2017 NFL Draft: First Round Grades

Mitchell Trubisky stands with Roger Goodell after being drafted by the Chicago Bears #2 overall. (Getty Images)

Wow, what a day. Round one of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books and it was a crazy day. Lots of trades, lots of quarterbacks, and lots of things to react to. In this post I’ll go pick by pick and grade these on face value. That’s all we can do until we see them on the field come September.

First Round Grades

#1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett – DE / Texas A&M
I’m really glad that they didn’t actually go quarterback here. Garrett is a rare freak of nature at the position and has hall of fame potential. No problem with his perceived motor issues, you can’t go every play 100% in the college game.
Grade: A+

#2. Chicago Bears: Mitchell Trubisky – QB / North Carolina
What can I say about this. I spent a good 5 minutes just laughing at the Bears for what they gave up to move up one spot and take this player. Sure, I thought the Browns would trade back into the top 5 to get him, but they never signed a QB in the offseason to a deal worth $15 million a year. The Bears only moved up one spot, but gave up two 3rd rounders and a 4th round pick to get an average prospect. Way too much for a big time reach.
Grade: D

#3. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas – DE / Stanford
John Lynch had an amazing start to his draft career as a general manager. He was able to steal a huge haul from the Bears, and STILL get the guy he likely would have drafted at #2. They’ve been saying that they wanted to trade down for weeks, and have been leaking their interest in Trubisky in that same time frame. The Bears bought it, and the Niners took advantage.
Grade: A+

#4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette – RB / LSU
The Jags might have a top 5 pick, but they don’t have a lot of needs. There wasn’t an offensive lineman worth a top 5 pick this year, so get the best offensive player on the board that can help Blake Bortles.
Grade: A

#5. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis – WR / Western Michigan
The Titans only have this pick because of their trade with the Rams last season. It was clear that they needed a #1 receiver for Marcus Mariota, and that’s what they got. #5 might be a little high for my taste, but there’s no denying his talent. Grade gets a slight downgrade because of where they drafted him, but they got their guy that might not have been there at 18.
Grade: B+

#6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams – S / LSU
At 6 this was an early contender for steal of the draft. When Adams took his meeting with the Jets the quote that came out was, “Why are you even here?” They obviously didn’t think he would make it to them at 6, but they’re sure glad he did. They get a do it all safety, and they desperately needed help in the secondary.
Grade: A+

#7. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams – WR / Clemson
Wide receiver wasn’t the biggest need for this team, it’s defensive back and offensive line, but it’s clear they don’t think they can count on Keenan Allen much longer. I thought from the start that Williams was the best receiver in this draft. He’s a big guy that can catch anything that comes his way, make big plays, and is usually the favorite to get those 50/50 balls. Philip Rivers is smiling tonight.
Grade: A

#8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey – RB / Stanford
This was a pretty easy one to predict for the last week or so. McCaffrey rose quickly during the process because of his insane athletic ability. Carolina can move him anywhere around their offense and be productive. I also think I’m a bit higher than most on his ability to run between the tackles as well, he’s no scat back.
Grade: A

#9. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross – WR / Washington
I like John Ross, I really do, but this is a reach. If Davis and Williams hadn’t gotten drafted in the top 10 I think they go with one of them, but Ross has pretty big injury concerns. He’s had shoulder surgery, surgery on BOTH of his knees, and he has hamstring issues. When he’s on the field I’m sure he’ll be electric opposite of AJ Green, but I’m not sure if they’ll be able to count on him to stay healthy.
Grade: C+

#10. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes II – QB / Texas Tech
The Chiefs gave up a lot to jump from 27 to 10 and get their quarterback of the future. Mahomes has drawn comparisons to Brett Favre because of his gunslinger mentality, and not many guys know that kind of quarterback more than Andy Reid. Mahomes has gone into a perfect situation to grow, but he’ll also have to face the pressure of being the first quarterback to ever have NFL success out of the Texas Tech air raid system.
Grade: C

#11. New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore – CB / Ohio State
Everyone knew coming in that the Saints needed to draft heavily on defense. I was surprised that the best corner in the draft fell into their lap, but I’m sure the Saints were rushing to get that pick in once they saw him fall. Another contender for steal of the draft.
Grade: A

#12. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson – QB / Clemson
I LOVE this pick. Houston is just a quarterback away from being a legit Super Bowl contender, and now I think they have one. I think O’Brien knew that they had to get in front of Arizona once they saw Kansas City make the jump to 10. Watson is a big time player that always rises in the big time games, and I think he’ll start from day one and help them win. Well worth the trade up.
Grade: A

#13. Arizona Cardinals: Haasan Reddick – LB / Temple
One thing we know about the Cardinals, they love their athletes on the defensive side of the ball. He rose to prominence because of his workouts at the combine and his pro day, but he is a versatile player as well. I’m sure they’ll play him inside and outside, and use him to complement Chandler Jones on the pass rush. The Cardinals would have loved to draft either Mahomes or Watson at this slot, but with both of them gone, they add to the defense that lost the most defensive snaps in free agency this year.
Grade: B+

#14. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrick Barnett – DE / Tennessee
I think it’s kind of fitting that an Eagles team that needs help with their pass rush, drafted the player that broke Reggie White’s career sack record at Tennessee. He doesn’t have perform as well as others at the combine, but some players are better in pads than they are in workouts. I thought he could have gone as high as 9, so this is a good range for Barnett.
Grade: B

