NFL Draft 2017 : 10 Reasons To Watch

By Frank Maduri
Apr. 27, 2017

The NFL Draft 2017 begins tonight with coverage of the first round on ESPN and NFL Network starting at 8 PM Eastern. The annual event marks another set of prospects ready and eager to prove that they can make an impact in the most competitive football league in the world.

The mock drafts, the analysis, and the scouting reports that all football fans love will become reality tonight. The NFL Draft never goes according to plan, so here are ten reasons why you should watch tonight to see what happens:

1. Cleveland Browns – They hold the top pick and the twelfth pick overall in the first round. The Browns are completely unorthodox in their approach to the draft process, so nobody has any idea what they will decide to do tonight. The consensus top pick, Myles Garrett, is an edge rusher on defense. The Browns need a quarterback and are trying to fool everyone by saying that they are taking one with the first pick. The one thing to keep in mind is that they might actually take a quarterback in the top spot. The Browns never do the “chalk” move, so it is intriguing that they have two selections in the first twelve picks tonight.

2. New England Patriots – they rank this high because of the questions surrounding whether or not they will trade up in this draft by agreeing to trade backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, which could happen tonight. The backup signal caller garnered a lot of positive accolades from his play during Tom Brady’s four game suspension to start the 2016 NFL season. The Browns are probably the most interested team and have tried to swing a trade for Garoppolo for a few months now. That could solve Cleveland’s need for a quarterback and provide the Patriots the pathway to take a real impact player at the 12th spot in the draft order.

3. D-Line Depth – This 2017 class has a very deep prospect pool at defensive line, and defensive end which are very important aspects of the NFL with the premium placed on applying pressure to the opposing quarterback. The before mentioned, Myles Garrett, being the top prospect overall. The class also includes the imposing physical presence of players from big-time college programs such as: Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas, and Charles Harris. All of these players are projected to be off the board within the first twenty picks in this draft, maybe even sooner than that depending on other teams with needs at that area potentially trading up the board. These players could become household names in the NFL, or could be out of the league in three years, which is another incredible component to the NFL Draft.

4. The Quarterbacks – the NFL is a quarterback driven league, without a stellar signal caller a team will not compete for a Super Bowl. The Draft is usually about the quarterbacks, but some years (including this one), the class lacks a player with top five talent. The scouts and draft experts believe that taking a quarterback that high in this draft class is an unwise use of the selection. The consensus seems to be that the guys at that important position in this Draft are more middle to late first round type draft rated players. The names being mentioned for first round potential are Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, DeShone Kizer, and Heisman Trophy winner Deshaun Watson. The Browns are high on Trubisky as are the Bears, the Houston Texans, 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals among others are all seeking to potentially add a quarterback in this draft. The question of when they are taken is the intriguing aspect of the scenario.

5. Dalvin Cook – this running back prospect has talent that is off the charts. The ESPN segment on him and his athletic metrics really vaulted his draft status. The teams selecting early in the draft are there for a reason: they did not win games last year, and you cannot win in the NFL without playmakers. Cook is a game changing playmaker with a high ceiling. The consensus out there is that some team could make a serious bid to trade up to get him.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars – this team selects fourth overall but has some glaring needs at a variety of positions which leaves open the possibility that they trade out of the fourth spot to get more value out of this draft process. Tom Coughlin is the new top guy running the football operations which is another reason why this team makes this list. The strategy for the Jaguars could be to take the best player available or to move around the board and leverage the needs of other teams to address their need for a quarterback with Blake Bortles entering the final year of his contract. Coughlin also likes to fill holes along the offensive and defensive lines to rebuild a roster, and this draft class has several options in both of those areas as well. The Jaguars need a great draft in order to start the rebuilding process there on the right path.

7. Trades – the NFL Draft characteristically features the draft night trades up and down the board. The Herschel Walker draft day trade set up the picks that built the Dallas Cowboys dynasty run in the 1990s. The Eli Manning – Philip Rivers swap back in 2003. The RGIII trade more recently by the Washington Redskins involving all of those draft picks and their current starter, Kirk Cousins was taken in the fourth round of that draft. The most recent moves last year by the LA Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles to move up the board to take who they believe are their franchise quarterbacks. The draft tonight features several scenarios of teams that might make a very bold move to reverse the fortunes of their respective franchise and that is always a very captivating aspect of this event. The Tennessee Titans have been mulling trading out of their pick for a few weeks, the Browns are always a candidate for the draft day trade to move around the board, and the new regimes in certain franchises could use tonight to make a huge imprint on their respective rosters.

8. New York Giants – one of the flagship franchises of the NFL makes this list because their front office under GM Jerry Reese has had very inefficient draft performances. Reese has swung and missed on a lot of players in his higher round selections, and has a few stellar picks (Odell Beckham, Jr) in between. The most interesting decision facing the Giants in this draft is the quarterback position. The offseason has been riddled with headlines regarding the performance of Eli Manning and whether the team needs to prepare for the future as Eli moves into the later stages of his career. The Giants need to decide when they are going to take a quarterback to be groomed as the next guy to lead this franchise, and do they risk missing out on adding a player at another position that could provide more immediate benefits to their football team in that process. That decision will reveal a great deal about the internal approach to how they view Manning at this point.

9. San Francisco 49ers – the “Niners” have an all new regime after the debacle that was the Chip Kelly era. This team makes the list because they have a GM in John Lynch who has never worked in a front office before, and a new head coach in Kyle Shanahan who comes from a storied coaching family. They are both new to their positions and the team has a ton of needs across all areas of the roster. This creates conditions for a scenario where nobody knows how they will approach this draft. They could trade out of their pick, they could take a quarterback at number two overall, or they could take an entirely different direction and take a defensive player. The unknown is what makes them very interesting, and it will certainly merit watching to see what happens. Lynch is from the John Elway school of thought on football operations, so it could be one wild ride with them tonight.

10. Chicago Bears – anyone who tells you that they know what the Bears are going to do at third overall tonight is not being honest. The Bears are in a similar position as the Browns, they are coming off disastrous seasons, and in both cases their front office as well as coaching staff are under tremendous pressure to get these draft picks right. That type of pressure can cause very bold decisions to be made and can make for some interesting draft night drama. The Bears have moved on from Jay Cutler at quarterback, so they need to fill the top spot on their team. They may trade down to get more picks and still get a quarterback in the middle of the first round. They also could hold steady and take the selections where they are currently drafting. It is an important night for the future of that storied NFL franchise.

These are just ten reasons why you should watch the NFL Draft tonight, there are many more, but in the end tonight is the start of a great few days of players realizing their dreams. It is also where teams feel optimistic that these few days will turn around years of misfortune. That is one great reason to watch.