Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Live Blog

It's draft time! 2017 continues to fly by, and the craziness of the NFL draft is already upon us. Rather than bombard my twitter feed with pick by pick thoughts, I decided to take a page out of The Sports Guy's book and do a running diary of what's going on. There will still be some tweets embedded in here from stuff I see on my feed, but for the most part, this will be my immediate, unfiltered thoughts.

4:50 PM:'s Mary Kay Cabot has reported earlier today that Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett is going to be the #1 pick, and I'm still recovering. I knew I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up again with the recent reports that North Carolina QB Mitchell "don't call me Mitch" Trubisky could still be in play with the top picks. My beloved 49ers won't be getting a generational pass rusher to play the Leo spot in their new 4-3 Under after all.

4:55 PM: Ian Rapoport comes on to reiterate that the 49ers are (wisely) exploring options to trade back from their #2 spot, and now the Bears are open to it, as well. This is what I've been clamoring for once Garrett proved at the combine that he is in a tier of his own atop the rankings and shouldn't be there with with second pick. This is a strong draft, but there isn't a clear cut #2 player since a bunch of players are all great between the 2 and 15-ish range. The problem is that you need a partner, so hopefully the smokescreen of interest in a QB or RB will generate enough interest for a trade with someone like the Jets, Panthers, or Browns with their other first round pick.

5:04 PM: NFL Network comes back from commercial to show the incredible scene of just how many people are attending the draft live now that it's back in Philadelphia for the first time since 1961. Hope it doesn't get too cold for them since Roger Goodell is just now starting the opening ceremonies in what will likely be a long night.

5:11 PM: The Browns are still wasting time "listening to trade talks" in case offers suddenly become good enough for them to pass on the guy everyone is gushing about. Meanwhile, the Draft Day jokes are flying on Twitter with Cleveland taking forever to pick #1.

5:13 PM: As expected, Cleveland selects Vontae Mack, I mean Myles Garrett. Who knows if he's as charismatic as Chadwick Boseman was in the movie, but he is a heck of a prospect. He combines all of the eye-popping physical tools with a large body of production going back to his freshman year, and although he didn't put up huge numbers as a junior, he did play through a nagging injury to still help his team. (I'm still bitter that they ran from the 5 with a minute left in a tie game, and Isaiah Crowell fumbled to lose in OT to Pittsburgh's backups and secure this draft pick.)

5:16 PM: BREAKING NEWS of the Bears making a trade after all, and it's with the 49ers from 3 to 2! They must have really feared someone else moving up to take the guy they've been linked to for a while now: Stanford DE Solomon Thomas. For rookie GM John Lynch, getting an extra third (#67), fourth (#111), and a third rounder next year is excellent value to move down just one spot in the order and still likely get the player they want. In other news, Cleveland's playing up the Draft Day joke, which is amazing.

5:21 PM: And things are already crazy as Chicago traded up to take Trubisky! Daniel Jeremiah expresses what everyone's feeling by asking if it's okay to be speechless this early in the draft. I know the Mike Glennon contract they just signed isn't as big as it was made out to be due to limited guarantees, but this is still an absolute shocker. I do like Trubisky and am not overly concerned about him having to wait for his opportunity behind a lesser QB prospect since he does have good physical tools and production in his year as a starter. However, it is hard to fully buy into his upside in this spot with such a limited body of work.

5:29 PM: The 49ers select a guy a lot of people mocked to them at #2, Solomon Thomas, and you can't complain about that at all after the haul they got (seriously, they must have convinced Chicago that someone else like Cleveland was offering a similarly huge deal to nab Trubsiky). I'm not sure he's a perfect fit as a "Leo" edge rusher they needed in their new defensive scheme mirroring Seattle's since he's more Michael Bennett than Cliff Avril, but having a talented lineman rotation with their last two first round picks, DeForest Buckener and Arik Armstead, is a fine option to have.

5:34 PM: Leonard Fournette makes it RB at pick #4 for the second year in a row, so talent prevails over positional value. Hopefully the Jaguars' offensive line comes together to give him opportunities to show off his immense physical abilities. T.J. Yeldon, their second round pick two years ago, has shown enough versatility to be a solid pass catching option behind Fournette if the LSU rookie doesn't round out that part of his game right away.

