It was a very eventful and surprising three days in Chicago and all teams improved their roster. So now it’s time to look at who benefited most from the draft and who had to come out of it with some form of disappointment. The lists include both teams and players and at the end I put up the biggest steals on this year’s board and which players I thought didn’t present a good enough value at the spot they were taken. None of them are ranked in any particular order.
So after the Super Bowl you leave your championship team to prove you are the missing part on a Texans team, who is trying to make their own run at a title. What else could be better than having Notre Dame’s deep threat Will Fuller, his former teammate center Nick Martin and one of the most electric open field players in Ohio State’s Braxton Miller join the bunch? I don’t think there could be anything. And then on the start of the second day Houston adds a versatile back in Tyler Ervin from San Jose State to the mix, who Osweiler can throw screens and checkdowns to. The Texans clearly try to build their team around their new signal caller and one of the top defenses in the NFL. Brock is probably all smiles right now.
If UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is completely healthy the Jags probably have two of the top three players in the entire draft. Jack has an unbelievable skill set and Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey is a special athlete who can become a shutdown corner in the league, but has the versatility to also slide inside or line up deep and control the field. Although I’m not sure where Jack stands healthwise, I know he will be motivated to prove to all other 31 teams that he should have been a first-rounder. After that they upgraded their pass rush with a talented edge player in Yannick Ngakoue from Maryland and one of the top inside rushers from Notre Dame named Sheldon Day, who both could make an impact early on in sub-packages. Late in the sixth round they added Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen, who I think is an excellent backup. There’s no more ‘Oh that’s just Jacksonville’. No. This is a legit playoff-team.
Analysts were talking about this outstanding Notre Dame linebacker not hearing his name called before day three. Nobody thought he’d go 34th overall other than the Cowboys. I’m extremely happy for him and I think if he gets back to 100% Dallas will not have any regrets making this decision. If he didn’t get injured in the final game of the season he might have been the number one prospect on my board. The Cowboys’ own doctor performed Jaylon’s surgery and has an inside view of him, so they know how big the risk of taking him is, but if this pays off Jerry Jones hits the jackpot.
I thought the Bills got the best players available in rounds one and two while also filling their positions of need. Shaq Lawson is a powerful edge setter, who made a lot of hustle sacks at Clemson and will replace Mario Williams who is now with the Dolphins. Reggie Ragland from Alabama is a big thumper inside, who will pair up well with Preston Brown for an intimidating middle of the defense. In the third round they went with Ohio State’s Adolphus Washington, who is a very good nickel inside rusher with room to improve his run defense. To start day three they selected another Buckeye in quarterback Cardale Jones, who has a huge arm and mobility to see how he can develop. I like the Jonathan Williams and Colby Listenbee pick-ups a lot as well. The Arkansas runner missed this year due to injury, but he’s a powerful runner who can make defenders miss in the open field. Listenbee probably was the fastest player in the entire draft and could make some big plays since Tyrod Taylor loves to rip it. And at the start of the week they signed Rob Gronkowsi’s little brother and a special playmaker in Oklahoma’s outside linebacker Eric Striker, who didn’t have the measurables for the position, but could be played a safety in sub-packages and mainly play as a pass rusher, but also has experience in coverage and is a screen-killer.
The Ohio State University:
After reading the first couple of paragraphs you might have already gotten the theme – there were a lot of Buckeyes drafted. To be more specific – there were an NFL Draft record ten one of them selected in the first three rounds. And if that wasn’t already enough – defensive end Joey Bosa and runningback Ezekiel Elliott went number three and four overall. Head coach Urban Meyer must be extremely proud of his guys, even though at the same time he loses that type of talent from his program.
If we’re honest right now – this guy should make the list every year. I don’t there’s a GM out there who handles the draft better than the Raven’s Wizard of Oz. Even though I had Mississippi’s Laremy Tunsil ranked number one on my list of the top 100 players in the draft (and we don’t have to talk about what caused him to slide down the board), Notre Dame’s tackle Ronnie Stanley is a very gifted athlete with outstanding foot quickness and better run blocking at this point than Tunsil. To start day two Ozzie did what he does – he traded back twice to pick up two more 4th-rounders and still got one of the top edge rushers of his class with Kamalei Correa from Boise State. In round three he picked up another aggressive player off the edge named Bronson Kaufusi from BYU. With another NFL Draft record of five picks in the 4th round the Ravens got a bunch of talented players at positions they needed to upgrade or at least add depth at, including Temple cornerback Tavon Young who probably will compete for the starting nickel job. Three or four team will most likely have a significant impact over the next couple of years. And I absolutely love the pick-up of Navy’s Keenan Reynolds who holds the record for most touchdowns in FBS history and has the change to turn into a terrific return man, who might some day be one of the best slot receivers in the league, depending on how he will serve the Navy.
