Tier 1 (High 1st Round Grade)
1. Myles Garrett - Edge - Texas A&M
Garrett is as clean of a prospect as you'll find. He has ideal measurables blended with elite athleticism at a premium position with zero character concerns or red flags. I think a realistic expectation for Garrett is prime Jason Pierre-Paul and that's a great cornerstone for your defense. That might not sound super sexy, I suppose, but those types of players are getting paid nearly $20M a year now.
2. Marshon Lattimore - CB - Ohio State
If not for nagging hamstring injuries that sidelined him for much of his first two years in Columbus I believe Lattimore would be receiving consideration to go #2 overall. Lattimore's size and athletic profile compare favorably to Darrelle Revis' coming out of Pittsburgh 10-years ago.
Darrelle Revis 2007 Pro Day: 5'11", 204 LBS, 4.38 40-Yard Dash, 38" Vertical, 10'5" Broad Jump
Marshon Lattimore 2017 Combine: 6', 194 LBS, 4.36 40-Yard Dash, 38.5" Vertical, 11" Broad Jump
Lattimore has loose hips that allow him to mirror WRs with ease and at times he even runs better routes than the WR. If he gets beat early in the route Lattimore has the speed and ball skills to recover. A sure tackler and willing run defenders, Lattimore did not miss any of the solo tackles he attempted in 2016, per PFF.
3. Joe Mixon - RB - Oklahoma
Mixon has the talent to transform an offense the same way David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell have in recent years. What NFL GM's will have to decide is if the risk is worth the reward.
I did an in-depth breakdown on Mixon and his past here.
Tier 2 (Mid 1st Round Grade)
4. Patrick Mahomes II - QB - Texas Tech
This ranking is honestly a leap of faith. Mahomes comes from a system that has had no success stories transitioning over the NFL. His decision making is also careless and repulsive at times but through it all, I think Mahomes will be the exception to the rule. Mahomes is ready for this moment. He's not a cocaine-abusing alcoholic like Manziel. He was raised by his father (Pat Mahomes) and godfather (LaTroy Hawkins), who both had long successful MLB careers. Growing up around professional athletes Mahomes realizes what's ahead of him and has the perfect support system and amount of irrational confidence to overcome any adversity he faces along the way.
I did an in-depth breakdown of Mahomes and all his glory here.
5. Solomon Thomas - Edge - Stanford
Thomas is an explosive edge defender with a motor that just doesn't quit. Thomas has the ability to play defensive end in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and can kick inside if needed on passing downs. Michael Bennett is the most popular player comparison for Thomas and it's pretty appropriate. Thomas just turned 21 years old and has as high of an upside as any defensive player in this draft. 3-years from now, it wouldn't surprise me if Thomas outshines Garrett, the same way Khalil Mack has done to Clowney so far through their careers.
6. Malik McDowell - DL - Michigan State
While Mahomes is probably the biggest boom-bust prospect on the offensive side of the ball McDowell fits that billing on defense. McDowell's character and effort has been questioned a lot the past few months. Enough to where an anonymous GM has stated they would pay McDowell's signing bonus if a team in his division drafted him in the 1st round.
McDowell has the size, athleticism, and anchor to play anywhere along the defensive line. He's in the mold of Jets DL Sheldon Richardson, in that he's a tremendous talent but possibly too much of a team cancer to be worth the hassle.
7. Malik Hooker - S - Ohio State
Hooker is the best single-high free safety prospect in this draft by a wide margin. Hooker has exceptional range and ball skills. A true ballhawk in the secondary, no one more dynamic on an interception return.
Hooker's help in the run game is troublesome. His tackling technique and pursuit angles can be god awful. While this is a concern of mine if your defense needs Hooker to make 7 plays a game in the box then your defense has bigger problems.
8. Corey Davis - WR - Western Michigan
Davis is the clear WR1 in this draft class. He can function from the outside or the slot and is dynamite in the short passing game by creating separation from defenders and piling up yards after the catch. He may fall out of the first round due to an ankle injury that prevented him from working out at the NFL Combine and Western Michigan Pro Day. If he isn't taken on Day 1 don't let his draft slot fool you. He has the ability to become the focal point of any passing game quickly. I'd compare Davis to another 2nd Round pick in last year's draft in Michael Thomas. To me, Davis is Thomas with a little more juice in his legs.
