2017 NFL Draft Preview


The NFL is the largest league in North America with the most money and therefore the most at stake for every team.

In the NFL there is not a lot of room for error as team owners spend billions to buy and operate teams and they want results.

The pressure is massive from the management to the players on the field and too many mistakes are sure to end someone’s career.

For the players, the mistakes come on the field and a player that can’t keep up with everyone else is out of the league pretty quickly.

The players have a little more leeway though as they can come back in any of the games throughout the season.

Management is under the same amount of pressure though as they are all looking to make the right decisions that will help them to the Super Bowl.

One or two key additions can change a team forever but management has fewer opportunities to make those additions.

That is where there is a massive division in the league as some management groups believe that the best way to go about building that great team is through free agency while others believe it all starts in the draft.

There have been successes with both sides of the argument but more often than not a rebuild needs to start in the draft.

There is no doubt that spending in free agency can help teams win games and championships, the Denver Broncos are a perfect example.

The problem is that those free agent signings are more likely temporary solutions to much bigger problems.

These free agents are often older players that will either move on in pursuit of bigger paychecks or to try and get a championship if they couldn’t in the city they are currently in.

No matter how many free agents a team adds if they want stability in their franchise they usually need a team built from the bottom up.

Teams need a base of players that have grown with the team and the free agents tend to come into play when they fit with these players.

The way to build that base is to find those players when they are young and bring them through the system until they can become true game-changers.

The challenge in that though is that the patience for these players to become those game changers is getting shorter and shorter.

The NFL is the biggest league in North America and the money on the line brings a lot of pressure for management groups to make the right decisions.

When it comes to the draft it was often that players would get a year or two to develop but that isn’t the case anymore.football-sidebar

Over the last few years, the demands on the drafted players have only increased to the point where the first two rounds are now expected to make an impact in their rookie year.

The top players taken are supposed to be the difference right away as they are often put into the starting lineup right away.

That pressure only increases when it comes to first-round quarterbacks who often are taken by teams with QB issues and are forced to take the starting role almost immediately.

Those that don’t often find themselves in the starting role and most of the time it is because of pressure to bring in their new QB.

Other players that are taken in the first two rounds might not have the same amount of pressure but they still are expected to start and make an impact on the team.

When they don’t they can be out of the league in a very short time and the management teams that took them in the draft could be out of a job.

That is the pressure of the draft as these groups of scouts and player personnel have to get it right because the people they take cannot hide on the practice squad.

Finding a player that can have an impact right away with the right personality to deal with the NFL and the workload that comes with the next level of the game is not an easy thing to do.

Yet every year teams try to find those players and some teams have a lot more success than others.

This year 32 teams enter the draft looking to try to make the right decisions and some will have more pressure than anyone else.

These teams need a lot more help and they are looking to the draft to find that help because for them the other option is not available.

They need that base and many will look towards the 2017 class with a chance to turn their team around.

Jared Goff

It is the one debate that comes up every single year in the draft and that is who will be the first overall pick. Some years this question has an easier answer as one player stands out above the rest and is the clear choice at the top of the draft. Other years there is a bit more debate as a number of players push their way to the top of the draft and the team with the top pick has a choice to make. This year is a little different from both though as the debate is less about the players and more about the team. The Cleveland Browns have never picked first overall since they were given two first picks in their first two expansion years. Now the team that has struggled since 1999 has a very big decision to make for the top pick. They are a team that has not been able to find their way back to the playoffs for years and every decision they make seems to be the wrong one. After sorting through multiple GMs and coaches and countless quarterbacks they have yet to be a contender. Now they get the chance to take the best player in the draft in hopes that the best player can actually change their franchise. The question is who that best player is in the minds of the Browns and their management. There is a strong case for Myles Garrett, a defensive end from Texas A&M who is considered the best player in the draft. He could be the cornerstone of the defence for years to come as every team needs a top edge rusher to be competitive in the passing league that is the NFL. The Browns have also been needing a quarterback since they returned to the league in 1999 as Tim Couch is their most successful pivot since their return. Every other addition at that position has failed miserably and there are a lot of people wondering if they should go after a quarterback in this year’s draft and if they should take advantage of their #1 pick to get that QB. Then again they seem to think that recent addition, Brock Osweiler is good enough to be the starter they need. By all accounts, it seems like Garrett is the one to take although some disagree as Warren Sapp has come out recently calling Garrett lazy, whether the Brown’ scouts have seen that or not could be the determining factor. The question will be debated and only the Browns will know as everyone awaits the first overall pick in this year’s draft.


Perhaps more debated than the first overall pick in the draft is the first quarterback to go in the draft. It is always a major question in every draft because the NLF has become a league built around the position. To win a Super Bowl a team needs a good quarterback but finding that quarterback is always one of the most challenging things to do. Finding a QB through the draft is cost effective as good quarterbacks cost a lot of money and often teams need to fit their scheme around that quarterback. Drafting one means teams can form a young QB into what they want and they cost a lot less than signing a free agent not mention good free agent quarterbacks don’t come around too often. So teams look to the draft to find their QB but determining a good QB from the NCAA has proven to be a very difficult thing. In college, systems are far different and having a quarterback adjust from a college system to a pro system can be iffy. Some quarterbacks have done amazing, just look at Dak Prescott, and others have a very tough time, see Johnny Manziel. So every year the teams that need a QB analyse their options head to toe looking for any issue they might encounter in trying to help that quarterback develop into an NFL calibre player, even if it is not a long development period. This year there are a number of top QB prospects available but none is standing out above the rest. For many, the top QB in the draft is National Champion Deshaun Watson from Clemson who came into his draft years as the odds-on favourite. He did everything he could to solidify his spot as the best QB but the style in which he plays and the system he operated has a lot of people doubting him. That led to the rise of Mitch Trubisky who is a more traditional quarterback from North Carolina that some see as the better choice. Then there is DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame who played in a more pro-style offence but might not have the consistency that teams are looking for. Finally, there is Patrick Mahomes who may be the most naturally talented quarterback in the draft but he is very raw and might need a lot more work. All four could be taken in the first round although some are projected to be later in the round or into the second round. The real question will be who gets taken first and by what team as someone needs a QB and will take the chance that one of these can turn out to be a great NFL quarterback.


