Ranking the top 32 prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft
After our mid-season positional stock report of NFL prospects, it’s time to look at the top 32 prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft. Since it’s too early to determine draft order, this is based on which players currently have the highest value at the NFL level and who will impress scouts.
1. FARRELL: Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
Farrell’s take: The quarterback position is still the most coveted position in the NFL and the team at the top of the 2017 NFL Draft will either draft a quarterback or trade down to someone who will want one. Watson hasn’t had a great year by his standards, but he still has the makeup, leadership and talent to wow in chalk talk, at his Pro Day and in meetings with decision makers. And let’s not forget his career resume is still very impressive.
1. GORNEY: Texas A&M Myles Garrett
Gorney’s take: Maybe some other defensive linemen have had better seasons but Garrett is still the best player in this draft. The former five-star and No. 2 prospect in the 2014 class has incredible explosiveness, can get to the edge and he has great inside moves as well. Garrett will test well, will interview well and he could have a long, successful NFL career.
2. FARRELL: Alabama DE Jonathan Allen
Farrell’s take: Allen's decision to return for his senior year has helped his stock greatly. His ability to play in multiple schemes puts him ahead of a pure outside pass rusher like Garrett. Allen can do it all, especially hold the edge, and his athleticism is underrated.
2. GORNEY: Allen
Gorney’s take: Allen has been phenomenal this season – just ask the Texas A&M offensive line, among others – and there is a legitimate argument to move him to No. 1 overall on this list. The former five-star has incredible strength and speed, tremendous athleticism and versatility, and no one in college football can block him.
3. FARRELL: Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
Farrell’s take: Barnett over Garrett? This isn’t a common choice and Garrett may be more athletic and have more length, but NFL scouts want a well-rounded prospect that can do it all against the run and crush the pocket. Barnett is that guy more than Garrett.
3. GORNEY: North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky
Gorney’s take: This is not a great draft for quarterbacks and I don’t think NFL teams are sold on DeShone Kizer or Watson. Trubisky should move way up draft boards and teams this high will almost definitely need a quarterback. He is accurate, has a huge arm and can make all the throws.
4. FARRELL: Garrett
Farrell’s take: It’s not like I expect Garrett to free-fall, he’s just too talented and rare. But in a draft with three amazing defensive ends, the teams at the top make a run at all three early. His outside pass rushing ability exceeds both Allen and Barnett, but there is too much film out there with teams running right at him that will push him down slightly.
4. GORNEY: LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Gorney’s take: Fournette is the perfect mix of power and speed, a guy who can run between the tackles, break tackles for extra yards and churn his way down the field. The former five-star can also get outside and make people miss and then in the open field he can outrun defensive backs. Fournette is a workhorse and he’s going to get the ball a lot in the NFL. Ezekiel Elliott is having a phenomenal rookie season and Fournette is even better.
5. FARRELL: Fournette
Farrell’s take: The best running back in the draft won’t slide past the top five picks, especially with the success of Elliott. Fournette has size, speed, vision and he’s a competitor. With a decent offensive line he can be dominant in the NFL.
5. GORNEY: Barnett
Gorney’s take: Barnett is moving up the list and I don’t think a top-five pick is irrational for Barnett, who is arguably the best edge rusher in this draft. He’s so fast to the edge, he has tremendous speed to the outside and Barnett keeps coming every rep. Garrett is more valuable but Barnett isn’t far behind.
6. FARRELL: Michigan S Jabrill Peppers
Farrell’s take: Peppers can do it all and scouts are drawn to his special teams ability, his ability to play strong or free safety and his blitzing ability off the edge. He can be used as a combination of Patrick Peterson (special teams) and Tyrann Mathieu (close to line of scrimmage) and will make a ton of plays.
6. GORNEY: Peppers
Gorney’s take: Is Peppers a safety or an outside linebacker? It won’t matter. Teams this high will need help all over the defense and Peppers is a perfect fit as a physical, fast safety or an outside linebacker who can come down and make plays and tackle in open space. They’re different players but Su’a Cravens is having a great rookie season as a versatile defender and Peppers could be even more valuable.
