NFL Draft 2017 Results: Stock Up, Down After the NFL Draft
Something magical happens once the NFL draft concludes. Every team says it's happy with all of its selections and landed exactly who it targeted. But that's not always the case.
Many things can go wrong during the event. The draft board never falls exactly how anyone expects. An organization can swoop in and take another's target. Franchises often prefer a trade that never develops. It's how each front office reacts to these pitfalls that determines its success.
Essentially, the NFL draft serves as a barometer to determine which organizations are operating smoothly or forcing situations in a desperate attempt to quickly improve.
Everyone is viewed as winners for one weekend only. However, there are those who improve their rosters more than others. As a result, each team's draft class is fair game when deciding if its stock is pointing in the right or wrong direction just hours after the event concluded.
Be afraid of the Arizona Cardinals defense. Sure, the organization lost Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson in free agency, but Arizona will field the league's most versatile defense in 2017.
The unit already features Patrick Peterson, Chandler Jones and Tyrann Mathieu. Those are three exceptional talents now supplemented by the organization's first- and second-round selections, linebacker Haason Reddick and safety Budda Baker.
Reddick is a converted defensive end who began his Temple career as a defensive back. His athleticism and comfort in space coupled with an ability to rush the passer will allow defensive coordinator James Bettcher to use him all over the field. Meanwhile, Baker can pair with Mathieu and become interchangeable pieces at safety, nickel corner, in the box or rushing the passer. Both are heat-seeking missiles on search-and-destroy missions to the football.
The one thing the Cardinals didn't walk away with is an heir apparent to quarterback Carson Palmer.
If a team is declared a draft winner by providing one of the most emotional moments during the event, the Atlanta Falcons immediately won with the selection of UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley.
Other than providing a truly special moment on national television, McKinley is the bookend the Falcons previously lacked opposite Vic Beasley. McKinley is an explosive edge-rusher who blossomed in 2016 with 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff continued to mold the Falcons defense to fit Dan Quinn's vision with the additions of LSU's Duke Riley and San Diego State's Damontae Kazee. Riley is a speedy and instinctive linebacker much like former collegiate and current teammate Deion Jones. Kazee is a ball hawk and another option to cover the slot.
In the fourth round, the Falcons may have even addressed the biggest hole on the roster with the addition of Oregon State's Sean Harlow. The son of Pat Harlow may have been an offensive tackle at the collegiate level, but his body type projects inside to guard, where he can compete to start.
Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is a draft wizard and always finds good value in every round. The 2017 NFL draft wasn't any different.
With four picks, Newsome restocked the Ravens defense.
The acquisition of cornerback Marlon Humphrey adds a long and physical defensive back who excels in press coverage. Outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams add plenty of pass-rushing presence after the team released Elvis Dumervil.
Bowser is a developmental talent, but he's a tremendous athlete. Williams may be the best pure edge-rusher in this year's class. Michigan defensive end Chris Wormley was sandwiched between those two selections. He can be an instant starter at 5-technique and move inside to defensive tackle during certain sub-packages.
Baltimore fortified its offensive trenches late in the draft, too. After moving past Ricky Wagner and Jeremy Zuttah, Newsome snatched San Diego State guard Nico Siragusa and Texas A&M offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor with back-to-back picks in the fourth and fifth rounds.
The Buffalo Bills decided building draft capital was more important than using this year's 10th overall pick on a premium talent. Buffalo traded down to the 27th overall selection and gained three extra picks from the Kansas City Chiefs, including a future first-round pick.
The Bills continued to rebuild their secondary during the opening frame. After losing Stephon Gilmore, Corey Graham, Aaron Williams and Nickell Robey-Coleman this offseason, Buffalo needed an infusion of talent. It started in free agency with the additions of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. The team eventually used its first-round pick on LSU's Tre'Davious White. White is a silky smooth cover corner with the ability to play outside the numbers or over the slot.
Secondary wasn't the only position that required an overhaul. Buffalo lost its top two wide receivers in free agency as well. The addition of the NCAA's all-time leading receiver, East Carolina's Zay Jones, is a big step in the right direction. He can have an immediate impact as a slot receiver. Plus, the Bills added a quarterback in the fifth round with Pitt's Nathan Peterman.
