It’s likely many Hilltopper football fans were crestfallen when the 5-hour marathon known as the first round of the NFL Draft reached its end and offensive lineman Forrest Lamp was still on the board.
Every draft projection had Lamp going in the first round somewhere from pick No. 9 to pick No. 31. Most projections had him pegged at No. 22 to the Miami Dolphins. As it worked out, only two offensive linemen were picked in the first round and both of those were offensive tackles. Left tackle is probably the third most important position on an NFL offense after quarterback and No. 1 wide receiver. (Unless, of course, your quarterback is left handed, then it’s right tackle.) Lamp was a left tackle in college, but is projected to be a guard in the league.
The fact that WKU did not land its first first-round pick in program history is not a knock on Lamp or the Toppers. The moment the Bears traded up to take North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, we knew the 2017 NFL Draft had just run off the rails. There were some draft pundits who speculated the Cleveland Browns would mortgage their future for another bite at a quarterback at No. 1, but they held uncharacteristically steady and stuck with defensive end Myles Garrett.
Then the Bears were fleeced by new San Fran GM John Lynch to move up one spot to snatch Trubisky, a 13-game college starter. That move set off a chain of runs on offensive players. Most experts projected this draft to be defensive player heavy in the Top 10. That’s not how it panned out, which pushed quality defensive lineman down the board. In those slots where offensive linemen were projected to land instead hung DLs and LBs ripe for the picking.
Trubisky went about 10 slots above where most projections had him. Wide Receiver Corey Davis, picked by the Titans at No. 5, was about 10 slots above his projections. Throw in Leonard Fournette at No. 4 to the Jaguars, which was not a surprise to me, and what was expected to be a string of defensive players picked had suddenly turned into a run on offensive talent.
The run didn’t stop at No. 5. Five of the next seven players taken were offensive and the only one that looks like a winner is Christian McCaffrey who went No. 8 to the Panthers. The running back with receiver’s hands looks like a good fit at Carolina alongside Cam Newton.
With 12 picks taken, only four are defensive players. That means projected Top 10 talent such as free safety Malik Hooker, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and linebacker Marlon Humphrey were still on the board. From pick 13 to pick 18, six straight defensive players were snatched from the draft board. Initial draft projections had those as the draft slots where the first offensive linemen would be taken. Some experts had Lamp landing somewhere in here.
The Broncos broke the ice on OLs. They picked tackle Garett Bolles at No. 20, which means the Mile-High team was the only one that stuck to script on lineman picks. The Dolphins picked defensive end Charles Harris. The Giants took tight end Evan Engram. The Seahawks, hopelessly in need of interior OLs, traded out of the first round. (Hey, Topper fans, this may be a blessing in disguise. The trade landed Seattle in the No. 2 slot in round 2, where they could take Lamp and pair him with George Fant. Every WKU fan’s dream.)
The rest of the first round consisted of a draft of defensive players with a few tight ends thrown in. Even though Lamp did not go in the first round, that’s not a statement on him as much as it is the often wild nature of the NFL Draft itself.
2017 NFL draft picks
Pick Overall Pick Team Player Position School
1 1 Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M
2 2 Chicago Bears Mitchell Trubisky QB North Carolina
3 3 San Francisco 49ers Solomon Thomas DE Stanford
4 4 Jacksonville Jaguars Leonard Fournette RB LSU
5 5 Tennessee Titans Corey Davis WR Western Michigan
6 6 New York Jets Jamal Adams S LSU
7 7 Los Angeles Chargers Mike Williams WR Clemson
8 8 Carolina Panthers Christian McCaffrey RB Stanford
9 9 Cincinnati Bengals John Ross WR Washington
10 10 Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes QB Texas Tech
11 11 New Orleans Saints Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
12 12 Houston Texans Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
13 13 Arizona Cardinals Haason Reddick LB Temple
14 14 Philadelphia Eagles Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
15 15 Indianapolis Colts Malik Hooker S Ohio State
16 16 Baltimore Ravens Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
17 17 Washington Jonathan Allen DL Alabama
18 18 Tennessee Titans Adoree’ Jackson CB Southern California
19 19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers O.J. Howard TE Alabama
20 20 Denver Broncos Garett Bolles OT Utah
21 21 Detroit Lions Jarrad Davis LB Florida
22 22 Miami Dolphins Charles Harris DE/OLB Missouri
23 23 New York Giants Evan Engram TE Mississippi
24 24 Oakland Raiders Gareon Conley CB Ohio State
25 25 Cleveland Browns Jabrill Peppers S Michigan
26 26 Atlanta Falcons Takkarist McKinley OLB UCLA
27 27 Buffalo Bills Tre’Davious White CB LSU
28 28 Dallas Cowboys Taco Charlton DE Michigan
29 29 Cleveland Browns David Njoku TE Miami
30 30 Pittsburgh Steelers T.J. Watt OLB Wisconsin
31 31 San Francisco 49ers Reuben Foster MLB Alabama
32 32 New Orleans Saints Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin
James Brown is Digital Director for Commonwealth Broadcasting. He spent 20 years covering sports in Kentucky and Mississippi. Follow him on Twitter @JbrownESPNKY.