With the NFL season drawing to a close, here is my first edition of the 2017 NFL Draft Big Board. As the Combine and pro days occur, and we have more information leading up to the draft, this list will change. For now, though, here are my top 25 players.

  1. Myles Garrett, Edge Rusher, Texas A&M

Myles Garrett is the best player in this draft. He possesses elite size, athleticism, and motor. His 265 pound frame will likely run the 40 yard dash in less than 4.6 seconds, and he has the explosive first step to blow by tackles at the next level. He’ll need to improve his hand usage and his technical skills in general, but he could be a generational talent in the NFL.

  1. Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State

The more I watch Malik Hooker, the more I’m convinced he’s the next Ed Reed. I can’t remember a safety with better range and ball skills than Hooker. In the modern NFL, most defenses have a single high safety playing “centerfield”, responsible for covering deep passes from sideline to sideline. Hooker is tailor-made to play this position. He should be a playmaker for years to come.

  1. Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU

If Malik Hooker is Ed Reed, Jamal Adams is Sean Taylor. You want him to play free safety and take away the deep ball? Check. You want him to cover a tight end? Check. You want to play him in the box and stuff the run? Check. Adams fits any system, but I think it’s best to play him as a strong safety, so that he can affect the run as well as the pass.

  1. Marshon Lattimore, Cornerback, Ohio State

In a draft full of talented corners, Lattimore is the best of the bunch. He has the intelligence and technique to play off the line of scrimmage, but the thing that sets him apart is his ability to press at the line of scrimmage. Not only does he not allow clean releases, he doesn’t give receivers any breathing room. His fluid hips and recovery speed prevent receivers from getting open. It was not uncommon for quarterbacks to completely ignore whichever receiver he covered. Like most corners (particularly in this class), Lattimore needs to improve his tackling, but his lockdown coverage ability more than makes up for this minor flaw.

  1. Leonard Fournette, Running Back, LSU

Fournette is a beast, a 230 pound wrecking ball capable of moving at incredible speed and cutting on a dime. While his route running and pass protection aren’t fully developed, he has soft hands and the potential to improve in these areas. Given the right supporting cast, Fournette could be dominant from day one.

  1. Jonathan Allen, Defensive Line, Alabama

It was very difficult to put Jonathan Allen this low on my board. Allen has the highest floor of any prospect in this draft, due to his technical skill, versatility, and intelligence. While his power and explosiveness are impressive, his ability to diagnose screen passes and take on multiple blockers makes him a sure thing.

  1. Reuben Foster, Linebacker, Alabama

Modern linebackers must be able to shed blocks in the run game, make plays from sideline to sideline, and cover linebackers and tight ends. Foster is hands down the best linebacker in this draft. His speed is evident on stretch and toss plays, and his hard hitting and sure tackling do not lead to many missed tackles. His coverage skills are good, not great, and he has a slow first step, but Foster looks like a franchise inside linebacker.

  1. Dalvin Cook, Running back, Florida State

Cook is everything you want in a modern running back. He has excellent balance and lateral movement, as well as the patience to be deadly in a zone blocking scheme. Cook is also excellent as a pass catcher out of the backfield. His low center of gravity allows him to run through tacklers, and his long speed is deceptively fast. He may not be the overall beast Fournette is, but he is a stud nonetheless.

  1. Corey Davis, Wide Receiver, Western Michigan

If you haven’t seen Corey Davis play, you’re missing out. Davis has ideal size (6’ 3”, 200) and speed to be a deep threat at the next level. However, Davis moves extremely well for his size. His routes are smooth and clean, and allow him to get open underneath as well as over the top. When the ball is in the air, Davis has impressive hands and body control. He looks like a matchup nightmare for years to come.

  1. OJ Howard, Tight End, Alabama

To understand what OJ Howard will be like in the NFL, think of Jason Witten’s blocking ability, with Vernon Davis’s athleticism. Multiple NFL talent evaluators have compared him to Jimmy Graham, but a more complete blocker. Scary, right?

  1. Solomon Thomas, DE/DT, Stanford

Thomas is a versatile lineman who plays with excellent hand usage. At this time, it is unclear whether he will play defensive end or defensive tackle at the next level. He has the versatility to line up as an end on first and second down, then kick inside and use his quickness on guards to get after the passer on third down. However, his versatility could be seen another way- Thomas appears to work best as a tackle, but could be too small.

  1. Mike Williams, Wide Receiver, Clemson

Williams is a physical receiver, with good size and route running. He has reliable hands and uses his body very well when getting off the line of scrimmage and shielding defenders away from the ball. Williams looks like a reliable number one receiver at the next level. His performance in the 2017 National Championship was very impressive, especially battling Alabama defensive back Marlon Humphrey.

  1. Marlon Humphrey, Cornerback, Alabama

At 6’1”, Humphrey has good size to go along with his athletic ability. Humphrey projects as a very, very good zone corner due to his ability to read route combinations and anticipate throws. He is excellent at reading the quarterback and breaking on the ball. Humphrey is also a very good tackler, so good he may have a future at safety.