But how much did the team actually improve? While these are all solid draft acquisitions, they don't help to close the gap between the Bills and the New England Patriots.
The Carolina Panthers are going to be so much fun to watch this fall after seeing their offense drop from 11th overall when the team made its Super Bowl run in 2015 compared to the unit that ranked 19th overall last season.
Quarterback Cam Newton might be Superman, but he needs help. And general manager Dave Gettleman is building a version of the Justice League in the backfield. The Panthers will field one of the most unpredictable offenses in 2017.
With its first- and second-round selections, Carolina added two of the draft's most versatile performers in Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Ohio State's Curtis Samuel. These two are interchangeable pieces who can be effective game-changers in both the ground and aerial games. Put both in the backfield alongside Newton and opponents will have no clue how to defend that formation.
From that point, Carolina bolstered its offensive front with Western Michigan's Taylor Moton. The first-team All-MAC performer can compete to start at right tackle or guard. Texas A&M's Daeshon Hall and Miami's Corn Elder provide depth at defensive end and cornerback, respectively.
The Chicago Bears bought what the San Francisco 49ers were selling and gave up four picks to move up one spot and select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick.
If an organization truly believes it's getting a franchise quarterback, there's no price it shouldn't be willing to pay. Trubisky isn't that level of prospect, though. He's the best in a suspect class. However, there's very little separation between him and Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, who fell to the 52nd selection.
The Bears still made the decision even though the front office decided to sign Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract in free agency and the offense lacks a strong supporting cast.
In order to rectify the latter point, Chicago spent three of its final four picks on offensive prospects. Ashland's Adam Shaheen is a big-bodied tight end at 6'6" and 278 pounds to pair with Dion Sims. North Carolina A&T's Tarik Cohen is nicknamed the Human Joystick, but he's an undersized running back. Kutztown's Jordan Morgan will provide depth along the offensive front.
One pick will forever define the Cincinnati Bengals' 2017 NFL draft class. It's not entirely fair, but this is the path the Bengals chose to take.
How Joe Mixon performs and handles himself as a professional after many organizations distanced themselves from the talented running back due to a previous assault on a woman will determine if the Bengals made the right decision to select him with the 48th overall pick. Some will never accept his presence on the team.
Otherwise, Cincinnati's draft class is quite talented. Mr. Combine, John Ross, adds his 4.22-second 40-yard-dash speed to an offense that already features mismatch nightmares in A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. The Bengals also loaded up on talented pass-rushers with the additions of Kansas State's Jordan Willis and Auburn's Carl Lawson.
More importantly, kicker is no longer a concern after the team spent a fifth-round pick on Memphis' Jake Elliott.
The Cleveland Browns can only improve after last year's 1-15 campaign. The Browns front office took advantage of its slotting and surplus of picks throughout the 2017 NFL draft.
After making the right choice by selecting Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick instead of forcing a quarterback pick, a trend started to develop. Cleveland concentrated on explosive athletes with limitless potential. Along with Garrett, Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers and Miami's David Njoku have yet to turn 22 years old. In fact, Njoku became the youngest tight end in NFL history at 20 years old to be selected in the first round.
All three tested among the top six SPARQ performances among their respective positions, per Three Sigma Athlete's Zach Whitman.
The trend continued into the middle rounds, where Cleveland waited and Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer fell into its proverbial lap. Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi is a disruptive interior defender, but he's only played the game since 10th grade. And Houston's Howard Wilson finished top three among cornerbacks at the combine in both the short shuttle and three-cone drill.
Although, it should be mentioned the Browns took a chance on Florida's Caleb Brantley in the sixth round after a recent arrest for allegedly punching a woman.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones got his "war daddy," and the organization overhauled its secondary, too.
In the first round, Dallas landed Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton after multiple teams swiped edge defenders before the 28th overall pick. Charlton may not be the most explosive option, but his size (6'6" and 277 pounds) coupled with an ability to defend both the run and pass make him a valuable addition to a defensive end rotation that already features DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Their history of suspensions made Charlton's selection even more important.
