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28 Apr 2017

Audibles: 2017 NFL Draft Day 1

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 aspects of the draft may not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all.

2017 NFL Draft -- Round One

Bryan Knowles: Has the draft started? I couldn't hear over Goodell being booed out of the building -- which is impressive, as the draft's being held outdoors.

Ben Muth: I'd take Garrett but if Cleveland's front office and coaching staff are really torn on taking Trubisky, the front office should draft Trubisky and tell Hue to make it work or look for a new job. If you have a chance to get what your organization thinks is a top-10 quarterback, you have to take him.

Carl Yedor: Mel Kiper is really getting excited talking about Myles Garrett right now. I find myself echoing Trey Wingo in that I'm wondering if he'll be able to make it through the entire first round if he keeps this up.

Bryan Knowles: The Browns have a number of interesting young edge rushers already on the roster -- Ogbah at defensive end and Schobert at outside linebacker -- so it's a shame for them that this isn't a year when there's an Andrew Luck or someone at the very top of the draft. That being said, when you pick the consensus best player in the draft at a position of at least moderate need, it's hard to complain too much about that.

Trade! Bears trade up from three to two! That's a surprise; the 49ers must have had someone else ready to take that slot.

Tom Gower: Congratulations, Cleveland, on not screwing up the first pick.

Trading up one spot is something I always wonder about, but it's almost always a really good deal for the team that traded down. John Lynch draft grade: A, though that's pending actually picking a player.

Aaron Schatz: For the sake of analytics, I'm glad the Browns drafted Myles Garrett No. 1. Maybe Trubisky is going to be a star NFL quarterback, but if he washes out I wouldn't want that pick blamed on analytics, when the analytics say he'll probably wash out. What I said on Twitter today is this: I understand if your scouting says that Trubisky is No. 1. I even understand if your owner overrules everyone and wants the quarterback. But analytics couldn't possibly have him as the top pick in the draft. There's just no successful comparable players who could even be in a statistical model.

However, it was weird to see the Browns front office all congratulating each other afterwards. "Yay, we took the guy we wanted to take when no other team could have possibly screwed up our plans and it was entirely up to us!"

Somebody is going to have to explain to me why the Chicago Bears gave up THREE mid-round picks to move up ONE SPOT in a draft with a ton of good defensive players. Who on earth is the player they were so scared the 49ers would take that they give up three more shots at good players?

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers get the third pick, third- and fourth-round picks this year, and a third-round pick in 2018. That's a heck of a haul for sliding back one slot. The 49ers need one of everything, so that's a great way to get some more contributors.

Vince Verhei: I'm watching NFL Network and Mayock was right there with Kiper. He had a great speech right before the draft about how bad teams stay bad by reaching for bad quarterbacks, and had the Browns passed on Garrett I think he might have run to Cleveland and started slapping people.

Holy crap, to move back one spot the 49ers pick up a third, a fourth, and a third next year. Great haul for them, and I have no idea who the Bears are targeting to give all that up. It has to be a quarterback, right?

Tom Gower: Bears gave up their third- and fourth-round picks this year, plus their third next year. Revised grade for Lynch: A+++. I was thinking just a nominal amount, like a fifth.

Bryan Knowles: So, the Bears just gave up the middle of this draft and a pick next year to grab a Trubisky. I mean, it's their biggest need, but good lord. I'd be afraid at taking any of these quarterbacks in the first half of the first round this year. To move up that much, they must absolutely love Trubisky, and I don't see it.

Vince Verhei: Welp. That's a hell of an ascent in one year for Trubisky.

Mayock is reserved, but he did say that giving up picks for Trubisky is even worse than just taking him outright at No. 1.

NFL Network has shots of Bears fans and they are PISSED.

Rob Weintraub: Give an assist to the media contacts Lynch built up while a network guy. That helped sell the Niners' interest in Trubisky enough to get the Bears to bite. I don't think San Francisco ever wanted him, but they sold it well.

Bryan Knowles: And what does that mean for Mike Glennon, the $15 million man? Why not re-sign Hoyer for the deal he got in San Francisco if they were going to go and draft a first-round quarterback? I mean...wow.

Aaron Schatz: So the 49ers will now take whoever they wanted anyway, and they get three extra picks for it. Two third-rounders! 49ers may have already won the draft, at least in terms of judging on value if we assumed every player was worth exactly what the average player taken in that spot is worth.

Rob Weintraub: Subtle sneakiness: Rich Eisen appears during ESPN's first big ad break, gently reminding us all to flip to NFL Network.

Vince Verhei: It's starting to really sink in now what just happened. The Bears gave up four picks for Trubisky. What does this say about John Fox and Ryan Pace in Chicago? Either they know their jobs are secure and they've got years to groom their new quarterback -- or they're desperate and are going all-in on a guy they hope can be a savior. It's a tremendous investment and tremendous risk either way.

Biggest draft-day trade since, what, Atlanta getting Julio Jones? Was that trade made during the draft or before?

Also, MAJOR kudos to John Lynch, who picked up a ton and is still going to get the player they would have taken at two. 

Scott Kacsmar: The Bears either had reason to be spooked by another team trading up, or just flat-out panicked to take a risky quarterback No. 2 overall. I hope we're remembering the package deals these teams have moved up for to get Robert Griffin III, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and now Mitchell Trubisky. It's not just a top-two pick that was used on them. Things couldn't have started any better for John Lynch's first draft.

I never really bought the Trubisky-to-Cleveland thing. Maybe they would have pulled the trigger eventually, but not at No. 1. Now if they could find a way to get Mahomes or Watson tonight, then that would be a heck of a night for the Browns.

Bryan Knowles: If I were the 49ers, I'd probably try to rebuild the offense first, considering the draft capital they've spent on defense in the past few drafts.

That being said, a defensive line of Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, and DeForest Buckner might be frightening in a year or two. And the 49ers had enough holes that you could basically draft anyone and call it a plan.

Thomas didn't have the best SackSEER score, but it was adequate. Add in his rush defense, and I'm OK with the pick -- especially when it gets tacked on to "a bunch of extra draft picks tomorrow."

Aaron Schatz: I'm not worried about Thomas' SackSEER score. He's a big guy. He'll move easily into the middle of the line on third downs as a big guy who still can rush the passer. Strong against the run. All-around player, not just a pass-rusher.

Vince Verhei: I wouldn't worry about Thomas' SackSEER. He's not a pure edge rusher. He's a guy who will set the edge on running downs, then move inside and play 3-technique on third-and-long.

Nathan Forster: As the SackSEER guy, I'll agree that Thomas could work even if he isn't a pass rusher. If he collects 7.0 sacks per year but makes the 49ers impossible to run on, hey, it's a good pick.

Ben Muth: Yeah, I don't think Thomas is a true edge. He dropped some weight after the season to get closer to that mold, but I think he'll be at his best inside. I think he could be a Michael Bennett-type guy, but I think he would've been really good if he put some weight on and tried to play as a straight 3-technique.

Great trade from Lynch, and then Thomas goes three. Big night for Stanford.

Rob Weintraub: A.J. McCarron's price just went up -- two first rounders from the Browns now...

Aaron Schatz: I think you spelled Garoppolo wrong.

Vince Verhei: Everyone spells Garoppolo wrong.

Tom Gower: Zeke Elliott you could justify as a top pick because the Cowboys had a really good offensive line and he could be a plus, or at least non-negative factor, on all three downs. The Jaguars still don't have five starting-caliber offensive linemen, and Fournette is nowhere close to a three-down back in the same way Elliott was. I get the need -- T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory didn't give them what they needed last year and were clearly upgradeable -- but I'm not going to get behind this pick at all.

