With first round selections from the 2017 NFL Draft having their fifth year rookie contract options picked up or declined, it is a great time to take a look at some of the best and worst selections of that year’s draft. There were some franchise changing selections, mid-round steals, and also a few busts that have set some franchises back a few years.
#1 Patrick Mahomes | 10th Overall | Kansas City Chiefs
This will easily go down as the best selection from the 2017 Draft, as Mahomes has already brought a Super Bowl to Kansas City, and he won the 2018 MVP award. At only 24 years old, Mahomes surely has more Lombardi Trophies and accolades to come.
The Chiefs paid a heavy price to move up 17 spots in order to draft the Texas Tech product, but it has been worth it. Kansas City sent a first round (27th) and third round (91st) selection as well as a 2018 first round pick (22nd) to Buffalo for the 10th selection in 2017. Those picks later become All-Pro CB Tre’Davious White, S John Johnson, and LB Rashaan Evans. The Chiefs clearly came out on top of this trade, but the Bills did pick up some great pieces by using some of those picks to trade up in the draft.
With the way Patrick Mahomes has played in his first two years as a starter, I would not be surprised if the reigning Super Bowl MVP goes down as the best player in NFL history.
#2 George Kittle | 146th Overall | San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle is a fantastic player and could very well be the best TE in football right now, but he is second on this list because the 49ers selected him in the 5th round. By pick 146th, there were already eight TEs off the board, and Kittle has gone on to surpass every one of them.
In his first three years in the NFL, Kittle has been named a first-team All-Pro and a second-team All-Pro. He also holds the record for most receiving yards in a single season by a tight end with 1,377 yards. The former Iowa Hawkeye has gone above and beyond the expectations set for him coming out of the 2017 Draft, and he could go down as one of the best TEs to ever play by the time his career wraps up.
#3 Deshaun Watson | 12th Overall | Houston Texans
Just like the Chiefs, the Texans moved up in the draft to select their franchise QB. Houston sent a 2017 first round pick(25th) and a 2018 first round pick(4th) to the Cleveland Browns for the 12th overall pick.
The price the Texans gave up did turn out to be more expensive than what the Chiefs sent to the Bills, as Houston’s 2018 first round pick became the 4th overall selection in that year’s draft. The two picks Houston gave up turned into S Jabrill Peppers, who is now with the Giants, and CB Denzel Ward, so the Texans did end up better off with this deal.
Watson has led the Texans to two playoff appearances as the starting QB, and his arm ability and explosiveness has taken the league by storm. I would not be surprised to see a downtick in his production in 2020 after Houston traded away DeAndre Hopkins, but Watson will still light up the statsheet for years to come.
#4 Christian McCaffrey | 8th Overall | Carolina Panthers
After being a year removed from a 15-1 regular season record and a Super Bowl appearance, the Carolina Panthers decided to select a RB with the 8th overall selection in 2017. This draft turned out to be stacked full of solid RBs, but the Panthers selected the best one in the class with their first round pick.
McCaffrey had a breakout year in 2019 totaling 2,392 total yards on offense, which led to a first-team All-Pro selection. The former Stanford Cardinal has proven to be more than a RB, as he is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield meaning teams have to be prepared for all facets of his game.
The Panthers recently extended McCaffrey making him the highest paid RB in NFL history with a 4 year/$64 million deal. This made McCaffrey the first player chosen in the first round of the 2017 Draft to receive an extension.
#5 Jamal Adams | 6th Overall | New York Jets
There were a lot of great players taken in the middle rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, but Jamal Adams gets the nod at the fifth best spot considering, like many on the list, he is quite possibly the best player at his position currently. There are some great safeties in the NFL, and Adams ranks highly and maybe even at the top of the list.
Adams may not be known for his interceptions, but he is a physical safety who is always in the right position to make the play. He has been a tackle and coverage machine in his three year career, and he also has the ability to knock the ball loose to create a turnover.
The former LSU Tiger had a breakout 2019 season with 7 PDs, 2 FFs, 2 defensive TDs, 6.5 sacks, and 75 total tackles. This monster season earned him his first, of likely many, first-team All-Pro honors.
Adams has a great career in front of him, but I would be surprised if he ends up staying with the New York Jets in the long run. It is likely the Jets will deal him in the next couple of seasons.
Honorable mention: Chris Godwin | 84th Overall | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Godwin has gotten progressively better over the first three years of his NFL career. He has seen an uptick in receptions, receiving yards, and TDs in every season so far. His 86 reception, 1,333 receiving yard and 9 receiving TD season in 2019 put him on a lot of peoples’ radar, and it earned him a second-team All-Pro selection.
With Tom Brady joining the Buccaneers ahead of the 2020 season, I expect an even better year for Godwin, which could catapult him into the top 5 of this draft class. Tampa Bay certainly had one of the better steals of the 2017 Draft by selecting Godwin with a third round selection.
Stay tuned for part two of this series where I list the top five busts of the 2017 NFL Draft.