After losing Barry Church, Brandon Carr, J.J. Wilcox and Morris Claiborne in free agency, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will have to deal with a brand-new secondary. He gained a linebacker disguised as a cornerback in Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie with the team's second-round selection. In the third round, Dallas acquired the draft's smoothest cover corner in Michigan's Jourdan Lewis, although Lewis is awaiting a July 10 trail date for an alleged domestic violence incident.
When a team leaves the draft after addressing its two most pressing issues, it should be viewed as a successful endeavor.
A single draft selection can overshadow an entire class. For the Denver Broncos, the team addressed its biggest need in the first round with the addition of Utah left tackle Garett Bolles.
According to NFL Network's James Palmer, general manager John Elway planned to trade up to acquire Bolles. Instead, the Broncos stood pat, and the 24-year-old blocker was still available with the 20th overall pick.
With the additions of Bolles, Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson to the offensive line, Denver's biggest problem area has been thoroughly addressed this offseason. An improved front five will make the entire offense better while the Broncos attempt to find a starting quarterback.
The same can be said of two later draft picks. Denver made a strong play by drafting Michigan tight end Jake Butt at the top of the fifth round. The reigning John Mackey Award winner is expected to play at some point this fall; if so, the Broncos landed a top tight end prospect at a discount price.
Earlier in the draft, the Broncos also replaced slot receiver Jordan Norwood with the third-round selection of Carlos Henderson.
Every team's goal during the draft is to improve its roster so it can compete for a division title and Super Bowl the following season. The Detroit Lions finished 9-7 last season and made the playoffs, but their additions may not have been enough to push the team beyond its current level.
Florida's Jarrad Davis is an aggressive and athletic linebacker, and he'll provide a presence in the middle of the defense. But the first-round pick doesn't address either of the team's biggest need areas. Neither the running game nor pass rush was adequately addressed.
Instead, the Lions paired Davis with Florida cornerback Teez Tabor in the second round. Tabor was once considered a top talent, but he doesn't have the elite physical traits teams want at the position.
Northern Illinois' Kenny Golladay adds size to the wide receiver corps. Tennessee's Jalen Reeves-Maybin is another athletic linebacker. Toledo's Michael Roberts is a rare in-line tight end. These were all solid additions through the first four rounds, yet the lingering issues found within the roster can't be overlooked.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers traded out of the first round altogether and still found multiple ways to upgrade the league's 22nd-ranked defense. The pass defense was even worse and finished 31st overall.
Thus, the team's emphasis on the secondary came as no surprise.
Washington's Kevin King was in play with the 29th overall pick before the Packers traded down to the top of the second round. With King still available, the Packers didn't pass on him a second time. The team then paired the cornerback with North Carolina State safety Josh Jones. King and Jones are two of the class' most impressive physical specimens. Both finished among the top performers in SPARQ at their respective position, per Three Sigma Athlete's Zach Whitman.
After adding bigger and more athletic defensive backs, the front seven needed attention. In the third round, the Packers added a talented yet inconsistent defensive lineman in Auburn's Montravius Adams, while following that with a high-motor outside linebacker in Wisconsin's Vince Biegel during the fourth round.
Plus, the organization threw plenty of picks at its running back problem during Day 3 of the draft. Out of BYU's Jamaal Williams, UTEP's Aaron Jones and Utah State's Devante Mays, one is bound to provide some presence in the backfield.
A team never wants to be forced into making a certain pick. The Houston Texans were when they traded up in the first round to select Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Houston's entire offseason has been defined by the quarterback position.
In order to dump Brock Osweiler's salary, the team had to flip a 2018 second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to take on his contract. The two sides returned to the negotiating table so the Texans could trade up 13 slots in the first round to acquire Watson. In doing so, the Browns added a future first-round pick and still landed Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second round.
Incoming rookies like linebacker Zach Cunningham, running back D'Onta Foreman and defensive lineman Carlos Watkins have the potential to work their way into the Texans lineup. But their possible success won't overshadow what happens behind center.
