Three days, seven rounds and 253 picks later, it’s over. The 2017 NFL draft opened with a flurry of trades and some bold selections in Round 1, and the drama didn’t let up from there.
Several quarterback-needy teams (but not every one) found the player they hope can grow into the franchise’s long-term answer under center. College football’s blue bloods made their presence felt, as usual: Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and … Utah? And around the league, teams grappled with the implications of spending precious draft capital on prospects with checkered pasts.
Which teams could be entering the new season with a franchise-changing rookie class? Read on to see our complete 2017 draft grades.
This was a very on-brand draft for the Cardinals, who have made a habit of developing versatile defenders. Add to the list first-round LB Haason Reddick (No. 13 pick) and S Budda Baker (No. 36), both of whom can be utilized in myriad ways on a defense that already features Deone Bucannon and Tyrann Mathieu. Seventh-rounder Rudy Ford (No. 208) is a speed DB/special-teams guy that Arizona traded up for, too. Speaking of speed, that’s what RB T.J. Logan (No. 179) brings behind David Johnson. The picks of G Dorian Johnson (No. 115) and OT Will Holden (No. 157) add depth up front. The curious selection is of WR Chad Williams (No. 98). He can develop into a playmaker, but this was early.
ATLANTA FALCONS: B
The Falcons traded up in Round 1 to nab edge defender Takk McKinley, shipping picks 31, 95 and 249 to Seattle for the 26th spot. They then traded down later to recoup some capital, sending No. 63 to Buffalo for Nos. 75, 149 and 156. McKinley, obviously, is the headliner—he’s working back from shoulder surgery, but his upside opposite Vic Beasley in that front seven intrigued the Falcons enough to make that move for him. Atlanta then added three quality prospects with the picks from Buffalo: LB Duke Riley, CB Damontae Kazee and RB Brian Hill. Both Riley and Kazee are athletic playmakers; none of those guys has a clear path to playing time in 2017. Round 4 guard Sean Harlow should compete to take over the starting job left vacant by Chris Chester’s retirement.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: A–
Clearly, it was a focus of GM Ozzie Newsome to upgrade the Ravens’ defense through this draft. He spent each of his first four picks on that side of the ball, even doubling down at OLB on Day 2 (Tyus Bowser, pick No. 47; Tim Williams, No. 78). Defensive lineman Chris Wormley was Newsome’s other score on Day 2—he’s a player who appears custom-made to be a 3–4 end on that Baltimore depth chart. I wasn’t as high on first-round CB Marlon Humphrey as others, but he has unquestionable upside. Day 3 did bring a pair of offensive linemen: power guard Nico Siragusa, who could start in 2017, and long-term project Jermaine Eluemunor. A little surprised Newsome did not find a pass catcher somewhere.
BUFFALO BILLS: A–
The rumor mill headed into draft weekend had Buffalo GM Doug Whaley likely to be fired in the coming days. Whoever ended up calling the shots (coach Sean McDermott ran point, no doubt) made things happen. The Bills traded down from 10 to 27 in Round 1, adding a third-rounder (No. 91) and a 2018 first-round pick. They took talented CB Tre’Davious White at 27, then used No. 91 as part of a trade up for WR Zay Jones. The former is an outstanding coverage corner—not to the level of Marshon Lattimore, who was available at 10, but starter-caliber. Jones essentially replaces Robert Woods, and he could be a good one.
Day 3 picks of note beyond that: G/T Dion Dawkins, who will have a chance to win a job in camp; and QB Nathan Peterman, who slid into Round 5 but could be groomed as a possible Tyrod Taylor replacement down the line.? McDermott will love LB Matt Milano (No. 163)—he’s a throwback-type linebacker. Click here for a complete list of the Bills’ picks.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: B+
The offense received a huge boost, both in terms of athletic upside and O-line help. The defense took maybe a tiny step forward. Does that combo work out well enough for the Panthers to get back to Super Bowl contention? RB Christian McCaffrey was worth the No. 8 pick, because he can thrive in the power-run scheme but also burn defenses as a receiver. His addition made that of RB/WR Curtis Samuel (No. 40) unexpected. Samuel is a video-game weapon, but was this at at all repetitive after taking McCaffrey? Will the Panthers regret not going defense there? Taylor Moton (No. 64) should be the starting right tackle—he’s that solid already. DE Daeshon Hall (No. 77) and CB Corn Elder (No. 152) can contribute on defense, but neither is an elite-impact guy.
