Imagine a world where the Cleveland Browns reign supreme in the AFC North, the Kansas City Chiefs are left wandering for a franchise quarterback while the Chicago Bears have nothing to worry about in that department.
Hindsight can be a beautiful thing, especially in sports where we are constantly looking back at what went wrong and what could have been.
It is particularly easy to do this when it comes to the NFL Draft. Instant grades are given out to teams and picks when it's over, but there are so many variables and unknown potential that it rarely ever plays out the way we all envision it.
With Patrick Mahomes leading the Chiefs to the Super Bowl in just his third year in the league — second as a starter — it's fairly safe to look back at the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft and what how it really should have played out.
Well, we are going to do just that. In retro-mock draft fashion, using the original 2017 draft order and only factoring in trades that make sense (ie the Chiefs don't trade up to 10 if Mahomes is not there), we look at who could have went where in the first round.
Note, this is not a ranking of the best players from the 2017 NFL Draft, but rather a mock draft of which teams would select which players from the draft pool based on their needs at the time and what we know now.
(Certain variables were weighed. For instance, neither Joe Mixon nor Kareem Hunt make the redraft because of their domestic violence past, which would likely be weighed against as a first-round pick.)
1 Cleveland Browns: QB Patrick Mahomes
Original pick: DE Myles Garrett
Garrett has been solid for the Browns, but Cleveland has struggled to find stability at the quarterback position for ages. While nobody thought Mahomes was the No. 1 pick at the time, he’s proven to be the best quarterback to emerge from this draft. Perhaps Mahomes would not have the same success had he been drafted by the Browns. Or maybe the Browns build around Mahomes and are kings of the AFC North.
2 Chicago Bears: QB Deshaun Watson
Original pick: QB Mitchell Trubisky
The Chicago Bears traded up to get Trubisky, so we imagine they would do the same to land Watson in this scenario. The Bears currently seem to be a consistent, reliable quarterback away from being a perennial Super Bowl contender, and Watson has been just that with the Texans. In fact, before Mahomes became the starter in Kansas City, many thought that Watson should have been the No. 1 overall pick.
3 San Francisco 49ers: DE Myles Garrett
Original pick: DE Solomon Thomas
The 49ers could certainly have kept the No. 2 overall pick and taken a quarterback. They did not have Jimmy Garoppolo at the time of the draft so it would have made sense, but they opted for a defensive lineman then and things worked out, so let’s assume they go the same route, only this time Myles Garrett, the undisputed best pass rusher in the draft, is there for the taking.
4 Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Christian McCaffrey
Original pick: RB Leonard Fournette
So, Fournette has actually panned out to be a pretty good back, when healthy, but after Christian McCaffrey’s 2019 season, it is clear he is the best running back to come out of the draft. McCaffrey’s ability to make an impact in the pass-catching game also gives him the nod over Fournette and the Jaguars look a little bit different coming out of the draft.
5 Tennessee Titans: CB Marshon Lattimore
Original pick: WR Corey Davis
The Titans opted to go with a wide receiver here, and Davis has been fine, but nowhere near a top-5 pick. Lattimore, on the other hand, has been a difference-maker and true impact player in the secondary. He’s made the Pro Bowl in two of his first three seasons and would make Tennessee's already strong pass defense even better.
6 New York Jets: Jamal Adams
Original pick: S Jamal Adams
Few times do we ever look back at a draft and say, this team got it right (especially the Jets). But it’s hard to argue any other pick here. Adams has been outstanding with the Jets, making two Pro Bowls and becoming a leader on the field.
7 Los Angeles Chargers: LB T.J. Watt
Original pick: WR Mike Williams
Imagine a Chargers defense consisting of Joey Bosa and T.J. Watt? They would immediately be one of the best in the league and a nightmare for any offense. The Chargers opted for a wide receiver to help Philip Rivers in the passing game, and Williams posted his first 1,000-yard receiving season in 2019, but Watt is a true impact player that would give the Chargers a great defense.
8 Carolina Panthers: RB Alvin Kamara
Original pick: RB Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey is off the board in this scenario, but Kamara is a pretty similar player and would be the no-brainer pick here. Originally drafted in the third round by the Saints, Kamara has been a two-time Pro Bowl running back proving to be dangerous in the backfield and as a receiver and would have a similar impact on the Panthers the way McCaffrey has for them.
9 Cincinnati Bengals: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Original pick: WR John Ross
The Bengals must have fell in love with Ross’ speed at the NFL Combine, but injuries have not allowed him to develop. Smith-Schuster, originally drafted in the second round by the Steelers, has been the most reliable receiver to come out of this draft and would give the Bengals everything that they had originally hoped for out of Ross.
10 Buffalo Bills: CB Tre’Davious White
Original pick: CB Tre’Davious White (Pick No. 27)
The Bills originally traded down with the Kansas City Chiefs in a deal that netted Mahomes with the 10th pick, but with Mahomes off the board there is no need for a trade. Plus, with what we know about Tre’Davious White now it is likely he does not fall to 27 for the Bills to take. White was an absolute bargain in the late first round for Buffalo and they still get their guy in the redraft.
