The time has come once again to discuss the NFL Draft. After nearly five months of speculation, rumors and evaluations, the time has officially come for the Commissioner to read off the first name on the card.
This year’s draft is a bit strange.
At the top of the draft is Myles Garrett, a generational pass rusher out of Texas A&M with the quickness and burst to terrify offensive tackles for years to come.
However, no one can seem to agree on an order after Garrett. Players like Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas, and Marshon Lattimore are elite prospects, but are they really “generational talents” like we talk about with Garrett?
This year’s running back class was billed six or seven months ago to be the best in a decade, but if anything we’ve seen them slip down boards throughout this process. Meanwhile, the quarterback class was supposed to be lackluster, but it seems as if teams have fallen in love with names like Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.
I have spent the last couple of months watching as much film as I can on these top NFL prospects. To be fair, I haven’t watched as many players as other evaluators have (some have watched close to 300 players), but I feel like I have a good grasp on these top prospects.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the top prospects available in the 2017 NFL Draft.
1. Myles Garrett, edge rusher, Texas A&M, 6-4, 272-pounds
There isn’t much to say about Garrett that hasn’t already been said. He’s the best player in this class for a reason. He has the size, quickness and strength to be a Von Miller/DeMarcus Ware-type pass rusher for a decade in the league. The Browns have an easy call to make with the top pick.
2. Marson Lattimore, cornerback, Ohio State, 6-0, 193-pounds
I believe Lattimore is the best cover cornerback in the draft. At 6-0, 193-pounds, he has ideal size for the position and also has the makeup speed to catch up to receivers if he does get beat off the line of scrimmage.
3. Jamal Adams, safety, Louisiana State, 5-11, 214-pounds
Adams is an enforcer. A prototypical strong safety, Adams hurts people when he tackles them. He is athletic and versatile enough to be a box safety with some nickel responsibilities as well.
4. Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Clemson, 6-2, 221-pounds
I have spent the last three seasons watching Watson tear up college football. Name me another player that took it to Alabama like Watson did in back-to-back championship games. To me, Watson is the clear cut top quarterback for his intangibles, poise and ability to create with his arms and legs.
5. Jonathan Allen, defensive lineman, Alabama, 6-2, 286-pounds
Allen is one of the most interesting players in the draft. He can play on the edge or kick inside to be an interior pass rusher, but he plays at a high level regardless of position. I think he’ll be a fit in any defense.
6. Malik Hooker, safety, Ohio State, 6-1, 206-pound
Despite only one year of production, Hooker is exactly what the NFL wants in a defensive back. As a free safety, he has a knack for getting his hands on the ball. In an NFL defense, you can trust him to be a single-high safety and patrol the back end of the secondary.
7. Dalvin Cook, running back, Florida State, 5-10, 210-pounds
Perhaps this is the Florida State fan in me talking, but Cook is the best running back in this draft. For three years, I’ve watched him carve up good defenses despite having lackluster protection in front of him. As a junior, he also improved on his his receiving as well and should be an instant impact type of player.
8. O.J. Howard, tight end, Alabama, 6-5, 251-pounds
You aren’t drafting Howard based on what he did at Alabama, but rather what he could become. An athletic freak, Howard has the potential to turn into a Greg Olsen-type player for a franchise.
9. Solomon Thomas, defensive lineman, Stanford, 6-2, 273-pounds
Similar to Jon Allen, Thomas is a player that can both play on the edge or kick inside. He struggles against double teams, so perhaps he will be more of an outside player in the league. Regardless, his high motor will keep him on an NFL roster for a long time.
10. Mike Williams, wide receiver, Clemson, 6-3, 218-pounds
Williams is the best receiver in this draft when the ball is in the air. At 6-3, he uses his size to his advantage, boxing out defenders and making grabs higher than defensive backs can reach. He doesn’t have elite speed, but his size and ball skills can make him a No. 1 receiver in this league.