  1. Derek Barnett, Edge Rusher, Tennessee

Barnett is a powerful, technically sound pass rusher, but he lacks the elite speed or quickness Garrett and Thomas have. His hand usage and ability to shed blockers is impressive, but he lacks the upside of other prospects due to his athletic shortcomings.

  1. Deshone Kizer, Quarterback, Notre Dame

As of right now, Deshone Kizer is my number one quarterback. He has a smooth (though slightly elongated) release and phenomenal arm talent. Kizer also has good footwork and mobility inside the pocket, and deceptive athleticism and mobility outside of it. His accuracy is shaky, especially on intermediate to deep throws, and (like most quarterbacks) his mechanics deteriorate under pressure. It will take a few years, but I believe Kizer can be a quality starting quarterback in the Kirk Cousins/Joe Flacco mold.

  1. Mitch Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina

Trubisky does not have the natural arm talent Deshone Kizer has. However, he is a very efficient, accurate quarterback capable of moving the chains with his arm as well as his legs. At North Carolina, Trubisky would dink and dunk defenses, before surprising them with the deep ball. His lack of arm talent limits his ceiling, but his accuracy and intelligence should make him a starting caliber quarterback at the pro level.

  1. Quincy Wilson, Cornerback, Florida

Wilson has fantastic size (6’2”) and good hips, which means he has a very high ceiling. Although he needs to improve his ability to press receivers, he does a good job of limiting separation. Wilson’s talent level looks like a number one corner on a bad team, or a number two corner on a good one.

  1. Tim Williams, Edge Rusher, Alabama

Williams has more talent rushing the passer than anyone else in this class. He has speed and bend around the edge, as well as a filthy inside spin move and an underrated bull rush. Unfortunately, Williams is a bit of a one trick pony. He is subpar in the run game, lacking the ability to get off blocks. He also has some off the field red flags. Williams has big time upside, but he may be confined as a situational pass rusher, if he does not improve his ability in the run game.

  1. Christian McCaffrey, Running Back, Stanford

An explosive athlete at Stanford, McCaffrey has the burst and agility to make him a star running back, receiver, or kick returner. McCaffrey is an excellent pass catcher, he has the hands and route running to be a receiver at the next level, but also a patient runner with elite lateral quickness. While McCaffrey looks like he’d fit in best for a zone blocking team, a creative offensive coordinator will find many roles for him.

  1. John Ross III, Wide Receiver, Washington

Ross has elite speed and quickness, particularly when getting off the line of scrimmage. He is also a developed route runner who consistently gains separation from defenders. I think Ross could be a deadly weapon in the slot, or a home run threat for vertical passing teams. Ross is similar to Will Fuller (who came out last year), but with much better hands.

  1. Taco Charlton, Edge Rusher, Michigan

I really like Taco Charlton. At 6’ 6”, 270, he has the size to plug gaps in the run game but the quickness to get after the passer. He can play end in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, giving him valuable versatility. He uses his long arms to stack offensive linemen and find the ball in the running game. 3 down linemen with those physical traits can be hard to find. Ideally, I see him as a defensive end in a 3-4, excellent against the run while giving you 6-8 sacks a year.

  1. Jabril Peppers, Linebacker/Safety, Michigan

Jabril Peppers is certain to divide opinions as the draft approaches. On one hand, he’s a fantastic athlete, capable of chasing down ball carriers as a weakside linebacker or strong safety. On the other hand, he’s shaky in coverage and is too wiry to play linebacker. Like McCaffrey, a creative coordinator will find a role suited to Peppers’s needs.

  1. Zach Cunningham, Linebacker, Vanderbilt

Cunningham has impressive sideline to sideline speed, good zone coverage skills, and the versatility to play all 3 linebacker positions. He needs to improve his tackling technique and add weight, but his ability to shed blocks and stop the run at multiple positions make him an intriguing prospect for teams that need help at linebacker.

  1. Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Clemson

Following Watson’s impressive showing in the College Football Playoff, many fans have been hoping that Watson will be their franchise savior. Watson has some tools- he’s a good athlete with a decent arm- but I still have reservations about his ability to shift to a pro style offense full time. If Watson shows the ability to take snaps under center, throw with anticipation, and read defenses during his workouts and interviews, he’ll enter top ten conversation.

  1. Ryan Ramcyzk, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin

The best tackle in the 2017 class, Ramcyzk is a very well rounded prospect, but not necessarily elite in any area. He has good feet, good punch, and good technique, but no attribute that blows you out of the water. Ramcyzk, who has come on strong in the last couple of months, will likely see his stock rise as the draft approaches due to the lack of talent at his position.

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Author Details
Grant Baker is an Arkansas native and fan of the Oakland Raiders. He covers the NFL and the NBA, but predominantly covers the NFL Draft. Grant belongs to the rare breed of people who love poring over game film of prospects from directional Missouri schools. He serves takes ranging in temperature from Steph Curry in Madison Square Garden to Lambeau Field in the playoffs.
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Grant Baker is an Arkansas native and fan of the Oakland Raiders. He covers the NFL and the NBA, but predominantly covers the NFL Draft. Grant belongs to the rare breed of people who love poring over game film of prospects from directional Missouri schools. He serves takes ranging in temperature from Steph Curry in Madison Square Garden to Lambeau Field in the playoffs.
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