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Winners and losers of the NFL Draft’s first round

How did your favorite team do in the first round of the NFL Draft?

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Disclaimer: The author is an avid Bears, Falcons, and Raiders fan. He also hates Kyle Shanahan.

Myles Garrett

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE/Texas A&M

On paper, they finally didn’t mess this up. The “draft experts” at ESPN that get paid to make relatively uneducated guesses have said for months that he was the favorite to go first, and although they went 1-for-32, this was a good one to get right. His measurables (6’4”, 272 lbs) and career stats (31 sacks, 141 tackles) speak for themselves. The problem for me is that he doesn’t scream “breakout player”. It was certainly the safe pick, and they finally didn’t reach for a crappy quarterback (cough, cough, Bears), but I don’t think he’s going to be the best player in this draft when all’s said and done.

Grade: A-

2. Chicago Bears (Trade with 49ers): Mitchell Trubisky, QB/North Carolina

I have long searched for an appropriate time to use the word befuddled. That search is over. I am befuddled by this pick.

This is arguably the worst trade by the Bears in their 97 seasons in the NFL. Mitchell Trubisky is a one-year starter for the North Carolina Wildcats, in which he put up good numbers (3,748 yds, 5:1 TD/INT ratio), but UNC was so bad that they lost to Georgia. The Bears, in their defense, need a quarterback. They didn’t need to trade up ONE SPOT, giving up their 3rd- and 4th-round picks this year and 3rd-round pick in 2018, for an unproven ACC quarterback not named Deshaun Watson. Another point brought up at my house is that, perhaps, the Bears have needs at EVERY position. Threats of the Browns trading up to grab the world’s greatest unknown quarterback shouldn’t have bothered them; worst-case scenario, they get the best player available at pick three.

Grade: F+

3. San Francisco 49ers (Trade with Bears): Solomon Thomas, DE/Stanford

Now that he’s done losing the Super Bowl on behalf of the Falcons, Kyle Shanahan took his talents to San Francisco, where he pulled off the heist of a lifetime. Not only was he going to draft Thomas (25.5 TFL, 11.5 sacks over two years) anyway, but he managed to steal three more picks along with him. I hate Kyle Shanahan.

Grade: A+

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB/LSU

He deserved to get picked here. After three years in the greatest conference in college football, in which he accumulated over 4,000 total yards and scored 41 touchdowns, it’s only right that he earned a shot at some money. T.J. Yeldon has been underwhelming at best, and the Jags need an impact player to get people in the stands and take pressure off of Blake Bortles. Improving their defense seems to be more of a need, especially with Jamal Adams still on the board, but this certainly isn’t a bad pick.

Grade: A-

5. Tennessee Titans (Trade with Rams): Corey Davis, WR/Western Michigan

I’m not going to lie to you and say I’ve watched a lot of film on Corey Davis. Or any, for that matter. But the man’s stats, including that record he broke called most receiving yards by a D-I player in their career, and the fact that he propelled WMU to the Cotton Bowl last year make me cautiously optimistic about his future, and Lord knows the Titans need a wide receiver. Personally, I think Mike Williams (Clemson) is a little more talented, but what do I know? Plenty of amazing wide receivers have come from small schools (see: Moss, Randy). I can’t get mad at this pick.

Grade: B-

Jamal Adams

6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S/LSU

“DBU” strikes again in 2017. Adams follows Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu from LSU into the NFL and figures to be the best pure defender of the three. In my opinion, which, to my knowledge, doesn’t carry a lot of weight in most NFL circles, he’s the best defensive back in the draft. Period. He hits hard and he plays hard. The Jets are making strides in the right direction, although if they’re going to be trotting out Christian Hackenberg at quarterback, maybe they should think about a trade. Either way, great pick.

Grade: A

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR/Clemson

He’s a great player. Over his four years at Clemson, he proved it many times over (2,727 yards, 20 TDs). A scary neck injury kept him out for the season two years ago, but he’s made it clear that it’s not an issue anymore. Wide receiver doesn’t seem to be an obvious hole, especially since their defense gave up 26.4 points per game last year, but Keenan Allen is clearly injury-prone and Antonio Gates isn’t getting younger. I still think they needed to beef up their defense (Marshon Lattimore? Jonathan Allen?), but I also wouldn’t be surprised if a trade is already in the works with the Jets.

