Quarterbacks – Most sites have either Mitch Trubisky or Deshone Kizer rated as their number one passer, but not here. Deshaun Watson throws a ton of interceptions, but so did Jameis Winston and he’s turned out fine. Watson’s ceiling is about as high as one can be for a quarterback process. He has a big arm, otherworldly athleticism, and a knack for stepping up when the lights shine the brightest. His scouting report reads a lot like someone combined Marcus Mariota and the aforementioned Winston into one prospect taking pros from both – Mariota’s athleticism, Winston’s arm and late game heroics – as well as inheriting the two’s red flags – like Mariota, he didn’t play under center and like Winston he has a hitch in his delivery and throws high.
Behind Watson are a trio of question marks in Trusbisky, Kizer, and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. Trubisky is the most highly touted as of now, but that could change. He’s got the size, the arm, enough athleticism, and put up some really good numbers in his lone year as the starter in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels lost 3 of their final 4 games and Trubisky’s final college play was a sack that sealed a bowl-loss to Stanford. The arm talent is there even if the resume is short. Kizer went to Notre Dame and looks great on paper. He certainly wasn’t the reason that the Irish lost twice as many games as they won this year, but going back to 2015, Kizer is 4-10 in his last 14 starts. That’s somewhat concerning. His inconsistency and accuracy also raise some flags.
Mahomes is the most interesting prospect in the group by a long margin. He’s big, he’s athletic, and has elite arm talent. In many ways, he’s a smaller version of Cam Newton, all the way down to the mechanical idiosyncrasies with wrist-throws and questionable footwork. Like Newton, and Watson, Mahomes played in a spread-system that didn’t require him to make many of the reads needed at the NFL level. Similar to Mariota though, Mahomes made incredibly quick and sound decisions at Texas Tech that could hint towards his ability to adjust. A strong combine could push him into the top 20 and potentially the first or second QB off the board.
Running Backs- Leonard Fournette is in prime postion to be the first running back taken in the draft. The LSU prodigy could possibly go in the top five, but is a virtual lock to go inside the top ten. There hasn’t been this much buzz around a running back since Adrian Peterson was at Oklahoma. Fournette has all the desired tools as a running back. Power, speed, vision, Fournette could very well be the crown jewel of the entire draft. Florida State’s Dalvin Cook is most likely the second halfback to be selected. Cook is a shifty runner, who excels in space. He’s fast enough to score anytime he touches the ball, but also has the quickness to be effective in short yardage. Expect him to go in the first twenty picks. Things get interesting after that, in terms of who will be thought of as the best running back.
Christian McCaffery has excellent hands and incredible lateral movement. He is a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. The Stanford product will lineup all over the field. He’s capable of playing in the slot, out wide, returning kicks, and can do nearly anything his coach would ask of him. Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel also fits the mold of the shifty playmaker, who constantly demands attention. If you’re looking for workhorse, every-down back after the first round, Alvin Kamara of Tennessee or Oklahoma’s Semaje Perine may be the best options available. Both backs love to run north-and -south and have an all-purpose style that makes them good fits on nearly any team. Team’s looking for a bruising power-back should look no further than D’Onta Foreman. The 6’1 249 pound Texas product is the most physically dominating back to come out of UT since the great Earl Campbell. Raw power.
Wide Receiver – The top two receivers in this class are as good a duo as you’ll find in any draft. Mike Williams is big, physical, and athletic. Corey Davis is polished, blazing fast, and they both have track records of stepping up in the biggest moments. One of these two will be the first receiver off the board, though it’s not clear which. The combine and some workouts could be the difference. A team looking for a surefire #1 will probably lean towards Williams who is a savage at the point of attack and will manhandle corners for years to come. The basketball player boxing out analogy gets overused, but Williams is great at it. He routinely punk’d Bama’s defensive backs in the national title game and was clearly a difference maker. Davis is just as fun a prospect, though he’s going to appeal more to teams who need a #2 who can take the top off of a defense and run great routes. He can be a #1 as well, but it’s just easier to see him as an elite #2.
John Ross from Washington is likely the third receiver off the board. Ross has knees made of paper mache but the voodoo magic holding them together also gives him mind numbing speed. He struggled with the same Bama DBs that Williams bullied, but that’s because they’re different players. Ross is a gamebreaker like Desean Jackson though not as good and again, his knees. Others to watch will be Juju Smith-Schuster, Dede Westbrook, and Cooper Kupp. Another guy who may see a big combine/workout boost is Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford. Ford is big and has mind-boggling athleticism with the production to match
Tight End – The 2017 tight end class is OJ Howard and a bunch of high-risk gambles. Howard is everything you want from a tight end. If this class has a Gronk, it’s him. Howard has top-end athleticism for the position, strong hands, and is a powerhouse blocker. He was underused at Alabama, but the dude is a flat out stud. Ask Clemson. Behind Howard, Jake Butt was probably the number two before tearing his ACL against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Butt has the best hands in the class, is a fantastic route runner, and like Howard, has intangibles that you can’t coach. Butt improved tremendously as a blocker under Jim Harbaugh and his son, who was the tight end coach. Butt compares favorably to Tampa Bay tight end Cameron Brate, though he’s bigger and a better blocker.
With Butt recovering from surgery, the number two tight end battle is much more interesting. Bucky Hodges from Virginia Tech is an athletic freak who stands at 6’7 and provided stable, if not eye-popping production for the hokies. David Njoku is likely to be this class’ “burner” at the position, and should also see a bump around the combine. Jordan Leggett of Clemson and Evan Ingram from Ole Miss are two others to watch. Both were very productive players with solid all-around games.
Offensive Lineman- The offensive tackle position is headlined by Cam Robinson and Ryan Ramczyk. Robinson was the best lineman on an Alabama team that rolled over everyone until their ultimate demise in the national championship. Standing 6’5 and weighing 325 lbs. Robinson has elite athleticism for the offensive tackle position. He should run a 40-yard dash in the ballpark of 5.00. Robinson has been lining up against the best defensive lineman in the FBS all season long and from a pure talent standpoint should be the first lineman off the board.
Former D-III player, turned Wisconsin Badger Ryan Ramczyk is the other tackle that should be a 1st round lock. Much like Robinson, Ramczyk has been squaring up against some of the best defensive ends in the entire NCAA. Ramzyk isn’t the supreme athlete Robinson is, but has ideal technique as a blocker.
As far as other lineman with hopes of going in the first round, keep an eye out for Pat Elflein andForrest Lamp,