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2017 NFL Draft: Five Best Value Picks (And Five That Weren’t)

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The 2017 NFL Draft has wrapped up in Philadelphia and all 253 picks are in the books. While every team feels like they have those final pieces in place to win the Super Bowl now, the reality is there’s only one that will be holding up the Lombardi Trophy next year.

One of the key components of the draft is not only about finding those new contributors for a title team but also about getting value out of those limited number of draft picks. Some teams did well in grabbing falling players in the right spot while others certainly made a puzzling move and reached for some others they shouldn’t have.

Related: Best and Worst 2017 NFL Draft Pick for Every Team

So which picks fall on which side of that line? Here are five great value picks, and five that weren’t.

5 Value Picks

Jonathan Allen, DL: Round 1, No. 17 overall (Washington Redskins)

Anybody who watched college football in the past two years knows exactly what kind of a player the Redskins landed in Allen. There were a handful of evaluators who thought he might be the second-best player in the entire draft so seeing him fall all the way down to 17th represents great value. There are some medical concerns with the big defensive lineman but he’s continually proved people wrong and should do so once again in Washington.

Raekwon McMillan, LB: Round 2, No. 54 overall (Miami Dolphins)

McMillan isn’t a workout wonder but when he’s between the lines, he’s a top-tier football player who racked up tackle after tackle at Ohio State. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him turn into a long-time pro and he lands in a particularly great spot in Miami with that defensive line to help protect him early on.

Jordan Willis, DL: Round 3, 73rd overall (Cincinnati Bengals)

The Bengals did particularly well in the middle rounds, also landing fellow defensive end Carl Lawson with their next selection after this one. Willis is a player some thought could sneak into the bottom of the first round given his measurables, instincts and toughness. It will be interesting to see where Cincinnati lines him up but the Bengals got a great player who can fill a variety of roles no matter what defense needs to be out on the field. 

Marlon Mack, RB: Round 4, 143rd overall (Indianapolis Colts)

Frank Gore is on his last legs with the Colts so they may have just drafted his eventual replacement in the talented Mack with the second to last pick in the fourth round. He’s not a finished product yet but his style of running should help boost the ground game right away while taking some heat off Andrew Luck and the rest of the offense.

Jake Butt, TE: Round 5, 145th overall (Denver Broncos)

Prior to the Orange Bowl injury, Butt was in line to go as high as the second round. While knee issues can be scary at times, ACL rehab is usually pretty straightforward nowadays and it wouldn’t be all that surprising for the tight end to hit the field earlier than anticipated this season. He isn’t a guy who flexes out all the time like other superstars at the position but he does all the little things right to where you wouldn’t be surprised if he plays for 10 years. That’s great value for the Broncos this late in the draft.

Don’t forget:

Reuben Foster (31st overall, San Francisco)

Malik McDowell (35th overall, Seattle)

Jourdan Lewis (92nd overall, Dallas)

Desmond King (151st overall, LA Chargers)

Adam Bisnowaty (200th overall, NY Giants)

5 Reaches

Patrick Mahomes, QB: Round 1, 10th overall (Kansas City Chiefs)

Physically, Mahomes checks off all the boxes and clearly the Chiefs front office and coaching staff fell in love with him. There’s no question he can turn into the future QB and do well in the NFL, but this is a big move by the franchise despite being only a few pieces away from a Super Bowl run. Now Kansas City mortgaged the present and future with this trade to go up and get a developmental player who comes from a vastly different system in college and probably won’t be ready to play until late next year. The Chiefs hopes this will work out but it’s a big bet on a signal-caller they could have gotten later.

C.J. Beathard, QB: Round 3, 104th overall (San Francisco 49ers)

Rookie GM John Lynch had a terrific first draft in charge of the franchise but the move to trade back into the third round in order to get Beathard was a little puzzling. It’s not a bad fit all things considered, as the pro-style QB has a chance to really turn into a solid player in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system and compete early on with a thin depth chart. There are enough flaws in his game though that the team could have gotten him much later and certainly could have used this pick on somebody who could contribute much earlier.

Tarik Cohen, RB: Round 4, 119th overall (Chicago Bears)

In terms of highlights, Cohen may have some of the best in the draft after excelling at FCS program North Carolina A&T. The jump up from the MEAC to the NFL is a massive one though and, while you can understand the Bears wanting to jump start their offense with some playmakers, it is a little dubious to think that spending a fourth-round pick on a 5-foot-7, 180-pound tailback does that. He probably could have been had two rounds later with Chicago spending the pick on somebody who can help out the roster more, specifically on defense.

Zach Banner, OL: Round 4, 137th overall (Indianapolis Colts)

It’s no secret that the Colts need help along the offensive line, not only to protect Andrew Luck but also to boost the run game. Banner’s big size (6-9, 360) can be a factor in the latter but he struggles with speed off the edge and might be a bit too stiff to kick inside. His weight remains an issue and you never know if his hips will hold up after earlier injuries. Indy could have gone a different direction with this pick or grabbed Banner a round or two later.

Caleb Brantley, DL: Round 6, 185th overall (Cleveland Browns)

Most teams around the league took Brantley off their draft boards once he was charged with battery after allegedly hitting a woman. The Browns apparently didn’t and decided to spend a sixth-round selection on the former Florida Gator. Given how thin the roster is everywhere in Cleveland, this could turn out to be a wasted pick and the front office basically admitted as much in a press conference later on. Brantley does have talent on the interior but not enough to warrant this selection from a needy franchise.

— 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.

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