Since 2000, a quarterback has been the No. 1 pick 12 times, and in three of the past five drafts QBs have gone 1-2. So, just playing the percentages here. There is no question that Deshaun Watson will be a Heisman favorite this season, off his brilliant 2015. There’s also little question that, on paper, Kaaya—who is 6' 4" and plays in a pro-style scheme—better fits the NFL prototype.
2 of 32David E. Klutho
2. San Francisco 49ers: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The 49ers can trim almost $15 million off their 2017 cap by cutting Colin Kaepernick next off-season, so let’s assume that marks the end of a frayed relationship. Watson probably will face similar questions asked of previous top prospects Jared Goff (No. 1 in 2016) and Marcus Mariota (No. 2 in 2015). He also undeniably enters his junior season atop the 2017 draft list.
3 of 32Pouya Dianat
3. San Diego Chargers: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The 6' 6" prospect struggled early last year but, like his title-winning team, found his mojo again late. He is entering his third season as the Crimson Tide’s starter at left tackle.
4 of 32George Bridges/AP
4. Tennessee Titans: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
“This year,” Garrett told SI’s Brian Hamilton, “I want to make sure I get out of here and I break the single-season record [for sacks], I break the career record—pretty much I want to break all the records I can possible for a defensive end." With 22.5 sacks and 32.0 tackles for loss already, he might pull it off.
5 of 32Marianna Massey
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The latest player, through no fault of his own, to be swept into the “should he sit out a season” debate. Fournette arguably is the best RB prospect of the past three seasons, and that list includes Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley.
6 of 32Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
Can he stay on the field? That’s the only mystery surrounding Lawson, who sat out the 2014 season with an ACL injury and missed several games to injury last year. If he can show some durability, there’s no question he has top-10 potential.
7 of 32Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
7. Cleveland Browns (via Eagles): Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Johnson inherited the Seminoles’ left tackle spot as a true freshman in 2014 after Cam Erving moved to center. The 6' 7", 307-pounder locked down that spot last year during a dominant campaign.
8 of 32Chip Litherland
8. Detroit Lions: Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
Tabor’s ex-teammate Vernon Hargreaves just missed the top 10 this draft. The 6' 1" standout will pair with Quincy Wilson to form one of college football’s top cornerback combos in 2016.
9 of 32Jed Jacobsohn
9. New Orleans Saints: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
What does McCaffrey have on tap for an encore after topping 2,000 yards on the ground (and nearly 4,000 total yards) last season? He would be so much fun in this offense.
10 of 32Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
10. Miami Dolphins: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Allen, the Crimson Tide sacks leader last season with 12, told ESPN.com that he received a second-round grade ahead of this year’s draft. If he continues to progress as he has from 2013 to ’15, he should have no trouble surpassing that projection.
It was a bit of a surprise when King announced he would stay in school for his senior season. The 5' 11" DB has a chance to repeat as the Jim Thorpe Award winner.
12 of 32Rainier Ehrhardt/AP
12. Atlanta Falcons: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Watson’s 2015 was made all the more impressive by excelling despite losing Williams to a neck fracture in the season opener after the 6' 4" receiver crashed into the goalpost after a TD catch. He is on track to be 100% for 2016, giving him ample time to reemerge as an elite prospect.
13 of 32Joe Robbins/Getty Imagess
13. Buffalo Bills: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Don’t want to overdo it on running backs, especially in the top 15, but Cook will be in the early first round discussion if he repeats his 2015 production: 1,935 rushing yards, 20 TDs. Pro Football Focus graded him out No. 2 in the nation in yards after contact per attempt.
Jim Harbaugh said Peppers might be the “Willie Mays of football”, and his two-way contributions no doubt will lead to ample Charles Woodson comparisons this season. The rising junior is an athletically gifted safety who actually is set to play linebacker in new defensive coordinator Don Brown’s scheme.
15 of 32Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
15. Washington Redskins: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA
Kenny Clark is the UCLA DT everyone got to know this spring, but Vanderdoes would have been right with him if he had’t torn his ACL last September.
16 of 32Greg Nelson
16. Chicago Bears: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Time to take a stab at the other QBs who could crack Round 1 a year from now. Put the 6' 3" Mahomes on the list of possibilities. He has given up his spot on the Red Raiders’ baseball team so he can focus on football and is primed to blow up off a 46-TD season (36 passing, 10 rushing).
