There are a number of media outlets that assign draft grades, and it is often difficult to find general consensus since the process is so subjective. However, the Cleveland Browns seem to have done quite well in the 2017 NFL Draft according to most of the top draft evaluators. Of five well-respected national draft experts (Chris Burke from Sports Illustrated, Nate Davis from USA Today, Mel Kiper, Jr. from ESPN, Pete Prisco from CBS Sports and Chad Reuter from NFL.com) the Browns were given an “A” by two, an “A-“ by two, and a “B” by one (Kiper). NFL Network’s post-draft roundtable was also high on the Browns, giving them an “A-“ and touting them as one of the most improved teams after their selections.
One of my favorite draft experts, Dane Brugler, was very high on the Browns’ draft haul, saying they were the only team to draft four of his top 50 players (Myles Garrett at #1 on his list, David Njoku at #18, DeShone Kizer at #29 and Jabrill Peppers at #34).
Here is my analysis:
Pick Most Likely To Make An Impact in 2017
Whenever you hold the first overall pick in any draft, you need to bring on someone that can not only make an impact on the team in the short term, but a player who becomes a centerpiece for your team’s revival since you obviously are coming off a bad season. The 2016 Cleveland Browns were a bad team, but when you add Myles Garrett to their defensive line that unit becomes a strength of the team. Garrett will likely be a force on the defense, especially teamed with last year’s second-round pick, Emmanuel Ogbah, and 2015 first-round selection Danny Shelton, who came on strong last season.
Favorite Move of the Draft
The Browns moved back into the first round to select University of Miami’s David Njoku, a tight end who will likely be moved out to slot receiver at times to take advantage of his speed and catching ability. Njoku has one of the highest ceilings in the draft, as one NFL scout told Brugler “Our TE coach said it’s the most upside he’s ever seen in a TE prospect.” His development could be a key to making the Browns’ offense more explosive in 2017 and beyond.
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Least Favorite Move of the Draft
I didn’t love the trade down from the 12th pick to the 25th. I would much rather have Malik Hooker in the secondary than Jabrill Peppers, but I think Gregg Williams will utilize Peppers in an aggressive and diverse manner that will add a lot of energy and impact to the defense. The extra first-round pick from the Texans could be very valuable next season.
My overall grade for 2017 Cleveland Browns Draft Class is an “A-“ when taking every pick and trade into account. Obviously, much of the draft’s hindsight grading will be centered around whether Kizer contributes at QB, but even if he doesn’t Garrett and Peppers could make the Browns’ defense an up and coming one in the NFL, and Njoku has a chance to develop into a special player.