9. Gareon Conley - DB - Ohio State
Conley is yet another super athletic Buckeyes corner that is comfortable being left on an island playing physical man-to-man coverage. Conley has experience playing the slot which is an added bonus to whatever team drafts him. I think of Conley as a more consistent Bradley Roby, another former Buckeye corner.
Conley has been linked to a sexual assault case which will surely hurt his draft stock. Conley could hear his named called Day 2 or he might even go undrafted because of the accusations. Conley has not been charged as of April 28th, 2017.
10. Forrest Lamp - OG - Western Kentucky
A 4-year starter at Western Kentucky, Lamp developed into one of the best tackles in the nation. Alabama defenders stated he was the best lineman they played against last year and the stats back it up. Per PFF, Lamp did not allow a sack in 2016 and only gave up 2 hurries and 3 QB hits. While Lamp played on the outside in college it's likely that he'll find a home at guard or center in the NFL. Think of Lamp as this drafts Zach Martin.
11. Jamal Adams - S - LSU
Adams is the perfect strong safety for today's NFL. A fearless downhill defender in the box, Adams is versatile enough to cover receivers out of the slot. Adams doesn't have the range to be a single-high safety like Hooker but his sideline-to-sideline fearless play would still be welcomed on any defense. Adams does all the little things as well. He was a playmaker on special teams and was the heartbeat and leader of one of the best programs in the nation. Adams has Eric Berry potential.
12. Haason Reddick - LB - Temple
No one has improved their stock more than Haason Reddick during the pre-draft circuit. Reddick has a wild story. He was a walk-on corner who eventually converted to defensive end and finished 3rd in the FBS in Tackles For Loss (22.5) in 2016. Reddick will move to off-ball linebacker in the NFL, mainly due to his size (6'1", 237), but will also let his elite athleticism shine in coverage and as a blitzer. Reddick's versatility is what gives him the edge over Foster. Reddick has the tools to grow into a Jamie Collins/Ryan Shazier type linebacker.
13. Reuben Foster - LB - Alabama
Foster is an absolute star. A side-to-sideline heat-seeking missile looking to punish whoever has the ball. Foster is a fairly simple evaluation to me. He's a tone setter on special teams and defense and looks the part of an All-Pro MLB for the next decade. While not the most fluid in coverage I wouldn't say he's a liability either.
Here is where it gets tricky for some NFL teams though. Foster's pre-draft process has been a bit bumpy. Foster underwent right rotator cuff surgery in February and was sent home from the combine after getting into a confrontation with a hospital employee. Foster also told NFL.com that he failed his drug test because his urine sample was ruled as diluted.
Foster's story is that he was sick prior to the combine and because of this, he was consuming as much fluid as possible to hydrate himself. We will never know the truth but Foster's story is pretty believable considering he weighed in at just 229 lbs. However, due to the failed drug test Foster is now in the NFL Substance Abuse Program, which means they can really test him whenever. Foster's doesn't have the cleanest off-field reputations. He's known to enjoy the party scene so if he indulges while in the NFL there is a chance this can lead to lengthy suspensions.
14. Jonathan Allen - DT - Alabama
Allen is one of the more accomplished prospect in this draft. The winner of the Bronko Nagurski, Chuck Bednarik and Ted Hendricks awards, Allen has the talent to wreak havoc all across the defensive line. Allen would be best fitted as 3-4 DE who can kick inside on passing downs. Allen had a poor showing in the athletic testing aspect of the combine and has already had numerous shoulder injuries. Both could be a cause for a concern in early parts of the draft.
15. OJ Howard - TE - Alabama
OJ Howard is best TE prospect to enter the NFL in years. Howard was underutilized at Alabama as a pass catcher but has shown the tools to really be a weapon in the NFL. As a blocker, Howard can work inline and is really impressive engaging defenders while on the move at the second and third level of the defense. An impressive athlete. Howard should be a plug and play starter at TE.
16. Christian McCaffrey - RB - Stanford
Yes, Christian McCaffrey is a running back. He ran for almost 4,000 yards in as "Pro Style" of an offense as you'll find in college football. McCaffrey has exceptional vision and rare patience as a between the tackles runner and is obviously a mismatch as a receiver out of the backfield. Oh and if you need him to return kicks and punts he can do that too.