11 New Orleans Saints: TE George Kittle
Original pick: CB Marshon Lattimore
The Saints nailed it the first time with Lattimore, but he is off the board in this alternate universe. Instead, New Orleans goes with George Kittle to fill its Jimmy Graham void in the offense. Kittle was not on anyone’s radar in 2017, being taken by the 49ers in the fifth round. But he has emerged as one of the best tight ends in the league and that would most certainly still be the case if he teamed up with Drew Brees in New Orleans.
12 Cleveland Browns: OT Ryan Ramczyk
Original pick: S Jabril Peppers (Pick No. 25)
The Browns originally traded this pick away to the Houston Texans so they can draft Watson, but with him and Mahomes gone, Houston sits back and Cleveland uses this pick to replace Joe Thomas and give Mahomes the protection he needs on his blindside with Ryan Ramczyk, who has been the best lineman to come out of the 2017 draft.
13 Arizona Cardinals: CB Marlon Humphrey
Original pick: LB Haason Reddick
The Cardinals did not have an urgent need in the secondary in 2017, but after Humphrey’s first three seasons in the league, it’s hard to argue against Arizona taking him in this spot and creating a downright scary secondary of Humphrey, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Obviously, the Cardinals parted ways with the latter, but pairing Humphrey with Peterson would arguably give the Cardinals the best cornerback duo in the league.
14 Philadelphia Eagles: S Eddie Jackson
Original pick: DE Derek Barnett
It’s hard to argue against taking Barnett here. While he has been a solid player for the Eagles, he has not played up to a Pro Bowl level that should come with taking a first-round pass rusher. Eddie Jackson, on the other hand, was a diamond in the rough being taken in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears. After two Pro Bowl seasons, including a 2018 All-Pro year, Jackson would likely be a first-rounder and would fit nicely with the Eagles alongside Malcolm Jenkins.
15 Indianapolis Colts: S Malik Hooker
Original pick: S Malik Hooker
This is one the Colts got right and would likely pan out in their favor again. Of course, Hooker has not quite lived up to his full potential as he’s been nagged by injuries in his first few years in the league. But when he is on the field, his presence is felt.
16 Baltimore Ravens: WR Chris Godwin
Original pick: CB Marlon Humphrey
The Ravens won this pick with Humphrey, but he does not make it to No. 16 in the redraft, so Baltimore shifts on filling in the void left by Steve Smith by taking Chris Godwin. The original third-round pick of the Bucs would be an immediate deep threat for Joe Flacco, and while he did not break out until the 2019 season under Bruce Arians, it’s very likely he would put up similar numbers with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, becoming a bonafide No. 1 receiver in Baltimore.
17 Washington Redskins: RB Dalvin Cook
Original pick: DE Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen was actually a decent pick here. While he did not play much his rookie year, he still has 14 sacks over the last two seasons and serves as a good complement to Ryan Kerrigan. But Dalvin Cook’s 2019 season showed he is a game-changing back, and the Redskins’ running game was non-existent back in 2017. Cook and Kirk Cousins have had success together in Minnesota, but in this redraft they team up a year earlier in DC.
18 Tennessee Titans: WR Cooper Kupp
Original pick: S Adoree Jackson
With the Titans addressing their secondary earlier in the first round of the redraft, they address the offense with their pick at 18. Kupp has been impressive for the Los Angeles Rams and would likely have two 1,000-yard receiving seasons under his belt if not for an injury in 2018. Perhaps that is the benefit of being in Sean McVay’s offense, but Kupp has shown to be a reliable receiver and Tennessee certainly needed one of those in 2017.
19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Leonard Fournette
Original pick: TE O.J. Howard
The Bucs have not had a running back rush for 1,000 yards since 2015. So, they could use one now, and they could have used one in 2017, too. Leonard Fournette would give them that. While he struggled to find the end zone last year, he still has two 1,000 yard rushing seasons and probably would have had three if not for missing eight games due to injuries in 2018.
20 Denver Broncos: OT Taylor Moton
Original pick: OT Garrett Bolles
The Broncos were on the right track with trying to beef up the offensive line, but selected the wrong guy. Bolles has been somewhat of a bust in Denver, while Taylor Moton, meanwhile, has continued to be a bright spot on the Carolina Panthers' offensive line. Of course, Bolles was taken to protect the blindside, while Moton has shown versatility as a guard and tackle, but on the right side of the line. Still, in a draft where many of the offensive tackles did not meet expectations, Moton stands out.
21 Detroit Lions: S Budda Baker
Original Pick: LB Jarrad Davis
Davis has been a solid linebacker for the Lions, but has struggled with being consistent. Budda Baker, on the other hand, has been a two-time Pro Bowl and was First-Team All-Pro his rookie season. Adding him into a secondary with Darius Slay would make the Lions one of the toughest teams to pass against.
