As the 82nd annual NFL Draft wrapped up last week, 253 emerging talents found new homes in the National Football League. The Cleveland Browns had first take of the next generation as the draft was hosted for the first time outdoors at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was give the frostiest of receptions, giving a bit of added spice over the three nights.
Wrapping up all the reaction to the big news, we have asked 6 burning questions from 6 experts to summarise the biggest headlines from the event.
In The Pocket‘s own Jay Mueller answers a few of our topics in Episode 31 this week:
Q1: With 141 tackles and 31 sacks from 34 College games at Texas A&M since 2014, was it a sensible choice for Cleveland to opt for a defensive star like Myles Garrett as number one pick? Could they have gone for some offensive firepower instead or do they need to build on defence as a priority?
@WootandWye: It was a very sensible decision by the Cleveland Browns. You take the clear best player in this draft. When you have a talent like Garrett, the focus shouldn’t be on need. Garrett would be a top 2/3 player in any draft. He’ll be a difference maker for them from Day 1.
@aussieguysnfl: It was by far the best and most logical choice selecting Myles Garrett at the top of the draft. The Browns are really only a few pieces away from having a solid to good defence and Garrett brings them closer. If they can control one phase of the game, it takes the pressure off the offense and they can afford to take their time (more time!!) to find a QB. What’s more, with a dominating defence, you only really need an average QB.
@J_McGrouther: They definitely made the right choice. Yes, there were a few options at RB and WR, but they need to stop leaking points. Teams scored between 25-35 points a game against them, and even their win they allowed 17. Create some turnovers, some 3 and outs and things might pick up a little. (They do need Crowell to fire though).
@SuurelyNot: I think taking Garrett was the sensible choice. The Browns clearly have issues both sides of the ball, but this was a stronger draft for defence and they picked accordingly. Through savvy maneuvering they still managed a couple of strong offensive picks in TE Njoku and QB Kizer. Cleveland will still be a work in progress this year but they’ve made strides in the right direction. If they wanted to focus on offence it would have been a waste picking up anyone but Garrett with the number 1 pick, so I suppose they could have traded out and had even more picks. But as it stands I think they’ve done the right thing. Time will tell.
@stuartprend: I honestly think the Browns wanted a QB but were again disappointed with the stocks. Last year their Chief Strategy Officer, Paul DePodesta, went on the record saying he didn’t think Carson Wentz had what it took to be a Top-20 QB, hence why they traded away pick number 2. So while they would have again preferred a QB, I think they would see it as a waste risking the number 1 pick on anyone but a sure starter. Probably the decision to trade down and not pick up Deshaun Watson at pick 12 is a question that may become closer scrutinised though.
@MRodd92: Myles Garrett was easily the best player in this draft and the obvious choice for the top selection. Yes, there were some good offensive players around. But guys you could build your team around? I didn’t think so. The Browns, as they have for the last 10,328 years, have to improve on every line. Garrett is a guy that can lead the way. Cleveland actually had an outstanding draft. Garrett, top safety Jabril Peppers and and explosive tight end in David Njoku in the first round? Yes please.
Then they got a potential starting quarterback in DeShone Kizer with their fourth pick. FOURTH PICK. A top-rated talent that doesn’t come with the added pressure (see Jared Goff and Carson Wentz 12 months ago). They also got some great value late in the draft by selecting TWO All-Americans in the seventh round – kicker Zane Gonzales and running back Matthew Dayes. Games aren’t won on paper, but at least Cleveland have taken strides in the right direction.
Out of the top 5 picks (Garrett to Browns, Trubisky to Bears, Solomon Thomas to 49ers, Leonard Fournette to Jaguars and Corey Davis to Titans), who will get the most out of their star recruit and why?
@WootandWye: The obvious answer is Myles Garrett. He’ll contribute on Day 1 and can be a game wrecker for them. His impact will probably come a bit later once they have built up their roster a bit more (and with 5 picks in the top 64 next year, they aren’t far away). In terms of immediate impact, Corey Davis can be a stud for Tennessee. Trubisky is a wildcard, if ends up being a franchise QB, it will be him.
