2017 NFL Draft: Instant grades

Apr 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; A general view of the draft theater before the start of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; A general view of the draft theater before the start of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 2017 NFL Draft is finally underway, and NFL expert Matt Verderame will grade every pick for Thursday and Friday night’s action.

After months of talking about who is going to be picked where, we are finally finding out. It has been a long road, starting with the tape from the last few years, and onto the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and pro days.

On Thursday night, we’ll see 32 players go off the board, with surprises popping up occasionally. While only three quarterbacks are sure to be taken, it would be a mild shock if at least one more doesn’t hear his name called before the end of the first night. In the NFL, quarterbacks aren’t forced to wait. Conversely, who ends up sitting in the green room until Friday? Unfortunately, a poor soul or two will be left wondering for another day what their fates are to be.

Some of the more notable names to keep an eye on include corner Gareon Conley, running backs Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon, linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Jabrill Peppers. All have some lingering off-field issues, and could be a steal should they prove their character over the years. Or, just as easily, they could become synonymous with a bust in their next town.

Throughout the night, we will have instant grades of all the picks along with a bit of analysis. Make sure to refresh the page to see everything. Thanks for joining us, and good luck to your respective team!

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M

This was the best move for a team that depserately needed to get this pick right. After a ton of talk centering on Mitchell Trubisky, the Browns wisely went with the sure thing in Garrett, who should come into the NFL and produce immediately.

Grade: A+

2. Chicago Bears (via 49ers): Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

This is a puzzling move for a team that has a litany of needs. Chicago had three of the top 70 picks in what is a loaded draft, but dealt a third and fourth-round pick this year, along with a third-rounder in the 2018 draft. Most believe, including me, that Trubisky has the ceiling of Andy Dalton. Factoring in other needs, picks traded and the ceiling of the player, it’s a bad move.

That’s to say nothing of Mike Glennon. Ugh.

Grade: D

3. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford

The 49ers had a great first night. They were able to pick up a third and fourth round pick this year from the Bears, and only moved back on spot. Thomas is a plug-and-play defensive lineman who should help improve a 49ers defense that has real talent at all three levels.

Grade: A

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

The Jaguars had to give more help to Blake Bortles, who is in a make-or-break year. Fournette immediately gives Jacksonville a fast, bruising back that can rush for 1,000 yards as a rookie. This is one of the safer picks imaginable.

Grade: B+

5. Tennessee Titans (via Rams): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Davis has been dominant in the MAC for three seasons, showcasing an elite combination of size and speed. He immediately comes in as Tennessee’s top target, and gives Marcus Mariota a quality target on the outside to go with a punishing running game.

Grade: B

6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams might be the best player in the draft outside of Garrett, and the Jets were rewarded for their patience with him falling into their lap. Adams reminds many of Eric Berry, with the ability to both make an impact at the line and roam in center field. Very well done.

Grade: A+

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

This is an interesting decision. General manager Tom Telesco obviously wants to surround Philip Rivers with elite weapons and hope the defense can improve later in the draft. It’s a solid strategy, that also protects against another Keenan Allen injury.

Grade: B

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

McCaffrey gives the Panthers another dynamic in the backfield, and in the slot. The Stanford product will share time with Jonathan Stewart while also replacing Ted Ginn Jr. This was a quality move by the Panthers, who get a class act and a tremendous talent.

Grade: B+

9. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR, Washington

The Bengals needed to help Andy Dalton on the other side of A.J. Green, and they did that with the man who ran a combine-record 4.22 40-yard dash. Now, Cincinnati has to think about helping out the defense in days two and three.

Grade: C+

10. Kansas City Chiefs (via Bills): Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

The Chiefs finally did it. For the first time since 1983, Kansas City drafted a quarterback, moving up 17 spots to get Patrick Mahomes. Look for him to sit behind Alex Smith for a year, but that will be the end of the line for the veteran. This was a home run move.

Pick: A+

11. New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Lattimore was the best corner on the board, and he fills a huge need for the Saints. This is arguably the best value yet in the draft. New Orleans has to be doing backflips in the war room, with Lattimore coming into a starting situation.

Grade: A

12. Houston Texans (via Browns): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Another contender moving up to take a hopeful franchise quarterback. Houston had to give up its 2018 first-round pick but this is more than worth it for a chance to get a real slice of Super Bowl heaven.

Grade: A

13. Arizona Cardinals: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

Reddick was a quick riser in the NFL Draft, and he was plucked by the Cardinals. Arizona should be thrilled to add a talent like Reddick to the front seven, especially after losing Keith Minter and Darnell Dockett in free agency. This is a solid pick.

Grade: B+

14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Philadelphia moved on from Connor Barwin this offseason, and replace him with a player of similar skill set. Barnett is one of the best edge-rushers in the draft, and should start from day one for the Eagles. He needs to get better against the run, but he can make an impact this year.

