2017 NFL Draft: Reviewing Every Team's Best Value Selection
More important than finding a top-end talent or two, the NFL draft is about finding value throughout all your picks. Successful NFL general managers know that it's not one, but four or five picks that can solidify a strong draft and put your team in position to be successful for a long time.
For each team (in alphabetical order), I found the best value for each team. These players should outperform their draft position and pay dividends for their new teams.
Arizona Cardinals: Dorian Johnson, OG, Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh product slipped a bit on draft day thanks to a recently discovered liver condition that concerned teams considering picking hm. The Cardinals scooped him up in the fourth round, and they'll likely value him as a possible starter as a rookie. He was one of the draft's best guard prospects that, if healthy, can be a quality NFL offensive linemen for years to come.
Atlanta Falcons: Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
The San Diego State product had an awesome college career with strong production over the last three years, but being a bit undersized and having good, not great, testing pushing him to the fifth round. The Falcons were looking to add depth at cornerback and keep the position a strength. Kazee fits their current prototype well and can immediately add nickel coverage value to this already talented defense.
Baltimore Ravens: Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston
Considered to be a fringe first-round pick, Houston's Tyus Bowser slipped all the way to the middle of the second round, where the always smart Ozzie Newsome grabbed him for the Ravens. Bowser is a highly talented and versatile pass-rusher who's shown elite pass-rushing upside as well as natural coverage movement and instincts. He's a plug-and-play high-upside starter for the Ravens.
Buffalo Bills: Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburg
The Bills were looking to add a quarterback in this draft to compete with Cardale Jones as the backup to Tyrod Taylor and potentially be his replacement in 2018 or 2019. Surprisingly falling to the middle of Day 3, the Bills took Nathan Peterman in Round 5 to be just that. Peterman doesn't have great arm talent, but he is highly pro-ready and fits perfectly for the expanded West Coast offense the Bills plan to run.
Carolina Panthers: Daeshon Hall, DE, Texans A&M
The Panthers brought back Julius Peppers this offseason for likely one last season, but they needed to find his heir apparent in this draft. In Round 3, they did just that, drafting Myles Garrett's running mate at Texas A&M in Daeshon Hall.
Hall possesses awesome length and an ideal body type, and he also has a basketball background from high school who's still developing as a defensive end. He's a perfect player to develop behind Peppers for the 2017 season.
Chicago Bears: Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
If not for an injury, Eddie Jackson might have been considered a strong second-round pick with the upside to be a late first. Instead, he slipped to Day 3 of the draft but landed with a Bears team that needs safety help and will likely give him a chance to play. Possessing great range and ball skills as a versatile safety, he's a lesser version of the Colts first-rounder Malik Hooker.
Cincinnati Bengals: Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State
One of the better and more productive pass-rushers in the 2017 class, Jordan Willis surprisingly slipped to the third round even though he had a similar NFL Scouting Combine to former 2014 first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
Willis was a tremendous value for the Bengals who will earn playing time as a rookie and by 2018 may be counted on as a starter. He's powerful at the point of attack and has great first-step explosiveness, both of which the Bengals value.
Cleveland Browns: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Florida)
The Browns had a really strong draft, kicked off by Myles Garrett as the first overall pick. While they added Garrett, a unique athlete in Jabrill Peppers and potentially their franchise quarterback in the second round in DeShone Kizer, I think their best pick was Miami's David Njoku. They traded up to get the rare tight end talent, and his upside is greater than almost any tight end since Vernon Davis. He and Kizer could take Hue Jackson's offense to the next level.
Dallas Cowboys: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
After finding their pass-rusher in Round 1, it was no secret that the Cowboys were looking for a cornerback in Round 2. It was surprising, however, that Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie was available. The fringe first-round prospect slipped to the back end of the second round and enters Dallas as a strong contender to start in Week 1.