Grade: C+

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB/Stanford

This one’s questionable with Dalvin Cook on the board. Yes, he did break Barry Sanders’ record with 3,864 yards from scrimmage last year, but his measurables (5’11”, 202 lbs) point to him being more of a slot receiver/returner kind of player. If the Panthers want the next Danny Woodhead, they’ve certainly got the better version here, but I don’t think either McCaffrey or Curtis Samuel are viable alternatives to Jonathan Stewart. He’s a great college player, but I don’t know if his skill set will translate to the NFL running back position.

Grade: C-

9. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR/Washington

Speed kills. Ross ran the fastest 40 in combine history AND he wasn’t half bad at Washington, who made it to the College Football Playoff for the first time last season. The Bengals lost Marvin Jones last year, and it showed: in his 10 games last season, AJ Green only had four touchdowns. Getting another good receiver to space the field and make room for Green should open up their whole offense.

Grade: B

10. Kansas City Chiefs (Trade with Bills): Patrick Mahomes II, QB/Texas Tech

Quarterback guru Andy Reid will have his hands full here. Mahomes put up gaudy numbers in Tech’s Air Raid offense (5,052 yards, 41 TDs in his final year, including a 734-yard performance against Oklahoma), but his mechanics are awful and he has a limited knowledge of a pro-style offense. Alex Smith is getting old, so the need is there, but, again, Deshaun Watson is still on the board. Also, their once-powerful defense has slowly lost players to retirement or trades, and I wonder if maybe using this pick on a great defensive player (Marshon Lattimore? Jonathan Allen?) would have been more appropriate.

Grade: D

11. New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB/Ohio State

Finally. The Saints desperately needed to improve a secondary that gave up 4,380 passing yards last year, which was good enough for dead last in the NFL. Lattimore was a standout corner on a great Ohio State defense and, while I don’t like to make comparisons, he reminds me a lot of Darrelle Revis.

Grade: A

Deshaun Watson

12. Houston Texans (Trade with Browns): Deshaun Watson, QB/Clemson

If Dabo Swinney is to be believed, the Texans just landed the Michael Jordan of football. I’m not quite sure if Watson will ever live up to those expectations, but he’s certainly been the best quarterback in college football the past two years. He’s the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft, and his mobility is something that will keep him relevant in the league. His critics say that he runs too much, but those same critics sad that about Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott. 12th overall may have been a reach, but at least he’s not Brock Osweiler.

Grade: B+

13. Arizona Cardinals: Haason Reddick, LB/Temple

The perennial football powerhouse that is the Temple Owls turned out another top-15 prospect. I have nothing against Haason, who certainly looks the part of an NFL linebacker (6’2”, 237 lbs) but playing in the American conference doesn’t necessarily set you up for success on the next level. Meanwhile, Jonathan Allen (seeing a trend?) was still on the board, and after losing Calais Campbell (Jaguars) and four other starters in free agency, the big boys up front seem like a more glaring deficiency than a linebacker corps that already has Jarvis Jones and Daryl Washington.

Grade: C-

14. Philadelphia Eagles (Trade with Vikings): Derek Barnett, DE/Tennessee

The Eagles weren’t able to get Myles Garrett, so they waited and got Myles Garrett Lite. He broke Tennessee’s all-time sack record (previously held by Reggie White, another Eagle) and generally terrorized opposing quarterbacks for three years in college. I understand the pick, but I wonder if trading out of this pick and drafting another linebacker later on would have been better value, especially since it looks like Jordan Hicks (who?) will be starting at middle linebacker next year.

Grade: B+

15. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, S/Ohio State

If you watched even 30 seconds of a Colts game last year, you would understand why they made this pick. Smooth Andy Luck has to shoulder some of the blame for that awful season, but most should rest on the defense, which finished 30th overall in total defense. I couldn’t name a defensive back on the Colts if I tried, which isn’t saying much, but still! Hooker should make an immediate impact.

Grade: A-

16. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey, CB/Alabama

I have a sneaking suspicion that if Gareon Conley hadn’t been accused of rape before the draft, this pick would have been spent on him. Not that I have anything against my guy Marlon. As an Alabama fan, I watched a lot of him the last three years, and let me tell you: he was a blessing for our secondary. But he doesn’t deserve to be the first player on our defense to be drafted, and I’m saying this as a kid from Georgia who, coincidentally, thought Trent Richardson was better than Mark Ingram. Whether I’m right or wrong, I think he’ll be a fine addition to a depleted Ravens defense. But I wonder if Reuben Foster could have succeeded Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs as murderer-in-chief (figuratively!) of opposing players.

