- Who won the draft? We broke down the best and worst picks of every team's class.
Three days, seven rounds and 253 picks later, it’s over. The 2017 NFL draft opened with a flurry of trades and some bold selections in Round 1, and the drama didn’t let up from there.
Several quarterback-needy teams (but not every one) found the player they hope can grow into the franchise’s long-term answer under center. College football’s blue bloods made their presence felt, as usual: Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and ... Utah? And around the league, teams grappled with the implications of spending precious draft capital on prospects with checkered pasts.
Which teams could be entering the new season with a franchise-changing rookie class? Read on to see our complete 2017 draft grades.
This was a very on-brand draft for the Cardinals, who have made a habit of developing versatile defenders. Add to the list first-round LB Haason Reddick (No. 13 pick) and S Budda Baker (No. 36), both of whom can be utilized in myriad ways on a defense that already features Deone Bucannon and Tyrann Mathieu. Seventh-rounder Rudy Ford (No. 208) is a speed DB/special-teams guy that Arizona traded up for, too. Speaking of speed, that’s what RB T.J. Logan (No. 179) brings behind David Johnson. The picks of G Dorian Johnson (No. 115) and OT Will Holden (No. 157) add depth up front. The curious selection is of WR Chad Williams (No. 98). He can develop into a playmaker, but this was early.
The Falcons traded up in Round 1 to nab edge defender Takk McKinley, shipping picks 31, 95 and 249 to Seattle for the 26th spot. They then traded down later to recoup some capital, sending No. 63 to Buffalo for Nos. 75, 149 and 156. McKinley, obviously, is the headliner—he’s working back from shoulder surgery, but his upside opposite Vic Beasley in that front seven intrigued the Falcons enough to make that move for him. Atlanta then added three quality prospects with the picks from Buffalo: LB Duke Riley, CB Damontae Kazee and RB Brian Hill. Both Riley and Kazee are athletic playmakers; none of those guys has a clear path to playing time in 2017. Round 4 guard Sean Harlow should compete to take over the starting job left vacant by Chris Chester’s retirement.
Clearly, it was a focus of GM Ozzie Newsome to upgrade the Ravens’ defense through this draft. He spent each of his first four picks on that side of the ball, even doubling down at OLB on Day 2 (Tyus Bowser, pick No. 47; Tim Williams, No. 78). Defensive lineman Chris Wormley was Newsome’s other score on Day 2—he’s a player who appears custom-made to be a 3–4 end on that Baltimore depth chart. I wasn’t as high on first-round CB Marlon Humphrey as others, but he has unquestionable upside. Day 3 did bring a pair of offensive linemen: power guard Nico Siragusa, who could start in 2017, and long-term project Jermaine Eluemunor. A little surprised Newsome did not find a pass catcher somewhere.
The rumor mill headed into draft weekend had Buffalo GM Doug Whaley likely to be fired in the coming days. Whoever ended up calling the shots (coach Sean McDermott ran point, no doubt) made things happen. The Bills traded down from 10 to 27 in Round 1, adding a third-rounder (No. 91) and a 2018 first-round pick. They took talented CB Tre’Davious White at 27, then used No. 91 as part of a trade up for WR Zay Jones. The former is an outstanding coverage corner—not to the level of Marshon Lattimore, who was available at 10, but starter-caliber. Jones essentially replaces Robert Woods, and he could be a good one.
Day 3 picks of note beyond that: G/T Dion Dawkins, who will have a chance to win a job in camp; and QB Nathan Peterman, who slid into Round 5 but could be groomed as a possible Tyrod Taylor replacement down the line. McDermott will love LB Matt Milano (No. 163)—he’s a throwback-type linebacker. Click here for a complete list of the Bills’ picks.
The offense received a huge boost, both in terms of athletic upside and O-line help. The defense took maybe a tiny step forward. Does that combo work out well enough for the Panthers to get back to Super Bowl contention? RB Christian McCaffrey was worth the No. 8 pick, because he can thrive in the power-run scheme but also burn defenses as a receiver. His addition made that of RB/WR Curtis Samuel (No. 40) unexpected. Samuel is a video-game weapon, but was this at at all repetitive after taking McCaffrey? Will the Panthers regret not going defense there? Taylor Moton (No. 64) should be the starting right tackle—he’s that solid already. DE Daeshon Hall (No. 77) and CB Corn Elder (No. 152) can contribute on defense, but neither is an elite-impact guy.
