Although the Super Bowl is yet to be played the NFL off season, highlighted by the draft each spring, is already in full gear. With the college all star games out of the way, the combines and pro-days just around the corner, and free agency just around the corner, many fans will begin to focus their spare time prepping for the NFL draft. Here’s a primer for the 2017 Draft class.
2017 is an excellent year for defensive ends, linebackers, safeties, and cornerbacks. There is certainly depth at some other positions, but this appears to be a banner year for each of these positions. Those 4 positions equal just over half of our top 50 board. If your team is in need of one of these positions, there is a good chance that they will find value in the first two rounds there.
Running backs and tight ends are the class of the offensive positions. Receivers will have more players taken in the first two rounds then tight ends but that is to be expected. OJ Howard leads a strong class of tight ends that could see as many as 6 players come off the board in the first two rounds, and should have good value into the draft’s third day. Running backs, meanwhile, appear to be having some sort of rebirth in the NFL. Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, and Christian McCaffery should all be first round picks.
Offensive tackles are going to be hard to come by. Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman said, earlier this week, that he would not reach for a tackle in the draft. He might not have to as Cam Robinson could very well fall to the second round - pundits are very split on Robinson as a prospect. Teams, like the Panthers, that need an offensive tackle this year might be best served signing a free agent. This crop has 4-5 solid prospects that appear close to being NFL ready. Inevitably there will be 3-4 more tackles that are projects who eventually develop into starters in the league.
This quarterback crop is poor. There isn’t really a top 10 caliber quarterback in this class, though one will almost certainly go in the top 10. After Trubisky, Kizer, and Watson there is a sizeable drop off, both in terms of name recognition and ability. Given the strength of this years free agent class which is bolstered by several veterans available via trade and the 2018 quarterback crop, which already appears to have 4-5 quarterbacks that are better than any in this year’s class, waiting appears to be the prudent choice, though likely an unpopular one.
NFL teams are quickly figuring out that trading up is typically not worth the risk. In years where there is a premium quarterback prospect available, there is still always a team willing to pull the trigger, but the risks are more evident than in years past.
And Another Thing
This is the first season that compensatory draft picks are available to be traded. Several have already been traded and more will likely move this year as the difference in money, and capital, at the end of a round is not all that different from the top of the next round. Cleveland and San Francisco will see their trading options at the top of each round significantly reduced from previous years.