In the end, Houston is the best fit for Watson, but the franchise placed itself in a terrible position before making the move to secure its franchise signal-caller.
It's clear now: Ryan Grigson no longer runs the Indianapolis Colts' personnel department. Instead, the Colts had a much clearer draft-day vision under the guidance of current general manager Chris Ballard.
Due to the depth of the secondary class, the Colts addressed both safety and cornerback during the early rounds while maximizing value.
First-round pick Malik Hooker presents rare ball skills with exceptional range. If not for a torn labrum and a sports hernia that prevented him from working out before the draft, the Ohio State product was considered a top-five talent.
A round later, the Colts struck secondary gold a second time. Florida's Quincy Wilson is a rangy and physical cornerback who can serve as Vontae Davis' bookend.
When defensive end Tarell Basham, running back Marlon Mack, defensive tackle Grover Stewart and linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. are included, the Colts found top talent with nearly every selection. Although, the offensive line didn't receive much help aside from USC's Zach Banner.
Two draft selections were all it took for the Jacksonville Jaguars to establish a new identity. The Jags are going to be far more physical under the direction of executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin.
The organization established its new approach with the additions of LSU's Leonard Fournette and Alabama's Cam Robinson. Fournette runs with an authority and morphs into a runaway freight train in the open field. His physical style of play automatically becomes the focal point, even in an offense that already featured wide receivers Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee.
Like Fournette, Robinson excels in the run game and dominates at the point of attack. The reigning Outland Trophy winner simply overwhelmed defenders with his 6'6", 322-pound frame. His technique and effort were inconsistent, though. The thought of Fournette running behind Robinson is quite an exciting proposition.
Jacksonville nearly ruined a strong draft class with the selection of Oklahoma's Dede Westbrook in the fourth round. Westbrook is a productive wide receiver and true vertical threat, but he has a long and suspect history off the field. An AFC area scout told The MMQB's Albert Breer: "It is what it is. He's a degenerate."
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs didn't draft for the present. General manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid looked toward the future with the team's top picks.
Patrick Mahomes is an impressive young quarterback. He presents as much upside as any prospect in this year's class. He displays exceptional arm talent, playmaking ability and a professional approach. He's a work in progress, though. The Chiefs still saw his potential and made an aggressive move by trading up to the 10th overall pick to acquire the Texas Tech gunslinger. Mahomes could develop into a superstar in a few years, but Alex Smith is still on the roster as the incumbent starter.
In the second round, the Chiefs invested in Villanova defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon. The 6'7", 289-pound defender is a giant ball of clay even though he's looks like he's sculpted from granite. Kansas City's coaching staff got the most out of Chris Jones last year, but Kpassagnon is a much bigger project.
This year's class lacks an immediate impact performer unless a late-round option unexpectedly develops.
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has to be the NFL's happiest man after draft weekend. Chargers brass is trying to maximize the quarterback's last few seasons by building a strong supporting cast.
With Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin already on the roster, the organization still added Clemson's Mike Williams with the seventh overall selection. Williams adds a completely different dynamic outside the numbers with his size (6'4" and 218 pounds) and ridiculous catch radius.
After supplementing an already strong skill position group, the Chargers attacked one of their greatest weaknesses: the offensive line. With consecutive picks, the organization added the draft's top two guard prospects in Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp and Indiana's Dan Feeney. Lamp could move to center. They're tailor-made interior blockers and potential Week 1 starters.
Rivers should now be able to stay upright and have multiple weapons to utilize every time he takes a snap.
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff must be smiling. The organization made it an offseason priority to place more weapons around the former No. 1 overall pick.
Even without a first-round pick due to last year's Goff trade, the Rams still acquired a top offensive threat in Gerald Everett during the second frame. The 6'3", 239-pound tight end can serve as Sean McVay's version of Jordan Reed in the City of Angels.
A round later, Los Angeles selected one of the draft's top slot receivers in Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp. Kupp caught 428 passes for 6,464 yards in four seasons. During the fourth round, the team added a legitimate vertical threat in Texas A&M's Josh Reynolds.
With Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, Pharoh Cooper, Mike Thomas, Everett, Kupp and Reynolds, Goff now has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.
