10 Things I Learned From The 2017 NFL Draft
My eye is on the 2018 NFL Draft. And yes. I have already started putting together my first mock draft for the 2018 NFL Draft. We’ve already looked at the anatomy of a winning 2017 NFL mock draft, and we did the math to find I hit on 12 of my 30 Takes, with Varying Degrees of Hotness, so here’s the final wrap up of the 2017 NFL draft season.
What are the 10 things I learned from the 2017 NFL Draft?
1) QBs will go early. QBs will always (ALWAYS) go higher than people expect, and be prime trade targets. I actually had Trubisky and Watson at 2 and 3, and had Mahomes and Kizer (a miss) as first rounders. And I think, showing by everyone’s surprise over Trubisky at 2, that the strategy (if not the execution) paid off. Unless there is a sure-fire option at number 1 overall, one must always predict the QBs to go earlier than they should go, and should always have trades involved with the position, as there will be ample opportunity to grab that Trade Bonus.
2) Know Your Competition. Specifically, I learned that you cannot just make one mock draft for every contest. When you compete against thousands of others in a large contest, you should take more risks to stand out from the crowd. You can’t just make the same picks everyone else does, as you’re pretty much guaranteeing that you will won’t come in first place. But if you are playing in a small contest (for example, I played heads up against my co-founder, Dan) you should be more conservative. Play it safe. Go with the consensus picks that make the most sense to you. Because I only had to beat ONE person’s mock draft… not thousands. It wasn’t about standing out, it was about not messing up. By using the same contrarian mock draft for both contests, not only did I not win the big competition… but I also lost a very winnable 1-on-1 contest against my Mock Draft Nemesis.
3) The days of everyone picking on Browns fans is over. While we were in Philadelphia for the draft, anyone walking around in Browns gear was inevitably followed by heckling and questions about how they were going to mess it up this year. By the time round 2 rolled around, all anyone could say about them was that they finally got one right. After taking Corey Coleman last year, and being armed with 5 picks in the first 2 rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, say goodbye to the days of the Browns being the Lazy Man’s Punching Bag. That honor will go back to the Jets.
4) Philadelphia will not host another NFL Draft. Sure, they had a lot of people in attendance (over 220,000) but the raw hatred I saw when Derek Barnett was announced as their pick and the mass exodus of about half the people in attendance after the pick was made showed that Philadelphia was more interested in epic displays of rage and dismay than they were about having a good time watching the entire draft. Once the Eagles were done “messing up”, it was time for the crowd to go home, because they had no interest in the rest of the picks. The NFL needs to find a solution to that problem, and now. But I’m afraid that answer won’t be found in Philadelphia.
5) There’s more than one way to win playing MockOut. I always assumed that predicting multiple trades was the only way to go- both to hedge bets AND to fall into a trade bonus or two. And in the Official Contest, the winner benefitted from getting the trade bonus on Foster to the 49ers and Takk to the Falcons. But in the National Mock Drafts Single-Entry contest, our official winner predicted ZERO trades, and so wasn’t able to hedge any bets or get any trade bonuses. He just nailed 8 picks (which is incredible) and got another 3 picks half-right by pairing the correct prospect to the correct team. In short- he was exceptional. Perhaps the scoring system will be tinkered with in the coming months, but it’s good to know that with the way it is now, there are multiple effective strategies for winning.
6) Trust your GM. If he deserves it. If there’s one thing that I find after every single NFL Draft, it’s that the week afterward, after reading about every player the Hawks selected, I am always happier with the draft class than I would have been if they had “listened to me” (which really means, gone with the big names/big testers.) I wanted Kevin King. I wanted T.J. Watt. Quincy Wilson. Ryan Anderson. Samaje Perine. Zach Cunningham. These are all the guys I was hoping for, and instead they leave the draft with Ethan Pocic, Malik McDowell, and a bunch of DBs I didn’t really know about. And you know what? This is the happiest I’ve been with a Seahawks draft class in about four years. After learning about them, I believe each of those DBs is going to be a great player, Pocic was a steal, and McDowell can be a dominant inside pass rusher. I am lucky. I have a GM who I can trust.
7) Off-field issues only matter as far as your on-field talent is questioned. We all know what Ray Rice did. And it ended up costing him his entire career, which, one could argue, was on the decline. But players like Cook and Mixon, with their own really troubling off-field issues, are dripping with talent and potential, meaning they fell one round later in the draft than they otherwise would have. I’m not here to say the Rice treatment was too harsh or lax, or to say anything about the severity of Mixon and Cook falling into the 2nd round… I just learned that NFL decision makers take football talent and football potential into account when deciding whether or not a player’s actions are severe enough to not consider him for your team.
8) Sometimes things just happen. For no reason. I think O.J. Howard is the best example of this. The TE position is probably more important to a dynamic offense now than at any other time in the history of the league. O.J. Howard is the best TE prospect I’ve ever seen coming out of college. His combine testing only boosted his stock, further proving that he is a physical marvel. And yet… 18 teams passed on him, in favor of players who are deeply flawed, one dimensional, injured, or some combination of those problems. And yet… it happened. The lesson to be drawn from this? No lesson. You cannot predict the future. Otherwise, making mock drafts would be pointless. Sometimes the inexplicable happens, and you just have to chalk it up to random chance, shrug, and not change your strategy to try and adjust for it. Otherwise you’ll go insane. People are strange. Drafts are stranger.
9) The Redskins always draft my favorite players. And those players rarely work out. This goes back to my biggest all-time miss, when I was certain that Lache Seastrunk was going to be the next dominant NFL RB. Washington grabbed him in the 6th round, and I was jealous. Last season, my favorite RB (including Zeke, who was my second favorite) was Keith Marshall. Washington drafted him, and I don’t think he recorded a carry. This season, they really dipped into my guys. Jonathan Allen was someone I liked, but two guys I LOVED were Ryan Anderson and Samaje Perine. Unfortunately for those players, the Skins always seem to take the guys I am wrong about, so I’m not too worried. That is, until next year. When they take my guys again.
10) Fans know SO much more about their teams than the “experts” do. Of course it pays to be contrarian, but it has to be informed by the fans. Example. I kept trying to go with a contrarian landing spot for John Ross AND a contrarian pick for the Bengals. u/Brownsgonnabrowns assured me Ross would be a better pick for Cincy than who I had, and his argument was sound. Yet I didn’t follow his lead, and instead picked Forrest Lamp. I shoulda listened to the fan. And with Seattle, even though everyone was mocking a CB or OT to the Seahawks, I was certain that the Hawks would not take either position with their first pick (which ended up being in the second round, and ultimately not mattering…) The point is- I will always listen to the fans when making my mock, from this day forward. Just like I was certain the Hawks wouldn’t draft those positions early because I am a Hawks fan, I should have listened to the equally well-informed Bengals fans about their team. You are all smarter about your team than I am. Let my horrible showing this year stand as a testament to that.
photo: Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports