By Bryan Dietzler
I am one of the millions of people that watched/kept track of the 2017 NFL Draft a couple of weeks ago, and I must admit, it was a real roller coaster ride. Being a Bears fan, it was a wild ride for me and Bears’ fans at the start of the draft. I was present at the Bear’s draft party at Soldier Field the night of the first round, and it was a pretty interesting experience. That’s a story for another day.
As a football fan, I love the NFL Draft. It’s my “Football Christmas” so to speak. I write about it, I spend hours evaluating players both on tape and in person, and I read up on as many players as possible. So when it comes time for the draft, I am very interested in what happens, especially in the first round.
I went back and watched the draft again and saw picked up on a few interesting things. I also looked at each pick and noticed a few things. After speculating the last few months on the draft, I felt that there were some surprises and “strange” things that happened. I know that there are some things that were easy to spot while there were a few others that people might not have noticed.
So, after spending some time re-watching the draft and comparing some of what I had predicted to what happened, I came up with some conclusions. The following are a few notes and observations from the draft and what my opinions about them are.
- The trade up one spot by the Chicago Bears to take Mitchell Trubisky wasn’t as bad as initially thought. I won’t get into the numbers here unless asked but the Bears didn’t “overpay” by much to get him. If they did overpay, the overpaid by one pick, next year’s third rounder. If he works out, the move will be labeled as great. But if he stumbles, Bear’s general manager Ryan Pace will lose his job and never work as a GM again. DeShone Kizer went about where he should have. I had Kizer pegged for a late first to early second round pick but looking at where the other quarterbacks went in this draft, Kizer may have been right to go in the second round. And if he works out in Cleveland, he could be a steal. He’s one to watch over the next few years.
- Positive drug tests, for the most part, don’t really matter when it happens to top tier talent. If you recall, just a few days before the draft it was announced that Ruben Foster and Jabrill Peppers had tested positive for drugs at the NFL scouting combine. You may have thought that they would have dropped out of the first round as a result. But while they may have fallen a little, they did not drop out of the first round. Perhaps a promise from the player that they would “never do it again” was all it took to get drafted? I am not sure but I would have thought their draft stock might have taken a bigger hit.
- Brad Kaaya could the steal of the draft. I was high on Kaaya from the start and thought he should have been considered one of the top quarterbacks in the draft (number five of the top five). He slid a ways in the draft and landed with the Detroit Lions in the sixth round. Yes, the sixth round! If he can find his way onto the field and get a foothold (he may not be able to do this in Detroit unless Matthew Stafford gets injured) he could end up being a decent starter. And if he can get in the right situation he could be a solid starter for several seasons.
- Both Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery were selected early in the first round. After that, there wasn’t another running back selected until the second round. Some might think that this was because the NFL is becoming a passing league but good running backs can be taken in later rounds and teams are willing to wait a little longer for one. To go along with this, Dalvin Cook’s slide to the second round surprised some. But, it’s been said that he had some off the field issues that caused him to fall. He could be a true steal if he can keep his nose clean.
- Only two offensive linemen were taken in the first round after some thought there could be four or five taken. Maybe there just wasn’t a need? Maybe the talent just wasn’t there? There were some questions surrounding Alabama’s Cam Robinson whom many thought was a first-round lock. He fell out of the first round. While it’s not unusual, it shows a shift towards teams taking defensive players which were abundant in this draft. With defenses trying to keep up with offenses that evolving quickly and getting harder to stop, defensive players are at a premium.
- Jonathan Allen dropped in the first round but why? When draft speculation began, in earnest after the Super Bowl, draft pundits had Allen as the second or third pick in the draft. Right up until the draft, experts felt he could easily go to Chicago or at least in the top five. But he slid all the way down to the Washington Redskins at number 17. Why? There was some concern about his shoulders and signs of arthritis in those shoulders. That may have caused him to tumble. Some players in previous years have shown signs of degeneration in their joints and have shorter than normal playing careers because of it. The issues with his shoulders may have scared some teams off. But those teams may regret passing him by.
- Chad Kelly, the nephew of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, was the last player picked in the draft. As a result, he is also known as Mr. Irrelevant. Why did Kelley get picked at the end of the draft? He had some personal issues that may have caused him to drop in the draft including some issues with fighting. The Denver Broncos decided to take a chance on him and added him with a low-risk pick. Will Kelly be able to show the rest of the NFL that they were wrong in leaving him until last? Time will tell but seeing what Kelley can do could be something interesting for the future.
- I brought up Mitchell Trubisky before but I wanted to touch on the quarterbacks that were taken in the first round of the draft. Sure, Trubisky might have been a reach at number two but there are some people that feel that DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes may have been reaches where they went also. After watching these quarterbacks play on tape, this writer felt that there wasn’t a single one that deserved to go in the first round. But the supply didn’t meet the demand and quarterbacks started coming off the board early. It will be interesting to see how these guys do with the teams that picked them. Will they be worth their lofty draft status?
- The Buffalo Bills may have gotten a future starter at quarterback with Nathan Peterman taken who they drafted at the 173rd spot. The Bills can groom Peterman to eventually take over for Tyrod Taylor. Peterman may even see some action in the near future if Taylor doesn’t work out. The Bills haven’t been too happy with Taylor either, so perhaps, when they feel Peterman is ready, he could get a shot at starting. Stay tuned.
- For all of the prognostication done over the weeks before the draft and after listening to all of the talking heads, I have come to some conclusions. First of all, the best draft magazine or draft publication out there has to be Ourlad’s. Their player profiles are right on point, they are clear and make a lot of sense. I also feel they are very accurate. It’s very nice reading and they are the experts. For the best draft guy on television or the internet, I think that this year Bucky Brooks did very well. The information he put out was very easy to understand, and I agreed with much of what he said. And I think that he was right about a lot of what happened in the 2017 NFL Draft.