2017 NFL Draft Player Rankings
Roberto Castro | Contributing Writer
It’s that time of the year and the NFL Draft is quickly approaching. A lot of buzz is generating around these prospects in the upcoming draft and they’ve seen their stock rise or fall. While it may be easy to fall in love with many of their traits and skill sets, these upcoming draftees always find a way to deceive scouts.
While you can never predict the future, or determine which player will have the most impact on an NFL team, it’s vital that every organization does their homework on each player of their interest. They have to search for key signs or flags that could turn them on or off. Unfortunately, there are some organizations that seem to almost intentionally whiff on NFL prospects (yes, that includes you Cleveland and Indianapolis) which leads to an endless purgatory of mediocrity.
After all, the only thing at stake is being viewed a hero for bringing great joy and happiness to a city and fan base, or bringing great sorrow and misery, thus most likely leading to one’s demise, and being shamed by an entire city, therefore forever viewed as an ultimate failure. But hey, no pressure. No diamonds. Let’s get started!
This list is ranking the top five players in my opinion at each position based on their overall player readiness, meaning players with greater upside that are still raw will be ranked lower than more NFL ready players. The list will also consist of honorable mentions that didn’t make the Top 5. Note that these rankings do not include offensive and interior defensive lineman.
- Deshaun Watson (Clemson):
He reminds me a lot of Marcus Mariota because of his accuracy, athleticism, and ability to lead. Watson’s arm strength and velocity are alarming, but he shined with a slew of NFL talent surrounding him his entire career.
- Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina):
I would have him ahead of Watson if it weren’t for the uncertainties in his game. Trubisky was only a starter for one full year and doesn’t have any experience under center. He’s able to make every throw on the field which is why his stock has continued to rise as the draft has gotten closer.
- Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech):
Mahomes is easily the best thrower of the football in this draft. While his number were inflated by the air raid system. If the team that drafts him allows him the time to develop, he may be the best quarterback in this draft.
- Deshone Kizer (Notre Dame)
Kizer has all the physical tools but lacks the mental tools. Throughout his career, at Notre Dame, he was a poor decision maker and struggled to progress through his reads.
- Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh):
While he doesn’t wow you with anything, Peterman understands the game and won’t force anything. Playing in a pro-style offense at Pittsburgh gave him an advantage over the other prospects because he already understands the terminology of NFL playbooks.
- Leonard Fournette (LSU):
He has all the physical tools and was a man amongst boys in college. Durability is a concern but LSU often let him sit out games to protect him for his future in the NFL.
- Joe Mixon (Oklahoma):
Mixon may drop into the second round because of off-the-field issues, but he possesses every skill a runner needs with his vision, elusiveness, size and strength.
- Dalvin Cook (Florida St.):
On any given play Cook can take it the distance. He’s small in stature but doesn’t go down easy and is tough enough to run between the tackles.
- Christian McCaffrey (Stanford):
McCaffrey led the NCAA in all-purpose yards the last two seasons and his game translates perfectly to the NFL. Even as a running back, his receiving skills are better than all the wide receiver prospects.
- Jeremy McNichols: (Boise St.):
McNichols has a slight frame and isn’t an every down back. His receiving skills will help him thrive as a team’s third down back.
- Corey Davis (Western Michigan):
Davis is the most polished, and ready receiver due to his great route-running. The level of competition that he played against is a concern but he has all the physical tools to be a very productive pro.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC):
Smith-Shuster would have benefited from another year in college to work on his route running but in this weak receiving class, he’ll still go no later than the second round.
- Mike Williams (Clemson):
Williams has all the physical tools to be a matchup nightmare. His lack of separation, however, is a concern. Williams made some spectacular, acrobatic catches but he had his fair share of dropped catches that were tough.
- John Ross (Washington):
Ross can flat out ball and possesses rare speed, and foot quickness that will make him a matchup nightmare at the next level. If he can improve on his intermediate route running he could be a big-time playmaker.
- Chris Godwin (Penn St.):
Godwin has exceptional hands and high points the ball better than every receiver on this list but Williams. He should be able to contribute immediately to the team that drafts him.
- O.J. Howard (Alabama):
Howard was underutilized at Alabama. He has all pro potential due to his size and athleticism. From day one, Howard will be a mismatch for defenders.
- David Njoku (Miami):
He has good speed to go along with his size and gets a ton of yards after the catch. He will need to improve on his route running and if he does he should have a productive career.
- Jake Butt (Michigan):
While he might not be a freakish athlete like the first two tight ends ranked ahead of him, Butt may very well be the most NFL-ready of the group. He has great hands and is a solid route-runner.
