The Browns—who refrained from taking a quarterback—got a freak athlete and big difference-maker in Myles Garrett.
Garrett was great at Texas A&M, leading the team defensively and making plays all over the field. He had 33 tackles and nine sacks in 13 games. He will be a welcome addition to a Browns unit that struggled last year and was 30th in the league in scoring defense (28.3 points allowed per game) and 31st in the league in average rushing yards allowed (142.7).
Garrett will most likely be a Day One starter who will try to fix those awful statistics. He put up ridiculously good numbers at the combine: 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 33 bench reps, an incredible 41-inch vertical jump, and a 128-inch broad jump. He is also someone who can step up and have a huge game when you need him. Against UT-San Antonio, to help the Aggies snap a two-game losing streak, he had eight tackles, 4.5 sacks, and a forced fumble to lead his team to a 23–10 victory. The front-office guys in Cleveland made the right move here.
Early-round trades to get QBs grabbed everyone’s attention, but each team was dealing with a different scenario.
The Bears, Chiefs, and Texans all moved up to select quarterbacks for different reasons. The Bears traded up from third to second and gave up draft picks to take UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky. They had already signed QB Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract, so they might have Trubisky compete with him for the job. Trubisky was among the Division I leaders with 3,748 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and just six interceptions.
The Chiefs traded up 17 spots to No. 10 to get Patrick Mahomes II, who had 5,052 yards and 41 touchdowns last year at Texas Tech. They will groom him to take over for Alex Smith.
The Texans traded up for QB DeShaun Watson at No. 12. He led Clemson to the national title last year and with a good training camp, he could end up starting for the Texans.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals now have all the weapons they need to finally succeed in the playoffs.
If the speedy John Ross, who set a record running a 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine, turns out to be a great NFL player, Bengals QB Andy Dalton won’t have any more excuses. With A.J. Green and Ross on the outside, he has two explosive options. And Jeremy Hill has been good enough at running back the past three seasons. (Plus, wideouts Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd can help them out.) The Bengals’ front office has given Dalton the pieces to succeed. He is a talented quarterback, but if he can’t fix that 0-4 playoff record, the Bengals may need to move on.
The Panthers got their playmaker.
The Panthers went 6–10 last season one year after making it to the Super Bowl, so maybe getting Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey can give them the big boost they need offensively. Jonathan Stewart rushed for 824 yards in 13 games last year, but they probably want more than that. McCaffrey can also run routes as a slot receiver; he does it all. Also, he could wait behind Stewart, then eventually take over for the 30-year-old.
Four NFL teams looking to get back into the playoffs got huge defensive upgrades.
All of the picks were really steals, as the players could have been drafted much higher. The first one is safety Jamal Adams out of LSU, who was drafted sixth by the New York Jets. Many people thought of him as the second-best player in the draft, behind Myles Garrett, but he didn’t go in the top five. He will be a great upgrade to the Jets’ secondary—and a great leader.
Two other teams getting upgrades were the Colts and Saints, who each drafted players from Ohio State’s very talented secondary. Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore combined for 11 interceptions last year, including four that they returned for touchdowns. Despite Hooker’s tackling issues, both of these players have outstanding NFL potential. Lattimore will have to try to help the horrific Saints’ defense that was last in the league, allowing 274 yards per game.
In addition, the Redskins made a huge steal in getting Jonathan Allen, the winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year, with the 17th pick. He will be a big upgrade to a Redskins’ defense that lost nosetackle Chris Baker this off-season.
Photographs by: Elsa/Getty Images (Ross); Andy Cross/The Denver Post/Getty Images (McCaffrey)