By Matt Holzapfel
Following every NFL draft, there’s always going to be question marks. One team takes a running back too high, another drafts an unknown player, some team trades the ranch to move one pick up and draft a QB who would’ve been there if they hadn’t moved up (I’m looking at you Chicago.) Here’s the biggest question mark in every team’s 2017 NFL draft class.
San Francisco 49ers
Biggest Question Mark: Joe Williams, RB, Utah (4th round, 121 overall)
While the decision to draft quarterback C.J. Beathard was a big surprise for 49ers fans, the biggest surprise within the organization proved to be the decision to select Utah running back Joe Williams. Joe Williams, the same RB who left the Utah football program last September, citing mental exhaustion. 49ers GM John Lynch said this past weekend that the 49ers had removed Williams from their draft board because of the belief that he had “quit” on his team. Williams, who rushed for 1,884 yards in two years at Utah and scored 13 rushing touchdowns, joins a crowded backfield of Carlos Hyde, Mike Davis, Tim Hightower and newly acquired Kapri Bibbs (from Denver) that has no real order behind Hyde as the starter. If Williams can prove that his head really is in the game, he has a chance to become the number one backup behind Hyde. If he can’t, he’ll end up being a career backup who can’t stay with more than one team.
Los Angeles Rams
Biggest Question Mark: Samson Ebukan, LB, Eastern Washington (4th round, 125 overall)
LA’s second selection from Eastern Washington University (WR Corey Kupp in the 3rd round) has the speed, explosiveness, and the football intelligence but needs time to develop according to multiple draft reports. At 6’3 and 240 pounds, Ebukan is undersized but could use his speed and athleticism to make up for that lack of size at the linebacker position. The Rams lacked depth at linebacker last season, but Ebukan could backup both OLB Robert Quinn and newly acquired LB Connor Barwin (from Philadelphia) if he can gain enough of a grasp on the Rams’ 3-4 system to make up for his weaknesses elsewhere.
Biggest Question Mark: Chad Williams, WR, Grambling State (3rd round, 98 overall)
Chad Williams reacts to being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft
Anytime you take a skill position player from a lesser known college like Grambling State, especially as early as the third round, you’re taking a risk. While Williams, nor anybody, isn’t ever going to replace Larry Fitzgerald, he could learn quite a bit from the future Hall of Famer. Williams used his body well in positioning and with the ball in his hands in college. In four years for the Grambling State Tigers, he caught 210 passes for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. He has just enough speed to take the top off a defense, and with the muddy state of the Cardinals receiving core aside from Fitz, he could secure a starting role as soon as 2018 or 2019.
Biggest Question Mark: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State (2nd round, 35 overall)
While D-linemen Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are both All-Pro caliber players, they’re also both 31 years old. It’s getting close to time for Seattle to find suitable replacements for them on the defensive side of the trenches, and McDowell could be just that. McDowell (6’6, 295 pounds) also gives them a talented defensive tackle who has great upside, however, it will be up to the Seattle coaching staff to keep him motivated, possibly his biggest weakness. McDowell had 1.5 sacks during Michigan State’s disappointing 2016 campaign (3-9 overall), during which many people questioned his consistency and effort. At his best, McDowell could be the next fearsome D-lineman on the legendary Seattle defense, or he could slip into irrelevancy and gain a reputation for someone with great potential who just never cared enough.
Biggest Question Mark: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (1st round, 8 overall)
Panthers fans have a slightly unfair reputation for getting very defensive whenever anyone criticized their team (I’m looking at you, Cam Newton haters), but hear me out. While McCaffrey no doubt possesses the speed, elusiveness, and playmaking ability to carve out a solid role in the Panthers offense, it’s exactly that that puts his status in question. Will he challenge longtime Panther J-Stew for the starting spot? Or will he be asked, instead, to start at slot receiver and fill the hole left by Ted Ginn who left for The Big Easy this offseason? Speaking of that Ted Ginn-sized hole, McCaffrey could also be asked to start out returning punts and kickoffs, which he did in college with much effectiveness. The biggest question mark for McCaffrey is undoubtedly his size. At 5’11, he is extremely undersized, and might not be able to hold blocks as well as a bigger back might. At best the Panthers using their first overall pick will pay off and they’ll have a hard-working, hard-running back on their hands for years to come. At the worst, they’ll be ridiculed for ever taking McCaffrey with such a high pick.