Cian Fahey: Leonard Fournette runs in straight lines fast and can run over defensive backs. Besides that, I have no idea what is appealing about his skill set. Jaguars remain the easiest team to laugh at.

Rob Weintraub: Very glad the Bengals won't be tempted to take Fournette at nine.

Saying that, I'm sure Fournette will drop a buck fifty on the Bengals when they play this fall...

Aaron Schatz: Not necessarily if the Bengals use that nine pick on a middle linebacker. But I still think it's gonna be a pass-rusher.

Rob Weintraub: Just the way things happen when you're the Bengals.

Cian Fahey: Only question about Corey Davis is his ability to stretch the field. Titans have very little speed in their offense right now.

Rob Weintraub: Davis could be tremendous. Really feared he would drop to the Ravens.

Tom Gower: The Titans care a lot more about getting the right player who fits a need than anything else, I think, so I thought against most other people they'd be locked into getting a receiver with the No. 5 pick (trade down being a good option if they could get fair value). I just thought it would be more likely Mike Williams than Davis, because I thought he checked more boxes in terms of performance against high-level competition and being able to work out in the pre-draft process. That they would go with Davis doesn't come as a huge surprise to me, though, as I would have had him second behind Williams notwithstanding all the mocks giving them Lattimore.

Bryan Knowles: Ian Rapoport is saying that the Browns are trying to trade for Kirk Cousins now, so add him to your quarterback bingo cards as appropriate.

Rivers McCown: Ryan Pace tarred and feathered, you say?

Rob Weintraub: Unless I'm very wrong I'd be astonished if Cincy went with Foster. Reddick, Howard, or Ross are my three top candidates.

Vince Verhei: Between the trade and this picture, the 49ers are completely owning this draft. 

Cian Fahey: The Jets just live for drafting non-impactful defensive players. Gonna go ahead and assume the safety who supposedly has limited range fits that category.

Rob Weintraub: Am I the only one who thinks Adams is a bit overrated? Tremendous in the box, great in the locker room, but his range and ability to cover wide receivers in the spread will be sorely tested. Better than anyone the Jets have, though I'd much rather have Hooker, pending the hip.

Bryan Knowles: Jamal Adams is a solid pick for the Jets -- not their biggest need, but a clear upgrade over Calvin Pryor, and Adams feels like a very safe pick. People were projecting him in the top three, so to get him at six is a nice pick-up there.

Aaron Schatz: I don't think it's really fair to tag Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams as non-impactful defensive players. The problem is that the Jets haven't found any pass-rushers and their offense is a garbage dump.

Scott Kacsmar: Calvin Pryor's fifth-year option has not yet been picked up by the Jets. Can't see that happening now after they drafted Adams.

Tom Gower: Well, at least at the sixth pick, he's ranked not quite as highly on the strong safety payscale as he would have been at No. 4 or 5 had the Jaguars or Titans taken him. Bottom end of the top ten, instead of about fifth, I believe. No surplus value from a contract standpoint unless he's a top-five strong safety in the league from Day 1. I didn't see him as a top-ten pick for that reason alone unless you agreed with Louis Riddick and thought he could play single-high safety as well as Malik Hooker could.

Rob Weintraub: I guess the Bengals would take Allen, too.

Bryan Knowles: Was receiver really a pressing need for the Chargers? I get that there's no offensive lineman really worth picking here (and good lord, do they need an offensive line upgrade), but I would have thought going with the secondary in a Marshon Lattimore or Malik Hooker would have made more sense.

They've already got Keenan Allen (assuming he stays healthy), and Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman is a solid corps. Seems like a bit of a luxury selection.

That being said, maybe I'm just burned from other receivers named Mike Williams.

Aaron Schatz: Maybe it says something about Hooker's health issues, because they just hired Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator and he needs someone to play the Earl Thomas role.

Tom Gower: Hooker made almost too much sense for San Diego, I thought, but maybe they like Marcus Williams later or maybe his health issues really are that much of a concern.

Rob Weintraub: So many options here for the Bengals -- trade back! Somebody's gotta want someone bad enough!

Only concern with McCaffrey in Carolina is Cam throwing howitzers to him from 5 yards away.

Aaron Schatz: We talk a lot about running backs being fungible, but Christian McCaffery's receiving skills are not fungible. If you think of McCaffery as being a sort of half-back/half-receiver pick for the Panthers, it makes a lot more sense as a first-rounder. I don't question it as much as I usually would for a running back taken this high.

Vince Verhei: Christian McCaffrey to Carolina made too much sense to not happen. Panthers haven't had a running back catch 30 passes in a year since 2011.

Steve Smith pointing out that Carolina was in shotgun more than 70 percent of the time and McCaffrey is a great fit for them.

Aaron Schatz: It turns out that Steve Smith isn't just a great receiver, he's also an intelligent analyst and a good television presence. I'm pretty happy to have more Steve Smith in my football life.

Rob Weintraub: Dave Lapham calls Ross here, and I tend to agree. Desperate for speed, gotta score some points.

Aaron Schatz: A.J. Green, say goodbye to all that safety attention!

Ben Muth: McCaffrey joining Cam Newton could be great, but I'm not sure I trust Carolina's staff to maximize them together. But he should take some attention away from the tight end on every third down.

Tom Gower: Update on the San Francisco pick: Paraag Marathe made the trade, per KNBR. That makes a lot of sense. 

McCaffrey to the Panthers: I would have liked him better with more of a touch passer than Newton tends to be. I think he would've been more valuable there. Also, he's coming from one of the few college offenses that played so much under center, and going to an NFL team that wasn't necessarily an under-center team. Going to need to be some changes in the offense I think, to maximize the value of the pick.

Rivers McCown: I'm just glad the Panthers finally have some diversity in that passing game. They needed someone to get easy yards for Cam badly.

Bryan Knowles: NFL Network goes "4.22. Enough said!" about John Ross. Nope, he's more than just speed. I really love the pick.

Rob Weintraub: Lap knows best -- Ross it is. Gonna be great for four weeks and on the shelf for eight.

Bengals were molasses-like on offense last year, so needed the jets on the perimeter. But will he stay healthy? And will a shaky offensive line allow for Ross to get deep?

Carl Yedor: In fairness, it doesn't take Ross all that long to get deep.

Nathan Forster: Is it just me or did John Ross get to the podium faster than any of the other prospects? 4.22 speed!

Scott Kacsmar: Mayock and Jeremiah are way too optimistic in giving McCaffrey five or six catches per game right away. That's 80 to 96 catches in a season, and they're also expecting 150-plus carries for him. You're talking 21 seasons in NFL history with 150-plus carries and 80-plus catches. Often a Marshall Faulk-type of performance. Cam Newton's history doesn't point to a quarterback interested in taking that many checkdowns to a back, but I guess Tyreek Hill could be the mold for what they can do with McCaffrey. It's an interesting pick, and yes, let's not sugarcoat it. A white running back going that high is very unusual for the modern NFL. Danny Woodhead had a ton of small-time college ball success and can play in the NFL. McCaffrey needs to be a deluxe version of him to really justify this pick at eighth overall. But the Panthers are one of the few teams left who will focus on making the running game a priority every week.

Vince Verhei: Great point by Peter Burns, a survivor at ESPN: Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey skipped their bowl games, still got drafted in the top ten. We're going to see a lot more players do that now.