17 of 32John Bazemore/AP
17. New York Jets: DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
Walker applied for an NFL draft evaluation following his junior year, then stayed put. Expect him to build on his second-team All-ACC showing, which included 15.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
18 of 32Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
18. Baltimore Ravens: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Williams was a dominant situational edge rusher for the Tide last season, racking up 10.5 sacks in limited time. He even flirted with the 2016 draft. Circle him as a player whose stock could skyrocket in the coming months.
19 of 32Darron Cummings/AP
19: New York Giants: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
You didn’t think we would get through the first round without a couple Buckeyes, did you? McMillan stood out even on a defense which included two 2016 first-rounders (Joey Bosa and Darron Lee). He should be a star this fall.
20 of 32Norm Hall/Getty Images
20: Oakland Raiders: Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC
To give you some idea of the kind of athlete we’re talking about here: Jackson took off spring practice because he is trying to qualify as an Olympic long jumper. He can do it all on the football field, adding 27 catches and almost 900 return yards to his defensive duties last season.
21 of 32Chip Litherland
21: Kansas City Chiefs: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
Another prospect that flirted with entering the 2016 draft, Davis did so on the heels of a breakout season (94 tackles, 11 tackles for loss). His teammate, safety Marcus Maye, is yet another Florida defender to keep in mind as a potential 2017 Round 1 choice.
22 of 32Skip Williams/Icon Sportswire
22: Indianapolis Colts: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Tennessee’s miserable 2016 draft experience will not be repeated next year. Barnett, CB Cameron Sutton, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin and QB Joshua Dobbs lead what could be an excellent class. Barnett is the best of the bunch right now. He was a beast against both run and pass last season.
23 of 32Al Tielemans
23: Minnesota Vikings: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
A year after an underwhelming 2016 tight end class, 2017 could be loaded: Howard, Michigan’s Jake Butt and Clemson’s Jordan Leggett should lead an excellent class. Howard shredded Clemson in the national title game (five catches, 208 yards, two TDs), setting the stage for what could be a huge senior season.
24 of 32Tony Ding/AP
24: Dallas Cowboys: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
The Pro Football Focus folks graded him as the country’s top cornerback, period, last season. His size (5' 10", 176 pounds) is the only thing that may hold him back from hearing his name called early
25 of 32Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
25: Cincinnati Bengals: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
The Spartans continue to churn out NFL-caliber talent, and McDowell might be the best of the recent bunch—not bad considering Shilique Calhoun, Trae Waynes and Darqueze Dennard are among the program’s recent draft picks. McDowell (6' 6", 280 lbs.) is a physically imposing monster inside.
26 of 32AP
26: Arizona Cardinals: Pat Elflein, G/C, Ohio State
I actually had a different Buckeye, DE/OLB Tyquan Lewis, in this spot initially but moved him out to accommodate Elflein, who will receive significant attention should he thrive in his move to center this year. Another Ohio State prospect to remember: cornerback Gareon Conley, the heir apparent to top-10 pick Eli Apple.
27 of 32Thomas Graning/AP
27: Denver Broncos: Tony Conner, S, Ole Miss
We just saw the Raiders and Falcons use picks 14 and 17, respectively, on Karl Joseph and Keanu Neal. Conner is next in line to be the hard-hitting safety NFL teams drool over. He might have joined Joseph and Neal in Round 1 had he stayed healthy last year.
28 of 32L.G. Patterson/AP
28: Carolina Panthers: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Speaking of being "next in line," Harris (18.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks last season) could pick up right where fellow Mizzou products Shane Ray, Markus Golden and Kony Ealy left off in the draft.
29 of 32Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
29: Green Bay Packers: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Davis (6' 3", 205 pounds) would have had a strong chance to land on Day 2 had he declared following his junior season. He again should be among the FBS’s top producers at receiver in his final Western Michigan go-round.
Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly is a lock to be mentioned among next year’s first-round QBs, but his checkered past also will come up time and again: kicked off a high school team, kicked off Clemson, arrested before joining the Rebels (he pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge). But don’t sleep on Mayfield, who finished fourth in last year’s Heisman voting. He put up 3,700 yards passing, rushed for another 400 and is extremely accurate.
31 of 32Chris Keane
31: Seattle Seahawks: Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
With Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd and D.J. Reader now in the pros, Watkins will be a lead dog for the Tigers’ D-line. The 300-pounder was second-team All-ACC last season and is set to build on a strong campaign.
32 of 32Patrick Record/AP
32: New England Patriots: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
Vernon Adams recently told SI’s Doug Farrar that Kupp is the best receiver in college football—Adams played with Kupp before the latter took home the Walter Payton Award in 2015 as the top FCS offensive player. He has decent size (6' 2", 205 lbs.), runs sharp routes and produces from the slot or outside.
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