NFL Draft: Top 15
It feels like this is said every single year, but trying to predict the draft this year seems to be a complete crapshoot. Universally, it seems that this year there is one consensus can’t miss player (even he has had holes poked in his game the past 2 weeks) and a bunch of solid, potentially Pro Bowl caliber players behind that. The general perception of the draft is this:
- A constant battle between two schools of thought: either there are no QB’s worth a first round draft pick or four depending on who you typically read (even though we all know 2 or 3 will go round 1)
- A solid top 2 or 3 Running backs, with some good later round options filling out the rest of the draft
- An entire class of good, but not great wide outs.
- A terrible offensive line class
- A solid group of defensive lineman
- An amazing group of pass rushers
- Solid, but question mark laden group of linebackers
- Literally 15 defensive backs (20 if you include safeties) that are worthy of a round 1 pick.
- Probably no 2nd round kickers (looking at you disapprovingly Tampa Bay)
The purpose of this post is to take a step back and (mostly) objectively look at the draft in three terms: what are the dream scenarios, the fan complacency picks (meaning fans won’t try to root for a new team or boo on draft night), and the nightmare scenario for each team in the top 15 of the 2017 NFL Draft.
I do want to point something out. Obviously, every team in the first round would be psyched if Myles Garrett fell to them in the first round. But since he is most likely going with the first pick (don’t be idiots Cleveland), that is where I stop projecting him. At some point, I work under the assumption the player is gone, and I move on to looking at other players and how they fit for those teams.
This should go without saying, but all of this information is coming from what I’ve seen projected to teams and what I’ve looked into in the rumor mill. Once I’ve looked at it all, I apply a modest amount of common sense to come up with the list you see below. Anything in this article that actually proves correct is purely luck and ammunition that I should be running a front office by 2020 at the latest.
|Team||Dream Scenario||Complacency Pick||Nightmare|
|1. Cleveland||Myles Garrett||Trade Down||Mitch Trubisky|
|Analysis:||The keep it simple stupid pick of the draft. Probably the best player in the last 2 classes.||Honestly, most Browns fans would be pissed about this. But it’s hard to fault them for capitalizing on Garrett and filling more holes on the roster||I know a lot of lifelong Browns fans. A lot of them are generally sad, but optimistic on draft night. This may literally cause them to light Lake Eerie on fire again.|
|For the love of God Cleveland, don’t fuck this up. Literally, take the transcendent pass rusher. It doesn’t matter if you have a good defensive line. Literally, the last time this happened, some dude named Gabbert was picked before some dude named Watt. DON’T BE JACKSONVILLE.|
|2. San Francisco||Trade Down||Solomon Thomas||Christian McCaffrey|
|Analysis:||The 9ers have so many holes on their roster that acquiring more picks is the safest and smartest way to go.||Now that they’re transitioning to a 4-3 defense, this is probably the better pick. He can bump inside and cause havoc ala Aaron Donald.||I put him here because there is a popular rumor the 9ers are considering Leonard Fournette. That would be a good pick. McCaffrey is picking up steam though and would be a bad fit on this roster.|
|I have a one friend who is actually a 49ers fan. His quote “At this point, they need so much help at every position, anything where they take a player who will contribute is accepted”. This is life as a 9ers fan. You just want a guy who has a pulse. Trade back San Fran. Get multiple players with hopefully a pulse.|
|3. Chicago||Jamal Adams||Trade Down||Any QB|
|Analysis:||The last Bears safety I enjoyed watching was Mike Brown. He stopped being amazing in 2005. Please take this man.||See 49ers entry above.||I can’t think of a single positive that will happen by the Bears taking Trubisky, or the rumored favorite QB, Watson, at pick 3.|
|As a Bears fan, I know terrible Quarterbacks. There is a growing sense on social media that the Bears are talking themselves into a QB at pick 3. Andrew Luck isn’t walking through that door this year, neither is Jameis Winston. Conversely, Adams is considered the second safest pick in the draft in terms of talent, character, etc. Unless Cleveland fucks up, and John Lynch is super drunk on draft night and misses the ability to take Garrett, go with Adams.|
|4. Jacksonville||Jamal Adams||Leonard Fournette||Marshon Lattimore|