CHICAGO BEARS: C-
Either the Mitchell Trubisky gamble pays off big-time for the Bears, and no one cares about the ransom paid for the No. 2 pick, or it flops and a new regime will have to deal with the fallout. Second-round TE Adam Shaheen could help Trubisky or Mike Glennon in the passing game—he’s an ultra-athletic 280 pounds. RB Tarik Cohen (Round 4) is a heckuva lot of fun, too. The Bears need those playmakers, because the defense might be rough again next season. GM Ryan Pace spent just one pick on that side of the ball: No. 112, after a trade up, for S Eddie Jackson. That’s a good player and a solid value, but also one of the few defensive positions the Bears already addressed this off-season.
CINCINNATI BENGALS: A-
If this draft class is to be believed, the Bengals’ offense will look very, very different in 2017. They spent picks No. 9 (WR John Ross), 41 (RB Joe Mixon) and 128 (WR Josh Malone) on players who should help them open things up—Ross, in particular, will handle that duty opposite A.J. Green. Cincinnati might spread the field and throw a lot—that is, when Andy Dalton is not handing off to Mixon. The Oklahoma product comes with troubling baggage, so we’ll see if he can walk the straight and narrow enough to show off his brilliant talent. Help for the D-line came in the form of edge guys Jordan Willis (No. 73) and Carl Lawson (No. 116), as well as interior space-eater Ryan Glasgow (No. 138).? Click here for a complete list of the Bengals’ picks.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: A-
The Browns entered the draft with two first-round picks and wound up making three on Thursday: DE/OLB Myles Garrett at No. 1 overall, followed by S Jabrill Peppers (No. 25, after a trade down) and TE David Njoku (No. 29, after a trade up). The Peppers and Njoku picks, without question, indicate Cleveland wants to stockpile athleticism, even at the expense of immediate returns. The pick that really swings this class, though, happened at 52, which is where Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer landed. Hard to imagine the Browns thought he would be there when they passed on a QB several times earlier. DT Larry Ogunjobi (No. 65) and CB Howard Wilson (No. 126) are great picks for a rebuilding team—Wilson especially, because he has top-two corner upside. Using No. 185 on DT Caleb Brantley was a misstep, regardless of his talent. He recently was arrested for misdemeanor battery and accused of punching a woman.
DALLAS COWBOYS: B+
The first pick, DE Taco Charlton (No. 28 overall), was about finding a player to help fix the Cowboys’ need off the edge. The next four selections increased their overall team flexibility, both on offense and defense. CBs Chidobe Awuzie (No. 60) and Jourdan Lewis (No. 92) are scrappy defenders capable of holding their own outside or in the slot. (Using a pick on Lewis will come with scrutiny, because he’s awaiting a July trial on a domestic abuse allegation.) S Xavier Woods (No. 191) is another interchangeable piece, which will help take pressure off Byron Jones. WR Ryan Switzer (No. 133) can pair in the slot with Cole Beasley or handle return duties while playing behind the Cowboys’ proven receiver. A solid group, pending Lewis’s availability.
DENVER BRONCOS: A
GM John Elway opened Denver’s draft festivities by landing the offensive tackle he so badly needed (Garett Bolles, No. 20), and he did so without having to trade up. Also on Elway’s checklist headed into the draft: more bulk for the D-line, a big-play option on offense and perhaps a pass-catching tight end. Enter DT/DE DeMarcus Walker (No. 51), electrifying WR Carlos Henderson (No. 82) and TE Jake Butt (No. 145), who is on his way back from a torn ACL. Third-round cornerback Brendan Langley (No. 101) is a high-upside guy, as well, who should benefit immensely from watching the other Denver DBs. Elway also made perhaps the most fascinating Mr. Irrelevant pick ever: QB Chad Kelly. Does he have any chance of sticking on the roster??
