2017 NFL draft: Round 1 instant grades

Here’s a look at how Round 1 went, which featured a few bold moves to snag quarterbacks. Yep, we’re looking at you Chicago.

1) Cleveland Browns: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M – The Browns made us sweat a bit, but they went as we thought all along in their selection of the best defensive game-changer in the draft. Players like Garrett don’t come along too often. He’s large and almost impossibly athletic, and he gives the Browns and their new defensive coordinator that crucial pressure piece it has lacked. The rebuild of the defense continues, but it took a big step forward here. Grade: A.

Bears fans didn't seem to happy with Chicago's trade to get Mitchell Trubisky. (AP)
Bears fans didn’t seem to happy with Chicago’s trade to get Mitchell Trubisky. (AP)

2) Chicago Bears: QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina – Teams don’t trade up — and give up two third-round picks (one in 2018) and a fourth-rounder — for a safety. The price the Bears paid for Trubisky is enormous, but if they think he’s a savior in time, it will be worth it. Mike Glennon likely starts this year, and Trubisky (he of 13 college starts) can be brought along at the right pace. But that’s now two QBs in which the Bears are heavily invested that have not played a lot of live football the past few seasons. Grade: C-

3) San Francisco 49ers: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford – General manager John Lynch is on the job, what, two months now? He nailed his first assignment, fleecing the Bears to swap picks and the 49ers still get the player they likely would have taken had they not been able to trade down. Thomas needs to find a true position, and many believe they’ll use him in the Michael Bennett role as the 49ers transition to a new Seahawks-style defensive scheme under Robert Saleh. Right now, Thomas is a great run defender and could be a great pass rusher one day. Nice, safe pick and a great trade. Grade: A

4) Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU – Blake Bortles is officially on watch. The Jaguars considered a QB here but instead drafted the best power runner we’ve seen in some time. Fournette might not have an Ezekiel Elliott-like impact on the Jaguars, but he should help out Bortles, who now is running out of excuses and will need to impress the brass quickly. The AFC South quickly is becoming a power-running haven with Fournette and the Titans’ duo. Fournette should be a terrific back who can carry the ball 20 times a game and wear down defenses. Grade: A-

5) Tennessee Titans: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan – Our second stunner. It was believed that Davis’ ankle injury was not serious but that his inability to run a 40-yard dash prior to the draft was going to be a concern that might push Davis down. Didn’t happen. The Titans love his competitiveness, his large catching radius, excellent production and red-zone work to be a huge asset for Marcus Mariota, plus Davis likes to block, which is a boon for the power-run game they run. Fascinating choice, but a bit early. Grade: B-

6) New York Jets: SS Jamal Adams, LSU – The Jets had a darned good player fall into their laps, faintly similar to how they took Leonard Williams in the same slot a few years back. That worked out well. Both players were regarded as extremely hard workers and tone setters. Adams will help change the culture that has infected the Jets’ locker room the past few years, and he’s a very good box safety to boot. The fans there will love his hitting and his passion. The Jets will rebuild the D around Williams and Adams, but that’s saying something considering this is now the ninth (!) year in a row their first-round pick has been on that side of the ball. Grade: A-

7) Los Angeles Chargers: WR Mike Williams, Clemson – The run on receivers starts earlier than expected. Williams should give Philip Rivers another big target as Keenan Allen is coming off injury and Antonio Gates heading toward the twilight of his career. Williams made Deshaun Watson look good by high-pointing a lot of passes last season but suffered a serious neck injury that wiped out his 2015 season. Although Williams is not a speed guy, good luck to the AFC West DBs who have to contend with this group that also features emerging tight end Hunter Henry. Grade: B-

8) Carolina Panthers: RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford – Ron Rivera has spoken frequently this offseason about the need to transform the Panthers’ offense, and we now know how it will change. The Panthers add a do-it-all weapon with an edge in McCaffrey, who can line up in the slot, be a terrific zone runner (and let Jonathan Stewart take the between-the-tackles carries) and impact the return game from Day 1. There is no player on the Panthers who has McCaffrey’s skills; they were too overloaded in big targets and, save for Greg Olsen, most with suspect hands. Olsen, McCaffrey and Cam Newton? Imagine the possibilities. Grade: A-