7. FARRELL: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
Farrell’s take: This is probably low for a big quarterback with some mobility and a very good arm. Scouts are enamored with the size and arm strength combination of quarterbacks and you can bet Kizer will wow them despite some up and down film. In fact, a team could easily trade up to No. 1 or No. 2 to take him. I don’t think he slides past top 10, at least in this early projection.
7. GORNEY: Florida CB Jalen Tabor
Gorney’s take: Aggressive as any cornerback in this draft, Tabor breaks on the ball quickly and tries to knock passes down or pick the ball off all the time. The former five-star needs to be careful sometime because he does bite and gamble and NFL teams could take advantage of that with double moves but Tabor is a playmaker and a lockdown corner with great size.
8. FARRELL: Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Farrell’s take: This might be a little high for most. There are some questions about Cook’s every-down durability at the next level, but a weapon is a weapon and he can do so many things. Some team will be tempted to go this high for him.
8. GORNEY: Michigan State DT Malik McDowell
Gorney’s take: McDowell said earlier this year that he wouldn’t leave Michigan State unless he was a top-three pick. I don’t think he’s going to go that high – no way he should go ahead of Allen – but McDowell should still be a top 10 pick. The former five-star is athletic and physical up front. I see him more as a straight defensive tackle but he has impressive speed, too.
9. FARRELL: Auburn DT Montravius Adams
Farrell’s take: Just watch the film and you will agree that Adams is the best defensive tackle in this draft class and could go higher than this. NFL executives want tackles who can give opponents fits in the offensive backfield and this is the guy for that.
9. GORNEY: Cook
Gorney’s take: I could be wrong with this prediction but I still feel Cook has the chance to be taken ahead of Fournette because he’s more dynamic and more of a game-breaking running back in the run and pass game. Cook can do it all from the running back position, he’s tough as nails and he can run by anybody. This might even be too low for him.
10. FARRELL: Tabor
Farrell’s take: High risk, high reward. Tabor has good size and great instincts but he isn’t a burner and he takes some chances. But his ball skills and ability to support the run and cover a ton of ground running plays down will make him tempting in the top 10.
10. GORNEY: Alabama LB Tim Williams
Gorney’s take: Forget total tackles when looking at Williams because he is the quintessential edge rusher who is incredibly valuable blitzing in passing situations. Tackles for loss, sacks and quarterback pressures are off the charts for Williams and even if he’s not an every-down linebacker/edge rusher to begin with he can grow into that role.
11. FARRELL: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
Farrell's take: This offensive line class is not good but you know there are teams with a massive need at tackle and a couple at least will go in round one if not more. This year’s Jack Conklin, Ramczyk took the tough path to Big Ten stardom and could be plugged right into an NFL offense as a right tackle or guard.
11. GORNEY: Clemson WR Mike Williams
Gorney’s take: Wide receiver is another position in this draft that isn’t super but Williams is the best one available and teams needing to upgrade there should look right to the Clemson standout first. He came back this season from a scary neck injury that sidelined him all of last year and he’s been solid. Williams has great length and hands, and can take over games when he wants.
12. FARRELL: M. Williams
Farrell’s take: With the overall lack of talent at the quarterback position in the NFL, executives are looking for big receivers who can do certain things very well to make it easy on their signal callers. Williams has size, a great catch radius, he’s excellent at back shoulder routes and strong in the red zone.
12. GORNEY: Ohio State S Malik Hooker
Gorney’s take: Hooker is a big-time playmaker and he’s one of the breakout stars in college football this season. He’s shooting up draft boards with his ability and his length. Ohio State put a bunch of top players in the draft this year and Hooker could be the next in line and might even more higher.
13. FARRELL: McDowell
Farrell’s take: McDowell is an athletic inside gap shooter who is also athletic enough to work to the outside and run plays down. He’s quick and explosive off the snap and very good at getting skinny when he needs to or anchoring down and taking up blockers to free his teammates.
13. GORNEY: LSU S Jamal Adams
Gorney’s take: Adams has been an aggressive, hard-hitting, fearless, smart safety since his high school days and that carried over to LSU. The former four-star does an excellent job of diagnosing plays, he trusts his eyes and then he goes and makes the play.
