The fireworks in the 2017 NFL Draft started early when the Chicago Bears surprised everybody by trading up one spot to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
That turned out to be just the first big twist in a draft that was filled with surprising picks, big reaches, and players falling because of off-the-field issues.
Below we take a look at 14 picks that are creating the most buzz now that the draft is over.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB — Chicago Bears (first round, No. 2 overall)
Pros: If Trubisky turns into a franchise quarterback, there is no price that is too high. The Bears gave up three draft picks to move up from No. 3 to No. 2 to make sure they got their guy. Peter King of The MMQB noted that there is, in essence, a different scale for quarterbacks. There is a draft for the quarterbacks and there is a draft for everybody else. The Bears got the top quarterback in this draft.
Cons: The Bears may have been duped into giving up a lot to trade up for a player who may have still been there at No. 3. Those three extra picks they gave up to move up – 2017 third and fourth rounders and a 2018 third-round pick – are the equivalent of giving up a mid-first-round pick to move one spot. And they gave up those picks for a player who was graded more like a late-first-round quarterback than the more typical top-of-the-draft quarterback. On top of that, the Bears had just seemingly given the reigns to free agent quarterback Mike Glennon, and seemingly outbid themselves to do it.
Telling quote: “I’m going to be the first one to put my hand up and say I obviously did not see that coming. I really thought that Chicago was excited about Mike Glennon. So they paid him pretty well and then to move up and give up that draft capital for Trubisky, for me, is a big risk.” – Mike Mayock
Corey Davis, WR — Tennessee Titans (first round, No. 5 overall)
Pros: The Titans got another weapon for Marcus Mariota and they got a guy who does nothing except produce. He is a small-conference wide receiver, but he was looked at as a “man among boys,” catching 97 passes and 19 touchdowns as a senior and being named the Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
Cons: Davis was a first-round talent and the Titans needed a wide receiver. But considering he suffered an ankle injury that kept teams from being able to work him out, most felt Davis would still be on the board when the Titans second first-round pick came at No. 18. By taking Davis early, the Titans were late with their other big need, defensive back. Instead of getting the first defensive back off the board at No. 5 and possibly getting Davis at No. 18, they got the fifth defensive back and the third cornerback overall, in Adoree’ Jackson.
Telling quote: “He wasn’t even able to work out since his college season. Had an ankle injury. So the NFL just pulled the trigger on a receiver from the MAC that they weren’t even able to work out.” – Mike Mayock of the NFL Network
Patrick Mahomes II, QB — Kansas City Chiefs (first round, No. 10 overall)
- NFL Network
Pros: The Chiefs gave up a 2018 first-round pick and a third-round pick this year (No. 91 overall) to move up 17 spots to No. 10 to get the second quarterback off the board. The Chiefs still have a dependable veteran quarterback on the roster in Alex Smith. But that also gives the Chiefs a good mentor for Mahomes and a chance to let him sit, watch, and grow for a couple of years and hope they can turn him into the next Aaron Rodgers.
Cons: The 2018 first-round pick isn’t as costly as it sounds on the surface since the Chiefs should be a playoff contender this season. But moving up 17 spots is a big jump for a quarterback that many felt was a second-rounder just a few weeks ago. On top of that, Mahomes is a gunslinger who now needs to be molded into a West Coast-offense QB that more typically takes the short and safe options.
Telling quote: “He is extremely raw but has undeniable arm talent.” – Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com
Deshaun Watson, QB — Houston Texans (first round, No. 12 overall)
- Lisa Lake/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Pros: The Texans were the third team to trade up for a quarterback, giving up their 2018 first-round pick to move up 13 spots. But in doing so, the Texans got the most experienced of the top quarterbacks, they got a guy many thought was the second-best quarterback going into the draft, and a guy many thought was even better than Mitchell Trubisky.
Cons: There is some risk that Houston’s pick next year could be a good one if they can’t solidify their quarterback position this season. In the end, as Ian Kenyon noted, the Texans gave up Brock Osweiler and a second-round pick before the draft, and then gave up two first-round picks in the draft, and turned that into Watson. That’s a lot to give up to try and upgrade your quarterback position with an unproven player.
Telling quote: “Watson needs to improve his deep accuracy, he has the physical tools and rare intangibles to grow into a good NFL starter.” – Todd McShay of ESPN.