Bryan Knowles: Chiefs trade up! People are assuming it's for a quarterback, but I don't think I'd trade up for any of the quarterbacks left on the board.

Vince Verhei: Woooooow, K.C. gives up two firsts and a third for Buffalo's 10th pick. Teams paying big to move up here in what's supposed to be a deep draft. You assume that's for a quarterback, but if so, that's a quarterback the Bills didn't want themselves, which is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Bryan Knowles: Chiefs trade: first and third, plus first next year. Two first-round picks is a hefty price tag, no matter who they're going to get -- though it's still a better deal than Chicago got.

Rob Weintraub: I can only assume for that pricetag Mahomes is going to pitch for the Royals too.

Vince Verhei: OK. I hate this trade and pick. Chiefs have been on the doorstep for a few years now. But this pick won't do anything to help them this year, and the picks they're giving up won't do anything to help them next year. Feels like they're just punting for a couple of years.

Bryan Knowles: I find it hard to stomach trading up in this draft for one of these quarterbacks - especially when you don't need a quarterback for 2017. I'm with you, Vince; they need a player that can help them right away, and this isn't it.

Rob Weintraub: Kneejerk hot take: Rex Burkhead will be more productive than McCaffrey next season.

Carl Yedor: Kansas City is making a huge jump here to pick Patrick Mahomes, preparing for life after Alex Smith. At least once Mahomes takes the reins, they'll likely start throwing it downfield more.

Tom Gower: I didn't think the Chiefs thought they could outscore the Patriots with Alex Smith at quarterback. Mahomes, if he pans out, gives them a higher ceiling. I agree it's not a move for 2017, which is unusual for a team that has been in the playoffs, but I still completely get the internal logic of the move.

Rivers McCown: Agree. I don't think you can credibly believe Alex Smith will do more than get you there.

Scott Kacsmar: My first thought for a PATRICK stat is


Not easy to get a 'k' word in football that doesn't involve special teams, but I guess this would be looking at how often a gunslinger throws a pass into coverage. Mahomes is known for being a gunslinger, but I imagine Andy Reid will hone him in a bit. Of course, it could be 2018 or 2019 before we see him take the field in a meaningful matter, so it's a pretty big trade up for a guy that's not ready to help a playoff team get over the hump.

Bryan Knowles: The Saints pick... a warm body on defense. That's what they needed to do! They were really spoiled for defensive choice here, and Lattimore's as good a choice as any. I might have gone Reuben Foster, but anyone on defense was bound to help.

Traaaade! Houston trades with Cleveland, I ~assume~ for Deshaun Watson. That's three trades up, presumably all for quarterbacks, in a weak quarterback class.

Cleveland now owns Houston's first two picks in 2018.

Vince Verhei: Oh, bravo, Browns, bravo. Get the best player. Move down in the first this year, get another first next year. (They now have Houston's first- AND second-rounders in 2018). Don't get fleeced on any of the bad quarterbacks. Stockpile massive picks and rebuild everywhere.

Rob Weintraub: STOP TRADING PICKS TO THE BROWNS!!!! Virtually guaranteed to get Darnold, Allen, or whoever next year's top quarterback prospect is.

Carl Yedor: Riddick brings up a good point in that the teams moving up are likely looking to jump Arizona for their choice of quarterback. Cardinals management cannot be pleased, but desperate times lead to desperate measures.

Vince Verhei: By the way, I like this move for Houston too. They've been winning a horrible division with horrible quarterbacks. Now with real talent at the position (and J.J. Watt coming back), they might legitimately be as good as any non-New England AFC team.

Scott Kacsmar: Given what Bill O'Brien has been trotting out at quarterback in Houston, have to figure Watson has a chance to start right away with some success this season. Can't say that about Trubisky (hey, Glennon's getting paid) and Mahomes (ALEX) this year. Definitely a pick to watch for Cleveland fans. Might have missed a good one here, but only time will tell. 

A lot of people pointing out the quarterback the Browns can get next year, but isn't that always a dangerous plan? The guy we thought would go No. 1 this year a year ago just went 12th, and the third quarterback off the board. Just look at our usual No. 1 picks in September and how that pans out in April (Matt Barkley and Cardale Jones come to mind). A lot can change between that final college season and the draft.

Rivers McCown: I don't even care. The Texans drafted someone who has a chance to be a legitimate quarterback. That's all I needed. Great, good, boom, bust. Whatever.

Bryan Knowles: Cardinals have to grumble about that quarterback run, but silver linings abound. A quarterback of the future can be put off until the future -- or, at least, until tomorrow/Saturday. The Cardinals lost a ton of defensive snaps this offseason; more than 5,000. That quarterback run means there was plenty of defensive choice at No. 13, so really, that's about as solid as a silver lining as you can get.

Haason Reddick will help replace Kevin Minter; I think he's a great fit as a 3-4 inside linebacker. Maybe a bit odd squeezing him in with Karlos Dansby coming from Cincinnati, but Dansby's turning 36 in November. This is a better pick for this year than any quarterback would have been.

Ben Muth: Like the Reddick pick for Arizona. Freak athlete. Cardinals need some help on defense, was nervous Arizona was going to reach on a quarterback but thankfully other teams traded up and eliminated a lot of those options.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, as a Seahawks fan I was hoping the Cardinals would take a project quarterback. Loading up on an already loaded defense makes them much more dangerous this year. 

Bryan Knowles: Not sure I love the Derek Barnett pick for Philadelphia. Nothing against the player, but the Eagles already have Brandon Graham, they went and signed Chris Long this offseason, Vinny Curry's already on the team...

I mean, nothing wrong with adding another edge rusher to a team; you can almost never have too many pass-rushers. And the way the draft went, it wasn't like there were a ton of players leaping off the draft board for Philly. Still...

Rob Weintraub: Yeah, the Iggles should've gone with Hooker there in my opinion. Barnett lacks athleticism -- don't see him being much more than a solid pro. Nothing wrong with that, but Hooker can be elite. Indy benefits.

Bryan Knowles: From ESPN Stats and Info:

This marks the first time in the Common Draft Era that an offensive lineman has not been selected within the first 15 picks.

We've gotta have one by 20 (Denver really could use a tackle), right?

Vince Verhei: I think we've hit the point in the draft where we have generally well-run teams making generally wise moves and acquisitions. In other words, it just got boring.

Carl Yedor: The kid fist pumping in the middle of him announcing the Ravens' pick has to be the best moment of the draft so far.

Tom Gower: Well, we got all the surprising picks, including the surprising run on quarterbacks and other offensive players, out of the way in the first 12 picks. Now teams that need defensive players can snatch up the guys who have fallen. I tried doing an "insanity" mock draft at one point, and that sort of thing really loses its energy after the first 12 or 15 picks because sooner or later teams will take even injury risks like Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore, and hey, New Orleans and Indianapolis really needed good defensive players.

Bryan Knowles: Pretty surprised Jonathan Allen lasted this long, though apparently, every part of his body has a different medical concern attached to it.

Rob Weintraub: There is a growing, if perhaps misguided, sentiment around the league that Nick Saban sucks his teams dry and they come to the NFL burned out/physically spent. Obviously when you put so many dudes in the pros there are examples and counter-examples galore, but I hear those whispers for what it's worth. So maybe not a shocker the Tide guys fell.

Aaron Schatz: Well, Tennessee got their two needs filled: cornerback and wide receiver. I thought they would take the cornerback first, but they did get both. I do wonder if they'll regret passing on Lattimore though.