@aussieguysnfl: This question can be answered a number of ways. I think that in the short term, Garrett is likely to have the greatest impact. DE/edge is a position that translates well to the NFL and requires a minimum of adjustment. Many of the plays are the same and ultimately the strategy will to let Garrett loose and allow him to get after the QB. While Joey Bosa was a slightly better prospect that Garrett, he is a good point of comparison – and the impact that he had was mostly in the 2nd half of the season due to the contract dispute and some niggling injuries in training camp. In the long term, Corey Davis is likely to have the greatest impact as he builds a rapport with Marcus Mariota. The WR depth is quite open and it will just be a matter of learning the playbook.
@J_McGrouther: I believe the Jags with Fournette initially, but the Titans with Corey Davis in the long run. With my main man Delaine Walker stealing some attention offensively, I think he will ease into year 1 but blossom to be a solid receiver for years. You just don’t know with RB’s…
@SuurelyNot: I believe Solomon Thomas will have the most immediate impact out of the top five. Along with Reuban Foster, the Niners have picked very well and Thomas is my early contender for defensive rookie of the year. Whilst Garrett would seem like the obvious pick, I feel he’ll come into his own more in the next couple seasons when the Cleveland defence develops around him. As for the others, I’m not even 100% Trubisky will start immediately, and if he does it will be in a tough division and life will not be easy. Offensively I’d say Fournette will have the most impact given the Jaguars have too often relied on their hit and miss passing offence. He will give Bortles some much needed relief on the ground.
@MRodd92: In terms of immediate impact, Garrett, Thomas and Fournette will hit the ground running. As mentioned above, Cleveland are ordinary in every position and a defensive leader like Garrett will be a huge boost. Thomas was a bee’s you-know-what behind Garrett as the best defensive end in this draft. The ‘9ers will get a wrecking ball added to a defence that was leakier than Julian Assange’s bathroom tap. San Francisco made a killing in this draft. They duped Chicago into moving up one spot to get Trubisky, selected the player they ACTUALLY wanted at number three, and gained a whole heap of other picks as well. That’s a TKO in anyone’s books.
At Jacksonville, quarterback Blake Bortles didn’t take the step forward everyone was expecting. I reckon my Nan would have thrown the ball more accurately than him at times. The biggest reason was because there was no solid running game for the Jags. Fournette will immediately take that pressure off B-squared. Being the running back taken at number four overall the year after Ezekiel Elliott, however, will also bring the inevitable comparisons.
The New York Jets are considering cutting star receiver Eric Decker and bringing in some fresh blood, but letting the 30-year old go would cost the organisation $8.75m against the cap. Should they stick or twist with the player and do the Jets need a complete cleanout yet again?
@WootandWye: We are big Eric Decker fans on The Woot and Wye Show. He has been vastly underrated for years and is still underrated. The Jets, despite Coach Bowles saying otherwise, are in a complete rebuild year. It would probably make sense to cut Decker and just take the cap hit now. They aren’t achieving anything this year.
@aussieguysnfl: Jets are a dumpster fire. While I am a massive fan of Jamal Adams (could have Landon Collins-like upside), did they really need to go S again in round 2? It also seems like they have forgotten that QB is a position in football. The Jets seem to be playing for the 2018 draft position already. Who knows?
@J_McGrouther: I’m not a fan of the word cleanout, I think it send the wrong message to recruiting players that a team is ‘re-building’ and therefore won’t win for a few years. In saying that, he is busted up, so if I’m the Jets I look for youth and build with a new QB. I don’t see him having a productive year anyway, so why not go young from the get go?
@SuurelyNot: Letting Eric Decker go would be a huge mistake for the Jets. Given they’ve already lost Brandon Marshall, they need an experienced hand in the offence. Quincy Enunwa showed potential last season, but other than him there is really nobody else that can be relied upon in an offence that is already going to be struggling big time this year. On the other hand, 2017 is already shaping up to be a complete write off for the Jets, but I don’t see the logic in releasing one of their best players and receiving nothing in return.