(Video courtesy of the NFL)\
New Orleans Saints
Biggest Question Mark: Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida (3rd round, 76 overall)
After inexplicably using two of their first four picks on offense (albeit offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk at the end of the 1st round was a solid pick), the Saints failed to give enough attention to their gaping hole at the edge rusher position. Top pick Marshon Lattimore filled the hole at corner that they first thought would be filled by Malcolm Butler or Trumaine Johnson, but Anzalone doesn’t necessarily qualify as an edge rusher. Despite this, he did run the third-fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker at the NFL combine (4.63 seconds) and had 53 tackles through eight games in his last season at Florida before suffering a broken forearm. Anzalone also battled multiple shoulder injuries during his first three seasons and will have to compete for playing time with recently signed veterans A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o and current Saints linebackers Craig Robertson, Dannell Ellerbe, Stephone Anthony and Nathan Stupar.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Biggest Question Mark: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama (1st round, 19 overall)
Yes, Howard was the most complete tight end in this year’s draft and yes, the Bucs did get a steal taking him at 19. Here’s my problem with Howard: expectations. There’s no reason to expect that OJ Howard (6’5, 251 pounds) won’t be great, he was the most complete tight end in this year’s draft. He ran a 4.51 in the 40 at the combine, second best among tight ends, and in three years at ‘Bama, he caught about 73.5 percent of his 136 targets. He also caught a touchdown and had 106 receiving yards in the national title game early this year. Not only has he been touted as a “dynamic receiving weapon,” but also as a very gifted blocker, as he was used significantly in Alabama’s ground game. That blocking ability will be critical for the Bucs’ run-first offense, which fell from fifth in the league in 2015 to 24th in 2016. What was I saying? Oh, that’s right, expectations. The Bucs parted ways with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he was arrested for a DUI in September of 2016, and their only other option was the undersized Cameron Brate who is coming off of a back injury from 2016. Howard has a big role to fill, but if he can step up and prove that he was worth the Bucs’ first-round pick, he could make a big splash this season in an offense that has no shortage of weapons (see Desean Jackson, Mike Evans, Doug Martin.)
Biggest Question Mark: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA (1st round, 26 overall)
(Video courtesy of The Fumble)
FINE ME LATER, but hear me out first. That’s right, outspoken pass rusher and Atlanta’s first overall pick in this year’s draft is my biggest question mark for the team. While it’s hard to question the Falcons’ formula on offensive behind the likes of Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Matty Ice, their defense clearly needed some work after they blew a 25-point lead to the NFL’s resident villains the New England Patriots (sorry Falcons fans.) Enter Tak McKinley, the Robin to Vic Beasley’s Batman, the thunder to his lightning, the ying to his yang, you get the picture. McKinley had 10 sacks for UCLA during the 2016 season and ranked 10th in the nation with 1.6 tackles for loss per game. The addition of McKinley, plus defensive tackle Dontari Poe in free agency, will significantly improve the Falcons’ pass rush, especially against other teams in the NFC South that made huge moves this offseason, bringing names like DeSean Jackson, OJ Howard, and Adrian Peterson to the division. Despite all of this, McKinley underwent major right shoulder surgery in March and couldn’t work out for the Falcons during the pre-draft process. While he initially said the timetable for recovery was four to six months, McKinley explained that he was supposed to wear a sling for five weeks but wore it for only three and was back rehabbing twice a day Monday through Saturday almost immediately after surgery. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he anticipates that McKinley will be ready by training camp, but the Falcons will make sure not to rush their new star into action. If he can stay healthy, look out for the Atlanta defensive line this upcoming season, coming to a backfield near you soon.
Biggest Question Mark: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC (1st round, 2 overall)
Here we are, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Mitch Trubisky, young and unproven, going to a team in desperate (or were they?) need of a quarterback. After finishing 3-13 last season and parting ways with their longest-tenured starting quarterback since Sid Luckman (1939-1948; Cutler was the Bears starter on-and-off for eight years), the Bears needed a QB…..so they signed Mike Glennon and everyone assumed he would be their starter, for the short term at least. But alas, in what was an honestly insulting move to the entire NFL and every football fan in the world, they traded four, count ’em FOUR draft picks, including the third overall pick, for the second overall pick and nothing else.