Tom Gower: Tennessee needed a wide receiver who can play 800-plus snaps in 2017 too badly to pass on one at No. 5, because if the top guys all go by 18 (as seems extremely likely by what happened), it was an awful long wait until No. 83 (Cleveland has their second-round pick from the Conklin trade last year). Is what it is.

I doubted they'd go cornerback at No. 18 (or No. 5) simply because Dick LeBeau historically hasn't valued cornerbacks in the draft at the first-round level, and it's not like New England (from whence Jon Robinson) has spent many first-round picks on them either. Jackson is also a better athlete than football player right now, or at least that's what my untrained eyes tell me. Seems like a pick for a different team. As a fan, I hope they know what they're doing.

Ben Muth: The only two offensive linemen I've seen a lot of this draft class are Robinson and the kid from Utah. Didn't love either of them, but it's crazy that there hasn't been a single one taken.

Scott Kacsmar: Wow, didn't expect Tampa Bay to be a landing spot for O.J. Howard. That offense is really just going to be Jameis running around before throwing to one of three freakish athletes. Cameron Brate may not have had the highlight plays, but he was a solid TE1 for them last year. Seems like a pick that won't maximize value unless they get a bit creative with those weapons. Imagine putting Jackson in the slot in the red zone and Howard and Evans out wide.

Bryan Knowles: I'll admit it -- I haven't seen what everyone else sees in O.J. Howard. He feels overrated to me; a lot of talent but not the on-field dominance I'd look for in a first-round tight end. Maybe that's because Alabama isn't the place for a tight end to shine, and he did light up the combine, but I'd like to see more actual production from my first-round offensive weapon pick.

Also, the TV coverage needs to keep up; we're well behind the actual picks at this point.

Vince Verhei: I feel the need to point this out every year: The TV networks don't want to be caught up. They want to fall behind. It is in their best interest to drag it out and stretch the high-ratings product as long as possible.

Rob Weintraub: I remember standing next to Howard at SEC Media Days when he was a freshman and thinking he was the most amazing physical specimen I'd ever seen. But I'm sorta meh on him too -- great athlete obviously but virtually never made a contested catch at Alabama. I get a Jermaine Gresham whiff from him -- he'll be spectacular one minute, botch the little stuff the next.

Bryan Knowles: Garrett Bolles at 20 to Denver -- over Cam Robinson or Ryan Ramczyk. From everything I've seen and read, Bolles is the high-ceiling, low-floor pick among the top tackles, so it's a little surprising to see him come off first.

But, hey, fills a big need for Denver, and finally, an offensive lineman gets called.

Carl Yedor: I'm echoing what Ben said above; I had thought for sure that the scarcity of good offensive linemen would lead to teams drafting them early, but I guess that's something reserved for quarterbacks. It'll be interesting to see where Cam Robinson, Ryan Ramczyk, and Forrest Lamp end up getting picked and if any of the four of them last until tomorrow.

Ben Muth: With Bolles, you're taking a guy that doesn't really know how to play his position at 20. And it's not like he's a quarterback where if he figures it out, you're just about guaranteed to be a perennial playoff team. He's an athlete who hasn't had one particularly good college season. I guess you hope he's Kyle Long and not Danny Watkins.

Tom Gower: Ditto Carl and Ben, I thought scarcity and what even players like Matt Kalil got in free agency would lead to them being pushed way way way push, possibly even to Jacksonville at No. 4 given that was their biggest need. But nope.

Rob Weintraub: Giants watch Jordan Reed tear up the division, get themselves their own mismatch nightmare at flex tight end in Evan Engram. Can see E2 having bigger impact than Howard. Ditto Charles Harris over Derek Barnett. #OldTakesExposed

Bryan Knowles: Traaaaaade!

We've been hearing that the Falcons and 49ers have been trying to climb up all night, and maybe the Falcons won that race, swapping spots with Seattle.

Aaron Schatz: I don't have any analytics to measure how pumped Takkarist McKinley is right now but damn, I think I want that guy in my huddle.

Bryan Knowles: And the Browns trade back in! Actually using some of this value they've been getting? A shocking decision from the Browns.

In all seriousness, moving from 33 to 29 means a fifth-year option, so that's a plus for them. Green Bay slides out of the first round, which sucks if you're a Packers fan who has been waiting up to see who your guys are taking.

So. Reuben Foster. Probably one of the best 15 players in the draft, but he's still on the board. I get that he had a diluted sample at the combine, and an altercation at the combine, and some injury concerns, etc... but if Gareon Conley's being taken, surely, Foster must come off the board soon, right? Any of the next five picks (PIT, SEA, NO, GB, and SF as I write this) could definitely find room for him in the middle of their respective defenses.

Scott Kacsmar: I didn't want to see the Steelers go for David Njoku since I think Ladarius Green can still be really good if he stays healthy. So good of Cleveland to move ahead of Pittsburgh to get him. However, seeing Kevin Colbert dial in a linebacker in the first round for the fourth time in five years is pretty annoying. It's especially annoying when you basically expect an ancient James Harrison to still be the best linebacker on the team in 2017. It's nothing against T.J. Watt. I'm sure he'll put in the effort to be good, but you have to be skeptical of this team's linebacker scouting after the Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree picks. They used to nail this position with ease, but have continued to struggle there despite all the premium picks spent. I can't imagine Watt will get a sniff of Tom Brady in a game this year, and that's one of the main things this defense needs. At the very least, they didn't waste the pick completely on a possible quarterback of the future like Kizer.

Bryan Knowles: ...and as I type that, reports have the 49ers swapping spots with Seattle to take Foster. It makes the Malcom Smith signing more questionable, but if Navorro Bowman can return to pre-injury form, a Bowman/Foster interior two should be very frightening. If he can't return to form, Foster's a potential replacement.

Rob Weintraub: Niners deal in for Foster, praying for Willis/Bowman Redux.

Vince Verhei: Had to step out for a while so some late reactions here, but:

  • I continue to love what the Browns are doing. They got the best player in the draft. They got the third-best safety, when their safeties were probably the worst in the league last year. Now they make a small trade up, losing just a fourth-rounder, and grab David Njoku at tight end. That's three Day 1 starters they've added in the past few hours, with plenty of picks to go in the next few years.
  • This is now the sixth straight year the Seahawks have traded their first-round pick, either to acquire a veteran (Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham), or to move back. Clearly, they do not like taking big risks on rookies, and prefer multiple picks or NFL vets.
  • They were saying on Seattle radio that Takkarist McKinley has shoulder issues and likely won't be ready for the start of the season, so surprising Atlanta would move up for him.
  • And speaking of surprising -- boy, that Conley pick sure is a high-risk, high-reward move. Either the authorities decline to press charges and you get a top-10 corner at 24, or charges are filed and you face the waste of a first-round pick AND a PR nightmare. And there's no in-between there.

Aaron Schatz: I was sitting here trying to figure out, who on earth was the quarterback that Cleveland's analytics would say was worth trading back into the first round for? The answer: not a quarterback. We're still going with the idea that Cleveland thought none of the quarterbacks this year were worth reaching for. Now they'll get to use that fifth-year option on Njoku.

I would not be surprised to see the Browns use one of their picks tomorrow on Joshua Dobbs.

Carl Yedor: Given how young Njoku is (21 in July!), it makes sense that they would want the option down the road instead of having him be set for unrestricted free agency before his age-25 season.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks moved from 26 to 31 in the Atlanta trade, then from 31 to 34 in the San Francisco trade. To move back eight total slots, they picked up third- fourth-, and seventh-round picks. They now have two seconds, four thirds, a fourth, a sixth, and two sevenths over the next two days.

