Do you remember when you were a kid, like primary school, and your class would line up to play football at lunch time? You’d get the two best players to be captains, and they’d take it in turns to pick players until you’re left with roughly even teams? Inevitably, the lads that had trials at Oxford United were taken first, and the worst players were left ‘til the end, but eventually a game would get going with 17 players each. In essence, that’s what the NFL Draft is.
The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone and, instead of letting these talented young men try to make it in the pros, tradition dictates that we have to analyse every aspect of it RIGHT NOW. And I’m fine with that, to be honest. Gives me something to talk about. We’ve had a few days to mull everything over, the dust has (partially) settled, I thought now would be a good opportunity to talk about some of the (initial) winners of the 2017 draft. I will address the losers of the NFL Draft in a follow up post, and please remember these are my opinions, which are often terrible.
I’m gonna let you all into a little secret: The San Francisco 49ers are not very good. They have very little talent on either side of the ball. They’re four seasons into one of the most horrendous of Super Bowl hangovers, frankly, I’ve ever seen. And they’re heading into the new season, following a 2-14 season, with a rookie head coach and a General Manager who has spent the best part of a decade as a commentator. That commentator, John Lynch, needed a big draft to prove that he was the man to lead the San Francisco revival. For the most part, Lynch proved himself to be savvy and, above all, worth his title.
The first major piece of business was, amazingly, trading down from #2. The biggest shock of the evening (early, early morning) came roughly 15 minutes into the occasion. San Fran accepted a trade of a 2017 first, third, and fourth round selection, in addition to a 2018 third, for their spot at #2. Knowing they had that extra capital, Lynch traded away a second round pick to get back into the first and select Reuben Foster: one of the classes premier talents.
John Lynch likely didn’t hit on every pick this year, but he carried himself with confidence. He didn’t panic, unlike some we’ll mention a bit later, but he recognised his roster was flawed deeply. In a Cleveland-style, moneyball-lite effort, he created 10 picks for his side. Whether they grow into successes or failures, he’s given his side a great chance to at least improve. A solid effort from the commentator.
Philip Rivers is 56 years old, and has been in the league since before the league formed. The man is likely going to go down as the best Quarterback in Charger history, or certainly up there. Yet the Franchise has done everything it can to get killed before he gets a chance to compete for a Championship again.
Fortunately for him, the move to Los Angeles seems to have awoken a sense of urgency among the front office geniuses. I mean, Rivers is coming off his worst season for interceptions…ever. After carrying the franchise for so long, it’s about time they repaid him in some way. And boy did they.
Operation: Ring for Rivers
The LA Chargers dropped their first round pick on Mike Williams; Wide Receiver out of Clemson. Williams was many draft experts choice as the best receiver available, and Rivers will love having a tall, speedy guy to launch bombs to every week. That, in itself, should, get that interception number down.
Just as important as keeping the ball out of the hands of the opposition is keeping their main man upright. Rivers has never been dropped an obscenely large number of times, but, as he ages well into his 60s, keeping him healthy has to paramount moving forward. Fortunately, they did just that. Incredibly, Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney dropped to the second and third rounds respectively. Into the lap of Tom Telesco they fell, who swiftly claimed both talents. Lamp and Feeney were considered viable starters from day one, and, by taking both, will help keep both Rivers, and his eventual successor, clean for years to come.
Philip must be pretty pleased with what he has around him heading into the next season.
Ok this is a bit of a cop out point, but it umbrellas quite a bit of what I want to say. For the first year in forever, NFL General Managers showed *some* restraint (I say some…I’ll get onto that in part two) when it came to airing their dumb ideas out in the open.
Myles Garrett was the consensus pick as the #1 overall talent. After 14 seasons without post-season football, and a history of making head-poundingly stupid decisions, the Browns could have dived all in on one of the available Quarterbacks. They could have pinned the hopes of a city on that poor man’s shoulders. But, they were restraint. The Browns spent their blessed curse of a draft pick on the best player available, and made their dreadful side better immediately. Cleveland could have picked a QB with their second first round pick, #12. Instead, they traded it to the Texans, and spent THAT pick on Jabrill Peppers: a player I have heard of. They even tied together some of their vast capital and traded back into the first round to pick up David Njoku, their new starting Tight End. The Browns were sensible. And, after years in the wilderness, that’s what they needed.
Smart Situations for Talented QBs
Regarding the main QBs: for at least two of them, things worked out pretty well. The aforementioned Texans have one of the meanest defences in the NFL today. They even have a *pretty good* offence. For so long, the Texans have been the best side in the AFC South, yet they’ve been without a genuinely good QB to compliment their actually good offense. They traded up to select DeShaun Watson, who won games for days with Clemson, and will likely be given the starting job at some point this season. Tom Savage is not the answer, guys. Come on.
Patrick Mahomes was a player who saw his stock rise rapidly in the build up to the NFL Draft. Only a month ago many had him pegged as a second round project. The mans arm strength tickled the interest of many more. Kansas City traded up to #10 to select Mahomes before Arizona, who were rumoured to be interested. They took a guy who clearly needs some work. However, Alex Smith is a fine NFL Quarterback, and will do a serviceable job for the next couple of years while Andy Reid teaches Mahomes how to be accurate.
Between the Browns, the 49ers, even the Jets, a wave of sense crashed over the more terrible teams of recent years. It’s almost as if they’ve looked at the Patriots and the Packers and such, and decided they want to compete. Common sense has prevailed.
The 2017 NFL Draft offered hope to so many teams, and so many more fans, league-wide. Unfortunately, not everyone can take a bite of that sweet, sweet success-garnished cherry pie. In part two, I’ll look at the losers of the NFL Draft. And boy are there some.