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2017 NFL Draft Notebook: September 27th
1:04 | NFL
2017 NFL Draft Notebook: September 27th
Tuesday September 27th, 2016

Seven months still separate us from the 2017 NFL draft, which will be held in Philadelphia. There’s no telling how the draft order will shift or which prospects will emerge between now and then. 

That said, our mock that was released around this time last season included 16 of the 31 eventual Round 1 picks, including nine of the first 10 players selected—the lone name to drop off that list was Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith, who suffered a horrible knee injury during bowl season.

This mock, like last year’s first in-season version, won’t bat 1.000 on projecting which players come off the board on April 27, 2017, but it should get the ball rolling with future NFLers to watch. The order here comes from recent Super Bowl LI odds, with slight adjustments made to account for the NFL's Week 3 action.

Mock Draft 1.0 begins:

  • 1
    1Myles Garrett
    DE, Texas A&M
    “You’ve got to trust me on this one.” That was Hue Jackson’s plea after the Browns drafted Cody Kessler in Round 3 last year. And while it’s way too soon to declare Kessler the team’s future, it’s also entirely feasible he shows Jackson enough in the coming weeks to knock the quarterback position down the list of his team's 2017 draft needs. Garrett is the top prospect in this class and an immediate-impact defender. The Browns need to upgrade on that side of the ball, too.

  • 2
    2Deshone Kizer
    QB, Notre Dame
    Finally, Chip Kelly gets a shot to handpick a quarterback for his offense. Despite Notre Dame’s miserable start (and Brian Kelly calling out Kizer on Saturday), the redshirt sophomore has ascended to the top of the ranks at his position. He has the size, athleticism and arm to be an NFL star. The lingering mystery is whether he can put it all together on a consistent basis.

  • 3
    3Jonathan Allen
    DT, Alabama
    The Titans have their quarterback, running back and most of an offensive line set for the forseeable future. They’re still shy several pieces on defense. In Allen and Jurrell Casey, Tennessee would have the makings of an excellent D-line.

  • 4
    4Deshaun Watson
    QB, Clemson
    Chicago is paying the price for not putting its Jay Cutler succession plan in motion earlier—Brian Hoyer is not a realistic long-term option. It has to nab a QB in the 2017 draft, and all the better if that move comes early. The gap between Watson and Miami’s Brad Kaaya is not as big as some people may think, in part because Watson is less polished within the pocket. The upside on Watson, though, is massive.

  • 5
    5Jabrill Peppers
    S/LB/Superman, Michigan
    Eventually, it stands to reason that Myles Jack will see some actual playing time in Jacksonville. Teaming him up with Jalen Ramsey and Peppers would give the Jaguars all sorts of mix-and-match options. Peppers continues to show he is among college football’s most explosive players, no matter where he lines up on the field.

  • 6
    6Jalen Tabor
    CB, Florida
    Get ready to see the Dolphins paired with a steady stream of DBs and linebackers in 2017 mock drafts. They’re still lacking playmakers in the back seven, an issue that negates the front four’s impact to an extent. Tabor is an absolute ballhawk who seems to be better the more teams test him.

  • 7
    7Jamal Adams
    S, LSU
    Not a long history of top-10 safeties at the draft: Mark Barron (now a LB) went No. 7 in 2012, Eric Berry No. 5 in 2010, plus a handful of others the past two decades. Adams deserves that level of consideration. He’s a strong tackler with above-average instincts.

  • 8
    8Desmond King
    CB, Iowa
    King revealed at July’s Big Ten media days that NFL draft evaluators had concerns about his speed. That is always a critical factor in a cornerback’s stock, and it could be the difference for King between top 10 and mid-Round 1. Don’t bet on him falling too far. He’s a lock-down defender who reads and anticipates plays as well as any DB in this class.

  • 9
    9Leonard Fournette
    RB, LSU
    It's never too early to start thinking ahead at running back. So even though LeSean McCoy’s contract runs through 2019, the Bills should be open to adding another top-flight option in the backfield. Fournette’s presence might allow the Bills to utilize McCoy even more as a receiver. And within a year or two, Fournette could take over as the workhorse.