Certain draft classes just aren't sexy. Some organizations take a "meat and potatoes" approach to building their roster. This best defines the Miami Dolphins' 2017 draft effort.
Early in the draft, the team added to its edge presence with the selection of Missouri's Charles Harris. Since Cameron Wake and William Hayes are both 31 years old or older, the team decided to address the issue now. Harris can enter the lineup in a rotational role as a pass-rushing specialist.
Where second-round pick Raekwon McMillan fits into the linebacker corps remains in question. McMillan was an inside linebacker for Ohio State, but the Dolphins already have Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons on the roster. Two of these three will move to outside linebacker.
The Dolphins' best pick of the draft came in the fifth round when the team chose Utah guard Isaac Asiata. The 24-year-old blocker was a top-three guard prospect, and he can immediately compete to start. If he does, this year's class will certainly look much better.
The Minnesota Vikings didn't have a first-round pick in this year's draft due to the Sam Bradford trade. It didn't matter. General manager Rick Spielman found value with each of the team's 11 draft selections.
Starting in the second round, the Vikings hit a proverbial home run with the addition of Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. The Seminoles' all-time leading rusher fell in the draft due to off-field concerns. His talent is undeniable, though. Minnesota signed Latavius Murray in free agency, but Cook should take over as the offense's feature back.
A round later, the team found its new starting center in Ohio State's Pat Elflein. The first-team All-American grades as the draft's top center prospect and has the potential to play guard, too.
As Day 3 of the draft started, the Vikings jumped at the chance to acquire Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson. The defensive lineman was generally considered a second-round prospect with the ability to dominate during stretches against the Big Ten's best.
Value. Value. Value. The best in the class may have come in the form of a 6'6" tight end by the name of Bucky Hodges, who fell to the sixth round. Hodges operates out of the slot and is nearly impossible to cover due to his length.
New England Patriots
What the New England Patriots accomplish every year during the draft is amazing. Even without selections in the first two rounds of the 2017 edition, the organization still acquired multiple talents with top-end potential. It did so by doubling down on two positions.
Youngstown State's Derek Rivers is one of the draft's most natural and fluid edge-rushers. He'll be joined by Arkansas' Deatrich Wise, who flashed dominant play at times. Meanwhile, Troy's Antonio Garcia can be groomed to start at offensive tackle. If Garcia doesn't pan out, UCLA's Conor McDermott presents enough upside to compete for a starting spot.
Even if these young players don't develop into contributors, the Patriots already won the draft by using their assets to acquire wide receiver Brandin Cooks, defensive end Kony Ealy, tight end Dwayne Allen and running back Mike Gillislee.
New Orleans Saints
On paper, the New Orleans Saints' draft looks great. The team landed the top-ranked cornerback in Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore with the 11th overall pick and acquired its future right tackle in Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk with the 32nd overall selection.
What if I told you the team missed out on both of its top targets in the first round?
PGA golfer Ryan Palmer, who was a guest in the Saints war room, told everyone New Orleans would have selected Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes if he was available at No. 11, per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster also informed the media he was on the phone with the Saints to become the 32nd overall pick until the San Francisco 49ers leapfrogged New Orleans to select the All-American, per the San Jose Mercury News' Cam Inman.
Lattimore and Ramczyk are a really talented pair of prospects. They'll both improve the Saints roster. But they were secondary options.
New York Giants
Draft value isn't always dictated by whom a team selects. Questions are often raised about the prospects the team passed to make its selections.
For example, the New York Giants had better options available to them, especially early in the draft. Ole Miss' Evan Engram is a potential matchup nightmare, but Miami's David Njoku was generally considered the higher-rated tight end prospect with the potential to develop into an in-line option.
In the second round, Dalvin Tomlinson is powerful at the point of attack, but he replicates what the Giants lost in Johnathan Hankins. More disruptive options such as Charlotte's Larry Ogunjobi, Auburn's Montravius Adams, Iowa's Jaleel Johnson and Tulane's Tanzel Smart were available later in the draft.
