The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone folks! It was an interesting one to say the least. The picks were, nonetheless, enticing but the multimodal element of the draft had to be the crowd itself. Philadelphia has long been known as a hecklers paradise for sports, but I don’t think I have seen anything that that rowdy since the 2017 Election. There were more nuts at Benjamin Franklin Parkway than in a can of Planters. I left out most of the tight end position in the analysis primarily because there hasn’t been a pro-ready tight end to come out of the draft since who knows. Anyways, I’ve prepped a quick synopsis ranking the top 3 rookies of this years draft class, in respect to their position, based on my readings from various scouting reports. Enjoy!
- Deshaun Watson : Clemson|Ht: 6’2” |Wt: 221 | 40: 4.66 |Year:3Jr
Probably the most pro-ready QB in this class. The fact that the bears passed on such a charismatic athlete in favor or a 1-year starter is beyond me. Watson is a work in progress, but you know what kind of player he is. If he can clean up his mechanics in camp, then the Texans will, arguably, have their future franchise QB. Despite some concerns about his height and measured arm strength, he consistently made high-level throws in college. Watson would almost certainly be best in a shotgun-based passing offense surrounded by good weapons, but so would most quarterbacks coming out of college these days. With the help of Bill O’Brian, this guy could be the next Donovan McNabb.
- Deshone Kizer : Notre Dame | Ht: 6’4” | Wt: 233 | 40: 4.83 | Year: 3So
Overall, if you’re a QB size truther, Kizer is pretty much the only high-end talent you can focus on in this class. His size/arm strength combo is strictly unmatched in this Draft. In all, Kizer is a strong body who lacks elusiveness, but can be a red-zone threat as a runner based on size alone (he had 18 rushing TDs in college). On the downside, Kizer can occasionally get lazy with his mechanics, locking his front leg. It’s too soon to tell what kind of terrible Cleveland is going to look like this year. Needless to say, I would expect Kizer to give Cody Kessler a run for the starting position over in Cleveland.
- Mitchel Trubisky : North Carolina | Ht: 6’2” | Wt: 222 | 40: 4.67 | Year: 4Jr
The big question on everyones mind should be, “How good can this kid be?”. It’s a different answer than, say, DeShone Kizer or Patrick Mahomes would give to the question. Trubisky may have the highest floor of any QB in this draft outside of Watson, but his range of outcomes is capped. All in all, Trubisky is a decent thrower with good pocket feel, perhaps as good as any QB has in this class. They have a prospect in Trubisky, however I would say his success would heavily rely on a good coaching staff and supporting cast. NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell sees a lot of Kirk Cousins in this guy, but their are some concerns regarding his mechanics. At this point, it is apparent that there is more floor than ceiling for Trubisky in Chicago.
- Christian McCafferey : Stanford | Ht: 5’11” | Wt: 202 | 40: 4.48 |Year: 3Jr
In case you’ve been living under a rock, I watched this guy single-handedly kill us at the University of Arizona Homecoming game in 2016. McCaffrey has been one of the best players in college football the last two years. But in looking back on McCaffrey’s college career, we see a total-package player who could be an instant-impact fantasy option. The son of former Broncos star WR Ed McCaffrey, Christian doesn’t have ideal size, but he has everything else you look for in a potential star running back. Despite relatively small hands (9”), he had just three fumbles in college. He has the ability to run a full route tree either out of the backfield and split out, and he has the skills to not just torch linebackers and safeties, but occasionally corners as well. There’s no telling what kind of damage he’ll do in Carolina, but his real test will be up against the reigning NFC Champs.
- Leonard Fournette : LSU | Ht: 6’0” | Wt: 240 | 40: 4.51 | Year: 3Jr
If it weren’t for his injuries, you could make a case for Fournette to be the top back of this Draft class. This guy has the speed/size combo that would place him up in the Derek Henry category. Most critics say he needs a specific fit and role to reach his potential. Fournette is an excellent interior and outside runner, though he struggled out of shotgun, perhaps a sign of how limiting LSU’s offense was. And given LSU’s passing game has struggled for ages, Fournette consistently saw boxes of eight or more defenders, but was successful as a runner anyway. While Fournette won’t will be useless on third downs, his struggles in the shotgun in college must be accounted for. The main question here is, can he be relied on in Jacksonville to assume an 3 down role?
- Dalvin Cook : Florida State | Ht: 5’10” | Wt: 240 | 40: 4.49 | Year: 3Jr
If not for his weak numbers at the combine, most critics would argue that this kid could have been the number one prospect. That simply didn’t line up with the player most people saw on film, but Cook opted to not repeat the drills in his March pro day, suggesting he was concerned with confirming his struggles. His combine was a shock to just about everyone who watched Cook in college, who saw a complete back who performed behind a bad offensive line in a variety of run schemes (both under center and in the shotgun). Though not a great receiver, he was quick enough to beat linebackers and safeties in coverage, and on a few occasions ran vertical routes when split out wide. He has decent hands, though he had 12 fumbles in college, and that must be cleaned up. Everything about Cook’s tape suggests he’s a future fantasy star and complete NFL back. If Minnesota can bolster that offensive line then Cook and Murray could easily be a nice 1-2 punch in that offense.
