Five Observations from the First Round

Nate's reactions to an exciting first night of the NFL Draft

Nate Geary
April 28, 2017 - 3:15 pm

Photo: Bill Streicher - USA TODAY Sports

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The much anticipated first round of the 2017 NFL came and went, but it didn't go without some fireworks. As there is in every draft, there were winners and there were losers. Let's take a look at five things that stood out yesterday:
 

1. John Lynch looked like a seasoned NFL general manager

Jed York and the San Francisco 49ers have been a mess since they fired head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2014. This offseason when they brought in John Lynch to be their new general manager, many people scoffed at the idea that Lynch was even qualified to take the position. He was a former player sure, but he spent his post-playing days at Fox Sports as a broadcaster on Sundays. His resume was pretty short in terms of qualifications to run the football operations for an NFL franchise. Lynch put a lot of those detractors in their place by grabbing two of the top three players on their big board and also acquiring future assets in the process.

Lynch swapped the team's second overall pick to move back just one slot netting the Chicago Bears' third overall selection, the 67th pick and the 111th pick this year and an additional third next year and still got the player they had planned on taking in their original selection; highway robbery. Lynch then moved back into the first round at pick-31 and surrendered the 34th pick and the 111th pick he acquired earlier in the draft from the Bears to get Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who had fallen significantly due to injury and off the field concerns.

The 49ers drastically improved their defense on day one and still have nine picks remaining to add offensive playmakers and potentially a young quarterback. 

 

2. These aren't your typical Browns

The Cleveland Browns finished the evening with three first round selections. After selecting Myles Garrett first overall, they successfully traded back from the 12th pick with the Houston Texans to 25, picking up an additional first rounder in 2018. Houston got their quarterback and Cleveland selected Michigan's Jabrill Peppers with the 25th pick to help solidify their secondary. They then traded the 33rd and 108th pick to move back into the first round to select Miami's David Njoku to pair with Gary Barnidge.

Although Cleveland wasn't able to find their long-term answer at quarterback day one, they may have something up their sleeve to turn around and draft Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer who's still available. Overall, the Browns utilized all of their picks masterfully and have a nice core of young, athletic defensive talent that should help them up from the depths of purgatory. 

 

3. The Bears... woof

The Bears wowed the NFL world when they signed career backup Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million dollar contract at the start of free agency. It's more or less a one-year deal with the language of the contract so you likely saw their interest in selecting a quarterback at some point to groom behind him but wow did they make headlines Thursday night. The Bears felt compelled to move up just one spot over the 49ers to select North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall selection. To move up just one spot, the Bears subsequently gave up the 67th and 111th pick this year and an additional third in 2018.

What's most confusing is it appeared San Francisco was able to trade back and still get the guy they were targeting at second overall. So why trade up and give up assets when it appeared they could have stood pat at three and taken Trubisky? It just doesn't make much sense in my mind. Spotrac estimates the overall value of the second overall pick at around $29 million, equalling about $74 million in total to the quarterback position... yikes. If Trubisky ends up being the bee's knees, they'll look like geniuses, but if he ends up being a bust, heads will roll in Chicago.

 

4. Good for Whaley / McDermott

It couldn't have been easy to leave elite talent like cornerback Marshon Lattimore, safety Malik Hooker and tight end O.J. Howard on the board and move back 17 spots, but adding a first round selection next year and a third this year, the Bills had no choice. For what seems like years, the Bills have been so short sighted. They'd drafted to be good that year not worrying about the future. This time around, with new head coach Sean McDermott, there's a clear vision and McDermott is steering the ship.

There have been rumors circulating that Bills scouts and front office personnel including general manager Doug Whaley may be on the outs following this weekend's draft. Although I do suspect some changes in the scouting department to happen, I think Whaley has shown his worth over the past several weeks. For everything that Whaley gets crap for, he prides himself on the player personnel side of things and their selection of Tre'Davious White from LSU was full of value. White was considered one of the top two or three corners in this draft. For them to trade back all the way to 27 and still snag him is outstanding. Although I believe McDermott is steering the ship now, Whaley has an important role moving forward.

 

5. Houston, we have a problem 

Each of the three quarterbacks taken in the first round were taken after a team traded up to acquire them. Some weren't too bad, the Bears only had to trade up one spot. But the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans mortgaged their future on two extremely raw prospects in Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs at 10) and Deshaun Watson (Texans at 12). Although I like both players and like the teams they ultimately ended up with, but what they gave up is a ton considering the talk before the draft about the quarterbacks was pretty lame. 

Watson in Houston certainly is the most interesting pick to me. Watson will be surrounded by immense talent at both wide receiver and running back. Houston boasted the top defense in 2016 without their pro bowl defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Watson won't necessarily be asked to start in 2017 with Tom Savage penciled in as the starter come week one, but it wouldn't shock me to see a similar situation in Houston that we say in Philadelphia last season where number-two overall pick Carson Wentz won the starting job outright in training camp over veteran Chase Daniel.

Day one was certainly a whirlwind. I expect days two and three to quiet down a bit as teams attempt to fill the depths of their rosters, but as we saw last season with the Bills, trades will still be on the table as players fall.

Stay locked onto WGR all day today and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. as Bills' Beat Reporter Sal Capaccio and myself carry you along the rest of the way.

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