Before anyone gets all hot and bothered about the prospect of a 2017 NFL mock draft in early May 2016, allow me to pass along a couple of notes:
A) Minimal consideration was paid to perceived team needs—some, to be sure, but there is no point in pretending anyone knows how these rosters will shape up a year from now.
B) The real goal here is to introduce (or reintroduce) some of the prospects football fans will become familiar with during the 2016 college season.
The other sticking point on the 2017 mocks tends to be the draft order. As usual, ours has been pulled from the 2017 Super Bowl odds laid down by Vegas—in this case, the Westgate Superbook. This in no way is meant as a prediction of how the teams will finish, so ignore the low expectations for a team like the Jaguars.
People always miss that part, so I’ll repeat, in bold: The draft order has been determined by Super Bowl LI odds set in Vegas. If you hate the order, it is Vegas’s fault. (“It is Vegas’s fault” is a decent excuse in many non-football cases.)
The college football season kicks off on August 26, when Hawaii and Cal battle in Sydney, Australia. Here is an extremely early shot at how the 2017 draft landscape might shake out in the months that follow.
1. Brad Kaaya
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. Deshaun Watson
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3. Cam Robinson
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. Myles Garrett
DE, Texas A&M
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5. Leonard Fournette
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. Carl Lawson
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. Roderick Johnson (via Eagles)
OT, Florida State
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8. Jalen Tabor
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. Christian McCaffrey
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. Jonathan Allen
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11. Desmond King (via Rams)