2017 NFL Draft Retrospective (3-Years Later)

The 2017 NFL Draft class holds a special place in my heart; After all, it was the first year I decided to pick up my pen and press play on the computer to begin my grind to becoming a legitimate scout. As early as February of 2017, I have wanted to do a retrospective of my reports in order to see where I got it right, as well as where I got it completely wrong. The following consists of all nine players I scouted for that draft class, a link to my original scouting report, and a look at how they are doing in the league so far. Enjoy.

DeShone Kizer – QB

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/02/03/scout-report-deshone-kizer/

There is no better way to start a first ever retrospective than with the first college player I ever legitimately tried to scout: Notre Dame’s own DeShone Kizer. I still Remember the exact game that made me fall in love with this guy, 2016’s matchup between Notre Dame and North Carolina State. In the middle of Hurricane Matthew, Kizer’s passes were absolutely beautiful to watch, even if they always hit the dirt. The game was ugly, but I felt it showed just what his arm could do. Without going through the entire scouting report, I basically made the prediction his career would end up similar to Russell Wilson or Teddy Bridgewater, respected dual threat QBs who had the intelligence to lead teams and command an offense.

Kizer now: Deshone Kizer is out of the league. Talk about a complete whiff on the first prediction. Drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft by the Cleveland Browns, Kizer was thrown to the wolves as he started immediately out of the gate. In 15 starts for the Browns, he lost every single game, including throwing 22 interceptions. The Browns axed the Kizer project the next year, drafting Baker Mayfield and shipping Kizer off to Green Bay. There he did next to nothing and was released in August of 2019. He was picked up by the Raiders, but was released in May of 2020 without playing a single down for the team.

Verdict: Kizer was my hype train for the 2017 draft, and the fact that he not only was a complete bust, but didn’t even last a season hits especially hard for me.

Mitchell Trubisky – QB

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/02/14/scout-report-mitch-trubisky/

Trubisky was a player I had mixed feelings about. His inexperience coming into the 2017 NFL Draft was a major criticism I had along with the fact he performed poorly against ranked opponents his last year in college. I compared the man to Mark Sanchez, and warned:
“But his greatest concern will be his inexperience, as he is a fairly adequate passer against top defenses; However, against the best of the best in a QB driven league, adequate is not good enough.”

Trubisky now: The Bears traded up to the second overall pick in the 2017 draft to select Trubisky despite Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes still being on the board. With both players developing much faster than Trubisky, frustration and anger has only grown for young QB as he now has a position battle set for 2020 with Chicago signing QB Nick Foles this offseason. While his Rookie season was not the best, and he saw a preformance drop in 2019, Trubisky is still with the Bears now and as far as we know is still the starter. Time is running out for the North Carolina Alumni though.

Verdict: As much as I would like to claim Trubisky as a success for my scouting, I never did explicitly say he was going to be a bust, so while I am still claiming a victory for this, I understand there may be an asterisk on his name for me.

Solomon Thomas – Edge

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/02/18/scout-report-solomon-thomas/

Thomas was my favorite prospect of all nine players I scouted because he showcased a level of tenacity no other player I saw had. His ferocity on every down made me speak volumes of his skills and ceiling when making the jump to the next level, even going as far as to claim:
“Thomas is a workhorse and easily could become a household name as a dominating defensive lineman.”

Thomas now: After being drafted by the 49ers with the third overall pick, Thomas became little more than a utility player. While he managed to crack the starting lineup for the 49ers, Thomas did little through each game. San Francisco has decided to decline his 5th year option on his rookie contract, making him a free agent once the 2020 season ends. His best year to date is still only his rookie season in which he recorded 41 tackles, 3 sacks, and 11 QB hits.

Verdict: Thomas was a miss so far, with my initial prediction being something akin to another Jason Pierre-Paul. While Thomas’s rookie campaign was not far off, JPP had his breakout season during his sophomore campaign; something Thomas has yet to do. While it is still early to say if Thomas was a complete bust, all roads are leading to that being the case.

Myles Garrett – Edge

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/02/26/scout-report-myles-garrett/

Garrett was touted back in 2017 as the undisputed first overall pick. Blessed with strength, speed, intuition, and the closest a person could be to a greek god, Garrett was someone who I pointed to be probably one of the most overhyped players in the 2017 draft. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the guy, but I was turned off by the amount of times Texas A&M subbed him out during drives. The appearance to me was Garrett simply did not have the stamina to stay on the field, and was treated as a rotation player in practice despite being the main anchor of the Aggies defense coming off the edge. Despite this though, I did say he was a top 5 talent, and if he managed to stay on the field, would be the guy destroying QBs across the league.

Garrett now: While Garrett is not posting numbers you would expect from such a hyped player, he is not failing either. In the short three years he has been in the league, Garrett has been named to the NFL All-Rookie Team, been selected to the top 100 players of 2019 at number 49, made the pro bowl once, and been top ten in the league in forced fumbles and sacks. He has established himself as a solid rusher off the edge.

Verdict: Garrett is a legitimate pass rusher that has established himself as a force to be reckoned with. My call for him as overrated may still ring true as he shares the same draft class as Christian McCaffrey and Patrick Mahomes, but this one is a toss up whether I got it wrong or not. I am going to personally say I did not.

Leonard Fournette – RB

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/03/03/scout-report-leonard-fournette/

Leonard Fournette was a personal favorite of mine back in 2017. I am always a sucker for a good workhorse running back, and Fournette’s tape at LSU would make any person at the time giddy about having him on their roster. His report is weird in the fact that I did not state any definitive opinion on whether I believed him to be good or not, but rather listed off my criticisms and moved on.

