NFL Draft Insiders
The 2017 NFL draft is over, and it's time to review how your favorite team fared. Where did it reach? Did it get a potential steal in Round 5? Is there a bust waiting to happen?
ESPN Insider's draft experts break down each draft class, starting with Mel Kiper Jr.'s grade, Todd McShay's favorite pick, and Scouts Inc.'s analysis on how each player fits into his new team.
Mel Kiper's Draft Grade: C+
Kiper: My love for Christian McCaffrey is well known, and he will be an X factor for Cam Newton & Co. I've said all along that I don't like taking running backs this high, but he's not just a running back, which is why he's so valuable. He's a receiver -- and great route runner -- and a returner, too. I have no issue with this pick. But where does Curtis Samuel fit in this Carolina offense?
That's more curious after McCaffrey because they're similar. Samuel split time at running back and receiver last season -- he had 74 catches and 97 rushes. Could he be a slot-only guy in Carolina? He's explosive (4.31 40). It's almost like the Panthers drafted McCaffrey to help fundamentally change the offense, then drafted an insurance policy. And they did it with holes along the offensive and defensive lines and one potential need we're not talking about enough.
Taylor Moton is probably a guard in Carolina. He has nice feet in pass protection, and I could see him being a long-term starter. I thought Daeshon Hall, who played on the other side of top pick Myles Garrett, would be a fourth- or fifth-round pick. The Panthers took him at No. 77. Yes, defensive end was a need, especially after losing dealing Kony Ealy, but that's a reach with better players on the board, including Tarell Basham and Derek Rivers. Corn Elder is a slight corner (5-foot-10, 183) who didn't run well at the combine (4.56 40).
As for the quiet need, I think it's fair to point to some concern surrounding Luke Kuechly, and I would have expected Carolina to look at some depth at linebacker. You can love McCaffrey and still have questions about this draft. But at least Cam should be happy.
|2/40||Curtis Samuel||WR||OHIO STATE|
|2/64||Taylor Moton||OT||WESTERN MICHIGAN|
|3/77||Daeshon Hall||DE||TEXAS A&M|
|6/192||Alexander Armah||DE||WEST GEORGIA|
|7/233||Harrison Butker||K||GEORGIA TECH|
Todd McShay's favorite pick
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (pick No. 8)
The Panthers entered the draft needing an infusion of youth in the backfield and more weapons for Cam Newton in the passing game. In McCaffrey, they're getting a runner who shows the ability to get in and out of his cuts very quickly and one of the most polished receiving RBs I've ever evaluated. McCaffrey has a really high floor. The Panthers also added another versatile weapon in the second round (Ohio State WR/RB Curtis Samuel). Offensive coordinator Mike Shula has the personnel to get really creative on offense with Newton, the question is simply whether he can put it together.
Scouts Inc. on 2017 class
1 (8) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford | Highlights
What he brings: McCaffery is a three-way player who can contribute as a running back and returner on special teams and is one of the most polished receivers we've ever evaluated at the position. Outstanding intangibles and NFL-ready to contribute from day one. -- Kevin Weidl
How he fits: The Panthers needed to add speed and a dynamic playmaker on offense, and McCaffrey fits the bill. He is one of the most versatile players in the class who provides them a one-two punch in the backfield (Jonathan Stewart) with ability to flex out in the slot. He also fills the void left by Ted Ginn Jr. in the return game. -- Kevin Weidl
2 (8) Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State | Highlights
What he brings: An undersized and versatile weapon, Samuel is a big-play threat. He's got the burst and elite top-end speed to develop into a dangerous slot receiver who gets a handful of carries per game and possibly contributes in the return game. -- Steve Muench
How he fits: Carolina has used its first two picks to get two of the most versatile offensive weapons in this class, landing Christian McCaffrey in Round 1 and now Samuel. Samuel projects as more of a slot receiver than a running back, but the Panthers will move him around and mix him into the run game. -- Steve Muench
2 (32) Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan | Highlights
What he brings: Moton played right tackle in college, but he is a bit heavy legged in pass protection. He may be forced to bump inside to guard at the NFL level. That said, he has a thick and massive frame with natural inline power and plays with the physical disposition teams covet along the offensive line. -- Kevin Weidl
How he fits: Michael Oher (missed final 13 games of 2016) and Daryl Williams (started 10 games) are expected to compete for the right tackle spot, but Oher missed the final 13 games of the season because of a concussion, and Williams might be a better backup than a starter. Moton is capable of coming in and winning that right tackle spot. -- Steve Muench
3 (13) Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M | Highlights
What he brings: Hall is a developing pass-rusher who needs to continue to flesh out his arsenal of moves, but he has the tools to succeed, including excellent length ? 35 1/2-inch arms -- and good initial quickness to realize his upside. He's an above-average run defender. -- Steve Muench
How he fits: The Panthers signed Julius Peppers to a one-year deal but needed to add another young pass-rusher to the mix. Hall helps replace Kony Ealy, who departed for New England and never lived up to his second-round draft slot in Carolina. -- Kevin Weidl
5 (8) Corn Elder, CB, Miami | Highlights
What he brings: An undersized corner with below average ball skills, Elder shows quality instincts and discipline in coverage. He's also an outstanding run defender for a corner and limits production after the catch despite his smaller frame. -- Steve Muench
6 (8) Alexander Armah, DE, West Georgia
What he brings: Armah was a two-way player that lined up at fullback and linebacker in college. He brings a quality combination of size and athleticism, and should make an immediate impact on special teams. -- Kevin Weidl
7 (15) Harrison Butker, PK, Georgia Tech
What he brings: Butker finished his career as Georgia Tech's all-time leading scorer with 337 career points and 208 career PATs. He's got good leg strength and showed much improved accuracy last year, but he wasn't nearly as accurate his first three seasons at Georgia Tech. -- Steve Muench
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