By Steve Silverman
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The 2017 NFL Draft was supposed to be about defensive players, with Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen and Jamal Adams leading the way.
It was supposed to be an ordinary draft for offensive players, and the quarterback class was especially mediocre.
But it didn’t play out anything like that, as three teams made dramatic moves to get quarterbacks. The Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans ignored the early estimates and moved up in the draft to get their men.
The Bears, who have been looking for a franchise quarterback since Jim McMahon led them to a storied Super Bowl championship in 1985, made a bold and expensive move by trading up with the San Francisco 49ers to land quarterback Mitchell Trubisky of North Carolina.
Shortly thereafter, the Kansas City Chiefs engaged the Buffalo Bills for the No. 10 pick in the draft. They gave up their own first-rounder, a third-round pick and next year’s first-rounder to select strong-armed Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech.
Once those two quarterbacks were off the board, the Houston Texans went into desperation mode. Coach Bill O’Brien had been to the playoffs each of the last two years, but he had quarterbacks such as Brock Osweiler, Tom Savage and Brian Hoyer.
Despite their world-class defense, the Texans got smoked in the playoffs by the Chiefs following the 2015 season and by the Patriots last season. They needed a quarterback, and the Texans moved their first-round pick and next year’s first-rounder to Cleveland so they could take Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.
While some have questioned Watson’s 30 interceptions over the last two seasons, the national championship-winning QB has shown he can rise to the occasion at the biggest moments and has wonderful leadership skills.
The Texans were desperate to get in front of the Arizona Cardinals, who wanted to select their quarterback of the future since Carson Palmer is 37 years old and nearing the end of his career.
Arizona coach Bruce Arians is known for his ability to work with quarterbacks, but the Cardinals ended up with nasty Temple linebacker Haason Reddick. He may turn out to be an impact player, but Arians wanted a quarterback.
In addition to the QB selections, seven of the first 10 players came from the offensive side of the ball. The Titans and Chargers went with wide receivers Corey Davis of Western Michigan and Mike Williams of Clemson, respectively. The Chargers made the better of the two selections because Williams has wonderful hands and will win the battle on 50-50 balls.
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Running backs also got plenty of attention as Tom Coughlin and the Jaguars took LSU’s Leonard Fournette with the fourth pick and the Panthers selected versatile Christian McCaffrey of Stanford with the eighth pick. While both have solid resumes, the best running back is Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, and he was not chosen in the first round.
He should go early in the second round Friday night, and the belief here is that Cook will become a star who comes fairly close to matching what Ezekiel Elliott gave to the Dallas Cowboys last year.
The Jets were in a perfect position to take advantage of all the quarterback madness, and they did so by selecting Jamal Adams from LSU. Adams was the best defensive back on the board, and the strong safety should be able to start in the early going and give coach Todd Bowles a major upgrade.
While the Jets addressed that defensive need, they still have a huge hole at quarterback.
If Adams was the best safety in the draft, Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore was the best cornerback, and the New Orleans Saints addressed a huge need by selecting him. There have been few better assignments in recent years than playing wide receiver against the Saints, but Lattimore has a chance to change that quickly.
San Francisco rookie general manager John Lynch made the trade with the Bears and gained a third- and fourth-rounder this year and a third-rounder next year to move down one spot and pick superb pass rusher Solomon Thomas from Stanford. Lynch moved back into the first round later on and got a hard-hitting linebacker in Reuben Foster from Alabama.
Lynch still needs a big-time quarterback, but the 49ers are well on their way to rebuilding their defense.
The second and third rounds will give teams a chance to find future starters, while teams cannot waste their fourth- through seventh-round choices Saturday.
All 32 teams have done their homework, and we will find out how well those assignments have been executed.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy