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Draft King Analysis
April 27, 2017
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

Reader feedback is always welcomed here on Draft King. Sound off with your thoughts on Twitter (@LouPickney) or via email at LouPickney@gmail.com.


Running Commentary on the 2017 NFL Draft

Lou (9:04 a.m. CDT): Welcome to the start of day one of the 2017 draft. It has been an absolute crazy process, in large part because of uncertainty near the top of the draft. It makes 2013 look simple by comparison.

I desperately need to get some sleep now ahead of the fun tonight, but for now you can check out my past NFL Draft running commentaries and/or live event experiences:

2004 (Round one)
2004 (Round two)
2005 (Part one)
2005 (Part two)
2005 (Part three)
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012 (Live event)
2013
2014
2015
2016


Lou (9:53 a.m. CDT): I read some of the old draft commentaries -- now really time for sleep. I'll leave you with this from 2005: "As we pass the two hour mark of ESPN's draft coverage, Aaron Rodgers' fake smile has disappeared."

Lou (4:18 p.m. CDT): According to Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns will select Texas A&M DE/OLB Myles Garrett at #1 overall. I know some Browns fans who would have been livid had the Browns gone with someone else (namely Mitchell Trubisky) at the top spot.

Also, Josina Anderson has a great quote from Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, with Watson reportedly saying it would be a "slap in the face" for Trubisky to go #1 overall. That appears unlikely to happen, but I imagine the sentiment will be the same when/if Trubisky is drafted before Watson.

Lou (4:43 p.m. CDT): The whisper campaigns are going at full speed. I heard some late injury concerns about Washington WR John Ross, but at this point the top prospects have been through the wringer and there isn't much physically that is going to be much that is a surprise at this point in that respect.

For what it's worth, the last player cut from my final 2017 mock was LSU CB Tre'Davius White. But he could end up going in round one, and it was fun just now hearing LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron talk about White (and Fournette and the rest of the LSU players in the draft) on NFL Network just now.

Of course, Ed Orgeron talking about nearly anything would amuse me. Coach O is a one-of-a-kind.

Lou (4:50 p.m. CDT): This is probably a good time to mention how strange it is to me that people are happy about the draft being held outside. It got up to 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) in Philadelphia today, and earlier the wind tried to make a mess of Commissioner Goodell's hair live on NFLN earlier.

To each his own, but there is almost no appeal to me to attending the draft in an outdoor setting. I understand dealing with the elements at an actual game, but it seems entirely unnecessary to do it that way. You could visibly see the persperation on Oregeron's forehead by the end of his segment, and that wasn't from the TV lights.

I'm happy for the NFL that it has struck gold with an annual event that it can bid out, though I'm glad I got to see it in person in the traditional form at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 2012. But considering that Philadelphia hosted the very first draft, it is fitting for the event to return there.

Lou (5:15 p.m. CDT): When the pre-draft talk turns to outfits, as it did on NFLN a moment ago, I tune out. I realize those segments aren't designed for me, and sometimes they have some amusing moments like Zeke Elliott last year working his cut-off shirt gimmick. And if segments like that bring in more viewers, I'm all for it.

But, for now, I'll listen to some music and find what I can on Twitter about late draft scuttlebutt.

"Some had scars and some had scratches
It made me wonder about their past
And as I looked around, I began to notice
That we were nothing like the rest"

Lou (5:26 p.m. CDT): It looks like the NFL East, sans Dallas, has made its arrival.

I can't say for sure that I saw jerseys for all 32 teams at the draft five years ago, but it was pretty close. One bonus of the event being in Philly is the inevitable booing that we can expect tonight for certain teams and players.

Lou (5:31 p.m. CDT): There is plenty of smoke about Denver wanting to move up, possibly jumping from #20 to #5 in a trade with Tennessee. But that is a steep climb to make if it ends up happening.

Lou (6:12 p.m. CDT): All kinds of talk about Deshaun Watson going higher than expected as we approach the start of the draft. Watson is a player I like more than most draft evaluators -- the guy is a winner, or at least he was at Clemson. Here's hoping my #30 projection for him was way off.

Lou (6:21 p.m. CDT): I'm trying something new this year: the ESPN coverage via my Apple TV on one television and NFL Netowrk via Dish Network on the other. The only downside is ESPN's stream being about a minute or so behind the satellite signal. But if that's the worst thing I have to deal with today, I'll be fine.

