How would you like to spend all the time between the end of the 2016 season preparing for the 2017 Draft, working with all of your scouts to craft the best draft board you can and then making a series of picks in conjunction with your owner and your coach… only to be fired the next day? That’s what happened to Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley yesterday. He was fired one day after the draft. And then you shift focus south and find that the Jacksonville Jaguars have decided to pick-up the fifth-year option on their quarterback Blake Bortles. It can’t be a coincidence that they wait until after the draft to make the decision. Does Bortles feel like the Jags have settled on him?
And now we move on to the NFC side of the draft with a few comments and thoughts on how each team did.
NFC – East
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys drafted Taco Charlton, which is a great fit for both the player and the scheme. Rod Marinelli is likely to get the best out of him. But drafting cornerback Jourdan Lewis, who has a misdemeanor domestic violence charge against him seems like an unnecessary risk in a CB rich draft class.
New York Giants: The Giants took a flyer on QB Davis Webb from Cal in the third round. Webb comes out of college with a losing record after having transferred to Cal once he lost his starting job elsewhere. QB wasn’t a pending need with Eli Manning on the roster, but this was a pick for the future.
Philadelphia Eagles: Getting Derek Barnett in the first round is a solid pick with high upside potential, but drafting Sidney Jones could be the big win here. If Jones recovers from the injury he suffered at his pro-day, he could be the long-term answer in the secondary for the team.
Washington Redskins: The future of Kirk Cousins with the Redskins may still be up in the air, but the team is building for the future by going defense with their first four picks. DL Jonathan Allen and LB Ryan Anderson should have an immediate impact while CB Fabian Moreau and safety Monte Nicholson are coming off surgeries and are likely to be held back early on.
NFC – North
Chicago Bears: Bears GM Ryan Pace is going all in. He gave away a lot to move up one slot for a QB that has only started one year in college. And even if Mitchell Trubisky is the franchise quarterback they want; the rest of the draft class is filled with division II reaches and players coming off injuries. In a year or two Pace will either look like a genius or be looking for work.
Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis is one of the safest first run picks the Lions could’ve made. High-character player with leadership skills, the type of player that will help change the culture of a team looking to be a winner. The Lions have been moving in the right direction of late, and picks like Davis will keep them moving forward.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers got some defensive help in CB Kevin King and LB Vince Biegel. T.J. Watt could be a steal if he plays even close to the way his brother does. But they addressed their biggest need, running back, with quantity over quality, waiting until the late rounds to get Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.
Minnesota Vikings: The knock on Dalvin Cook has to do with the people he associates with off-the-field. If he can leave them behind as he moves from Florida, he could be what the Vikings need. He fits well into the offense Pat Schurmur runs. But he will have to fill the shoes of Adrian Peterson which is a lot of pressure for a rookie, something the Vikings will have to help manage.
NFC – South
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons moved up five spots to get Takkarist McKinley in the first round. Pairing him opposite of Vic Beasley is a big upgrade to their defense. But there next biggest need was a right guard and the closest they got is a tackle, Sean Harlow, in the fourth round. Harlow can try to make the transition, but it’s not an easy thing to do and he has no experience playing guard.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers spent their first two picks on very similar players. Christian McCaffrey, a running back that can play slot receiver and Curtis Samuels, a slot receiver that can play running back. The team is trying to take some of the running pressure off of Cam Newton, so Mike Shula must have something in mind for the offense where a small, fast scat style runner with good hands is going to be a necessity.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints hit on their biggest need in the first round when the grabbed CB Marshon Lattimore, a player the team had fourth on their board. But the interesting move came in the third where they drafted RB Alvin Kamara just days after signing Adrian Peterson. Kamara is a similar style of player to a Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush, which Sean Payton is known to like.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs used their first-round pick to get a best friend for quarterback Jamis Winston. O.J. Howard is an all-around tight end that can upgrade the entire offense. Adding an additional blocker on run plays, tacking some of the attention away from the wideouts on passing and creating miss-matches with opposing linebackers.
NFC – West
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals know what they like in their secondary and aren’t afraid to trade up to get it. In this case, they moved up to get DB Budda Baker, a four-down corner that plays very similarly to their starting CB Tyrann Mathieu. Baker should be able to get on the field early in certain passing situations and is a great insurance policy if Mathieu gets hurt again this year.
Los Angeles Rams: The Rams had no first round pick, having given it up last year to get Jared Goff. And when their time in the second round came up, they traded back seven spots and picked up an extra third-rounder. In the end, they got the man they wanted all along, Gerald Everett, a tight end with down-field capabilities.
San Francisco 49ers: Rookie GM John Lynch made what might be the trade of the weekend when he traded back one spot in the first round with the Bears and picked up two thirds and a fourth plus got the man they wanted, Solomon Thomas. Then later, they used the fourth to trade back up into the first round to get Reuben Foster, the top LB prospect who dropped due to some health concerns.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have a lot of faith in their coaching staff. That’s the only thing that explains why they took DT Malik McDowell from Michigan State. The knock on the player is that he has all the potential in the world, but doesn’t live up to it. He had 1.5 sacks in 2016. It’s going to be up to Pete Carroll to find a way to keep this kid’s motor running on high.