DETROIT LIONS: B
GM Bob Quinn continues to put in understated work molding this roster. Linebackers Jarrad Davis (No. 21 pick) and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (No. 124) could be the long-term future together for the Lions, although both come with injury concerns. Detroit also passed on Reuben Foster to take Davis. Cornerback Teez Tabor (No. 53) tested like he’d never run in his life, but he’s much better when it counts—with him and nickel CB Jamal Agnew (No. 165) in the fold, the Lions could ship out a veteran cornerback or two. Big wide receiver Kenny Golladay (No. 96) could be special in time, but Josh Reynolds might have been the better call. TE Michael Roberts (No. 127) will score, if Matthew Stafford just puts the ball near him. This also was the landing spot for Miami QB Brad Kaaya (No. 215), who will compete with Jake Rudock for the backup job.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: B+
The defense was priority No. 1 for GM Ted Thompson, so he delivered CB Kevin King (pick No. 33, after a trade out of Round 1), versatile S Josh Jones (No. 61) and underrated OLB Vince Biegel (No. 108). He also used a third-rounder on DT Montravius Adams (No. 93), which at best is a decent—probably not eye-popping—value and at worst is a throwaway pick. Later, it was the run game on the docket, and the Packers doubled up at the RB spot with Jamaal Williams (No. 134) and Aaron Jones (182). That could be a very good duo alongside Aaron Rodgers. At the bare minimum, they’ll free up Ty Montgomery to roam the scheme more.
It is far from unanimous that Deshaun Watson is the answer at QB in Houston. It says here that he has a better shot at filling that role than perhaps any other quarterback has in the Texans’ brief history. He was worth the high cost of going up from No. 25 to 12 to get him (a 2018 first-rounder). Scoring LB Zach Cunningham at pick 57 was a welcome bonus after the Round 1 dramatics—he can handle a heavy snap count immediately, with Brian Cushing a candidate to lose time. RB D’Onta Foreman (No. 89) will make Lamar Miller’s life easier as the No. 1 option. If OT Julién Davenport (No. 130) can make incremental progress the next couple seasons, Houston could have a starting left tackle waiting when Duane Brown, 32 in August, gets to the end of his career.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: A
Incredible value for the Colts at each of their first three picks: Safety Malik Hooker (No. 15 overall) and cornerback Quincy Wilson (46) should be instant starters in the secondary, while edge rusher Tarell Basham (80) at least can make an impact on passing downs. For a team whose defense picked off just eight passes last season and lost OLBs Erik Walden (free agency) and Robert Mathis (retirement), this was a critical restocking. RB Marlon Mack (Round 4) is a home-run threat to slot in behind Frank Gore, while fifth-round LB Anthony Walker has three-down potential. The only shoddy pick was OT Zach Banner, who faces a long road to being a serviceable NFL blocker.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: B
Are you a believer that a running back can be the missing piece for a long-struggling franchise? If so, then this might be the draft class for you. The Jaguars spent pick No. 4 on Leonard Fournette, a player with undeniable upside … as well as past injury issues, and an uncertain fit with QB Blake Bortles’s style. Stealing OT Cam Robinson (No. 34) will help both Fournette and Bortles—he should have gone in Round 1. DE Dawuane Smoot (No. 68) was a player the Jaguars apparently liked more than just about any other team. WR Dede Westbrook (No. 110) can open up the middle of the field, but his character red flags are concerning. Quality sleeper picks came at 148 (LB Blair Brown) and 222 (speedy CB Jalen Myrick). But this all hinges on Fournette.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: B
The Chiefs went all-in on QB Patrick Mahomes, using picks 27, 91 and a 2018 first-rounder to climb 17 spots in Round 1 for the Texas Tech prospect. If Mahomes develops under Andy Reid’s watch, that could set the Chiefs up at quarterback for years to come. It likely doesn’t do anything for them next season, which is noteworthy given how this team is built to contend. Second-round DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (pick No. 59) is another multi-year developmental project. RB Kareem Hunt (No. 86) could have the earliest impact of this draft class. He’s a Round 3 version of Dalvin Cook, headed to a team with an unsettled backfield. This a cross-your-fingers draft class that could help solidify the future, but offers minimal help for the present.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: A
The Chargers took WR Mike Williams at No. 7, which is an exciting pick and will help Philip Rivers keep that passing game cranked up. They might not have needed him, per se, but his talent is huge. The players they did need came in Rounds 2 and 3, in the form of G/T Forrest Lamp (No. 38) and G Dan Feeney (No. 71). A fantastic Day 2 haul that should go a long way toward fixing a long-troublesome, oft-banged up line. The Rayshawn Jenkins (No. 113) and Desmond King (No. 151) back-to-back on Day 3 also should help. Keep a close eye on King, whose playmaking skills alone should have gotten him off the board much earlier.?