Bryan Knowles: Is Ryan Ramczyk a Day 1 starter for New Orleans; an improvement over Zach Streif? If so, it's a fine pick, though I think I would have gone with Forrest Lamp on the inside instead.

Tom Gower: I don't see the obvious appeal of the Ramczyk pick and expected another defensive player of some sort.

That was an... actually interesting first round. Much better than I was expecting, with all the consensus we started to get today being completely blown up with the second pick.

Vince Verhei: Losers of Day 1: Chicago and Kansas City, for reasons I have already explained. 

Winners of Day 1: Cleveland and Seattle. Virtually everyone who seemed like a potential pick for the Seahawks at 26 (Kevin King, Malik McDowell, Forrest Lamp, Cam Robinson, Budda Baker, Obi Melifonwu) will still be there at 34. I wouldn't be surprised if they traded back a third time.

Scott Kacsmar: Three tight ends in the first round tonight. There were only four first-round tight ends from 2009 to 2016, two each by Detroit and Cincinnati. It's a tough position to excel at immediately, and I wouldn't expect a lot in fantasy from Howard and Engram given they have to share the ball with so many established players. Maybe one of them could rack up a good touchdown count though a la Hunter Henry in San Diego last year. Even Njoku might not make a lot happen in Cleveland with Corey Coleman, Kenny Britt, and Gary Barnidge still there, and maybe just Cody Kessler as the quarterback. I don't blame the Browns for not reaching for a quarterback though.

"The Chicago Thing" was just really weird and reeked of desperation. 

Vince Verhei: The Chicago Thing gets weirder and worse for the Bears: they came out tonight and said there is no quarterback competition this year, Mike Glennon is their starter. At least they know Trubisky needs time before he's ready to play.

Oh, and two more winners on Day 1: Houston and San Francisco. I pretty much explained why earlier, but I thought it was important to list them.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 28 Apr 2017

68 comments, Last at 30 Apr 2017, 7:44pm by Winterguard78


by Eddo :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 10:22am

I don't like the fact the Bears gave up three picks to move up to get Trubisky, but I don't understand all the confusion over how it works with the Glennon move.

The Glennon contract is clearly designed to be one year. He gave the Bears a longshot chance of him being their franchise QB, but he much more likely gave them a stopgap starter while the QB they drafted sat for a year.

And because Glennon is owed relatively nothing if he's cut after this year, if the rookie QB is ready, there should be no feeling of commitment to Glennon. In fact, I would have been very upset with the Glennon signing if they had not gotten one of Trubisky or Watson in this draft.

I personally liked Watson a little better than Trubisky, but liked none of the other QBs close to those two. The Bears options were then: stay put and take one at 3; trade down and take one somewhere else in the first round; trade up to get the guy they wanted.

Apparently they must love Trubisky. I would have stayed at 3 and taken Watson ("trading down" is always easier said than done, of course).

I actually like this plan in principle - there's no sure-thing QB available, so increase your odds at getting a franchise guy by investing in two (when you have tons of assets to do so with). Of course, overpaying is never good, but it's not as bad when you have $50M+ in cap space and a decent amount of picks.

I also like this way more than the Chiefs' trade, because next year's first rounder wasn't traded.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:11pm

Why bother signing Glennon then? True stopgap starters can be had for much cheaper. The Bears had one last year in Brian Hoyer.

I am also queasy at how many times today I have heard that the quarterback the Bears used a total of four draft picks to acquire at #2 overall won't be ready to start right away and needs time to develop.

This feels like a direct result of Pace's inexplicable refusal to draft any quarterback at all in the previous two drafts despite Cutler getting older and clearly approaching the end of his time in Chicago. Maybe he and the scouts really, honestly believe that Trubisky is the best prospect available this year and likely in the next 1-2 years, but I think it's more likely that he panicked.

With all of the huge holes left at almost every defensive position (plus WR and TE) that they now have a total of 4 picks to try to fill, I think the absolute ceiling for the Bears in the next 2-3 years is that Trubisky is actually really good and they lose 10 games a year with scores like 38-35.

I would much rather be a Texans fan or even a Browns fan today.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:29pm

Because Glennon still has some upside, and because of the Bears cap situation, no real downside.

Ending up with 2 viable quarterbacks isn't a problem.

I think the Trubisky pick, and what it cost to acquire it is a disaster, but the logic of signing to what is essentially a 1 year deal with an option and then drafting someone isn't a problem.

by Eddo :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 5:04pm

Basically, what Hoodie_Sleeves said in his reply to this comment.

I don't like that they traded up for Trubisky, but how would the Bears have gotten any of the top QBs in the past two drafts without giving up even more? Goff and Wentz both returned even bigger hauls, and I have to think Winston and Mariota would have done the same. And in general, I'd rather have the team go big for a QB they think will be great than take a flyer on a third- or fourth-rounder and call it a solution.

by jtr :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 10:39am

I was hoping Peppers would stay on the board long enough for Pittsburgh to pick him up, it felt like he could have slid right into the Troy Polamalu roving-destroyer role. That said, I like the Watt pick, as edge rusher is a real need.
I get a little annoyed at the 4-LB-in-5-years narrative, for a couple of reasons. One is that "linebacker" for Pittsburgh actually means two totally different positions. If they were a 4-3 team, it would look like they drafted 3 DE's and a LB in the last five years and nobody would be saying anything in particular about it. The other is the sunk-cost fallacy; the fact that they've picked several LB's in past first rounds doesn't change the fact that LB is need for the team. Seems pretty silly to criticize a team that needs an edge rusher for picking a promising edge rusher just because Jarvis Jones didn't pan out several years ago. Also, I'm not sold that Dupree is a bust yet, he hasn't really had enough snaps yet to make a judgement either way IMO.

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:00am

They're better off with TJ Watt. SackSeer likes him, he ranked low risk in the Waldo Football Future formulas, and he knows how the NFL is and what is expected from him. He won't be better than his brother but he will be a really scary pass rusher playing behind 3 solid to really good linemen. The only gripe people have with him is his pass coverage, but he still had a bunch of pass defenses and an interception or two in college. Tomlin just needs to not use him in coverage too often.

Peppers wouldn't be any use as a pass rusher, and he is also suspect in coverage. Not sure he was the best pick for the Browns; maybe he will work out for them. They could have used Forrest Lamp, actually.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:17am

I love Lamp

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:36am

J lub Lammmp

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:03pm

Watt's medical red flags are off the charts. If he never gets another knee injury, the pick is probably worth it. That's a huge gamble. His potential ceiling @ the pick range is definitely intriguing if he can avoid the injury. Wonder if they'll make him play with a brace or sleeve and how it affects him.

Disagree with Scott on Dupree- it looked like the lights had "come on" last year after he returned from injury. Hell, he already has eclipsed Jarvis Jones' production easily. Maybe he's never an allpro, but bust seems out of the picture too

The standard is the standard!

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:30pm

Yeah, I liked the Dupree pick a lot more than the Jarvis Jones one. I also like the building up of the front seven in the last several years: Hargrave last year, who's a interior D-lineman with 30 sacks his last two years in college. He'll be a handful in a year or two, and rushing Dupree and/or Watt from the edge will make the Steelers' pass defense that much better. Now they need to draft a corner or two; there are plenty of good ones left.

by jebmak :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:03am

I don't watch football anymore, but the Browns are doing what I always wanted a team to do (or at least always since TMQ moved to FO and I found out about football analytics).

When I heard about it last year I was pretty excited for them, and I'm glad that the owner is giving this time to play out.

