2017 NFL draft grades: How'd each team do? Analysis of every first-round pick

From the Bears trading up for Mitchell Trubisky to the 49ers scooping free-falling Reuben Foster at No. 31, here's how every team made out with their first-round selections.
Author:
Publish date:

The first round of the NFL draft is in the books, and the first pick of the draft—Myles Garrett to the Cleveland Browns—was no surprise. But practically every pick after that was, beginning with the Bears’ trade up to No. 2 to draft QB Mitchell Trubisky.

Our draft expert Chris Burke handed out grades as the picks happened on Thursday night in Philadelphia. How did your favorite team do?

Image placeholder title

1. Myles Garrett, edge, Texas A&M

RECORD: GRADE A

Image placeholder title

2. mitchell trubisky, qb, unc (via SF)

RECORD: grade D

Pick 2 and the first massive surprise of the night. The Bears sent picks 3, 67, 111 and a 2018 third-rounder to the 49ers to move up one spot for Trubisky. That’s a pretty strong indication that a) the Bears believe Trubisky is destined to be a star, and b) multiple teams were lining up for Trubisky (or San Francisco at least made Chicago believe that). It is a massive commitment that comes right after the Bears signed Mike Glennon in free agency. Is Trubisky here to take the job in 2017 or to sit and watch? Given the price, it almost has to be the former. This is a huge gamble by the Bears on a quarterback who drew mixed reviews throughout the draft process.

Image placeholder title

3. Solomon Thomas, Edge, Stanford

RECORD: GRADE A

• PETER KING’S WEEKLY HOT READ: Want more insider information from Peter King? Check out MMQB Hot Read.

Image placeholder title

4. leonard fournette, rb, lsu

RECORD: Grade b

The Jaguars’ brass spoke all off-season about the need to improve the run game, and this is a pretty clear attempt to do so. Fournette immediately leaps to the top of the depth chart, skipping past Chris Ivory (whose contract now looks rather expendable post-June 1) and T.J. Yeldon. The Jaguars may have to tweak their offense some to mesh Fournette with Blake Bortles—the former is a downhill power back, the latter has been at his best out of the gun. The expectation will be that Fournette can bring Jacksonville magic like Ezekiel Elliott did in Dallas last year. Reality may paint a bleaker picture given the roster around Fournette, but he’s definitely a special talent. The Jaguars did leave a lot of defensive talent on the board here, so this has to pay off.

Image placeholder title

5. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

RECORD: GRADE A

• The picks are in! Here’s where to buy the jersey of your team’s Round 1 selection

Image placeholder title

6. jamal adams, s, lsu

RECORD: grade a

Image placeholder title

7. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

RECORD: GRADE B-

The Chargers always looked like a potential sleeper landing spot for a wide receiver—Keenan Allen has had a hard time staying healthy, and they relied on players outperforming expectations last year. Williams gives QB Philip Rivers a big, physical receiver, something with which Rivers always has had great success. The cost of this for the Chargers is that they had to pass on safety Malik Hooker and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, both of whom could have upgraded a defense that’s still shy on talent. Hooker, in particular, set up as a natural fit. Williams will make plays downfield, on slants and in the red zone. Will he make enough to help make up for any defensive issues L.A. has?

Image placeholder title

8. christian mccaffrey, rb, stanford

RECORD: grade a-

Image placeholder title

9. John Ross, WR, Washington

RECORD: GRADE B+

What was viewed as an elite draft for defensive talent sees six offensive players off the board in the first nine picks. Go figure. As was the case with Davis at No. 5, Ross’s health issues did not hold him back at all come Round 1. Heading into this draft, the Bengals needed to find help for A.J. Green, who was surrounded on the depth chart before Thursday by names like Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd. Ross is the explosive game-changer that was missing—the question is if he can stay on the field.

Image placeholder title

10. patrick mahomes, qb, texas tech (via buffalo) 

RECORD: grade B+

How ‘bout that? As rumor had it all day long, the Chiefs swung for the fences, moving up a whopping 17 spots in Round 1 at the cost of picks 27, 91 and a 2018 first-rounder. But with Cleveland and Arizona lurking at picks 12 and 13, respectively, Kansas City had little choice if it wanted to guarantee itself Mahomes. The gunslinger from Texas Tech lands in a perfect situation, with a QB-friendly coach in Andy Reid, a veteran in Alex Smith to hold down the fort and an opportunity to take over the starting job soon. The rub: The Chiefs paid a huge price for a developmental quarterback, choosing Mahomes over Deshaun Watson. This is the type of move that can make or break a front office.

