The Schein Nine  

 

2017 NFL Draft: Biggest remaining questions entering first round

Print

You have questions. We have answers. (Maybe.)

One of the great things about the 2017 NFL Draft is how wide open it is. This draft class is filled with superb prospects ... and confounding questions, starting at the game's most important position. The draft is nearly upon us, set to begin Thursday night in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. ET. And yet, nothing is known. That's fantastic.

So, let's take a look at the 2017 draft's biggest questions -- I'll attempt to answer 'em, Schein Nine style.

1) How many quarterbacks will be selected in the first round?

Let's call it three: Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

Trubisky's name seems to be the one popping up in the top 10 most often (more on that just below). Is he ready to immediately run an NFL offense -- after starting just 13 games at North Carolina? That's the big question ... within this question.

Meanwhile, I love Mahomes' long-term upside. He came on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein On Sports," this week and said he bonded with Bill O'Brien, Bruce Arians, Hue Jackson and Ben McAdoo during this process. I could see him playing for each of those coaches. The Texans are an enticing pairing. Arizona could be an excellent fit -- especially because Mahomes could sit and learn from Carson Palmer.

I think Watson is perfect for Kansas City. And if he compares to Alex Smith and Marcus Mariota, as I believe he does, that's a first-round pick.

I could see a team trading into the end of Round 1 for Davis Webb or DeShone Kizer, but three is the prediction.

2) Will the Cleveland Browns get it right?

Feel free to mock me on this, but yes!

I made all the Paul DePodesta "Moneyball" jokes after the Browns foolishly passed on Carson Wentz. And Jimmy Haslam reportedly was convinced by a homeless man to draft Johnny Manziel. But even Cleveland can't screw this up.

Myles Garrett is, by all accounts, unquestionably the best player in this draft. I think the Browns will pick him at No. 1 overall. And then I think they will trade up from the No. 12 slot to nab Trubisky. Snatching a game-changing edge rusher and the first QB off the board on Thursday night? Yeah, that'd be a win.

3) What do the San Francisco 49ers do at No. 2?

There are very bright people who tell me that new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan likes Trubisky -- a lot. And he might. Still, new GM John Lynch wisely has put a "FOR SALE" sign on this pick. The Browns, as alluded to just above, could trade up to No. 2 for Trubisky. Or maybe they won't. This one is complicated ...

So, I will stay consistent and stick with the feeling I've had all along: The Niners will pick local product Solomon Thomas (a Stanford product, like Lynch). Yes, San Francisco has taken defensive linemen with each of its last two first-round picks: Arik Armstead in 2015 and DeForest Buckner last year. But the Niners are transitioning from the 3-4 to the 4-3 under new DC Robert Saleh -- and at first blush, neither Armstead nor Buckner appear to be spectacular fits. So no reason for those selections to affect the No. 2 pick on Thursday night.

4) Will the New York Jets trade down from No. 6?

I think so. They should. It makes too much sense. Whether they want to publicly admit it or not, the Jets are clearly rebuilding. (SEE: The releases of veteran starters Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold, among others.) It's the smart thing to do. And they need bodies, so the more picks, the merrier.

I think Gang Green could make a trade with the Browns -- if Cleveland wants to move up for a quarterback -- and still get an impactful player on defense or tight end O.J. Howard at No. 12 overall.

5) How many running backs will go in the top 10?

The answer is two. I think Leonard Fournette is ticketed for the Jaguars at No. 4. He adds the toughness Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin crave at the running back position. Oh, and he's the best offensive player in the draft.

I also love Christian McCaffrey. He helps you in the run game, passing attack and on special teams. If Fournette does indeed go to Jacksonville, I could see McCaffrey to the Panthers at No. 8 to aid Cam Newton. McCaffrey is going to be a great pro.

After these two guys, though, the RB questions begin in earnest ...

6) Is Dalvin Cook too big a risk?

Some teams reportedly don't have Cook on their board because of a bevy of off-field issues. On the field, Cook is a top talent and the perfect fit for a squad like Philadelphia at No. 14. I think he can be a star -- and apparently, so does Eagles RB coach Duce Staley. Tampa also makes sense, and Cook could be a steal at No. 19 when you look at his raw talent. Imagine Cook joining Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson in that offense! If he slips past the Bucs, it's a major red flag.

7) When does Joe Mixon come off the board?

Mixon has star potential, but he is rightly toxic to many teams due to the harrowing video of him punching a woman a few years ago at Oklahoma.

On pure talent alone, Mixon has a rare skill set that could make him a prolific three-down back in the NFL. NFL Network draft guru Daniel Jeremiah compares him to Cardinals star David Johnson. High praise indeed.

At the end of the day, I think Joe Mixon will be drafted in the first two rounds. Cincinnati could make sense, as Jeremy Hill has declined since his fantastic rookie season. I also interpreted Broncos GM John Elway's public comments on Mixon as a trial balloon for the local fans and press. Elway, with his genius as a player and executive, has unique stock with his fan base.

8) How many defensive backs will go in the top 10?

I believe we are looking at three locks: safeties Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker, as well as cornerback Marshon Lattimore. They are three of the best overall players in this entire draft class.

Adams easily could go No. 3 to the Bears. I gave him to the Jets in my Matchmaker column earlier this month, but he definitely could be gone by the time New York goes on the clock. I think Hooker is perfect for the Chargers. NFL Network analyst Charles Davis has compared him to Willie Mays for his ability to patrol center field. I love it! And Lattimore is the best corner in the draft. He'd fit swimmingly with the Titans at 5 or Bills at 10.

9) Who is best value pick in Round 1?

It's David Njoku. I predict he'll go in the bottom half of Round 1 and I predict he'll make multiple Pro Bowls. Njoku's work ethic and athleticism are off the charts. When he visited my CBS Sports Network show, "Time to Schein," Njoku told me that he loves blocking and prides himself on being a complete tight end. That's important because, while his blocking needs some refining, the passion is there. When he gets picked by the Bucs, Lions or Giants, you can give that team an "A" for the draft. He'll make an immediate impact in 2017.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop