The 2017 NFL Draft has left me searching for terra firma. After years of soiling that place where you sleep, the Cleveland Browns have now done the smart thing in two straight drafts, to wit, punt on drafting yet another uninspiring QB prospect in favor of stockpiling more surefire talent at other positions. The Browns took the best prospect available (DE Myles Garrett) first-overall, then traded down from no. 12 and wound up translating two more first-round picks into safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku.
Quarterback is the most important position in the game; no one is arguing otherwise. But you can’t just pluck the next Tom Brady — or even the next Matt Ryan — out of thin air. When the draft class doesn’t justify taking a QB early, you shouldn’t take a QB early. Reaching for a Brady Quinn or a Brandon Weeden, and then hoping he surpasses his projections, is what will get your team mired in a decade-long “rebuild.”
That’s a maxim the Chicago Bears seemed to live by. They hadn’t drafted a QB in the first round since Rex Grossman in 2003, and it looked like that streak would continue when they inked Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract in the offseason. That made it all the more shocking when they dealt multiple mid-round picks to move up one spot (from 3rd-overall to 2nd-overall) and take UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky, a guy pegged as the 32nd-best player in the draft by Daniel Jeremiah.
The Bears are rightfully getting killed for the move in the sober light of day. But they weren’t the only team that paid a steep price to move up and take a pivot. The Chiefs jumped up 17 spots to take Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), while the Texans moved up 13 spots to draft Deshaun Watson (Clemson).
All of these moves could pay off. Projecting how QBs will translate at the pro level is an art, not a science. Projecting whether they’ll emerge as a franchise-savior from day one is a little easier, so join me as a I take the road more paved! Below are the odds the three first-round QBs start in Week 1, along with the odds a few other top prospects (like Garrett) live up to their hype.
Chicago just committed $15 million to Mike Glennon. Without getting into the nonsensicality of their offseason plan (or lack thereof), when you’ve invested that much capital, don’t you have to give the guy a look?
Well, no, you don’t have to. Just ask Matt Flynn and the Seahawks. But it makes it pretty likely that they will. Trubisky isn’t going anywhere, after all, and rare is the rookie QB whose development is hindered by a little time on the sideline.
Bill O’Brien is saying that Tom Savage is still the starter heading into 2017. The dude threw zero touchdown passes in three starts last year. Anyone watch that Texans/Bengals Christmas Eve game? He threw for 176 yards … against the Bengals. Houston needed its old pal Randy Bullock to shank a field-goal just to earn a 12-10 win at home … against a team that
If Watson impresses in camp, Houston won’t hesitate to park Savage on the bench where he belongs. This team has everything it needs to win now … except a QB.
Alex Smith is still the man in KC; Mahomes is the future. Even if Smith wasn’t on the roster, Mahomes is not NFL-ready. Barring an injury or some truly outlandish pre-season performances — from both Mahomes and Smith — he’ll be holding a clipboard all year.
Fournette should get the bulk of the carries in Jacksonville, but it’s not like the Jags have a wall for him to run behind. He’s not walking into the plum situation that Zeke Elliott did in Dallas. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon: there are a number of other potential bell-cows in this draft, and unlikely RB stars emerge every year. Case in point: Jonathan Howard.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believe in Garrett. That number isn’t an indictment of his talent. It’s just that I’m also a believer in Solomon Thomas (3rd overall to the 49ers), Derek Barnett (14th overall to the Eagles), Jonathan Allen (17th overall to Washington), Tak McKinley (25th overall to Atlanta), and Taco Charlton (28th overall to Dallas). And many of those guys will find themselves in more favorable pass rushing situations than Garrett. I don’t think it’s a hot-take to say that the Browns won’t be forcing many opponents into catch-up mode.
Photo credit: Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire
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