While the 2017 draft is widely being considered in many circles as a mediocre class, there are still some very intriguing options available to choose from if they land with the right team. Lets take a quick look at a few top prospects to watch for in the upcoming draft…..
Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
- Solid arm for deep ball.
- Reads plays well at the line of scrimmage.
- Accurate passer to all sections of the field.
- Can make plays with his feet.
- Most of his passes came from shotgun, not under center.
- Needs to work on footwork and feeling pressure in the pocket.
NFL comparison- Carson Wentz
With his mechanical issues surrounding foot work and lack of experience in taking snaps under center he is a prime candidate to sit his first year. There is an old school coach in Tom Coughlin down in Jacksonville that could take the promising young talent in the top five considering he does have one of the highest upsides in this QB draft class. Making him one of my top choices in Dynasty League formats.
DeShaun Waston, Clemson
- Tough to bring down in the pocket
- Can Make plays with his feet
- Great lob passer inside the 20’s and can throw deep.
- Can run too much at times
- Benefited from elite college WR’s making tough plays on off point passes at times.
NFL comparison- Russell Wilson
Analysis: DeShaun Watson is my favorite QB of this draft and is probably the most pro ready first year starter in this draft class. With his “gamer” mentality and strong play through out his career at Clemson that was exclamation pointed with an epic come from behind victory in the National Championship game against powerhouse Alabama. I find it very hard to believe that he will make it past the Browns second first round pick at 12 and becomes the immediate day one starter for coach Hue Jackson, IE Andy Dalton. The thought of Watson to Coleman for the next 5-10 years should absolutely terrify their AFC North rivals and Should be a solid late round QB option in most fantasy formats. Don’t screw this up Cleveland!
Patrick Malhomes, Texas Tech
- Amazing arm talent
- Great pocket presence and reads defenses well.
- Steep learning curve coming from Texas Tech spread offense.
- Needs to learn to be patient in the pocket.
NFL Comparison- Drew Brees
Analysis: There is no question that Malhomes is the quarterback with the highest ceiling in this draft class. Although will endure a steep learning curve that most Texas Tech QB’s don’t survive in the NFL due to their college friendly spread offense. He is primed to ride the pine in year one. However, if he falls in the draft to the end of the first round, a realistic scenario, going to the Texans at 24. It would immediately make him one of your top targets in keeper leagues as this kids game reminds me A LOT of gun slinger hall of famer Brett Favre.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State
- Hits the hole hard
- Great field vision
- Very elusive
- Not good for pass catching
- Fumbles a lot
NFL Comparison- Devonta Freeman
Analysis: Very explosive RB that has day one starter potential. Although he will need to resolve his fumbling issues and develop quickly as a pass catcher to have any shot at three down duties in year one. Most likely he will go to a team that has a solid pass catcher at running back to compliment Cooks explosive out of the backfield ability. Depending on which way Jacksonville and New York sways with their picks, Cook could end up right in the laps of the Carolina Panthers at number 8 and would immediately become the most sought after rookie in all fantasy league formats.
Leonard Fournette, LSU
- Punishing runner
- Elite agility in the open field
- Impatient zone rusher.
- Unable to make plays when offensive line fails to block.
- Bad at catching passes out of the backfield.
NFL Comparison- Melvin Gordon
Analysis: Whoever gambles on Fournette in the first round will assuredly have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL as it was clear the 2016 LSU o-line was far worse than the 2015 version, his break out campaign. Also in 2016, we noticed quite a bit of indecisiveness in Fournettes play, the combination ended up bumping him to second string and a HUGE question mark tag as a potential top five talent. From a fantasy perspective, whichever team takes a chance on Fournette in the draft better have a solid o-line before even considering him for your fantasy team, if they don’t you’ll just be wasting your time.
Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
- Elite pass catching ability out of the backfield.
- Running style allows him to gain yards after contact.
- Elusive in open field.
- Lacks break away speed.
- Hardly any use in pass protection.
NFL comparison: Andre Ellington
Analysis: No question Joe Mixon is a guy who can have a successful NFL career with his ability in the open field. Although there are several concerns if he can fulfill common running back duties like pass protect, as he was used more as a wide receiver than a typical running back. Unless something magical happens in training camp with the team that drafts him Mixon’s future in the NFL is trending towards 3rd down back, switch to slot receiver, or punt/kick returner. Making him viable to PPR formats.
Christian McCaffery, Stanford
- Elite presence of defenders
- Ultimate utility player, can catch passes with high success, and solid running ability out of the back field.
- Not a traditional NFL style running back, durability may be an issue.
NFL comparison- Rex Burkhead
Analysis: McCaffery is a very special player who will be picked up by someone looking to utilize his skill set. The first team that comes to my mind is the Philadelphia Eagles, with Andy Reid disciple Doug Pederson at the helm and would bet money they are taking him if he falls to them with the 14th pick. McCaffery is so versatile he would be in play in all fantasy league formats.
Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
- Has that elite “slinky” ability to stay on his feet
- Great one cut and go runner with agility to make defenders miss in the open field
- Lacks breakaway speed
NFL comparison- Arian Foster
Analysis: When I watched film on Kamara the first player that came to mind was former UT alumni Arian Foster. The way he squeaks through holes, deceptive speed, and open field agility make him one of the more interesting prospects in this draft. If it all comes together in the NFL this kid has a very bright future ahead of him. I am marking him up as one of my top rookie selections in fantasy drafts this year because this guy could be lightning in a bottle.
D’onta Foreman, Texas
- Deceptive breakaway speed
- Very patient in waiting for the play to develop
- Solid one cut ability
- Can be too patient hitting holes out of the backfield
NFL Comparison- Demarco Murray
Analysis: Foreman is a guy who does not get enough credit in my opinion as he is no where near flashy. I like to call him the Tim Duncan of college football, a guy who is so basic and uninteresting to watch when you compare him to the ritz and glam of this running back class but also makes big plays at the same time. He is on my radar as a possible sleeper this year in fantasy depending on where he goes in the draft.
Mike Williams, Clemson
- Elite hands
- Physical receiver who can beat double teams
- Lacks concentration and focus at times.
- Suffered season ending neck injury in 2015
NFL comparison- Kelvin Benjamin
Analysis: While Williams is not as explosive as Kelvin Benjamin he reminds me a lot of the 6’5 Carolina Panthers receiver in the sense that he have these brain farts, as I like to call them, dropping a catch I could make sitting on my couch at home while eating a bag of cheetos. Then completely redeem himself by making a simply stupid one handed falling out of bounds while fully extended toe tapping catch on the side lines to fully redeem himself. If you’re an owner who loves the dramatics, feel free to jump on the Mike Williams merry go round.
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
- Absolute play maker
- Elite catching ability and route running
- Played against other small D-1 schools, will game translate to the NFL?
- Rumors of being a serious injury risk, as he’s had his fill in college.
NFL Comparison- Antonio Brown
Analysis: Yeah, yeah, I get it! Antonio Brown? Yes, when this guy is healthy he makes plays literally all over the field and moves very similarly to A.B.84. His stop on a dime, change of direction speed and agility are definitely elite. However, his main concern at this point though is will he be drafted and never play a game because of injury? Very high ceiling but also has the most risk of probably any other player in this draft outside of Leonard Fournette.
John Ross, Washington
- World class speed and agility
- Catches the deep ball well
- Like all speedsters, durability in the NFL could be an issue
NFL Comparison- Ted Ginn Jr
Analysis: Talk about lighting in a bottle! Ross is the receiver I really like the most from a deep ball prospective A guy who’s 40 time broke Chris Johnson’s fastest 40 time at 4.22 at the combine a few months ago. Although he could just be another Tedd Ginn Jr, he could also be the total package. However, he is a smaller guy so injury concerns are always a worry with guys like this but I think he’s worth the risk in all formats.
Juju Smith-Schuster, USC
- Deceptive speed and great route runner
- Elite hands and can play in the slot or outside
- Can sometimes not be on the same page with his QB resulting in bad incompletions or interceptions.
NFL Comparison- Stefon Diggs
Analysis: Love his talent on the right team. Very versatile receiver who’s had some injury concerns but is a player who could end up being the steal of this draft.
OJ Howard, Alabama
- Good receiver
- Solid hands
- Can lineup outside
- Has a wide receivers body and lacks strength at point of of contact
- Horrible blocker in pass protection.
NFL comparison- Devon Funchess
Analysis: While Howard is leaps and bounds more talented than Funchess from an athletic ability standpoint. He does issue some concern as one of the bigger question marks when it comes to tight ends in 2017. He is not a good pass blocker, has limited play in the receiving game at Alabama that notoriously grounds and pounds its opponents. Whatever team takes him will most likely use him in passing situations only until his blocking game improves, which may not ever improve. In fantasy you are looking a TE/WR that could have a role as a situational receiver who gets run inside the 20’s. Making him an attractive gamble in more touchdown dependent leagues.
David Njoku, Miami
- Absolute playmaker at tight end position
- Deceptive speed
- Needs to be drafted by the right NFL team.
NFL comparison- Julius Thomas
Analysis: Njoku is my pick for most complete TE in this draft. He has NFL size, blocks well, and can catch balls 20+ yards down field. At Miami he showed flashes of brilliance at times where he was wide open thirty yards down field and no one within 10-15 yards of him. Reaffirming you of his deceptive speed and solid route running for a big tight end. If he can stay healthy this young man has a bright future ahead of him in the NFL if he goes to the right team. From a fantasy perspective he has the potential to be on the field the most in year one as NFL rookie tight ends generally have major struggles picking up NFL blocking schemes.
Evan Engram, Ole Miss
- Elite hands
- Has a wide receivers body.
- Lacks focus and concentration.
NFL Comparison- Jordan Reed
Analysis: At 6’3 227lbs he is just simply too small to be your typical NFL tight end. Will more than likely be used in the slot if he cannot successfully add 20-25 lbs without sacrificing his agility/speed. Although he does have Jordan Reed upside with out the injury risk if he ever gets his concentration lapses in check as a pro. If a team like the Texans at 24 opt out of taking Patrick Malhomes for a guy Evans, he would be absolutely explosive to watch in Bill O’Brien offense that currently disguises three blocking tight ends as pass catchers.