By: Andrew Nason
1. 4 Quarterbacks will go in the 1st round
Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson (in that order) will all be selected in the top 25 picks, and a team with an early 2nd round pick will trade up into the first round to draft Deshone Kizer. The QB’s in this draft aren’t guys who can come in, start, and be successful. Instead, they’re guys who have the tools to develop into starters with a year or two of waiting. Still, the fact that they’re quarterbacks will force teams to overvalue them and draft them earlier than they would like to.
2. Jabrill Peppers won’t be selected in the 1st round
Jabrill Peppers is an unbelievable athlete, no one, including me, is denying that. But he’s too small to play linebacker and not good enough in coverage to be a first-round safety. Defenders push him around, his tackling is nothing spectacular, and he doesn’t cause turnovers. He had 1 interception in his college career, and it was off a tipped pass. At best he is a box safety who’ll be good against the run and a special return specialist, but he’s not a 1st round pick.
3. Joe Mixon will be not be drafted in the first round, but will be drafted within the first 10 picks of the 2nd round
Mixon may end up being the best offensive talent to come out of this draft. He is a faster version of LeVeon Bell. He has great vision, can move between the tackles, has burst, and is one of the best pass catching backs soon to be in the league. That being said, he punched a woman in the face, and there’s a video. No team wants to deal with the scrutiny of drafting him in the 1st round, when all the world is watching on a prime-time Thursday night. But Friday afternoon, when the media tones it down a bit, someone is going to jump at the chance to draft a potential game changing running back, no matter what his back story is.
4. Jamal Adams will drop out of the top 10
Adams is a strong safety, and that’s not a highly-valued position, even though it should be. Teams in the top 10 will place more importance on quarterbacks, pass rushers, wide receivers, and cornerbacks. Malik Hooker is much more of a big play making safety, so I think he is safe, but Adams will lose a bit of money simply due to his position value.
5. Christian McCaffrey won’t be around past pick 15
Almost every team from pick 8 (Carolina) to 15 (Indianapolis) could use McCaffrey, a homerun hitting back with added value as a returner and as a receiver. The rumor is that a team in the teens has already given the Stanford star a guarantee that if he is available, they will pick him. I have no doubt that that team is in the top 15.
6. Alabama’s star defenders, Jonathan Allen and Rueben Foster, drop out of the top 15
Allen and Foster are both great, productive football players, but both enter the draft process with shoulder issues. Allen was the top defensive player in college football this last season, but with arthritis in his shoulders and not as much burst off the line as appears on tape, I expect teams in the top 15 will be hesitant to select him, but other teams in the back half of the 1st round may be more willing to take the risk. Foster is a heat seeking missile at middle linebacker, but character issues (he was sent home from the Combine) and questions about his ability to comprehend the X’s and O’s of an NFL defense, along with his own shoulder issues may push him down to the late 1st round, or even early 2nd. Both player have high potential, but a lot of risk.
7. Jalen “Teez” Tabor is a late 2nd round pick
Teez is a reportedly a head case, he has some minor off the field issues, he ran horrible (and I mean really horrible) 40 times, and this class of cornerbacks is one of the best and deepest in years. With all that being said, the tape doesn’t lie. Tabor is a shutdown corner, who may be able to switch to safety in the NFL. Some see him as a 4th round pick because of the off season he’s had, but I have no doubt a team will look at the tape and decide to risk a 2nd round selection on him.
8. Sidney Jones is a top 5 pick, in the 2nd round
Prior to suffering an Achilles injury at his Pro Day, Sidney Jones was considered one of the top 3 corners in the draft and a sure 1st rounder. He has come out and said that he will be able to player at some point in 2017, so I believe that while team may not take an injured player in the 1st round, teams will pounce at the chance to get a franchise corner in the early 2nd.
9. Cleveland will have 2 picks in the top 10
Hue wants a quarterback (most likely Trubisky) and the front office wants Garrett, that appears to be where the Browns are at right now. Why not get both of them? The Browns have plenty of draft ammunition to utilize if they want to move back into the top 10 after selecting Garrett 1st overall. In order to guarantee they get Trubisky, they will likely need to trade up to the 5 spot, or even possibly the number 2 spot, if they think San Francisco has interest in them. The Browns will get the top prospect, and then most likely take a shot on a quarterback they believe in.
10. Tim Williams, once a top 5 prospect, is a 4th round pick
When I look at Tim Williams, I see Randy Gregory. Gregory was a highly-rated pass rusher out of Nebraska when he entered the 2015 NFL Draft, but a failed drug test at the combine raised some serious red flags and he ended up falling to the Cowboys with the 60th pick. He had minimal impact as a rookie, and was then suspended for the 1st 4 games of the 2016 season for a failed drug test, and then he failed another one and was suspended for 10 games, and after that, he failed another one, and is now facing a season ban. Williams has admitted to failing multiple during his time at Alabama, and was arrested in September when police found an unregistered pistol in his car, after stopping his vehicle for smelling of marijuana. Williams has a lot of talent, but his drug issues and off-field issues will scare teams who learned a lesson watching Randy Gregory. No one will touch him in the first 3 rounds.
11. Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch will have new teams by the end of the draft
Beast Mode and the Raiders have reportedly already agreed to terms, so now it’s a matter of Seattle, who still owns his rights, trading him to Oakland. Most likely the Seahawks will get a late round pick for Lynch, who should become an instant fan favorite for his hometown Raiders. Peterson meanwhile, remains unsigned, but after the draft, when some team isn’t happy with its running back situation going into training camp, expect the future hall of famer to be scooped up quickly on a 1 year deal, or more accurately, a try out deal.
12. The Patriots will end up with at least 1 pick in the first 2 rounds
With Jimmy G and Malcom Butler on the trade block, and no 1st or 2nd round picks, I expect Bill Belichick will be looking to move back up for a pass rusher or defensive back. Look for BB to land the Pats either a mid-2nd rounder or a premium 1st round pick. And don’t be surprised when Bill deals out of those spots again, as he is the greatest and most unpredictable GM in the game.
13. Chad Kelly goes in the 5th round
The nephew of the great Jim Kelly, Chad Kelly has a lot of baggage in his past. He has a rap song about himself, or Swag Kelly, as he has called himself in the past. He was dismissed from Clemson in 2012 for conduct detrimental to the team, he got into a fight on the field, as a spectator, at one of his younger brother’s football games last season, he is recovering from a torn ACL suffered against Georgia Southern, he was photographed rolling blunts with friends soon after that, he wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine but threatened to crash it, and he recently had wrist surgery and can’t throw for 3 months. Yes, Chad Kelly is a head case. Yes, Chad Kelly has off the field issues. Yes, Chad Kelly is coming off multiple surgeries. But with all that being said, the kid is a damn good quarterback. Kelly has a great arm, great mobility, a knack for making big plays happen, and he won in the SEC, against some of college football’s best defenses. He never beat Alabama, but his numbers against them are on par with Deshaun Watsons. 762 yards, 6 touchdowns, and no interceptions against the Crimson Tide. Kelly may be a risky pick, and should probably go undrafted thanks to his past, but he also may end up being the steal of this draft. I believe multiple teams will look past the media headlines around him and will look at his game tape, which shows one of the most talented quarterbacks in college football, and will select him with a 5th round pick. I won’t be surprised if Kelly ends up being the best quarterback to come out of this class.