The Jets may have landed a future All-Pro in their first-round pick, former LSU safety Jamal Adams
The 2017 NFL Draft is officially wrapped up and now attention for every franchise can turn fully to the upcoming season. As is typically the case after the draft, every team thinks they nailed every pick and discovered that missing starter that can lead them to the Super Bowl.
While it’s too soon to say exactly how every draft pick will pan out, we can look at the value teams got from certain picks and which ones caused a few head scratches around the league. With that in mind, here are the best picks from each team and in the interest of fairness, their worst.
Best pick: Budda Baker, S, Round 2 (36th overall)
Worst pick: Chad Williams, WR, Round 3 (98th overall)
The Cardinals had a pretty solid draft overall, addressing needs on defense and along the offensive line. Baker has a chance to be a real steal in the second round and should contribute immediately in nickel packages. Plus he’ll get to be tutored by Tyrann Mathieu. Arizona has had luck with wide receivers in the third round but the selection of Williams there was a big reach. The Grambling State product has significant off-the-field concerns coming out of college and could have been taken much later in the draft.
Best pick: Sean Harlow, OG, Round 4 (136th overall)
Worst pick: Duke Riley, LB, Round 3 (75th overall)
The NFC champions had a quality draft from top to bottom and it’s hard to quibble with their picks all that much. Harlow has a chance to start very early for the Falcons and really help improve the interior offensive line. Given the limitations dressing out rosters on game day, his flexibility also is a nice plus and is great value in the fourth round. As for Riley, he’s undersized and may struggle with the jump to the next level. He has a chance to be a big-time special teams contributor but spending a third-round pick on him seems a little questionable when the team could have continued to add to the secondary.
Best pick: Tim Williams, LB, Round 3 (78th overall)
Worst pick: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Round 1 (16th overall)
Ozzie Newsome loves him some Alabama players so that’s naturally where we’ll focus in this draft. At the top, Humphrey makes a lot of sense as it comes at a huge area of need for the team and the corner really has all the physical tools to develop into a top-flight option at the position. But it’s hard not to note that they could have opted instead for Jonathan Allen or O.J. Howard with this pick and also improved the team a ton. The Ravens did get fantastic value in landing Williams in the third round though, and his off-the-field concerns should be alleviated by the team culture he lands in with Baltimore.
Best pick: Zay Jones, WR, Round 2 (37th overall)
Worst pick: Tre’Davious White, CB, Round 1 (27th overall)
The Bills just let go of their general manager and most of the scouting staff but they leave Buffalo with their best draft effort in a few years. Jones in particular has a chance to really complement Sammy Watkins well and he should be Tyrod Taylor’s (or whoever’s at QB) best friend by midseason. While the team moved back quite a bit and picked up picks left and right, the Bills’ first-round selection was a bit puzzling considering how much they invested in they have already invested in the cornerback position and the fact that White is solid but not spectacular. They could have used one of those draft slots to grab a tight end in the deepest class in years instead.
Best pick: Daeshon Hall, DL, Round 3 (77th overall)
Worst pick: Harrison Butker, K, Round 7 (233 overall)
The Panthers really made it a priority to help Cam Newton in this draft and certainly did that by adding versatile offensive weapons like Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. They really landed a steal in Hall though, who has the talent to become a regular starter and regularly get into the backfield. While they did overdraft Samuel a tad in the second round, it’s strange to seem them use a seventh-rounder on a kicker. Graham Gano wasn’t great last season but you can get a solid kicker after the draft if you want competition.
Best pick: Eddie Jackson, DB, Round 4 (112th overall)
Worst pick: Tarik Cohen, RB, Round 4 (119th overall)
This draft will always be evaluated in terms of the Mitchell Trubisky trade and while the Bears did give up too much to move up one spot to get him, that wasn’t their worst move. That came in the fourth round, which netted them a steal in the form of Jackson but also resulted in following that up with a puzzling move a few picks later. The Alabama safety has plenty of positional flexibility and should help boost the return game right away, making him quite the steal and a nice boost to the young secondary core. As for Cohen though, this was a massive reach on a small running back, who will be no better than third on the depth chart and could have been had much, much later in the draft.
