NFL Draft 2017 Results: Reviewing This Year's Worst Picks
The 2017 draft has come and gone, and now it's time to look back at some of the most head-scratching selections of the weekend. While there weren't many egregious reaches, specifically on the first two days of the draft, there were picks that didn't quite make sense.
These selections come from the first three rounds alone since teams look to fill needs on Day 3.
Pick No. 23: Giants TE Evan Engram
With all but one player available from one of the best tight end classes in history, the New York Giants decided to spend the 23rd overall selection on Mississippi hybrid tight end Evan Engram. It was surprising to say the least, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had given Engram a second-round grade.
While Engram was one of my favorite players throughout the predraft process, I didn't love the selection for the Giants in the first round for a variety of reasons. The first: New York already has a plethora of weapons, including a slot receiver in Sterling Shepard. Engram's best spot is as an oversized slot receiver. Both players win in the same area of the field with the same type of routes. They are different in size (Shepard is 5'10", 194 lbs, while Engram is 6'3", 234 lbs), but they accomplish the same goals from the same position.
Aside from the clunky fit, the Engram selection didn't address some of the Giants' more pressing needs. They could have addressed their offensive line or linebacker corps, but they decided to select a tight end instead. A player such as Reuben Foster, Forrest Lamp or Ryan Ramczyk would've made more sense.
The third reason: New York passed on a better tight end in David Njoku. He's younger, more explosive after the catch and a far superior blocker than Engram. Njoku was the consensus No. 2 tight end and was picked later in the first round by the Cleveland Browns. Engram may be a better player in Year 1, but it won't be long before Njoku passes him.
Pick No. 39: Jets FS Marcus Maye
The New York Jets' first-round selection of Jamal Adams at No. 6 wasn't great, but drafting Marcus Maye in the second round was far worse. While Maye isn't a bad player, he wasn't a top-40 pick in this class. To make matters worse, the Jets' depth chart was already deep at safety.
New York selected strong safety Calvin Pryor in the first round in 2014, and free safety Marcus Gilchrist has played well since arriving in 2015. At best, Maye will be the fourth safety on the depth chart during his rookie season.
Maye is small (6'0", 210 lbs) and a below-average athlete, testing in just the 38th percentile in SPARQ, according to 3sigmaathlete.com. He's got a significant injury history and was suspended in 2015 for violating team rules. He's got talent, but he wasn't worth this selection—especially not by a team that was already set at the safety position.
Pick No. 40: Panthers WR Curtis Samuel
Before the draft, I wasn't a fan of a team picking Christian McCaffrey inside the top 10. It's just too big of a financial risk to take a running back there if he isn't a traditional workhorse like Ezekiel Elliott or Leonard Fournette. But McCaffrey's ability to play slot receiver gives him a much better chance to return value to the Carolina Panthers, who used their No. 8 overall selection on him.
To compound the somewhat questionable decision, Carolina drafted running back Curtis Samuel in the second round. He just so happens to play the same position as McCaffrey. Like McCaffrey, Samuel is a better fit as a running back who can be flexed to the slot on passing downs. He has elite speed, but he lacks the size (5'11", 196 lbs) to be a full-time runner.
Samuel does all the things McCaffrey does—just to a lesser degree. The Panthers will have to create touches for McCaffrey and will likely have to do the same for Samuel. Using a top-40 selection on a second gadget player in the same draft seems unwise. While I like both players, the Samuel pick was overkill and a misguided use of valuable assets.
Pick No. 49: Redskins DE/LB Ryan Anderson
One of the most surprising selections in the second round was the Washington Redskins' choice of Ryan Anderson. At Alabama, Anderson accumulated 19.5 sacks and 40 tackles for loss as a rush linebacker. He's just an average athlete, however, running a 4.84-second 40-yard dash at his pro day and testing as one of the worst athletes in the draft, according to 3sigmaathlete.com.
He's not explosive, nor does he have the length to be a dominant rusher in the NFL. His 31.5-inch arms rank in just the 3rd percentile of edge-rushers since 1999, according to MockDraftable. That lack of athleticism and size (he's also 6'2", 253 lbs) make him a very questionable selection that high in the draft.