NFL expert Chris Wesseling sums up all of our thoughts with exasperation and dismay, disappointing Bears, we expected this from Cleveland, not from you. Now, before we dive into why Trubisky was less of a question mark and more of a huge risk that could doom the franchise for years, we do have to acknowledge that the Bears likely weren’t the only suitor for the 49ers pick at number 2, and that’s why they had to give up so much for it. Now back to the issue at hand, Chicago passed up on literally every defensive player in the draft aside from Myles Garrett to select a quarterback who started 13 games in college. The Bears are on the brink, and it’s highly doubtful Trubisky helps them in 2017. In his third season at UNC, Trubisky threw for 3,748 yards and 30 TDs to six interceptions, while he combined for just over 1,000 yards and 11 TDs to four interceptions in his first two years at UNC. Best case scenario, Trubisky proves us all wrong and shows that he was worth the number two pick. Worst case scenario, we’ll be seeing the Bears picking in the top 10 for years to come.
Biggest Question Mark: Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State (3rd round, 70 overall)
Listed as a center, Elflein played right guard at Ohio State before being asked to slide over when the Buckeyes needed help at the position. The 2016 Rimington Trophy winner, awarded to the best center in college football, gives the Vikings a strong, young option at the spot they had the most pressing need at after signing Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers this offseason. If the Vikes can figure out where to put him and Elflein is willing to accept his role, whatever it may be, Minnesota might have found themselves a future longtime starter on the offensive line.
Biggest Question Mark: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (6th round, 215 overall)
Photo by Tyler Lecka/Getty Images
This might not be the most obvious choice, but it’s still interesting that the Lions chose to use their 6th round pick on Kaaya, who was extremely successful three years at Miami. A lot of people thought that Kaaya should’ve stayed for his senior season at the U, but Kaaya’s decision to come out early paid off….kinda. While he did get drafted, it’s unlikely that Kaaya will see any significant playing time as long as Stafford is healthy. Speaking of Stafford, the Lions’ franchise gunslinger is only 29 years old, which is the main reason why this pick doesn’t make sense. At best, Kaaya could give Jake Rudock a run for the Lions’ backup QB spot, but don’t expect to hear much about him outside of that for a while.
Green Bay Packers
Biggest Question Mark: Kevin King, CB, Washington (2nd round, 33 overall)
For the sixth, yes SIXTH straight year, the Packers used their first pick in the draft on a defensive player. There’s no way to argue that taking a cornerback like King was the wrong call given how bad the Packers’ pass defense was last season. This is a Super Bowl-contending team that needs to get better on defense to live up to the billing, especially while future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers is still in his prime. The Packers have said that King has a chance to be a No. 1 cornerback. They essentially played all of last season without Sam Shields after he sustained a season-ending (and possibly career-ending) concussion in Week 1. King also gives the Packers their tallest cornerback (6’3). If King and the Packers’ other defensive picks can perform like they’re expected to, Packers fans can R-E-L-A-X for years to come.
Biggest Question Mark: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington (2nd round, 43 overall)
10 picks after Kevin King’s name was called, his fellow Huskies cornerback Sidney Jones went to Philly, a team that was in pretty desperate need at the CB position. The risk here is obvious, as Jones ruptured his left Achilles tendon during his pro day workout in early March. The Eagles medical staff are confident that Jones will make a full recovery from his surgery, and assuming he does, he could be Philadelphia’s starting CB before too long.
Biggest Question Mark: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma (4th round, 114 overall)
First, let me say that I absolutely love Samaje Perine out of Oklahoma. He’s a hard runner who comes with power, strength (see video below) and the ability to fight for yards after contact. The question here is how will Perine fit into Washington’s RB plans, with Robert Kelly very much not entrenched in the starting running back role. The field is wide open, literally and figuratively, for Perine who I think could do huge things in the NFL.
New York Giants
Biggest Question Mark: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss (1st round, 23 overall)
In a season where the defense dominated and the offense struggled aside from phenom Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants offensive needs were the focus of this year’s draft. And boy did they let us down. USA Today ranked the Giants’ draft class 30 out of 32, yep that about sums it up. As a resident Giants fan, I loved OJ Howard. I loved OJ Howard, and he was falling, he fell all the way to 19, 19….that’s four picks from us until the Buccaneers took him with their first overall pick. Damn you Tampa Bay. Instead, New York took Evan Engram out of Ole Miss who, while he has been described as a dynamic player with unique skills and athletic ability, is essentially a big receiver who won’t intimidate anybody with his blocking ability. If Engram can improve his blocking to supplement his route-running and receiving skills, he could make an immediate impact in the Giants often-anemic offense. If he can’t………please help us, Odell.