Best pick: Jordan Willis, LB, Round 3 (73rd overall)
Worst pick: Josh Malone, WR, Round 4 (128th overall)
It’s hard to nit-pick with the Bengals draft because they did extremely well across their whopping 11 picks in 2017. Landing Willis was a straight-up steal as he has a chance to be a rotation player at a number of spots from Week 1 and is the kind of well-coached, physical player who can jump right in on defense. While they didn’t really make any missteps on the final day, it seems like it was a little early to grab Malone in the fourth. Not only could they have gotten a more productive wideout later, they also could have waited to draft him.
Best pick: Myles Garrett, DL, Round 1 (1st overall)
Worst pick: Caleb Brantley, DL, Round 6 (185th overall)
The Browns were in many ways in control of this year’s draft and they emerged with several potential starters across the board. This is Cleveland however so while it had to be tempting to buy into the talk of Mitchell Trubisky going No. 1 overall, the team wisely waited to grab QB DeShone Kizer in the second round and instead grabbed the most talented player in the draft with the first selection. The decision to pick Brantley later on was foolish though, as it was a waste of an early sixth-round pick on a guy many thought would go undrafted due to off-the-field issues. The team apparently recognized that and might even cut him before camp as a result.
Best pick: Chidobe Awuzie, DB, Round 2 (60th overall)
Worst pick: Noah Brown, WR, Round 7 (239th overall)
It’s no secret that the Cowboys needed to re-tool their defense and the secondary in particular. Thus, it wasn’t too surprising to see that the focus of the draft and they landed a good one in Awuzie. He’s got length and can be flexible enough in sub-packages to line up just about anywhere when called upon. That’s great value considering where Dallas was picking and what the needs were. The selection of Brown is a little more puzzling as he seems to be a poor man’s Brice Butler, who’s already on the roster. The team is already pretty deep at wideout so Brown will need to make the squad on special teams.
Best pick: Jake Butt, TE, Round 5 (145th overall)
Worst pick: Chad Kelly, QB, Round 7 (253rd overall)
The Broncos did well in this year’s draft by landing a number of frontline contributors but they really got great value in pouncing on Butt in the fifth round. People are concerned about his rehab from the ACL tear in the bowl game but that’s proven to be an injury many players can easily come back from and it’s possible he can too by the time the season rolls around. His upside means he could have gone in the second round or higher if healthy so that’s quality work by John Elway on day three. The pick of Kelly as Mr. Irrelevant was interesting though, as he very easily could have arrived in Denver as an UDFA instead given his off-the-field issues and injury history. It would have been a pick that could have been better used on a flier at linebacker.
Best pick: Brad Kaaya, QB, Round 6 (215th overall)
Worst pick: Jarrad Davis, LB, Round 1 (21st overall)
The Lions addressed almost all of their defensive needs and re-stocked the depth chart pretty well with this draft. The one bone to pick might be with their first pick considering Davis’ injury history at Florida and the fact that Reuben Foster, who was higher on just about everyone’s draft board, was available. Davis should start right away regardless but it was interesting to see the Detroit pass on Foster early. And while it’s not like the Lions need a QB with Matthew Stafford under center but nabbing Kaaya in the sixth is terrific value for somebody with the skill set of a potential starter. At the very least, he could be the backup as a rookie.
Green Bay Packers
Best pick: Montravius Adams, DL, Round 3 (93rd overall)
Worst pick: DeAngelo Yancey, WR, Round 5 (175th overall)
Once again, GM Ted Thompson turns in a heck of a draft lineup and landed a number of likely starters in Green Bay. It’s hard to argue with many of the selections but grabbing Yancey in the fifth was a bit bewildering considering how deep the team is at wideout and how he may have been more of a UDFA type. He doesn’t add a noticeable value on special teams either and it wouldn’t be surprising if seventh-rounder Malachi Dupre sticks around longer. Selecting Adams in the top 100 should result on a nice return as he could be better in Green Bay than he was at Auburn.
