By Flint Wheeler
The 2017 NFL Draft has concluded, and I wanted to go through some picks of the team I’ll be following this year, as well as some of the best and worst picks.
Let’s start with some notable picks from the entire draft.
DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama
He might not be the best player in the draft, but for where he was drafted, he was the best pick in the draft. Allen was seen as many scouts as a top-5 overall talent. Washington has a loaded offense between Cousins, Reed, and adding free-agent Terrelle Pryor. Allen falling to number 17 will help solidify a defensive line in Washington hoping to make the next step in 2017.
Although they gave up a lot to move up and get him, I think Clemson Quarterback DeShaun Watson is a stud, and a great pick for Houston at #12. The Texans already have a top defense, and just needed to find a stable quarterback after the Brock Osweiler debacle. Watson could take the Texans from a division contender to a major player in the AFC. I’ll give the nod to Allen was he will likely make an impact Week 1, where it could be a small wait before Watson makes the same kind of impact.
I still think Allen takes my top-pick spot, but Watson could prove to be more valuable down the road.
QB Mitchell Trubisky, UNC
As a UNC fan, this move was surprising, even for “Da Bears.’ The Bears gave up quite a bit to move up just one spot to take Trubisky. He has the size NFL teams are looking for at 6’3” 220. But one decent year at North Carolina wasn’t enough for me to go as high as he did. Trubisky has potential, but to take him that high after Chicago payed Mike Glennon $14 million next year seems like a wasted pick. Especially with all the great defensive players that were available at number 2.
TE Jake Butt, Michigan
John Elway said he was “holding his breath” in the picks before he took Butt with the first pick in the 5th round. Butt could have been one of the first tight end’s off the board if he didn’t tear his ACL during his senior season. The Broncos need some help at the position, as production at the tight end spot has declined dramatically since Julius Thomas left for Jacksonville.
Let us now take a look at the team’s I’ll be closely watching next season.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
DRAFT GRADE: B
This grade reflects more on the potential than the immediate impact New England’s draft picks will make. If you include that the Pats traded their top 3 picks for Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, and Mike Gillislee, I would give the Patriots an A+ for this draft. We all know how good that offense is going to be with Cooks and Gillislee added to the mix, and the Pats still added more depth at defensive line, and found a potential replacement for Nate Solder in Antonio Garcia.
I like the potential for Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise, as he has called current Patriot Trey Flowers an “older brother.” Flowers has improved every year since he was drafted in the fourth round, and that relationship could be good for Wise. Maybe Arkansas can become the new Rutgers for Belichick and the Pats if these two defensive linemen can produce.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
DRAFT GRADE: B
The Packers traded out of the first round, and I’m not sure that was the best move. Before trading, they had an opportunity to draft T.J. Watt out of Wisconsin, which would have created a great pass rushing duo with Clay Matthews. Watt ending up going 30th to Pittsburgh. However, taking CB Kevin King out of Washington with the top pick of the second round was a smart pick, as the cornerback position was a serious problem for the Packers last year.
Another large need was running back, where Green Bay took three backs between rounds 4 and 7. Jamaal Williams out of BYU is likely to be the top threat to steal the starting job as the first running back selected by Green Bay, but two other rookies will also have the chance.
I also think that Montravius Adams out of Auburn will help supply some interior “beef” to the defensive line, which was also lacking speed and production last season. We know Rodgers and the offense will produce, so hopefully these defensive picks can help the Pack make the next step on their playoff run last season.
Both of these teams made improvements in free agency and through the draft, and all should be competing to win their divisions, and represent their conference in the Super Bowl. The Patriots on paper are the team to beat in the entire NFL, but the Packers and Vikings will be in the conversation to represent the NFC in Minneapolis in 2018.