Biggest Question Mark: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (2nd round, 60 overall)
Dallas was criticized by some for taking Taco Charlton, who carried a second-round grade on their draft board, 28th overall, but they felt they had to take a defensive end because of the drop-off at the position. They also knew they would have a chance to select a cornerback in the second round, and they had a choice of Awuzie, Cordrea Tankersley, and Fabian Moreau when they were on the clock. Since the Cowboys did not move down, Awuzie was their target from the start of the round. Despite only having three interceptions in college, Awuzie was a productive player in terms of tackles for loss (26), sacks (9) and pass deflections (35). In a division that has Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, the Cowboys need competitive, tough-minded players on the defensive side of the ball, especially at cornerback. The Cowboys lost cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne and safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in free agency, so their need in the secondary was bordering desperate. Awuzie could be forced into a big role early, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can live up to expectations.
That does it for the NFC! Take a deep breath, if you’ve read it straight through, props. If you’re just looking for your favorite team and they’re in the AFC, here we go.
The team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers, the Los Angeles Chargers
Biggest Question Mark: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (1st round, 7 overall)
A big, physical receiver with a wealth of big-game experience, Mike Williams isn’t a question mark because of something he has or hasn’t done, instead, he’s a question mark because of the other members of the Chargers receiving core. Keenan Allen may be the team’s Number one receiver, but he’s coming off ACL surgery that forced him to miss most of the 2016 season. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin also missed time with injuries last season so Williams will add depth and young talent to a position of need. Tha being said, because of the current state of the Chargers veteran receivers, Williams may be forced into a big role early, so we’ll see if he’s ready to catch what Philip Rivers throws his way.
Biggest Question Mark: Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss (7th round, 253 overall)
Kelly must have gotten tired of waiting to hear his name called, falling asleep during the 6th round of the draft
Yes, Mr. Irrelevant himself. This pick is actually extremely intriguing to me, as Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly, looked phenomenal in 2015 and parts of 2016 when he was under center for Ole Miss. To make matters even more interesting, the Broncos still a lot of questions at the QB position, as the combination of Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch were a super letdown for Denver last season, and Kelly could reasonably compete for the Broncos’ starting spot, assuming he can get his attitude problems together (he was dismissed from Clemson for several incidents before going to Ole Miss) and that his knee heals fully after he tore his ACL and meniscus last November.
Oakland Raiders (Soon to be the Las Vegas Raiders)
Biggest Question Mark: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State (1st round, 24 overall)
This one is simple. Conley was accused of rape earlier in the week before the draft, and while the accusations are not currently backed up by any physical proof, it still made drafting Conley a risk. That being said, Conley wasn’t arrested or charged and he was set to speak with police on Monday to try and clear up the situation. If he can get past these accusations, he could be the third piece to a Raiders cornerback core that was 24th in passing defense last season, despite being led by high-priced backs Sean Smith and David Amerson.
Kansas City Chiefs
Biggest Question Mark: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech (1st round, 10 overall)
Alex Smith is 32 years old. That sounds old, but you couldn’t tell from watching him on the field. It’s curious that KC decided to send it’s 2017 and 2018 first round picks (along with their 2017 first rounder) to Buffalo to move up from number 27 and take Mahomes at 10. Unless Smith gets hurt I don’t really see Mahomes getting that much playing time in his first two seasons at least.
In spite of this, there’s no denying that Mahomes has a load of raw talent, and was arguably the QB with the highest ceiling in this year’s draft class. With Andy Reid’s tutelage, this kid could be a star one day, look out AFC.
Biggest Question Mark: Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma (4th round, 110 overall)
Another Jaguars receiver, another young man with character issues. Westbrook (4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and 18 yards per catch in two seasons at OU) joins the long line of wideouts in Jacksonville who had too many off the field problems that overshadowed their on the field talent (Ace Sanders, Matt Jones, R. Jay Soward, Reggie Williams, Jimmy Smith and Justin Blackmon all dealt with drug or alcohol issues while with the team.) The difference with Westbrook, however, is that he has never actually been charged with anything, despite being arrested twice for domestic violence. In the first case, the district attorney’s office declined to pursue charges. In the second case, the charges were dismissed because the state could not locate Westbrook’s accuser. If he can put his off the field problems behind him, he has a chance to move up from third string receiving and punt/kick returning duties and become a solid starter in the future.