Grade: C+

17. Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen, DE/Alabama

FINALLY.

When I say that Jonathan Allen is the best defensive player in the draft, I’m as serious as Jon Reese on Monday morning. This is the biggest steal of the round. Allen completely embarrassed opposing offensive linemen at Alabama, racking up 152 tackles and 28 sacks over a four-year career. There are concerns about his shoulders, which are warranted, I suppose, but he played through them with the Tide and he’ll continue to until his arms fall off. I’m already getting angry thinking about all the people he’s going to smash at the next level. Good luck, Eli Manning.

Grade: A++

Adoree’ Jackson

18. Tennessee Titans: Adoree’ Jackson, CB/USC

Again, this spot probably would have been Conley’s, if not for the fact that he raped a girl. Luckily for him, it only means that he drops a few spots. That’s the NFL for you. Jackson is probably the second-best returner in the draft, behind the Great White Truth: Christian McCaffrey. His coverage skills are good, but not outstanding. I think he’ll be a great part of a Titans team that probably won’t be great for a few years (if ever), but I also think they could have traded out of this pick and still got him later on in the round.

Grade: C-

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard, TE/Alabama

I get it. Big Play O.J. was predicted to go as high as fourth overall in some drafts, with most having him in the top 10. Even though their problem areas seem to be on the O-line and at running back, this is great value for a guy that AVERAGED 157 yards per National Championship Game. Hopefully someone over in Tampa can conjure up another large man to protect Mr. Crab Legs Winston for the season.

Grade: A-

20. Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT/Utah

I have a saying, oft-repeated by the likes of just about everyone except for John Elway, apparently, and that’s this: Never draft an offensive lineman in the first round unless they’re from Wisconsin. There’s something about a 320-pound man that only eats corn husks and cheese curds that makes him a lock to succeed at pushing other 320-pound men out of the way of his quarterback. That being said, Bolles has a great story and an insanely cute baby boy. Is he the best lineman in the draft? Probably not. But he’s already an improvement over Menelik Watson (who?) and maybe he’ll be the guy that’s able to give Trevor Siemian the 20 minutes he seems to need to throw the ball.

Grade: C+

21. Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, LB/Florida

I usually have the displeasure of watching Florida linebackers sack Georgia quarterbacks for a couple years before they get drafted by a loser team who drafts loser players like Florida linebackers. Davis, however, slipped under the radar until last season, partly because of a torn meniscus his sophomore year. He’s a monster and certainly deserves a first-round pick, but the injury and lack of experience at Florida (he didn’t record over 25 tackles until his junior year) should make the Lions apprehensive.

Grade: C

22. Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris, LB/Missouri

I don’t remember this guy at all, and that’s probably because he played for 4-8 Missouri. He was named second-team All-SEC two years in a row and certainly looks the part of an NFL outside linebacker. Do the Dolphins need him? Rhetorical question. The Dolphins need everything.

Grade: C+

23. New York Giants: Evan Engram, TE/Ole Miss

With all due respect to O.J., Engram was the best tight end in the SEC last year. He was consistently a matchup problem because he was too quick for most linebackers. They easily could have traded back a few spots and still picked him up, but I say it’s better to be safe than sorry. He has 10-inch hands and a great resumé from Ole Miss (926 yards, 8 TDs his senior year) and should easily take the starting job from Will Tye.

Grade: B

24. Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley, CB/Ohio State

Ha! We sure showed him. Conley’s precipitous drop to No. 24 after being accused of rape days before the draft was well-deserved, although I would argue that he shouldn’t have been drafted at all. If he’s cleared, which isn’t outside of the realm of possibility, he’s great value at No. 24. The Raiders have a history of signing players with serious character issues (Rolando McClain and Aldon Smith, who was charged with a DUI and hit-and-run BEFORE he signed with Oakland), so hopefully team management makes the right decision on his future.

