-of-the road. I'm mostly OK with Playmaker, but even there, its most controversial pick is its pessimism about Williams, and Williams' projection is really not that bad, so it wouldn't be unusual if he was successful.
Vince Verhei: I don't want to dwell on the subject, but it says a lot to me that Mixon has at least publicly shown remorse, and that the victim has publicly accepted his apology. I understand why he slipped, but it seems like this should be an easy lesson for him to learn, and the Bengals probably got a steal here.
Disappointed that the legend announcing Washington's pick was Clinton Portis and not Coach Janky Spanky.
Cian Fahey: I'm realizing that the draft is thoroughly uninteresting when you don't A) support a team and B) know any of the players past the first round. These are my best takes right now.
Tom Gower: Browns take DeShone Kizer at pick No. 52. Still feels too early given how awful QBASE thought he would be.
Cian Fahey: I will fight QBASE on that one. Kizer only needs to become a competent passer and he can start in this league. Love his feet.
Bryan Knowles: Kizer feels a lot better for me when I think of him as the fourth player the Browns have taken, rather than a mid-second-round pick. Looked at it that way, Kizer's a decent risk at this point.
Other players could have helped Cleveland more immediately here, but they're not really looking to compete in 2017 anyway.
Rivers McCown: Kizer strikes me as a high-risk, high-reward quarterback. Essentially the opposite of Kessler.
Aaron Schatz: A lot of the QBASE issue there is that he couldn't complete 60 percent of his passes against an easier schedule than the other prospects. And I think it's hard to mentally filter for opponent strength in our minds when we're watching guys on film.
I should also point out that taking Kizer now doesn't at all prevent the Browns from using a high first-round pick on a quarterback in 2018 if they feel there's a guy who's finally worth it.
Rob Weintraub: Hill already cost the team Burkhead, and is widely loathed in Cincy (outside the team) for his general ineptitude and of course the fumble vs. Pittsburgh. It would take a spree of injuries or unforeseen events to get a second contract in Bengals-land.
Prediction -- all the sturm und drang over Mixon will be largely forgotten by Week 4 if he plays like his college tape. Not saying that's right, but human nature is what it is.
[ad placeholder 3]
I guess you can accuse me of rationalizing, but if the woman Mixon slugged forgave him and his contrition is genuine, does he not deserve some benefit of Let Him Be?
Meanwhile ESPN still hasn't mentioned that the Bengals traded down to take Mixon. Come to think of it, I still don't know what Minny gave up.
Meanwhile, Denver steals one of my hopes to slip to Cincy -- DeMarcus Walker of Florida State.
Looks like the Vikes gave up 128 to move up, just to clean that up. Cincy has three fourth-rounders now. Could package something to move up to today possibly.
Quick note on Hill -- last two seasons have been a disaster, but he single-handedly carried the Bengals to the 2014 postseason, which shouldn't be forgotten.
One more thing -- the pressure is squarely on Ogbuehi and Fisher. The skill guys in Cincy appear terrifying, but it could all be for naught if the offensive line doesn't hold up its end of the bargain. Plenty of pressure on Paul Alexander too, the venerated line coach, who demanded the two tackles in the 2015 draft. Gotta coach them up, or trade a couple of those fourth-round picks for Dante Scarnecchia.
Bryan Knowles: The Seahawks take an offensive lineman! And... it's a center? If there's a bright spot to the Seahawks' offensive line, it's Justin Britt. Ethan Pocic has positional versatility, so I assume the Seahawks will be sliding him to guard...
Vince Verhei: Justin Britt sucked at tackle and guard but played much better at center and was considered the one sure thing on the line coming into the draft. Pocic played all positions at LSU and is reportedly a better run blocker than pass blocker -- sounds like a classic Seahawks pick.
Aaron Schatz: I noticed they announced Pocic as a tackle when they took him.
Carl Yedor: Britt was due for an extension if he was going to be part of the team's long-term plans. Now? Seems less likely he'll be around much longer.
