I don’t know whether it’s just me or if the NFL Draft really is a cleverly conceived disguise for a 3-ring circus. It seems like every year, from the day after the Super Bowl to the day of the draft, there’s always something in the news about it; and it’s always the same old stuff: ‘Player X will go first overall because of Reason ‘A’ or ‘Player B has done *insert scenario*. There goes his draft stock!’ Then there are the endless amounts of mock drafts, analysis, more mock drafts……..you see where this is going. It’s a regularly occurring cycle, like the phases of the moon and the Cleveland Browns endless ‘rebuilding phase.’ Nonetheless, it makes for decent reading on the morning commute if, like me, you are inclined to read the sports news at 7.30 am. At some point, it gets to the day before the draft, and people (read: NFL fans) start getting nervous. Who will go first overall? Will it be the guy who EVERYONE has been talking about ALL YEAR? Will a team go rogue and *gasp* choose a quarterback (THE HORROR)? How many teams will do the draft board shuffle just to get a leg up on/fleece the competition? Will Roger Goodell get booed? Spoiler: He did. A lot.
As a Patriots fan, the draft doesn’t really worry me too much mostly because they rarely, if ever, get a pick in the first round anyway (apparently, that’s normal if you win too much!) and because there’s never really a pressing need to get anything special, because they’ll just go out and make splashy trades (Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, etc.)The last few seasons has been spent trying to upgrade the secondary, which, its safe to say, was successful. This year, however, the Pats lost most of their draft picks because of that thing called Deflategate and they off-loaded picks in order to get Cooks, Ealy and Dwayne Allen.
Moving on then: a couple of BIG things happened in the lead up to the draft, one of which started at the Combine back in March. John Ross, out of Washington, led all receivers- the whole draft class in fact- with his 4.22 40 yard dash. The second quickest, 0.06s behind Ross, was Minnesota’s, Jalen Myrick. Before the draft, Ross sent out a tweet challenging Usain Bolt to a race. As yet, Bolt has not replied to this offer.
News broke after the combine that the Oakland Raiders ownership had been officially granted permission to relocate to Las Vegas for the 2018-2019 season; which came hot on the heels of the Chargers relocation to Los Angeles, effective immediately. Vegas must consider themselves pretty lucky gaining both an NHL and NFL franchise in the same year. Adrian Peterson, having spent several months being courted by a few teams, finally signed with the Saints. Two draftees, Alabama’s Reuben Foster and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers were both caught with diluted urine samples (constituting a failed drug test). Their reps said that both were unwell at the time and were flushing their systems with fluids. Nonetheless, both will enter the NFL in Stage 1 of the league’s PED policy. Finally, 24 hours before the draft went live, the will he-won’t he debate surrounding Marshawn Lynch ended with the running back officially coming out of retirement and signing with his hometown Oakland Raiders (soon to be the Las Vegas Raiders, mind you.) What the Seahawks will gain from this is yet to be determined as, at the time of his retirement, Lynch was still under contract with them. On to the main event!
THE FIRST 32
Let’s be honest, after the first round, the draft gets a whole lot more boring. All the interesting (read: high-profile) players get taken here, but if you’re the type of person who can’t resist watching to see if the ‘next Tom Brady’ gets taken in Round 6, then kudos to you. The first round is generally the part where teams trade up or down with their picks, take gambles, and generally try and stiff their rivals (looking at you, 49ers!). Without further ado, here’s your first 32!
- Myles Garrett, DE- Cleveland Browns
- Mitch Trubisky, QB- Chicago Bears
- Solomon Thomas, DE- San Francisco 49ers
- Leonard Fournette, RB- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Corey Davis, WR- Tennessee Titans
- Jamal Adams, S- New York Jets
- Mike Williams, WR- Los Angeles Chargers
- Christian McCaffrey, RB- Carolina Panthers
- John Ross, WR- Cincinnati Bengals
- Patrick Mahomes, QB- Kansas City Chiefs
- Marshon Lattimore, CB- New Orleans Saints
- Deshaun Watson, QB- Houston Texans
- Haason Reddick, LB- Arizona Cardinals
- Derek Barnett, DE- Philadelphia Eagles
- Malik Hooker, S- Indianapolis Colts
- Marlon Humphrey, CB- Baltimore Ravens
- Jonathan Allen, DE- Washington Redskins
- Adoree’ Jackson, CB- Tennessee Titans
- O.J. Howard, TE- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Garett Bolles, OT- Denver Broncos
- Jarrad Davis, LB- Detroit Lions
- Charles Harris, OLB- Miami Dolphins
- Evan Engram, TE- New York Giants
- Gareon Conley, CB- Oakland Raiders
- Jabrill Peppers, S- Cleveland Browns
- Takkarist McKinley, DE- Atlanta Falcons
- Tre’Davious White, CB- Buffalo Bills
- Taco Charlton, DE- Dallas Cowboys
- David Njoku, TE- Cleveland Browns
- T.J. Watt, OLB- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Reuben Foster, LB- San Francisco 49ers
- Ryan Ramczyk, OT- New Orleans Saints