Fournette now: It is unclear as of now where Fournette stands with the Jaguars organization. While General Manager Dave Caldwell stated he sees Fournette being a big part of the Jags’ offense moving forward into 2020, this came after the Jags were shopping around the third year running back. As of now, the Jaguars have not picked up Fournette’s fifth year option on his rookie contract, which makes him a free agent once the 2020 season concludes. Fournette himself has not given any excuse for the team to be hesitant either, as he finished among the top 10 best RBs statistically for the 2019 season. He finished with 1,674 All purpose yards and over 300 touches. While whispers of injury concerns have plagued Fournette’s career, he only missed significant time in 2018.

Verdict: I personally feel Fournette was a correct call for me back in 2017, but seeing as I didn’t actually call Fournette’s success except for a stray facebook post/tweet on draft day, this is a going to be a blank for me.

Jonathan Allen – D. Line

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/03/05/scout-report-jonathan-allen/

My entire feelings about Allen can be summed up in the first sentence of my original report three years ago: “Allen is a threat, period.” I raved about his versatility being one of the few players in the draft that year who lined up at every position on the defensive line. His toolkit for pass rushing was vast, and it was almost required to double team him in order to take him out of the play. I had some concerns about his ability to defend against the inside run, as he struggled to play in congestion and often was able to be forced back or stalled.

Allen now: Drafted to the Washington Redskins with the 17th pick in the draft, Allen for the most part has shown himself to be a solid foundation for the defense to build off of. Injuries cut his rookie campaign short, but upon returning Allen has shown he can be a pretty good defensive piece. The Redskins have picked up his fifth year option on his contract, so at least Washington believe him to be a desired piece of their defense.

Verdict: While calling for Allen’s success was a win for me, I do acknowledge I believed he would be better. So while I can say this was a correct assessment, I may have over-hyped him a little bit.

Deshaun Watson – QB

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates after connecting with Texans running back Taiwan Jones (34) which set up the game winning field goal during overtime of an AFC NFL wild card playoff game at NRG Stadium, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Houston.

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/03/21/scout-report-deshaun-watson/

I considered Watson to be a hit or miss player on account of his recklessness during his college days. While he did have the resume coming into the league in 2017, I was mainly concerned with the fact that many of the Clemson offense mistakes came from Watson trying to either do too much, or simply doing foolish actions that came back to bite the team in the butt. I celebrated his offensive capabilities, but in the end I was not sold on his patience and intelligence with the ball.

Watson now: Drafted in the first round by the Houston Texans, Watson has so far impressed with a 4,000 yard season in 2018, and a winning record under center. Watson has led his team to an 11-5 finish in 2018, and a 10-5 record in 2019 with playoff berths both seasons. The next question for Watson is now whether or not he can lead Houston to a Super Bowl, as the responsibilities are now starting to stack for the young QB.

Verdict: Watson was a complete miss for me, as I saw him somewhere between Marcus Mariota and Geno Smith. In just three seasons, Watson has already established himself as better than both players.

Malik Hooker – Safety

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/05/09/scout-report-malik-hooker/

Malik Hooker was a player I will say I was lukewarm about. I admired his ability to play the pass and defend the deep ball, but overall I was hesitant on every other aspect of his game. Specifically I took issue with this liability on the run game and making tackles in the open field. I would say of the players I scouted in 2017, Hooker was probably my least favorite and least hyped about player.

Hooker now: Hooker was drafted with the 15th pick in the first round by the Colts, and has not left much of an impression in his three years. Being burdened with being the second safety off the board behind Jamal Adams, the difference between the two is night and day. Hooker has so far posted 7 interceptions across three years, and recorded 51 tackles (a career high) during the 2019 season. The Colts have declined his fifth year option on his rookie contract, so Hooker will be a free agent after the 2020 football season.

Verdict: I wrote around the issue with Hooker back in 2017, claiming I liked his ability to play the pass, but I did explicitly mention his lack of ability against the run and open field tackling, so the fact he still has the issue is somewhat of a correct assessment from me.

Patrick Mahomes – QB

Original Scouting Report: https://gridironguy.com/2017/05/11/scout-report-patrick-mahomes/

Of the four Quarterbacks I scouted in 2017, Mahomes would have been my third option behind Kizer and Watson. I stood in awe of his playmaking ability and demeanor on the field, but I was a man on a mission when it came to pointing out all of his flaws and problems. It all started when I, a student at Iowa State in 2016, watched gleefully as the Cyclones absolutely massacred the Texas Tech football team in an embarrassing 66-10 victory. Mahomes himself played terribly, and from there the nitpicking began. I pointed out his 5,000 yards were an illusion that was created by the sheer number of screens, bubbles, and wheels out of the backfield that padded his stats. His competition was the weakest of the all the people I scouted, and he only led his team to a 5-7 record his final year at Texas Tech. I basically wrote an entire essay on why Patrick Mahomes was overrated.

Mahomes now: Whatever I write or justify is irrelevant to the reality that is Patrick Mahomes. He threw for 5,000 yards and 50 TDs in 2018. He threw for another 4000+ yard season in 2019, capped off with a Super Bowl win over the 49ers in what can only be described as Mahomes fashion. his accolades include an NFL MVP award, a Bert Bell award, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl MVP, and ranked #4 in 2019’s NFL Top 100: all at the age of 24. It doesn’t matter what anyone said about Mahomes, he signed the most lucrative contract in NFL history, and hasn’t even begun to slow down.

Verdict: Mahomes and “Overrated” were words I put together in my scouting report. That is all that needs to be said. I was dead wrong on this one.

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