Vince Verhei: Pocic is also 6-foot-7, which seems massive for a center -- or guard, for that matter.
Our old buddy Doug Farrar pointed this out: The closest NFL comparison for Pocic at NFL Draft Scout is... Justin Britt.
Rob Weintraub: Chiefs take Tanoh Kpassagnon, and 31 other beat writers exhale that they won't have to memorize that name.
Bryan Knowles: Drew Pearson with one of the all-time great pick announcements there. Or, to translate it into Philly, "Booooooooooooooooooooo!"
Vince Verhei: That was the best thing I've seen in the draft so far. I stood and applauded in my living room.
Ian Rapoport reporting that the Cowboys are shopping Orlando Scandrick for a third-rounder. Seattle has four third-round picks, and DeShawn Shead won't be ready to start the season. Seems like a perfect fit to me.
Cian Fahey: Rapoport has been the king of trade speculation this week. Not sure any of it has actually come true.
Scott Kacsmar: Also the fourth time in the last five years that the Steelers have gone linebacker and receiver in the first three rounds. They love scouting those positions, but clearly a much better track record at wideout. I think JuJu Smith-Schuster is a bit of a luxury pick though, or a sign that there's very little trust in Martavis Bryant staying clean. Depth chart-wise, you'd expect Antonio Brown to remain the king, Bryant a clear No. 2, Sammie Coates as a similarly skilled backup, Eli Rogers in the slot, and don't forget Ladarius Green at tight end, and of course Le'Veon Bell getting so many catches. So where does that put Smith-Schuster? I'm seeing Anquan Boldin comparisons, so maybe a tough possession receiver who can work in the slot, which would take away from Rogers in this offense. Definitely a smart fit if Bryant's career goes south, but like to hope he rebounds, which again makes this look like too much of a luxury to me.
Bryan Knowles: The 49ers continue to wheel and deal, this time trading out of a third-round pick entirely to get New Orleans' second in 2018 (and an additional seventh-round pick this year).
John Lynch dancing around the board, though this one feels the most unusual of the bunch.
Tom Gower: The Saints take Alvin Kamara, giving up that 2018 second-round pick. Good combination with Adrian Peterson, in terms of skills, and it does make sense that the Saints would value running back so much with how much they use them in the passing game.
[ad placeholder 4]
Aaron Schatz: We said in the BackCAST article that Kamara might only be the next Travaris Cadet. And now he can be.
Rivers McCown: What an odd fit that is in New Orleans. Tons of draft capital and Adrian Peterson.
Aaron Schatz: Yeah, it's the Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles role. Teaming Kamara with Peterson isn't weird. It's teaming Peterson with Ingram that seems weird to me.
Bryan Knowles: Cincinnati's taking Jordan Willis feels like a really, really good pick. The Bengals need help across from Carlos Dunlap, and Willis might just be that guy.
Aaron Schatz: Cooper Krupp's skills better translate to play on the outside in the NFL, because the Rams did not need yet another slot receiver.
Tom Gower: Jon Robinson trades up again, this time with the Patriots. Again, he pays a price that looks a lot more like the Jimmy Johnson trade chart suggests he should pay than what a more ... modern trade chart suggests he should pay (92 percent of Jimmy Johnson, 125 percent of Chase Stuart's). That's good when trading down, but there are only so many desperate teams out there. I liked Taywan Taylor's potential fit with the Titans and thought they'd take two receivers, but thought it would be more likely they'd go with a cover linebacker (I had my eye on Duke Riley, whom the Titans took a couple picks later) or a tight end (Jeremy Sprinkle?) given those were likely bigger needs than a slot receiver.
Bryan Knowles: Sound the Air Raid sirens; the Giants are going with Davis Webb! Kind of an odd pick, with Eli and Geno Smith on the roster already.
Vince Verhei: Giants take Cal quarterback Davis Webb. Apparently they put backup/future quarterback at a higher priority than starting running back.