Quarterback Davis Webb becomes Eli Manning's heir apparent after being selected in the third round, but the Cal product won't see the field anytime soon. The Giants' best pick came in the fifth frame with Youngstown State's Avery Moss, who can crack the team's defensive end rotation.
New York Jets
The New York Jets identified obvious problem areas on their roster and attacked them with vigor during the NFL draft.
In the first two rounds, general manager Mike Maccagnan targeted safeties. In the third and fourth rounds, the team loaded up on wide receivers. Late in the draft, a pair of cornerbacks were acquired.
The combination of LSU's Jamal Adams and Florida's Marcus Maye should provide the team with a new defensive identity. Both are physical safeties with plenty of range. Their additions likely signal the end of Calvin Pryor's time with the organization.
Even though the Jets didn't address the quarterback position, the offense's eventual starter will be placed in a better cockpit with Alabama's ArDarius Stewart and Cal's Chad Hansen in the fold to complement Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa. Clemson's Jordan Leggett adds a receiving presence at tight end, too.
The Jets roster is still one of the league's worst, but it now has fewer glaring holes than it previously did.
The Oakland Raiders took a major risk when the organization decided to select Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley with the 24th overall pick.
Conley is an exceptional talent. He may have even been the draft's top corner prospect. But he resides in NFL limbo due to an accusation of sexual assault. Conley denounced the accusation. The Raiders scrambled to find as much information as possible and became comfortable with the selection.
"The research was done," general manager Reggie McKenzie said about vetting the situation, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Ed Graney. "It wasn't just a gut [feeling]. It was based on research, and we are very confident in all the information we got."
Aside from the cornerback's status, the Raiders chose three players in the subsequent rounds who can be viewed as developmental talents. UConn safety Obi Melifonwu, UCLA's Eddie Vanderdoes and Florida's David Sharpe all have questions about their play and whether they can excel in the pros.
Conley's uncertain status and projected lack of impact from other draft picks make this an average to below-average draft class.
A raucous Philadelphia crowd welcomed each and every Eagles draft pick. The fans' excitement was warranted, too.
In the first round, the Eagles replaced Connor Barwin with one of the class' most natural and productive pass-rushers. Derek Barnett left Tennessee as the program's all-time leader in sacks (33) and second in tackles for loss (52). He's not an exceptional athlete, but he knows how to make plays in the backfield.
A consistent pass rush makes the secondary better. But the Eagles lacked talent among its defensive backs. As a result, the team chose cornerbacks with back-to-back picks in the second and third rounds. Washington's Sidney Jones was a top-20 talent before he tore an Achilles at his pro day. It's OK if the Eagles need to redshirt the talented cover man since the organization selected West Virginia's Rasul Douglas by the end of Day 2.
Philadelphia's final four selections were more interesting than most teams'. San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey is the FBS all-time leading rusher. West Virginia's Shelton Gibson is a legit vertical threat. Nebraska safety Nate Gerry is a hammer and a potential nickel linebacker. Finally, Washington's Elijah Qualls can provide depth at nose tackle. Each has a defined role within the roster even as late-round picks.
More often than not, a team's first-round pick defines its draft class. The Pittsburgh Steelers chose Wisconsin's T.J. Watt in the opening frame, and he's a perfect fit for the team's outside linebacker rotation alongside James Harrison and Bud Dupree.
But Watt will be overshadowed by a new teammate.
The Steelers selected Pitt running back James Conner, a cancer survivor, in the third round. Conner is an Erie, Pennsylvania, native and a two-time first-team All-ACC performer. The 233-pound back didn't look as explosive after he returned from his treatments, but Conner ran for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2014.
"I know it's surreal, I know it's an unbelievable thing, but you've got to get over that," head coach Mike Tomlin told Conner after the team called him to announced the selection, per ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler. "We've got work to do."
Conner also serves as insurance in case Le'Veon Bell finds himself in trouble with the NFL again. The same can be said for this year's second-round pick, USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster, to cover the team if Martavis Bryant runs afoul of the league.
San Francisco 49ers
How can anyone not love what the San Francisco 49ers did during their first draft under general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan?