Lou (6:33 p.m. CDT): The situation with Ohio State CB Gareon Conley is not a good one. A woman accused him of rape, a claim he emphatically denies. But this has really hurt Conley's draft stock, and even if he's exonerated (and it's important to note he hasn't been charged and multiple witnesses reportedly back up his story) it will be too late.

It gets overlooked now, but part of why Dak Prescott didn't go until day three last year was a DUI charge that was later dropped -- there was no actual evidence of impairment and the cops' stories didn't match. And, of course, there is what happened to La'el Collins two years ago, with the tragic murder of his ex-girlfriend. He had nothing to do with it, but it caused him to drop from possible first-rounder to going outright undrafted.

In short: there is no such thing as due process when you're up against a firm deadline with the draft.

Also, after what happened last year with Laremy Tunsil's draft day nightmare, it makes me wonder how many prospects face threats from would-be extortionists. I would be extremely paranoid about that possibility if I were in that position.

Lou (6:50 p.m. CDT): Ten minutes out and we're in a holding pattern. I'm guessing the fireworks won't begin until the 49ers go on the clock. After that, expect the craziness to really ramp up.

Lou (7:02 p.m. CDT): It occured to me that I didn't specify mock a trade for the Titans and Browns at #5 and #12 respectively; I don't outright do trade projections, but I mocked it that way. That might hurt me in the way Huddle Report scores draft analysts. Alas, too late to change it.

Lou (7:04 p.m. CDT): A nice tip of the cap by Trey Wingo for Chris Berman, who anchored ESPN's draft coverage for many years. I remember watching the NFL Draft as a kid in the late 1980s, and as Wingo noted just now -- Berman made the draft into something fun.

Lou (7:06 p.m. CDT): Roger Goodell vs. booing fans in Philadelphia was a fun start, and the commish trying to rile them up into even more of a frenzy was amuzing. Goodell was friendly when I met him in NYC in 2012, and he does a remarkable balancing act in his role as commish. I doubt that most people truly understand how difficult that NFL Commissioner job really is.

Lou (7:09 p.m. CDT): Mel Kiper is cutting a promo on pundits who knocked Myles Garrett as a prospect. Kiper is fired up -- and I concur with him on that. "It's a long night" cautioned Wingo after that. Gotta pace yourself.

Lou (7:13 p.m. CDT): One late rumor I haven't mention yet was Mike Florio on PFT reporting the floor for Florida LB Jarrad Davis to be Miami at #22. That might explain the late shift away from projections that the Dolphins would go offensive guard at that spot.

Lou (7:17 p.m. CDT): As expected, Garrett goes to Cleveland at #1 overall. And now the Bears have moved up one spot with the 49ers, jumping from #3 to #2. Very interesting. And now Adam Schefter on ESPN says the Bears want Stanford DL Soloman Thomas, who I projected to them at #3 in my final mock.

Lou (7:21 p.m. CDT): Something to remember with Chicago -- that entire Bears staff is on the hot seat. That's why they paid big money for the best of what was around on the quarterback free agent circuit, giving Mike Glennon $18.5 million guaranteed and now set to take a player who should be able to produce right away for them in Thomas.

Lou (7:22 p.m. CDT): Trubisky to Chicago~! *spit take*

Lou (7:25 p.m. CDT): I figured there was no chance the Bears would take Trubisky. A very interesting turn of events in Chicago. The domino effect this causes should be interesting.

Again, I remind you, Mike Glennon got $18.5 million as part of a three-year, $45 million deal. But Chicago learned the hard way what happens in the modern NFL when you don't have a quality backup quarterback. Furthermore, so-called "game manager" starting QBs simply don't win Super Bowls anymore.

Lou (7:29 p.m. CDT): After all of that, the 49ers go with Thomas at #3. I had Thomas going to San Francisco last night before flipping him and LSU safety Jamal Adams. But alma mater beat position for new 49ers general manager John Lynch, as he went with the extremely-gifted Thomas.

Lou (7:33 p.m. CDT): Twitter spoiled the next pick for me: LSU RB Leonard Fournette. But the networks have to run ads at some point, thus the delay on it officially being announced. The delay is even more prononuced when you're there for the draft in person, or at least that was my experience.

