3-Wide is a weekly feature in which theScore’s NFL editors debate the hot topics around the league. Grab a cold towel and brace for hot takes.
What was the best value pick on Day 1 of the draft?
Arun Srinivasan: Jonathan Allen was once billed as a potential top-two selection in this year’s draft, and the reigning Chuck Bednarik Award winner slid all the way to No. 17, where the Redskins pounced. The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year is expected to contribute immediately, and has the potential to be the best defensive player in the draft outside of Myles Garrett.
Michael McClymont: There are plenty of candidates, as a high volume of offensive talent was taken early in the first round, causing a slide for a number of defensive stars. This award goes to the San Francisco 49ers for plucking linebacker Reuben Foster with the 31st pick. They traded their early second-round pick and gave up a fourth-round selection to do so, but in return they netted themselves a top-five talent on a rookie contract that should cost little more than $9 million. That’s value.
Jack Browne: Sitting at 15th overall, the Colts and new general manager Chris Ballard likely ran their card up after Malik Hooker fell into their lap. While safety isn’t one of Indy’s main needs (cornerback and outside linebacker) Hooker is a roaming, playmaking monster who’ll make the Colts’ defense instantly better, forming a strong duo with Clayton Geathers. He was arguably a top-five talent, and to snag him without trading up is the icing on what has been an impressive first offseason for Ballard.
Were teams wise to pass on Reuben Foster?
Browne: Foster carried just too much risk, and plays a non-premium position. Will some teams regret letting him pass them by? Sure. But at the moment, Foster’s injury and off-field concerns were too great for him to be taken where his talent warranted. The draft is all about weighing risk versus reward, and teams assessed Foster correctly by allowing him to slide to the end of the first round.
Srinivasan: Foster was considered the consensus best inside linebacker in the draft, and though his diluted sample at the NFL combine should’ve made some teams wary, it’s unfathomable that he dropped to No. 31 overall. The 49ers pounced on the best player available and now have a successor ready for NaVorro Bowman, in the event the veteran suffers another gruesome injury. It’s now on Foster to make the rest of the league pay.
McClymont: As stated above, Foster has the talent to pay immediate dividends for his NFL team. The red flags include his diluted sample, his confrontation with a hospital worker that got him sent home early from the combine, and concerns over the health of his shoulders. Let’s just put it this way: a player facing a rape allegation was taken earlier than he was. The Niners determined Foster is worth the risk.
What was the most surprising pick in the 1st round?
McClymont: Receiver John Ross has the speed and ability to be an NFL star, yet it still comes as a surprise he was selected inside the top 10 by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals learned last year they couldn’t make due with just A.J. Green after their complementary wideouts were poached in free agency. Ross provides quarterback Andy Dalton with a unique weapon, and there’s no disputing he fits a need. The surprise is in how high he was drafted, as the consensus third-best receiver in the draft.
Browne: The Chiefs needed a long-term solution at quarterback, and many had pegged them as a possible landing spot for a pivot at 27th overall. However, few saw Kansas City making such a dramatic and costly move, jumping up to 10th overall to snag Patrick Mahomes. The Alex Smith-led Chiefs haven’t been able to fulfill their potential, so the team opting to start a new era is no surprise. However, the way in which they kicked it off was the biggest shock of the first day.
Srinivasan: Amid rape accusations, the Oakland Raiders selecting Gareon Conley at No. 24 was the lone surprise of the first round. Conley was widely considered a first-round talent prior to the draft, but the degree of risk surrounding him would’ve been a deterrent for so many other teams. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said he’s confident in Conley’s character, but amid allegations of such a serious nature, the selection is easily the most surprising development.
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