2017 NFL Draft revisited: Ranking the top 10 players in the class

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NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2019" airs daily at 9 p.m. ET over the next two weeks, unveiling a new set of 10 honorees in each installment. In Episode 6, three notable players from the 2017 draft class -- Myles Garrett, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Christian McCaffrey -- were revealed at Nos. 49, 47 and 42, respectively. Ahead of the episode, NFL Network analyst and former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew provides his own ranking of the top 10 players from that draft class.

1
Patrick Mahomes
QB
Chiefs

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 10 overall

Mahomes went from "Project Pat" as a rookie sitting behind Alex Smith to NFL MVP in one year's time. In 2018, the whole planet witnessed the undeniable talent and skill Andy Reid saw all along in his young quarterback. And although Mahomes has played roughly half as many games as others in his draft class, I can't deny his MVP performance. I mean, with no-look and left-handed tosses en route to 50 touchdown passes, he made playing the quarterback position look easy.

2
Alvin Kamara
RB
Saints

Draft slot: Round 3, No. 67 overall

Two NFL seasons into Kamara's young career, it's hard to believe four running backs were drafted before him in 2017 ( Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon). That statement is more about my admiration for what the third-rounder has done in such a short time than a knock on the others. Since entering the league, Kamara has been one of the most productive and efficient backs, ranking outside the top 10 in touches (476) but sitting third in scrimmage yards (3,146), second in scrimmage TDs (31) and first in yards per touch (6.6) among backs with a minimum of 250 touches during that span. Kamara is poised to do even more in Year 3 after becoming the Saints' full-time RB1 after the departure of Mark Ingram in free agency.

3
Jamal Adams
S
Jets

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 6 overall

Adams is an energetic playmaker whose will to win is contagious. This is perhaps the greatest component he brings to the New York Jets. The Pro Bowl safety has been a captain in their locker room since Day 1 and understands he's in a leadership position, one that could change a franchise forever. Think Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh. His on-field production isn't too shabby, either. Last season, Adams finished with 115 tackles, 12 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, one INT, 3.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits.

4
Christian McCaffrey
RB
Panthers

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 8 overall

I had my concerns about McCaffrey when he came into the league, but he's proven that he's a reliable every-down back. The Panthers RB1 made a HUGE leap from Year 1 to Year 2 -- adding nearly 900 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns to his 2017 totals -- and has been great with or without Cam Newton on the field.

5
George Kittle
TE
49ers

Draft slot: Round 5, No. 146 overall

Tight ends create some of the biggest mismatches on the field, and the phenomenal talent the 49ers scored in the fifth round could arguably be the league's top player at the position right now. Kittle is a great blocker, has a big catch radius and the speed to outrun most defenders no matter the position. With 88 receptions for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns in 2018, Kittle broke the record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end in NFL history. He did this with a hodgepodge of quarterbacks, too. Hell, I'm confident that I could be under center and he'd still figure out a way to dominate.

6
Kareem Hunt
RB
Browns

Draft slot: Round 3, No. 86 overall

Like my colleague LaDainian Tomlinson pointed out in his ranking of the NFL's top 10 running backs, Hunt's off-field actions have gotten him into trouble. But when solely evaluating his on-field performance, it speaks for itself. The first-year Cleveland Brown has averaged 110.5 scrimmage yards per game since entering NFL, and is one of four players with at least 2,500 scrimmage yards and 25 scrimmage TDs since 2017. If he hadn't been released by the Chiefs last season -- and was eligible to play in January's AFC title game -- Tom Brady would not have a sixth ring.

7
Myles Garrett
DE
Browns

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 1 overall

This is not meant to be a slight of Garrett at all -- this draft class has just produced some spectacular players. Higher expectations come with being a No. 1 overall draft pick, and Garrett has lived up to them on and off the field. He has helped turn the Browns franchise around through on-field production and leadership. His freakish ability to get to the quarterback put him third in the NFL with 66 pressures in 2018, per Next Gen Stats, behind only Aaron Donald (73) and Dee Ford (69). Garrett enters his third season with 20.5 sacks and is poised to log double-digit sacks again with Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon joining him on Cleveland's D-line this offseason.

8
Marshon Lattimore
CB
Saints

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 11 overall

The 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year is a lockdown cornerback and one of the most productive cover men since he entered the league. Among CBs since 2017, Lattimore ranks in the top five with seven interceptions (T-fourth), 30 passes defensed (T-fourth) and five forced fumbles (T-first). He covers the top receiver every week and has turned the Saints' secondary from a group you could throw against to one that should be feared.

9
Deshaun Watson
QB
Texans

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 12 overall

The Texans spent YEARS trying to find their franchise quarterback and Watson was the one to finally solidify the position. Without much protection, Watson was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league from Weeks 8-17 last season, ranking first in completion percentage (73.1) and passer rating (115.2) among QBs with five-plus starts during that span. He's more than a year and a half removed from his major knee injury, so he should enter 2019 in full health and with a lot of confidence. Expect Watson to lead this organization for a long time.

10
Eddie Jackson
S
Bears

Draft slot: Round 4, No. 112 overall

Jackson has emerged as one of the best ball-hawking safeties in the game right now. The Pro Bowler has the ability to be the unit's traffic-control guy and is a big reason the back end of the Bears' defense is as good as its front. With six interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles in his breakout campaign, Jackson looks like the next Earl Thomas.

Follow Maurice Jones-Drew on Twitter @MJD.

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