5:42 PM: Steve Smith can see the future! It would have made sense for the Titans to take one of the top corners here, but I love seeing Western Michigan WR Corey Davis go in the top-5 because I consider him an elite talent as the top receiver in the draft. Smith's comparison of him to Terrell Owens is legitimate, and as Rotoworld's Josh Norris says, he's a big receiver who can win in the small game as he set the FBS record for career receiving yards. He might've still been available when they pick again at #15, but regardless, Marcus Mariota just got a great #1 target.

5:48 PM: RapSheet turns some heads by saying the Browns have interest in trading for Kirk Cousins now that they were stunned by the Trubisky pick, and DJ makes the statement that the Jets have the worst roster in the league. Things are heating up!

5:51 PM: The Jets make it two LSU Tigers in the top 6 with safety Jamal Adams coming in to turn around this team. I thought they might take Ohio State's Malik Hooker as a true free safety, but they might be seeing the error in their previous regime's ways and pushing out 2014 first rounder Calvin Pryor out since he's limited as a box safety. Although Adams is versatile enough to play in any scheme, I like him best as a strong safety in a two deep defense, so it'll be interesting to see what they do.

5:58 PM: Minutes after RapSheet breaks the news about the Chargers having a secret workout with Clemson WR Mike Williams, they do in fact take the big bodied receiver that some consider to be the best in this class with Alshon Jeffery potential. I don't quite understand the fit since the 6'4" Tyrell Williams broke out last season, and they have 6'2" Keenan Allen coming back healthy this summer in the second year of his big contract. Tyrell could play flanker to Mike's split end with Allen in the slot, but what about speedster Travis Benjamin, whom they also just paid?

6:04 PM: With Fournette gone, Carolina takes Stanford RB Chrsitian McCaffrey, and their offense just became a lot more fun. Mike Mayock goes into a LeSean McCoy comparison, which is funny since when Shady was drafted, he was compared to his Eagles teammate that I would compare McCaffrey to: Brian Westbrook. If you want a really hot take, he could become what everyone thought Reggie Bush would be as a dynamic runner, receiver, and return man, and not just because he also wears #5 and should have his name on the Heisman Trophy list. #EastCoastBias, man.
6:11 PM: Washington WR John Ross continue the early offensive surprises by getting picked in the top-10 by Cincinnati. I didn't like the mock drafts of Davis or Williams here, but I absolutely love this fit as a lid-lifting complement to A.J. Green. Tyler Boyd, last year's second round pick, is best in the slot mostly to fill the Mohamed Sanu role, and now Ross can be a faster Marvin Jones.

6:15 PM: We've got another trade! Kansas City has given up their third this year (#91) and their 2018 first to move up 17 spots from #27 to Buffalo's #10. Wow. It has to be for their QB of the future, and although I think it should be Clemson's Deshaun Watson, it's probably going to be Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II based on the past rumors.

6:19 PM: Yup, it's Mahomes. I know there was talk of Bruce Arians wanting him in Arizona with #13, but I can't believe he joins Trubisky off the board in the top-10. I'm not shocked at all that it's to Andy Reid, though, since he did surprise in 2007 by taking Kevin Kolb with the 36th pick. He'll have a year or two to develop his raw talent behind steady veteran Alex Smith, but with a double down on a spread QB even higher in the draft, Reid better hope he's right about the Brett Favre comparison.
6:28 PM: The Saints benefit from this offensive run and get Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore to fill a big need. They were linked to Marlon Humphrey from Alabama, but that was because no one could thought Lattimore would be available here given his near consensus ranking as the top CB. The hamstring history is a slight concern, but when he's on the field, he shows elite ball skills in coverage. 

6:33 PM: Rich Eisen announces that Houston traded their 2018 first round pick to move up from #25 to the #13 spot owned by Cleveland, who already own the Texans' second in 2018 along with Philadelphia's. In my mind, it has to be Watson after this run of passers.

6:35 PM: Yessir, it's Watson as Houston's new franchise QB after their dealings with Cleveland, which will of course link them to him like with Carson Wentz last year. The Texans paid a high price but are getting arguably the best leader in the draft to hopefully step in right away to get them over the hump in the playoffs. Maybe it's the 4 on their chest and their similar stature, but he reminds me a bit of Dak Prescott, whose historic rookie season he'll hope to emulate in the same state. He needs to take care of the ball more like Prescott, but there's a reason Watson was the preseason favorite for the #1 pick even before torching 'Bama in the National Championship for the second straight year.