Biggest Question Mark: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (2nd round, 46 overall)
After doing extensive research into the Colts draft class this year, let me tell you, it…is…boring, and that’s not a bad thing. The Colts needed defensive help bad and got it in the form of six (out of eight) players drafted on the defensive side of the ball. Malik Hooker was an excellent pick at 15, he’ll likely start at Free Safety come Week 1, and Quincy Wilson has a chance to compete for the starting spot opposite Vontae Davis. He only made this list because he said “I’m just a shutdown corner. I frustrate a lot of receivers when I play them,” and that’s a hard promise to live up to in the NFL.
Biggest Question Mark: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC (1st Round, 18 overall)
I like the pick of Jackson at 18 with their second first round pick after they reached way too much for receiver Corey Davis out of Western Michigan. Jackson, however, is undersized at 5’10 and 186 pounds, which could spell trouble for the first-year corner, especially against some of the bigger receivers in the league. He has great catch-up speed (ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine) and could make his way into the Titans starting lineup sooner rather than later.
Biggest Question Mark: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt (2nd Round, 57 overall)
This one’s simple, the Texans had a pretty big need at outside linebacker, so, in classic Texans fashion, they drafted an inside linebacker. Cunningham has never played outside linebacker, and the ILB position is stacked with the likes of Brian Cushing, Benardrick McKinney, and Max Bullough. The Texans better hope Cunningham is willing to make the switch to OLB, or this pick could end up as wasted as the money they paid Brock Osweiler last season.
Biggest Question Mark: Jabrill Peppers, ??, Michigan (1st Round, 25 overall)
If you only read two of these, one was probably your favorite team, and the other was Cleveland. Unlike their NBA counterparts, the Browns are a perpetual mess of poor decisions and straight up lack of talent. BUT NOT TODAY CLEVELAND. Breath easy Browns fans, your savior(s) are here. Myles Garrett was a no-brainer, but the Browns didn’t make it easy on their fans. Peppers is a question mark for a few reasons. First, there’s his diluted sample. The Browns were not bothered by the fact that Peppers tested positive for a diluted sample at the combine. Peppers said he had to “hydrate excessively” because he was cramping due to working out with two position groups (linebacker and safety), and that’s a good enough explanation for me, but the door is not entirely shut on other possibilities. The other question is where the heck do you play this guy? In college, he lined up at DB (355 snaps), linebacker (324 snaps), quarterback (29 snaps) wide receiver (12 snaps) and running back (10 snaps), while also returning punts and kicks multiple times. Talk about an all-around athlete. According to Browns’ coach Hue Jackson, Peppers will play strong safety initially but don’t be surprised if we see him move around just like he did in college.
I’ve included Myles Garrett’s combine highlight reel for your viewing pleasure, the kid is a freak and those JJ Watt comparisons were well deserved, enjoy.
Biggest Question Mark: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma (2nd Round, 48 overall)
This one was almost too easy but it has to be talked about. After punching a woman in the face in 2014, a lot of teams did not even have Mixon on their draft board come draft time. It had been clear for several months how much the Bengals liked Mixon, however, and if any team was willing to ignore the public scrutiny that came with picking the talented running back out of Oklahoma, it was the Bengals, who stood by Adam Jones after his arrest and have a history of taking chances on troubled players. If Mixon can overcome his past issues, he can…..oh wait….that’s the other thing. The Bengals ALREADY HAVE TWO STARTING RUNNING BACKS ON THEIR ROSTER. Fantasy football players were already fed up with the Jeremy Hill-Gio Bernard conundrum in Cincy’s backfield, and there is minimal room for Mixon, who I would argue has too much raw talent to be a third string back or to be wasting it by making mistakes off the field for that matter.
