There’s a new crop of players expected to be drafted at the NFL draft in 2017, and we’re getting an early look at some of the top prospects.
The first round, of course, is a pretty good time to look at who’s on the rise, but it’s a good time also to get an idea of how things stand right now.
So let’s get started with some of our favorites in this class.1.
Samaje Perine, DE, UtahThe former Utah star has started his career hot, but has since cooled off, and he’s expected to fall out of the first round.
His lack of playmaking ability will likely be the deciding factor in whether or not Perine is drafted, though, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t end up in the top five.2.
Malik McDowell, WR, MiamiThe Miami receiver has been impressive during his three-year career.
After averaging 10 catches per season from 2013-15, he averaged 13.7 per season in 2016, and now he has the talent to play a bigger role in Miami’s offense.
McDowell’s ceiling is very high, and his biggest knock is he doesn’t have a ton of hands, but he’s a very productive receiver with the ball in his hands.3.
Ryan Switzer, DT, Michigan StateA 6-foot-5, 320-pound nose tackle who can play the run and the pass, Switzer could go early and is very versatile, but the Lions could go in the second round and he could be gone.4.
Tyus Bowser, WR/DE, ClemsonThe Clemson standout has played in all 12 games and racked up 454 receiving yards.
He was the most productive player on Clemson’s offensive line in 2016 and is a top-10 player in my opinion.5.
David Njoku, S, UCLAThe UCLA safety has been productive in his career, but will he fall off?
Njoku had two interceptions in four games, and the Bruins need to get a better return game.6.
Jaelen Strong, CB, Florida StateThe former Clemson standout is a great fit for the Buccaneers, who are trying to figure out how to move him to safety.
The question is whether or and how he’s going to fit in in Tampa’s scheme.7.
Trevon Coley, CB/S, AlabamaThe Alabama safety is one of the best cover corners in the draft and he has a lot of skill to his game.
He has the size and speed to play at the top of the safety class and could be the top cornerback available at No. 7 overall.8.
Jake Butt, QB, MichiganA 6.2-pound, 200-pound pocket passer who is explosive off the snap, Butt is expected to go in Round 1, and if he falls to the Jets, he could fall into the second or third round.9.
Malik Hooker, S/DE/OLB, MichiganIn what was an injury-plagued season, Hooker showed some promise as a pass rusher, but there’s not a ton he can’t do on the field.
He also has the ability to be a force at the next level and is an extremely talented player.10.
Deontay Burnett, WR and DT, OregonThe Oregon wide receiver is an excellent prospect, but I don’t think he’ll be drafted much lower than the first.
He’s a big-play threat, but if he slips to the second, he might not be able to make the leap from the third round into the top 10.11.
Jalen Mills, OT, LSUThe LSU left tackle is a massive presence in the run game, but his lack of athleticism could hurt him against some bigger, more physical edge rushers.
He should be a good NFL left tackle prospect.12.
Justin Jackson, WR-CB, MichiganJackson was the No. 1 receiver in my mock draft, and although he didn (and won’t) make the final pick, he has an NFL future.
Jackson is very similar to Jalen Ramsey, but Ramsey can run, and Jackson is a better pass catcher than Ramsey.13.
Michael Bennett, DT/DE in SeattleThe former UCLA standout is expected in the first two rounds, but might be gone by the third.
His athleticism and pass-rush ability are two of the most coveted attributes in the NFL.14.
Jadaveon Clowney, RB, South CarolinaThe Jaguars are likely to move up from No. 14 to select Clowney.
His ability to run the football and be an effective runner in space should help his chances of going early in the fourth round.15.
Isaiah Oliver, CB in DenverThe Broncos cornerback could fall to the third or fourth round, but Oliver is a very good cover corner.
He’ll be a player to watch in the future.16.
Tre Mason, OT in HoustonThe former Florida offensive tackle