Friday, September 02, 2016

2017 NFL Draft First Look

I can't wait for the college football weekend, as the games are going to be outstanding and will be for five straight days. Love it. Happy Labor Day, America.
Now, for many of you, that means all that loving your university means. Perhaps you will be mobilizing to a stadium down the road and remembering the days when you were a student on campus. I know you love it, and I think you should be optimistic about your team this year, because your team is the best.
But, for me, it is the start of the 2017 NFL draft window. I follow the draft closely from Sept. 1 through May 1 every year, and then I go on vacation. There are many who do this all year and follow only this topic. For that, I offer you guys like Dane Brugler to follow 12 months a year. He is the type of guy who offers clarity for guys like me who just do this stuff when the NFL isn't on.

My method is simple. In late August, guys like Dane, the fellows at Pro Football Focus, Phil Steele and many others put mock drafts out for the first-round prospects. Everyone is guessing at this point, but their guesses are valuable to use as starting points. So, I look at their lists and try to form a composite look at who is being tossed out as potential first-round prospects to guide a lot of my college football viewing.
From there, I try to do my own homework on each guy, but I needed to cast a wide net to know who is on the radar screen and then start digging in -- one by one.
So, here is what I have found from reading from many sources. This is what people believe about the 2017 draft up high:
  • As usual, with five different first-round mocks, I have 60 names. So, that tells you that the top few picks are agreed upon and everything else is all over the place. This is normal.
  • The top picks are agreed upon: QB Deshaun Watson from Clemson and DE Myles Garrett from Texas AM are the top two picks. Everyone seems to think so.
  • Running backs are everywhere. LSU's Leonard Fournette is the highest, it seems. Dalvin Cook from Florida State is usually next. Nick Chubb is in the mix, from Georgia. And Christian McCaffrey, from Stanford, is thought of as a first-rounder, too. So no shortage of RBs at all who are thought of as superb.
  • Alabama has seven different players thought of as potential first-rounders in this draft -- most from their defense: DE Jonathan Allen, LB Tim Williams, LB Reuben Foster, S Eddie Jackson and CB Marlon Humphrey, as well as OT Cam Robinson and TE O.J. Howard. Nothing new there.
  •  Sixty names. How many from the Big 12? One. One mock thinks Mason Rudolph, the QB for Oklahoma State, can go in the first round. That is it. For the entire conference. Staggering.
  • Names that every mock agrees will be in the first round: Watson, Fournette, Garrett, Cam Robinson, Dalvin Cook, McCaffrey, Tim Williams, O.J. Howard, Jonathan Allen, DE Carl Lawson (Auburn), WR Mike Williams (Clemson), CB Jalen Tabor (Florida), CB Desmond King (Iowa),  DB/LB Jabrill Peppers (Michigan), DT Malik McDowell (Michigan State), DE Charles Harris (Missouri), DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee) and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC).
  • The only QBs mentioned at this point are: Watson, Mason Rudolph, Brad Kaaya (Miami) and Chad Kelly (Ole Miss). And only Watson makes every list.
  • Schools with multiple names (three or more) besides Alabama's seven: Clemson has four, Florida State has three, LSU has three, Michigan has five, Ohio State has three and USC has three. 
So there you go. It is early, but since I enjoy keeping this list, I figured a few of you would like to have this to consult as you watch the college game.

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