So we’re at the end of another draft season. I want to thank everyone who is part of this increasingly active community for making this such a great blog. It’s incredible that as traffic has grown — the comments section has remained a mature place to discuss football matters (even when disagreements occur).
In case you’re interested, between January and the end of the draft we had 18,076,727 hits. We had 606,134 hits during the first round of the draft alone.
This is usually where I take a break. It’s been virtually an article a day since September and it’s time to focus on the day job and family. We’ll get things going again in the summer and begin to preview the new college and NFL season.
In the meantime here’s a list of 50 names to chew on for 2017.
The top ten
These are the players we can say with some degree of certainty will be generating most of the draft headlines this year.
Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
Just an incredible football player. He could very easily be the #1 overall pick next year. There are no flaws. An absolute beast.
Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)
Really dynamic edge rusher with speed, bend and technique. Looks like a sure fire top-five pick.
Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
Some possible character issues that’ll need to be looked into — but there’s no denying his talent. Fast, powerful and dynamic. Only a notch below Fournette.
Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
Modern day linebacker who jumped off the screen while watching Jonathan Bullard and Keanu Neal. A candidate to go very early.
Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
Superior to some of the previous Alabama left tackles to enter the league. Ideal size and has a chance to be the top 2017 tackle.
DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
A genuine playmaker with room to continue improving. Elusive and improvises well. Can he take the next step and secure himself as the top QB prospect?
Tim Williams (DE, Alabama)
He could’ve been a top-20 pick this year. Terrific edge rusher with fantastic athleticism. Major talent.
Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
Really productive and physical — has the size to play DE in a 3-4 or 4-3. A nice compliment to Williams for ‘Bama.
Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
Would’ve been an early pick this year but decided to return to LSU. Great character, great athlete, good kick returner. Top-15 potential.
Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida)
Better than Vernon Hargreaves who went in the top-12. Has the size (6-1, 191lbs) and length teams crave. Could be another top-15 talent.
Five personal favourites
Players who stood out during the 2014 and 2015 season that are eligible for the 2017 draft.
Jehu Chesson (WR, Michigan)
Great size (6-3, 207lbs) with room to add weight. Owned Vernon Hargreaves in the Citrus Bowl. Returned an opening kick off 96-yard for a TD against Northwestern. Underrated.
Harold Brantley (DT, Missouri)
A car crash kept him out for the 2015 season but he’ll be healthy and ready to return this year. Fantastic three-technique interior rusher.
Cam Sutton (CB, Tennessee)
A stud athlete, Sutton glides around the field. He’s a playmaker, a kick returner and he could’ve gone in round one this year. So fluid.
Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
A modern day weapon. Ten years ago he wouldn’t go early — in 2017? This is the type of player teams are looking for. Shifty rather than fast.
Adam Bisnowaty (T, Pittsburgh)
It was a bit surprising he didn’t declare this year. Will likely move to guard in the NFL but he could be another Evan Mathis.
Looking to take the next step
The following group are fairly established college players who can really help their stock with a good 2016 season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, USC)
A few recent USC receivers haven’t lived up to expectations in the NFL. JuJu is bigger and more physical. He’s lost his quarterback though (Cody Kessler).
Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon)
‘Rolls’ Royce isn’t Fournette or Freeman but don’t sleep on his potential. Well sized with good athleticism if not elite speed.
Samaje Perine (RB, Oklahoma)
A different type of back to the ones listed above. Perine is big and physical but has enough speed to make plays.
O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)
He exploded in the National Championship game after an underwhelming start to his college career. His size/speed combo could secure a first round grade next year.
Eddie Jackson (S, Alabama)
Very agile safety prospect with some decent size (6-0, 194lbs). Scored two touchdowns in 2015 and had three big interception returns.
Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
Horrible injury ended his 2015 season and it looked as bad as Jaylon Smith’s. If he returns to 100% — he has a chance to go early. Extremely competitive.
Brad Kaaya (QB, Miami)
Considered a possible school saviour when he was drafted, Kaaya hasn’t really matched the hype. 2016 is his chance to boost a weak looking QB class.
