With the 2017 NFL Draft less than a week from today, I finally put up my predictions for the first round. It is basically impossible to predict all the picks, because of the crazy things happening on draft day every year, whether that be trades or last-minute information coming up, which led to Laremy Tunsil sliding pretty far last year. I decided to leave the order the way it is and try to mock the first round that way. The number one pick should be easy, but nobody really knows for sure what will happen from there on. Each pick can have a domino-effect on the entire draft and things could shape up completely different. Here’s what I came up with:
Over the last five weeks I ranked my top prospects at each position in the draft. Now that I’ve finished evaluating them all and putting lists together, I compiled all of that into a top 100 big board. The crazy part about this list is that it includes a total 27 defensive backs. On the other hand I have only six quarterbacks and offensive tackles respectively on my board – the two most important offensive positions according to most coaches. This is an extremely deep draft at so many positions, which kept some great players off my list, so I added ten more names.
Different to my positional rankings, I took injuries and off-the-field concerns into account. If you are interested in analyses on the top prospects at each position, you can find them all right here.
After publishing my rankings on all the other positions in the draft, I want to wrap things up with the quarterback class. Overall this is a pretty weak group of signal-callers coming into the league for this upcoming season. There are four of them that could end up being selected in the first round because of how many teams are looking for a QB. After that the other players available all have question marks, whether those are injuries, a lack of size or arm strength, accuracy or decision-making. Personally I would only select two of them in the first round and maybe another five on day two.
I watched tape on a few other guys if you want my opinion on them, but this is a very good and deep draft at many positions. Some teams will reach to find their solution at the most important position, while better prospects stay on the board.
This year’s linebacker class is pretty interesting. There’s the All-Conference players most college football viewers know, but there are a couple of guys who have helped there stock immensely in the pre-draft process. I include inside- and outside in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Some of the players mentioned could have also been mentioned among the edge rushers, but I decided to list them here because I see the versatility to fit multiple schemes. I think my LBs froms one to ten are all top 100 prospects and there are a bunch of guys I really like, who will probably hear their names called on day three.
I mentioned a number of extra guys at the bottom. If you’re interested in a scouting report on one of them, just let me know. I didn’t want to make this article even longer.
If this year’s class of tight-ends isn’t the best in recent years, it’s definitely the fastest and most explosive one. There are a couple of different type of players at the position – more of the traditional in-line blockers as well as the modern-day move-tight-ends – but those guys overall look more like big receivers every year. With the NFL turning into a matchup-league, a big target in the passing game is of higher value in today’s game. I think there are three potential first rounders among them and another six that could go on day two. This is a strong group and even after my top ten there are some special athletes, that could develop into offensive weapon at the next level.
Once again this list doesn’t consider injuries and off-the-field concerns, those will show up on my big board.
After talking about the top centers and guards a couple of days ago, I want to take a look at the guys matched up against them. In this category I include everything from true nose tackles, over 3-tech penetrators to base defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme. Even though I judge each of them individually about where I think they can and will play, something I’m really excited about when discussing this group is the versatility they offer. The NFL doesn’t really look for many 350-pound rocks in the middle, they want guys who can push the pocket and make quarterbacks move off their spot as well destroying running plays by showing up in the backfield.
This week I’m going to talk about the big guys in the middle, starting with the offensive side. This list includes guards and centers, which to me have much more talent and depth than the tackle class. It was rather easy for me rank them one to ten, but I don’t see that much of a drop-off at some point. I like the talent at the top, but I think there are some sleepers that not a lot of scouts give love to, because they aren’t quite the athletes they are looking for.