|Analysis:||Jacksonville has spent the last 2 years loading up their defense. A safety like Jamal Adams should be the tipping point that makes that defense great.||Blake Bortles needs help. He regressed in turnovers year two, which wasn’t entirely his fault because the Jaguars couldn’t even run the ball in Madden.||Jalen Ramsey is a certifiable stud. You just broke the bank to sign A.J. Buoye to compliment him on the other side. While you can never have enough secondary help, this seems too early to seek it out.|
|People have been waiting for Jacksonville to get over the hump for two years now. It constantly seems like they’re just one player away. They need an offensive lineman; but this isn’t the draft to achieve that need here. Adding an impact player like Jamal Adams or Leonard Fournette would hopefully allow the dream of competing to become a reality.|
|5. Tennessee||Jamal Adams||OJ Howard||???|
|Analysis:||See reasons above. This team doesn’t have a lot of needs, and Adams has the ability to take them from close in the AFC South to the best team.||OJ Howard is a legitimate top 10 pick, which is the nicest thing you can say about a Tight End. The dude was criminally underused in Alabama, but Marcus Mariota could fix that.||I literally don’t think there is a worst case scenario for this team in this spot. Maybe if they trade back their fan base would be mad and wondering why they didn’t use the pick?|
|It isn’t outside the realm of possibility for the Titans to trade out of this pick, especially if word gets out that the Jets want Trubisky next pick. They can seriously use this pick to do anything and capitalize on a major weapon they shouldn’t have access to given the talent on their roster already.|
|6. New York Jets||Jamal Adams||Trade Down||Any QB|
|Analysis:||This is probably the last logical stop for Adams. If he’s at 6 still, don’t be shocked if the Jets shove anyone and everyone out of the way to make this pick.||In draft media, this seems to be the most likely scenario. Let the Browns move up to this spot, take Trubisky, and stock pile picks in a super deep defensive talent draft.||Yes, Josh McCown is a Social Studies teacher living out his dream, and Christian Hackenberg isn’t a wonderful choice, and Bryce Petty is… good? Average? Not as sad as the others? Who knows. But this isn’t the draft to add another QB to an already sad Quarterback room in Round 1.|
|The Jets would literally shit themselves if Adams somehow fell to them at 6. They actually sat in the meeting with the man and told him they didn’t understand why he was taking the meeting because he will be gone. Don’t undersell a player like Marshon Lattimore here either, they need secondary help. BAD.|
|7. LA Chargers||Malik Hooker||Jonathan Allen||Reuben Foster|
|Analysis:||Hooker is the super rangy Ohio State prospect people like to compare to Ed Reed. He should have more than enough film to justify a top 10 pick.||Does LA need Jonathan Allen? No. But if you were to pair him with Bosa, you could have the ability to wreak havoc on the AFC West for years to come. Medical issues be damned.||The Chargers already have a solid linebacking corp. Reuben Foster would probably be an upgrade, but not if a top lineman or safety falls to them.|
|The Chargers are in a weird place. They have some good talent on both sides of the ball, but they also have some glaring holes, especially in the secondary. This is a perfect draft to address that in the top 10.|
|8. Carolina||Christian McCaffrey||Leonard Fournette||Mike Williams|
|Analysis:||This just seems like a lock. A versatile weapon the Panthers can move all over the field until Jonathan Stewart’s deal is up at the end of 2018||If he falls here then the Panthers have a difficult choice. McCaffrey may get the nod due to versatility||*Looks up Panthers receivers. Sees Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin* Carry on.|
|Carolina just doesn’t draft secondary players in the first round and given the extreme depth on the defensive lines and at corner, they don’t need to this year. Makes sense that they will find more ways to weaponize that Cam Newton offense though.|
|9. Cincinnati||Jonathan Allen||Hasson Reddick||John Ross|
|Analysis:||A god send that seems more likely the closer we get to the draft. Another versatile defensive lineman capable of making life hell for AFC North offensive lineman. Who do you double team, Allen or Adkins?||The Bengals could use another linebacker, and Reddick seems to be the hot prospect. He’s a freak athlete with a world class work ethic and endless motor.||A rumor of John Ross being the possible pick for the Bengals at 9 has started to circulate. His speed and talent are undeniable, but there are so many injury red flags that this would be the kind of pick that would cause Mel Kiper to cry on national television.|