He handled huge workloads the past two seasons without any issues so that is not a cause for concern. McCaffrey can help you in so many ways and I'm happy that the NFL is seemingly acknowledging that.
17. David Njoku - TE - Miami
Njoku is a freakish athlete that is still growing into the TE position. Still just 20 years old, Njoku is the most dynamic TE prospect after the catch and in jump ball situations. It'll likely take Njoku a few years to reach his potential but he should be able to contribute as a receiver the same way Hunter Henry was able to as a rookie.
I did an in-depth breakdown of Njoku prior to the NFL Combine here.
Tier 3 (Late 1st Round Grade)
18. DeShone Kizer - QB - Notre Dame
Kizer has everything the NFL looks for in a QB but for some odd reason the NFL hasn't fallen in love with him. He's a big pocket passer with a cannon for an arm that has the functional mobility to make plays with his legs. Kizer isn't perfect. His accuracy comes and goes and his anticipation as thrower can be a tick behind where it needs to be.
19. Budda Baker - S - Washington
Baker is one of my favorite players in the draft. He's a instinctive defender who is a Swiss Army knife in the secondary. Baker is comfortable in man coverage from the slot but also can flourish in the traditional strong safety and possibly single-high free safety role. Baker will have some limitations due to his size but I want someone with his fearless "My Ball" mentality on my team.
I did an indepth breakdown of Baker's game here.
20. Sidney Jones - CB - Washington
Jones tore his achilles at Washington's Pro Day and thus his rookie season may be lost. When healthy, Jones is long, lean, sticky cover corner. Jones could stand to add some strength but even so he has the footwork, hips, length and ball skills to become a really nice outside corner.
Would I draft Jones 20th overall? No, but I'd rock with drafting him in round 2.
21. John Ross - WR - Washington
From one injured Husky to another. Let's just get it out of the way. John Ross is a crazy talent that can take a top off a defense ala Desean Jackson but he's struggled to stay healthy.
John Ross injury history includes:
- Two torn mensiscus
- Torn ACL
- Microfracture Surgery
- Torn labrum in shoulder
When on the field, Ross showed what he's capable of this year. Ross' 4.22 speed certainly translates to the field as he's a blur with the ball in his hands and has also should effectiveness in the red zone.
22. Dalvin Cook - RB - Florida State
Dalvin Cook's game is predicated on vision, balance, and burst. Cook is much more elusive and explosive that his athletic testing numbers at the combine would indicate. As a receiver out of the backfield, Cook has flashed some advanced traits such as adjusting and catching passes over the shoulder down the field.
The knocks on Cook are simple. Ball security (6 Fumbles in 2016), Injuries (3 Shoulder Surgeries) and Off-Field Maturity (Multiple arrests/citations).
Tier 4 (High 2nd Round Grade)
23. Mitchell Trubisky - QB - North Carolina
Trubisky burst on the scene this fall and although he's only started 13 games in college it appears he's the apple of the NFLs eye this Spring. There is a lot to like with Trubisky. He's the runner/most mobile of the Top 4 QB's and has nice size and enough arm strength to make any throw.
Like every Quarterback entering the NFL, I have questions on if Trubisky can read NFL coverages and clean up some decision making. I think Trubisky can end up in the Andy Dalton level of QB.
24. Tim Williams - Edge - Alabama
Similar to Dalvin Cook, I think Tim Williams is a better athlete than he tested as at the NFL Combine. At Alabama, Williams was a Tasmanian Devil off the edge terrorizing offensive tackles. Since he was used mainly as a situational pass rusher there isn't a ton of film of Williams vs the run but I actually love what I saw.
Williams has plenty of off-field baggage that NFL teams will have to sort through (Smoking, Guns etc). At a minimum I expect Williams to have a Shane Ray type impact (12 Sacks through 2 years) as an impact situational pass rusher.
25. Derek Rivers - Edge - Youngstown State
Derek Rivers isn't a household name yet but he's a year or two away from becoming one. Rivers has the athletic profile of a dynamic edge rusher and that showed up on tape. Rivers holds the school-record for sacks at Youngstown State with 41.0. At the FCS level, Rivers was able to beat offensive tackles with his burst and bend around the edge. This will work at times in the NFL but he'll need to develop an inside counter move to really reach his potential. Rivers is solid vs the run and has the ability to play OLB in a 3-4 scheme.