9) Cincinnati Bengals: WR John Ross, Washington – Ross gets his wish to go to Cincinnati, saying he would love to join the Bengals after bonding with head coach Marvin Lewis during the pre-draft process. The Bengals now have a potentially lethal top four pass catchers with A.J. Green, Ross, Tyler Eifert and Tyler Boyd in the slot. This is a unit Ken Zampese can work with for sure. Ross’ medical reports freaked out some teams. Had he been cleared medically, this would not be a reach. Ross is a fantastic receiver in college. But two knee injuries and a shoulder concern, and the Bengals are rolling the dice — the same risk they took with Eifert, who has been in and out of the lineup but great when health. Grade: B

Patrick Mahomes was another surprise QB pick, landing with Kansas City. (AP)
Patrick Mahomes was another surprise QB pick, landing with Kansas City. (AP)

10) Kansas City Chiefs: QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech – The Chiefs last picked a quarterback in Round 1 in 1983 — more than 12 years before Mahomes was born. This is a very un-Chiefs-like move in another respect: when was the last time they traded this far — and this boldly — up? Giving up a first-round pick in 2018, along with a third-rounder this year, to move up means the Chiefs believe Mahomes is a franchise savior. He could be special under the tutelage of Andy Reid, who hasn’t had a raw passer this gifted in a long time. So Alex Smith is the bridge QB, and Mahomes can take over when he’s ready. A breathless start to the draft, and yet another thrilling move here. Grade: B-

11) New Orleans Saints: CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State – The Saints explored a Malcolm Butler trade prior to the draft but ended up winning out here in this scenario, as Lattimore fell to them after roundly being projected as the best corner in the draft and a top-10 player. He has a history of soft-tissue injuries — hamstrings to be specific — that will require close management. But when healthy, he’s an excellent cover man with terrific movement skills to contend with the Mike Evanses and Julio Joneses on New Orleans’ schedule. Grade: A-

12) Houston Texans: QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson – When the Texans saw the Chiefs’ bold trade up to land Patrick Mahomes, time was a wastin’. The Texans boldly jumped up 13 spots, giving up next year’s first-round pick, for Watson, who could be a perfect fit for head coach Bill O’Brien and his demand for a tough, thick-skinned, experienced and cerebral quarterback. Tom Savage is still likely to win the starting job from the get-go, but Watson has played in a boatload of big games against some terrific college defenses and will be nipping at Savage’s heels. This is a strong and much-needed move for the Texans. Grade: B+

13) Arizona Cardinals: LB Haason Reddick, Temple – Reddick is versatile, and he gives the Cardinals another pass rusher in a division where he could rack up sacks with suspect offensive lines and some sack-prone QBs. The Cardinals might use him at inside linebacker to start off, and he can blitz from there too — the role Daryl Washington starred in before his suspension. Washington is back, so could the Cardinals find room for both on the field? Perhaps. But with Reddick, Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, the Cardinals are collecting defensive players who can stalk and close. Grade: B+

14) Philadelphia Eagles: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee – The Joe Douglas effect has already hit the Eagles’ draft. The team’s first-year college scouting director cut his teeth with the Ravens and learned from them: historically, sack production translates from college (especially in the SEC) to the NFL. Barnett might not be an elite athlete, but he has a terrific motor and wills his way to quarterbacks. Opposite Brandon Graham, there should be no dropoff with Barnett essentially replacing Connor Barwin. Grade: B+

15) Indianapolis Colts: FS Malik Hooker, Ohio State – Another first-year general manager had a dream scenario unfold. Chris Ballard came from the Chiefs to rebuild this Colts roster, and he got a whopper of a first pick with his name attached. Hooker is a top-5 talent, and the only concerns were his hernia surgery and one year of starting in the country’s most talented secondary the past few seasons. In five years, Hooker could be the best center fielder in the game. He’s that special. Grade: A

