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2017 NFL Draft: 10 takeaways, results from first round

By Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange
2017 NFL Draft: 10 takeaways, results from first round
Future prospects are introduce prior to the 2017 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater in Philadelphia, PA on April 27, 2017. The 82nd NFL Draft returned to Philadelphia for the first time in more than 50 years and runs from April 27-29. Photo by Derik Hamilton/UPI | License Photo

If the first round is any indication, there will be plenty of surprises in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here are NFLDraftScout's top 10 takeaways from the first 32 selections.

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10. Who needs defense or linemen?

The skill position players dominated the first half of the draft. Perhaps sparked by the Chicago Bears' aggressive trade up one pick to land top-rated quarterback Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina, eight of the top 12 picks were spent on quarterbacks (three), wide receivers (three) or running backs (two). Before Thursday, the most skill-position players chosen among top 12 since 2000 was seven back in 2005. No QBs, wide receivers or running backs were selected over the final 20 picks of this year's first round.

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9. Speaking of those Bears and Trubisky ...

The Bears paid a ransom to San Francisco to secure the rights to Trubisky, giving up selections third- and fourth-round picks this year as well as a third-rounder in the 2018 draft to select the gifted but inexperienced quarterback, especially given that the Bears signed veteran Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million deal just a couple of months ago. While Glennon's deal does have an opt-out after just one year, his contract includes $18.5 guaranteed. Between the guaranteed dollars and the draft capital given up, general manager Ryan Pace is essentially all in (or may be all out) based on how well Trubisky performs over the next year or two on a club with few weapons.

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8. Chiefs, Texans give up two first-round picks apiece for young QBs

It did not take long for Kansas City and Houston to follow Chicago's lead and boldly trade up for Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, respectively. The Chiefs had to give up two first-round picks (No. 27 overall this year and their top pick in 2018), as well as this year's third-round selection to move up 17 picks and land the strong-armed Mahomes. The Texas Tech product is a true gunslinger with a dramatically different style than incumbent starter Alex Smith. Meanwhile, the Texans surrendered their top pick this year (No. 25) and next year's first-round selection to move up 13 spots for Watson. The Clemson quarterback's dual-threat talents and knack for performing at his best under the brightest lights obviously appealed to Houston, a franchise with track record at quarterback that is spotty, at best.

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7. Three receivers in top nine?

With all due respect to the quarterbacks, it was the three receivers getting selected among the first nine picks that was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night. Many anticipated that the Tennessee Titans would add a pass-catcher with one of their two first-round selections, but selecting Corey Davis at No. 5 overall was a shocker, especially given that he had not been able to complete a full workout prior to the draft after undergoing postseason ankle surgery. Mike Williams has the body control and huge catch radius to quickly become a favorite for Philip Rivers, but No. 7 overall to the Los Angeles Chargers also seems rich. Finally, there were a number of teams contacted prior to the draft who felt that John Ross would slip out of the first round entirely, so his pick at No. 9 overall by Cincinnati caught many off guard, even if he is an ideal big-play complement to A.J. Green on offense and immediately improves the Bengals' return game.

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6. Special teams no longer an afterthought

Everyone knows that many rookies will have to make their marks on special teams just to make an NFL roster, but that could be where several first-round picks succeed in 2017. Ross adds instant juice to Cincinnati's return game. Christian McCaffrey (No. 8 overall to the Carolina Panthers) and Adoree Jackson (the Titans' second selection of the first round at No. 18 overall) also figure to see action as return men.

5. Raiders take another risk at cornerback with Gareon Conley

Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie certainly does not lack for guts, especially when it comes to drafting cornerbacks. Four years after using the first pick of his tenure on DJ Hayden -- a talented cornerback with spooky medical concerns -- McKenzie used the No. 24 overall pick on Conley, who just a few days ago appeared destined for a dramatic draft day (and possible legal ramifications) due to disturbing sexual-assault allegations. It should be noted that Conley has not been charged with anything at this point, and he was voted a team captain as a junior at Ohio State. However, for a club already in danger of losing fans due to its plans to relocate to Las Vegas, adding Conley was a risky public relations move, even if he is quite talented.

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4. Alabama absent over top 15

The Crimson Tide was on ebb throughout nearly the entire first half of the first round with cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Baltimore Ravens, No. 16 overall) surprisingly being selected over more highly touted former teammates Jonathan Allen (Washington Redskins, No. 17), O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay, No. 19) and Reuben Foster (San Francisco, No. 31). Durability concerns likely played a significant role in Allen and Foster slipping. Some clubs believe that Foster may need a second surgery on his right shoulder.

3. Browns look like big winners ... at least on paper

No one was more active (or potentially successful) on Day 1 than the Cleveland Browns, selecting consensus top-rated prospect Myles Garrett of Texas A&M as expected at No. 1 overall, former Michigan standout Jabrill Peppers at No. 25 and even jumping back into the first round to nab speedy tight end David Njoku of Miami (Fla.) at No. 29. The trio certainly looks impressive on paper, with Garrett expected to be an instant superstar off the edge in Gregg Williams highly aggressive defense, Peppers well-suited as the rover linebacker/safety so en vogue against today's diverse offensive alignments (think Deone Bucannon and Mark Barron), and Njoku offering a legitimate seam threat. Of course, if the Browns still need to address the quarterback position ...

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2. Quarter of the first round spent on pass rushers

Quarterbacks, of course, play the most important position in football, but the rushers capable of striking fear into opposing passers rank a close second, a fact that was clearly demonstrated with a full 25 percent of the 32 picks invested Thursday going to rushers. Garrett is undeniably the most gifted of the bunch, but Charles Harris (Miami Dolphins, No. 22 overall), Takkarist McKinley (Atlanta Falcons, No. 26), Taco Charlton (Dallas Cowboys, No. 28) and T.J. Watt (Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 30) are each good fits, as well. They are very athletic, and they join clubs with enough talent already in place to allow the rookies to be complementary players initially as they grow into starring roles.

1. Plenty of talent still on the board

Scouts equate first-round picks with baseball sluggers swinging away for home runs; there are going to be some mammoth moonshots, and there are going to be ugly strikeouts as clubs gamble on elite athletes. Day 2 is where the draft really gets interesting as clubs like to fill needs with the many good players who perhaps lack elite traits but are perhaps more consistent. Expect the deepest positions in the draft -- edge rusher, defensive back (both cornerback and safety), tight end and running back -- to be well represented on Friday.

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--Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed in partnership with The Sports Xchange and CBSSports.com.

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