Three years is about the right time to judge an NFL Draft, and even then is kind of early. So how about three minutes? The draft is barely cold right now, and we've got winners and losers hot of the press.
Teams that get called winners could look terrible three years from now, and teams that are called losers might very well end up having great immediate success. Sports are weird like that, and the NFL is impossible to predict.
Also, no one is actually a loser. Everyone tried hard and did a great job through three long days. But we've got to pass some snap judgment, or what's the point of sitting through roughly 40 hours of draft coverage?
Let's get to it. Leave your picks in the comments or yell at me on Twitter @WillBrinson.
Winner: Cleveland Browns
Time will be the judge as to whether or not the Browns came away from this draft with their future franchise quarterback, but they handled the situation quite well, missing out on Mitchell Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes in the first round and then remaining patient. They could get burned if Deshaun Watson is good, but landing DeShone Kizer with the 52nd overall pick is They aren't prohibited at all from taking another shot next year at the top of the draft if he doesn't look like the answer.
The Browns did work on the first day too, moving all over the place and eventually coming away with three first-round picks: Myles Garrett (1), Jabrill Peppers (25) and David Njoku (29). Garrett and Peppers an on the defense, while Njoku has and will be a nice weapon out of the gate for Kizer or whoever starts. (Let's be real, Kizer is going to start.)
On the second day, the Browns picked up Kizer and then added Larry Ogunjobi, the first ever draft pick out of UNC Charlotte. He's a lesser-known name, but a nice value in the third round for his upside. Dude is big (6-foot-3, 304 pounds), strong and already stout against the run. Also, just a good person.
If not football, Larry Ogunjobi says he would have pursued medicine, specially to be an oncologist. Says grandfather passed from cancer.— Patrick Maks (@maksimuspatrick) April 29, 2017
The third day saw Cleveland come away with cornerback Howard Wilson (five picks last year with Houston) and lineman Roderick Johnson out of Florida State, who will start at left tackle, but it wouldn't be surprising if he replaced Cam Erving as the guy on the right side of their revamped line. Matthew Dayes, the next-to-last pick in the draft, could do some damage in the passing game for Cleveland next year and actually produce some numbers behind their revamped offensive line.
Exec VP Sashi Brown said charges against Caleb Brantley are very "concerning," says Browns still investigating and may not keep him.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) April 29, 2017
One league source told me of #Browns Caleb Brantley: "A coach at school told every team he talked to 'stay away even if undrafted.'''— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) April 29, 2017
There isn't enough time or space in this particular postof using a sixth-round pick in a draft where you have 10 overall selections on a guy who might very well face domestic violence charges when it's all said and done. The Browns can cut him with any real ramifications to their roster and Brantley has the upside of a second-round pick. But this sours me on their draft. How can it not?
Loser: Chicago Bears
Look, it's not about Mitchell Trubisky. Mike Glennon in free agency only to trade away picks to move up one spot and grab Trubisky. Adam Shaheen is a sleeper weapon and a massive human. Tarik Cohen is underrated as a running back. They could be good players, but they're not going to totally change the offense when Chicago had needs elsewhere. Eddie Jackson is coming off two brutal injuries. They were done drafting before the sixth round started.as a quarterback prospect. But the Bears finished with a bottom-five record last year, so they spent big on
If Trubisky is a good quarterback -- and, again, he might very well be good or even great -- then people will point to this and laugh in three years, even though I'm making sure to note it's not Trubisky that's dinging them. They just didn't get a lot of opportunities to improve a questionable roster in a year where they needed to improve. The process for getting Trubisky, basically bidding against themselves, was just weird.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
A disappointing 2016 season exposed some holes with the Panthers and set them up for a top-10 pick in this draft. The good news about a top-10 pick is you can get a top-10 player, and the Panthers did just that by snagging Christian McCaffrey at No. 8 overall.
I could not care less Curtis Samuel, their pick at No. 40 overall, and they just help Cam Newton to drastically improve his completion percentage and efficiency through short-yardage throws that result in explosive plays. They have Kelvin Benjamin/Devin Funchess on the outside and McCaffrey/Samuel on the inside, not to mention Greg Olsen. This offense should be fun.-- it's a great pick. McCaffrey is a four-down, game-changing running back with "suction cups" (Dave Gettleman's words) for hands. Couple him with
Bonus points to Gettleman for grabbing Taylor Moton with his other second round pick (No. 64) -- Carolina had defensive players in the draft they could have pursued at this point, but they need to protect Cam. This pick should do so immediately, particularly since he should be able to provide depth at guard or simply step in and start at right tackle.