Denver Broncos: Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
As Denver prepares to hand the keys to 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch, it did a great job of making sure he had enough of a supporting cast for the 2017 season. After taking left tackle Garett Bolles in Round 1, the Broncos got a great value in Louisiana Tech vertical threat Carlos Henderson. Henderson is a former running back who will add ample value across the offense.
Detroit Lions: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
If not for a slow 40-yard dash time, Florida's Jalen "Teez" Tabor would've been a surefire first-round pick. Instead, he slipped to the back end of the second round but landed in an ideal defense in Detroit. Tabor was one of the best cornerbacks in college football the last two seasons, and the Lions may have gotten a high-level starter for a reduced price. They can thank the overvaluation of 40 times for him being there.
Green Bay Packers: Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
Green Bay wanted to add a running back in the 2017 draft and ended up taking two on Day 3. Jamaal Williams is the better of the two, as his body type, second-level power and explosiveness, and complete running back value all speak to his potential as their starter by the end of the 2017 season. If the Packers offensive line can remain strong, he could be a favorite to go from Day 3 running back to 1,000-yard rusher.
Houston Texans: Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
Considered a first-round prospect for much of the draft process, Cunningham addressed one of the Texans' bigger needs after getting a franchise quarterback in Round 1. Cunningham can offer value to both their interior pass rush and finishing ability as a middle-of-the field linebacker. He's a strong character player who will eventually take on a leadership role with the team.
Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The Colts lucked into Malik Hooker being available at pick No. 15, as the receivers and quarterbacks went higher than any anticipated. The Colts and new general manager Chris Ballard get an Ed Reed-like talent to set the tone for their defense rebuild, and his upside is about as high as any defensive prospect not named Myles Garrett in the 2017 class.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Jaguars and new executive Tom Coughlin wanted to add to their offensive line early in the draft, and they got a player they may have been considering with the fourth overall pick early in Round 2. Robinson can offer immediate value as a left guard for the Jaguars before potentially taking over for Kelvin Beacham as the team's left tackle in 2018.
Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Is trading up 17 spots and giving up a future first-round pick really a good "value"? For Patrick Mahomes, it is. Mahomes was the best quarterback available in the 2017 NFL draft, and his upside is as special as Matt Stafford's was 10 years ago. The Chiefs thankfully don't have many needs, so they had the luxury to be aggressive this year and find a quarterback who can get them out of mediocrity with Alex Smith at the helm.
Los Angeles Chargers: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
Arguably the best offensive lineman in the 2017 draft class, Forrest Lamp surprisingly slid to the early second round, where the Chargers couldn't have been more excited to stop his slide. The Chargers, who put a preference on fixing their offensive line and helping Philip Rivers in this draft, can plug Lamp in at either right guard or center as a rookie and watch him thrive.
Los Angeles Rams: John Johnson, S, Boston College
The Rams didn't do a great job of getting value at any point in the draft, but Boston College's John Johnson may pay the highest dividends as a rookie for this team. He's played both free safety and cornerback in his college career, and his versatility coupled with high-level athleticism should allow him to make plays as a rookie in the multiple roles that they'll likely ask him to play.
Miami Dolphins: Isaac Asiata, OG, Utah
Miami needed to add an offensive guard in the 2017 draft that they could ask to battle for a starting job. Isaac Asiata is one the Dolphins liked, and he's a pro-ready guard who, despite being a fifth-rounder, can play right away in the NFL. They'll need him to play right away in Miami at either guard spot with Laremy Tunsil kicking out to left tackle this year.
Minnesota Vikings: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Dalvin Cook slipped in the draft thanks to character and maturity red flags, and the dominant college runner was left out of the 2017 draft's first round. The Vikings ended his slide and will look to him to be the heir apparent to Adrian Peterson at the running back position. If character isn't an issue, the Vikings got a first-round value despite trading their first-round pick in the 2017 draft.