Go Browns!

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:20am

interesting in that youd on't watch it anymore but still pay attention. Unless went blind taht would be weird. personally, wouldn't care about a sport if could not watch it (or listen to it [if go blind someday, wodul listen to nfl games on radio]) /

by jebmak :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:24pm

LOL, I've missed these boards.

Nope, I didn't go blind. I'm just friends and family with enough people who are still into football that I pick up pieces here and there.

Congrats on the solid Raiders season last year, hopefully they can take the next step this year!

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:13pm

thanks. Yes Raiders turned ship around to smoother water . Football has some crappy stujff in it now which maybe mad e you not watch it anymore. I still like it overall enough tow atch. some crap though is not easy to take-
*719 commercials per game
*jim nantz and his cornball comments
*jerky players with sex dances and junk grabbing after touchdowns
*guys celebrating getting qb sack when hsi team lsoing 28-7
*guys doing first down signal afgetr catching pass for 4 yards on 2nd and 3
*boring end of seaosn results- 4 franiches have won last 22 super bowls or so it seems
*and some other things

by jebmak :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 6:44pm

Hah! Yeah, some of that, but mostly the 'some others' for me. I can still see why people enjoy the game though, and of course, the FO community is great.

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:04am

I understand preferring Hooker to Jamal Adams, but I don't think Adams is that overrated. He doesn't have Hooker's range but I think he still can play the single high safety, and often did. He didn't have Hooker's number of interceptions because he wasn't targeted very often at all; it's not like you need to score a lot to beat LSU, pounding the ball is often a better idea against them. Again, I liked Hooker better, but I understand passing on Hooker due to the injury issue. At least they didn't draft OJ Howard or a QB.

by BJR :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:48am

I don't follow college football, nor do I follow the pre-draft hype, so find it absolutely astonishing only two offensive linemen were taken, both towards the bottom of the round. There's seemingly an epidemic in poor pass protection across the NFL, and apparently no talent entering the league. What are we headed for?

Seems like there should be huge scope for a business in coaching big-bodied high school athletes in the fundamentals of NFL style pass protection (Ben Muth perhaps?).

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:58am

This draft is very weak in offensive linemen, especially the tackle position, which usually accounts for the first round picks. I'm wondering if many of the would-be offensive linemen end up playing defensive line in college and high school, because the defensive tackle position has become really really good in the NFL.

Another issue is that college football has shifted to offensive systems that do not prepare offensive linemen and quarterbacks for the systems the NFL uses. Why no team has decided to hire an Air Raid coach and try it out in the NFL escapes me. The Air Raid quarterbacks keep failing, but the system works well in the college ranks, so perhaps a team should just hire a coach and steal the system and not the quarterback.

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:00pm

I would also suggest to keep an eye out for Antonio Garcia from Troy. He will end up being a solid left tackle, but he played at Troy, so he's not going as high as he deserves. Cam Robinson deserves to not be drafted in the first round, because he constantly lunges and loses his balance.

by CaffeineMan :: Sat, 04/29/2017 - 1:39pm

Belichick was listening to you, Mehl. Pats grabbed Garcia in the 3rd round.

by mehllageman56 :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 3:16pm

I'm sure he has better things to do on draft day than read my comments here. He just saw the same things I saw in the tape. I'm sure he watched more tape than me too. One of the draft magazines I bought had Garcia as a first round pick, another had him in the 2-3 round with more caveats.

Perhaps I should start rooting for the Pats; with my luck, Brady will get hurt and they'll tank, but not bad enough to get Darnold. I won't root for the Bills, though. They really seem doomed.

By the way, other guys I was high on: Ejuan Price, drafted by the LA Rams in the 7th round, Pita Taumopeau drafted by the Niners, and Demontae Kazee drafted by the Falcons. Not sure where Lorenzo Jerome went.

by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 3:39pm

Taumoepenu fits at Leo in the niners' new Carrolesque system, other teams would be put off by him being too small but in that role guys like Chris Clemons can succeed.

by mehllageman56 :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 3:50pm

Yes, he's got enough bend for that role. By the way, the Niners signed Lorenzo Jerome, who had a ton of picks at St. Francis. He only fell out of the draft because his combine 40 was poor; he ran faster at his pro day. Probably he will be a steal.

by RobotBoy :: Sat, 04/29/2017 - 5:16am

They could steal the system, the coach AND the quarterback with a later-round draft pick.
What NFL team has run a system closest to 'Air Raid'?

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Sat, 04/29/2017 - 9:13am

questions like this make me wish it were easier to edit the Madden plays, playbooks and basic game mechanics.

The standard is the standard!

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 11:53am

Another thing I wanted to point out: the poor quality of the announcing on the ESPN radio show last night. They claimed that the analytics people for Cleveland wanted to draft Trubisky over Garrett last night. If that's true, then Cleveland needs better analytics people, as Aaron pointed out that any decent kind of analytics would claim Garrett to be a surefire pass rusher pick over Trubisky, a shaky quarterback possibility. Also, Bill Polian claimed that his staff would take players off the board if they're height, weight, or speed made them unlikely to survive in the NFL. The Colts drafted Dwight Freeney 11th when he only weighed 266 pounds, and drafted Robert Mathis 138th when he weighed only 248 pounds, as defensive ends. I guess the Colts' parameters were very loose when Polian was there.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:07pm

Don't get the hate for the KC move. Mechanics/discipline are certainly worrying, but if Reid can't fix (or at least limit ) them in his system nobody can. Everything else is off the charts for Mahomes, he'll easily be the best QB of this class.

Also don't get the love for the Ross pick. Dalton doesn't have the arm strength to exploit his skillset unless teams decide to cover him with a LB a lot.

The standard is the standard!

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:25pm

The hate is that a team like KC is currently good enough to try to find enough missing pieces for some playoff runs, and instead taking a QB who's going to need some development time to work out the kinks does not help that. Pretty clearly more based on where KC is as a team as opposed to anything else; Mahomes might be the best QB of this class, but he likely won't be for several years, at which point it very well could be too late for KC.

Agree on the Ross pick; I was watching some highlights of him last night after the Bengals drafted him, and there were several clips where Ross was running away from the CB and had to slow down to catch the pass. Well, at least he's used to doing that already.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:52pm

KC FO might feel "yearly playoff runs we know we can't advance past point X with Alex Smith @ QB" isn't acceptable or good enough.

I'll put it another way, if you could** poach 3 players (nonQB) off other teams, and put them on KC, and tell me that you guarantee that makes them the Vegas favorite to win the SB, who are they?

The standard is the standard!

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:33pm

"The hate is that a team like KC is currently good enough to try to find enough missing pieces for some playoff runs, and instead taking a QB who's going to need some development time to work out the kinks does not help that. Pretty clearly more based on where KC is as a team as opposed to anything else; Mahomes might be the best QB of this class, but he likely won't be for several years, at which point it very well could be too late for KC."

Assuming that there is a "too late" is exactly what causes teams to make bad moves and end up with 4-12 seasons. The better philosophy is to be constantly cycling the roster, and not sacrificing the future for today.

Alex Smith is 32 years old, and not a great QB - picking a guy who may replace him in a year or two is sound logic if you think that guy might be significantly better.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:01pm

I agree with this in principle. The "all in" strategy rarely works. What I don't agree with is the trading up part. If the player you're trading up for won't put you over the top right away, you're better off keeping the picks and try to get several players who will help keep you competitive years down the road.

by bobrulz :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 7:01pm

The problem is that they traded up to get him.

