• Fred Wheeler

Redrafting the 2017 NFL First Round Pt 1





It always takes a little while for players to show who they really are in the NFL. Sometimes they come out and show everyone right away but occasionally it takes some time to prove their worth. . . or lack thereof.


In this article, we’ll be looking back at the 2017 NFL Draft and redrafting to give teams the best possible fit for their pick, but this time we’ll have the benefit of seeing how they have panned out over the last 5 years.


I’ll be making “re-do” selections based on the following criteria:


Public Knowledge – For instance, we knew that Chicago was desperate to trade up for a QB in this draft, so they did, they just didn’t take the right one. In this draft, we take advantage of hindsight and correct that.


The position they drafted – The Browns selected Myles Garrett with the #1 overall pick and he’s been everything expected of him; he is, at this stage of his career, almost certainly a Hall of Famer. But the Browns were also a terrible team on offense that year; would Patrick Mahomes have been a better choice or would he have become just another guy who was eaten up and spit out by the Cleveland QB carousel?


Offensive and Defensive stats from the previous and following seasons – How good (or bad) were teams the season before and how did the player they actually draft help them improve on that side of the ball, if at all?


Is there a player available who would clearly make a huge impact on their team regardless of position? This is the last factor I’ll take into consideration as I don’t want this list to simply become a “Top 32 players of the 2017 NFL Draft” list, though as we get closer to the bottom of the First Round, that may well be what happens, we'll see.



So, with that out of the way, we have the first pick from. . .


Cleveland Browns

Selected – Myles Garrett – DE – Texas A&M – The Browns needed help in the 2017 Draft, they went 1-15 and only a Week 15 upset over the Chargers kept them from having consecutive winless seasons. The defense was God-awful (31st overall) and they generated only 26 sacks (T-31st). Garrett was the overwhelming choice at #1 by virtually every person who took 2 seconds to post a mock draft.


On second thought – Patrick Mahomes – QB – Texas Tech – The Browns Offense was almost (but not quite) as bad as the defense, finishing only (HA! Only!) 30th in total offense. There was not a single position that the Brownies couldn’t have stood to improve that year. If this was Cleveland’s only pick I might have stayed with Garrett, but they had two other first-day picks letting them get better fast.



Chicago Bears

Selected – Mitch Trubisky – QB – North Carolina – This didn’t exactly pan out, did it. The Bears, much like the Browns, have had a revolving door at QB for most of the last 25 years and were desperate to stop it. So desperate that they drafted a QB who’d only started thirteen games in college and was rated as low as 63rd Overall (Sporting News) among prospects.


On second thought – DeShaun Watson – QB – Clemson – Watson is a no-brainer at this pick. He’s performed at a high level and despite his current legal issues, there is still a ton of interest from teams in trading for him. Watson to Chicago would have been just what the Bears needed.



San Francisco 49ers

Selected – Solomon Thomas – DE – Stanford – While Thomas hasn’t exactly been a star for the #3 selection, he hasn’t been an outright dud like some of these picks have been, though he’s not the pass rusher he was thought to be entering the draft.


On second thought – Myles Garrett – DE – Texas A&M – Much better. While I doubt that San Francisco thought this would be the production that they were going to get from Solomon, Garrett is a significant upgrade, so much so that you have to wonder how it would have affected the 2019 selection of Nick Bosa.



Jacksonville Jaguars

Selected – Leonard Fournette – RB – LSU – Fournette was considered to be the runaway (pardon the pun) choice for the top RB in the 2017 draft. While he’s certainly had a career revival in Tampa Bay, seven backs drafted after him have made the Pro Bowl while Fournette has yet to make his first.



On second thought – Christian McCaffrey – RB – Stanford – Run CMC has been one of the most productive (when healthy) running backs in the NFL since the 2017 season, a two-time All-Pro, and became just the third back in NFL history to produce a 1000/1000 season (Rushing/Receiving) in 2019.