#15. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker – S / Ohio State
Analysts were skeptical about Hooker’s range going into this draft. He could have gone as high as 5 to Tennessee, but he his severe hamstring issues forced him to fall. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a great fit for the Colts defense, who have needs everywhere on that side of the ball.
Grade: A

#16. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey – CB / Alabama
This really does feel like a classic Ravens fit right here. A physical corner on the line of scrimmage that’s good in press coverage. The Ravens needed a 2nd corner and got one of the best in this draft.
Grade: A-

#17. Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen – DE / Alabama
Allen fell in the draft due to concerns about his shoulders, but if not for that, he’d be a top 5 pick. Last year Washington was held back by their defense, and Allen will be a big time addition. Contender #3 for steal of the draft.
Grade: A

#18. Tennessee Titans: Adoree’ Jackson – CB / USC
I’m surprised that Jackson went this high, fitting that Tennessee did that twice in this draft. Jackson is a playmaker on defense and in the return game and he is a speed demon. I trust that Dick LeBeau will put him all over the field and give him a lot of opportunities to succeed.
Grade: B-

#19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OJ Howard – TE / Alabama
In my first mock draft I had Howard going here to Tampa, but as the process went along it seemed like his stock was really on the rise. He can be a playmaker in the passing game, but is also really good as a run blocker. Giving Jameis Winston another weapon is a really good idea. I hadn’t heard this before the draft, but with these traits he reminds me of Martellus Bennett. Contender #4 for steal of the draft.
Grade: A+

#20. Denver Broncos: Garrett Bolles – OT / Utah
The Broncos #1 need was absolutely the offensive line. I would have went with Cam Robinson or Ryan Ramczyk, and I think Bolles is the #3 lineman in this draft, but it’s not like there was a ton separation between the three.
Grade: B

#21. Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis – LB / Florida
The Lions cut longtime middle linebacker De’Andre Levy this offseason, so they needed to fill this position. Davis is a sideline to sideline guy, that reminds me of Levy.
Grade: B+

#22. Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris – DE / Missouri
Harris had really productive years rushing the passer at Missouri, and after the Mario Williams experience didn’t workout last year, the Dolphins needed help. Anything that can help them get to Tom Brady is a good thing.
Grade: B

#23. New York Giants: Evan Engram – TE / Ole Miss
I had the Giants taking an offensive lineman with this pick, but they decided to bolster their passing attack. Engram may be a tight end, but when Mike Mayock started comparing him to Mike Evans, I got really excited for this team. If he can be a Jordan Reed type of tight end, he’ll tear up that division.
Grade: A-

#24. Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley – CB / Ohio State
I was shocked that Conley ended up staying as a first round pick. Whether it ends up being true or not, you get tagged with a rape accusation days before the draft, most times you don’t end up getting drafted, never mind staying in the first round. Raiders obviously did their homework, but I still have pause with him until we know the full story and the truth comes out.
Grade: C

#25. Cleveland Browns: Jabrill Peppers – LB / Michigan
Sure the diluted sample at the combine might have hurt his stock, but there were questions heading into the draft about his fit in the NFL. Will he play linebacker or safety? Either way, I’m a believer in his talent. He was a playmaker at Michigan and I think defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will have fun moving him around his defense.
Grade: B

#26. Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley – DE / UCLA
The Falcons needs were offensive line and a pass rusher to pair with Vic Beasley. McKinley has injury concerns, but he’s an athletic freak that can rush the passer. Good fit here in Atlanta, that traded up to get him so he wouldn’t get picked by Dallas or Green Bay.
Grade: B+

#27. Buffalo Bills: Tre’Davious White – CB / LSU
I really like this pick. After losing Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots in free agency, they needed to find his replacement. I thought they could have stayed at 10 and took a guy like Marlon Humprhey, but White is still a good pick at 27. Bills did good today.
Grade: B+

#28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton – DE / Michigan
Jerry Jones during the process said they needed a “war-daddy” pass rusher. Not sure Charlton exactly fits that mold, but he’ll certainly step in and help a defense that had a hard time getting to the quarterback last season.
Grade: B

#29. Cleveland Browns: David Njoku – TE / Miami (FL)
The Browns traded back into the first round to give them their third selection of the day. I thought they would have went for Dalvin Cook, but they still gave their future quarterback a weapon to work with. If San Francisco won the day (as I thought they did), then Cleveland was #2.
Grade: A

#30. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt – LB / Wisconsin
Consider me pleasantly surprised that Watt ended up being drafted in the first round. I love the fact that he went to Pittsburgh. Being able to learn from James Harrison will be awesome, and I’ll be watching a lot of Steelers games this season. That being said, I think he has lots of room to grow, he’ll prove to be more than a one year wonder, and if he ends up being half of what his brother JJ is, it’ll be a steal at the back end of the first round.
Grade: A-

#31. San Francisco 49ers: Reuben Foster – LB / Alabama
John Lynch had himself a day. First he robbed the Bears, and then he traded back into the first round to get the best linebacker in the draft. Even with the news of the diluted sample, I thought there was no way he’d fall past Washington at 17. The 49ers are the clear winners of round one.
Grade: A+

#32. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Ramczyk – OT / Wisconsin
Well what do you know, another Badgers offensive lineman gets drafted in the first round. They may have their left tackle position set instone, but he can still step in right away at right tackle and help Drew Brees in the passing game, as well as Adrian Peterson in the running game. I also thought that Ramczyk was the best offensive lineman in this draft, that could have gone as high as 9 when the process started.
Grade: A


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