And now, it begins. Thursday night 8 p.m. in Philadelphia. All the projections, mock drafts, debate, etc. will be replaced by actual teams picking actual players. It’s the NFL Draft 2017.
This will start (allegedly) with the Browns at #1, and then conclude around 3 1/2 hours later when the Saints (who got New England’s pick in the Brandin Cooks trade) will take the last player of the first round.
With all of this in mind, here are the four story-lines that intrigue us the most:
What do the Jaguars do at #4?
As we wrote earlier this week, Jacksonville not only has a new regime’ but they hold serious leverage with this early pick for themselves or potentially someone else.
Will it be LSU stud RB Leonard Fournette? Will it be a QB (Deshaun Watson?) or might the Jags deal out of this spot because the names Fournette, Mitchell Trubisky, Watson, and others are there, and are not something they feel they have to have?
Does Dalvin Cook last until the Buccaneers pick at #19?
Again, we have written a bunch about this possible marriage, but there are two essential scenarios:
Someone grabs Cook well before the Bucs can, or he starts to fall right into a position, where it seems to be a natural fit (Tampa Bay).
Many believe that both Fournette and Christian McCaffery will go before Cook in the opening round. That remains to be seen. It is also very likely that if both are gone, let’s say by the 10th pick, that several teams will be interested in picking or trading up to pick, Cook before #19.
Now, if he’s there for the Buccaneers, many believe GM Jason Licht will pull the trigger and take him. We will obviously find out very quickly whether Cook’s truly a priority (they take him). Or if the Bucs believe that they can trade down, they’ll take the risk of Cook being there later or just taking someone else later on, instead.
No matter what, it’s one of the big story lines, not only in our state, but around the entire NFL.
If it’s not Dalvin Cook, who’s the first state player taken in the first round?
This is a great debate. Is that name David Njoku, tight end from The U? Is it Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis? As our Jamil King suggests, is it maybe Noles DE Demarcus Robertson sneaking into the first round?
The Noles have had a player taken in round one in six of the last seven drafts, and it’s likely Cook will continue that trend. Then again, he may not. So we’re watching with you on who’s name from “the Sunshine State” comes up instead.
Finally, the Dolphins have to wait the longest of the three Florida NFL teams. Is it a defensive end?
It seems Miami has one main priority: pass rush. And there are a bevy of them in this draft, but who will still be there at #22? Derek Barnett of Tennessee? Charles Harris of Mizzou? Taco Charlton of Michigan? Or, do they covet another name?
Or if one or more of those guys are available and they pass on that position, what do they value more? Offensive line help? Secondary?
Miami was a playoff team in 2016 and has a lot of pieces in places. What do they add? We’re about to find that and a lot more out coming up tonight.