It’s time for another edition of Acme Packing Company’s Walkthroughs, as several of our contributors look back once again at the 2017 NFL Draft. While we addressed specific predictions for the Green Bay Packers and their draft class last week, today we examine draft hauls around the NFL and pick out a topic or two about which to make a stand.
Evan “Tex” Western: 49ers’ defense returns to prominence
After drafting Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster in round one, San Francisco has set themselves up with a nice core of players on the defensive side of the football. They are making the switch from a 3-4 defense to a Seattle Seahawks-style 4-3, and found a couple of great scheme fits. Thomas in particular is physically reminiscent of Michael Bennett, while Foster should pair with Navorro Bowman as a terrific off-ball linebacker tandem. That front seven should be able to stop the run effectively and rush the quarterback, and although I’m not crazy about their corners, there is some talent there to be developed. This defense should be much improved in 2017, and I believe it will be one of the better units in football by 2018.
Jason B. Hirschhorn: The era of Browns irrelevance is drawing to a close
Even after the smart, forward-thinking moves the analytically minded Browns front office made over the past 12 months, concerns remained that owner Jimmy Haslam would step in and force the team to draft a quarterback over consensus top prospect Myles Garrett. Such a decision would significantly undo much of the positive groundwork the franchise has made since their last reboot.
Instead, the front office was allowed to operate as it saw fit, landing Garrett with the top pick and making a series of trades to acquire enticing prospects while also adding draft assets in future years. The team even selected Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, a promising but confounding quarterback who could develop into a franchise cornerstone. If he doesn't, Cleveland remains loaded with enough draft choices to find the right signal-caller next year.
Smart teams add talented, cheap players while increasing their chances of finding more in the future. The Browns appear to have finally figured that out after more than a decade of mistakes, and the era of football irrelevance in Cleveland appears to be drawing to a close as a result.
Mike Vieth: Mr. Irrelevant, Chad Kelly, will have the most successful NFL career out of all the quarterbacks drafted in 2017.
From everything that was said about the quarterback class this year, it seemed like every team that chose a quarterback reached. Most analysis on the first round quarterbacks would have none of them going in the first round. They all seem to lack the experience or the tools that would make them successful first round picks. From being a first round pick, there is going to be a ton of pressure on each player to develop and contribute right away. That won’t be the case for Denver’s Chad Kelly.
Kelly, unlike his other counterparts in this year’s draft, has the pedigree (he is the nephew of hall of famer Jim Kelly), size, arm, and athleticism that comes with being an NFL quarterback. In fact, if you watch his games against Alabama, he played much better than when Deshaun Watson played Alabama. His only problem has been off the field issues. While his issues have cost him dearly in draft position, it leaves him without the pressure of any other quarterback drafted. In Denver, Kelly will also have John Elway to keep a watchful eye on him. I think those variables lead to a potential gold mine and we might be seeing everyone wondering why all these teams passed on Kelly in the coming years. The Broncos took a chance on Kelly and in doing so, they may have found the next great Denver quarterback.
Kris Burke: John Fox and/or Ryan Pace will not survive the full 2017 season in Chicago
On paper it’s crystal clear the Chicago Bears absolutely blew the 2017 Draft. After giving up a king’s ransom to move up one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, word has come out that John Fox was not even made aware of the pending trade until hours before it was made official.
Combine that with the fact that Pace just gave Mike Glennon $18.5 million for 2017, this has all the makings of yet another toxic atmosphere in Chicago. The Bears have been in free fall since Lovie Smith was fired and 2017 may be the year they bottom out thanks to a pathetic draft class that didn't address their biggest need (save Eddie Jackson at safety and even he comes with question marks).
The schadenfreude from Packers fans will be strong. It’s going to be another rough season in the Windy City.
Paul Noonan: The Vikings will be worse than people think, and the draft was a disaster.
In one sense the Vikings adhere to my guide for a successful draft in that this was a weak class for offensive linemen and they didn’t go crazy just because they need offensive linemen, picking Ohio State’s Pat Elflien as their lone high draft in the area. On the other hand, the made the cardinal sin of trading up for a running back, which is just about the worst thing you can do, especially i you already don’t have a first round pick. Dalvin Cook may be fine as far as it goes, but his measurables were extremely substandard and, given the state of the Viking line, he will be challenged to find early success. The Viking defense was good last year, but it faded down the stretch and given the talent available there, I am surprised they didn’t reload and improve on their one big strength. Early DVOA projections dislike the Vikes immensely and I’m not seeing a lot here to make me disagree (outside of the Bears providing everyone with 2 easy wins).