Published: April 25, 2017 at 12:10 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2017 at 02:54 p.m.

Mitch Trubisky, John Ross lead 2017 NFL All-Draft Team

When the 2017 NFL Draft kicks off in Philadelphia (April 27-29), a fresh wave of football talent will hit the league. But as of now, this rising class of prospects is still unattached -- leaving the players below free to join my 2017 All-Draft Team. The roster I've assembled includes a quarterback capable of starting as a rookie (for the second year in a row), plus game-changing defensive talent and a surprise at receiver.

26 Photos Total

  • Trubisky -- whose nickname is "Mr. Biscuit" -- had a breakout 2016 season after being a part-time backup in North Carolina for two years. He has outstanding accuracy, a quick release and good anticipation, and he throws a very catchable ball. <a href="http://www.nfl.com/photoessays/0ap3000000655982/blank">In this exercise last year</a>, I said I wouldn't be surprised if Carson Wentz started as a rookie, and I feel the same way about Mr. Biscuit this year. 26

    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Quarterback: Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

    Trubisky -- whose nickname is "Mr. Biscuit" -- had a breakout 2016 season after being a part-time backup in North Carolina for two years. He has outstanding accuracy, a quick release and good anticipation, and he throws a very catchable ball. In this exercise last year, I said I wouldn't be surprised if Carson Wentz started as a rookie, and I feel the same way about Mr. Biscuit this year.

  • An ankle injury impacted his 2016 campaign, but when fully healthy in 2015, Fournette ran for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. He's very strong and speedy, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield better than anyone thought. He's also built like a linebacker -- though he got his weight <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000797797/article/fournette-weighs-228-pounds-at-pro-day-down-12-from-combine">down to 228 pounds</a> by LSU's pro day, he still has lots of power. He's a very early favorite to be Offensive Rookie of the Year. 25

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    Running back: Leonard Fournette, LSU

    An ankle injury impacted his 2016 campaign, but when fully healthy in 2015, Fournette ran for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. He's very strong and speedy, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield better than anyone thought. He's also built like a linebacker -- though he got his weight down to 228 pounds by LSU's pro day, he still has lots of power. He's a very early favorite to be Offensive Rookie of the Year.

  • McCaffrey is a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses. Possessing great instincts as a runner, he can line up all over the field and carry the ball <i>or</i> catch it. After all, in 2015, <a href="http://www.nfl.com/draft/2017/profiles/christian-mccaffrey?id=2557997">he was the only FBS player</a> to pace his team in both rushing (2,019) and receiving (645) yards. He's a very hard worker with great football character. McCaffrey will also block and can return kicks. 24

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Running back: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

    McCaffrey is a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses. Possessing great instincts as a runner, he can line up all over the field and carry the ball or catch it. After all, in 2015, he was the only FBS player to pace his team in both rushing (2,019) and receiving (645) yards. He's a very hard worker with great football character. McCaffrey will also block and can return kicks.

  • Ross -- who <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000789978/article/washington-wr-john-ross-sets-record-with-422-in-combine-40">blazed a record-setting 4.22-second 40-yard dash</a> at the NFL Scouting Combine -- has the speed to score on every reception. He tracks the deep ball well and will catch the ball across the middle. He also played four games at cornerback in 2014, showing his toughness. Ross needs to work on his route-running but has great run-after-the-catch ability. He can return kicks, as well. 23

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Wide receiver: John Ross, Washington

    Ross -- who blazed a record-setting 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine -- has the speed to score on every reception. He tracks the deep ball well and will catch the ball across the middle. He also played four games at cornerback in 2014, showing his toughness. Ross needs to work on his route-running but has great run-after-the-catch ability. He can return kicks, as well.

  • This might surprise some folks, but I think Samuel is going to be a heckuva player, a strong, fast presence who will grow into the position. He played both receiver and running back at Ohio State and has great speed and acceleration. The high-upside prospect can track balls and make plays in traffic. 22

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Wide receiver: Curtis Samuel, Ohio State

    This might surprise some folks, but I think Samuel is going to be a heckuva player, a strong, fast presence who will grow into the position. He played both receiver and running back at Ohio State and has great speed and acceleration. The high-upside prospect can track balls and make plays in traffic.

  • Howard is a complete tight end who will block <i>and</i> catch. After staying in school another year to improve, he should start Week 1 in the NFL and play many years at a high level. 21

    Ric Tapia/Associated Press

    Tight end: O.J. Howard, Alabama

    Howard is a complete tight end who will block and catch. After staying in school another year to improve, he should start Week 1 in the NFL and play many years at a high level.

  • The three-year starter has long arms (35.5 inches), which is very important in determining the success of an offensive lineman, and big hands (10.5 inches). That's a great combination. 20

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    Offensive lineman: Cam Robinson, Alabama

    The three-year starter has long arms (35.5 inches), which is very important in determining the success of an offensive lineman, and big hands (10.5 inches). That's a great combination.

