It is now the beginning of May, and thus another NFL draft has come and gone. Some fans left Philadelphia with high hopes for a Super Bowl LII victory, while others could not help but wonder if the front office was concussed while making their team’s selections. With 256 picks in the books, let’s look at the winners and losers of the 2017 NFL draft.
Winner: Deshaun Watson
Texans fans should be VERY happy with this pick—Watson was the best quarterback in this draft. He’s got the athletic ability, play-making skills, and the championship pedigree that Houston was in search of. His one knock is the high number of interceptions, throwing 30 in his past two seasons at Clemson. But as for Watson being a “winner” in this year’s draft, he could not have landed in a better spot. The Texans have all the pieces to contend for a title, and the idea of Watson throwing to Hopkins almost seems too good to be true.
Loser: Chicago Bears
The Bears made moves in this draft that left the nation scratching its head. For starters, they selected three non-FBS players. Not to knock the small schools, but it’s hard to judge how good a player is based on the weaker competition. The most obvious blunder was trading up to draft Mitch Trubisky. This is not an attack on the North Carolina quarterback, but more of a befuddlement as to what the Bears were thinking. They just signed Glennon to a 3-year, $45 million contract—give the guy a chance to run the offense! And the trade—Chicago traded the third overall pick, their third and fourth-round picks, and their 2018 third-round pick to move up one spot. One. Trubisky may very well turn into a solid quarterback, but why make the trade when you could have gotten him at three? Somewhere in San Francisco, John Lynch is smiling ear to ear. Somewhere in Chicago, Bears fans are not.
Winner: Vince Biegel
Everything about this pick makes Vince Biegel a winner—born in Wisconsin Rapids, Biegel grew up a Packers fan less than two hours from Lambeau field, where he had the privilege of playing last season against LSU. It is no longer his privilege to play in Green Bay: it’s his job. Standing 6’4”, 250 lbs, Biegel is an athletic force at the linebacker position. However, his best attribute is his drive—you’d be hard pressed to find someone who played with more passion than Biegel. Sometimes the stars just seem to align and things fall your way. Just ask Vince Biegel, linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.
Loser: Big 12
The Big 12 conference has produced some of the best players in the NFL, from Adrian Peterson to Earl Thomas to Jordy Nelson. It’s too soon to tell how the 2017 draftees will fare in the league, but we do know that there won’t be too many of them. There were only 14 players selected from the Big 12—its lowest tally ever. Only four of those 14 were selected in the first three rounds. For a conference that touts itself as a power five conference, it must start producing more NFL talent, or it’s going to continue to make its way onto the loser board.
Winner: Budda Baker
The Arizona Cardinals swapped second round picks with the Bears, and gave up their fourth and sixth round picks to draft Budda Baker 36th overall, the perfect home for the safety out of Washington. He’ll have the opportunity to learn from Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, two of the best in the business, and the defensive-minded Bruce Arians. Baker is small in stature, but a great tackler and a force in the secondary, even drawing comparisons to now-teammate Mathieu. I really liked what I saw from Baker this past season, and believe that other than LSU’s Jamal Adams, he’ll have the best career of all the safeties in this draft class.
Loser: Roger Goodell
This almost goes without saying, but being the most hated man in the NFL is grounds for a loss any day of the week. It’s not the Masters, but it is a tradition unlike any other to hear the emphatic boos each time the commissioner steps up to announce the selections of the early rounds, and certainly takes a toll on a man’s psyche.
Winner: Jake Butt
How could Jake Butt be a winner? He fell three rounds after suffering a torn ACL and lost out on millions. Sounds like he belongs on the loser board. Not so fast—according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, before Butt suffered a torn ACL in the 2017 Orange Bowl, he took out an insurance policy that ensured him $10,000 for every pick he fell after the middle of the third round, and by the time he was drafted in the fifth round, he had collected over $500,000—not too shabby. And money? No, this is about football. After he was drafted by the Broncos and asked if he regrets playing in the Orange Bowl, he responded, “I’ll never regret playing in a football game in my life. I don’t play football because of the money or the fame or the hype or anything. I play football because it’s what I love to do.” Congrats Elway, you have yourself a good one.
Loser: Offensive line draft class
This was not the year of the big boys—the 2017 draft was the first since 1982 that an offensive tackle was not selected in the top 15, and the first time since 1990 that only two linemen were taken in the first round. Teams build from the offensive line out, and will have to wait until 2018 for a better wave of protectors.
Winner: Corey Davis
I love this pick by the Titans at No. 5, and Corey Davis should love it as well. Was it a tad high for him to be taken? Maybe. But if you look at the Titans needs, receiver was at the top of the list, and they picked up the best one in this draft—I had the privilege of attending the Cotton Bowl this year, and some of the catches he made were spectacular. Pair him with the young Mariota, and this will be a good tandem for a long time.
Bonus Winner: Draft Day announcements
Every year, I enjoy seeing who receives the high honor of announcing draft picks from each team. Whether it’s an old-time legend, a recent retiree, or an active player, it’s always cool to see them welcome the newest members of their teams. This season, Drew Pearson took it to a whole new level. When announcing the Cowboys’ second-round pick, he starts off by thanking Eagles fans for allowing him to have a career, and the proceeds to scream the rest of his announcement as if he’s leading an army into battle.
To kick off Day three, former Eagles players Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook fire back at Pearson and lead Philadelphia in the singing of “Fly Eagles Fly”. Who doesn’t love a good draft day rivalry?
But the best of the weekend came from sweet, little-old-man Willie Brown, who reminded us that Mother’s Day is on the horizon. Well done, Willie.