I don’t give out Draft grades any more, but I am not afraid to single out teams that I feel have outdone themselves in the Draft Process. That can be both on a pro and/or con basis. And today I’d like to mention 3 teams that I feel had highly questionable Draft efforts this year. It will also serve as an early projection of Power Rankings. The three teams below did very little to improve their overall rosters, and therefore their prospects for a winning 2017 season.
Let’s start with DA BEARS whose GM RYAN PACE seemed absolutely giddy on the phone with MITCHELL TRUBISKY after giving up a lot of ammunition to move up 1 Pick to get the guy who he obviously thinks can be their QB for the next decade or so in the Windy City. I do not necessarily think the team gave up too much for their QB of the future, given recent trades to grab top of the Draft prospects like GOFF, RG3, WENTZ and others. But it did feel like a lot when the smoke cleared and one of the League’s bottom feeders had relegated itself to a measly 5 Picks for this year. And given that the team had already signed BUCS back-up QB/MIKE GLENNON to a nice VFA contract, I would have encouraged PACE to wait out the Niners pick at No. 2, and take the chance that TRUBISKY was still available at Pick 3. It also looked like a reach to me that they turned around and drafted small school TE/ADAM SHAHEEN in Round 2. SHAHEEN did indeed dominate at a lower level of college competition, but I am not sure that he is really the next Gronk. Pre-injury S/EDDIE JACKSON looked like a clear Top 100 player, but DA BEARS have a cluster of DB on their roster, after drafting 3 DB in 2016 as well as signing several promising looking DB as URFA. At last count I saw 16 DB on their roster in addition to JACKSON. Their lone addition to their woeful looking OL depth chart was JORDAN MORGAN, like SHAHEEN, a small school guy who will likely have to move from OT to OG as a pro due to lack of length. Overall t seems very strange to me that a massive rebuilding project for DA BEARS currently features a roster with only 17 of its 90 roster slots being filed by Rookies. I count just as many VFA as I do rookies. Their most interesting draftee may end up bring TARIK COHEN/RB/RS, who was labeled he ‘human joy-stick’ by scouts at the NFLPA Game. But at 5’6, 178 lbs. his touches may have to be monitored. carefully lest he be broken before the team finishes the pre-season. IMO perhaps their mostqnteresting URFA may be FREDDIE STEVENSON/FB/FSU. STEVENSON was lightly used at FSU, but is a multi-faceted player who blocks like a man-possessed, has shown nice hands out of the backfield and reminds me a bit of KARLOS WILLIAMS when given the ball in running situations. Also keep eye on yet another smaller school guy in RASHAD COWARD/DT of Old Dominion who is a full-sized man at 6’6, 310 lbs.
Let’s just wrap up DA BEARS 2017 Draft process, and roster rebuilding in general, by saying it seemed a bit curious, and leave it at that for now. Poor JOHN FOX.
One of my favorite sayings, in the world of redundancy, is ‘dejavu, all over again’. And that was the phrase that popped into my mind watching the RAMS pick in the 2017 Draft. The RAMS gave up the farm last year to move up into the No. 1 Pick in the Draft, and then took the wrong QB with that selection. So this year they sat out Thursday Night at the Draft to continue their payment plan for JARED GOFF. But amazingly, once they got going with their Picks in Round 2 it seemed as though GM LES SNEAD, was enacting a do-over of 2016 with the team’s picks. Last year, their picks (after GOFF) were a TE, WR, TE, LB & WR in that order. This year, starting in Round 2 SNEAD selected a TE, WR, SS, WR, LB with his first 5 Picks. Other than the S selection, that is eerily similar to what he did in 2016. Where is the beef LES?! That is two straight drafts without an OL. So how are they doing at protecting their big investment from 2016, JARED GOFF/QB? Don’t even bother snaring that rhetorical question. I might also argue that they need to add a few full-sized interior DL. Does SNEAD know something most of us don’t? By the time the RAMS new stadium complex opens will the NFL already have transitioned to a flag-football format of play where the big uglies are no longer needed? That could be coming, but perhaps not as soon as RAMS front office folks seem to think. The RAMS currently have 8 DT listed on their roster and only 2 of them weigh more than 300 lbs. They show 6 DE, with only VFA MIKE PURCELL being over 300 lbs, and I would call him a DT. This team needs some beef added to it’s Defense, but clearly that is not coming through the Draft any time soon.
The team parted ways with HC JEFF FISHER last fall, eliminating one of the most overrated HC in League history. But looking at a 2017 Draft Class wherein the heaviest player selected by the RAMS weighed 296 lbs, LES SNEAD may be the guy to exit the premises by the end or the 2017 season. I am also not quite sure that the RAMS have a roster building game plan in place that reflects the teams 4-12 record. The roster I printed out last night shows only 21 Rookies on their 90-man roster. I wasn’t aware that the team had so much talent that they brought back so many vets.
If I have the RAMS on my schedule I am getting my game plan started already, which will be to run the ball as much as possible right down the throat of their defense! Good luck RAMS fans. I am not sure this team has a roster plan in place that isn’t further behind schedule than their stadium building time table.
The final team of my terrible three from the 2017 Draft process is the New York JETS! GM MIKE MCCAGNAN may not have realized when the took the JETS job 2 years ago, exactly how badly the REX RYAN years had screwed up the overall roster talent level. My guess is he also didn’t realize how much help he was going to receive in his personnel decisions from Owner WOODY JOHNSON. The saddest part of watching the JETS 2017 Draft for me was the realization that MCCAGNAN has pretty much decided that many of his predecessors’ Picks were mistakes, in addition to some poor VFA signings. First Rounder JAMAL ADAMS looks like a elite player, and 2nd Rounder MARCUS MAYE also looks like an immediate above average starter for the FS slot. But the bad news is that those two guys will likely replace a highly paid VFA (GILCHRIST) and another former 1st Rounder (PRYOR), both brought in just before MCCAGNAN arrived on the scene to fix things. Having to replace a bunch of players at positions that your team thought it had already fixed really cries out of rebuilding, not just upgrading your roster. The team does looks to have helped rebuild the WR group by cutting higher-priced, aging vet BRANDON MARSHALL, and cutting loose always injured DEVIN SMITH. Rookies STEWART & HANSEN should be seeing lots of playing time by mid-season. But the team did nothing to help their OL group (other than VFA BEACHUM), which was thinned out by the releases of GIACOMINI & NICK MANGOLD, who are likely past their prime and too expensive to carry under the current Salary Cap, which MCCAGNAN’s predecessors also left in bad shape. But God help aging VFA QB/JOSH McCOWN when he tries to hang in the pocket, and realizes he doesn’t have one. Given the age of RB/MATT FORTE (31) I do like the selection of ELIJAH McGUIRE/RB in Round 6. In fact, his versatility and pass catching ability should make him a nice piece to succeed FORTE as the JETS No.1 RB option in 2018.
Hate to be the one to break the news to you JETS fans, but it is rebuild time no matter what the company line tells you. And the OL, which got no help in the Draft, is going to be a big frustration to you all season. Look for the JETS to be claiming more than a few waived vets come August, when the new single roster cutdown date will hamper efforts of teams looking too add a few guys during the pre-season. ADAMS & MAYE will give you some reason to cheer, but hardly enough to keep this team out of the AFC East basement.
Hate to ruin eternal optimism early for any fans, but these 3 teams have written off their 2017 seasons for anything beyond positioning themselves for very high Round 1 Picks next year.