LOS ANGELES, APRIL 27, 2017 — With Easter and Passover in the rear-view mirror, leatherheads celebrated their version of Holy Thursday. At 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Sir Roger of Goodell uttered the most important words in Philadelphia since the Founding Fathers:
“The Cleveland Browns are on the clock.”
With God and the great game of football he created, there is no offseason.
The 2017 National Football League Draft had the potential to be one of the worst drafts ever. Instead, it had riveting intrigue and shock after shock after shock.
The 1983 Draft had the best quarterback class of all time, with John Elway, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly all making the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 2011 class may have been the worst, with Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, and Blaine Gabbert all being busts.
2017 was supposed to be a weak quarterback class. The 1-15 Cleveland Browns need a quarterback, but they were not willing to use their cherished top pick on an unworthy player. Their selection of defensive end Myles Garrett to start the Draft was viewed positively.
Then came the chaos. San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch had never drafted a player before. Somehow he managed to rob the Chicago Bears blind. If ever there was a draft not to reach for a signal caller, this was it. The Bears were so desperate to move up only one spot from third to second that they gave the 49ers a king’s ransom.
The 49ers received Chicago’s third and fourth round picks this year and their third round pick in 2018.
The Bears grabbed quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who would have fallen to them anyway. Lynch was bluffing. The 49ers had no intention of taking a quarterback. Lynch selected defensive end, Solomon Thomas. The last time a team gave up multiple picks to move up from third to second was in 1998.
The Arizona Cardinals suckered the San Diego Chargers, who set their franchise back several years by drafting Ryan Leaf. NFL Network spent several minutes speculating on who the Bears would take. The entire panel of analysts ruled out a quarterback.
NFL Network spent several minutes speculating on who the Bears would take. The entire panel of analysts ruled out a quarterback.
The Bears were not the only team that let desperation cause them to overpay for a quarterback. Despite going 12-4 last year, the Chiefs became the second team to throw Alex Smith under the bus. Andy Reid kept insisting that Smith was more than a West Coast Offense dink and dunk game manager. If Reid believed in Smith, he would not have jumped from 24th all the way up to 9th to grab quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Texans, fresh off their Brock Osweiler debacle, moved up to the 12th spot to take quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The Texans, fresh off their Brock Osweiler debacle, moved up to the 12th spot to take quarterback Deshaun Watson.
This was supposed to be the draft where defense dominated. Every segment of offense was considered weaker than in past years. Yet eight of the first twelve picks were offense. However, nobody in this quarterback-driven league seemed interested in protecting the blind side. Not a single offensive lineman was taken until the Denver Broncos selected tackle Garett Bowles with the twentieth pick.
With the fourth pick, the Jaguars could have gone with defense. Instead, Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin surprised everybody by taking running back Leonard Fournette. Since when did anybody draft running backs early anymore? The NFL is a passing league, and running backs break down quickly.
The NFL is a passing league, and running backs break down quickly.
This 2017 Draft was crazy long before the first player was selected.
The city of Philadelphia was magnificent. Presidential candidates brag about 20,000 people showing up to a rally. This Draft had ten times that many people flood the City of Brotherly Love.
For some teams, any player drafted would have been hated. At a Draft party in San Diego, sports radio took delight in derisively mocking “the San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles.” In the entire room, Chargers fans could hardly be found. Phillip Rivers has a new receiver in Mike Williams, but San Diego should have added defense to an already stout club with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. The Carolina Panthers also raised eyebrows with their pick of running back Christian McCaffrey with the eighth pick.
The Carolina Panthers also raised eyebrows with their pick of running back Christian McCaffrey with the eighth pick.
The Oakland Raiders are always making news, and this year was no exception. Their big move came before the Draft ever started. After working out a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, the Raiders succeeded in bringing Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch to the Silver and Black. Lynch has a lifelong love of his city of Oakland, and bringing him in is an attempt to soothe fan base angry over the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in 2019 or 2020. The Raiders are loaded on offense, and Reggie McKenzie knew he had to select a defensive player.
By picking cornerback Gareon Conley in the 24th spot, McKenzie may have briefly been replaced by the late Al Davis. Conley is currently facing a rape accusation, which never would have deterred Davis. To be fair to Conley, he has not been arrested or charged with any crime. The Raiders had better hope this remains the case.
The Raiders are loaded on offense, and Reggie McKenzie knew he had to select a defensive player. By picking cornerback Gareon Conley in the 24th spot, McKenzie may have briefly been replaced by the late Al Davis. Conley is currently facing a rape accusation, which never would have deterred Davis. To be fair to Conley, he has not been arrested or charged with any crime. The Raiders had better hope this remains the case.
The New England Patriots did not even have a first round pick, but do they even need one? Bill Belichick spent the offseason making the Patriots better than the 2016 squad that only managed to win their fifth Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers also traded out of the first round.
The Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers also traded out of the first round.
In a year where the incoming players were supposed to be lackluster, the action was anything but. The Draft is supposed to be a bunch of rich people making telephone calls. Viewers watch people discussing other people making these telephone calls. Only in the NFL does that make for riveting viewing.
Even the famous faces on Draft Day were no longer around. ESPN fired a bunch of people the day before the Draft. Tom Jackson has retired. Chris Berman no longer covers football. Stuart Scott is watching football in heaven. At least we still have Mel Kiper Jr. and his aging but still pronounced pompadour.
At least we still have Mel Kiper Jr. and his aging but still pronounced pompadour.
The best part of all the craziness is that it is just the beginning. Two more days and six more rounds still await. Buckle up those chinstraps, leatherheads. It is going to be another wild ride.Click here for reuse options!
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