  • 10
    10Malik McDowell
    DT, Michigan State
    McDowell is a 4–3 defensive tackle for Michigan State, but that won’t stop 3–4 teams from envisioning him as a star at end. He has the length, power and size (6' 6", 276) to be the type of disruptive force around which a GM can build his front.
     

  • 11
    11Tim Williams
    DE/OLB, Alabama
    Whether or not Vic Beasley can shake his current, extended malaise, the Falcons will be eyeing additional pass-rushers come next off-season. Williams (6' 4", 237 lbs.) might need to bulk up a bit, but he is a premier option off the edge as it is.

  • 12
    12Mike Williams
    WR, Clemson
    (Pick via Los Angeles) Rookie Tajae Sharpe can be a contributor, but the Titans are still lacking a true No. 1 receiver on the outside. Should he stay healthy, Williams fits that bill. He has 11 career TDs and actually could be a great deal more aggressive high pointing the ball. Once he does that, he’ll be borderline unstoppable.
     


  • 13
    13Reuben Foster
    LB, Alabama
    The Lions were a popular linebacking landing spot in mock drafts last year, and their alarming lack of depth there this season shows why. Foster would remedy many of the problems. He’s a three-down defender who could take over for DeAndre Levy, if Levy’s injury woes keep derailing his career.

  • 14
    14Corey Davis
    WR, Western Michigan
    Obviously, the draft picture shifts frequently during the college football season. Right now, though, Davis still stands out as a top-20 talent and arguably the best WR in this class. He has steadily progressed as a route runner, both outside and from the slot, and he has the physical tools to take over games. San Diego could add him to Keenan Allen, or use him as the new No. 1 if Allen’s recent knee injury holds his back.

  • 15
    15Charles Harris
    DE/OLB, Missouri
    Harris finished last season with 7.0 sacks; he already has 3.0 this year, in four games. Any NFL team scouting him can take comfort in the fact that he’s not just a one-note speed rusher—his spin move is a lethal counter. The Colts are shy on both youth and production off the edge.

  • 16
    16Dalvin Cook
    RB, Florida State
    Figuring out how the running backs will factor into Round 1 will be among the toughest challenges for 2017. (Royce Freeman and Nick Chubb didn’t crack the first round here, but you should remember their names as well.) Cook will be preferred over Fournette by some clubs. He has electrifying abilities in the open field. The pitch here is similar to the Fournette-Bills match—don’t wait until it’s too late at RB—except Matt Forte is older and has a team-friendlier contract than McCoy.

  • 17
    17Derek Barnett
    DE, Tennessee
    David Irving is starting to look like a keeper, so the Cowboys may not be in all that bad of shape off the edge once Demarcus Lawrence returns. They’re still not going to scare anyone there. Barnett can be imposing against both the run and pass, so defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli would love to have him as part of his DE rotation.

  • 18
    18Christian McCaffrey
    RB, Stanford
    Whether or not the Raiders are 100% sold on either Latavius Murray or DeAndre Washington, a player of McCaffrey’s unique talents would be a welcome addition. It’s still tough to get a read on where exactly McCaffrey will fall come draft time—is he a true No. 1 RB or is he a Theo Riddick-like hybrid?—but he deserves to be picked around here or higher.

  • 19
    19Demarcus Walker
    DE, Florida State
    Walker, who has improved as an all-around player, opened the season with a monstrous 4.5-sack showing vs. Ole Miss. He’s had just one sack over the past three Florida State games (including that blowout loss at Louisville), but he clearly has the chops to take over. 

  • 20
    20Carl Lawson
    DE/OLB, Auburn
    Lawson played one of the better games of his career in last week’s win over LSU. Injuries have been an issue (probably not what the Ravens want to hear given their recent history), yet the glimpses at what Lawson can become are tantalizing. He still could emerge as a top-10 prospect before all is said and done.
     

  • 21
    21Cam Robinson
    OT, Alabama
    The first, and only, offensive tackle on the board in Mock 1.0. While need at that position likely will drive the actual number up in April, this doesn’t have the look of an elite class. Robinson remains the pick of the litter. At 327 pounds he can anchor when the QB drops, and he’s a mauler moving forward in the run game.