14. FARRELL: T. Williams
Farrell’s take: I’m not a huge fan of situational pass rushers and the results have been mixed in recent years when it comes to first rounders, but Williams is a devastating game changer from the outside who is faster and with better bend around the edge than any of the others I’ve seen. He might not be drafted as high as some of the previous ones like Aldon Smith, Dion Jordan, Vic Beasley or Leonard Floyd, but I think he could be better than any of them.
14. GORNEY: Auburn DE Carl Lawson
Gorney’s take: Lawson has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his college career but he’s stayed out of the training room this year and is putting up huge stats as a fantastic edge rusher. The former five-star has 9.5 sacks and with his physical dominance even SEC offensive tackles cannot handle him. Injuries will worry NFL executives, though, so this might still be a tad high.
15. FARRELL: Alabama OT Cameron Robinson
Farrell’s take: Robinson has been dominant since his freshman year despite a few issues with speedy outside pass rushers. Offensive tackle is a premium position in the NFL and there’s no way a team lets him slide past the first half of round one even with a few off field question marks.
15. GORNEY: Robinson
Gorney’s take: There have been times over the last couple seasons where Robinson has been beaten and seems to be guessing but more than not the massive former five-star has dominated defensive linemen and done an excellent job at tackle. He plays a premium position, Robinson has the physical and athletic tools to play in the NFL and he should be a high draft pick.
16. FARRELL: Adams
Farrell’s take: A very active safety who supports the run defense very well, is a big hitter in the passing game and has leadership and great instincts. He will be taken high despite a lack of natural length. He could be the leader of a defense for a decade.
16. GORNEY: Missouri DE Charles Harris
Gorney’s take: I’m earmarking Harris as possibly one of the biggest surprises in this draft. When I’ve watched Missouri play for the last couple seasons, Harris has shown the ability to get to the edge or make tackles inside, he’s as active as any defensive end in the SEC and he’s a playmaker. Offensive lines focus on him. When he is freed up a little more, Harris could be really special.
17. FARRELL: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
Farrell’s take: Cunnigham isn’t the thickest linebacker out there, but his ability to diagnose, read and react, and cover so much ground defensively will attract a team near the middle of round one to push him ahead of bigger-name linebackers.
17. GORNEY: Alabama LB Reuben Foster
Gorney’s take: If you’re looking for Mr. Do It All at linebacker look no further than Foster, who can come up and defend the run, blitz or track players sideline to sideline to make the stop. He’s been exceptional this season, he’s a hard hitter, tough and physical, and he’s also smart and trusts his instincts to go make the play.
18. FARRELL: Iowa CB Desmond King
Farrell’s take: There are faster cornerbacks out there and a few taller ones as well, but King is so disciplined and makes few mistakes. He can be plugged in and relied upon from day one, which makes him an attractive pick despite a relatively low ceiling.
18. GORNEY: Watson
Gorney’s take: I’m not completely sold on Watson being a first-round pick especially after watching Clemson play numerous times this season but he’s a valuable player who could really excel in the NFL. Watson is sometimes hesitant in his delivery and waits an extra split-second to make the throw. In the NFL, that’s not going to work. Still, he’s a capable, intelligent winner and some team will fall in love with him.
19. FARRELL: Texas RB D'Onta Foreman
Farrell’s take: Before the season the talk was about Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb or Royce Freeman being the third running back in round one behind Fournette and Cook but Foreman is that guy if he runs well at the combine and his Pro Day. He’s made for NFL success with sneaky speed, good feet and a huge, powerful body that wears down opponents.
19. GORNEY: Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley
Gorney’s take: Tankersley has the length and physical ability at the line to take receivers off their routes and he also has the speed to turn and run with them down the field. He sometimes gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar and receivers can create space but Tankersley closes really well and always is around the ball.
20. FARRELL: Trubisky
Farrell’s take: I am not sold on this quarterback class at all but three or even four will go in round one because of the lack of depth and talent at the position in the NFL. Many have Trubisky as the top guy. Watson’s body of work and Kizer’s measurables will make them less risky than a one-year starter. That being said, Trubisky will find a nice landing spot here.