Aaron Schatz: "Who is this guy? Don't wink at the camera. You're a nobody!" The friend watching the draft with me is not a fan of ESPN's Davis Webb graphic.
Scott Kacsmar: Davis Webb feels like one of those irrelevant third-round quarterback picks. A tame succession plan that won't ever come to fruition. But I guess all the teams with an old quarterback will draft a young kid eventually. I wouldn't mind seeing the Steelers or Cardinals grab Josh Dobbs soon. Maybe not tonight, but in the fourth round.
Rob Weintraub: Which is why you don't reach for Barnett at 1.9 -- Willis is pretty much the same player.
Really wanted Cincy to trade back in and grab Derek Rivers, who is small school but has insane quick dip and bend. Instead the Pats get him, of course. Maybe he wouldn't be great everywhere but Belichick will make him into a terror.
Vince Verhei: The Seahawks' first third-rounder is Central Florida cornerback Shaquill Griffin. First time Pete Carroll and John Schneider have ever drafted a corner in the first three rounds, but he fits their body type -- he's not huge at 6 feet even, but he has longer arms than Richard Sherman.
Carl Yedor: After missing out on uber-athletic Obi Melifonwu at the end of round two, Seahawks draft cornerback Shaquill Griffin with pick number 90. Griffin isn't the athlete Melifonwu is, but he's still one of the better ones in this class (seventh-best SPARQ cornerback according to 3sigmaathlete.com).
Bryan Knowles: 49ers trade up... to grab C.J. Beathard at the end of the third round, with Joshua Dobbs, Nathan Peterman, and Brad Kayaa still on the board. That's an interesting selection; most places I've seen had a sixth- or seventh-round grade on him. Seems odd to go up to get him, though he is a pro-style guy.
It's the right strategy -- a mid-round quarterback could turn out to be something but doesn't tie the team to anything as they look to 2018 and beyond -- but I question the actual player they chose.
Tom Gower: C.J. Beathard reminds me of Cody Kessler last year, a marginally talented passer who I thought was likely a sixth- or seventh-rounder going at the end of the third round. I didn't expect much from Kessler and didn't think we saw much last year. But, hey, San Francisco may just be playing a waiting game until they can get Kirk Cousins.
Analyzing the second and third rounds of the draft is a tricky business. They're really important and can give teams a lot of surplus value and go a long way towards determining who will be good in the next couple years. But it's tough to hold in your head simultaneously 32 separate team boards, rosters, and philosophies of the sort you need to really analyze picks immediately, plus have the in-depth knowledge of scheme to evaluate fit, so you tend to end up with a lot of (a) reflexive application of scouting grades to team, with some influence by need and/or (b) team-focused analysis saying "they needed X, they drafted X, good pick" because it's a pain to be really good at both. Plus, it's not like there are easy hacks where we can easily see the NFL is liable to get things wrong -- Carl Lawson on the board, to name one player many had rated highly, may be a function of medicals rather than player ability, and there's no reason we "deserve" to know that. Makes it hard to say too many things about the picks beyond generalities like "Beathard looks like a massive overdraft," "So does Davis Webb," "Stop throwing away third-round picks on fake succession plans at quarterback," "here's what this trade looks like," "like the trades last night, you can justify it if the general manager's aspiration for the pick turns out right," and suchnot.
Vince Verhei: Well Seattle's latest draftees certainly have their share of interesting stories.
- Shaquill Griffin turned down offers from bigger schools, playing at Central Florida because he wanted to play with his one-handed brother Shaquem. (Shaquem, by the way, was AAC Defensive Player of the Year.)
- North Carolina defensive tackle Nazair Jones was nearly paralyzed five years ago due to complex regional pain syndrome.
- Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh was born in Sierra Leone, losing both his parents to warfare. Emigrated to the U.S. in 2001 and became a U.S. citizen last year.
Don't think we'll have to worry about mental toughness with any of these young men.