Anderson projects as Ryan Kerrigan's backup at weakside outside linebacker. While Anderson was a productive player in college, it's hard to picture him getting on the field anytime soon. Top-50 picks are valuable and should be used on instant starters or high-upside players. Anderson doesn't fit either of those descriptions.
Pick No. 62: Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a lot of success drafting receivers after the first round. Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Martavis Bryant have been massive hits. So the fact the team selected a receiver in the second round wasn't a surprise, but the name certainly was.
The Steelers used the 62nd overall pick on USC's Juju Smith-Schuster. While he has a lot of talent, he's much different than the type of receiver Pittsburgh usually selects. The receivers listed above have one thing in common: speed. That is not something Smith-Schuster has. He ran just a 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the combine, and he doesn't seem like a good fit.
The Steelers like to draft great athletes at receiver. Smith-Schuster doesn't match that description. He tested in the 65th percentile in SPARQ, according to 3sigmaathlete.com. His 32.5-inch vertical jump ranked in just the 16th percentile of all receivers since 1999, according to MockDraftable. He's not a bad athlete; he's just an average one.
Smith-Schuster's best fit is as an X receiver who wins in the short to intermediate part of the field. He struggles against press coverage and doesn't separate down the field. He doesn't have the speed to be a Z receiver, and that spot will belong to Bryant if he can stay on the field. The selection may have been an insurance policy in case Bryant can't stay on the field, but with as many needs as the Steelers have on defense, this felt like a luxury pick. From the outside looking in, Smith-Schuster doesn't seem to have a spot in the Pittsburgh offense.
Pick No. 67: Saints RB Alvin Kamara
Entering the draft, the New Orleans Saints had one of the most intriguing running back depth charts in the NFL: Mark Ingram as the starter and Adrian Peterson as the backup. Behind those two: Travaris Cadet and Daniel Lasco, both of whom are third-down specialists.
For some reason, the Saints felt the need to add another running back with the 67th pick: Alvin Kamara of Tennessee. And they did so by trading a 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 seventh-rounder. Kamara had just 210 carries in college, as he split snaps with Jalen Hurd.
The New Orleans offense was going to thrive with or without Kamara, and the team needed to add depth to one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Kamara will play well, but it was not a smart use of resources. The Saints' running back room was already crowded, and this was irresponsible.
Pick No. 69: Rams WR Cooper Kupp
The Los Angeles Rams needed to add a receiver to their lackluster unit, and they did so when they selected Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp early in the third round. Kupp was a four-year starter in college and caught 428 passes. He projects as a slot receiver in the NFL, as he lacks the speed (4.62-second 40-yard dash) to play on the outside. He's just not quick enough to beat defenders down the field and struggles against press coverage.
If the Rams were after a slot receiver, there were numerous more effective options on the board. Ryan Switzer and Dede Westbrook are more explosive players and can each create mismatches in different ways.
But my biggest concern is Kupp was selected by a team that already had a surplus of slot receivers in Tavon Austin, Mike Thomas and Pharoh Cooper. The Rams picked Josh Reynolds later in the draft, and he makes more sense in terms of fit and need. Kupp could have a nice career in Los Angeles, but it's not the ideal fit for him or the Rams.
Pick No. 104: 49ers QB C.J. Beathard
It's not surprising the San Francisco 49ers passed on a quarterback in the first round. But the expectation was the team would draft one at some point since Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley were the only two signal-callers on the roster. It was shocking whom San Francisco selected, however.
With Nathan Peterman, Joshua Dobbs and Brad Kaaya still on the board, the 49ers picked C.J. Beathard of Iowa. He was a two-year starter for the Hawkeyes but only threw 17 touchdowns in 13 starts in 2016. Most draft analysts had him with a late-rounds grade, including Bleacher Report's Matt Miller (sixth round).
Beathard is far too cautious with the ball, rarely throwing down the field. His lack of arm talent causes many of his passes to flutter, and they have little velocity. Beathard threw 10 interceptions in 2016, and he did so while throwing just 9.5 percent of his attempts 20 or more yards downfield, per PFF College. That was the second-lowest percentage among quarterbacks who accounted for at least 25 percent of their team's attempts.
Beathard reminds me of a lesser version of Hoyer, who will be one of his competitors during training camp. Beathard will likely never be a starter in the NFL and projects as just an adequate backup. It seems like San Francisco punted on the quarterback position in 2017 by reaching for Beathard in the third round.