Best pick: Carlos Watkins, DL, Round 4 (142nd overall)
Worst pick: Julién Davenport, OL, Round 4 (130th overall)
While everybody will be focusing on landing the quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson, his Clemson teammate might end up providing even better value late in the fourth round. Watkins should step right into the rotation as a rookie and help out a defensive line that needs some players who can consistently be a presence. Fellow fourth-rounder Davenport is an intriguing pick for a team that does need some OL help but he’s a developmental guy and it is likely some time before he can take over as a starter. For a team built to win now, the Texans could have gotten additional help in the secondary instead.
Best pick: Marlon Mack, RB, Round 4 (143rd overall)
Worst pick: Zach Banner, OL, Round 4 (137th overall)
New GM Chris Ballard had a really nice debut draft with the Colts as he targeted upgrades at areas of need for the team in 2017. That’s one reason why the selection of Mack is such a nice value in the middle rounds as he gives a lot of flexibility to the offense in terms of what he can do. It wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him get some carries and learn from Frank Gore this season before eventually taking over as the starter down the road. Grabbing Banner for the offensive line was interesting as he should help on the run-blocking front but doesn’t seem like a good fit at all trying to protect Andrew Luck in the passing game.
Best pick: Cam Robinson, OL, Round 2 (34th overall)
Worst pick: Dede Westbrook, WR, Round 4 (110th overall)
The Jaguars certainly re-committed to the run in this year’s draft with the selection of Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick but they really doubled down on taking the pressure off Blake Bortles by grabbing Robinson. The Alabama tackle can probably play both tackle spots or slide inside and should wind up a starter early on. At the same time, they took a flier on Westbrook, who had the talent to go higher in the draft but off-the-field concerns pushed him down the board. At best he seems like the fourth wideout so Jacksonville could have gotten a tight end instead with this pick.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best pick: Kareem Hunt, RB, Round 3 (86th overall)
Worst pick: Leon McQuay III, DB, Round 6 (218th overall)
Are the Chiefs trying to win right now? Based on how this draft went, the answer appears to be more that the franchise is building for the future. Hunt was a great selection in the third round however and he could quickly become the starter in the backfield. It was a bit puzzling for them to pick McQuay in the sixth though, as he enters a bit be at a bit of a log jam in the secondary in KC and doesn’t seem like the physical type the team needs in that division. If he sticks on the roster, it will need to be on special teams.
Los Angeles Chargers
Best pick: Desmond King, DB, Round 5 (151st overall)
Worst pick: Rayshawn Jenkins, DB, Round 4 (113th overall)
The freshly minted Los Angeles Chargers had a great draft as the focus was on helping Philip Rivers and it’s hard to quibble much with any of their picks beyond not getting a developmental quarterback to groom as a backup and potential replacement. Grabbing two defensive backs in the middle rounds was an interesting strategy as King looks like a potential steal in the fifth due to his ability to play corner and safety. Jenkins can turn into a quality player but isn’t much of an upgrade over either current option on the roster. It says plenty that you have to go that deep to pick apart this class for the Chargers.
Los Angeles Rams
Best pick: Josh Reynolds, WR, Round 4 (117th overall)
Worst pick: Samson Ebukam, LB, Round 4 (125th overall)
Getting Jared Goff some weapons was a clear priority and the Rams did that early and often with their picks. Reynolds has a chance to start quickly on the outside and become a dependable presence while teaming up with fellow rookie Cooper Kupp. Ebukam was an interesting selection given what the team already has on the roster at linebacker and a pick that could have been used to bolster that iffy offensive line instead.