Tennessee Titans

Selected – Corey Davis – WR – Western Michigan – It feels like the Titans drafted Davis based on his potential. Working up to the draft there were raves about his “Prototype” size, elite speed, and his production at Western Michigan (331 REC, 52 TDs, 15.9 YPC Avg). In the NFL, the results have been. . . underwhelming.


On second thought – Cooper Kupp – WR – Eastern Washington – If you would have suggested that Kupp would be considered the best receiver in the 2017 class at the draft you would have been laughed out of the room. Five years later it’s clear- Kupp is the top wideout in this class posting three seasons of 90+ catches, two 1000+ yard seasons (and another that he just missed), and two 10+ TD campaigns.



New York Jets

Selected – Jamaal Adams – S – Alabama – The selection of Adams was an easy one for the Jets. Coming out of LSU Adams was looked at as a “do-it-all” Safety who could blitz, support the run, play a deep cover, or even pitch in at cornerback if needed.


On second thought – Nope, still Adams. – While he’s since been traded to the Seahawks (the Jets will use the last of the picks from that trade this spring), Adams has continued to play at an elite level though his coverage ability hasn't been what it was made out to be pre-draft.



Los Angeles Chargers

Selected – Mike Williams – WR – Clemson – This pick finally looks to be panning out for the Chargers. Williams was thought to be a volume possession receiver coming in the 2017 draft. The problem was that he never produced (or for that matter saw the targets to) to the level the Chargers expected. This season he is, or will barring injury, set personal bests across the board.


On second thought – Chris Godwin – WR – Penn State – As opposed to Williams who finally seems to be hitting his stride as a pro, Godwin has been fairly consistent putting up better statistics after a rough start as a rookie logging two 85+ REC seasons and going over a 1000 yards twice as well.



Carolina Panthers

Selected – Christian McCaffrey – RB – Stanford – The Panthers nailed this pick, no two ways about it. They added (debatably) the most dynamic offensive player of the last five drafts who hit the ground running (after some rookie year hiccups) and is dynamite (when he’s healthy).


On second thought – Alvin Kamara – RB – Tennessee – Unfortunately, the Panthers don’t have McCaffrey available in this draft so we’ll be selecting another player with virtually the same skill set who also ended up in the NFC South.



Cincinnati Bengals

Selected – John Ross – WR – Washington – When the Bengals selected Ross I imagine that they thought that they were getting a short-term complement and a long-term replacement for A.J. Green (now with Arizona). Unfortunately, Ross’ injury history from college made the leap to the NFL, he has never played a full season and only played more than ten games once (2018)


On second thought – Mike Williams – WR – Clemson – While it’s entirely possible that Williams’ career mirrors what he’s experienced with the Chargers, I think the Bengals would have been thrilled with that production vs what they got from Ross. I also believe that Williams would have seen at least 20% more targets per season playing in Cincinnati.



Kansas City Chiefs

Selected – Patrick Mahomes – QB – Texas Tech – Another team that absolutely made the right pick in this draft and another that is having a foundational piece ripped away (Sorry, not sorry KC, Denkinger says "Hi"). To be fair to all the pundits, no Texas Tech QB had really made any noise in the NFL, combine that with a “college” offense, and teams were wary of selecting the future Super Bowl MVP.



On second thought – Dalvin Cook – RB – Florida State – So, the Chiefs don’t get Mahomes, they get Dalvin Cook instead of Mahomes (and Kareem Hunt in the 3rd Round) and have to make do with a Top 5 running back in the NFL. Poor guys, I totes feel sorry for them.



New Orleans Saints

Selected – Marshon Lattimore – CB – Ohio State – The first corner off the board in the 2017 Draft, Lattimore was viewed as a player who did everything well and his weaknesses were almost nitpicky (injury prone, a slight hitch in flipping his hips). While he’s been an excellent cover corner for the Saints, he has also only played a full season once missing about 2 games a year. He was also the 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.