Lou (7:35 p.m. CDT): There we go -- the announcement from Goodell confirms Fournette to Jacksonville. It's what I predicted and what I personally would have been inclined to do in that spot. Fournette is a special talent, a running back with the mix of size and speed you simply don't see very often.

Lou (7:41 p.m. CDT): And the Titans fill a huge need at wide receiver with Corey Davis out of Western Michigan. It's a logical pick, filling a huge need with a wideout who should be able to produce right away. Injury hampered Davis during the pre-draft evaluation process, but what he did in four years in Kalamazoo was enough to convince the Titans.

Lou (7:47 p.m. CDT): The tweet embedded above is not a humblebrag -- it was my reaction yesterday to Steve Mariucci saying Davis going in the top ten of the draft would shock the world, which was just ridiculous. I had Davis sliding to #16, thinking his limited availability for on-field testing would hurt him, but him going top ten is not a shocker.

Lou (7:51 p.m. CDT): The lack of a safety going in the first five picks was a surprise, but it set up the Jets quite nicely at #6 to select SS Jamal Adams out of LSU. The Jets are in full rebuilding mode, and selecting Adams is a good start to that end.

Lou (8:01 p.m. CDT): At #7 it's Clemson WR Mike Williams going to the Los Angeles Chargers. It's going to take some time for me to avoid referring to the team as San Diego. I'm a big fan of Williams, who recovered from serious injury in 2015 to have a tremendous 2016 season as part of Clemson's national championship team.

Lou (8:05 p.m. CDT): The worst-kept secret in the draft was true, as the Panthers selected Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey at #8. It will be fun to see how Carolina utilizes the extremely athletic McCaffrey, particularly in tandem with Cam Newton at QB.

Lou (8:10 p.m. CDT): Remember this draft rule: elite high-end speed is extremely valued by the NFL. The Bengals at #9 reinforced that that by taking Washington WR John Ross, who broke Chris Johnson's NFL Combine record speed in the 40-yard dash earlier this year. I really like the selection, since putting him opposite AJ Green could cause major matchup challenges, particularly as Tyler Boyd continues to develop his game.

Lou (8:16 p.m. CDT): The Chiefs gave up the #27 and #91 picks in this draft, and their first-rounder next year, to move up to Buffalo's spot at #10. The TV analysts seem to think this could be a move for Deshaun Watson.

Lou (8:20 p.m. CDT): Kansas City selected a quarterback at #10... but it's Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes. It's possible Mahomes might not have made it past Arizona at #13, and the presence of incumbent QB Alex Smith on the Chiefs should give Mahomes a chance to adjust to running a pro-style system.

Lou (8:28 p.m. CDT): New Orleans desperately needed help in its secondary, and they addressed that need with Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore. He's the first corner off the board and was the top CB on most major lists. A great value pick for New Orleans at a key spot.

Lou (8:30 p.m. CDT): So much for limited action on the quarterbacks in the top half of the first round, as Houston jumped from #28 to #12 to pick Deshaun Watson. I love the pick, but I've been higher on Watson than most throughout the process.

If there was any question on how important the quarterback position has become in the NFL, that makes three huge trades by teams looking to take who they can from what has been called an overall weak QB class. Time will tell on that one.

Cleveland had a chance at Watson but opted not to go with him. The Browns/Texans game in Houston on October 15 should be very interesting.

Lou (8:47 p.m. CDT): Arizona, perhaps a bit shellshocked after being leapfrogged by the Chiefs and Texans, filled another need by taking Temple ILB Haasan Reddick. Very interesting to see Reddick going ahead of Alabama ILB Reuben Foster. This has not been a good night for the Crimson Tide thus far.

Lou (8:59 p.m. CDT): Congratulations to Brentwood Academy (located just south of Nashville) which had an alumnus go in the top 15 for a second consecutive year: Jalen Ramsey at #5 last year and now Derek Barnett at #14 to the Eagles. Barnett has a knack for collecting quarterback sacks, and top-end pass rushers are highly coveted in the NFL.

Lou (9:03 p.m. CDT): It surprises me that Jon Gruden was so negative about Ohio State safety Malik Hooker going at #15 to the Colts. There were projections of him possibly going as high as #2, but he fills a need position for the Colts and should give their DB corps an immediate upgrade.

Lou (9:07 p.m. CDT): Marlon Humphrey is off the board at #16 to the Ravens, and this might start a mini-run on Alabama players. With the top three wide receivers off the board, along with Barnett, filling a need position at cornerback. Selfishly, as a Titans fan, I had hoped Humphrey would slide to Tennessee at #18.