  • 22
    22Raekwon McMillan
    LB, Ohio State
    It wouldn't be the first round of an NFL draft without someone from Ohio State. McMillan has the tools to fit the prototype for a modern-day middle linebacker—stout and imposing against the run, quick enough to shift farther outside to play coverage on backs and TEs.

  • 23
    23Marlon Humphrey
    CB, Alabama
    *TRADE VIA PHILADELPHIA* Beyond the three quarterbacks mentioned in Round 1, other QB names you’ll hear moving forward include Chad Kelly (Ole Miss), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) and Seth Russell (Baylor). But since we already covered the Browns’ QB issue for now, let’s swing over to the defense. There, we find Humphrey, a 6’ 1” redshirt sophomore who uses all of that size to disrupt receivers’ routes.

  • 24
    24O.J. Howard
    TE, Alabama
    The Panthers can’t rely on Greg Olsen forever. Even if they have their veteran around for a few more seasons, adding Howard would open up even more options for Cam Newton in the passing game. Howard has averaged 16.2 yards per catch during his Alabama career, despite being lost in the shuffle of skill-position stars at times.

  • 25
    25Jarrad Davis
    LB, Florida
    Davis posted 98 tackles last season and he’s on pace to hit triple digits this year. That stat alone does not tell us a whole lot about Davis’s potential. Rather, pay attention to how he makes those plays—covering all areas of the field, with relentless pursuit. He also has a pair of sacks this season, showing that he can also be used to get after the QB.​

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  • 26
    26Brad Kaaya
    QB, Miami
    There will be a lot of discussion about Kaaya’s arm strength during the draft process, so on the surface he may not fit with Bruce Arians’s downfield-heavy attack. I’d counter that when Kaaya has a clean pocket, he has the arm to make all the throws—accuracy and that ”zip” from velocity are what deserts him under pressure. But there’s a lot to work with. Don’t discount Kaaya as a possible top-10 selection.

  • 27
    27Johnny Caspers
    G/C, Stanford
    TRADE VIA MINNESOTA Over the summer Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren told SI that Caspers “probably” projects best as an NFL center. Caspers has spent time there for the Cardinal, though he is better known for his excellent work at guard. He could handle either spot in the NFL, which gives him early-round hope.

  • 28
    28Jourdan Lewis
    CB, Michigan
    You’ll hear Lewis’s size (5' 11", 186) used as a knock against him, as evidence that he will be a nickel-corner only in the NFL. That’s a little misleading because a.) he has the ball skills to at least hold his own outside, and b.) nickel defenses are widely prevalent right now. Defenses cannot survive with two corners. Lewis has the footwork to mirror receivers, then finds the ball when it’s close. He also averaged 25.2 yards on kick returns last season.

  • 29
    29Sidney Jones
    CB, Washington
    As mentioned way back in the intro, these early mock drafts are more about getting a feel for the prospects than anything. Finding exact team-player fits are part of it, but those mostly wait until after the season. An exception here. Jones is a 6-foot cornerback at his best playing up in the face of opposing receivers. His style meshes with the Seahawks’ scheme.
     

  • 30
    30Carlos Watkins
    DT, Clemson
    Truth be told, I wasn’t all in on Watkins headed into this year ... at least not given the level of hype he carried out of 2015. After watching Clemson in September, though, I get it. What’s really exciting about the '16 version of Watkins is that he is disrupting the QB on passing downs on a regular basis—he did not always generate that push in the past.

  • 31
    31Pat Elflein
    G/C, Ohio State
    A guard who has moved to center for the Buckeyes, Elflein has been instrumental in Ohio State’s brilliant start to the 2016 season. Not only is he capable as a run blocker, on the move as well as in tight quarters, he’s an outstanding pass protector inside. Sliding over from guard has not hurt his game one iota.

  • 32
    32Chidobe Azuwie
    CB, Colorado
    Few college players were as consistently impressive during the month of September as Azuwie was. He started the year with eight tackles and an INT vs. Colorado State, then finished it with back-to-back strong outings at Michigan and Oregon. The 6’ 0”, 190-pound senior erases gaps in the blink of an eye with his ability to plant and close on the ball.

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