New England Patriots: Derek Rivers, OLB, Youngstown State
The Patriots have had an unreal offseason in terms of talent acquisition, and their draft class wasn't too shabby either. Rivers, despite hailing from a small school, earned considerable second-round buzz after a productive college career and a strong Senior Bowl campaign. Rivers is a perfect fit for the Patriots' Rob Ninkovich role, and he will likely be groomed for just that role.
New Orleans Saints: Alvin Kamara
The Saints were aggressive in their pursuit of Alvin Kamara, a player they clearly graded very highly despite adding Adrian Peterson this offseason to join Mark Ingram in their backfield. While his role and number of touches per game are far from clear, Kamara is a player that coach Sean Payton feels can add immediate value and versatility to the offense.
New York Giants: Davis Webb, QB, California
The Giants were targeting a quarterback to develop behind Eli Manning after Ryan Nassib didn't live up to his third-round billing. Webb fell to the third round thanks to his inaccuracy, but he has a strong arm, ideal body type and the upside to grow into a starting-worthy player in the NFL.
New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The Jets were certainly surprised LSU safety Jamal Adams was on the board still when they selected him, and they couldn't be happier with their first-round draft choice. Adams may have gone sixth overall, but his impact on this defense on and off the field will be monumental in helping to rebuild this defensive unit.
Oakland Raiders: Obi Melifonwu, SAF, UConn
Oakland went back to its Al Davis roots in the 2017 draft, taking a handful of really talented athletes with a need to develop over the weekend. Obi Melifonwu fits that perfect, as the 11'9" broad jumper is more of a talent than an NFL-ready safety at this point. Once he's refined, he could be an awesome partner to run with Karl Joseph, last year's first-rounder.
Philadelphia Eagles: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
If not for an injury during the draft process, Sidney Jones might have been the Eagles' first-round draft choice. Instead, he slid to their pick in Round 2 where the Eagles "ran to the podium" to get him. If healthy, Jones is a tremendous value for the Eagles and basically gives them two first-round values in the 2017 draft.
Pittsburgh Steelers: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
James Conner is a fantastic story aside from football, as his recovery from leukemia is inspiring and one of a kind. But on the field, Conner was a great value and fit for a Steelers offense that needed a Le'Veon Bell backup. Conner is a powerful, remarkably sized running back who can offer power back upside to work with, or fill in for, Le'Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
San Francisco 49ers: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Reuben Foster fell on draft day thanks to injury red flags related to his rotator cuff, and that caused him to slide from a top-10 pick to almost out of Round 1. The 49ers traded up from Round 2 to (just above the Saints) steal the Alabama linebacker who, if healthy, is an elite talent and an immediate high-level starter in the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks: Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina
One of my favorite defensive lineman in the 2017 draft, North Carolina's Nazair Jones is a tremendously built and tough interior lineman with the versatility to play multiple spots along an NFL defensive line. In Seattle, he'll work in their hybrid defensive tackle role that allows him to utilize his bulk and strong upper half to play the nose in a 3- or 5-technique in their defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
In perhaps the deepest tight end class in years, the Buccaneers landed the best of the bunch with the 19th overall selection in the 2017 NFL draft.
Howard's combination of size, speed, receiving ability and blocking ability is eerily reminiscent of current Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. He may be the safest pick in the entire draft and could have been considered as high as No. 6 to the New York Jets. Landing him at No. 19 represents great value and gives the Buccaneers a stable of weapons for Jameis Winston with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
Tennessee Titans: Josh Carraway, DE, TCU
The Titans had a good, not great 2017 draft class in my opinion, not getting great value at most of their picks. The one I liked most was snatching up TCU’s Josh Carraway in the seventh round. Carraway is purely a speed rusher off the edge, but he’s effective as a third-down rusher and should add value as a complete special teams player.
Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
The steal of the first round. If Alabama’s Jonathan Allen’s healthy and his shoulders aren’t a long term issue, he’s the second or third best defender in the 2017 draft. The Redskins coveted him, and he’ll enter their defense as arguably the best player in their defensive front seven. He’ll soon be their defensive leader.