Moritz Boehringer and European football players:
What a story that wide receiver from Germany was. If you haven’t heard it yet – Boehringer got to know football by a Youtube video of Adrian Peterson and became a Vikings fan before earning German Football League Rookie of the Year honors, exploding onto the scene with a freakish workout and being drafted by his favorite team in the sixth round after a little phone call from Mike Mayock’s and head coach Mike Zimmer. No doubt he’s a special talent and you don’t find a lot of guys with his skill-set, but scouts might follow the European football scene more seriously and find some hidden treasures.
Other teams who really got it done: Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings
I don’t think I had seen any quarterback rankings prior to the draft where Cook wasn’t in the top five and many believed he’d be selected in the second round or maybe even sneak into the late first. In the end he was the 100th pick for an Oakland team that drafted their future QB two years ago. So he had to wait until day three and now won’t have a chance to compete for starting gig. A couple of teams were concerned about him not being named team captain, but he was a winner at Michigan State and had all the traits you look for in a franchise QB. I feel really bad for him, but at the same time I understand the Raiders approach to out. If he’s better than your backup – take him.
Once thought to be a top five pick in this year’s draft, Jack’s last medical checks kicked him out of the first round to pick number 36. The UCLA product is a supreme talent, who can take on blockers, shed them and bring down ball-carriers as well as covering slot receivers one on one, but the medical concerns made for too big a risk for any team to pull the trigger in round one and so he fell to the Jags. The ironic part is he was linked to Jacksonville for most of the draft anyway and they still got him after picking up Jalen Ramsey. That’s great for the team, but Jack lost a lot of dollars in the process.
I think we all know the story of Tunsil’s hacked Twitter account and the video of him smoking pot and with recent incidents forcing players to miss entire seasons nobody wanted to trust his word enough to pick him before the Dolphins did at number 13 overall. I had the Ole Miss tackle rated number one on my top 100 board and if he stays clean off the field I have no doubt he’ll be a perennial Pro Bowler. And he will also have some extra motivation to show everybody why he was so high on so many people’s board. The certain thing is he lost a lot of money and slid five to ten spots because of this.
Alabama defense prospects:
Linebacker Reggie Ragland and the two defensive tackles A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed were all thought to go in the first round, but Ragland slid due to concerns about the health of his heart and both D-linemen were labeled as pure run stuffer without any pass rush skills. Guess the Bama defense wasn’t as good last year as I thought. Okay, let’s be serious again. The new Bills LB was the leader of the top defense in the country and will start in the middle in Buffalo’s defense, Robinson was one of the most gifted athletes in the draft and Reed can’t be moved off his spot and hustles harder than almost any player at his position. And they both were just subbed out in pass-rush situations because the Crimson Tide D had so many guys who could rush the passer, which led to number one in total sacks.
I had this Baylor nose tackle ranked number 25 on my draft board because he was the best run-stuffer in this year’s class and has a terrific ability to lock out offensive linemen. In the end he lasted until the later fourth round until the Bengals took him. I understand that this is a pass-heavy league, but come on – this guy keeps your linebackers free in the run game, has elite power to drive blockers all the way back to the quarterback and the way he chases ball-carriers is crazy for his size. The only real concern with him for me was his ability to read and react to plays, but that comes with coaching and experience.
I have the Panthers on this list simply because of the fact they drafted three cornerbacks in a row after rescinding the franchise tag on Josh Norman. I get that they have a system you can plug in a lot of guys at that position and that they simply wanted to add some guys to the mix, but none of them could nearly replace Josh Norman and I thought none of them presented the right value at the spot they were drafted, so I’d categorize them as reaches. They could have added an edge rusher, someone to help on an offensive lineman that was dismantled in the Super Bowl or a dynamic playmaker on offense, who can create on his own. I’m sure they had those corners all ranked pretty high, but I thought when you looked at these rounds and which players were still on the board you see there were options out there. Yet the signing of a physical safety in Duke’s undrafted Jeremy Cash was great.
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi (13th overall to the Dolphins)
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (36th overall to the Jaguars)
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama (41st overall to the Bills)
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (46th overall to the Lions)
Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama (49th overall to the Seahawks)
Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson (54th overall to the Vikings)
Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech (82nd overall to the Colts)
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (100th overall to the Raiders)
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor (122nd overall to the Bengals)
Devontae Booker, RB, Utah (136th overall to the Broncos)
Christian Westerman, G, Arizona State (161st overall to the Bengals)
Keenan Reynolds, WR/RS, Navy (182nd overall to the Ravens)
Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina (184th overall)
Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky (223rd overall to the Dolphins)
Vadal Alexander, G, LSU (234th overall to the Raiders)
Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia (9th overall to the Bears)
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (10th overall to the Giants)
Keanu Neal, S, Florida (17th overall to the Falcons)
Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (20th overall to the Jets)
Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor (38th overall to the Dolphins)
Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois (44th overall to the Raiders)
Robert Aguayo, K, Florida State (59th overall to the Buccaneers)
James Bradberry, CB, Samford (62nd overall to the Panthers)
Adam Gotsis, DT, Georgia Tech (63rd overall to the Broncos)
Daryl Worley, CB, West Virginia (77th overall to the Panthers)
Cody Kessler, QB, USC (93rd overall to the Browns)