@stuartprend: I can’t see this happening. They’ve just lost Devin Smith to injury, again, and they didn’t pick up a QB in the draft which means they’re probably stuck with Fitzpatrick. While they made some solid WR selections in ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen, they need experience, which is something that Decker can offer. While he comes with his own injury cloud, it seems a waste if they don’t at least and try and let him see out his contract.
@MRodd92: Ahh, the Jets. A team that hasn’t been relevant since…… actually, I’ll get back to you on that one. Personally, Eric Decker was one of the receivers I admired when I first fell ini love with the NFL. As mentioned though, he’s now hit 30 and has some injury issues as well. I don’t think they can afford to cut him though, especially with Brandon Marshall committing New York treason and signing with the Giants. You need experience and safe hands, even if he is not your number one receiver.
The New England Patriots had the least amount of picks (4) in the 2017 Draft, while the Browns, Vikings and Seahawks shared the most (11). Does this prove that free agency has overtaken the Draft in importance? Or is the only way out for an ailing franchise to develop youth?
@WootandWye: The draft will always reign supreme over free agency in importance. It is the best way to flip and build a roster. If you draft correctly, your draft picks can play crucial roles in their 3rd or 4th year on rookie money. The best example is the Seahawks who became one of the best defence’s of all time with their drafting of Chancellor, Thomas & Sherman. We also saw the Raiders become relevant after drafting Mack & Carr. While free agents can help fill a piece or two here & there, and can get you “over the hump” – ultimately good drafting gets you to “the hump” or in the mix.
@aussieguysnfl: I don’t think it proves anything. There are many ways to skin a cat (so to speak – where did that saying come from BTW – shudder to think!!). Belichick fancies himself as a talent evaluator – though the Patriots do seem to excel more in plucking players from teams where they are miss-cast and using them the right way. There is no question that the draft is always the best way for a team to get better. Free agents on average under perform their expectations. No matter what anyone says, the draft is a crap shoot. The more picks you have, the better your chances – period.
@J_McGrouther: No. I don’t think it is more important, but to established teams like the Pats, free agency is a way to attract big names to your club. If the Pats and Browns both went for Brandin Cooks for example, he would go to the stronger team. It’s a way of making stronger teams stronger. The draft is vital for the bottom ranked sides because of that point.
@SuurelyNot: I don’t think it proves one school of thought over the other. Different strategies are required for different teams based on the situations they happen to be in. The Patriots already had the best roster and performed very well in free agency; clearly the draft was not a priority for them this year. But for the Browns, they needed all the help they could get and one could argue they have drafted very well with one eye on the future. As for Minnesota and Seattle, neither picked in the first round so it would appear they drafted for depth and development rather than readymade starters – with the exception of Vikings pick Dalvin Cook who will look to make an immediate impact. All in all, I don’t think the success or importance of a draft class is proven in the first season and who knows, New England’s lack of fresh talent may come back to bite them in years to come.
@stuartprend: I think the difference is that the Patriots are the Super Bowl Champions and are already considered contenders for next year. Free Agents are always going to gravitate to that. On the other hand, which high profile free agent would really want to sign with the Browns unless it was for a bucket load of cash (And even then they’d prefer the Pats for half the cash)? Draft picks allow for rebuilding, free agency enables good teams to continue their dominance. So no, free agency has not taken over the importance of the draft because it does different things for different teams. And yes, the draft is still the only way for any team (not just an ailing one) to develop youth. It’s just that a team like the Patriots has no need to develop youth right now.
@MRodd92: As an unabashed Pats fans, there is certainly a pants party happening at my place after our efforts. Sure, four draft picks isn’t many, BUT considering they traded picks to bring in receiver Brandin Cooks, tight end Dwayne Allen, defensive end Kony Ealy AND running back Mike Gillisee, well, the helium balloons will be inflated for days. But I digress.