22 Miami Dolphins: OLB Carl Lawson
Original pick: OLB Charles Harris
The Dolphins whiffed on Harris with this pick, but still get an edge rusher in Carl Lawson. Through three seasons with the Bengals, Lawson has record 14.5 sacks and 51 QB hits. He would have complemented Cameron Wake and in 2017, would have had Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line, too, which would have given the Dolphins a ferocious pass rush.
23 New York Giants: OL Dion Dawkins
Original pick: TE Evan Engram
This pick may still be considered a reach, even in a redraft, but the Giants really have no choice here. While Engram has been a good receiving tight end when healthy, the Giants' biggest issue over the last three to four years has been their lackluster offensive line. While Dawkins may not be one of the elite left tackles in the league, he's still better than anything the Giants have had. He's been reliable, durable and continues to get better. If Dawkins is their left tackle, the Giants don't have $40 million owed to Nate Solder over the next two seasons, and that money can be spent elsewhere to improve the team.
24 Oakland Raiders: S John Johnson
Original pick: CB Gareon Conley
The Oakland Raiders finished the 2017 season with five — FIVE — interceptions. Needless to say, the secondary was a major weakness and Conley did not help much to address it. John Johnson, who was taken in the third round by the Rams, has been a pleasant surprise. He had 11 pass deflections in each of his first two seasons. An injury cost him most of the 2019 season, but that type of presence in the secondary is what Oakland could have used.
25 Houston Texans: LB Jarrad Davis
Original pick: QB Deshaun Watson (No. 12 pick)
Obviously, the Texans did everything right in 2017 by trading up to get Watson. But what if Watson is already gone? Would Houston still trade up? Probably not, but they would be kind of screwed picking in this spot. It would be too high for Trubisky, and too high for any other lineman. They took a linebacker in Zach Cunningham in the second round, so they instead shift there and take Jarrad Davis, who would be a welcome addition to the Texans defense.
26 Seattle Seahawks: TE Evan Engram
Original pick: DT Malik McDowell (No. 35 pick)
The Seahawks originally traded back from this pick (twice), into the second round to take a defensive tackle. But with an aging Jimmy Graham and Russell Wilson losing some of his weapons over the next few years, the Seahawks roll with Engram, the tight end with big receiving numbers who would be the perfect security blanket for Russell Wilson.
27 Kansas City Chiefs: DB Desmond King
Original pick: QB Patrick Mahomes (No. 10 pick)
Oh, boy, how history could have changed? With Mahomes as the No. 1 pick in the draft, that means the Chiefs never trade up from the 25th spot to get their franchise quarterback. But Kansas City was still a year away from actually playing Mahomes. So, with the quarterback out of the picture, the Chiefs are able to focus on their defense. King, an original fifth-round pick, saw some of his stock drop in 2019, but his All-Pro 2018 season is enough to bump him up as a late first round pick and eventual replacement for Marcus Peters in Kansas City.
28 Dallas Cowboys: WR Kenny Golladay
Original Pick: DE Taco Charlton
The 2017 season was the Cowboys' last season with Dez Bryant. While they may not have known it at the time, the Cowboys would be searching for a No. 1 wideout for Dak Prescott the next few years, eventually landing on Amari Cooper. But, int his redraft, that never happens as Dallas prepares for the future with Kenny Golladay, who has had the third-most receiving yards of any player in the 2017 draft.
29 Green Bay Packers: TE O.J. Howard
Original pick: CB Kevin King (No. 33 pick)
While O.J. Howard has not lived up to expectations in Tampa Bay, he would help fill the Jimmy Graham-sized hole at the position in Green Bay. Put him in the Packers offense with Aaron Rodgers, where he would most definitely be utilized, and Howard could reach his full potential while helping the Packers along the way.
30 Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Corey Davis
Original pick: OLB T.J. Watt
The Steelers actually had an excellent draft in 2017. Not only did they get great value with T.J. Watt in the late first round, but they also snagged JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round, and James Conner in the fifth round. It was tough not putting Conner here as a first rounder, but Corey Davis fills a more immediate need as a No. 2 receiver in Pittsburgh who eventually takes the role as No. 1 once the team rids itself of Antonio Brown.
31 Atlanta Falcons: DE Takkaris McKinley
Original pick: DE Takkaris McKinley (No. 26 pick)
This was coming off the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, so defense needed to be addressed. While the Falcons have not quite found the same success since that Super Bowl, it's hard to argue with the pick of McKinley. He's had 16.5 sacks in three seasons and has been among the better pass rushers to come out of this draft.
32 New Orleans Saints: S Marcus Williams
Original Pick: OT Ryan Ramczyk
Williams marks the fourth Saint to be taken in the first round of our redraft, which is a testament to New Orleans and explains why they have been perennial Super Bowl contenders in recent years. Williams originally went 10 picks later in the second round to the Saints, but after what we know now, New Orleans can't risk waiting that long and get their safety at the end of the first round.