Defensively, the Panthers added a potential high-end edge rusher to an elderly group of defensive ends, bringing in Daeshon Hall, who can hop into the rotation and could end up being a star for them. Corn Elder, the Miami corner they picked up in the fifth round, could play nickel out of the gate and defensive end Alex Armah is actually going to be a 240-pound fullback after playing on the defensive line and at tight end during college. Bonus: they drafted a kicker for the first time in franchise history, Harrison Butker out of Georgia Tech.
This was a good draft that checked the needs for Carolina while also hitting very well on value. It's not hard to imagine a bounceback season for the Panthers.
Loser: Jacksonville Jaguars
What you have here is a franchise that's supposed to take a leap this year, but none of the player acquisition matters if Blake Bortles isn't good. So is he good? The Jaguars a bunch of players to help him. Leonard Fournette in the top five is fine, because Fournette is awesome, but expecting Zeke Elliott 2.0 is crazy behind that offensive line.
The proof is in their second pick, Cam Robinson, who fell to the second round as Pete Prisco put it in his grades. Dede Westbrook is a talented player, but there are some red flags there too.
Additionally, GM Dave Caldwell had a weird answer describing Westbrook's off-field issues.
Jags' GM Caldwell on Dede Westbrook, accused of multiple domestic violence incidents: "...many of us have been accused of things."— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) April 29, 2017
They did a nice job getting some defensive talent late with Blair Brown and Jalen Myrick, but, again, it's all about Bortles here. We'll see if they did enough to protect a player who wasn't good last season.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
Really impressed with the offseason as a whole for the Eagles, but was very impressed with their draft. For starters, Derek Barnett is going to look like a steal at No. 14. He's a hyper-active pass rusher who was incredibly productive at Tennessee. Athleticism is important, but production shouldn't be ignored.
Sidney Jones tore his Achilles during the draft process and possibly won't be able to play until 2018. That's obviously a major risk, but this is a guy who was going to be a first-round pick until the injury. Taking him 43rd overall could backfire, but it would also pay huge dividends. Really liked that Howie Roseman circled back and got Rasul Douglas with the Eagles' next pick to try and solidify the cornerback position if Jones can't play.
Their fourth round Mack Hollins out of North Carolina is a deep threat and touchdown machine (81 catches in college, 20 of them for touchdowns!) and Donnel Pumphrey out of San Diego State is going to be a steal at 132nd overall. He's the guy who got downgraded because of his size and will ultimately be a star in the league.
A little bit later, they got Shelton Gibson of West Virginia, who's also a guy who can stretch the field, but won't be asked to play right away. Nathan Gerry and Elijah Qualls gives them some athletic upside for defensive depth.
Loser: New Orleans Saints
I'm just confused by what the Saints did with this draft, to be honest. They reportedly wanted to take Patrick Mahomes with the 11th overall pick (Kansas City jumped them in the draft), which is fine, except if they'd done that, then they would have ended up with a backup quarterback and an offensive lineman (Ryan Ramcyzk, who they took at 32 overall).
The Saints need defensive help. They came away with Marshon Lattimore, but I just have an issue giving them credit for being accidental geniuses. Alvin Kamara is a potential stud at running back, but they traded up for him and they already have Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson on the roster.
Again: They. Need. Defense. The Saints should have used all their early picks on defense and sprinkled in some offense late, not use all their picks on defense and sprinkling in some offense early. Marcus Williams (Utah safety), Alex Anzalone (Florida linebacker), Trey Hendrickson (Florida Atlantic defensive end) and Al-Quadin Muhammad (Miami defensive end) filled things out. They got some bodies on defense, but focused too early on offense.
Plus Reuben Foster when the 49ers leapt up and stole him.by
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals were in a weird position this year, looking like the definition of a "win now" team heading into 2017, but also sitting on a bunch of young talent capable of propping open the Super Bowl window for the Carson Palmer-Larry Fitzgerald group. It was widely believed the Cards might go quarterback at No. 13, but both Mahomes and Watson were off the board.
So Steve Keim stood pat and snagged Haason Reddick, a potential superstar out of Temple who rose like wildfire during the predraft process. Reddick will start right away. So will Budda Baker, a safety out of Washington, and both guys fit into the mold of players that Arizona has pursued in recent years. They're not trying to plug round pegs into square holes, they just have a bunch of really good pegs in an open space and let them wreck havoc. Positions are far less important in football than they have been in recent years, and the Cardinals are embracing it perfectly on the defensive end.
