On Monday, the deadline for teams to exercise NFL Draft came and went without any major surprises, but it was yet another reminder that the draft is largely a crapshoot and teams for the most part don't know if they're getting a franchise savior like Patrick Mahomes or a bust like Mitchell Trubisky when they make their selections.for players drafted in the first round of the 2017
Just over half of the 32 first-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft had their fifth-year options picked up before Monday's deadline, which keeps them under contract with their respective teams through the 2021 season.
Final tally for the 2017 first-round draft picks fifth-year options:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 4, 2020
▪️Picked up: 17
▪️Extended: 1 (Christian McCaffrey)
▪️Released: 1 (Taco Charlton)
Which means that -- after factoring in Christian McCaffrey's long-term -- 14 players, including Taco Charlton, who is now already onto his third NFL team, did not have their options picked up. All 14 of those players aren't complete and total busts like Trubisky, but they also haven't entirely cashed in on the potential that came attached to their first-round billing. It means that 14 former first-round picks are heading into a contract season.
With that in mind, we decided to take a look at all 14 of those players and make a prediction as to whether or not they'll break out in a big enough way to sign a lucrative long-term deal by next offseason. We begin in Chicago, where Trubisky suddenly has competition at the quarterback position.
Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky
Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes (oops).and , the Bears have made it clear that they're ready to put Trubisky in a legitimate quarterback competition whenever teams are able to meet and actually play football again. It won't be surprising if the Bears give Trubisky the first chance to win the starting job, given how much they've already invested in him to this point, but it also won't be surprising if Trubisky loses the competition to Foles, given just how poorly he's played since the Bears traded up to take him at No. 2 over both
Over the past three seasons, Trubisky has completed 63.4 percent of his passes, averaged only 6.7 yards per attempt, thrown for 48 touchdowns and 29 interceptions, and accumulated an 85.8 passer rating. He's also battled, which might be why the Bears didn't feel comfortable picking up his fifth-year option, which is guaranteed for injury only. The bottom line is that Trubisky failed to make the leap in 2019 and his inadequate performance cost the Bears a playoff spot. Until he proves he can make NFL-level throws on a consistent basis, I'm going to assume he won't ever turn the corner.
Prediction: He doesn't break out. Even if he does break out, the Bears would be better off franchise tagging him next year to see if he can do it again before they give him a long-term contract.
The Bears traded up to No. 2 in order take Trubisky, allowing the 49ers to gather more draft picks and still get the player they wanted at No. 3 in Thomas. Like Trubisky, Thomas has failed to make the successful and difficult transition to the NFL. In three seasons, he's generated only six sacks, 16 tackles for loss (10 of which came in his rookie season), 93 combined tackles, and 23 quarterback hits. He's been overshadowed by both DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead on a stacked 49ers defensive front. But with , Thomas will have one more opportunity to make an impression, even though he still faces competition in the form of rookie Javon Kinlaw and the underrated D.J. Jones.
Prediction: He doesn't break out, but he does take a small step forward that earns him a modest contract in free agency, but not with the 49ers, who have to budget for extensions for George Kittle, Richard Sherman, Trent Williams, and Kyle Juszczyk, among others. They'll have to let some of those players walk. Barring an incredible breakout, that makes it impossible for the 49ers to let him walk, Thomas finds a new home in 2021 where he'll still need to prove his worth in the NFL.
For as much as the Bears deserve criticism for drafting Trubisky over Mahomes and Watson, the Jaguars deserve even more criticism for their selection of Fournette at No. 4. For one, they should've been in the quarterback market. Even though they took Blake Bortles near the top of the draft three years earlier, Bortles had never demonstrated the ability to play quarterback at a competent level. From 2014-16, Bortles posted an 11-34 record as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, completing 58.8 percent of his passes, averaging only 6.6 yards per attempt, throwing for 69 touchdowns and 51 interceptions, and generating a 79.6 passer rating. Yet the Jaguars still decided it wasn't worth taking a quarterback in the 2017 draft. To make matters worse, they decided to take a running back -- something teams should never do that early in the draft. To turn it into an utter catastrophe, they took the wrong running back with Christian McCaffrey also available. At least the Bears took a quarterback -- they just took the wrong one and gave up way too much to move up one spot. The Jaguars passed on two generational quarterbacks to take a running back.
