Draft Judgements: 15 takeaways from Thursday's first round
- The only certainty in life are death, taxes and overdrafted quarterbacks. There isn't one QB in this draft who can step into a huddle tomorrow, yet three went with the first 12 picks -- and each came via trades with teams afraid they'd miss out on the next Tom Brady. Uh, did I say Tom Brady? These guys may be closer to Wayne Brady, but don't tell their next employers.
- San Francisco GM John Lynch aced the first exam. He was going to choose Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas with the second pick of the draft ... that is, until Chicago called. So he took him with the third choice instead -- only too happy to swap choices with the Bears so they could take quarterback Mitch Trubisky (whom they could've gotten at 3 anyway) and the 49ers could walk off with three more draft picks just for doing business. But Lynch wasn't finished. He traded into the back end of the first round to steal linebacker Reuben Foster at 31, and brilliant. Lynch is a Hall-of-Fame candidate as a former player, but on Thursday he was a Hall-of-Fame candidate as Executive of the Night.
- And speaking of Chicago, yes, the Bears gambled on Trubisky, a guy with 13 career collegiate starts, but GM Ryan Pace assured skeptics he knew what he was doing. "If you want to be great," he said, "You can't sit on your hands." Except you absolutely, positively, do NOT roll the dice on the second choice, no matter the position. That's how coaches and GMs get fired, and consider yourself warned, Ryan. You, too, John Fox. The Bears have glaring needs on defense, where they've hemorrhaged a league-high average of 26.8 points since 2013, and ... to paraphrase Pace ... if you want to be great you can't sit on your defense. Plus, they just spent big bucks on a free-agent quarterback, Mike Glennon, who now looks more like a one-year band-aid. Then there's this: Of the five top rated NFL quarterbacks in 2016, only one (Matt Ryan) was a Top-Ten choice (he was the third pick in 2008), and three weren't even drafted in the first round. To quote that great philosopher, Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does."
- Good news, Jets' fans: Your team just landed safety Jamal Adams, one of the top three players in this draft. Bad news, Jets' fans: You're still looking at Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as your quarterbacks.
- The pendulum is beginning to return to running backs, and you can thank Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys took him with the fourth pick of the 2016 draft and rode him to the top of the NFC East. The NFL is nothing if not a copycat league, so no surprise that two of the top eight choices were running backs.
- Look for future draft-eligible players to skip bowl games. Reason: It won't affect your draft status, and here's how we know: Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. You call them running backs; I call them trend setters. Each skipped bowl games to make himself ready for the draft and were criticized for it. Fournette later defended himself, saying it wasn't his decision; it was his coach's. Well, then, take a bow, Ed Orgeron. Fournette was taken with the fourth pick; McCaffrey with the eighth.
- Gareon Conley and Las Vegas. What a combination.
- The NFL has a short attention span. Remember how I said it's a copycat league? Right. So how come nobody paid attention to three of the past four Super Bowls? New England led the league last year in fewest points allowed. Denver ranked first in defense the year before. And Seattle was the NFL's top defense in 2013. So what? So they all won Super Bowls, further proof that defense wins championships. But you knew that. So how come the league's bottom feeders don't? Of the top 10 picks, seven were offensive players. Only Cleveland (Myles Garrett), San Francisco (Solomon Thomas) and the Jets (Jamal Adams) went defense.
- Atlanta draft pick Tak McKinley on what's next: "Get to the quarterback. That's all that matters. Get to the quarterback." Great idea ... only it comes three months too late for the Falcons.
- Cleveland better hope Deshaun Watson doesn't make it in Houston. The Browns need a quarterback, and Watson was in play for the Browns at the 12th pick. Game, set, match. Right? Not exactly. For Cleveland's sake, here's hoping the Browns know something about Watson that Houston doesn't because they bailed out, trading the pick, and where have we heard that before? Oh, yeah, it was the Browns who bailed out of the second pick a year ago when they could've had Carson Wentz. That sound you just heard was Cody Kessler exhaling.
- Don't tell me nobody cares what offensive linemen think. Cleveland must. All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas last week went off on the league, saying draft prospects shouldn't be penalized for diluted test samples. Well, Michigan's Jabrill Peppers was ... until Cleveland came to his rescue at the 25th spot. Just a hunch, but Thomas liked this pick. Heck, he might've even made it.
- Nice job, Philadelphia. You not only packed the house for the NFL; you gave Roger Goodell an idea of what to expect next. Consider Philly fans the warm-up band for what happens if/when the commish returns to Foxboro.
- Best pick of the draft: Cornerback Marlon Humphrey at the 16th spot by Baltimore. Reason: It has nothing to do with Humphrey and everything to do with the fist-pumping teen who announced him. That would be T.J. Onwuanibe, a 14-year-old student at the McDonough School in suburban Baltimore. T.J. has been diagnosed with brain cancer and was in Philadelphia as part of the Make-A-Wish program, with the Ravens granting him his wish -- to appear at the NFL draft and announce the Ravens' pick. Class move.
- Washington stole defensive end Jonathan Allen at the 17th pick. No way he should have lasted this long.
- Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer is still available. Repeat ... still available. Yep, he's the guy who said he could be the greatest quarterback in NFL history, a combination of Tom Brady and Cam Newton -- with Brady's smarts and Newton's body. Unfortunately, somebody must not have bought it. OK, nobody did.