Editor’s note: Brien is a well-traveled Houstonian and Army Combat Veteran with an extremely wide range of talents and interests including the NFL (Packers), Irish History, and writing. Follow him on twitter @ODonalsVanguard
By BRIEN O’DONAL
Is it me or is there not as much hype surrounding this year’s draft? Obviously there is Miles Garrett as a clear No. 1 pick, but there is so much depth everywhere else and no clear franchise quarterbacks that the intrigue and speculation just doesn’t seem as exciting. I’m actually pretty glad about that. As a guy who loves parity and depth of talent in the NFL, the fact that there are so many options at so many positions provides a lot of opportunity for smart teams to do well. There will always be dumb teams who draft a player too high because they value need more than best available, but hopefully this year they will be the exception to the rule.
I’d like to think that teams in need of a quarterback will recognize that drafting one later than the first round might get the same result as picking one in the top ten. There are some favorites to go high, and I like the ceiling Deshaun Watson has; I just can’t see the immediate benefit a team would get out of him versus a different position really worthy of a that pick. Then again, the point of this article is to talk about the depth spread across this draft. It could be argued that drafting one of the few good quarterbacks early is worth it if a team feels like they can get other positions later in the process.
For me, the Browns have to take Miles Garrett just like the Texans had to take Jadeveon Clowney a few years ago. But they also have the #12 pick and no real quarterback to lead the team this year. Building a team with the best available player could help make them a better team than the one from 2016 even if Brock Osweiler becomes the guy. A team that has as far to go as they do can’t afford to waste any picks in the top of the draft. How good would they be with Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook? What if they bolstered that defense even more with Jonathan Allen? The point is that there are a lot of options for them beyond one position.
For everyone else the choices aren’t so clear. This draft has talent at offensive line if they pick at the right time for one of the big fellas. There is speed and skill at receiver and tweener running back if they have a quarterback in need of a new weapon. There are even some talented linebackers and cornerbacks if they need to fix the middle and back end of their defense. And the best part is that that talent is spread throughout all rounds. There will be plenty of contributors who come in the middle rounds. The amount of talent that can be drafted and developed to become solid players long term should really help young teams get better in future years and help already good teams gain depth to make a final push in December.
It may not be as exciting to watch as in previous years where there were only a few truly stand out players; but I’m sure Mel Kiper will find some way to help you see through any draft illusions. My only hope for this draft is that when I watch teams make their selections I can nod my head and say “That’s a good fit and he was drafted about where I thought he should be.” That includes watching my Packers. If you really want to see how to draft you should look back at what Ted Thompson has done in his time. Finding talent is a science and in 2017 it should be like shooting fish in a barrel.
The NFL Draft is on April 27 so there is still a few weeks for things to heat up. I just can’t see it reaching that point. It’s time for me to sit back and let the guys who get paid to talk prospects do so. In my opinion there isn’t much to it so they will only be recycling the same old storylines until then. It’s nice to speculate and dream that the Packers get Christian McCaffrey or Reuben Foster. I’m sure Texans fans want to see Marshon Lattimore or maybe Jamal Adams. Let’s just keep dreaming and trust that the depth of this draft makes our teams more competitive in 2017.