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Instant Debate

Which team won the 2017 NFL Draft? Browns, Jags, 49ers lead the pack

With all 32 teams selecting a total of 253 players in the 2017 NFL Draft, it's time to look at which teams improved most over the weekend. To keep it simple:

Which team won the draft?

I'm taking Cleveland on this one. The Browns are still a long way from being competitive, but they put themselves in a nice position this past weekend. They selected the best player in the draft (DE Myles Garrett), the most versatile defensive back (S Jabrill Peppers) and a tight end with enormous upside (David Njoku) in the first round. They also landed a quarterback of the future in DeShone Kizer. But what puts them over the top is the five additional picks they will have in 2018 as a result of some smart trades. On paper, this franchise is starting to move in the right direction. I'll say the San Francisco 49ers had the best draft. They fleeced Chicago out of a bunch of picks that they used to trade for other needs -- namely linebacker Reuben Foster. I think they got one of the best defensive linemen in Solomon Thomas and the best linebacker in Foster in the draft. The Niners had the worst defense last season, and they immediately improved that unit.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch showed they can work together in a building that has been largely dysfunctional over the last five years. It looks like the a new era is starting in San Francisco. You mean besides Takk McKinley's dad's chapeau? Then I'll go with offense in the AFC South: The Jags got LSU stud runner Leonard Fournette and some much-needed blind-side help for Blake Bortles in Cam Robinson; the Titans became three times more dangerous in the passing game with YAC hero Corey Davis and two more pass catchers (WR Taywan Taylor and TE Jonnu Smith); and the Texans got the reigning national champeen's QB, who -- no matter what Rick Smith says a month before Memorial Day -- will play a significant role if the talented Texans are to make a playoff run. In the meantime, the Colts zigged while their foes zagged, loading up with some difference makers on D (S Malik Hooker and CB Quincy Wilson, among others). Should make for a VERY contentious (in a good way!) divisional race. But back to that hat ... I can't disparage anything Cleveland or San Francisco did this weekend, but I'm going with the 49ers. They gained picks and brought in Day 1 starters in Round 1 ( Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster), and I like that they selected a quarterback (C.J. Beathard), a running back (Joe Williams), a wideout (Trent Taylor) and several defenders in the backfield ( Ahkello Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert) for depth.

A ton of other teams improved immensely after the draft, including Washington, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. I'm excited to see how these rookies contribute in 2017. It's hard to argue against what the Browns did, especially when everyone thought they were going to do what the Chicago Bears did. Cleveland held their ground and made trades when needed, drafting first-round talents -- Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, David Njoku and DeShone Kizer -- with their first four selections. Tom Coughlin took over the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise and claimed he wanted to make it a tougher team. His mission statement was reflected in the draft. First-round selection Leonard Fournette gives the Jags a dominant presence in the run game, and adding a people-mover in Cam Robinson should allow them to play ground-and-pound football in the AFC South. Dede Westbrook gives Blake Bortles another option in the passing game, which should help Bortles reach his potential as a franchise QB.

With a defense that is already in the top 10, the additions of Blair Brown and others fortifies their strength and could propel the Jags to the top of the AFC South. I think everybody did a very good job in the draft. I don't think I saw any teams drafting anyone who shouldn't be drafted. That said, San Francisco has to be the team that did the best, probably, simply because the 49ers landed the player they wanted (Solomon Thomas) and extra picks, in addition to moving up to snag Reuben Foster at the end of Round 1. They were fortunate, to say the least, that the Bears wanted Mitch Trubisky.

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