- Gerald Everett (South Alabama):
Great blocker and competitiveness are the first aspects you recognize with his game. While he didn’t catch many passes in college, he does show promise to show flashes of being an NFL receiving tight end.
- Evan Engram (Ole Miss):
His elite athleticism for his size and position are first round worthy but Engram isn’t dependable as a blocker. He is a playmaker but will need to fine tune his route running.
- Myles Garrett (Texas A&M):
When your 6 foot 4 inches and weigh 272 pounds with a 41-inch vertical, 4.64 forty-yard dash and bench press 33 reps at the combine, you are a certified freak! Garrett has said that the Browns will regret it if they don’t select him first overall.
- Soloman Thomas (Stanford):
He is a top ten player based on talent alone with his ability to rush the passer and stop the run at a high level. The only problem will be figuring out his full-time position but due to his versatility, he might not need one.
- Jonathan Allen (Alabama):
Allen is a good football player with high football IQ, and impressive against the run and the pass. He is light and quick on his feet. The best fit for him is sliding in as 3-4 defensive end.
- Taco Charlton (Michigan):
His motor is a major concern. Charlton took off too many plays but shows flashes of being an explosive pass rusher.
- Derek Barnett (Tennessee):
Barnett is a sack artist that uses his violent hands and explosive first step to take out quarterbacks. He’s a one-trick pony and must improve in the running game.
- Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt):
Cunningham doesn’t have any true holes in his game he can cover, rush the passer and play the run. He also has a high motor and very good instincts that seem to always have him around the ball.
- T.J. Watt (Wisconsin):
He has as much upside as any linebacker in this draft, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he became the best. He rushes the passer relentlessly and sets the edge to stop the run.
- Jarrad Davis (Florida):
Davis is an efficient tackler when he doesn’t take questionable angles to the ball or get caught up in blocks.
- Reuben Foster (Alabama):
Foster is physical, never stops pursuing the ball and knows how to lead a defense. Because of a failed drug test at the combine, he may fall in the back half of the first round.
- Haason Reddick (Temple):
He has the total package but will need to add some weight and strength. Reddick’s instincts along with his freakish athletic ability can make him a productive pro.
- Marshon Lattimore (Ohio St.):
Lattimore has the total package as a top cornerback. He’s got size, athleticism, man-to-man coverage ability and zone coverage. With these abilities, Lattimore has the potential to be a shutdown corner.
- Sidney Jones (Washington):
Jones has high football IQ and good ball skills. He is also a willing tackler despite his slender frame.
- Tre’Davious White (LSU):
White is as good of a cover corner as anyone in this draft. At LSU, he was often left on an island against the other’s team top receiving option.
- Marlon Humphrey (Alabama):
Humphrey is good in press coverage, and can make plays on the ball but struggles to play the deep ball.
- Gareon Conley (Ohio St.):
Conley possesses good coverage skill and athletic traits to be a solid player. But he needs to spend more time on his technique.
- Jamal Adams (LSU):
Adams will be a top ten pick in the draft and he showcased his all-around talent at LSU as he anchored their defense.
- Malik Hooker (Ohio St.):
Hooker has a lot of talent considering but is still raw at the position. He won’t help much in run support but if the ball is in his area of the field, he’ll pick it off.
- Jabrill Peppers (Michigan):
Peppers isn’t the best guy in coverage but he is the most versatile safety in the draft. At Michigan, he played safety and cornerback and even returned kicks.
- Budda Baker (Washington):
Baker can play sideline to sideline as a deep middle safety, as well as in the nickel as a corner. He has great ball skills and is a great tackler in space despite being undersized.
- Josh Jones (N.C. St.):
It’s easy to fall in love with Jones’ physical gifts on the football field. He is a bit undisciplined in coverage and lacks instincts.
Running backs: T.J. Logan (North Carolina), Joe Williams (Utah)
Wide Receivers: Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M), Malachi Dupre (LSU)
Defensive Ends: Charles Harris (Missouri), Carl Lawson (Auburn)
Linebackers: Takkarist McKinley (UCLA), Tim Williams (Alabama), Ryan Anderson (Alabama)
Cornerbacks: Teez Tabor(Florida), Adoree’ Jackson (USC), Akhello Witherspoon (Colorado)
Safeties: Marcus Maye (Florida), John Johnson (Boston College), Justin Evans (Texas A&M), Quincy Wilson (Florida)
The 2017 NFL Draft will begin on April 27 with its first round and rounds 2-7 will take place April 28-29.