First, Lynch hoodwinked the Chicago Bears into trading four draft picks to move up one spot and select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The 49ers gained something for nothing since the organization still drafted Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, whom they would have selected with the second overall pick.
If the draft ended there, the 49ers already earned the designation of draft winners, but the rest of their class is exceptional, too.
Lynch traded back into the latter portions of the first round and landed one of his favorite players in Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who will serve as a tone-setter in defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's defense. Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon tied for the most passes defended (23) in major college football last season. A pair of Iowa Hawkeyes, quarterback C.J. Beathard and tight end George Kittle, are ideal scheme fits. And Utah's Joe Williams is arguably the most underrated running back in this year's class.
The Seattle Seahawks had to address both sides of the trenches during the 2017 NFL draft. They did. But was it enough?
The team started along the defensive line with the addition of Michigan State's Malik McDowell and doubled down a round later with North Carolina's Nazair Jones. The concern with both of these prospects is they never played to their talent level. Pete Carroll is a master motivator, but neither has displayed the drive the coach expects in a competitive atmosphere.
On the offensive side of the ball, LSU's Ethan Pocic became the team's second selection. The Seahawks listed Pocic as an offensive tackle for the announcement, even though he was the second-best center prospect in this year's class. The 21-year-old blocker can play all five positions if needed. Seattle added another blocker in the sixth round with Mississippi State's Justin Senior.
Both units needed fresh blood. The Seahawks added some. But their actual long-term potential should be questioned.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Don't look now, but Jameis Winston and Co. are dangerous. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished 9-7 last season, and they're clearly better after the draft than they were entering the event.
Tampa Bay's selection of Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the 19th overall pick makes an explosive offense even better. Cameron Brate was good last year, but he doesn't present the same potential as Howard. When the 6'6", 251-pound target is unleashed, he's a nightmare to cover. He joins Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and the Bucs' third-round pick, Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin, to form a dynamic set of skill performers for Winston to utilize.
Martin has impressed since returning to the team, but the organization still hedged its bet by drafting Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round.
Two defensive picks may provide an instant impact. Texas A&M's Justin Evans is a rangy and ultra-athletic safety prospect, while USC's Stevie Tu'ikolovatu is a squat 331-pound run-stuffer who can be effective on early downs as part of the defensive tackle rotation.
The Tennessee Titans parlayed quarterback Marcus Mariota into a strong 2017 draft class. Follow along for a second. Because Mariota was already in place, the organization didn't need to choose a signal-caller at the top of the 2016 draft and traded out of the No. 1 overall pick so the Los Angeles Rams could select Jared Goff.
By trading out, the Titans gained the fifth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. With the extra first-round asset, Tennessee selected Western Michigan's Corey Davis as the top wide receiver in this year's class. Davis excels in creating separation at the top of his stem and yards after the catch.
Who benefited the most from last year's first-round trade? Mariota.
After adding one of the top available offensive weapons, the Titans turned their attention to the secondary when they used the 18th overall pick to select USC's Adoree' Jackson. The Illinois native isn't a polished cover corner, but he presents off-the-charts athleticism to produce in multiple areas.
When Western Kentucky wide receiver Taywan Taylor, FIU tight end Jonnu Smith and UCLA linebacker Jayon Brown are added to Tennessee's top two selections, the entire team is far more athletic and explosive than it was a year ago.
Even though the Washington Redskins don't have a general manager in place, the organization still put together one of the league's best draft classes.
Very few teams can claim they found value to the extent Washington did when it chose Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen with the 17th overall pick. Allen was considered the second-best prospect in this year's class behind Texas A&M's Myles Garrett until questions arose about his athleticism and injuries to his shoulders. If Allen is fully healthy, he's a force along the defensive front. His ability to collapse the pocket will make Washington's edge-rushers innumerably better.
The team then supplemented its edge defenders with the acquisition of Allen's Alabama teammate, Ryan Anderson. The outside linebacker isn't an explosive pass-rusher, but he consistently sets the edge with authority.
Washington may have found another starting option in the third round with the selection of UCLA's Fabian Moreau. The physical corner is dealing with a pectoral tear he suffered during his pro day, but he was considered a late first- or second-round talent before the injury.