6;45 PM: With a multitude of star defensive talent available, Arizona takes one of the highest risers in the draft process, Temple DE/LB Haason Reddick, and I can't wait to see what he does in their defense. After dominating as a pass rusher, he showed at the Senior Bowl that he could not only play linebacker but even excel in the middle. I think he'd be best served as a pass rushing outside linebacker in their 3-4, but at the end of the day, this guy can do it all.

6:52 PM: Philadelphia picks up ultra productive Tennessee DE Derek Barnett, and Reggie White's name automatically pops up since the new Eagle broke the former Eagle's Tennessee sack record. He could be a stud despite not necessarily having the measurables you might be looking for, but I thought they'd go with one of the DB's that are surprisingly dropping. They've already invested so much in their defensive line to try and maximize defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz' scheme.

6:56 PM: We've had the "pick is in" on the screen for the Colts since before the commercial break...but at least this gives me a chance to check in on the Raptors-Bucks score going final, which mean's my Toronto in 6 pick was right.

6:59 PM: Ohio State FS Malik Hooker's name is finally called, and it's an absolute steal for Indy. I would have been happy with him if the 49ers pulled the trigger at #2, and seeing the highlights of his range and ball skills again reaffirms my feelings on him. Mayock mentions being reminded of Earl Thomas with the ground he covers, but you have to think of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed with the way he finishes plays with interceptions and returns them so well. It's no wonder the Colts had the pick in right away; he could solidify their leaky defense.

7:07 PM: Steve Smith's prediction comes true again, and although he may have some insider knowledge with his former team, everyone knows Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome loves Alabama players since he's an alum. A lot of mocks had them taking offensive lineman Cam Robinson, but that was likely because CB Marlon Humphrey wasn't expected to be here. This is such a Ravens pick as the physical corner will join free agent safety Tony Jefferson as new additions to their tough secondary.

7:15 PM: Washington makes it back to back Crimson Tide defenders and another steal at this point with defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. I understand there are medical concerns over his shoulders, but he was the best player on the nation's best defense. He'll be a force against both the run and pass from whatever formation you want to put him in and fills a need for them.

7:20 PM: After the Titans had the pick in while Allen was still walking to the podium, we finally get it announced as USC CB/RS Adoree Jackson. Not surprising that Tennessee had their pick ready right away since everyone had them linked to corners, and Jackson is an Olympic level athlete. His coverage skills still need to be refined as he relies on his amazing recovery speed so often in a way that reminds me of how my dad always describes Deion Sanders as overrated. Like Sanders, he uses that speed as an electrifying returner and occasional offensive player, so they should get value out of this pick no matter what. 

7:28 PM: After signing DeSean Jackson as a speedy second option to Mike Evans last month, Tampa Bay adds to their offensive arsenal again with Alabama TE O.J. Howard. Like his teammates, I'm shocked he lasted to #19 as he's arguably the most complete player in the draft from a physical standpoint. He joins the aforementioned Ozzie Newsome as the only 'Bama TE selected in the first round, and thanks to his standout blocking skills, Howard should see the field right away to form a strong one two punch with last year's breakout TE, Cameron Brate.

7:30 PM: Suddenly the picks are coming in fast and furious! Denver takes who some consider the top available offensive lineman in a weak class with Utah OT Garrett Bolles. Even though he's going to be 25 next month due to his LDS mission that actually was in Colorado, there's still a lot of raw potential here. I'm not sure that will he will solve their woes up front, but if he can make a positive contribution right away along with their free agent signings, they could have a strong unit.
7:39 PM: After Mayock talks about teams telling him they're concerned about Reuben Foster's shoulder like his 'Bama teammate Allen, Detroit takes a different SEC LB, Florida's Jarrad Davis. It's somewhat ironic since Davis was plagued by injuries during his career, as well, but he does fill a need as a sideline to sideline weapon.

7:42 PM: Another quick pick, and it's no surprise here as Miami takes Missouri DE Charles Harris since they need another pass rusher. He can definitely do that with his athletic traits, and this is solid value for him at #22. Sometimes, it's that easy.

7:48 PM: Back to the shockers as the Giants take Ole Miss TE Evan Engram over Miami's David Njoku. I use that TE term lightly here since he's more of a big slot receiver than a blocker, but he definitely gives fellow Rebel Eli Manning another weapon along with the addition of Brandon Marshall joining Odell Beckahm Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Although I prefer Njoku's all-around upside, Engram should be ready to step in as a threat right away.

