Back in the spring, the consensus around the NFL appeared to be that the 2017 draft was a pretty good one. And while it’s hardly a perfect measure, at least based on the number of players selected this past spring who made their respective team’s 53-man opening day roster, this year’s draft class did just fine thank you very much. Indeed, as of yesterday’s roster deadline, by our unofficial numbers, only 30 of the 253 players selected at this year’s draft had been released. That’s slightly more than the 27 released prior to the start of the previous season, but less than the figures of 33 in 2015 and 36 in 2014. In fact, this year’s number could actually be the second lowest since the league went to a 7-round draft. At the same time, another 19 of this year’s draft picks were placed on a reserve list, either IR, PUP or the non-football injury list, which is around the average figure for recent drafts.
Not surprisingly, most of the draft picks who were released were later round picks. Indeed, 24 of the 27 drafted players who did not make their team’s opening day roster this weekend were either selected in the 6th (12) or 7th rounds (12), while 5 players selected in the 5th round were released. In contrast, only one player selected in the first 4 rounds was released on cut-down day. That was former Pittsburgh G/T Dorian Johnson, who was selected with the 115th pick overall in the middle of the 4th round by Arizona. At the same time, though, 8 players taken in the first 4 rounds were listed on one of IR, PUP, or the NFI list including 2nd rounders OG Forrest Lamp of the LA Chargers, Miami MLB Raekwon McMillan, Philadelphia CB Sidney Jones and Seattle DT Malik McDowell.
When all the dust had settled, a half dozen teams had clean sheets based at least on the number of players who made the team’s opening day roster. Indianapolis, New Orleans, Houston, Carolina, Atlanta and Buffalo each had all of their 2017 draft picks on their original 53-man opening rosters. Meanwhile, 8 other teams including San Francisco, Cleveland, the NY Jets, Baltimore, the LA Chargers, Miami, Denver, the NY Jets and Chicago did not cut any of this year’s picks, but did list at least one draftee.
On the other hand, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Dallas, Minnesota, and Seattle each released three picks, while Tennessee and Detroit released a couple each. Also of note, defending Super Bowl champion New England had a very odd draft. Indeed, the Patriots will head into the season with only one 2017 draftee on the roster: former Arkansas DE Deatrich Wise, a 4th round pick this past April. In fact, the Patriots only had 4 picks this year as a result of trades and two of those – 3rd rounders DE Derek Rivers and OT Tony Garcia – were listed, while 6th rounder Conor McDermott, an OT from UCLA, was released.