- COREY DAVIS : Western Michigan | Ht: 6’3” | Wt: 209 40: 4.48 | Year: 4SR
Going into the draft, Davis is the top small-school prospect. He went to Western Michigan as just a two-star recruit but stepped into the lineup immediately. Davis underwent minor ankle surgery after injuring himself while training in January, and he wasn’t able to run at the Combine and at his pro day. Davis is a polished route runner coming into the league, and he knows how to create separation with his quickness and his hands. He has been excellent at high-pointing passes and has dominated the red zone on game days. He’s not going to be known as a vertical threat, but he can work CBs to get them on his hip and he’s excellent at tracking deep passes. Some pundits say he compares closely to Keenan Allen because of their route running and size. He’s arguably the best overall WR prospect in this year’s draft class, and he eventually could develop into fringe WR1 with the help of Hawaiian Jesus (Marcus Mariota).
- MIKE WILLIAM : Clemson | Ht: 6’3” | Wt: 218 | 40: 4.50 | Year: 4JR
Not to be confused with Mike Williams for you waiver wire addicts. Mike William is a huge target at 6’3”, 218 pounds, and he can create a good amout of separation and dominate opponents with his size. He isn’t afraid to go over the middle and uses his huge frame to shield away defenders on slants. Williams plays like he’s 240 pounds because he can’t be knocked away from the ball and it’s difficult for even one defensive back to take him down. He is great at going up for passes and has nice body control, so he should be a top-shelf item for Phillip Rivers. Williams could use a little more polish as a route runner. He draws comparisons to Plaxico Burress mostly because of his length and size (he had the longest reach of this years receiving class).
- JOHN ROSS : Washington | Ht: 5’10” | Wt: 188 | 40: 4.22 | Year: 4JR
Ross is an absolute burner who comes into the league with some durability questions. He set the Combine ablaze by smoking Chris Johnson’s 40-time record. He became the new 40-yard dash champion with his historic 4.22 run to one-up Johnson’s old 4.24 time. Ross has been compared to DeSean Jackson because of his size (5’10”, 188 pounds) and speed. Ross missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL, but he came back with a vengeance to lead all Power-5 conference receivers with 17 TDs in 2016. Ross not only kills defenders with his speed but by setting them up with double moves. He tracks deep passes well, and he runs so fast that he often times has to slow down for passes thrown behind him. He has been called a film junkie, who shows a lot of savvy as a route runner and can beat press coverage off the line of scrimmage. Ross is surprisingly effective down in the red zone despite his size, and often demonstrates great eye-hand coordination on difficult catches. He’s not the best in contested-catch situations mostly due to his size, but he runs by so many defenders that it hasn’t been a huge issue. He’ll need to continue to improve his underneath and intermediate routes at the next level, but he’s lethal in those spots with the ball in his hands. Ross has a very delicate frame and has some major durability questions. He should make a decent addition for the Red Rifle should he remain healthy.
- O.J. HOWARD : Alabama | Ht: 6’6” | Wt: 251 | 40: 4.51 | Year: 4SR
The Crimson Tide criminally underused Howard as a receiver the last two years, but he can be cornerstone in a good passing game. He blew away most scouts away at the Senior Bowl by looking like a man among boys, which likely solidified his status as a first-round pick. He came to Alabama as a five-star recruit, and he played and started right away as a freshman for the best and deepest program in the NCAA. Top RB prospect Leonard Fournette ran an impressive 4.51 40-time at 6’1”, 240 pounds. Howard ran the same time despite checking in 11 pounds heavier and 5 inches taller. He also posted the best times at the position in the 3-cone drill (6.85 seconds), 20-yard (4.16), and 60-yard shuttle runs (11.46). According to mockdraftable.com, Howard ranks in the top 15% at the position in height, 40-yard dash, broad jump, 3-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle, and 60-yard shuttle. Tampa Bay could use him as a mismatch nightmare at 6’6”, 251 pounds, with long arms and big hands. He also has the frame to get even bigger once he gets into a NFL weight room. That’s bad news for defenders because he’s already a good blocker, which he needed to be in Alabama’s run-heavy offense. He accelerates like a receiver and is more of a speed guy than a power guy at this point. He will be a nightmare for linebackers to cover because of his speed and quickness, and defensive backs will struggle against him because of his size. He can run away from defensive backs too. Howard creates separation as a route runner and has good hands to be a dominant receiver for the position. Some experts see a little bit of Greg Olsen because of the way he moves and his ability to lineup all over the field. The fact that he underperformed at Alabama might draw some red flags, and there are concerns that he could be passive or lacks passion for the game. Most teams will see a player who was just underutilized by Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban and a player who’s not a finished product, which is a bit of a rarity for Alabama prospects. Howard projects to be a much better pro than college player, and he could thrive in a more pass-heavy system. Like many rookie TE prospects, it won’t be easy for Howard to make an immediate fantasy impact, but he certainly has a high ceiling for the future with all of his athletic tools.
Hope you all enjoyed the draft and this write-up. Keep an eye on these players going into the season. One of them could easily be the next man up on your roster…