20. GORNEY: Cunningham
Gorney’s take: Cunningham is fun to watch on Saturdays and it will almost definitely translate to Sundays as well because he flies around, diagnoses plays so well and then goes in there to make the tackle. He has 109 stops this season and even if one criticism is he misses some tackles it’s only because he’s around every play. Sometimes, he’ll whiff but usually he’s there to stop the play.
21. FARRELL: USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Farrell’s take: Smith-Schuster may not be as long as Williams, which is why he won’t be drafted as high, but he has huge hands, is very powerful and he can make tough catches. He’s also a good run-after-catch guy and too physical for many cornerbacks. His upside is too much for someone to pass on unless he runs poorly.
21. GORNEY: Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
Gorney’s take: There is a reason why Western Michigan is undefeated and largely untested this season. One is P.J. Fleck, who has done a tremendous job there. Another is quarterback Zach Terrell. The main reason is Davis, who has 75 catches for 1,202 yards and 16 scores this season. He gets open all over the field, has excellent hands and dominates every week. One concern is level of competition but my bet is Davis would be great anywhere.
22. FARRELL: Florida CB Quincy Wilson
Farrell’s take: Wilson has good size, he has excellent instincts similar to Tabor and he’s also willing to get physical when he has to. He’s quick, flips his hips with ease and he doesn’t guess often at all. He’s very disciplined and will go ahead of some other bigger names in a very deep cornerback class.
22. GORNEY: Ramczyk
Gorney’s take: Ramczyk is exactly what you would expect from a Wisconsin offensive lineman – tough, gritty, no-nonsense and he gets the job done. He took a circuitous route to end up with the Badgers but Paul Chryst wanted him all along and it makes sense why. It’s because Ramczyk is a tremendous run blocker mainly who has all the tools.
23. FARRELL: Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook
Farrell’s take: Had Westbrook broken out a year ago or even earlier in the season, he might have more hype than Williams or Smith-Schuster. He’s not as physical as either of them but he’s faster, shiftier and a deeper threat. He can work outside or out of the slot and is a matchup nightmare for even NFL defensive backs.
23. GORNEY: Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis
Gorney’s take: The concern over Lewis is that he’s undersized but he’s a first-round talent. Lewis is super competitive and sticky in coverage where receivers cannot break free of him in coverage. Lewis is the perfect corner to defend speedy receivers and his one-handed pick against Wisconsin speaks to just how talented he is at Michigan and his potential in the NFL.
24. FARRELL: Foster
Farrell’s take: This is a bit lower than many have him and I think it’s mainly because of the unexpected slide of Reggie Ragland last year. Foster is more sudden and athletic than Ragland but he has less of a body of work and NFL teams think they can get value at middle linebacker later and later each year.
24. GORNEY: Smith-Schuster
Gorney’s take: Smith-Schuster is a big, physical receiver who can outmuscle smaller cornerbacks but he also has deceptive speed and burst to break big plays down the field. He’s put up huge numbers at USC – especially last season where he was basically the lone target for quarterback Cody Kessler – and that should carry over to the NFL. His poor stats in the season-opening blowout loss to Alabama might hurt him a little, though.
25. FARRELL: Hooker
Farrell’s take: Another first-year starter (which could be a red flag), Hooker is an elite athlete who covers a ton of ground and has excellent ball skills. He makes up for mistakes by corners with natural instincts and great closing speed. His athleticism will be attractive to many teams.
25. GORNEY: Florida LB Jarrad Davis
Gorney’s take: Davis leads an awesome Gators defense and he’s shown this season he can do it all from coming down to stop the run, getting in the backfield to hurry quarterbacks and Davis is also excellent in open space tracking down players to the sidelines. He’s super aggressive but has great patience, too, and just always seems to be around the play.
26. FARRELL: Stanford DE Solomon Thomas
Farrell’s take: A poor man’s Jonathan Allen mainly because he doesn’t get the same attention, Thomas can play inside or outside in many different schemes and is technically sound. He’s a playmaker and always around the quarterback in passing situations.