In the era of the quarterback, the NFL running back has turned into an afterthought as many teams need simply a serviceable back to run their offence. Teams have not focused on the running game for years as they instead try to create the most potent passing games they can. They could find a running back on the free-agent market or late in the draft and then find another only a few years later. The era of the big name back was over and the draft reflected that as they began to fall further and further in the draft. The questions quickly became about how long it would take until the first back was taken in the draft. Last year though something changed as the big name back made a significant comeback in the form of Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys took Elliott with the fourth overall pick breaking the pattern of late first round running backs. The pick turned out to be worthwhile as Elliott was part of a rookie duo that led the Cowboys to the playoffs in 2016. His dominance and the Cowboys ability to run a balanced offence might have changed everything. Now teams seem to be looking for that back that can make a difference right away and provide that difference maker. The NFL is a copycat league and teams are likely to look at the Cowboys’ success and try to copy their blueprint. For a lot of teams that is as simple as looking for that next back that can do something special right away. There may be one available too as LSU’s star is ready to enter the NFL and looks the part of a great pro back. Leonard Fournette has been an NFL calibre running back since he was in high school as he was the most recruited player for years. In college, he proved that he could meet those expectations as one of the best in the country. Despite a knee injury he still dominated and his big frame and running style makes him a perfect fit for the NFL. The question is how early a team is willing to draft him this year and if that knee injury will scare some teams off. His only true competition in the draft is Christian McCaffrey who might not be as big but can do more on the field. The son of a former NFL wide receiver was a do-it-all player at Stanford returning kicks and becoming one of their top receivers out of the backfield. Both backs are receiving a lot of buzz and there will be a demand for them but everyone will wait to see how long it takes for one of them to come off of the board.


Every year there seems to be one player that tends to confuse scouts and analysts because they can’t figure out if he can fit into the NFL. This year that player is Jabrill Peppers who was one of the most exciting players in college football last year. There is no doubt that he is a great athlete with a lot of raw talent but the biggest question is where to play him. He is not a typical running back or wide receiver nor is he a typical defensive back and nobody drafts a player just to return kicks. He can play all of these positions and he has throughout his college career as he was the guy that could do it all and Michigan used him that way. The problem is that the guys that can do it all in college are very rarely guys that can do it all in the pros. They are great athletes and most of the time they survive on that talent alone and in the NFL they can’t do that. Being the jack of all trades and master of none won’t cut it and so players like Peppers need to focus on one spot. That is where things get even more difficult for teams as they see this player with a lot of talent but don’t know what to do with him. If they draft him they will try to fit him into one position but where do they put him? Everyone will have a different opinion of where someone like him fits best. He could be too small to be a running back or a receiver, although he might be an interesting option for a creative coach in certain packages. As a defensive back, he is good but not a great cover man and his size is still a big question when covering massive bodies in the passing game. He can be a great returning but does anyone really want to spend a top draft pick on a returner, a position becoming less important with a record number of touchbacks. All of this makes him a tough decision but the recent news about his failed drug test is not going to help his stock. There were certainly teams likely to take a shot on him, especially those teams without any glaring needs, but the drug test is not going to win him any favours. It was failed due to a diluted sample but he is entering the league drug program and for teams willing to take a risk that might be too much. It will be an interesting saga that will play out on draft night as Peppers could be waiting a while or no time at all.


There are a couple of theories on how to build teams in the NFL and trading is not one of the more popular ones throughout the 32 teams. The trade market is not the most active out of the four major leagues in North America. Draft night changes that though as the pressure builds and teams often find themselves on the phone throughout the multiple rounds of the draft to try to work their way up and down the draft. This year there seems to be a little bit of both that could come into the nights of the draft. Some of the big rumours surround two quarterbacks that two teams might be ready to get rid of during the draft. One of the main rumours is in New England where many believe that Jimmy Garroppolo is on his way out. The Patriots do love to gather draft picks and with Tom Brady ready to play for another five years along with Jacoby Brissett only starting his career they could get rid of a good QB to a QB-needy team for some picks. Another team rumoured to be moving their quarterback is the Cleveland Browns who acquired Brock Osweiler and his massive contract this off-season. Most saw the move as a way for them to get a big trade chip that might be able to return a number of good players that they could help to build around along with players in this draft. So far they have yet to move Osweiler and some think they are getting ready for the draft where they will trade him to potentially store picks. Both the Patriots and the Browns have claimed that they won’t be trading either quarterback. It could be a smokescreen as they prepare for a big trade but the first day might come and go without either being moved which will certainly send a message as to their teams both in 2017 and for the future. The other major rumour surrounds the Browns again as they have reportedly taken multiple calls about getting out of the first pick in the draft. Without a major quarterback available it seems like Myles Garrett is the guy and if the Browns don’t want him they might be able to get a number of picks from a team that really wants him. With those picks, they can get quite a haul this year but trading away the opportunity to take the top player available might not be the smarter move. One way or another there will be trade as teams move through the draft to get the players they want while some players could be moved on a big day.

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