I’ll be dropping plenty of notes today in the lead-up to the draft, but here are a few more as the countdown to the 2017 NFL draft rolls on.
Starting with a little history.
The clock is ticking …
Here’s what’s at stake in this week’s draft: only the next decade or so for each NFL franchise. And one rating of one player that leads to one pick can help determine a franchise’s fate for years.
Just look at the Oakland Raiders from 2001 through 2007, in reverse order.
In 2007, with the No. 1 overall pick, the Raiders picked quarterback JaMarcus Russell; the next pick was wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
In 2006, Oakland used its top pick on safety Michael Huff; the next pick was safety Donte Whitner.
In 2005, Oakland spent its first-round pick on cornerback Fabian Washington; the next pick was quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In 2004, Oakland drafted offensive tackle Robert Gallery; the next pick was wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
In 2003, Oakland drafted defensive end Tyler Brayton; the next pick was offensive lineman Eric Steinbach.
In 2002, Oakland used its first-round pick on linebacker Napoleon Harris; the next pick was safety Ed Reed.
In 2001, Oakland used its first-round pick on safety Derrick Gibson; two of the next four picks were wide receiver Reggie Wayne and quarterback Drew Brees.
Now we know the reason that, from 2003 to 2009, the Raiders set the NFL record with at least 11 straight losses in seven straight seasons. No other team ever lost so many games during seven straight seasons — and no other team ever had such egregious misses on draft picks.
Oakland’s turnaround was directly related to the job it did in the draft, especially the one in 2014, when it grabbed linebacker Khalil Mack in Round 1 and quarterback Derek Carr in Round 2. A team’s success usually is directly proportionate to the job it did in the draft.
Each team gets its turns starting Thursday night in Philadelphia. Hit on picks, like the Raiders have since 2014, and secure the franchise for years to come. Miss, like the Raiders did from 2001 through 2007, and prepare to flounder.
But that also could be good news for the Texans, who pick 25th this year, one slot behind the Raiders.
Will a corner be moved?
While many have been waiting to see if and where Seattle’s Richard Sherman is traded, another cornerback already turned down the chance to move teams.
Earlier this month, the New Orleans Saints were willing to trade what was thought to be a second-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for their franchise cornerback, Trumaine Johnson, who already has signed his franchise tender. Only issue was, Johnson was unwilling to agree to a long-term deal in New Orleans because he so badly wanted to remain in Los Angeles, and the Rams have said they aren’t particularly interested in dealing.
Now it will be interesting to see if there’s a team on draft weekend that is willing to trade for Johnson without him agreeing to a long-term deal, and simply playing this season on the franchise tender. It would not be ideal for the team trading for him, but if it was confident enough in its ability to re-sign him, maybe a team would decide it would rather have Johnson than an unproven rookie cornerback, as good as this rookie cornerback class is.
Do I expect it? Not at all. But it’s at least a situation to watch.
It got overlooked in the draft last year, but former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff struggled in college against top competition.
During the course of his Cal career, Goff went 0-8 vs. opponents that were ranked. Goff went 0-13 vs. opponents that ended the year ranked. And he went 0-12 vs. Oregon, USC, UCLA and Stanford.
Those struggles continued during Goff’s rookie year, and the Rams are hopeful they can turn him around with new coach Sean McVay and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.
But this year’s top college quarterback prospects also have had mixed results against top college competition:
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson went 9-2 vs. ranked teams and 11-2 vs. teams that finished the season ranked.
North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky went 2-3 vs. ranked teams and 2-2 vs. teams that finished the season ranked.
Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer went 2-5 vs. ranked teams and 2-6 vs. teams that finished the season ranked.
Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes went 0-9 vs. ranked teams and 0-9 vs. teams that finished the season ranked. Mahomes played with an awful defense, but he knows he has to improve on the next level.
Emptying the notebook
There might not have been a general manager last year that was more active than Tennessee’s Jon Robinson. This year he might be in prime position to deal again. Robinson and the Titans own the No. 5 overall pick in a draft in which some think the Jets could be the first team to try to draft at quarterback at No. 6. If there’s a team — such as Buffalo, New Orleans, Cleveland or Arizona — that wants to jump up to pick a quarterback, it might be in front of the Jets’ spot, right to Tennessee’s. Doesn’t mean anything happens, but it does mean that Robinson’s Titans might be well positioned to shake up the draft order again.
Before he underwent surgery on his right wrist Monday, April 11, that will sideline him at least until training camp, Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly visited the Chiefs, with visits also planned for the Seahawks and Bills, per a league source. Each of those franchises is an intriguing fit for Kelly. The Chiefs have excellent quarterback coaching, the Seahawks have been doing work on quarterbacks despite appearing to be set at the position, and Buffalo still has significant long-term questions at the position.
One NFL executive predicted last week that four quarterbacks would be drafted in the first round. He also texted this: “I think 7-8 teams will take (quarterbacks) in first two rounds. If there were more prospects, 10 would go in first 2 rounds.”