|The Bengals may find themselves the beneficiaries of a Jets/Leonard Williams situation from a few years ago. Allen would help fortify their front 7 and give their linebackers the ability to move with little resistance. He’s also explosive enough to generate the always popular interior pressure that teams so desperately crave. Reddick is also the kind of prospect that is explosive and has a track record of hard work (former walk-on) that tells you he’ll still be hungry in the pros. To be clear, I don’t think John Ross would be a terrible player for the Bengals, but he’s the kind of guy you trade back for given his medicals and tendencies to drop balls at Washington. Hell, he could even be there in Round 2.|
|10. Buffalo||Marshon Lattimore||Mike Williams||Trade Down|
|Analysis:||As close as you can get to the top corner in the draft. His name has been brought up as early as pick 2 to San Fran. Plus, they did just lose Stephon Gilmore in division. The hamstring issues are a red flag though, as that is an injury that keeps corners from being on the field period.||I’ll Venmo you 5 dollars if you can name me 3 players on the depth chart for the Bills at WR. I’ll even spot you Sammy Watkins. Mike Williams is a big target who would complement Sammy Watkins well and give Tyrod Taylor another target down the field.||It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bills trade down. But based on what they need, and the talent available at this spot, I just don’t see it being wise. You can legitimately get the BPA at the two positions you have a big need right here. Unless you are getting a huge haul, it just doesn’t make sense to move.|
|Lattimore just seems like the best pick for a team that plans on giving significant snaps to Ronald Darby, Micah Hyde, and whoever the hell Kevon Seymour is at corner. The hamstring is a red flag, but playing in a division with Tom Brady and the Dolphin’s Adam Gase offense with Kevon Seymour on the slot receiver is more terrifying.
Side note 1: This pick makes sense for OJ Howard as well.
Side note 2: If you guessed Philly Brown, Andre Holmes, Walter Powell, Jeremy Butler, Brandon Tate, or Dezmin Lewis for the Bills WR depth chart, I owe you 5 dollars.
|11. New Orleans||Gareon Conley||Derek Barnett||Leonard Fournette|
|Analysis:||As of this writing, it seems the Saints will not be getting Malcom Butler from the Patriots. I know the Saints need a pass rusher to compliment Cameron Jordan, but they also need multiple corners. Conley is that fix.||A pass rusher would make the fan base happy and make the team better. I just struggle to see how any of the 2nd tier of pass rushers (behind Garrett) are that different from each other.||This would be so tempting. The hometown kid, star at LSU, physical runner, etc. However, Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson are now on the roster and there are too many defensive needs to justify a luxury pick at number 11.|
|I think it is clear that New Orleans needs to attack their defense hard in this draft, especially when you face the likes of Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Jameis Winston 8 times total a year. Not only that, all of those Quarterbacks have big targets as their number one receiver (Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, and Mike Evans). Conley has the measurables and speed to make those guys work. Corner seems like the right pick here.|
|12. Cleveland||Trubisky Falls||Trade up for Trubisky||Defensive Pick|
|Analysis:||Not outside the realm of possibility (although based on the history of the NFL draft, could be a pipe dream).||This seems more likely if you decide that Trubisky is your guy. Likely trade partners are the Bears at 3, the Titans at 5, and the Jets at 6 (assuming they aren’t also in love with Trubisky.||You’ve already come away with the top defensive player in the draft (probably the last 2 drafts if we are honest). You have a solid front seven defensively and the top safeties are already off the board. Could Cleveland use another corner? Sure. But what they really need is a Quarterback to break the spell of inadequacy at the position.|
|I have no idea what the Browns are thinking, but I do know this. Cody Kessler probably isn’t the future. Brock Osweiler struggled to complete passes to Nuke Hopkins in Houston. Trubisky, despite his limited starting career at UNC, probably has the highest ceiling in this draft. He also displayed solid athleticism and accuracy in his one year starting. Plus, he’s a hometown kid which means the fan base may give him a little more rope if he struggles early on. Be prepared to add one more name to the fabled jersey, hopefully it’s the last one for a while. (Is this a good time to mention the last time a hometown kid came home to Cleveland, they were able to parlay that into a championship? Too optimistic? Okay, cool.)|
|13. Arizona||Mike Williams/Corey Davis||QB||Any DB|