16) Baltimore Ravens: CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama – Everyone said the Ravens would take a pass rusher, an offensive lineman or a receiver. Despite all the offensive linemen still on the board, Baltimore instead went for a corner — one from a school GM Ozzie Newsome knows well. Typically Newsome builds teams from the inside out, but this is a tough corner with terrific physical skills. The knock on Humphrey is that he got beat too much deep. With Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson back there, is that a concern now? Grade: B

17) Washington Redskins: DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama – Allen is the best true interior talent in the draft, and he fell for long-term concerns over his potentially arthritic shoulders. But even on a loaded Bama D, he stood out as a disruptor who has a little Geno Atkins in him. In a 3-4 scheme he’ll be asked to hold the point more, but you can’t hold Allen back. He’s smart, strong, instinctive and will be an asset to a defense that could use a little more juice up front. Grade: A

18) Tennessee Titans: CB Adoree’ Jackson, USC – The Titans reached for Corey Davis at No. 5 and they reached for Jackson here. They drafted two good players but Jackson is not close to a finished product, and he’s going to make a quicker impact as a returner and a player the Titans could sprinkle in on offense. His coverage skills have improved, but they need more work. He could be a playmaker who also gives up big plays on defense. Grade: C

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama – The Buccaneers were not planning to take a tight end here, but when Howard fell it became a natural fit. They used a ton of two-TE sets with Cameron Brate and Luke Stocker but Howard is an upgrade over the latter and can be a seam threat for Jameis Winston and also a strong blocker to help the run game. Howard tends to disappear, and now we find out if this was a Lane Kiffin thing. Dirk Koetter and Todd Monken love utilizing the position to its full extent. Grade: A-

20) Denver Broncos: OT Garett Bolles, Utah – The Broncos needed a left tackle, and Bolles played the position at a high level last year — his one year at FBS. He flashed his superb athleticism and mean streak, although Bolles needs work. He turns 25 in a month, too, so he’ll be close to 30 when his first NFL contract ends if it lasts the entire five years. Bolles is intriguing but taking him over the more seasoned Cam Robinson might not turn out to be the best move in the long run. Grade: C+

21) Detroit Lions: ILB Jarrad Davis, Florida – The Lions needed a pass rusher in the worst way but passed on Charles Harris, who was not viewed as a true fit in their scheme. Instead, they find another need: a three-down linebacker who can cover. Davis is an excellent football player when healthy, but he has had a lot of trouble staying on the field in recent years. Davis is a big upgrade and could play outside or inside. Grade: B

22) Miami Dolphins: DE Charles Harris, Missouri – With Cam Wake entering the final stages of his career and Mario Williams shipped off after a bust season, the Dolphins could use the reinforcements. With Wake, Andre Branch, William Hayes and Harris outside — not to mention Ndamukong Suh inside — the Dolphins have a very deep front and can try to get after the Tom Bradys of the world. Linebacker is still an issue, but this was a smart pick. Grade: B

23) New York Giants: TE Evan Engram, Mississippi – Engram over David Njoku is interesting, but there’s not a huge difference athletically between the two. The difference is that Engram really plays a receiver’s game, and he adds an interesting dimension to an offense that has Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall in the lead roles, plus Sterling Shepard in the slot. Now this offense looks more like the one Giants head coach Ben McAdoo left in Green Bay in terms of weaponry. The TE position was mostly a wasteland for the Giants last season, but don’t expect him to be blocking defensive ends. He’s a detached pass catcher who can gain yards after the catch well. Grade: B-

24) Oakland Raiders: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State – Raiders owner Mark Davis has taken a firm stance against domestic violence, and yet Conley recently was accused of a sexual assault, although no charges have been filed. Do the Raiders feel comfortable with this blowing over? Clearly. Conley is a first-round talent, and lots of teams have looked hard into this case. Most felt good about Conley after they did. This is still a potentially frightening risk if charges are brought in the case. Grade: B-