Personally I don't think that Mahomes is worth the #10 pick to begin with, because I don't think QBs who could theoretically be ready to play in 2 or 3 years should be taken in the top 10, but trading up for that player is just a really bad decision, especially for a team like the Chiefs who have likely maxed out with their current roster.

I agree that Mahomes has the ~potential~ to be a great QB, but almost every year we hear about these projects QBs who have all of the tools to be great but just need some "refining". When was the last time one of those QBs worked out? At best, Mahomes is Aaron Rodgers-lite in 2 or 3 years, but history shows that he's more likely to be a Blake Bortles or Ryan Tannehill.

Is Mahomes worth a first-round pick? I can see it, for a team that doesn't have a lot of immediate needs and can let him sit. Is he worth TRADING UP to take in the top 10 of the first round? Definitely not.

by mehllageman56 :: Sat, 04/29/2017 - 10:43am

I would think Mahomes is more likely to be Geno Smith than Bortles or Tannehill. Tannehill at least has shown a certain level of competency. Bortles has had moments (granted, Geno has occasional good games too, but not a year like Bortles had two years ago), while it's really likely Mahomes sets the single game or single season interception record.

by justanothersteve :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 1:03am

You're assuming Aaron Rodgers lite is a bad thing

by Winterguard78 :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 7:44pm

I'm a Chiefs fan, so admittedly looking with rose colored glasses, but I have a couple questions/comments-
1. When would KC get a good QB without trading up in the near future?
2. While draftniks and media experts panned this year's QBs, I know 3 guys dying to take Pat Mahommes- Andy Reid, Sean Payton, and Bruce Arians (I think it's safe to say BOB wanted him too as they looked like they were at a funeral while drafting Watson) I don't think I or any critics of Mahommes has more credibility on picking QBs and I can name about 10 guys with bigger warts+way less upside Andy was able to get to perform.
3. The notion that KC roster is having window close is pretty uninformed- they have 4 guys over 30- Smith/Punter/Tamba/DJ followed by the sixth to fourth youngest roster in the league(depending on how you quantify)
4. Alex is "only" 32, but the part of his game that takes him from liability to playoff QB is his ability to run. 2015 (his best year) he had almost 500 rushing yards and picked up 30 first downs. Last year saw those #s drop to around 100+8. He will not age like Brees or Brady and hence QB is a 2018 need for KC.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:20pm

I am absolutely, utterly, and completely on-board the O.J. Howard train, and could not be more excited. At least performance-wise, I don't get the Gresham comp; Gresham played in an offense that made Sam Bradford look like a gunslinger, and O.J. Howard obviously didn't do anything vaguely resembling that. He is, however, a good blocker and a guy who has shown enough ability at catching that makes me think he's catching a load of seam routes from Winston.

I mean, the Bucs already have one TE who can't block in Brate; a guy like Engram just doesn't make sense. Howard is going to fall into that offense perfectly. Evans on the outside, Desean Jackson going deep, Brate finding holes in zones, Howard running the seam. SO HAPPY.

by BJR :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:23pm

Yeah that Bucs offence looks pretty darned exciting now. There are going to be some wild shootouts in the NFC South next year.

by Theo :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:41pm

By 2031, the Browns will own the first 32 first round picks.

I like what they're doing. They understand that the value of next year's pick is the same value as today's year's pick.
They also understand the importance of having a good QB, so they don't waste draft picks on QBs they are not sold on.
Good job Browns. Now don't mess it up like you somehow always do.

by Joseph :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:23pm

I am curious, for those who really follow the Browns or the AFCN:
What would you consider a "success" for them this season?
A. Playoffs?
B. 7-9/8-8, but not playoffs?
C. 5-6 wins, look competitive?
D. Compete well, whether or not the record reflects it?
E. Other?

Personally, I think a something like C or D would be great, esp. if their draft picks show promise/don't look horrible. Getting solid mediocrity at QB would be huge, although I think that they draft one next year. The way that they are stockpiling draft picks for future years, even if they don't have the #1 overall pick, they will have the ammo to (theoretically) move up to #1 and get their guy.

by Bryan Knowles :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:38pm

I'd agree with C (and D is always kind of in play). At SOME point, the team has to start winning, but expecting a 1-15 team to suddenly put all the pieces together overnight is a fool's errand. 6-10 and signs of life would count as a good season in Cleveland for me.

by theslothook :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:43pm

There is a danger to what the browns are doing - and that's eventually becoming the texans. A team that's competent or even really good at enough places but hamstrung by poor qb play. That means they won't keep bottoming out like they have the last few years and then it will take a massive package to get to the top of the first round to draft a qb that isn't a sure fire thing.

I think they've been playing the draft the right way, but at some point - next year probably - they will need to not accept a trade and just take a qb.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:55pm

Well, sure, but, after what the Browns have been through, the Texans look pretty good. Next year has an allegedly better QB class, plus there's the possibility of Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins in free agency. Why push now, when it could be better later? There's more risk in overdrafting a QB you aren't confident in and skipping a good player at another position than drafting a solid team and finding a QB later.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:59pm

I think the biggest danger is the opposite, that the owner fires everyone before they start to see results. I think right now the Browns are kind of counting on getting another #1 overall pick so they can get their QB. To me, a successful Brown season would be either 2-14 or 9-7. Everything in between, especially 6-10, would put them out of reach of the top QBs (yes, they have the picks to trade up, but will they find a partner?) without giving any real hope that the direction of the franchise is the right one.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:11pm

Well, yeah, it's the Browns, and there's always a chance Haslam runs into a homeless guy who tells him to fire Hue Jackson and it's time to restart. That being said, if you draft a guy like Mahomes and put him on a bad team and he flames out, there's a much better chance of the coaching staff being fired due to lack of progression.

I don't think there's a way in the next year for anyone involved in the coaching or front office staff to do something to make the team improve, but the way the current regime is doing it seems pretty solid to me.

by BJR :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:56pm

It's an interesting question. It's not enough to just say 'improvement', because they almost can't fail to improve. For all the praise of their rebuilding strategy, for now they remain a terrible, terrible team. The Jags fell into the trap in recent seasons of tolerating marginal improvement on still-abysmal performance in the name of rebuilding, because they were starting from such a low ebb. Cleveland shouldn't repeat that mistake.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:57pm

Cleveland specifically avoided the kind of steps that have made Jacksonville so inerringly terrible in recent years; they chose to not overdraft a bad QB based on need. The Jaguars have sucked because they drafted Blaine Gabbert and hoped he would turn out, and they're still in the midst of having done the same for Blake Bortles. Cleveland may continue to be bad for a while, but a highly-drafted QB failure is the kind of thing that sets your team back several years, and kudos to Cleveland for not falling into that trap last night.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:00pm

They've also amassed picks, which the Jags didn't do.

by BJR :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:25pm

Yes they clearly are approaching things differently to Jacksonville, which is probably a good thing, but for now there is no evidence that their strategy is working. Having lots of draft picks is obviously a good thing, but sooner or later the front office and coaches have to show evidence that they can use those resources to significantly improve the team, rather than continually stockpiling.