As expected, the Browns did indeed take Myles Garrett with the first overall pick; after that, however, is where things went a bit mental. The ‘9ers and Bears swapped picks 2 and 3, a move which, if you’re a Bears fan, should not have happened, and has left many of them alternatively scratching their heads and uttering expletives. Needless to say, poor Mr Trubisky is facing an uphill battle to win over the Chicago faithful who think he was drafted too high. Bless him, he has been trying; he turned up at the Bulls game, which they proceeded to lose. Whoops! What can I say, I’m rooting for the kid. Tar Heels fan, guilty as charged. Bearing in mind that this year’s crop of QBs were not highly regarded, using the second overall pick on one of them (none were projected to go any higher than 6th or 7th) is incredibly risky, even more so when taking into consideration that the Bears went and signed Mike Glennon to be the main man under centre, or at least that was the assumption. And there was a point in time where the Browns were contemplating taking one of the QBs first overall! Sensible heads evidently prevailed (whether sensible is the most appropriate term to describe the Browns is up for debate.) Either way, that famed Browns jersey will have another name added to it but…….you’ll have to read on to find out whose! (No spoilers here!) Several of the top picks were, possibly, taken lower than perhaps they should have been (Charlton, McKinley, Watt-henceforth to be known in future posts as Watt the Younger) and those whose draft stock fell, namely the aforementioned Peppers and Foster, due to the aforementioned diluted samples. Probably.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Some of the big names picked in Rounds 2 through 6:
33. Kevin King, CB- Green Bay Packers
38. Forrest Lamp, OG- Los Angeles Chargers
41. Dalvin Cook, RB- Minnesota Vikings
47. Tyus Bowser, OLB- Baltimore Ravens
48. Joe Mixon, RB- Cincinnati Bengals
52. DeShone Kizer, QB- Cleveland Browns
53. Teez Tabor, CB- Detroit Lions
59. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE- Kansas City Chiefs
62. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR- Pittsburgh Steelers
87. Davis Webb, QB- New York Giants
106. Amara Darboh, RB- Seattle Seahawks
114. Samaje Perine, RB- Washington Redskins
145. Jake Butt, TE- Denver Broncos
Arguably, some of these guys could have been taken earlier. Many experts predicted that Kizer and Watson would get picked in the first round, which wasn’t the case. But the Browns, unlike the Bears, were willing to wait and take him in the second round, which may have worked out for the best. He’s evidently destined to the Browns starting QB this season. And therefore added to the infamous Browns QB name jersey. (Come on, you didn’t have to wait that long to read it!)
In the case of Mixon, his draft stock tumbled because of his ongoing assault charges; he settled out of court with his victim days before the draft. The second round was full of first-round calibre players taken there because the first round can’t be expanded from 32. But you know, 32 teams, 32 first-round picks. A pick, a piece. Or that’s how it should work. Theoretically.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE QUARTERBACKS
Let’s be honest, this year’s quarterback class was
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME……
(NOT) BORN IN THE USA
Texas A&M’s Jermaine Eleumunor was born in Chalk Farm, London, grew up playing rugby and got into football after seeing the Dolphins-Giants 2007 International Game. He moved to the States at age 14 and started playing high school football in New Jersey. Jermaine went unrecruited by major college programs out of high school and went the more circuitous JUCO route before landing at A&M. His first start was in the Music City Bowl 2 years ago. At the combine, he tied for the second-highest bench-press reps with 34, one more than Myles Garrett. Fellow Brits include the Dolphins’ Jay Ajayi and the Broncos’ Menelik Watson. He’ll return to London this season for a Wembley match-up against Garrett et. al. in October.
I would argue that Canada, strictly speaking, isn’t ‘international’, but for NFL purposes it will have to be. That said, we come to Justin Senior, born in Montreal and military school educated. He spent 3 years at Mississippi State and in 2016 was awarded the Kent Hull trophy given out for the best offensive lineman in Mississippi. Senior was taken in the 6th round, 210th overall, by the Seahawks. He joins a small group of Canucks in the NFL including Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Chiefs), Brett Boyko (Chargers), LP Ladouceur (Cowboys) and two of his Seahawks teammates Jon Ryan and Luke Wilson.
Good luck to both guys flying the Union Jack and Maple Leaf in 2017.
FIVE FABULOUS FACTS
1. 250,000 people attended the draft, setting an NFL draft record.
2. This year’s draft was the first time in its history to take place outdoors. Good on you, Philadelphia!
3. Trey Griffey, son of baseball Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey Jr was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts.
4. QB C.J. Beathard, formerly of the Iowa Hawkeyes, drafted with the 104th pick by the 49ers, is a part of both country music and football royalty. His grandfather is NFL executive Bobby Beathard who oversaw the undefeated 1972 Dolphins and took 6 other teams to the Super Bowl (he won 4). His great-uncle Pete played QB first for the Trojans and then professionally for the Chiefs and Houston Oilers. C.J.’s dad is country music songwriter Casey Beathard (C.J. is Casey Jr.), Daddy is responsible for writing hits for the likes of Trace Adkins and Kenny Chesney. His uncle Kurt is the current OC at Illinois State and his brother Tucker is a country singer. This boy is CONNECTED.
5. Myles Garrett is only the 20th defensive player to be taken 1st overall in the draft. Only 3 have been selected to Canton: Chuck Bednarik, Buck Buchanan and Lee Roy Selmon.