Grade: B-

15. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State

Hooker was supposed to go in the top five, and fell all the way to Indianapolis. The Colts should feel good about securing a key piece for a secondary that needed one in the worst way. While Indianapolis could (and maybe should) have gotten a pass-rusher, this makes sense.

Grade: C+

16. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Humphrey is the second corner to go off the board, and it’s a wise move by Ravens general manager – and former Crimson Tide star – Ozzie Newsome. Baltimore needed to get better in the secondary in front of Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle. It happened.

Grade: A-

17: Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

The second straight Crimson Tide star to go off the board. Many thought Allen would fall because of his shoulder issues, but this was shocking. Allen is going to be a stud if he can stay healthy. He was arguably the best player in the SEC last year.

Pick: A-

18. Tennessee Titans: Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

Jackson should come in and start opposite Logan Ryan from the jump. Jackson is one of the more explosive athletes coming into the NFL, and could provide a nice bump in Tennessee’s return game as well. This was a good pick for a team with a hole in the secondary.

Grade: B+

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

This might be the biggest steal of the draft, and what a fit for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is going to be tough to stop with Howard running down the seam, along with DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans on the outside. Jameis Winston has to be thrilled.

Grade: A+

20. Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Denver absolutely had to walk away with a top tackle, and it believes that happened with the selection of Bolles. The Broncos had Donald Stephenson and Menelik Watson starting on the outside before the pick, but that should change. Still, Bolles is very raw. This is going to be a nice pick, but will take some time.

Grade: B

21. Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Davis is going to fill a hole for Detroit. the Lions released DeAndre Levy this offseason, hoping to upgrade and find a player who could stay on the field. Davis is a good-looking prospect who can learn alongside veteran pick-up Paul Worrilow.

Grade: B

22. Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

Harris will put his hand in the dirt in Miami’s 4-3 defense, opposite Cameron Wake. Harris is raw in some areas, mostly run defense, but he can get around the corner and create problems. The Dolphins got a good prospect who should be able to get pass rush early on.

Grade: B+

23. New York Giants: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

This is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Giants have to fix the offensive line, and already have a ton of weapons for Eli Manning. Instead, New York decided to add another mouth to feed. Engram is also more receiver than blocker (by a long shot) which also hurts the line.

Grade: C

24. Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

The Raiders clearly believe Conley is guilty of nothing that he’s been accused of. Should that be the case, Conley is going to be a nice find for Oakland, who can start immediately opposite of Sean Smith. At Ohio State, Conley distinguished himself as an elite talent. Only reason I knock down the grade? The looming off-field concern.

Grade: B-

25: Cleveland Browns (via Texans): Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

Peppers is one of the most intriguing players in the draft. Should he stay on the defensive side? How about running back? All that said, the Browns have so many holes, it’s tough to take a chance like this on a player with no definitive position.

Grade: C

26: Atlanta Falcons (via Seahawks): Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA

McKinley was dominant last season for the Bruins, and he provides some serious heat off the edge opposite Vic Beasley Jr. The Falcons have a very fast defense that should be able to handle the elite offenses in the NFC South. Nice job by Thomas Dimitroff.

Pick: A-

27: Buffalo Bills (via Chiefs): Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

White is going to fill an immediate need for head coach Sean McDermott. After seeing Stephon Gilmore leave for the Patriots, the Bills needed someone to step in and play the role of top corner across from Ronald Darby. White is going to be charged with that task.

Grade: B-

28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, DL, Michigan

First of all, great name. Seriously, though, Charlton can play and should be a really nice fit in the Cowboys’ front under defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Dallas has to put more pressure on the quarterback, and this selection should go a long way towards that goal.

Grade: B+

29. Cleveland Browns (via Packers): David Njoku, TE, Miami

Again, this pick makes little sense. The Browns were going to get Njoku at the 33rd-overall pick. Why trade up? Also, if you are going to trade up, wouldn’t you try to nab a quarterback such as DeShone Kizer? Nothing against Njoku, but feels like a panic move.

Grade: C+

30: Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin

The younger brother of J.J. Watt found an AFC home, going to the Steelers. Pittsburgh has developed ample linebackers throughout its history, including Ryan Shazier in recent seasons. The Steelers can allow him to develop alongside James Harrison.

Grade: B

31. San Francisco 49ers (via Seahawks): Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

This is a home run for the 49ers, provided Foster can keep his blinders on and focus on football. In terms of pure talent, San Francisco is getting one of the best three players in the draft. Foster now pairs with NaVorro Bowman and a very young, talented line. This is a great job by John Lynch.

Grade: A+

32. New Orleans Saints (via Patriots): Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

The Saints have to make sure Drew Brees stays upright, and this will help that cause. Ramczyk could have easily gone in the early 20s, but falls to New Orleans. Look for him to play on the right side, giving Sean Payton a nice bookend for Terron Armstead.

Grade: B