Biggest Question Mark: Their entire draft class
The Ravens draft class is as follows:
- Round 1 (16) Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
- Round 2 (47) Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston
- Round 3 (74) Chris Wormley, DE, Michigan
- Round 3 (78) Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
- Round 4 (122) Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State
- Round 5 (159) Jermaine Eluemunor, G, Texas A&M
- Round 6 (186) Chuck Clark, DB, Virginia Tech
The Ravens are paper thin at both running back and wide receiver, yet failed to address either one of those needs in this year’s draft. After passing up on fellow Alabama defensive studs DE Jonathan Allen or ILB Reuben Foster, they took CB Marlon Humphrey with their first overall pick, who should compliment Jimmy Smith and newly acquired Brandon Carr nicely. That doesn’t take away from the fact that their current starting RB is Lorenzo Taliaferro and Michael Campanaro is their starting WR across from Mike Wallace. The Ravens defense will be ferocious this year, but their offense will be more like a pigeon and less like a raven.
Biggest Question Mark: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC (2nd round, 62 overall)
Schuster is one of those “Yes….but” kind of picks. Yes has good size at 6’2 and yes he can go up and get the 50-50 balls when called upon. Yes, he plays with great passion and yes he has a low of raw talent. BUT. JuJu doesn’t necessarily have the speed that guys like Antonio Brown or Darius Heyward-Bey have, and I’m not quite sure where he fits in an already loaded Steelers offense. Martavis Bryant insisted that Schuster is Sammie Coates’ replacement and not his, but if Schuster doesn’t shine in training camp, he could fall as low as fourth on the Steelers’ WR depth chart.
New York Jets
Biggest Question Mark: Chad Hansen, WR, California (4th round, 141 overall)
After taking former Alabama receiver Ardarius Stewart with their third round pick, the J-E-T-E Jets took another receiver in Hansen the very next round. They now have 13 receivers on the roster, which raises questions about the future of veteran Eric Decker and of 2015 second-round pick Devin Smith, who has been riddled with injuries throughout his short career so far. Also, the Jets have a new offensive coordinator, John Morton, a former NFL receiver and a former receivers coach. The front office has apparently set out with the goal of remaking the position with players who fit his West Coast system. Hansen is coming off a huge year at Cal, but he may fall victim to the receiver graveyard that is the New York Yets (see Harvin, Holmes, Marshall, and Burress.)
Biggest Question Mark: Dion Dawkins, OL, Temple (2nd round, 63 overall)
Currently penciled in as the starter at right tackle, Dawkins was drafted 63rd overall after the Bills gave up three draft picks to move up 12 spots from the 75th pick. That left Buffalo without third or fourth round picks, likely ensuring that they use their 2018 draft resources to move up for a player in those rounds. Dawkins has the potential to become a solid starter at right tackle, yet the Bills gave up a lot of draft capital and flexibility to get him. The Bills only made six picks this draft, including two in the second and two in the fifth, and they will be banking on guys like Dawkins, along with DB Tre’Davious White and WR Zay Jones to turn the team around after years of irrelevancy.
Biggest Question Mark: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri (1st round, 22 overall)
This is less about Harris, who Miami did draft, and more about the guy that they didn’t draft, Reuben Foster. Once a projected top-10 pick, Foster slid down the draft board due to character and medical red flags. Foster tested positive for a diluted urine sample at the NFL combine, got into an altercation with a hospital worker in Indianapolis and was sent home early. There were also questions about a prior shoulder injury. That seemed to be enough for the Dolphins and other teams to pass on Foster. This has set up the two NFL newcomers for comparisons of Foster vs. Harris for years to come.
New England Patriots
Biggest Question Mark: Derek Rivers, LB, Youngstown State (3rd round, 83 overall)
There really isn’t much of a point in even evaluating the 51 champs, as they only made four picks in this year’s draft after trading most of them away, especially in the Brandin Cooks trade with New Orleans. New England will be dominant again this year after adding Cooks and top cornerback Stephon Gilmore, formerly of the Buffalo Bills. Rivers comes into the season as an unknown mainly due to the fact that played at an FCS school in Youngstown State, and it’s near impossible to predict how he will fare against NFL-level offenses. He did have a school record 41 sacks, and with the Patriots’ luck, he’ll probably be playing in the Pro Bowl in a few years. Damn you New England, we’ll always have the helmet catch though, never forget it.
That does it. 32 teams in the books. Think I missed an obvious question mark? Leave a comment below. Special thanks to USA Today writer Steven Ruiz for this extremely helpful article.