|Analysis:||Larry Fitzgerald is a legend. He’s everything you want out of a franchise players and has seemingly rediscovered him prime, posting 116 catches for 1,238 yards and 15 touchdowns the past two seasons. But he’s 33 and it’s time to develop a replacement, even if it seems like he could play forever.||John Skelton. Kevin Kolb. Ryan Lindley. Drew Stanton. Carson Palmer. These are the players who started at QB for Arizona since 2012. Palmer, for as good as he was two years ago, has started to slip a little bit recently. His yardage, touchdowns, and completion % fell and his interceptions jumped.||With Patrick Peterson on one side and Tyrann Mathieu on the other (along with Justin Bethel and Tyvon Branch), corner isn’t a pressing need. Yes, Mathieu has had some health problems in the NFL, but as we have seen in this league, if you don’t actively address your holes before they become an issue, then you won’t have success.|
|Last year, Arizona was a popular pick to win the Super Bowl based on the excellent success they had the season before. Obviously, this didn’t happen. If they can stay healthy, and Palmer can act as a stabilizing force, they probably have one more year where the window of a Super Bowl is wide open. The best way to attack this pick is by ensuring the next window isn’t a decade away.|
|14. Philadelphia||Gareon Conley||Mike Williams/Corey Davis||Fournette/McCaffrey/Cook|
|Analysis:||Philly needs a corner in the worst way. Playing in a division featuring Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning, and Dak Prescott means that if you can’t cover, you probably can’t win. Even Nnmadi Asomugha would be an upgrade over what they currently have.||Carson Wentz had a solid, respectable rookie season. While the Eagles were able to bring in some weapons to help him, such as Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, they could use more help. Enter the top WR left at this point in the draft, be it Williams or Corey Davis.||I understand the attraction of adding another running back, especially since Ryan Matthews always seems to get hurt and someday Darren Sproles has to actually play his age. But with as many options in the later rounds at running back, I just don’t think this is the time to acquire this kind of player.|
|As of right now, the Eagles top 2 corners are Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson. Mills was a 7th round pick and Robinson missed 9 games last season with injury for the Colts (and wasn’t known as a vision of health before that either). If Conley is gone, don’t be shocked if Marlon Humphrey from Alabama is the pick here either. On the other side, Alshon Jeffery is on a one year prove it deal (and has his own injury issues), Torrey Smith is still Torrey Smith, and Dorial Green Beckham is a mystery. Philly has to fix one of those two things here.|
|15. Indianapolis||Reuben Foster||Forrest Lamp||John Ross or a Running Back|
|Analysis:||Reuben Foster is widely considered the best linebacker in this draft. He is a game changer, a three down player, and after bowl season, wouldn’t have been a shocking Top-10 pick. Then the combine happened and here he sits, waiting for a team to capitalize on him. That team should be the Colts.||Andrew Luck is the real deal. However, it has been easy to doubt that the past few years because he’s getting drilled every other play. It would make perfect sense to continue the first round offensive line picks for Indy, because if Andrew Luck isn’t healthy, you aren’t doing a damn thing in the playoffs.||John Ross is here because of the Phillip Dorsett pick a few years ago. I know it is a new GM, but Jim Irsay likes speed and that’s what you’re getting in Ross. Dorsett has also struggled to get on the field and make an impact, so this just seems like doubling down on a mistake. Frank Gore is getting old, but again, super deep running back draft means you should fix your flaws now and try to hit on a lottery ticket later like D’Onta Freeman out of Texas.|
|The Colts have done an admirable job shoring up their defense this offseason, signing players like Barkevious Mingo, Margus Hunt, Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, Jon Bostic, and Johnathan Hankins. However, these guys are just stop gaps and Band-Aids who have had limited success at the NFL level (even though they’re better than the players they are replacing last year). If you get a chance to take a blue chip LB at this spot, you do it and don’t look back. Ask Carolina with Keuchly or Baltimore with Ray Lewis if they regret it.
Don’t be shocked to see an edge rusher go here either (think Charles Harris or Derek Barnett if he’s available.)
That wraps it up.
See anything you agree with? Want to take time out of your busy day to explicitly tell me I’m an idiot? Just want to leave a message to show you knew me before I’m running the Jaguars in 2020? Leave a comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you all.