• With college football bowl games completed and the Super Bowl around the corner, NFL draft talk is heating up. Here's a look at the current top 50 prospects.
By Chris Burke
January 18, 2017

A few days ago, I received an email from my colleague Andrew Perloff (you may know him better as “McLovin” from The Dan Patrick Show, or as the guy who dressed up as the Kirk Cousins “you like that!” Vine for Halloween) who wanted to know how Mitch Trubisky could be No. 4 on my 2017 draft QB rankings but No. 3 in my most recent mock draft. The explanation can help set the table for the Big Board below.

Here’s what it boils down to: the mocks are a best guess, attempting to pair team needs with the prospect board to theorize how the draft may play itself out. The positional rankings (which are up-to-date here) and the Big Boards are sort of a look behind the curtain at what I’m learning as I study up on the 2017 class—which players I like or am lukewarm on, who’s ready to step in as a rookie, etc. The players on the Big Board are ordered by how confident I am that they’ll succeed in the NFL. Think of the top 12 are being as close to “sure things” as the draft produces, on down through guys I’d consider borderline Round 1 prospects.

2017 NFL draft rankings: Top prospects by position

You’ll no doubt notice that just one of the 2017 class’s QBs falls within the top 31 spots. That honor belongs to Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Three more quarterbacks (DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes and Trubisky) check in between 32 and 40. And, again, that doesn’t mean they’ll all sit around until Day 2—just that, as of this moment, I’d place their respective values closer to late Round 1 or early Round 2 than a top-five pick. One reason why this class will be fascinating to track is that the views on the quarterbacks seem to vary wildly. To some, Trubisky is an obvious superstar in the making; others will bang the table for Kizer or (as is the case here) Watson. Mahomes? He’s viewed as a high-upside, low-floor prospect ...  and no one seems certain what that means yet.

Ahead of last year’s draft, the view was that most of the quarterbacks needed time before they could thrive as starters. Carson Wentz proved that wrong, to a point, and Dak Prescott blew it out of the water. There is a similar opinion of the 2017 class, and that argument in part fuels the placements of Kizer, Mahomes and Trubisky near the edge of “Round 1” valuation.  But we’ll see. There’s still a long way to go and plenty to learn about these prospects. For now, the top 50.

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