Fournette is coming off the best season of his career, posting career-best marks in yards from scrimmage (1,674) and yards per touch (4.9), but even at his best, he's not worth a lucrative long-term deal or the high price tag of the fifth-year option, which is whybefore declining to exercise his fifth-year option.
Prediction: He doesn't break out and signs a cheap short-term deal in free agency with another team. Nobody is going to want him on an expensive contract. But he can find a new home if he's willing to take less money. He's not a bad player. But he's not great. And he plays the least valuable position in the sport (not including special teams).
Taken one pick after Fournette as the first receiver off the board in a draft that also included the likes of Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Cooper Kupp, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Williams, there's no doubt that the Davis pick at No. 5 looks like a mistake three years later. To this point in his career, Davis is averaging 47.3 catches, 622.3 yards, and two touchdowns per season. He hasn't been terrible, but he's also failed to develop into a WR1. At this point, after watching A.J. Brown explode as a rookie last season, Davis looks more like a nice complimentary receiver. That's not the worst thing in the world, but it's not great for a player drafted as high as Davis.
Prediction: He breaks out. This is a bit bold, but with Ryan Tannehill installed as the full-time starter and defenses keying in on Brown, opportunities will still be there for Davis, who finally breaks out for the Titans. He has the physical tools to succeed. In 2020, he eclipses the 1,000-yard mark and earns a long-term deal or at the very least, the franchise tag.
What a disaster of a pick this was by the Bengals at No. 9. In three seasons, Ross has caught 49 passes for 716 yards and 10 touchdowns -- total. While the Bengals got a long-term upgrade at quarterback in Joe Burrow, they likely won't find much short-term success on offense with a rookie quarterback who is coming into the NFL during a truncated offseason. That won't help Ross finally break out after three incredibly disappointing seasons that have been marred by injuries.
Prediction: He fails to break out and Ross is forced to take a short-term, prove-it contract in free agency. Ross still has game-changing speed, but until he proves he can be a legitimate deep threat in the NFL, I'll remain skeptical.
In three seasons, Reddick has seldom flashed potential. His career-high in sacks is 4.0. His career-high in combined tackles is 80. To make matters worse, the Cardinals just used their first-round pick on Isaiah Simmons and signed De'Vondre Campbell in free agency, both of whom should steal snaps away from Reddick during his contract year.
Prediction: He doesn't break out. The addition of Simmons and Campbell is bad news for Reddick. Now, he'll likely fill in as a rotational linebacker, which will limit his chances to resurrect his career in Arizona. He leaves in free agency in 2021 on a cheap one-year deal.
It was a little surprising to see the Colts pass on Hooker's fifth-year option. He hasn't ever been a superstar since the Colts drafted him 15th overall in 2017, but he also hasn't been a bad player. With seven interceptions, 117 combined tackles, and 11 pass breakups across three seasons, he still holds some value to the Colts. Hooker has only missed five games over the past two seasons. So he's not as injury prone as his reputation suggests. He's also only 24 years old.
Prediction: He breaks out enough for the Colts to give him a long-term deal -- if not the Colts, another team scoops him up. Hooker might be slightly underrated at this point in his career. The prediction here is that it all comes together for him on a Colts team that makes the playoffs with Philip Rivers, which earns him a long-term deal. He still holds that kind of potential.
Let's start with the good: Bolles has started all 48 possible games since his selection by the Broncos at No. 20. Now, the bad: Bolles has not performed like a starting-caliber offensive tackle, racking up 32 penalties over three seasons. At the very least, Bolles is likely to be the Broncos' starting left tackle again in 2020, which will give him one final chance to prove his worth.
Prediction: He fails to break out and either signs a team-friendly deal to remain with the Broncos, where he'll compete for a starting job in 2021, or he departs in free agency to fight for a starting job elsewhere. Either way, I don't think Bolles plays up to his potential in 2020. I think we see more of the same.