I do happen to think the Browns are on the right lines, and am certainly enjoying watching the 'experiment' unfold. However, I'm just wary of lavishing praise on them before there are any tangible results.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:01pm

Well, sure, but you can lavish praise for doing good things or for actively avoiding doing bad things. The Browns are doing one good thing (accumulating picks while moving back) and avoiding doing a bad thing (overpaying for suboptimal QB prospects). I don't think what the Browns are doing is in any way a guarantee of future success, but I look at their approach and no longer see what seems to be a guarantee of catastrophic failure, which has pretty much consistently been the case for years.

by theslothook :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:06pm

Pretty much. All team building strategies are low probability plays. But they are going about it the best way. I just worry, they top out as a 9-7 team while someone like the colts, who's buffoonery has left them with a roster bereft of talent - can make the leap more easily.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:19pm

Yep, you can praise the process before you know the results.

by ChrisS :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:41pm

Not sure I totally agree with "They understand that the value of next year's pick is the same value as today's year's pick". This years picks get you a chance to win this year, next years picks give you zero for the upcoming season. I assume there is some time-value of picks much like time-value of money.

by theslothook :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:44pm

Absolutely - especially given the uncertainty of job status year to year - which is why trading future picks requires a premium.

by sbond101 :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:11pm

I think the big issue here with the time-value of draft picks is that this CBA Expires in 2020. Under this CBA drafted rookies are very cheep relative to free agents (in my opinion a huge reason why NFL careers are getting shorter), a future CBA may not tilted as much that way. The biggest risk with kicking draft capital down the road is that there are only 2 more drafts under this CBA, and teams would be well to expect draft picks after that date to be less valuable then they are now.

by mehllageman56 :: Sat, 04/29/2017 - 10:48am

If your team is so weak coming into the draft that it is likely they will not make the playoffs, next year's pick is worth more than this year's pick. Next year's pick may be what vaults a team into contention. The GM also needs to figure out where his team is in terms of the salary cap and contracts. If this wasn't true some of the time, NBA front offices would never stash Euro pick players overseas for a year or two. That time-value of picks goes the other way as well.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 11:44am

Depends on the position. RBs contribute immediately, CBs generally need a year or two of experience before becoming viable players. If you think you're going to be good three years from now, immediately drafting a corner is a good strategy, because it's the kind of position a player kind of has to grow into.

by theslothook :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:08pm

I know the Jaguars have been at the forefront of analytics, but nothing about their recent behavior suggests they A) know anything about analytics or B) Are simply ignoring the findings.

The outrage from the Fournette pick was spot on. I simply don't understand what they are doing either with their coaching hires, free agent decisions, or now their draft decisions.

by Geronimo :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:27pm

There are two kinds of draft-day hand-wringing I don't get. I don't think there's anything wrong with a team trading some 3s and 4s to move up in the 1st to get the player they really want. Look at any past draft. Almost every 3rd and 4th round pick this year will be Just Another Guy in very short order. So what's the big deal? Of course the player your team moves up to get in the first round might not work out. I don't think Trubisky is special, but if there's a chance he will be and the Bears wanted to be sure to get him, I hardly blame them for rolling the dice and making sure they get him. It will turn out they gave up, what, a backup receiver, shitty cornerback, and some guy who can't get on the field because of injuries to try for him. That's the likely value of the 3rd and 4th rounders they traded.

And the other kind is when I hear people say, "oh they picked a guy who would have been there 10 or 15 spots back." So what? How do we know there was a willing trading partner to move back? And if the team doing the picking doesn't have another pick in that lower range, what's wrong with them taking the guy they are high on?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:45pm

Yeah, if a team keeps those 3rd and 4th round picks, they might wind up with stiffs like David Johnson, Dak Prescott, Devonta Freeman, David Bakhtiari, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed, Tyrann Mathieu . . .

3rd and 4th round picks very often turn into excellent players, and strong rosters are built around mid- and late-round picks, and not just hitting on high picks. Loads of great players come out of the 3rd and 4th round.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 4:12pm

I heard an idiot on the radio this morning try to support his argument that giving up 2 3rds and a 4th is totally irrelevant by reading off the last few years of players picked at the exact spot as the picks the Bears gave up, and because none of those specific players were any good he thought that proved his point. While your list is of course focused on the midround players who were very good, yours makes a lot more sense.

The problem I have with people who think that 3rd and 4th round picks don't matter because they often don't pan out is that they simultaneously act as if a high 1st round pick is a sure thing. There's probably about a 50/50 chance that he's even in the league after his rookie deal, and a much smaller chance than that of him being a really good QB. I know that's true for most QB prospects and obviously sooner or later you have to gamble on one. I just think it's the wrong guy at the wrong time and too high a price.

I also hear things like "10 year starter" being mentioned as if that's the goal, and I think - the Bears just had one of those guys, and that wasn't good enough. I will be incredibly disappointed if Trubisky has the equivalent of Jay Cutler's career.

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 3:56pm

The problem is the more draft picks you have, the less problem it is if one doesn't work out. Each pick traded means your other picks have to pan out. You might get lucky and get a Antonio Brown or Richard Sherman with a lower round pick. But you're far more likely to find those players in the third or fourth than later or in free agency.

I don't think it was a bad idea for the Bears to draft Trubisky. It's a good idea to have two QBs with potential battle it out and hope one shines when you don't have a QB. It was just downright, mind-bogglingly stupid to trade up one slot for him. Trubisky, Mahomes, and Watson are all about the same as far as evaluatable potential. If one goes before your pick, it's not a huge problem. The Bears could have kept those picks and hope that one becomes another Steve Smith or Josh Sitton. The Bears have a lot of holes to fill. You are more likely to get better with more shots at prospects.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 6:50pm

I am not a fan of the Texans' trade. Obviously they needed a quarterback, and maybe Watson is the guy. But two firsts and a second is too high a price to pay for anything short of a once-a-decade prospect like Peyton or Luck. There is every chance that Watson is not only useless but damaging, and I say that not as a specific slight on him but a general observation on the imprecision of drafting quarterbacks. The balance of cost/risk/reward does not add up.

by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 2:54pm

I've been saying Garrett and Trubisky would go 1 & 2 since January because I think he has the best qb tape I've seen since Luck, so I'm the one guy that thinks giving a couple of threes and a four is OK.

There's also the rumour that Pace was offering his pick to the Browns on the cheap to stop them offering the niners a good deal, if Trubisky does become a pro-bowl passer then the niners and the Browns look a bit foolish. I think the niners would have preferred to move down further and get even more picks, Pace stopped that from happening.

I would have been happy for the niners to grab him but we've also got the weird situation where we are probably going to get Kirk Cousins next year, so the qb situation will fix itself.

by theslothook :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 3:08pm

It all depends on how much you trust draft scouting. Every year, theres a qb that is unheralded until draft day and gets pushed into the first round and its not always a bust. Carson Wentz was like that last year. I believe Joe Flacco was like that as well.

Forgetting the Cousins fix, did you think they should have taken Mitch?

by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 3:26pm

Without the fortunate prospect of Cousins I'd have taken the passer.

by mehllageman56 :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 3:20pm

Solomon Thomas is going to be good for the Niners. Play him at DE on early downs, throw him inside on passing downs. I realize he didn't get a ton of sacks in college, but the Pac-12 teams knew they had to double team him, and did so constantly. North Carolina didn't, and Trubisky's nightmare happened.

by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 3:32pm

It isn't that I don't like Thomas, I think he'd be a top five pick in most years, I'm just much higher on Trubisky than most and a qb is better value.

I can't complain too much with a good, veteran qb magically appearing next year, a stud DE plus a 2nd and a 3rd in the 2018 draft, it's a decent return.

by mehllageman56 :: Sun, 04/30/2017 - 3:46pm

It's entirely possible they pick first next year. I'd prefer Thomas and Darnold and picks to Trubisky and LSU rusher (can't remember his name) and no picks.