LOS ANGELES RAMS: C
This was kind of a bizarre draft for the Rams, who didn’t have a Round 1 pick because of their trade to take Jared Goff last year. After sitting out Thursday’s proceedings, GM Les Snead then spent three of his first four picks on pass catchers—TE Gerald Everett (a reach at 44), WR Cooper Kupp (No. 59) and WR Josh Reynolds (No. 119). Reynolds may be the best of the bunch, and he very well could wind up the No. 1 receiver before long on what’s now a muddled receiver depth chart. Versatile safety John Johnson (No. 91) and DT Tanzel Smart (No. 189) should see time early in Wade Philliips’s defense. OLB Samson Ebukam (No. 125) also could, as a pass rusher. But the Rams really overloaded at the skill positions, which is an unusual choice for a rebuilding team.
MIAMI DOLPHINS: B
The Dolphins’ draft was as noteworthy for whom they passed up as the prospects they actually took. Charles Harris (No. 22 pick) gives them needed depth off the edge, but G/T Forrest Lamp was available there, as were LB Reuben Foster and multiple corners. Raekwon McMillan (No. 53) could be a very good, three-down linebacker, but Zach Cunningham went shortly thereafter to Houston. And Miami chose hit-or-miss CB Cordrea Tankersley (No. 97) over others at his position (i.e. Rasul Douglas) and multiple interior linemen. Frankly, their best pick relative to value might be fifth-round guard Isaac Asiata. He’s a road grader who can start as a rookie.? Click here for a complete list of the Dolphins’ picks.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: B+
The Vikings did not own a first-round pick because of the Sam Bradford trade. Things worked out anyway: In Round 2, they landed a Round 1 talent (RB Dalvin Cook); in Round 3, they landed a Round 2 talent (G/C Pat Elflein). Cook has the upside of a star back in the NFL, despite what his lackluster testing numbers showed. Together, he and Latavius Murray should be able to kickstart the run game. Elflein helps there, too—he’s a plug-and-play starter for the interior. DT Jaleel Johnson (No. 109) is a big-bodied penetrator, and he’ll benefit from playing under Mike Zimmer. The Vikings took some shots from there: hard-nosed LB Ben Gideon (No. 120), WR Rodney Adams (No. 170), TE Bucky Hodges (No. 201). The first two picks, though, all but made up for sitting out Round 1.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: C+
It’s like if Bill Belichick doesn’t make a trade every other hour, he gets swallowed up by the earth. The Patriots did not have a first- or second-round pick, having dealt them away for Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy, respectively. (For the record, this grade is an A-minus with the return from those trades factored in.) They then moved down from pick 72 to 83, where they took DE Derek Rivers, and up from 96 to 85 for developmental OT Antonio Garcia. Their final two selections: DE Deatrich Wise (No. 131), whom New England will hope can follow in the footsteps of his former Arkansas teammate Trey Flowers; and OT Conor McDermott (No. 211). Rivers and Wise could be effective playmakers early, but it’s obviously a thin class.?
