By Jason Keidel
It’s rare you see George Patton and Mike Tyson in the same sentence. But both once spoke a similar mantra — we all have a plan until the first bullet/punch lands.
To that end, the 2017 NFL Draft was supposed to be a referendum on the deep pool of defensive talent coming out of college. Instead, seven of the first 10 players picked play on offense.
We were told the Cleveland Browns, who haven’t been relevant in forever, and haven’t had a great QB since before forever, were going to blow their No. 1 pick on the overvalued Mitch Trubisky, passing on Myles Garrett, whom most pundits consider the best player in the draft.
Cleveland, where 1-15 is not an aberration but rather the expectation, actually picked Garrett, ending the weeklong mystery and going against their penchant for implosion. To that end, they make the list of first-round winners.
Browns – Picking Garrett was the best move, the only move. Getting the best player has obvious value, and they got him. They also traded out of the No. 12 pick and got arguably the best athlete in the draft, Jabrill Peppers, with the No. 25 pick. And they picked David Njoku, a rather talented TE, at No. 29. Drafting three players who will start for you right away is definitely a good night.
49ers – San Francisco kicked off the John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan regime by picking two of the 10 best players in the draft, and got one of them at the end of the round. Solomon Thomas was a no-brainer, and the Stanford DE will shore up the defensive line immediately. The shocker was getting the best linebacker in the draft, Reuben Foster, at pick No. 31. Foster has some baggage, including a diluted urine sample and an ejection from the combine after a verbal confrontation. But no one doubts his talent as a tackler or a leader on defense.
Jets – Too often Gang Green is gangrenous, which affords them the solemn regularity of picking in the top 10. But they weren’t given a chance to blow the No. 6 pick because a top-five player fell into their lap. Former LSU safety Jamal Adams fills a need and is, by most accounts, the most pro-ready player in the draft. This should feel familiar to Jets fans, as the same thing happened last year, when USC defensive linemen Leonard Williams was surprisingly available to the Jets. It may be happenstance, but it still counts.
Redskins – Like the Jets, the Redskins lucked into a top talent who wasn’t expected to be available. Jonathan Allen is a fine player and fine person. Provided his shoulders will hold up, he’s a steal at No. 17.
Buccaneers – Like the Jets and Redskins, the Bucs got a lot of value out of their pick. O.J. Howard is a big, talented target for Jameis Winston, and will make an instant impact. And he was easily the best player available.
Titans – Tennessee is on the rise. And they did nothing to change their arc with their two first-round picks. Some feel the Titans overreached by selecting WR Corey Davis with pick No. 5. But they are wideout-starved and have a gifted young QB who needs targets. Maybe some had Clemson WR Mike Williams rated higher, but the Titans have been adept enough of late to get the benefit of the doubt. Tennessee also added another speedster with USC CB Adoree’ Jackson, who is also a potent kick returner.
Bears – If you don’t believe me, ask any Bears fan. Chicago is a somber place today, for good reason. Not only did they pick Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick, they traded up one spot to get him, when there was no evidence they had to. San Francisco showed no interest in the North Carolina QB, yet the Bears recklessly moved up for him. Looking for their first iconic QB since Sid Luckman, Chicago gives new meaning to Bad News Bears.
Chiefs – Rarely does Kansas City find itself on this side of the football ledger, but trading up to pick a player who was projected as a second-round talent, at best, is a head-scratcher. Something, or someone, told the Chiefs that QB Patrick Mahomes was about to be snatched up. Whomever it was, they weren’t on TV over the last month. For a team that so prudently picks players and develops talent, this goes against everything they do and the way we feel about them. Maybe Mahomes turns into the next Len Dawson. Probably not.
Colts – It was painful to watch the seemingly endless loop of missed tackles by Malik Hooker on the inverted highlight reel ESPN played last night. It was equally painful listening to Jon Gruden’s scathing critique of the Ohio State CB, whom Gruden also said was a lower-tier talent, not worthy of the No. 15 pick. The Colts need help just about everywhere but quarterback. So if Hooker is a hit, no one will care what is said today. But given their recent draft history, it’s hard to be too optimistic.
Giants – Like the Chiefs, the Giants don’t often find themselves on the wrong side of the NFL Draft. And the Giants have six more rounds to make it right. But they blew it last night. Not only was TE Evan Engram an overreach at No. 23, he wasn’t even the best tight end available. That would’ve been Njoku, who lasted until No. 25. (How often do you hear that the Browns outmaneuvered the Giants?) And if the Giants were that desperate for a TE, why not trade up a few spots and get O.J. Howard, who was still available at No. 19? It’s hard to believe the team that once had Mark Bavaro picked a TE who doesn’t block. It’s harder to reconcile that the same franchise smart enough to draft Odell Beckham Jr was lazy enough to draft Engram.
Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports. He is a native New Yorker, sans the elitist sensibilities, and believes there’s a world west of the Hudson River. A Yankees devotee and Steelers groupie, he has been scouring the forest of fertile NYC sports sections since the 1970s. He has written over 500 columns for WFAN/CBS NY, and also worked as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated and Newsday subsidiary amNew York. He made his bones as a boxing writer, occasionally covering fights in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but mostly inside Madison Square Garden. Follow him on Twitter @JasonKeidel.
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