26. GORNEY: King
Gorney’s take: King is an absolute playmaker at cornerback whether it’s knocking down passes or picking them off when offenses even try to test his side of the field. He’s not the biggest corner in the draft but he’s athletic, feisty and unafraid to go make the big play. There’s a good possibility he could move even higher on the board.
27. FARRELL: Lawson
Farrell’s take: Injuries were a question mark for Lawson heading into this season but he’s had a healthy year overall and his pass-rushing has improved. He’s an edge rusher for sure who lacks some length but he’s also effective in the run game. He’s too talented to slide out of round one.
27. GORNEY: Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
Gorney’s take: There are some concerns about Humphrey locating the ball but he’s a physical, big corner who can do it all at the next level. Sometimes, Humphrey is a little too hands-on against receivers but he doesn’t often get flagged. That’s something to watch and with his size and ability to lock down receivers, Humphrey could definitely be a first-rounder.
28. FARRELL: Washington WR John Ross
Farrell’s take: There was a run in the late first round last year on wide receivers and Ross is one of those guys teams won’t pass on at this stage. He’s not big, but he’s a devastating matchup at slot receiver who is adept at beating opponents deep or making them look silly after the catch.
28. GORNEY: Westbrook
Gorney’s take: Teams fell in love with speedy receivers midway through the first round last draft with Corey Coleman, Will Fuller and Josh Doctson taken early. There’s no reason Westbrook isn’t in that class and he’s probably better. No defensive back has shown any hope of slowing him down this year, he can catch the short pass and make people miss or stretch the field deep for the big play. Westbrook could keep moving up this list.
29. FARRELL: Lewis
Farrell’s take: There are size questions here for sure, but the same thing could be said for Vernon Hargreaves III last year. Lewis plays bigger, elevates well and has amazing ball skills. A few other corners could easily slide in here as well so he will need to battle and run well to be in round one but right now I think he can do that.
29. GORNEY: Kizer
Gorney’s take: Kizer can make all the throws, he’s got a really live arm and he can be a dual-threat as well although some are concerned over accuracy issues. Still, Kizer has the talent to be a first-round quarterback after performing well during a tumultuous season with the Irish. Some mock drafts have Kizer as a top two or three pick but I just don’t buy that based on this season.
30. FARRELL: Michigan TE Jake Butt
Farrell’s take: There are more athletic tight ends in the draft, guys like O.J. Howard and Jordan Leggett, but Butt is the most consistent and he’s the best blocker of the group. A big target who is reliable, I see him as a Jason Witten type that someone at the end of round one will covet.
30. GORNEY: Indiana OG Dan Feeney
Gorney’s take: Feeney has missed some time this season which could be a major concern for NFL execs when they break him down leading up to the draft but he’s a tough, physical blocker who looked especially good last season. He’s one of the best interior blockers in the country and deserves a first-round grade.
31. FARRELL: Kansas State DE Jordan Willis
Farrell’s take: This is probably the only place you’ll see Willis in the first round, but you can’t question his impact and he has length, a motor and he can play the run as well as get after the passer. He’s flying under the radar among the pass rushers this year because he doesn’t play in the SEC, but this kid is a baller.
31. GORNEY: Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Gorney’s take: McCaffrey is not having a phenomenal season like he did in 2015 when the former four-star set the single-season record for all-purpose yards but NFL executives will love McCaffrey’s versatility and make him a first-round pick. Could you imagine his playmaking ability in a place like New England? He can run between the tackles, get outside and also be used in the passing game. Somebody is going to take him and they could have a star on their hands.
32. FARRELL: Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
Farrell’s take: A fourth quarterback in a weak quarterback class? Welcome to the NFL as someone will trade up at the end of round one to nab Rudolph who has the size, arm and decision-making ability to show the type of ceiling to make him a developmental quarterback a la Paxton Lynch last year, although he’s not as mobile.
32. GORNEY: USC CB Adoree' Jackson
Gorney’s take: NFL teams were definitely watching USC’s upset of Washington two weekends ago and saw Jackson pick off Washington quarterback Jake Browning twice. There are obviously some concerns about Jackson’s size and strength at the line but he’s maybe the most dynamic player in this draft. On offense, defense or special teams, Jackson can do it all well.