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: B+
The secondary should be better, no question (although that’s a refrain that’s been sung before about the Saints). Projected top-10 cornerback Marshon Lattimore fell into New Orleans’s lap at No. 11, then Marcus Williams—a prospect just a notch below Malik Hooker as a deep safety—was the call at pick 42. The Saints wound up with six picks in the top 103, with the most interesting perhaps being OT Ryan Ramczyk at No. 32. Ramczyk will battle veteran Zach Strief on the right side, but he’s a long-term answer at tackle one way or another. RB Alvin Kamara (No. 67) made for an interesting trade-up—the Saints spent a seventh-rounder and a 2018 second to go get him. They really need LB Alex Anzalone (No. 76) to stay healthy and edge rusher Trey Hendrickson (No. 103) to create some havoc.
NEW YORK GIANTS: B-
Kudos to New York for thinking outside the box in Round 1. TE Evan Engram (pick No. 23) should avoid the typical early struggles that rookies at his position face, because he’s as much of a receiver as he is a tight end. He’ll thrive working the underneath routes in that New York passing attack. DT Dalvin Tomlinson (No. 55) doesn’t bring a one-for-one replacement for Jonathan Hankins, but he can make up a lot of the gap created by Hankins’s departure. QB Davis Webb in Round 3 is fine, no more, no less—this was his appropriate range, and he’s more backup than starter material. Pairing RB Wayne Gallman (No. 140) with Paul Perkins makes the Giants dangerous on the ground … except they still have no line. Taking OT Adam Bisnowaty at 200 hardly solves their problem up front. They needed to improve there and flat-out did not.
NEW YORK JETS: C-
This was as confusing a draft class as any team put together this year, even more so because it started off so dang well with S Jamal Adams at No. 6—he can be a focal point of the Jets’ defense for years to come. Second-round safety Marcus Maye (No. 39) is a talented guy himself, and incumbent Marcus Gilchrist is coming off a knee injury. O.K., fine, two safeties. Time to hit the other needs, right? Well, yes, except the Jets didn’t really do so. They spent their next three picks on a pair of WRs (ArDarius Stewart at 79, Chad Hansen at 141) and a TE (Jordan Leggett, 150). They did not hit cornerback until picks 197 and 204 (Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones, respectively); their only linebacker pick was Dylan Donahue (No. 181), a pass rusher transitioning from his role as a college DE. Oh, and no quarterback.?
OAKLAND RAIDERS: B-
A very speculative group for a team that’s not many pieces away from getting over the top. CB Gareon Conley is a potential bargain at pick No. 24, but he’s dealing with a rape allegation—no telling how or when that situation is resolved, officially. Obi Melifonwu (No. 56) had Round 1 buzz, and he definitely has a high ceiling in pairing with Karl Joseph at safety, but he’s a lot more raw than the hype on him indicated. DT Eddie Vanderdoes (No. 88): injured often in college. OT David Sharpe (No. 129): a huge physical presence, with little else to offer right now. How many of these players will provide a huge impact, either next year or in the near future?
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: B+
On the “needs” list for Philly headed into Thursday were a pass rusher and cornerback. Check and check. The Eagles nabbed DE Derek Barnett in Round 1, a safe and steady option off the edge, then doubled down on Day 2 with CB Sidney Jones (who’s rehabbing an Achilles tear) and Rasul Douglas. If Jones gets back to 100% at any point, he has Pro Bowl potential. The offensive run in Rounds 4 and 5 was intriguing. WRs Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson both can stretch the field, which QB Carson Wentz would like to do more; RB Donnell Pumphrey essentially could be Darren Sproles 2.0.?
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: C+
OLB T.J. Watt (pick No. 29) tested off the charts and the Steelers will love his effort level, but there were edge defenders deep into Day 2 who might have been capable of providing just as much pop as pass rushers. We’ll see. I understand the JuJu Smith-Schuster pick at 62—he was a value there, and the Steelers can’t really depend yet on Martavis Bryant—but I’m not sure I get it. The glaring needs were elsewhere on the roster. CB Cameron Sutton (No. 94) could be a good one, and RB James Conner (No. 105) is destined to be a fan favorite, plus he’ll pick up tough yards. No surprise they found a quarterback: Josh Dobbs (No. 135). Not sure that’s a replacement plan if Big Ben walks soon. Docked points for drafting a long snapper in Round 6 (Louisville’s Colin Holba, pick 213).