On second thought – Tre’davious White – CB – LSU – I feel like I’m splitting hairs here just a tiny bit with this pick. Lattimore was the ROY in 2017 and is a three-time Pro Bowler while White is a two-time Pro Bowler and also has made the NFL All-Pro Team twice (2019, 2020). An ACL injury has ended White’s 2021 season, but this feels like a 1A/1B situation regardless.



Houston Texans

Selected – DeShaun Watson – QB – Clemson – After almost a year of DeShaun Watson's personal and legal trouble, it would be interesting to know if Houston would rather just wash their hands of the whole mess and have drafted someone else. Those issues aside, Watson is a young, promising QB who the Texans should get a haul of picks for once they trade him.


On second thought – Aaron Jones – RB – Texas-El Paso – Since Watson isn’t available in this scenario, we’re giving the Texans another of the new breed of running backs that are all-around weapons. Jones would have taken over for Lamar Miller in 2017 and bought the Texans more time to find their QB.



Arizona Cardinals

Selected – Haason Reddick – LB – Temple – This pick is one that you see repeated every year in the NFL Draft, a team taking an athletic, explosive player who they feel they can fit into their system rather than taking a player that is a technically solid and a “just OK” athlete. Sure enough, Haason’s draft profile mentioned that he “Struggles to break down, get square and tackle consistently” as well as “Overruns too many plays”. The Cardinals declined his 5th-year option and he played the 2021 season with Carolina.



On second thought – T.J. Watt – OLB – Wisconsin – Let’s give them the second-best pass rusher in the 2017 Draft and someone they can pair with Chandler Jones and Markus Golden to make the Cardinals a QB’s nightmare. A three-time All-Pro, you have to wonder how J.J. Watt’s little brother fell to the 30th pick.



Philadelphia Eagles

Selected – Derrick Barnett – DE – Tennessee – I’ll admit that in 2017, this seemed like a somewhat safe pick, Barnett was leaving Tennessee as their All-Time sack leader, and anyone coming from a team and league that storied as an “All-Time” anything gets your attention. Still, he’s a starter for the team that drafted him, he’s just not what they thought they were drafting.


On second thought – Marshon Lattimore – CB – Ohio State – Selecting Lattimore rather than Barnett likely doesn’t change anything about the Eagles 2017 march to the Super Bowl other than making their passing defense better. In any case, Lattimore would still be a foundational piece of the Philly defense over Barnett who feels like he’s just another player.



Indianapolis Colts

Selected – Malik Hooker – S – Ohio State – While Jamal Adams was selected first and has proven to be the better pro, there were some who preferred Hooker in the lead-up to the draft. It’s probably hard to find them these days, but they existed. Hooker’s biggest knocks were his experience (1-year starter) and his lack of durability, Indy should have paid attention to that one as Hooker only played in 35 of a possible 64 games before they declined his 5th-year option.


On second thought – “Budda” Baker – S – Washington – A very close comparison to Hooker, Baker’s profile expressed similar concerns about his ability to remain healthy as well as being a “centerfield” safety that covers a lot of field. Fortunately for Indy, they get a redo to get the player they thought they were drafting.



Baltimore Ravens selected – Marlon Humphrey – CB – Alabama – Ozzie Newsome’s final First Round pick as the Ravens GM was Humphrey, fittingly, from Newsome’s alma mater. While it’s hard to say that Humphrey was a bad pick (he wasn’t), it’s easy to say that the Ravens could have addressed more pressing needs with the pick.


On second thought – JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR – Southern Cal – Humphrey has been a solid pick for the Ravens being a key component of their defense since his second year. Smith-Schuster has been the same for the Division rival Steelers, putting up solid numbers every year before this season when a shoulder injury put him on the sideline just five games in. The Ravens taking JuJu in 2017 would have given Lamar Jackson a receiver he could grow with from Day 1.


I’ll be posting part two of this article shortly so stay tuned.

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