Either the Mitchell Trubisky gamble pays off big-time for the Bears, and no one cares about the ransom paid for the No. 2 pick, or it flops and a new regime will have to deal with the fallout. Second-round TE Adam Shaheen could help Trubisky or Mike Glennon in the passing game—he’s an ultra-athletic 280 pounds. RB Tarik Cohen (Round 4) is a heckuva lot of fun, too. The Bears need those playmakers, because the defense might be rough again next season. GM Ryan Pace spent just one pick on that side of the ball: No. 112, after a trade up, for S Eddie Jackson. That’s a good player and a solid value, but also one of the few defensive positions the Bears already addressed this off-season.
If this draft class is to be believed, the Bengals’ offense will look very, very different in 2017. They spent picks No. 9 (WR John Ross), 41 (RB Joe Mixon) and 128 (WR Josh Malone) on players who should help them open things up—Ross, in particular, will handle that duty opposite A.J. Green. Cincinnati might spread the field and throw a lot—that is, when Andy Dalton is not handing off to Mixon. The Oklahoma product comes with troubling baggage, so we’ll see if he can walk the straight and narrow enough to show off his brilliant talent. Help for the D-line came in the form of edge guys Jordan Willis (No. 73) and Carl Lawson (No. 116), as well as interior space-eater Ryan Glasgow (No. 138). Click here for a complete list of the Bengals’ picks.
The Browns entered the draft with two first-round picks and wound up making three on Thursday: DE/OLB Myles Garrett at No. 1 overall, followed by S Jabrill Peppers (No. 25, after a trade down) and TE David Njoku (No. 29, after a trade up). The Peppers and Njoku picks, without question, indicate Cleveland wants to stockpile athleticism, even at the expense of immediate returns. The pick that really swings this class, though, happened at 52, which is where Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer landed. Hard to imagine the Browns thought he would be there when they passed on a QB several times earlier. DT Larry Ogunjobi (No. 65) and CB Howard Wilson (No. 126) are great picks for a rebuilding team—Wilson especially, because he has top-two corner upside. Using No. 185 on DT Caleb Brantley was a misstep, regardless of his talent. He recently was arrested for misdemeanor battery and accused of punching a woman.
The first pick, DE Taco Charlton (No. 28 overall), was about finding a player to help fix the Cowboys’ need off the edge. The next four selections increased their overall team flexibility, both on offense and defense. CBs Chidobe Awuzie (No. 60) and Jourdan Lewis (No. 92) are scrappy defenders capable of holding their own outside or in the slot. (Using a pick on Lewis will come with scrutiny, because he’s awaiting a July trial on a domestic abuse allegation.) S Xavier Woods (No. 191) is another interchangeable piece, which will help take pressure off Byron Jones. WR Ryan Switzer (No. 133) can pair in the slot with Cole Beasley or handle return duties while playing behind the Cowboys’ proven receiver. A solid group, pending Lewis’s availability.
GM John Elway opened Denver’s draft festivities by landing the offensive tackle he so badly needed (Garett Bolles, No. 20), and he did so without having to trade up. Also on Elway’s checklist headed into the draft: more bulk for the D-line, a big-play option on offense and perhaps a pass-catching tight end. Enter DT/DE DeMarcus Walker (No. 51), electrifying WR Carlos Henderson (No. 82) and TE Jake Butt (No. 145), who is on his way back from a torn ACL. Third-round cornerback Brendan Langley (No. 101) is a high-upside guy, as well, who should benefit immensely from watching the other Denver DBs. Elway also made perhaps the most fascinating Mr. Irrelevant pick ever: QB Chad Kelly. Does he have any chance of sticking on the roster?
GM Bob Quinn continues to put in understated work molding this roster. Linebackers Jarrad Davis (No. 21 pick) and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (No. 124) could be the long-term future together for the Lions, although both come with injury concerns. Detroit also passed on Reuben Foster to take Davis. Cornerback Teez Tabor (No. 53) tested like he’d never run in his life, but he’s much better when it counts—with him and nickel CB Jamal Agnew (No. 165) in the fold, the Lions could ship out a veteran cornerback or two. Big wide receiver Kenny Golladay (No. 96) could be special in time, but Josh Reynolds might have been the better call. TE Michael Roberts (No. 127) will score, if Matthew Stafford just puts the ball near him. This also was the landing spot for Miami QB Brad Kaaya (No. 215), who will compete with Jake Rudock for the backup job.