Best pick: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Round 2 (54th overall)
Worst pick: Isaiah Ford, WR, Round 7 (237th overall)
Miami was yet another team that really did well in addressing its needs through the draft but also got terrific value in landing McMillan at the back half of the second round. He joins a stacked linebacker group and could add a bunch on special teams while he develops into a starter. Ford has plenty of talent but seems like a bit of a long shot to stick around given the depth the team already has there and the fact that he doesn’t add much in terms of special teams value.
Best pick: Pat Elflein, OL, Round 3 (70th overall)
Worst pick: Rodney Adams, WR, Round 5 (170th overall)
Even though they didn’t have a first-round pick, the Vikings still left the draft in Philadelphia with a number of key players that should make an impact early on. Elflein in particular has a chance to start right away and help boost an offensive line that really struggled a season ago. HIs versatility in playing center and both guard spots really helps a team that is limited on game day to the number of people you can dress too. Adams also might be able to enter the rotation as a slot guy but drops were a big concern with him and that’s not something that Minnesota needs more of.
New England Patriots
Best pick: Conor McDermott, OL, Round 6 (211th overall)
Worst pick: Deatrich Wise, DL, Round 4 (131st overall)
The defending champions’ draft must take into account the wealth of veterans they acquired this offseason, leaving just four picks in 2017 when all was said and done. McDermott can develop into a starter under OL coach Dante Scarnecchia and might be a nice complement to the other tackle taken in the draft. Wise seems like a bit of a reach at that spot when the team could have filled other needs.
New Orleans Saints
Best pick: Alvin Kamara, RB, Round 3 (67th overall)
Worst pick: Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Round 6 (196th overall)
New Orleans plugged some holes on defense through the draft but the addition of Kamara should really help out Drew Brees and complement Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson quite well. He’s good value in the third and could fill that Reggie Bush role of yesteryear. Muhammad has some upside if he can clear everything up off the field but the pick would have been better used on finding a good Brandin Cooks replacement instead.
New York Giants
Best pick: Dalvin Tomlinson, DL, Round 2 (55th overall)
Worst pick: Davis Webb, QB, Round 3 (87th overall)
You can like a lot of what New York did in the draft this year and that starts with the first two picks. Grabbing tight end Evan Engram at No. 23 might have been a little high but that evens out considering the value the team gets in nabbing Tomlinson in the second round. He can really make things tough on opposing lines and should fit right into that locker room. Spending a third-round pick on a project at quarterback seems a little iffy given how little playing time Eli Manning has missed and how many good years he still has ahead of him.
New York Jets
Best pick: Jamal Adams, DB, Round 1 (sixth overall)
Worst pick: Marcus Maye, DB, Round 2 (39th overall)
While Gang Green fans may have preferred grabbing Deshaun Watson or somebody else with that first-round pick, the Jets land a potential All-Pro in Adams. He might just be one of the cleanest players in the draft and comes at a much-needed spot given some of the offenses in the division. However, following up that pick with that of Maye is a bit puzzling, even if New York is trying to trade Calvin Pryor or Marcus Gilchrist. There are so many holes on this roster, it would have been better to grab a quality offensive lineman or linebacker there.
Best pick: Elijah Hood, RB, Round 7 (242nd overall)
Worst pick: Jylan Ware, OL, Round 7 (231st overall)
The Raiders shored up the secondary with their first few picks and landed good value in Eddie Vanderdoes in the third. But they really could have a steal in the final round in grabbing Hood, who should be able to make a move or two backing up Beast Mode in Oakland. He’s a better blocker than most give him credit for and he’s got the size and hands to be a quality third-down option. Fellow seventh-rounder Ware was a puzzling pick given the Raiders selected a developmental tackle earlier in the draft already (David Sharpe, fourth round) and have enough depth there. Taking a chance on a tight end or corner would have perhaps been a better usage of the selection.
