Fresh off the draft, which rookies already look like great fits on paper and add the most to the roster, while more importantly, which teams made terrible mistakes? Breaking down the biggest winners and losers fresh off of draft weekend.
This is not only because they drafted Christian McCaffrey, but McCaffrey is a big reason.
The goal this offseason was to get the ball out of Cam Newton’s hands and keep him away from those vicious hits he took throughout 2016. They made this evident by the dedicated effort to grab versatile offensive players in McCaffrey and Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Curtis Samuel. Both can play running back as well as run every route in the tree, and also return punts or kicks.
They also shored up the offensive line by drafting Taylor Moton, who is ready to hit the field and add some protection for Newton. While drafting similar player may raise question marks, along with not addressing much defense in the draft, the strategy is sound. The Panthers run a complex run scheme with lots of motioning and running behind pulling guards or tackles with stretch runs and backs running routes out of the backfield mixed in. Both McCaffrey and Samuel gives the offense a flair and could be deadly when used in tandem.
I really, really love the team being built around Famous Jameis. Last season they went for defense in the offseason and draft, getting Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves III in those respective areas. This season they work on getting Jameis Winston more than Mike Evens to throw to, adding speedster DeSean Jackson in free agency and drafting the dynamic and athletic O.J. Howard via the draft with wide receiver Chris Goodwin.
This fearsome foursome not only gives the offense a lot of speed, but height along with three players in Howard, Goodwin and Evens that can win the 50/50 balls. The Bucs also added stud safety Justin Evens in the draft, one of the best defensive backs in the draft and arguably the best DB from the SEC. This was a fringe playoff team that added some huge pieces and has lots of wildcard potential.
Deshaun Watson -
The Texans made the second round of the playoffs with Brock Osweiler at the quarterback position and J.J. Watt on the bench. Now they have an actual leader at the quarterback spot who has a great arm and can move around. He is surrounded by DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Braxton Miller and Lamar Miller at the skill positions.
He is the rookie best set up for success in his coming career with most of the important pieces around him locked in for the next few seasons.
Myles Gerrett/Jabrill Peppers -
These were some of my favorite defensive players to watch in college and now they are going to the talent-sucking, career-ending hole that is the Cleveland Browns organization. Not only will they be on a soul crushingly bad team that has a losing culture, but the Browns have been perennially bad at developing fresh talent.
These are two players that few wanted to see put through the wringer of tragedy that is the Cleveland organization. Hopefully they find their way to another organization before it is too late.
This team struggled with versatility on offense last season, sticking almost entirely to four wide receiver sets and constantly having problems on the ground, averaging 3.5 yards a rush and 88 yards a game. Instead they took Even Engram in the first round, a tight end who struggles blocking and is mostly a slot receiver.
They waited till late in the draft to grab a running back (Wayne Gallman) and even later for a linemen (Adam Bisnowaty) to help shore up that part of the their offensive game. They could have gotten a running back like Dalvin Cook or grabbed a linemen like Cam Robinson. Instead, they tried to grab more spread offense players.