It’s time to say farewell to a draft that involved Mike Mayock basically making a pick for the Vikings, too much Jerry Jones, a gas mask, and yet another Gronkowski entering the league. For all of the talk about how this draft lacked star power at the top, it delivered one of the most memorable events in recent years. Now that the dust is beginning to settle, it’s time to look forward towards next year at the collateral damage that this weekend's events will have on a number of players and teams going forward, as we already know exactly what will happen next year. Anyway, here are the winners and losers of this weekend's draft.
If there was any ammunition left for critics of Elway the General Manager, it’s gone now. With the events of this weekend, he has officially gained the benefit of the doubt. All spring, Elway refused to overpay for a quarterback as his situation became seemingly more and more desperate. People gawked at him as he passed up completely viable quarterback options like Brock Osweiler, Colin Kaepernick, the artist formerly known as Mike Glennon, and Sam Bradford. He’s come away with a more talented version of Osweiler in Paxton Lynch as well as a more than capable seat warmer in Mark Sanchez.
Ezekiel Elliott's Fantasy Value
All spring, Elliott was one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft. For what seemed like the fifth time, people had talked about how this running back was the best one to come out since Adrian Peterson. Jerry Jones now has a back that is more talented than DeMarcco Murray ever was to run behind the best offensive line of the generation. Be ready to spend a first-round pick on him.
For his first four years in the league, General Manager Ryan Grigson has aggressively ignored the matter of protecting his franchise quarterback. For the first three of those years, he put up an otherworldly production despite having literal gaping holes in his protection. Last year, it caught up to them. Luck sputtered and the team missed the playoffs. Grigson drafted four offensive linemen, including the top Center in Ryan Kelly and versatile Tackle La’Raven Clark.
At the fifth pick in the draft, the Jaguars were faced with the tough decision between Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. A day later, they had both of them at no additional cost. Fans tend to praise the teams who draft the most players that they know, but in this case, there seems to be consensus on all fronts that the Jags made out like bandits this weekend. Anything less than a playoff appearance will be considered a disappointment and will likely end in the firing of Head Coach Gus Bradley.
Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins, and A.J. Green
All three of these receivers entered the offseason as bonafide superstars with no supporting cast behind them at receiver. However, this is no longer the case. All of these teams drafted a complement to their number one guy in the first two rounds of the draft. If Will Fuller, Sterling Shepard, and Tyler Boyd pan out, none of these guys will have to face double coverages anymore, which is scary for opposing defensive coordinators.
By the time that draft day rolled around, everyone and their parents knew that the Giants were targeting Jack Conklin and Leonard Floyd. With that knowledge, the Titans and the Bears traded up to the picks immediately preceding them to steal those players away from them. Flustered, the Giants reached wildly for Eli Apple who, at that point, wasn’t even the top corner on the board. Maybe next year General Manager Jerry Reese will keep their plans closer to their chest.
Sam Bradford and Colin Kaepernick
In the weeks leading up to the draft, both of these dissatisfied, mid-tier quarterbacks were open lobbying for a trade, with the most obvious landing spot being Denver. None of those trades materialized. Now they both will have to return to teams that they don’t want to be in and they will actually have to fight for a starting job on teams where they are clearly not a fixture of the long-term plans.
Before the wild trades by the quarterback desperate Rams and Eagles, almost every mock draft everywhere had Tunsil going number one overall. Then, of course, the gas mask video dropped just minutes before the draft, forcing teams to scramble and causing many of them to take him off of their boards altogether. Tunsil tumbled to the Dolphins, perhaps the least stable organization in the league, who are now talking about playing him at guard.
Heading into the 2015 college football season, Connor Cook was the consensus favorite to be the top pick in the 2016 draft. The wild narrative about him not being the captain of his team, among other things, derailed his draft stock massively to the point of a fall to the fourth round. Although the Cowboys tried to trade up to make him the heir apparent to Tony Romo, he landed in Oakland where he will have no chance of starting and will battle pre-season darling Matt McGloin for the second string spot.
The Honesty of Coaches and GM’s
“He was the top player on our board.”
“This was the guy who we’d been targeting all along.”
“It was one of the rare cases when the board and need lined up.”
“We were shocked that he was there when we were picking.”
Do any of these sound familiar? That’s because every coach and GM will spout these off about every single draft pick that they make. The reality of the matter is, regardless of what teams will say, team's draft for need and that isn’t necessarily wrong. At other times, teams miss out on the player that they had wanted and have to settle for someone else. However, coaches would never give us the satisfaction of that honesty.