25) Cleveland Browns: SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan – The Browns moved down from No. 12 to here and now have — are you ready for this? — two first-rounders, three second-rounders, two fourth-rounders and two sixth-rounders in 2018, plus all their remaining picks this year. And now they have Garrett and Peppers, elite prep prospects who were decorated defenders last season. Is Peppers a safety? We’ll find out; he was a slot corner and a linebacker in college and likely can’t play the latter in the NFL. But he’s a Day 1 star as a returner and a fascinating risk. Gotta do something with all these draft choices, right? Still no QB, though. Sad! Grade: B-

26) Atlanta Falcons: OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA – The Falcons targeted one of the few remaining pass rushers with high grades on their boards, trading up five slots to ensure they got McKinley. Health is a concern, as he’s coming off surgery to repair his labrum and a cracked glenoid. That could be a 4 to 6 month rehab, but the Falcons can afford for him to wait. He’s a high-energy rusher who can play on either side of the line and is a nice fit in Dan Quinn’s system in time. Grade: C+

27) Buffalo Bills: CB Tre’Davious White, LSU – The Bills needed cornerback help with Stephon Gilmore moving on, but White is a different style of player and likely will help out inside a lot, with the ability to play in the slot. He’s a very reliable corner coming off an excellent season and also should contribute as a punt returner. The White pick is a surprise with Kevin King on the board, but White has good arm length to make up for his lack of height. The is the pick the Bills acquired when they traded down from No. 10, so landing a 2018 first-round also gives them a thumbs up. Grade: B

28) Dallas Cowboys: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan – He was a disappointment prior to last season, but he broke out with a final 2016 campaign that saw his stock soar. He still has his share of detractors; not everyone is convinced he’ll be special in the NFL. But adding Charlton gives Dallas a long, highly athletic, stout rusher who can help stop the run and continue to develop his pass-rush arsenal, which remains unrefined. Going to a team that badly needs a rusher is a good landing spot. The pass rusher are starting to go quickly. Grade: B-

29) Cleveland Browns: TE David Njoku, Miami – The Browns moved up four spots for a third first-round pick — is this truly “Draft Day” playing out in real life? This was a savvy move for the player many believed was the second-best tight end in this class behind O.J. Howard but who went after Evan Engram. Njoku is starting to scratch the surface and has insane athletic gifts. Is he the next great Miami Hurricanes tight end in the NFL? He certainly has the skills to do that in time … once the Browns add a QB, anyway. The cost of a fourth-rounder to move up was a pittance. Grade: B+

30) Pittsburgh Steelers: LB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin – The Watt family can make their Christmas plans now: Its T.J. at J.J. How perfect is that? The Steelers were lucky to find one of the few remaining pass rushers worthy of a Round 1 selection. He’s still an ascending player. This might take a bit, but Watt could be very good in a few years and from Day 1 he’ll impact the special teams units. Grade: B-

31) San Francisco 49ers: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama – The 49ers dealt the 111th pick to move up three slots and took the free-falling Foster, who was a talented player that had issues — off-field concerns and health worries being the biggest ones. If he’s properly insulated and well managed there, the 49ers got one of the best players in the draft at the end of Round 1 for a cheap trade up. If he gets off track or can’t stay healthy, Foster carries a bust concern. But with the extra picks the 49ers nabbed from the Bears earlier, this makes it worth the risk. What a wild first day for John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. Grade: A-

32) New Orleans Saints: OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin – This was unexpected. But like the Andrus Peat pick a few years ago, the Saints felt there was value to be had here — and there was a run on pass rushers prior to this pick. Ramczyk is a very skilled run and pass blocker. The biggest worry is his health, coming off postseason hip surgery, so he might be a PUP list candidate. The Saints are not dying for OL help right now, but Zach Strief does turn 34 next season and Terron Armstead has been a bit banged up. Peat appears to be moving to guard now. In the twilight of Drew Brees’ career, the offensive line should be in good shape. Grade: B+

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