PHILADELPHIA — The 2017 NFL Draft was labelled as unpredictable, and that held true throughout Thursday night.
As always, some teams handled the chaos and pressure better than others. Here are the most notable winners and losers of the first round.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers need to rebuild their defense because the unit that led them to three straight NFC Championship Game appearances from 2011 through 2013 mostly is gone.
Well, the 49ers are on track to a successful retooling after selecting Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas at No. 3 and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster at No. 31. Thomas has the skill and strength to be an excellent run stopper, while Foster brings great athleticism and tackling to the linebacker corps. Foster nearly fell to the second round because of off-field and health worries, but the 49ers smartly traded up at a low cost to take a chance on a top-10 talent.
By trading down from No. 2 to No. 3 in a deal with the Chicago Bears, the 49ers also acquired 2017 third- and fourth-round picks, as well as a 2018 third-rounder. San Francisco can use these selections to make even more improvements to its defense Friday and Saturday.
Hey, the Browns actually had a very solid first round. Myles Garrett was an easy selection No. 1 overall. The Texas A&M defensive end projects to be an elite pass rusher, which the Browns have lacked for nearly their entire second stint in the NFL.
The Browns traded down from No. 12 to No. 25, where they took Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers to shore up a weak secondary that struggled to tackle well last season. Cleveland then traded back into the first round to take Miami tight end David Njoku at No. 29. Njoku was the second-best tight end in this class, and he adds pass-catching ability and athleticism Cleveland previously lacked at the position. He’s also a legitimate red-zone threat.
Cleveland made three first-round selections Thursday night and still has two first-rounders and two second-rounders in 2018 to dangle in other moves. That’s a good position to be in.
The Colts must have been ecstatic when Ohio State safety Malik Hooker — arguably the best defensive back in this class — fell in their lap at No. 15. Hooker tackles well, covers quality receivers and lowers the boom with crushing hits.
Hooker had seven interceptions last season, while the Colts had just eight as a team. He also found the end zone more often than most safeties.
He’ll bring a swagger and toughness to the Colts secondary not seen since Bob Sanders ran that unit.
New Orleans Saints
Instead of trading for New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, the Saints used the No. 11 pick on talented Ohio State corner Marshon Lattimore. New Orleans also found value at No. 32 with Wisconsin right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who could start next season and was one of the two or three best offensive linemen in this class.
These were two safe, smart picks by the Saints in Round 1.
The best conference in the nation sent eight defensive players from five different schools to the pros in Round 1. That’s pretty impressive.
No. 1: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
No. 6: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
No. 14: Derek Barnett, LB, Tennessee
No. 16: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
No. 17: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
No. 22: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
No. 27: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
No. 31: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Is Mitchell Trubisky really worth giving up two third-round picks (one in 2017 and another in 2018) and a 2017 fourth-round pick to move up only one spot from No. 3 to No. 2? The short answer is no.
Trubisky is a risk. Sure, he has excellent physical tools and threw 30 touchdowns with just six interceptions for North Carolina last season, but his 13-game sample size as a starter is pretty small. Signing longtime backup Mike Glennon in free agency didn’t make much sense, but this pick might make even less sense. Chicago has added two quarterbacks who aren’t likely to be franchise players, while not addressing serious needs on defense. The Bears also have fewer draft picks to fill those roster holes over the next two days because of the Trubisky trade.
The Florida State running back tallied more than 2,200 total yards and 20 total touchdowns last season. You could even make the case he’s better than Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, who went to the Carolina Panthers at No. 8. However, Cook wasn’t selected Thursday as teams opted for tight ends and defensive players in the second half of the first round. He should be among the first players taken in Round 2, though.
Utah left tackle Garett Bolles (Broncos, No. 20) and Wisconsin right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (Saints, No. 32) were the only offensive lineman taken in Round 1. It broke a streak of at least two offensive linemen being selected in the top 10 in each of the last four drafts.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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