Well… that didn’t turn out as anybody expected.
Normally, in the days leading up to the NFL Draft, mock drafts stabilize and most analysts come to some form of agreement of where players are heading.
But that wasn’t the case this year. Over the past four months, mock drafts were as uncertain as Tennessee weather. The only true certainty was at No. 1 (Cleveland didn’t pull a Cleveland and did the right thing by drafting Myles Garrett). After that, a complete abyss.
The draft played out in the unpredictable fashion many expected it to. There were bizarre trades, even more bizarre falls, and even more bizarre selections. It created one hell of an entertaining night.
And that’s ultimately why the NFL is king. They understand entertainment better than any American sport’s league, and it isn’t really all that close.
Chalk Thursday up as a big, fat “W” for the NFL, and a resounding “L” for the other leagues.
Good luck to the NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS. Your desires to reach the mountaintop took yet another devastating strike after last night.
The 3 Best Picks
No. 3) Washington Redskins select Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen
It was reported that the combination of his arthritic shoulders and a back injury caused Allen to plummet all the way to No. 17. Whatever the reason, the Redskins snatched Allen at an absolute bargain in the middle of the first round.
Originally, I had Allen pegged as the fourth best player overall and had him going to the Chicago Bears at No. 3, but since teams opted to go offense early, Allen fell by the wayside. Even with all the elite offensive talent going early, Allen’s fall was perplexing. The fact that he was drafted below Solomon Thomas and Derek Barnett is a modern tragedy in my eyes.
No. 2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Alabama tight end O.J. Howard
I nearly put this No. 1 because when it happened, it was the most surprising pick of the night (it was later surpassed by what I thought was the best pick of the night). Alabama tight end O.J. Howard shouldn’t have been available at No. 19. While I wasn’t aboard the ridiculous hype train that placed Howard in the top 5, once we reached the 10-15 range, I thought Howard was as good as gone.
Instead, Tampa Bay provided Jameis Winston with an elite weapon who can help him in both the receiving and blocking department. Many believed Howard could go to the Titans at No. 18, but since Tennessee went wide receiver at No. 5, that plan went right out the window.
Now, the Bucs have Gronk NFC. Have mercy on the poor souls of those NFC South defenses.
No. 1) San Francisco 49ers select Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster
I’ll cap off the Alabama trifecta here with San Francisco’s selection of Reuben Foster, which capped off one of the greatest rookie performances in general managing history by John Lynch.
After duping the Chicago Bears into a one-sided trade for the ages early on, the 49ers closely examined the stunning fall of Foster before trading back into the first round and drafting him at No. 31.
If we’re strictly talking value, this pick is bonkers. It smashes every value meter. I had Foster as the No. 2 overall player heading into Thursday and believed the 49ers would take him at No. 2. But oh, he yelled at a nurse once and had a diluted sample.
Foster is everything you want in a linebacker. He’s athletic, a sure tackler, takes proper angles, controls the gaps and adds an overpowering presence right off the bat. If his “issues” turn out to be non-issues, every team that drafted ahead of San Francisco who needed a linebacker have a few questions to answer.
The 3 Worst Picks
No. 3) Indianapolis Colts select Ohio State safety Malik Hooker
As an overly passionate Colts fan, here were my initial reactions to this selection:
Kill me now!
You could’ve taken Reuben Foster or Jonathan Allen!
I hate you Chris Ballard!
Now that I’ve had a few hours to calm down and collect my thoughts, here’s what I think: No! Kill me now! You could’ve taken Reuben Foster or Jonathan Allen! I hate you Chris Ballard!
The Colts have more problems than I can count. So what did they do? Draft a supremely talented, ball-hawk safety… who has legitimate problems in his game! Hooker’s range and ability to create turnovers are both off the charts, but in the technical aspect of the game, there are concerns. He pursues poor tackling angles, which can be credited to his overall inexperience, which also is a problem in itself.
Indianapolis had the league’s worst front seven last season, per Pro Football Focus. That unit’s poor performance, plus a boatload of injuries, was the catalyst for a sub-par Indianapolis secondary. The Colts should’ve gone after a player in the front seven, but instead went with the player with more style over substance.
No. 2) Jacksonville Jaguars select LSU running back Leonard Fournette
I’m a front-row student in Mel Kiper Jr.’s school of thought when it comes to running backs: They shouldn’t be drafted in the first round unless under very specific circumstances. The reason Ezekiel Elliot worked at No. 4 last season was because Dallas wasn’t the typical team drafting in the top 5 — it had the league’s top offensive line and went 4-12 primarily because of Tony Romo’s health problems.
In Jacksonville, Leonard Fournette isn’t entering an ideal situation. The Jaguar offensive line remains in turmoil, while Jacksonville’s quarterback play if often the reason why the team routinely drafts in the top 5. I’d rather have Tony Romo on the bench with a broken collarbone at quarterback than a fully healthy Blake Bortles at this point.
Fournette’s blend of power and speed led to countless jaw-dropping plays in college, but he needs time to rev up his engines. Given the attention he’ll receive from NFL defenses, Fournette will likely replicate his Alabama performances on a week-to-week basis.
No. 1) Kansas City Chiefs select Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes
There are no words for this.
When this pick was made, I immediately envisioned dark clouds, complete collapse, and utter devastation. I contemplated several things: Setting myself on fire, injecting myself with an army of parasites, and yelling at a nurse. This is the kind of pick that tears families apart.
I understand the argument in favor Mahomes. He can make throws most can only dream about and has plenty of upside. But for my taste, he’s too much of a project to spend a top-10 pick on.
Quarterbacks in the NFL start getting in trouble once they start playing outside an offensive infrastructure. Not only does Mahomes come from an offense at Texas Tech that has produced exactly zero quality NFL quarterbacks, but he’s a gunslinger in the truest sense. And although Andy Reid is viewed as the perfect fit for him, Reid has yet to develop a quarterback this raw.
Maybe Mahomes is the Big 12 version of Marcus Mariota; a quarterback who dispels a narrative that quarterbacks from high-octane college offenses in weak defensive conferences can transition to the NFL. However, I’m not convinced Mahomes can make the necessary mental adjustment. He’s the anti-Alex Smith, but at least Smith provides a level of security. With Mahomes, Chiefs fans will never have that, and they’re about to pay the price for it.