The Browns didn’t get a quarterback in the first round, but they did get the player who might be the best athlete in the class.
After trading down from the No. 12 spot, the Browns selected Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers with the 25th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Peppers tested positive for a dilute sample at the NFL Combine in March and could be subject to NFL discipline before he can make his regular-season debut if the league deems the positive result a violation of the NFL’s policy against drugs.
Buoniconti detailed how he estimated he took 520,000 hits to the head and that MRI tests over the past two years have revealed brain shrinkage and other brain abnormalities.
“I feel lost,” he said. “I feel like a child.”
It’s a far cry from the former life of the Dolphins co-captain, a sturdy linebacker who led Miami to three Super Bowls in a row. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, a two-time Super Bowl champion and capped off his successful NFL career with a stint in broadcasting and business.
But his world changed when his son, Marc, dislocated his neck playing college football at The Citadel in 1985. He was paralyzed from the neck down, and Buoniconti felt that God was punishing him.
However, he became a pillar for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, helping raise millions of dollars for the cause. At that time he was feeling great. But over the past two years he has felt the effects of constantly being hit in the head.
“I didn’t have any idea the price would be this debilitating,” Buoniconti said. “Had I known, would I have played? I had no alternative; there was no other way for me to get a college education.
“Football kept rewarding me — I can’t deny that. But I’m paying the price. Everybody pays the piper.”
We all know LeBron James’ jump shot has been the one imperfection in his game, a small foible in his game that makes sure he’s not a total cheat code. But, like, James is also a really good shooter. Maybe he won’t beat an average player in a shooting competition around the arc, but he can laugh and then bury a three in your face if he’s feeling extra mean-spirited.
And then he can do it again with an identical shot on the next possession.
I swear these are different shots that happened on back-to-back plays. It’s like those “spot the differences” brain puzzles that we all looked at as kids. The referee is walking to his spot in one, rather than already being there; James already has the ball at a standstill, rather than stepping into it; P.J. Tucker beings his box out a little deeper on Tristan Thompson. Obviously, it’s the exact same offensive set guarded by the same defense, but even past that, nearly everything in these two gifs are the same.
And James is laughing his way to the bench with six more points, knowing he’s almost guaranteed to be the new all-time NBA postseason scoring leader by the time the Cavaliers’ run ends.
Patton blossomed into one of the best two-way centers in the country as a redshirt freshman at Creighton this season. He shot 67.6 percent from the field, but his best value comes on defense. He’d be another long, quick athlete for the Bucks’ fleet.
— Harry Giles, PF/C, Duke
Giles was projected as the possible No. 1 overall pick coming into this season before more knee trouble slowed him down in his only season at Duke. He’s essentially a medical decision at this point. If he can get back to the form he showed as a recruit and stay healthy, Indiana could have a major steal here.
When you’re talking about the draft’s best player, it can be easy to poke holes. Garrett at times struggles to get off blocks, and he’ll probably never be an ace run stopper at the edge. Sometimes he’ll overrun the play. His best production came against bad competition.
But when you look at the whole, he’s a marvelous talent. A three-year player at Texas A&M, Garrett finished with 145 tackles, 48.5 tackles for loss, 32.5 sacks, and seven forced fumbles. At 6’4, 272 pounds and with 35-inch arms, Garrett has prototypical size. His athleticism has never been more obvious than it was when he ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at the combine.
He’s not Von Miller quick, but no one ever will be, and Garrett is close. He possesses that first-step burst you want. How Garrett moves after that first step is what puts him over the top. He builds on speed with more speed. When he wants to mix up his pass rush, instead of bending the edge he employs a nasty spin move. If the Browns are creative, they’ll use him with his hand in the dirt and standing up. Garrett excels at the little things: He gets his hands up to bat down passes and finishes tackles. He rarely came off the field at A&M. He was slowed by a leg injury in 2016 but attempted to play through it.
Garrett is the best player — not just the best edge player — to be in the draft since Jadeveon Clowney in 2014.
Some questioned Brown’s decision to go pro with only one full season of collegiate experience under his belt. But the wideout found confidence in the decision having gone through his injury and rehab, both mentally and physically.
“That was one of the biggest parts of my decision. When I was hurt, I realized how quickly football could be taken away. This is the dream of my childhood,” Brown said.
When an injured Leonard Fournette skipped LSU’s bowl win over Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson’s Louisville and an injured Christian McCaffrey skipped Stanford’s bowl win over potential No. 1 QB Mitch Trubisky’s North Carolina, the world ended.
Remember all the yelling at the time, about these two college students skipping group projects in order to prepare for their professional careers?
And while that isn’t exactly what he said, it’s really not much of a twisting of his words. Kizer really believes that the level of preparation and dedication that he brings to football could make him a special player in the NFL when mixed with his talent.
“Name a college quarterback who goes into the game-plan meetings on Monday and throws his notes at the coaches,” Kizer said. “No one else game plans the way I do. No one else prepares the way I do. No one else knows football the way I do. No one else is as big as I am. No one else is as powerful a runner as I am. Pat Mahomes might throw the ball 80 yards and I can only throw the ball 72, but I guarantee he can’t throw an out route the way I can.”
Quarterback is a position that requires a certain moxie, so that level of confidence isn’t a bad thing for Kizer. However, it appears unlikely that he’ll be the first quarterback off the board.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar ranks Kizer as the third-best quarterback in the class, but didn’t slot Kizer in the first round of his most recent mock draft. But judging by Kizer’s interview with USA Today, it’s going to take more than a slide out of the first round to shake his confidence.