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2017 NFL Draft: Surprise quarterback frenzy shakes up Round 1

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Remember these prices when we are preparing for the 2018 NFL Draft, with a quarterback class that is already expected to be much stronger than this one, when Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins could be in play, too.

In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, lacking even one quarterback prospect thought to be fully ready to play this season, the price to bet on the future was exorbitant. With one of the deepest defensive classes in years waiting for the call, three gigantic trades shaped the top half of the first round, all for quarterbacks that, in a perfect world, would not even see the field for at least a season.

At least one of them -- Deshaun Watson in Houston -- almost surely will play at some point in 2017, considering the presumptive opening-day starter for the Texans is Tom Savage. Houston's need for a quarterback was obvious as soon as former Cowboy Tony Romo headed to the broadcast booth instead of being traded to the Texans, leaving a playoff team still needing to solve its biggest weakness. But to get Watson with the 12th overall pick, the Texans had to give the Browns their first-round pick this year (25th overall) and their first-round pick next year. The Browns, then, became the team that did not reach for a quarterback. Go figure.

Watson led Clemson to the national championship, but his propensity for interceptions must give Texans coach Bill O'Brien pause. Still, after the Brock Osweiler disaster last year, the Texans have taken another big swing at getting their quarterback of the future, and this time, they will stay wedded to him for more than one year, putting the pressure on O'Brien to make this work, and work quickly.

After the pick, general manager Rick Smith and O'Brien both stressed that Savage was the starter, believing that Watson still has a lot to learn.

Houston's pursuit of a quarterback was not a surprise, but the Bears' was. They signed Mike Glennon to be their starter in free agency, and not much more outside thought was given to the team's quarterback situation, considering how many other needs Chicago's roster has. But when the Bears stunned the draft by moving up from the third to the second spot overall -- getting robbed by new 49ers GM John Lynch for this year's third- and fourth-round picks and next year's third-round pick -- they swiped Mitchell Trubisky ahead of other teams, like the Browns, who were eyeing him. Trubisky said the Bears had not worked him out, met with him privately or even spoken to him after the NFL Scouting Combine, and he admitted "everyone was surprised" when he was the pick.

It is hard not to view this, still, as an over-draft.

"Is it OK to be speechless?" said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. "The second pick of the draft?"

It caps a rapid rise for Trubisky, who gave many personnel executives pause because he started just 13 games for North Carolina last season. The Bears will be able to get out of Glennon's contract after one season with little financial burden, so this would seem to be the ideal scenario for Trubisky. He can sit and learn without the pressure of immediately starting. But it creates an awkward situation for coach John Fox, who won just three games last season and must be wondering whether his future will be more assured if it is hitched to Glennon or Trubisky.

It also raised the obvious question: Are the 49ers positioning themselves for a future run at Cousins, who thrived with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator in Washington and who has been franchise-tagged for the second straight year? The 49ers emerged with the player they wanted anyway, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, at No. 3 overall. The trade so favored the 49ers that even other executives around the league remarked on it.

"The move that Chicago and San Francisco made, talk about would you like to be the recipient of one of those?" said Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations. "To get what you had in mind right off the bat and pick up those extra picks? Pretty nice deal. I've never seen one of those. Oh my gosh, nothing like that has ever come my way."

In fact, the most ideal situation may now be in Kansas City, which already has two-time Pro Bowler Alex Smith entrenched as the starting quarterback but has clearly seen that there is a playoff ceiling with him (Smith has a 2-4 lifetime postseason record). They, too, gave up a ransom to the Bills -- their first- and third-round picks this year and their first-rounder next year -- to move up to the 10th overall spot to select Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes, who is often compared to Brett Favre as a gunslinger with a huge arm and tremendous athletic ability, will now get to learn from one of Favre's former teachers, Chiefs coach Andy Reid, while sitting behind Smith.

"We have to be patient with him," Reid said.

It was a rare moment of sensibility about quarterbacks Thursday night.

Follow Judy Battista on Twitter @judybattista.

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