We saw the Browns require multiple needs to fill and are building for the future. The Vikings, although competitive, can probably say the same. The biggest issue with free agency is that players want to go to a club that will be in contention for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. That is what players are there for, to win championships. While drafting may mean some pain in a business that isn’t exactly the most patient in the world, developing from within still plays a huge role in where a club can end up.
The Raiders made their Draft Pick announcements from Las Vegas. The franchise is not intended to play their games in Nevada officially until 2020. Was this a good or bad PR move?
@J_McGrouther: I’m a media student at the moment so this one intrigued me. I like it from the “gain new fans” standpoint, slowly building respect and a brand in the area. But on the flipside, for the Oakland community, it’s a bit of a kick in the guts. In the long run the Raiders need to start making a footprint in Vegas, so overall it was a good decision.
@SuurelyNot: A contentious issue for sure! In the long run though I would be inclined to consider picking from Vegas a good PR move. Whilst I’m sure it’s rubbed many Oakland diehards the wrong way, the cold hard truth is what’s done is done and it’s time to look ahead and embrace their new home. The disillusioned Raiders fans were never going to be appeased either way, and not drafting from Vegas would have done little to ease their pain.
@stuartprend: I think this had a lot to do with team identity. Gradually you’ll see the Raiders subtly referencing Las Vegas more over the next three year, this was just the first step. I’m not a PR expert, but doing that at the draft, where the players of the future come on board, seems like the perfect place to start this process.
@MRodd92: As long as they were at the Blackjack table at the time, I don’t see any issue. In all seriousness, I can see why they have done it, but I think fans back in Oakland can be rightly pissed off that they seem to have abandoned them already. If the move will be made, time needs to be split between working with the loyal fan base you have now, as well as developing the new one. Bad call from my position as armchair critic.
At 31 years of age, have the Raiders made the right decision recruiting Marshawn Lynch? Will he help bring a second Legion of Boom to the black and silvers?
@WootandWye: The Raiders are in a position where they only need Lynch to touch the ball 10-15 times a game. They have young backs in Richard & Washington that can help the workload and play roles in the receiving game. Lynch wants to be in Oakland and his hungry to play for the Raiders. He’ll be ready and run with the same violence he always has. It’s a good decision by Oakland. Even if he is 70% of what he once was, thats still a good NFL running back.
@aussieguysnfl: Beastmode signing is brilliant. He may not be the Beastmode of 2 years ago, but he doesn’t need to be. He’s excited about being there and will bring that passion to the field and the locker-room. It may be a perfect story if he can also instrumental in bringing a SB to his hometown of Oakland before the team leaves.
@J_McGrouther: 100% the right call. Love this move. Not from a fantasy standpoint so much but because of the connection he has to the area. In saying that, it does give Derek Carr a similar feel to last season, having that big back behind him, which can only be a good thing. Very early call, and don’t hold me to this – loss in the AFC Championship game.
@SuurelyNot: Why not?! The consensus is Beast Mode retired too early so I don’t see too much of a downside for the Raiders by giving him a shot. They have a high powered passing offence and the addition of a proven superstar can only be a positive. With the loss of Latavius Murray there was a need for a veteran in the backfield, so why not fill that need with an Oakland native who will no doubt prove to be a fan favourite!
@stuartprend: Firstly, it’s f**king Beast Mode, why the hell wouldn’t you recruit him?! But secondly, this ties into the previous question. Lynch is an Oakland native who played High School Football for Oakland Tech, and College for Cal (which is, obviously, also in Oakland). This gives people from Oakland a reason to watch the Raiders for at least a year. So this is more about PR. I do think we’ll see glimpses of what Lynch was capable of, but I doubt he’ll dominate like he used to.
@MRodd92: BEAST MODE IS BACK!! I will admit it will be weird not to see him in a Seahawks uniform. Depending on the financial situation and the depth chart, I don’t see any harm in the decision, especially with Latavius Murray having moved on. I don’t think he’ll be an every down back either, which may help his longevity. The other theory I have is similar to the earlier-mentioned Bortles/Fournette combination. Lynch may attract more attention and that could open the door for Derek Carr the receivers — sounds like a great show band name — to wipe the floor with opposition defences.
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