11. Reuben Foster, linebacker, 6-0, 229-pounds
Foster has had a rough draft process between his Combine incident and diluted drug test. He may fall, but some team will be getting a steal. Foster arrives with bad intentions, knocking player out of their cleats and making big stops in the run game.
12. Leonard Fournette, running back, 6-0, 240-pounds
Fournette is a beast. Go back and watch him run through, over and around SEC-level talent over the past three years. He thrives in an I-Formation, power-run type offense, but has shown that he can also catch the ball out of the backfield as well.
13. Zach Cunningham, linebacker, Vanderbilt, 6-3, 234-pounds
On a terrible Vanderbilt defense, Cunningham was the only saving grace. He has the speed and athleticism to be a sideline-to-sideline type of player in this league.
14. Malik McDowell, defensive lineman, Michigan State, 6-6, 295-pounds
I’ve heard whispers of effort issues with McDowell, but he was playing on a terrible 4-8 Spartans team. Go back and watch film from his freshman and sophomore seasons where he was destroying offenses because he lived in the backfield. This kid can play.
15. Corey Davis, wide receiver, Western Michigan, 6-2, 209-pounds
Davis is a tough evaluation, mostly because he played against MAC-level competition and has not tested at all this offseason due to an injury. On tape, he might be the most dynamic wide receiver in this class. Teams will have to decide whether that’s enough to warrant a first-round pick on him.
16. Joe Mixon, running back, Oklahoma, 6-1, 227-pounds
Yes, the incident that occurred with Mixon three years ago will be something that teams will have to take into account. Speaking strictly in terms of on-the-field performance, Mixon is a dynamic runner who is also elite at catching the ball out of the backfield or on routes.
17. DeShone Kizer, quarterback, Notre Dame, 6-4, 233-pounds
I’d argue that Kizer has the highest ceiling out of any quarterback in this draft. Some of the throws that he made in college are just ridiculous. Of course, the major question surrounding Kizer is Notre Dame’s dreadful 4-8 season. I think Kizer, if he’s given time and patience, can be a superstar.
18. David Njoku, tight end, Miami (FL), 6-4, 246-pounds
This is a year for athletic tight ends and Njoku might be the freakiest out of them all. He isn’t elite in the blocking game, but can be a true red-zone weapon for a team that will utilize him in the right manner.
19. Marlon Humphrey, cornerback, Alabama, 6-0, 197-pounds
A world-class track athlete, Humphrey has all the tools to be a star cornerback in the league. Length, speed and size are all a part of his game. Putting them together to be a shutdown corner is still a work in progress, however.
20. Christian McCaffrey, running back, Stanford, 5-11, 202-pounds
Perhaps the most polarizing player in the draft, McCaffrey has a chance to be a special talent as a pro. He can carry the rock out of the backfield or flex out wide to be a receiver. It’ll take a creative head coach and offensive coordinator to get the most out of his game.
21. Derek Barnett, edge rusher, Tennessee, 6-3, 259-pounds
Barnett is not an explosive edge rusher, but is a solid all-around player. He broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee and has the tools to be a rotational player or starter from day one on most teams.
22. Takkarist McKinley, edge rusher, California-Los Angeles, 6-2, 250-pounds
McKinley has been hampered by an injury throughout the pre-draft process, but the tape shows that he is an explosive pass rusher. He has a good first step and perhaps would go higher in the draft if he had been able to workout for teams.
23. Gareon Conley, cornerback, Ohio State, 6-0, 195-pound
Disclaimer: Conley is currently being investigated on sexual assault charges stemming from an incident in Cleveland. He has not been charged, but I will update this list if anything changes with that situation.
Conley is an interesting prospect, as he was overshadowed by his fellow cornerback teammate Lattimore at Ohio State. In his own right, Conley has the length and speed to be a shutdown corner in the league.
24. John Ross, wide receiver, Washington, 5-10, 188-pounds
The man who broke Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record, Ross is a player who has the speed to take the top off of a defense. However, he comes with a host of medical red flags that will scare some teams off.