The defense was priority No. 1 for GM Ted Thompson, so he delivered CB Kevin King (pick No. 33, after a trade out of Round 1), versatile S Josh Jones (No. 61) and underrated OLB Vince Biegel (No. 108). He also used a third-rounder on DT Montravius Adams (No. 93), which at best is a decent—probably not eye-popping—value and at worst is a throwaway pick. Later, it was the run game on the docket, and the Packers doubled up at the RB spot with Jamaal Williams (No. 134) and Aaron Jones (182). That could be a very good duo alongside Aaron Rodgers. At the bare minimum, they’ll free up Ty Montgomery to roam the scheme more.
It is far from unanimous that Deshaun Watson is the answer at QB in Houston. It says here that he has a better shot at filling that role than perhaps any other quarterback has in the Texans’ brief history. He was worth the high cost of going up from No. 25 to 12 to get him (a 2018 first-rounder). Scoring LB Zach Cunningham at pick 57 was a welcome bonus after the Round 1 dramatics—he can handle a heavy snap count immediately, with Brian Cushing a candidate to lose time. RB D’Onta Foreman (No. 89) will make Lamar Miller’s life easier as the No. 1 option. If OT Julién Davenport (No. 130) can make incremental progress the next couple seasons, Houston could have a starting left tackle waiting when Duane Brown, 32 in August, gets to the end of his career.
Incredible value for the Colts at each of their first three picks: Safety Malik Hooker (No. 15 overall) and cornerback Quincy Wilson (46) should be instant starters in the secondary, while edge rusher Tarell Basham (80) at least can make an impact on passing downs. For a team whose defense picked off just eight passes last season and lost OLBs Erik Walden (free agency) and Robert Mathis (retirement), this was a critical restocking. RB Marlon Mack (Round 4) is a home-run threat to slot in behind Frank Gore, while fifth-round LB Anthony Walker has three-down potential. The only shoddy pick was OT Zach Banner, who faces a long road to being a serviceable NFL blocker.
Are you a believer that a running back can be the missing piece for a long-struggling franchise? If so, then this might be the draft class for you. The Jaguars spent pick No. 4 on Leonard Fournette, a player with undeniable upside … as well as past injury issues, and an uncertain fit with QB Blake Bortles’s style. Stealing OT Cam Robinson (No. 34) will help both Fournette and Bortles—he should have gone in Round 1. DE Dawuane Smoot (No. 68) was a player the Jaguars apparently liked more than just about any other team. WR Dede Westbrook (No. 110) can open up the middle of the field, but his character red flags are concerning. Quality sleeper picks came at 148 (LB Blair Brown) and 222 (speedy CB Jalen Myrick). But this all hinges on Fournette. Click here for a complete list of the Jaguars’ picks.
The Chiefs went all-in on QB Patrick Mahomes, using picks 27, 91 and a 2018 first-rounder to climb 17 spots in Round 1 for the Texas Tech prospect. If Mahomes develops under Andy Reid’s watch, that could set the Chiefs up at quarterback for years to come. It likely doesn’t do anything for them next season, which is noteworthy given how this team is built to contend. Second-round DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (pick No. 59) is another multi-year developmental project. RB Kareem Hunt (No. 86) could have the earliest impact of this draft class. He’s a Round 3 version of Dalvin Cook, headed to a team with an unsettled backfield. This a cross-your-fingers draft class that could help solidify the future, but offers minimal help for the present. Click here for a complete list of the Chiefs’ picks.
The Chargers took WR Mike Williams at No. 7, which is an exciting pick and will help Philip Rivers keep that passing game cranked up. They might not have needed him, per se, but his talent is huge. The players they did need came in Rounds 2 and 3, in the form of G/T Forrest Lamp (No. 38) and G Dan Feeney (No. 71). A fantastic Day 2 haul that should go a long way toward fixing a long-troublesome, oft-banged up line. The Rayshawn Jenkins (No. 113) and Desmond King (No. 151) back-to-back on Day 3 also should help. Keep a close eye on King, whose playmaking skills alone should have gotten him off the board much earlier. Click here for a complete list of the Chargers’ picks.