Best pick: Elijah Qualls, DL, Round 6 (214th overall)
Worst pick: Mack Hollins, WR, Round 4 (118th overall)
It wasn’t too surprising to see the draft’s hosts go heavy on defense and give coordinator Jim Schwartz some more pieces to work with. While the corners and other defenders are all quality picks, grabbing a versatile athlete like Qualls in the sixth is excellent. He might not be a starter on the team but he can get a bunch of reps as part of the rotation and can flex out if need be given the athlete he is. Hollins may provide a boost on special teams but feels like a long shot to really crack that receiver rotation.
Best pick: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Round 2 (62nd overall)
Worst pick: Colin Holba, LS, Round 6 (213th overall)
Big Ben does not lack for targets in the Steel City but he adds another in the second round as the value of grabbing Smith-Schuster is just too big to pass up. He will have a chance to learn from the starters while working into the rotation and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him have a solid rookie year given how polished he already is. As for Holba, it seems like a waste of a sixth-round pick on a backup long snapper when the team could have gone after a tight end.
San Francisco 49ers
Best pick: Reuben Foster, LB, Round 1 (31st overall)
Worst pick: C.J. Beathard, QB, Round 3 (104th overall)
John Lynch’s debut draft was stellar and he landed a deep class full of potential starters all over the field. His savvy maneuvering really paid off at the end of the first round in order to leap frog the Saints and grab the falling Foster. The instinctive linebacker gets a chance to learn from NaVorro Bowman and Malcom Smith early in his career before likely being the long-term solution in the middle of the defense. The fit with head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t so much the issue with the Beathard pick as much as the fact that San Francisco could have gotten a backup quarterback much, much later in the draft.
Best pick: Malik McDowell, DL, Round 2 (35th overall)
Worst pick: Michael Tyson, DB, Round 6 (187th overall)
It was not at all surprising to see Seattle move back out of the first round on Thursday and then promptly land a player who perfectly fits its system in McDowell. He checks off all the boxes when it comes to be a big-time defensive lineman and his versatility should only further enhance his value with that Seahawks defense. After already picking up three new members of the Legion of Boom, including two safeties, grabbing Tyson in the sixth was a bit of a head-scratcher instead of adding another offensive lineman to the mix. Perhaps a conversion to linebacker is possible.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Round 1 (19th overall)
Worst pick: Justin Evans, DB, Round 2 (50th overall)
No team may have a better top-to-bottom draft than the Bucs, which clearly went in trying to give Jameis Winston some more weapons and passed with flying colors on that front. The star of the show is undoubtedly Howard, who has All-Pro potential and should have a much better career at this level than in college. Evans does fill a need at safety and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him start rather quickly in Tampa but his penchant for aggressiveness could be an issue in a division with so many good quarterbacks.
Best pick: Corey Davis, WR, Round 1 (fifth overall)
Worst pick: Khalfani Muhammad, RB, Round 7 (241st overall)
Marcus Mariota can’t do it all alone and this draft seemed to indicate that the front office was going to get him some help. Davis was the most polished wide receiver in the draft and should form a terrific combo with the signal-caller on a variety of routes. It’s hard to figure out why they wanted to grab Muhammad late in the seventh though, as the position is already loaded with other runners and return duties are the purview of Tennessee’s other first-round pick, Adoree’ Jackson.
Best pick: Jonathan Allen, DL, Round 1 (17th overall)
Worst pick: Robert Davis, WR, Round 6 (209th overall)
For a team without a general manager, Washington had a heck of a draft. The Redskins not only filled a bunch of needs on defense, they also landed quality players at the same time and that was certainly the case with their first-round pick. Allen was labeled by some as the second-best player in the draft so to grab him 17th overall is a straight-up steal. Davis seems like he’ll face an uphill shot at making the roster so you wonder why the Redskins didn’t use the pick on grabbing a potential quarterback like Brad Kaaya with the selection.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.
(Top photo courtesy of www.newyorkjets.com)