25. Charles Harris, edge rusher, Missouri, 6-2, 253-pounds
Another player from Missouri’s “defensive line factory,” Harris has a good first step and enough athleticism to terrorize offensive tackles around the edge. He is not a super athletic player per some analytics, but the tape shows that he is capable of playing at a high level.
26. Quincy Wilson, cornerback, Florida, 6-1, 211-pounds
One half of the terrifying Florida cornerback duo, Wilson has great length and size for the position. He also has a knack for finding the ball in the air, something that teams will value when looking at defensive backs.
27. Haasan Reddick, linebacker, Temple, 6-1, 237-pounds
A former walk-on, Reddick has blossomed into a freakish draft prospect. He played as an edge rusher in college, but worked as a middle linebacker at the Senior Bowl to high results. He still has a bit of refinement left, but once he finds his position in the league he should thrive.
28. Obi Melifonwu, safety, Connecticut, 6-3, 224-pounds
One of the fastest rising prospects in the draft, Melifonwu embodies everything that the NFL wants in a big, strong and lengthy defensive back. He sometimes plays a bit skittish, but has the potential to grow into an elite safety on the back end.
29. T.J. Watt, edge rusher, Wisconsin, 6-4, 252-pounds
Like his older brother, Watt is an athletic pass rusher. He isn’t quite the player that J.J. is, but T.J. brings his own set of skills to the table when taking on offensive tackles around the edge. He has only been rushing the quarterback for a few years, so there is room for growth in his game as well.
30. Cam Robinson, offensive tackle, Alabama, 6-6, 322-pounds
In my opinion, Robinson is the best of a poor group of offensive linemen. A three year starter at Alabama, Robinson is athletic enough to match up against some of the best rushers in the league. He’ll get the job done.
31. Carl Lawson, edge rusher, Auburn, 6-1, 261-pounds
Lawson is a bit undersized, but has the burst and speed to be a consistent force off of the edge. He has been hampered by injuries throughout his career, so teams will have to be cautious with their approach on him.
32. Tre’Davious White, cornerback, Louisiana State, 5-11, 192-pounds
There may be nothing flashy or exciting about White’s game, but he rarely makes mistakes. He passed over declaring early last year and got noticeably better as a senior. He’ll be a starter right away in the league.
33. Mitch Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina, 6-2, 222-pounds
Trubisky checks many of the boxes when evaluating quarterbacks: mobility, size and arm strength. But as a one year starter in college, there are major questions about his leadership capabilities and intangibles. If you’re taking him in the first round, you’re banking on him being your day one starter and a player that teammates will look up to.
34. Tim Williams, edge rusher, Alabama, 6-2, 244-pounds
On a per-snap basis, there might not be a more consistent edge rusher in this class than Williams. But off-the-field issues plagues him throughout college and he was consistently in Saban’s doghouse. If you feel like you can trust him, he’s worthy of an early pick.
35. Kevin King, cornerback, Washington, 6-3, 200-pounds
Another fast riser, King has seen his stock soar this offseason. The league loves lengthy cornerbacks and King embodies everything about that. At 6-3, 200-pounds, he has the size and skills to be a playmaker from the first snap.
36. Taco Charlton, edge rusher, Michigan, 6-5, 277-pounds
Charlton is a very solid player with a high floor. He might not be a superstar pass rusher, but he’ll give you consistent play from the defensive end position during his career.
37. Budda Baker, safety, Washington, 5-9, 195-pounds
If Baker was three inches taller, we’d be talking about him as a Top-5 pick. But he’s not and there are a handful of teams who will refuse to draft a 5-9 defensive back. Baker is worthy of an early pick though, and might be one of my favorite pure football players in this class.
38. Forrest Lamp, offensive guard, Western Kentucky, 6-3, 309-pounds
Lamp played left tackle in college, but projects to be a guard in the league. Still, he played well against teams like Alabama in college and might be a Zach Martin-type of player in the league after making the transition from tackle to guard.