7:54 PM: Right after the panel discusses the risks of taking Ohio State CB Gareon Conley due to the rape allegations, the Raiders take the plunge with the talented coverage man. These are always difficult situations, but based on the evidence available, it would seem his side of the story is the truth, making this another value pick. You could make the argument that he was better than his more heralded teammate Lattimore, and he fits what they look for as a long, athletic cover man.

8:02 PM: Eisen has to contain his excitement as Michigan S Jabrill Peppers goes to the rival state with Cleveland making him the #25 pick. I think he's best as a strong safety, but he's such a good athlete that he can make an impact at any spot for them, including with the ball in his hands as a return man or gadget player. And then Eisen gets his moment, requesting to see all of those at the Browns draft party celebrate his fellow Michigan man.

8:07 PM: We have another trade as Seattle gets a third (#95) and seventh (#249) as compensation for Atlanta to move up five spots and select UCLA LB/DE Takkarist McKinley, who goes on a...passionate rant. With his speed, he should fit right into their defensive front with Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and De'Vondre Campbell, and Dan Quinn knows from his days with the team he traded with that you can never have enough speedy pass rushers.

8:15 PM: And another one! It's not their pick yet, but unsurprisingly, Green Bay traded back from #29 to the first pick tomorrow (#33), and picked up the first pick of the fourth (#108) for their troubles. What is Cleveland up to with their third pick of the night??

8:18 PM: Back to the current picks, Buffalo makes it three LSU Tigers in the first round to tie 'Bama and Ohio State for the lead as CB Tre'Davious White is their pick after their trade down with KC from earlier. He's such a solid cover man as a four year starter on an always loaded team, and you know if he's wearing #18 at LSU that he's got outstanding leadership skills. He is an underrated return man, as well, and should step right in as a starter from day 1 again due to the loss of Stephon Gillmore. 

8:22 PM: Michigan DE Taco Charlton is a smart pick for Dallas here since they need to revamp their pass defense. After trying to address this position with DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Greg Hardy, maybe the third high draft pick is the charm. 

8:27 PM: Cleveland reveals the reason they wanted to move back up into the round was to take Miami TE David Njoku and make it 3/3 on impressive athletes today. After putting up solid numbers as a redshirt sophomore, there's still so much upside with this young man that's just turning 21 in July. He has a ridiculous 6'10.5" wingspan on his 6'4, 246 lb frame, and while he still needs to get stronger, he can eventually dominate in both the run and pass game with his athletic abilities.

8:31 PM: Trade alert! The 49ers are apparently trading the #111 pick they got from the Bears to move up three spots from #34 to #31, and the twitterverse is already reporting they'll stop Foster's slide. It's no surprise that the Seahawks are moving back a second time and out of the round altogether given their recent history, and in total, they've gotten an extra third, fourth, and seventh to move back eight spots.

8:36 PM: After a heartfelt tribute to Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh makes a bit of a splash by taking Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt. Despite the name recognition, this is a little higher than I expected him to go, but he could be a nice scheme fit in their 3-4 defense. They can't be relying on James Harrison to be their primary pass rusher forever.

8:40 PM: Alabama LB Reuben Foster is finally announced as the 49ers' pick, and the Crimson Tide regain the lead for most players drafted. DJ declares that if the medicals check out, this is the best pick of the draft, which is no surprise since he could have even been an option for them back at #2. With his mobility and physicality, he could be their next Patrick Willis to pair with Navarro Bowman before eventually replacing him, and I would think he starts out in the difficult strong side position that requires coverage ability in addition to strength against the run with free agent addition Malcolm Smith likely to resume the weak side role he had in this scheme during his Seattle days. I thought they might be trying to get back into the round for the 5th year option it provides and get Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer, but the high praise Lynch had for the passer may have been part of his attempt to drum up the interest in #2.

8:43 PM: After a little over three and a half hours, Goodell ends the night by declaring Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk as the Saints pick at #32 that they got from the Brandin Cooks trade. Although I'm a little surprised since they usually place a premium on guards rather than tackles, it is another solid pick for them as their line could stand to improve. Since they've talked about wanting to find an eventual successor for Drew Brees, this could have also been a spot for Kizer, who is the highest upside passer in the draft in my opinion, but they just have too many needs for a luxury pick. Thus, he joins Robinson, Florida State RB Dalvin Cook, Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham, Washington S Budda Baker, and Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon as the best available players, in some order. Can't wait to follow it all again tomorrow!

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