With the 2017 NFL draft a few weeks behind us and rookie mini camps over, I decided to start a 3-part series where I will look back and give my six favorite and least favorite draft classes. Of course you shouldn’t judge a draft class till after three years later, but I’m going to break that rule. I’ll also give my favorite pick from each round of the draft in the final installment.
First lets look at the six best draft classes. Each class was valued for me based on either filling critical teams well or how well they selected players against my “100 players scouted board”.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 27, 2017
1. Cleveland Browns
For once, the Browns made the smart decision and didn’t reach for a quarterback, despite the Mitch Trubisky rumblings leading up to draft night. Taking Myles Garrett first overall was the right move. Then trading back 13 spots to net themselves another first round pick in the 2018 draft was another excellent move. Selecting Jabrill Peppers at 25 is a perfect fit for Greg Williams’ defensive system. Trading back into the first round to jump the division rival Steelers for David Njoku gives them another explosive weapon to go with Corey Coleman.
After not grabbing a quarterback in round one; stopping DeShone Kizer’s slide at pick 52 was a smart investment. If Kizer plays well as a rookie this pick might be a steal. If he flops, the spot they picked him at is low enough to not stop them from drafting a new quarterback in 2018.
Drafting Roderick Johnson and Caleb Brantley in the fifth and sixth rounds respectively could end up being major steals. Johnson is very raw but has the athletic upside to potentially be Joe Thomas’ replacement in a few years. Brantley fell due to an off the field issue that since has cleared up. If not for the issue, he would have been a day two pick which makes him nothing but a steal in the sixth round. Overall they drafted six players on my 100 players scouted board and are continuing to rebuild this franchise back into relevancy.
It was just a glimpse. But, man, @CHenderson_2‘s potential was on display midway through today’s practice. 📰 » https://t.co/jNIuaSdmW7 pic.twitter.com/j8vgpDttIB — Denver Broncos (@Broncos) May 25, 2017
2. Denver Broncos
Every draft talking head expected the Broncos to take an offensive tackle in the first round. There was even a rumor floating around right before the draft that the Broncos would have to trade up to get their choice of tackle. Instead, the board fell to them perfectly as they got their choice of tackle at 20 overall with Garett Bolles; also my number one offensive tackle.
DeMarcus Walker at pick 51 was solid value, despite what most draft experts would say. While he will need to add some weight, he has the non-stop motor needed to play the defensive end spot in their 3-4 defense.
Carlos Henderson gives the team options should they decide to move on from either Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders after the season and was a good selection at pick 82.
Jake Butt at pick 145 might be the steal of the draft. If not for coming off a torn ACL, Butt would have been a top 75 pick. Now he solves a position that has been in flux for years.
Picking Chad Kelly as the Mr. Irrelevant pick might seem as a favor from John Elway to buddy Jim Kelly; Chad’s uncle. But actually, Kelly might be the most talent quarterback on the roster. Kelly fell in the draft due to injury concerns and long list off poor decisions off the field. It’s not likely, but if Kelly can get his situation together and become more mature, he has a shot to be the franchise quarterback in a few years. Crazy to think Mr. Irrelevant could be a franchise quarterback? Yes. Impossible? No way! Overall they drafted five players on my 100 players scouted board.
3. Detroit Lions
For a team that spent big money in free agency on the offensive line, it was smart to invest heavily in the draft on defense. Grabbing Jarrad Davis at pick 21 and Teez Tabor at 53 solved two on-going problems for their defense. Both former Gators had first round grades from me and should be day one starters.
Stealing Brad Kaaya at pick 215 was very smart. I’m not sure why Kaaya fell that far, but he gives the Lions a solid backup quarterback on a very cheap deal. With a strong performance in the preseason over the next season or two Kaaya could be traded to a quarterback needy team for more draft currency then his sixth round pick. Overall they drafted three players on my 100 players scouted board.
4. Indianapolis Colts
What a draft haul for them! Somehow Malik Hooker slid to them at pick 15 and that was a steal. Hooker was getting top seven talk before the draft but slid due to a hip injury. Hooker was the number three overall player on my board and single handily improves the defense as a rookie.
Selecting Quincy Wilson at pick 46 was critical as the team lacked a starting caliber cornerback opposite of Vontae Davis.
Tarell Basham at pick 80 was the best pick of the round. While raw he showed flashes of being a great pass rusher and compares well to Ryan Kerrigan. After signing a few veteran pass rushers in free agency Basham won’t be forced to do too much as a rookie.
Grabbing Marlon Mack at pick 143 gives them a legit backup to Frank Gore who can provide more of a passing threat and has home run ability. Overall they drafted five players on my 100 players scouted board.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
They sent a clear message with this draft: We are supporting and not replacing Philip Rivers. They never took a quarterback in the draft; as they shouldn’t have. Instead, their first three picks will substantially help Rivers out this season. Mike Williams at pick 7 gives Rivers a redzone and jump ball playmaker I fully expect to get seven plus touchdowns as a rookie. Given the injury history to Keenan Allen, Williams will give Rivers a legit number one receiver if Allen goes down again.
Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney at picks 38 and 71 respectively both went a round later than I expected and graded. Both are steals and will start at both guard spots as rookies. Rivers was one of the most pressured quarterbacks last season and those two big bodies will reduce that number.
Grabbing Desmond King at pick 151 was puzzling; why didn’t he go sooner? The Chargers don’t care as King should end up being a starter at either safety or cornerback by mid-season. Without a doubt this was the best pick of the round. King almost declared last season and was a fringe first round prospect, so to grab him in the fifth is just crazy. Overall they drafted four players on my 100 players scouted board.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) May 21, 2017
6. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles draft started out very well. Grabbing Derek Barnett at pick 14 gives them more depth and talent coming off the edge. I would be surprised he isn’t starting by mid-season. Sidney Jones would never been available at pick 43 if not for an Achilles injury. Before the injury he was a target for the Eagles at pick 14; assuming he made it that far. Both Barnett and Jones (pre-injury) were top 10 prospects for me so for the Eagles to get both was amazing. Overall they drafted two players on my 100 players scouted board, but two of the best.