The 2017 NFL Draft was pegged as an extremely deep one at running back, tight end and cornerback, but it was seen as top-heavy at wide receiver, defensive end and safety. There weren’t supposed to be any true franchise quarterbacks and, supposedly, there were no offensive lineman worthy of being first day picks.
But the NFL Draft can be notoriously unpredictable, so did what we were told about each position materialise, or did some positions do better, or worse, than expected?
Overall, 253 players were eventually selected in the first seven rounds, with more defensive players selected (131) than offensive (118) or special teams (4).
The defensive players were selected earlier than the offensive players, with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds all seeing more defensive players taken than those on offense, 19-13 in the 1st round, 19-13 in the 2nd, and 25-18 in the 3rd.
With cornerback and defensive end expected to be deep, those positions played out as expected in the 1st round, with six corners and five defensive ends taken. Five linebackers were also taken in the 1st round, which was surprising considering that position group didn’t get much hype going into the draft.
Only two running backs were taken in the 1st round, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, after Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon dropped to the 2nd round, while the top three receivers (Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross) all went higher than expected.
Teams constantly reach for quarterbacks, and although many felt there was a lack of top signal callers in this draft, three were taken in the top half of the first round (Mitchell Trubisky, Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson).
Many felt there were very few offensive linesmen worthy of being 1st round picks, and only two were taken on the first day, Garett Bolles went 20th overall to the Broncos and Ryan Ramczyk was selected 32nd overall to the Saints.
Three tight ends (OJ Howard, Evan Engram and David Njoku) were selected in the first round. By comparison only two were selected in the first round since 2011, and only twenty had been selected in the previous twenty drafts.
The first defensive tackles were taken in the 2nd round, as was the first center and first three guards. There was also a drop off in defensive ends taken in this round, with four less going than on the first day, which was expected pre-draft as this was considered a top-heavy defensive end class.
A total of six safeties went off the board in the 2nd round as the run on them began, giving them a total of nine selections in the first two rounds, tied second with linebackers and one behind the cornerback position, with ten selections.
The 3rd round saw the run on corners continue, with eight going in the second half of the day. The wide receiver class also saw a pick up in selections, also with eight, while the defensive line totalled ten selections in round three.
The run finally began on running backs in this round too, with four going in the 3rd round, seven in the 4th and four in the 5th.
Surprisingly only one corner was selected in the 4th round, while teams looking to pick up running backs decided this was the round to do so, with seven going. Teams also continued to pick up linebackers, with ten going in the 4th and 5th rounds, and twelve wide receivers went off the board in the same period.
Seven corners were taken in the 5th round, alongside an impressive five tight ends. In the 6th round, five defensive tackles were taken as teams looked for late round value on the interior of their defensive lines, while five offensive tackles were taken, by far the most per round this year. Five safeties also came off the board in this round, eventually finishing with an impressive 23 selections.
The first two of three total full-backs were also taken in the 6th round.
In the final round, teams opted for offensive weapons, taking five wide receivers and five running backs, while cornerback, defensive end and defensive tackle also finished up with four picks in the 7th round.
No special teams players were taken in the first four rounds, until the Bengals took kick Jake Elliott out of Memphis with the 153rd pick. Fellow kickers Zane Gonzalez and Harrison Butker were also selected in the 7th round, while long snapper Colin Holba was taken in the 6th round, 213th overall, by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Overall, 34 cornerbacks were selected in the Draft, the most in the league, followed by the 32 total wide receivers taken, and 29 linebackers. Although the cornerback position was expected to be deep, the volume of wide receivers and linebackers was somewhat surprising.
In total, 26 running backs were taken, which is an impressive number, although only eight of those were taken before day three, meaning what was considered a deep position group throughout the draft process ended up being bottom-heavy.
An impressive 14 tight-ends were selected, with five going in the first two rounds and three in the first round, which is by far a league high for many years, while the quarterback number was less than teams may have liked, taking just four on the final day.
A top heavy defensive end class did materialise, although teams did look for value in the later rounds, taking 17 over the course of the final two days.
Just 17 total interior offensive linemen were taken, and added in with the 16 offensive tackles, the 33 total offensive linemen taken is a disappointing figure.