OJ Howard — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (first round, No. 19 overall)
Pros: The Bucs give Jameis Winston yet another offensive weapon to choose from, joining Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate, Doug Martin, and third-round wide receiver Chris Godwin out of Penn State. The Bucs are going to quickly become a sleeper Super Bowl pick based on their offense alone.
Cons: The Alabama Crimson Tide ended up with ten players being drafted in the seven rounds of the draft, including seven in the first two rounds. However, Howard, along with defensive end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster, were all seen as top-10 players in the draft. And yet, none of them were taken until Allen came off the board at No. 17.
Telling quote: “With Cameron Brate, now they’ve got two tight ends that can both block in-line and go down the field. … Old-school combination tight end. He reminds me of Greg Olsen. He was underutilized as a pass-catcher and his best catches are ahead of him.” – Mike Mayock of the NFL Network
Gareon Conley, CB — Oakland Raiders (first round, No. 24 overall)
Pros: In March, Mel Kiper had Conley projected as a top-15 pick and the second-best cornerback in a deep draft.
Cons: One week before the draft, Conley was accused of rape. While he has not been arrested and no charges have been filed, most assumed Conley would not be taken in the first round. He may have been saved, in part, by taking a lie-detector test just hours before the start of the draft.
Telling quote: “You can’t make that pick and be wrong because your owner is gonna hold you accountable for it if this kid ends up with any kind of jail time.” – Mike Mayock of the NFL Network
Dalvin Cook, RB — Minnesota Vikings (first round, No. 41 overall)
Pros: Cook was another first-round talent who fell into the second round because of off-field issues. As a result, the Vikings get a player many felt was as good an all-around back as there was in the draft. They also get a much cheaper and younger replacement for Adrian Peterson.
Cons: Cook’s off-field issues have raised a lot of red flags. There have been multiple arrests and a recent report noted that some teams are worried about the crowd he chooses to hang out with. The NFL is willing to forgive a lot, but running back is one position where it can be more costly because those players are often seen as more interchangeable and expendable. In addition, the Vikings also had already signed former 1,000-yard rusher Latavius Murray.
Telling quote: “The two concerns: his history of shoulder issues and the people he surrounds himself with.” – Todd McShay of ESPN.
Joe Mixon, RB — Cincinnati Bengals (second round, No. 48 overall)
Pros: The Bengals clearly got a first-round talent in the second round and possibly the second-best true running back after Leonard Fournette (assuming we don’t consider Christian McCaffrey a traditional running back).
Cons: The off-field issues made Mixon poison even in an NFL world where a lot of poison is tolerated. The most notable is the incident where he struck a female student and was suspended for an entire season. Many teams had Mixon off their draft board entirely. At the very least, it was clear nobody was going to take Mixon in the first round when the spotlight was the brightest. But as soon as that light faded in the second round, the Bengals took a shot.
Telling quote: “Personally, if I’m a GM, he’s not on my board. As soon as I see that video, he’s off. But if you want to hear about the football player, I’ll tell you what he is. The football player is a top-15 pick in any draft.” – Mike Mayock of the NFL Network.
DeShone Kizer, QB — Cleveland Browns (second round, No. 52 overall)
- Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Pros: Talent-wise, there may not be much that separates Kizer from the three quarterbacks who went in the first round and the Browns got theirs late in the second round, and with just their fourth pick of the draft.
Cons: The Browns need a quarterback solution as much as anybody, and yet they passed on Carson Wentz in 2016 and they passed on Deshaun Watson at No. 12 this year. There are questions about whether Kizer is ready for the NFL, questions that were raised by his own college coach, Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. As a result, Kizer may need time to sit on the bench as much, if not more, than the other top quarterbacks, and yet he is going to a situation where the most veteran presence is Brock Osweiler. And he may not be there when the season comes around.
Telling quote: “In 23 starts, what I saw this year, was that when the game got into the fourth quarter and the pressure got on, I thought he played his worst football because I think he was trying to do much. What I’d like to see happen is no pressure. They’re gonna expect him to come in and compete. … But I’d love to see him have a chance to be in a really good quarterback room, take his time and learn how to play this game.” – Mike Mayock of the NFL Network
Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE — Kansas City Chiefs (second round, No. 59 overall)
Pros: Kpassagnon is a physical specimen at 6-foot-7, 289 pounds and a 4.8 forty-yard dash. He is also highly regarded for his intelligence. He was a double-major in accounting and finance, and interned with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Cons: Kpassagnon comes from a small school (Villanova) and has yet to turn his raw athletic ability into a true NFL pass-rushing threat. And as is the knock on many players who dare to show interest in things outside of football, there are concerns about whether he truly loves to play football.
Telling quote: “He’s raw but he’s got a chance. He’s quiet and I don’t think football is going to define him, Do you know what I mean? I just want to make sure that he loves football.” – Anonymous NFL scout, via NFL.com.
Alvin Kamara, RB — New Orleans Saints (third round, No. 67 overall)
Pros: The Saints got a player in the third round that many felt was a second-round talent. There are also comparisons to Reggie Bush and how the Saints’ offense could be the perfect situation for Kamara to fall into.
Cons: This may have been a case where a player was just too good to pass up. Maybe the last thing the Saints needed was a running back. They already had Mark Ingram, a former first-round pick who rushed for 1,000 yards in 2016. And that was before they signed Adrian Peterson.
Telling quote: “What [the Saints] could do with Reggie Bush out of the backfield — run the ball, throw it to him, put him in different mismatches — they can do with Kamara. They’re gonna need that if Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram are gonna run the ball. This is what he gives them.” – Charles Davis of NFL.com
DeDe Westbrook, WR — Jacksonville Jaguars (fourth round, No. 110 overall)
- Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Pros: Westbrook was one of the top players in the country this past season, catching 80 passes for more than 1,500 yards, including 17 touchdown receptions. He also served as a punt and kick returner, returning one punt for a touchdown. He finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Cons: Westbrook was twice accused of domestic violence and was later reportedly kicked out of an interview with a team at the NFL Combine. After the Jaguars made the pick, general manager David Caldwell raised a lot of eyebrows when he defended the pick by saying, “many of us have been accused of things.”
Telling quote: “I think we have done our due diligence enough to realize that is behind him and that, like we said, all of those charges were dropped. I think we all have been accused of things, not all of us, but many of us have been accused of things. We don’t take it lightly. Obviously it is a serious issue, and we just feel like at this point in time to give the kid a chance to make it right.” – GM David Caldwell
Jake Butt, TE — Denver Broncos (fifth round, No. 145 overall)
- Leon Halip/Getty
Pros: Butt was projected as possibly a third-round pick before his knee injury. While the slide cost approximately $700,000 on the total value of his first contract and about $530,000 in signing bonus, he made most of that back with an insurance policy he took out before his injury. According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, Butt will receive $543,000 from the policy.
Cons: Butt suffered a torn ACL during Michigan’s loss in the Citrus Bowl. Butt was used as evidence at a time other top players were skipping bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft. He was also never considered an elite tight end, even before the injury.
Telling quote: “He’s going to be a good pro. Everyone wants Kelce, Olsen or Gronk but those are elite players. Butt is dependable and will make first downs. They all get better as blockers once they get up here.” – Anonymous NFL scouting director, via NFL.com.
Caleb Brantley, DT — Cleveland Browns (sixth round, No. 185 overall)
Pros: As recently as early March one NFL Draft expert had Brantley going as high as No. 17 overall.
Cons: The Browns may have just wasted a sixth round pick. Brantley was recently charged with assault after allegedly striking a woman outside of a bar. After making the selection, the team backtracked from the a bit, suggesting they may not keep the player. There may have been issues beyond the altercation with the woman, with Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com being told that a coach at the University of Florida was telling teams to stay away from Brantley completely, “even if undrafted.”
Telling quote: “This may not be something we can get comfortable with.” – Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown after drafting Brantley.
Chad Kelly, QB — Denver Broncos (seventh round, No. 253 overall)
Pros: If Kelly did not have the off-field concerns or the injury to his knee, he would have likely been taken in the first-half of the draft based on talent alone. It also helps that he has a Hall of Fame uncle in Jim Kelly, who vouched for Chad when John Elway called. In Denver, Kelly may find a mentor in Elway and two other quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart to give him time to acclimate to the NFL.
Cons: Kelly was kicked off the team at Clemson for “detrimental conduct,” and was later arrested after transferring to Ole Miss. That might have been bad enough to kill his draft stock, but then he tore the ACL in his knee.
Telling quote: “There are certainly John Elway-Jim Kelly ties here. With the last pick of the draft, why not? Kelly has as much arm talent as any QB in this class and may actually remind some Bronco fans of Jay Cutler when they watch him in camp. Don’t be surprised if makes the final cut as Denver’s No.3 QB.” –Mark Dulgerian of NFL.com.