Lou (9:14 p.m. CDT): It was a considerable slide for Alabama DL Jonathan Allen, but he finally came off the board at #17 to the Redskins. I wonder if him having two surgically-repaired shoulders was a medical downgrade for him on some board. The talent is there if he can stay healthy.

Lou (9:23 p.m. CDT): And the Titans complete their defensive back corps overhaul by drafting Southern Cal CB Adoree Jackson at #18. I love what Titans GM Jon Robinson is doing with his roster. Quality talent at need positions.

Lou (9:29 p.m. CDT): Quite the pickup for Tampa Bay at #19, going with Alabama TE O.J. Howard. That's three Alabama players out of the last four selections. There had been considerable top ten talk about Howard, and this could prove to be a lucrative selection by the Buccaneers. A nice addition to the offense for Jameis Winston.

Lou (9:40 p.m. CDT): My projection for Denver was offensive tackle, but I missed on the player as it was Utah OT Ryan Bolles going to the Broncos at #20. The guy has a great story with how he has turned his life around.

And then at #21, Detroit snags Florida LB Jarrad Davis. That's my first miss tonight on a player, as the word of Davis supposedly having a floor with Miami one spot below.

Lou (9:43 p.m. CDT): With Davis off the board, the Dolphins selected Missouri DE Charles Harris. That was my final projection after the late word was that Miami was not going offensive guard at this pick, as had been anticipated by some.

Harris wasn't particularly great against the run at Mizzou, but he was a tremendous pass rusher. And, once again, premium value is being placed on players with top-flight QB pressure skills from the DE/OLB aka EDGE) spot.

Lou (9:49 p.m. CDT): I was right on the Giants targeting a tight end at #23, but it's not Miami's David Njoku. Instead it's Evan Engram out of Ole Miss, a tremendous receiver who is going to vex opposing defenses. And his blocking is stellar as well, as he displayed during a very strong showing at the NFL Combine.

Lou (9:55 p.m. CDT): And it's Oakland selecting Ohio State CB Gareon Conley at #24. There's no way he would have fallen this far were it not for the rape claim made against him -- and, it should be reiterated, he has not actually been charged with a crime and he has been adament about his innocence.

Consider this: three Ohio State defensive backs have gone in the top 24 picks of this draft. That is remarkable.

Lou (9:55 p.m. CDT): After trading down from #12, the Browns select Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers at #25. That was unexpected. Peppers getting pinched for a diluted urine charge at the combine hurt his stock, but he is a skilled player who should immediately improve Cleveland's defense.

Lou (10:07 p.m. CDT): Atlanta and Seattle might seem to be unlikely trade partners, but that's the way it worked out with the Falcons moving up five spots and taking UCLA DE/OLB Takkarist McKinley at #26. I had projected Atlanta landing McKinley at #31, but the Falcons apparently didn't want to take any chances with a few DE/OLB-hungry teams.

Lou (10:11 p.m. CDT): McKinley is fired up on the NFL Network, to put it mildly. And now an f-bomb on the broadcast. You could watch a full year of WWE programming and not hear a promo with that much intensity. That was really something.

Lou (10:19 p.m. CDT): The final cut from my final mock, LSU CB Tre'Davious White, goes at #27 to Buffalo. White has the extra benefit of being a very talented kick returner.

Lou (10:28 p.m. CDT): Dallas filled a huge need spot with Michigan DE/OLB Taco Charlton at #28. A solid pickup for the Cowboys on a player I didn't think would still be on the board.

And now here are the Browns yet again, trading up for their third pick of the evening: Miami TE David Njoku at #29. He only had nine starts over two seasons of football, but Njoku is a former high school national champion long jumper and incredibly athletic.

Lou (10:31 p.m. CDT): The 49ers have traded up from their high second-round spot to #31, which could be a move to secure a quarterback. The advantage of the team option extra contract year, which applies only to first-round selectioins, can make a big difference.

Lou (10:45 p.m. CDT): It's not a quarterback for the 49ers -- but instead going with Alabama ILB Reuben Foster at #31, who had quite the fall down the draft board. And finally the Saints went with Wisconsin T Ryan Ramczyk, which in my book was a bit of a steal considering it didn't look likely he would slide that far.



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