Davis has averaged 58.7 solo tackles per season, but he's a liability in coverage -- which is a big deal in the modern NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, via ESPN, he allowed a 78.4 completion rate and a 116.6 passer rating in coverage last year. After the Lions addressed the linebacker position in free agency by signing Jamie Collins, Reggie Ragland, and Elijah Lee, Davis is on thin ice in Detroit.
Prediction: He doesn't break out. Davis' issues in coverage continue again in 2020 and the team lets him walk in free agency. Given his age, pedigree, and athleticism, Davis will undoubtedly find a new home and get a chance to prove himself elsewhere. But barring a resurgence in Year 4, he's unlikely to sign a big deal anywhere.
Drafted by the Dolphins, Harris is now with the FalconsThe compensation? Only a seventh-round pick. Harris, to this point in his career, hasn't been an NFL-caliber player with only 3.5 sacks in three seasons.
Prediction: He doesn't break out. Even though he's now playing on a much better defensive front, which could free up some opportunities for him as offenses key in on stopping the likes of Grady Jarrett and Dante Fowler, he's never demonstrated the ability to play in the NFL at a high level. I don't expect that to change all of a sudden in Atlanta.
The Raiders' former first-round pick now finds himself in Houston The return? A third-round pick, which seemed like way too high of a price for a player of Conley's caliber until you remember that it's Bill O'Brien making long-term roster decisions for the Texans. Now, there's a very real chance the Texans will lose Conley after only 1.5 seasons. Conley has demonstrated some promise. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out as the Texans' fourth-best defender (minimum: 150 snaps).
Prediction: Gonna cheat here and say that Conley doesn't break out in the sense that he becomes a star, but that he plays well enough to sign a long-term deal with the Texans after the season. By the sound of it, he's going to get every opportunity to have a big season. Between Conley, Bradley Roby, and Vernon Hargreaves, the Texans are relying on a starting cornerback group composed entirely by former first-round picks.
Falcons DE Takkarist McKinley
McKinley has flashed potential before with 13 sacks over his first two seasons, but finished with a career-low 3.5 sacks in 2019 on yet another bad Falcons defense. Despite bringing in the aforementioned Harris and Fowler, McKinley should still garner plenty of opportunities to finally breakout in a major way. The addition of Fowler could help draw defenses away from him.
Prediction: McKinley breaks out enough to get a long-term deal from either the Falcons or someone else in free agency. I'm thinking 10 sacks, which would put the Falcons in a difficult spot. Re-sign him after his first double-digit sack season? Tag him? Or let him walk? The Falcons will have decisions to make with Keanu Neal also scheduled to hit free agency a year from now. How they choose to proceed will likely depend on how the 2020 season unfolds. If the Falcons rebound from a 7-9 season to make the playoffs, they'll have more of an incentive to pay McKinley and keep the defense intact. If they disappoint again, they'll let him walk.
Chiefs DE Taco Charlton
It doesn't bode well for Charlton that he's already onto his third team. First,. Then, after he registered a career-high five sacks in 2019. Altogether, Charlton has recorded nine sacks in three seasons.
Prediction: He doesn't break out even though he landed in a great spot on a Chiefs defense that blossomed over the course of the 2019 season. He gets to play alongside Chris Jones and Frank Clark, but Charlton has yet to prove he can be a consistent pass-rushing threat in the NFL and I don't expect much to change in Kansas City. Charlton looks for his fourth team next offseason -- if not earlier.
Between the off-the-field issues and the injuries, it's been a terrible start to Foster's career.now, after , Foster is recovering from There's no doubting his potential in terms of strictly football, but the off-the-field issues and his injury woes made declining his fifth-year option a rather easy decision for Washington.
Prediction: He doesn't break out. There's just way too much uncertainty surrounding him in terms of injuries and serious off-the-field concerns. Even if he does find his way back to the field, he hasn't played since midway through the 2018 season. Even if does play at a high level, will someone trust him enough to give him a long-term deal? I'm skeptical. At this point, he's way too much of a risk to predict that he's going to break out and get a long-term deal.