Image placeholder title

11. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

RECORD: GRADE A

Image placeholder title

12. deshaun watson, qb, clemson (via cleveland)

RECORD: grade A-

Three quarterbacks in the top 12, three pricey trades up for the teams that took them. For the Texans to get from No. 25 to here, the cost was that 25th pick plus a 2018 first-rounder. Remember, the Browns already own Houston’s 2018 second-rounder, as part of the Brock Osweiler salary dump. But the Texans could not carry a playoff-ready roster into next season with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden manning the QB depth chart. Watson threw too many interceptions in college and he’ll need time to transition into Bill O’Brien’s offense, but he is the most talented quarterback there by a wide margin. This has to work, because the Texans mortgaged their ‘18 draft to solve a mess of their own creation.

Image placeholder title

13. Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

RECORD: GRADE A-

Of course. Thanks to their uses of guys like Tyrann Mathieu and Deonne Bucannon, the Cardinals have been as creative as any team in the league at finding spots for talented players. Now, they’ll do it again with Reddick, the college DE-turned-NFL linebacker (probably). The Cardinals’ linebacking corps now includes Reddick, Bucannon and Chandler Jones, meaning that that it will be as dynamic and athletic as just about any group in the league. There are some concerns about Reddick’s transition, but this is a good fit. Were the Cardinals caught off guard, though, by the early QB run? They certainly could have considered a quarterback or TE O.J. Howard here, to ensure their future on that side of the ball.

Image placeholder title

14. derek barnett, de, tennessee

RECORD: grade b

Image placeholder title

15. Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

RECORD: GRADE A

Again, with teams crawling over themselves to land offensive weapons in the early picks, there were defensive players available mid-Round 1 that no one thought would be there: Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen and, of course, Hooker. The Ohio State safety should slot right in as the Colts’ free safety, which prevents Indianapolis from having to piece together that spot—Darius Butler was a possible CB-to-S mover. Hooker’s past health issues probably didn’t hurt him as much in Round 1 as his lack of physicality did (and the huge run on skill positions). The Colts don’t need him to be a thumper, just to keep doing what he did for Ohio State vs. the pass.

Image placeholder title

16. marlon humphrey, cb, alabama

RECORD: grade c

Cornerback was a need for the Ravens, even after they signed Brandon Carr this off-season. Was it more of a need than other spots on the field, like offensive tackle or pass rusher? Was Humprey a better value than, say, a tumbling O.J. Howard? It doesn’t feel like it right away. Humphrey fits the physical prototype at cornerback, but he has a lot of technique clean-up to do before he can be trusted by his lonesome vs. premier NFL receivers. The ceiling is high, without question, but how long will it take him to get there? Ozzie Newsome has been known as a staunch best-player-available GM come draft time. Not sure he hit that mark here.

Image placeholder title

17. Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama

RECORD: GRADE A

Headed into the draft, this was a difficult pick to peg because the Redskins’ needs up front did not seem to match with the value expected to be here. Even with Allen’s spotty medicals at the combine (arthritic shoulders), Washington could not have imagined he would slip to the back half of Round 1. So, when he did, this was an obvious selection. Allen’s presence will make Washington’s previously porous front much more difficult to run against, and it will ratchet up the pass rush—either via Allen himself bringing heat, or by Allen drawing attention from his teammates.

Image placeholder title

18. adoree' jackson, cb, usc

RECORD: grade B-

Cornerback and wide receiver always was the clearest path for Tennessee in Round 1. Mission accomplished in Corey Davis and now Jackson. The combination of Jackson’s playmaking skills on defense, explosive talents as a return man and out-of-this-world athleticism put him in the first-round mix. How successful this pick turns out to be depends on whether or not Jackson can make up for his deficiencies on defense. He has the speed, obviously, but not the size or obvious strength. It’s a bit high for my tastes, but there aren’t a lot of athletes like Jackson.

Image placeholder title

19. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

RECORD: GRADE A

Jameis Winston likely hoped the Buccaneers would draft Dalvin Cook, because he and Cook played together for a season at Florida State. The Tampa Bay QB should not have any complaints about how this played out, though. Howard has the type of mismatch-creating abilities as a receiver that’s perfect for the modern NFL, and he’s a blocker with an advanced skill set. The run game still is a bit unsettled, but Tampa Bay now has Howard and Cameron Brate to pair in two-TE sets, with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson outside. Look for Winston to have a huge 2017 season.

Image placeholder title

20. garett bolles, ot, utah

RECORD: grade b+

Image placeholder title

21. Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

RECORD: GRADE B

The Lions had arguably the worst linebacking group in the league during the 2016 season, and they were not in much better shape headed into Thursday. Enter Davis, a three-down defender who just needs to stay healthy. He was unable to do so at Florida, but Detroit obviously feels comfortable enough with him after all the headaches caused by DeAndre Levy’s injury issues in recent seasons. Davis shouldn’t leave the field much—his coverage skills will keep him out there in sub-packages. Davis’s career always will be compared with that of Reuben Foster, still on the board here.