Grade: C

Jabrill Peppers

25. Cleveland Browns (Trade with Houston): Jabrill Peppers, S/Michigan

If I’m a Browns fan right now, I have to be getting semi-excited for the season. Do Browns fans even get excited anymore? I feel like it’s just slightly less depressed. Anyway, Peppers is a Swiss Army knife (he played 11 positions at Michigan) and that’s exactly what the Browns need, since he would be an upgrade at just about every position they would play him at. He can even run the Wildcat offense once Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler throw their required three interceptions at the beginning of the game. His accolades, including his individual awards for Defensive Player of the Year, Linebacker of the Year, and Return Specialist of the Year are very impressive, so hopefully he wasn’t just capitalizing on playing weak Big 10 defenses all year. He’s also a little undersized for much else other than safety (5’11”, 213 lbs), so he’s going to need to do a little growing before he’s able to emerge from the shadow of Desmond Howard.

Grade: B

26. Atlanta Falcons (Trade with Seattle): Takkarist McKinley, LB/UCLA

I love this man. Anyone who had the pleasure of watching his profane, emotional reaction to being drafted (complete with a framed picture of his grandmother that he carried onstage) has probably already pre-ordered a jersey. I know I have. McKinley, AKA Takk (coolest name ever), will strengthen a Falcons pass rush that, at this point, is made up of Vic Beasley and some random dudes. I wish that Takk was a tight end, because I think Levine Toilolo might be the worst player in the NFL, but he’s a talented player.

Grade: A-

27. Buffalo Bills (Trade with Kansas City): Tre’Davious White, CB/LSU

How does LSU send so many cornerbacks to the NFL? He’s great value for the Bills, who also got two more picks from the Chiefs in the trade. The good (or bad) news is that he’ll be thrust into a starting role immediately, since the Bills’ secondary was about as talented as Kim Kardashian last year. Also, he’s from LSU, so I guess he’s guaranteed to make a few Pro Bowls.

Grade: A

Taco Charlton (33)

28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, DE/Michigan

The Cowboys spent just about all of their picks on the D-line, which was exactly what they were supposed to do. Their offense last year was one of the best in the league, but they let teams stay close because they didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback. A man named Taco doesn’t necessarily sound like an athletic person, but he deviates from the norm. I’m sure the Cowboys would rather have William “Refrigerator” Perry, but Vidauntae “Taco” Charlton should prove to be a major upgrade for the front line.

Grade: B

29. Cleveland Browns (Trade with Green Bay): David Njoku, TE/Miami (FL)

At first, I thought that the Browns had finally gone back to their old ways, where they pick a random dude from the ACC in the first round and hope for the best. Njoku, however, seems like a pick an educated person would make. He had 698 yards and eight touchdowns in his final year at Miami and his body (6’4”, 246 pounds) at least looks the part of a great pass-catching tight end.

Grade: B+

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, LB/Wisconsin

I think I’m going to start a petition for the Watt family to repopulate the Earth. T.J. is the third Watt brother to make it into the NFL and, so says his family, the best football player. How this is possible, given that J.J. is one of the best players in the league, I don’t know. But if they’re right, the Steelers will have the second coming of the original Steel Curtain next year. I still think Reuben Foster is a better fit in that defense, but they have plenty of inside linebackers already. If they fix that offensive line, they’re my favorite to win the Super Bowl next year.

Grade: B-

31. San Francisco 49ers (Trade with Seattle): Reuben Foster, LB/Alabama

John Lynch, San Francisco’s GM, is either the luckiest person alive or a draft prophet. How he managed to get Reuben Foster with the 31st pick is beyond me. He wore one of those super intimidating neck braces in college, which automatically makes him one of the better defensive players in the draft, but when added to his resume at Alabama (115 tackles his senior year, as well as the Butkus Award for the nation’s best linebacker), he becomes arguably the best linebacker in the draft. I hate Kyle Shanahan.

Grade: A+

32. New Orleans Saints (Trade with Patriots): Ryan Ramczyk, OT/Wisconsin

Clearly the Saints know the Golden Rule. Ramczyk is a huge man from Wisconsin, otherwise known as “O-Line U”, and will protect that septuagenarian New Orleans has at quarterback pretty well. I don’t think anyone wants a scouting report on an offensive tackle, but I will say that this guy should fit right in in the NFL.
Grade: A

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Decatur High School, GA
Winners and losers of the NFL Draft’s first round