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: A-
Aside from not finding a quarterback, rookie GM John Lynch took home the Day 1 title. He took Chicago GM Ryan Pace’s lunch money early, trading pick 2 for picks 3, 67, 111 and a 2018 first-rounder. The 49ers then grabbed Solomon Thomas at 3, before trading back into Round 1 (34 and that 111th pick to Seattle, for 31) and grabbed Reuben Foster, a linebacker with absurd talent if he’s healthy. The last two days were more humdrum. CB Ahkello Witherspoon (pick No. 66) has desired traits, but he’s not physical at all. The trade up into Round 3 for QB C.J. Beathard was a mind-boggling decision—Beathard was going to be there on Day 3, and there were better options at the position. Saturday picks RB Joe Williams (No. 121) and WR Trent Taylor (No. 177) could be explosive in that Kyle Shanahan offense, while TE George Kittle (No. 146) ought to have a role in tight end-heavy sets. Everything was gravy after the first round.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: B
For a while there, it seemed like the Seahawks didn’t even want to pick in this draft. They traded down from 26 to 31 to 34 and finally to 35, before selecting divisive DT Malik McDowell. He might not have found a better spot in which to succeed than Seattle, where he’ll be a great fit in the scheme. Ethan Pocic (pick No. 58) probably winds up at center before his career is done, but he might be a guard or even a tackle for the Seahawks. Regardless, he’s a solid player. Is he as solid as Pat Elflein, who went to the Vikings 12 picks later? Debatable. The secondary is much deeper, thanks to the picks of CB Shaq Griffin (No. 90), S Delano Hill (No. 95) and S Tedric Thompson (No. 111). WR Amara Darboh (No. 106) is athletic enough to be a weapon.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: B+
Not sure anyone expected TE O.J. Howard to be around at pick No. 19. The Bucs almost had to take him there—he’ll bolster their run game with his blocking, and his pairing with Cameron Brate will cause significant mismatch problems for opposing defenses. S Justin Evans (No. 50), an aggressive defender, should find his way onto the field early. Those are the main cogs of this class. WR Chris Godwin (No. 84) is interesting as a downfield threat, but he’s no better than the fifth or sixth option in the passing game. LB Kendall Beckwith (No. 107) is coming off an ACL injury and doesn’t really land at a spot of need. Pick No. 162, RB Jeremy McNichols, is one to file away for those fantasy drafts. He’s a sleeper option if he can win time.
TENNESSEE TITANS: B+
The Titans spent a couple years’ worth of drafts finding their QB and getting their offensive line in order. This time around, they heavily went after help for the passing attack. Advantage: Marcus Mariota, who now has dynamic WR Corey Davis (pick No. 5), Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor (No. 72) and the Delanie Walker-like Jonnu Smith (No. 100) at his disposal. Cornerback was the other big need for Tennessee, so it used pick No. 18 on Adoree Jackson, who can be a chip for both offense and special teams but is in need of extensive development as a DB. A reach, per our board. No coverage concerns with fifth-round LB Jayon Brown (No. 155). He’s a potential special-teams dynamo who can help in sub-packages.
There’s little, if anything, to complain about from Washington’s first four picks. DT Jonathan Allen came with lingering health questions but … pick 17? Are you serious? That’s robbery. CB Fabian Moreau (No. 81) was on track to be a first-rounder himself until he tore his pectoral at UCLA’s pro day. Again, if he’s healthy, that’s a steal. They may have jumped on OLB Ryan Anderson a little early at pick 47 (he was ranked 77th on our board), but he’s a solid defender and a good fit for that 3-4 defense. Fourth-round RB Samaje Perine (No. 114) might win the starting job. Does the rest matter? If so, there was value in seventh-round safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (No. 230) and sixth-round center Chase Roullier (No. 199).