Image placeholder title

22. charles harris, de, missouri

RECORD: grade b

When one thinks of the “ideal” size for a 4-3 defensive end, a guy like Cameron Wake doesn’t necessarily fit the bill. Neither does Harris, but that did not keep the Missouri product from creating havoc off the edge as a college star. Outside of Wake, there simply was not enough meaningful depth at defensive end on the Dolphins’ roster, so Harris should find himself with an ample shot at playing time. Of note is that Miami also passed on Reuben Foster, as well as on Forrest Lamp, who could have slotted in as a starting guard for them out of the gate.

Image placeholder title

23. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

RECORD: GRADE A-

Image placeholder title

24. gareon conley, cb, ohio state

RECORD: GRADE Incomplete

Well, file this one as TBD. Conley was a sure-fire first-rounder for the last several weeks, until a rape allegation against him came to light. Teams spent the past 48 hours digging into that situation, so the Raiders must feel like Conley has been honest in claiming the allegation is false. (Conley has not been charged.) From a talent perspective, Conley had an argument to be the second cornerback off the board. He is a potential shut-down guy for an Oakland defense that had few answers on the outside last season. How long will his off-field situation drag out, and what will be the outcome?

Image placeholder title

25. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

RECORD: GRADE B

The Browns stayed the course at No. 1, grabbing Myles Garrett. And then … well, things got weird. After trading away the 12th pick and a shot at Deshaun Watson, the Browns dropped back 13 spots and nabbed one of the more divisive members of this draft class. Peppers is a freaky athlete, one who can contribute on special teams and even offense. But what will he be for the Browns beyond that? Probably a slot CB/safety hybrid with extreme upside, but this still came out of nowhere given the team making the pick. Keep in mind: Cleveland has three second-round picks, plus the extra 2018 first it added earlier Thursday.

Image placeholder title

26. takkarist mckinley, de, ucla (via seattle)

RECORD: grade B+

Image placeholder title

27. Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU (via Kansas City)

RECORD: GRADE A

A long wait for the Bills after trading away pick No. 10, but it would have been hard to screw this up too badly at No. 27, with Buffalo now holding Kansas City’s picks at 91 and in the first round next year. And this definitely is not a miss. White may not wholly replace the departed Stephon Gilmore, but without question he should help the Bills navigate past that difficult free-agent loss. White’s a rangy corner who can match up with receivers both outside and in the slot—a nice piece for new coach Sean McDermott.

Image placeholder title

28. taco charlton, de, michigan

RECORD: grade A-

The hype on Charlton peaked around pick No. 9 (Cincinnati). This is a far more appropriate range for him, considering that he has shown flashes of brilliance but is still very much a work in progress. And if that’s your scouting report as a defensive lineman, there are few coaches better to help mold your development than Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. While Charlton is steady enough against the run that he can be trusted on early downs, Marinelli figures to unleash him most often bending the edge vs. the pass. This fills a need for Dallas, and at a good value.

Image placeholder title

29. David Njoku, Te, Miami (via green bay)

RECORD: grade B

The Browns traded back into Round 1, coughing up picks 33 and 108. Surely, this had to be for the quarterback, right? Or not… The Browns chose a different direction, opting to snag Njoku to pair with Gary Barnidge at the tight end spot. That’s a potentially lethal 1-2 punch—Njoku is very raw, but he could be a dominant pass-catching TE down the road. There is, of course, the lingering question of who exactly is throwing the football to Njoku, Barnidge and the Browns’ receivers. Right now, it would be either Cody Kessler or Brock Osweiler. Cleveland had multiple chances to add another name to that mix Thursday and declined.

Image placeholder title

30. t.j. watt, lb, wisconsin

RECORD: grade B+

Image placeholder title

31. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama (via Seattle)

RECORD: GRADE A

Seattle dropped back again, this time out of the first round in exchange for San Francisco’s picks at 34 and 111. And while the 49ers certainly could have rolled the dice on a quarterback here, adding Foster to earlier pick Solomon Thomas has the makings of an all-time steal. Take away Foster’s hospital incident in Indianapolis and his diluted-sample drug test, and he had a case to be the pick at No. 2 overall. He and NaVorro Bowman together—assuming Bowman stays on track in rehabbing his Achilles injury—could bring back memories of the Bowman-Patrick Willis tandem.

Image placeholder title

32. ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

RECORD: grade B

An interesting conclusion to a wild night. This is the pick that the Saints acquired for trading Brandin Cooks to New England, but there weren’t many (any?) folks predicting they’d use it on a tackle. That’s not to say it is a nonsensical selection. Andrus Peat, the Saints’ 2015 first-rounder, has settled in at guard, and veteran Zach Strief turns 34 in September. So, the Saints got a jump on any potential future headaches by bringing in Ramczyk. The knock: It probably does not make New Orleans any better in 2017 unless Strief is headed out the door early. The defense could have used another body here.