Charles Walker (DT, Oklahoma)
Classic three-technique. Sets up his blocks and wins with a great swim move and quickness. Had six sacks last year.
Ethan Pocic (C, LSU)
Received a second round grade from the committee but chose not to declare this year. Absolutely massive (6-7, 309lbs). Very solid.
Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Already has 20 sacks in just two seasons with the Vols. Built like a pro already. Big thick frame — a bit like Shaq Lawson.
Adoree Jackson (CB/WR, USC)
Incredible athlete. Crown him 2017’s top combine performer today. Needs to nail down one specific position. Might be better on offense.
Carl Lawson (DE, Auburn)
Finally healthy. Laremy Tunsil said at the combine Lawson was his toughest college opponent. Tough to block but needs to put together a strong (full) season.
Jabrill Peppers (CB, Michigan)
Former big time recruit. Ideal length and athleticism for the position. A modern day prototype at corner.
Desmond King (CB, Iowa)
Very productive in Iowa’s 2015 run but maybe a little overrated in terms of the pro’s. Is he big enough to go early?
Guys to keep an eye on
This is a list of prospects who are moving into starting roles for the first time or could be ready for a breakout season.
Marcus Maye (S, Florida)
Had a big impact in 2015 forcing five fumbles and collecting two interceptions. He’ll take on an even greater role with Keanu Neal now in the NFL.
Denzil Ware (DE, Kentucky)
Lacks elite size (6-2, 255lbs) but just started to put things together at the back end of last season.
David Sharpe (LT, Florida)
Good size and length for the position. Moving into his third season as a starter. Passes the eye test.
Quin Blanding (S, Virginia)
Former top five star recruit who doesn’t get much attention due to the team he plays for. A new coaching staff at Virginia could help change that.
Da’Shawn Hand (DE, Alabama)
Expect Hand to fill the hole created by ‘Bama’s D-line exodus. He could play a similar role to D.J. Pettway and he’s a far superior athlete.
Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida)
Not short on confidence but needs to be more productive. Has the talent and size. Disruptive.
Bo Scarbrough (RB, Alabama)
Massive running back. Could replace Derrick Henry. Dubbed the next big thing at Alabama but we’ll see how his role develops this year.
Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
Receives lofty praise but could do with a consistent season where he makes a number of plays and stands out.
Daeshon Hall (DE, Texas A&M)
Exploded to start 2015 with a four-sack game to start the season vs Arizona State. Looked the part there but needs to be an every-week performer. Has length and size.
Devonte Fields (DE, Louisville)
Always seemed to be near the action when watching Sheldon Rankins tape. Long, fluid athlete. Can he perform with Rankins in the NFL?
Sony Michel (RB, Georgia)
Took over from Nick Chubb and might end up remaining in the starting role to start 2016. Michel, like Chubb, was a big time recruit.
Malachi Dupre (WR, LSU)
Wiry, thin receiver but capable of big plays. Suffers because of the mess at QB. Can he add some weight?
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Tabor will get the praise but don’t sleep on Wilson — another talented Florida CB off the production line.
Raekwon McMillan (LB, Ohio State)
Wasn’t quite as enamoured by McMillan as some others — but he’ll have to be a playmaker for the Buckeye’s this year with all the talent they’ve lost to the NFL.
Charles Harris (DE, Missouri)
Raw as anything you’ll see but recorded major TFL stats in 2015 and could be the next top-tier EDGE from Mizzou.
Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
Had three picks in 2015 and his responsibility will expand this year. Could develop into another Nick Saban early round DB.
Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan)
He posted 6.5 sacks last year and like everyone at Michigan will only continue to improve with Jim Harbaugh.
Skai Moore (LB, South Carolina)
Tackle machine and developed into a playmaker for the Gamecocks. Smaller linebacker in the Darron Lee mould.
Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
Rangy tackler with decent size and length. Former four-star recruit who drew attention from several top schools.
Davon Godchaux (DT, LSU)
Has looked really good at times. Stood out in the win against Auburn last year. Certainly capable of drawing NFL attention.
Roderick Johnson (T, Florida State)
Big, long and well proportioned left tackle prospect. Doesn’t play with his hair on fire though. Too passive.