A local writer here in Jacksonville was more optimistic about the direction the Cleveland Browns traveled in last night’s first round of the NFL Draft.
“Well, I’ll be in the minority here. But reaching for a QB was exactly what the previous Browns regimes would have done. Next year is considered the QB class. Build the defense. Having a better QB this year is the difference between 3-13 and 4-12.”
The Browns did well to get Myles Garrett with the first pick, then traded back, sending fans into a frenzy. Coming away with Jabrill Peppers at safety and David Njoku to play tight end were solid moves. But the question still remains, who throws the football in 2017?
There were strong rumors the Browns were in contact with Washington to acquire Kirk Cousins. It never materialized. The Browns gave up the first pick in the second round, but still, have a plethora of selections on Day 2 and 3.
The first round of the NFL Draft was as crazy a night as anyone can remember. Three trades to take three signal callers. The fact Jonathan Allen and Malik Hooker fall to the middle of the round and Reuben Foster landed in San Francisco with the 31st pick. How in the world do you explain those kinds of things? Really, you can’t.
There were some very good picks and some selections and moves that still have me scratching my head. That isn’t as bad as some fans, who may have punched a few walls or spilled their drink watching their teams take a tumble or forget how to draft players in the first place.
Here is a look at four winners and five losers from the first round of the NFL Draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars – The trade between Chicago and San Francisco made the team’s hierarchy sweat a bit. The Jaguars got the best running back in this draft and should help take the pressure off the passing game. Fournette is big, thick and can move through the middle of the defense. He will be this year’s, Zeke Elliott.
San Francisco 49ers – What general manager John Lynch did to Chicago last night should be illegal. The 49ers moved down one spot and still got Solomon Thomas. The Bears got Mitchell Trubisky after they signed Mike Glennon in free agency. The 49ers’ defense will be better this year. Chicago will have a quarterback controversy from Day 1 of training camp. Adding Reuben Foster at No. 31 was shrewd.
Cleveland Browns – They got Myles Garrett and then moved down to acquire picks. Jabrill Peppers was a solid move. He could be the strong safety this team needs for the next decade. The team then moved back into the first round, grabbed tight end David Njoku and could find a signal caller in the second or third round. The Browns finally changed their draft plan. Hence, they are building a winner.
Houston Texans – Or should we say, Deshaun Watson. The Texans gave up the 25th pick this year and next year’s first and second round picks to grab Watson, who fits the Houston system. This is a team that is a quarterback short of being a playoff contender. Watson was the best quarterback in this class. Houston knew it needed a signal caller over every other position and took a gamble that will pay off.
New Orleans Saints – The theory of letting the Draft come to them paid off. The Saints got Marshon Lattimore at No. 11. The move helps solidify the secondary. Many were projecting Lattimore to be as high as the second pick in this draft. The ability to grab Ryan Ramczyk at No. 32 will help provide depth at tackle. The massive tackle from Wisconsin moves into the starting spot and helps protect Drew Brees while providing better blocking for an improved running game.
Forrest Lamp – The Western Kentucky player shuffled down the draft board because of an early run on wide receivers and three quarterbacks grabbed earlier than expected. Nevertheless, the massive guard will be one the first players taken on Day 2. However, he should have been taken in the first 32 picks. Lamp is an All-Pro player waiting to happen.
Chicago Bears – Someone tricked the Bears into thinking they wanted to come up and grab Mitchell Trubisky and gave up draft picks to move up one spot. Say what? That never happens in the NFL. Trubisky goes into camp knowing the team signed Mike Glennon and may wait a year to start. That’s an awfully big risk for taking a signal caller with the second selection. Also, the Bears had plenty of needs on the defensive side of the ball. Jamal Adams was there. And the team could still have traded back to the North Carolina signal caller.
Dalvin Cook, Carolina Panthers – He is still on the board while the Panthers grabbed Christian McCaffrey at No. 8. However, I am not sure what kind of shelf life McCaffrey has in the NFL. For one thing, Cook is a dynamic runner who has breakaway speed. This might be the one “competition” to watch as Cook will get drafted in the second round and have a better career than the kid from Stanford. I’m not sure what the Panthers saw in this. They could have traded back or taken Joe Mixon in Round 2.
Oakland Raiders – This is such a “Raiders” move. The team grabs Gareon Conley despite the rumors of sexual assault. Oakland will have a massive media circus on its hands from the start. If Conley, who has proclaimed his innocence from the start, is arrested or found guilty, the firestorm of criticism begins. Conley is a great talent, but he also has a lot to prove on and off the field.
Alabama Players – The Crimson Tide produce plenty of NFL talent. Although this year, they fell to the middle and back part of the first round. Marlon Humphrey at 15 to Indianapolis. Jonathan Allen at 17 to Washington. OJ Howard at 19th to Tampa Bay and Reuben Foster to San Francisco at No. 31. All four of these players helped Nick Saban win national titles and were arguably the best at their positions in this draft. It will be fun to watch if they all prove to be better than those stars drafted before them.