39. Teez Tabor, cornerback, Florida, 6-0, 199-pounds
Tabor has had a horrible pre-draft process, from running a 4.7 40-yard dash to apparently poor interviews. But turn on the tape and you’ll see an athletic cornerback who rarely gave up big plays down the field.
40. Alvin Kamara, running back, Tennessee, 5-10, 214-pounds
Kamara is a complete running back, capable of toting the rock or catching it out of the backfield. He is one of the few backs in this class who could play all three downs at the next level as well.
41. Jabrill Peppers, safety, Michigan, 5-10, 213-pounds
Is he a safety? Or a linebacker? Or maybe an offensive weapon? These questions have surrounded Peppers the entire draft process. Peppers is a good football player who just hasn’t quite found his position yet, and you can bet that some team will be willing to take him in the early rounds and bank on his athleticism.
42. Derek Rivers, edge rusher, Youngstown State, 6-3, 248-pounds
Rivers is likely to be the first FCS player to be drafted this year and for good reason. He is a terrific edge rusher and is likely to push for early snaps regardless of where he is drafted. You want him on your team.
43. Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Texas Tech, 6-2, 225-pounds
Mahomes has the best arm out of anyone in this class and has been compared to Brett Favre. But his college tape shows that a lot of his highlight plays were not made from structure. A lot of his game was based around scrambling around and heaving the ball deep. Some team will fall in love with the pure arm talent, but Mahomes definitely needs time to sit and learn an offensive system.
44. Fabian Moreau, cornerback, California-Los Angeles, 6-0, 206-pounds
Moreau unfortunately suffered a pectoral injury at his pro day, which will hamper his stock a bit. When healthy, he is an athletic cornerback who may not have the highest ceiling out of the defensive backs in this class, but can give you good play from day one in any system.
45. Ryan Ramcyzk, offensive tackle, Wisconsin, 6-6, 310-pounds
While many scouts see Ramcyzk as the top tackle available and a potential Top-10 pick, I just don’t see it. He is coming off of hip surgery and did not shut down edge rushers in college like you want to see from top prospects. He’ll be a good player in the league if he can stay healthy.
46. Jarrad Davis, linebacker, Florida, 6-1, 238-pounds
Davis passed up the draft last year to return to school and made the most out of his opportunities. He is athletic enough to be a three-down linebacker in the league and could sneak into the back half of the first round.
47. Samaje Perine, running back, Oklahoma, 5-10, 233-pounds
Perine is much different from his teammate Mixon. He is a freight truck, capable of running over and through defensive players of any size. He owns the NCAA single-game rushing record and has proved for three years that he has the potential to be a workhorse running back.
48. Evan Engram, tight end, Ole Miss, 6-3, 234-pounds
Engram embodies the “new” tight end that we’re seeing pop up at all levels of football. If a team can utilize him in a Jordan Reed-type roll, Engram will use his 4.4-speed to terrorize defenses.
49. Ryan Switzer, wide receiver, North Carolina, 5-8, 191-pounds
One of my favorite players in the class, Switzer is the best slot receiver available. He is electric as a return man, sneaky athletic when coming out of the slot, and might play longer in the league than anyone in the class.
50. Jake Butt, tight end, Michigan, 6-5, 246-pounds
Butt tore his ACL in the Orange Bowl against Florida State (Go ‘Noles), but is perhaps the most complete tight end in the class when healthy. He has been compared to Jason Witten simply because he is one of the only “throwback” tight ends in this class, capable of blocking like a mad man and also catching the ball at a high level.
51. Sidney Jones, cornerback, Washington, 6-0, 186-pounds
If Jones did get hurt during his pro day, he might be a Top-15 pick. But he will have to miss at least some of his rookie season, which hurts his stock. If a team can draft and sit him, they’ll be getting an athletic cornerback with their gamble.