Arizona invested heavily in the offensive line in recent years, and 2017 was a bit of a double down. Maybe that shouldn't be surprising, considering the time it takes for linemen to acclimate to the NFL. The Cards aren't afraid to give players a "redshirt year," and with Pittsburgh guard Dorian Johnson and Vanderbilt tackle Will Holden they have some future upside on the offensive line. Specifically to Holden, check this note from Justis Mosqueda of Bleacher Report on his list of predraft sleepers that featured Holden. Only six offensive linemen drafted in the first four rounds since 2008 were 6-foot-7 or taller and ran a 4.72-second short shuttle and a 7.71-second time in three-cone drill. The others are Eric Fisher, Taylor Lewan, Nate Solder, Anthony Costanzo, Sebastian Vollmer and Jared Veldheer. That's good company.
T.J. Logan out of North Carolina is a guy who was heavily underutilized during his tenure with the Tar Heels. He has major speed and improves the depth chart behind David Johnson. He can also help on special teams. Johnathan Ford provides more depth in the defensive backfield.
Loser: Houston Texans
Trading up and grabbing Deshaun Watson is an immediate improvement over their previous three years of quarterback situations. All he did in his college career was win in a big way. Some folks are doubting him, but he has made a living proving people wrong. He is still a rookie quarterback all told the full cost of the Brock Osweiler contract was Houston's first- and second-round picks in 2018, both of which will be going to the Browns. If Watson and Tom Savage aren't good enough to lead the Texans to a .500 or better record, there is a possibility of both those picks being top-50 in next year's draft. That would be brutal.
Zach Cunningham was really good value at 57th overall and D'Onta Foreman will help ease the load on Lamar Miller. Julie'n Davenport is a talented prospect, but is he going to help this offensive line right away? Carlos Watkins was highly productive on that championship team with Watson.
The Texans should still be a good football team and could easily win the division for the third year in a row. They could also struggle to five or six wins (the NFL is fickle, man) and if that happens those picks they gave away to try and fix the quarterback situation will look bad.
Winner: Los Angeles Chargers
Here's another team like the Cardinals with a franchise quarterback and potentially small window for Philip Rivers to win. And no one did a better job of helping out their quarterback in this draft than the Chargers. Los Angeles spent the seventh overall pick on Mike Williams from Clemson, who will thrive with Rivers as a guy who can secure jump balls and be a big, powerful possession receiver. Passing on McCaffrey there might come back to haunt them, though.
The next two picks were all about protection for Rivers: Forrest Lamp from Western Kentucky and Dan Feeney from Indiana immediately make the offensive line tougher and better. Both guys could end up starting.
Tom Telesco dove into the defense on the back end of the draft, grabbing safeties Rayshawn Jenkins (Miami) and Desmond King (Iowa) in the fourth and fifth rounds, before nabbing another offensive lineman, Sam Tevi out of Utah, who is likely a developmental prospect. Isaac Rochell from Notre Dame rounded things out.
Loser: Los Angeles Rams
You have to factor Jared Goff's selection from last year into this -- and the trade they needed to go get him -- but they still gave up a top-five pick. Also, are we sure that Goff is good?
The Rams are doing their best to build around him, grabbing Gerald Everett, the South Alabama tight end, but they already drafted two tight ends last year. They got Cooper Kupp out of Eastern Washington, who I really like as receiver, but their other two starters are Tavon Austin and Robert Woods. Josh Reynolds in the fourth round was a nice add from Texas A&M, but they're just not loaded at the skill positions for Goff right now. If Sean McVay can work his youthful magic, then this offense will be better than expected, but it's tough to imagine a huge step forward for them right away.
Defensively they picked up some quality players, including Josh Johnson of Boston College (BC oddly produces a lot of NFL players), Tanzel Smart out of Tulane and Ejuan Price of Pittsburgh, who was really nice value in the seventh round.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
No surprise here, but the Cowboys draft was all about getting better on defense. And they did, without having to move around much or sacrifice any future capital. Their first three picks -- Michigan DE Taco Charlton, Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie and Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis -- might end up all starting for them.
Ryan Switzer is going to have an impact on special teams and be a thorn in the side for offenses in a similar fashion to Cole Beasley. He's just a gamer and a perfect fit for Texas. Dallas also got more talent on the defensive backfield in the third day, getting Xavier Woods (safety, Louisiana Tech) and Marquez White (corner, Florida State).
Loser: New York Giants
If the Giants were trying to set up Eli Manning to win now, well, they didn't do a great job of it. Evan Engram is fine at tight end as a weapon at No. 23 and Dalvin Tomlinson as a defensive tackle in the second round was a nice pick. Davis Webb might be a steal in the third round if he develops.
But those guys aren't blocking for Eli, and if he can't stand up while passing, the Giants could struggle. Adam Bisnowaty out of Pittsburgh was a very good pick, but he was their first offensive line investment at No. 200 overall. Clemson running back Wayne Gallman could actually make some noise in that backfield. Avery Moss is a guy they can throw into a deep defensive line rotation.