  • Bolles is an older player (24) who <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/home/4228956-155/utah-football-garett-bolles-picked-himself" target="_blank">turned his life around</a> after some off-the-field struggles in high school, hence the single year of major college football experience at Utah. He's tough, smart and athletic. 19

    Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

    Offensive lineman: Garett Bolles, Utah

    Bolles is an older player (24) who turned his life around after some off-the-field struggles in high school, hence the single year of major college football experience at Utah. He's tough, smart and athletic.

  • Ramczyk's ascension is quite the story. Hardly recruited out of high school, he spent two years at Wisconsin-Stevens Point before transferring to Madison, ultimately launching himself into the first-round conversation. Though he played tackle in college, guard might be his best position in the NFL. 18

    Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

    Offensive lineman: Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

    Ramczyk's ascension is quite the story. Hardly recruited out of high school, he spent two years at Wisconsin-Stevens Point before transferring to Madison, ultimately launching himself into the first-round conversation. Though he played tackle in college, guard might be his best position in the NFL.

  • The four-year starter was a left tackle in college, but his best NFL position is probably either center or guard. 17

    Ray Carlin/USA TODAY Sports

    Offensive lineman: Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

    The four-year starter was a left tackle in college, but his best NFL position is probably either center or guard.

  • An outstanding competitor with great work habits and character, the Buckeye can play center or guard. 16

    Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

    Center: Pat Elflein, Ohio State

    An outstanding competitor with great work habits and character, the Buckeye can play center or guard.

  • Garrett has great explosion, long arms and all the traits needed to rack up double-digits in sacks on an annual basis. He's the kind of player who can change the course of a game with one play. 15

    Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

    Defensive lineman: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

    Garrett has great explosion, long arms and all the traits needed to rack up double-digits in sacks on an annual basis. He's the kind of player who can change the course of a game with one play.

  • Thomas is strong, explosive and fast for a 273-pounder. He's a great worker and leader who can play end or inside. Like current Rams star Aaron Donald, he's so quick, it sometimes looks like he's jumping offsides even when he's not. 14

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Defensive lineman: Solomon Thomas, Stanford

    Thomas is strong, explosive and fast for a 273-pounder. He's a great worker and leader who can play end or inside. Like current Rams star Aaron Donald, he's so quick, it sometimes looks like he's jumping offsides even when he's not.

  • Staying at Alabama for a fourth year paid off, as Allen went from a second-rounder in 2016 to a high-first-rounder in 2017. He's very smart, very quick and makes big plays -- when you watch tape, No. 93 is everywhere. He's got great character and is always hustling. Allen projects as an inside lineman. 13

    Matthew Visinsky/Associated Press

    Defensive lineman: Jonathan Allen, Alabama

    Staying at Alabama for a fourth year paid off, as Allen went from a second-rounder in 2016 to a high-first-rounder in 2017. He's very smart, very quick and makes big plays -- when you watch tape, No. 93 is everywhere. He's got great character and is always hustling. Allen projects as an inside lineman.

  • He played better in 2015 than he did last season, but I think scheme changes might have had something to do with that. Though he doesn't have a ton of high-level football experience as a starter, he's got great character and projects as an end who will rack up sacks in the NFL for a long time to come. 12

    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Defensive lineman: Charles Harris, Missouri

    He played better in 2015 than he did last season, but I think scheme changes might have had something to do with that. Though he doesn't have a ton of high-level football experience as a starter, he's got great character and projects as an end who will rack up sacks in the NFL for a long time to come.

  • Barnett plays with great energy and great character, and he steps it up in big games -- he's the type of guy you love to have on your team. He's the ultimate competitor and never slows down. If he adds weight, he could play defensive end, but as of right now I see him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. In December, <a href="http://www.ncaa.com/news/football/article/2016-12-30/tennessee-football-derek-barnett-breaks-reggie-whites-vols-sack" target="_blank">he broke Reggie White's Tennessee sack record</a>. 11

    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    Linebacker: Derek Barnett, Tennessee

    Barnett plays with great energy and great character, and he steps it up in big games -- he's the type of guy you love to have on your team. He's the ultimate competitor and never slows down. If he adds weight, he could play defensive end, but as of right now I see him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. In December, he broke Reggie White's Tennessee sack record.

  • Foster, who had <a href="http://www.espn.com/college-sports/recruiting/football/story/_/id/8931083/arrested-fugitive-alabama-football-signee-reuben-foster-father" target="_blank">a lot to overcome</a> in life, goes hard on every play. He has everything needed to excel at his position in the NFL except potentially size -- I'm not sure how he'll hold up against bigger people. 10

    Ric Tapia/Associated Press

    Linebacker: Reuben Foster, Alabama

    Foster, who had a lot to overcome in life, goes hard on every play. He has everything needed to excel at his position in the NFL except potentially size -- I'm not sure how he'll hold up against bigger people.

  • Very competitive with great instincts, Davis can play all three 4-3 linebacker positions. He ran <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000795689/article/what-we-learned-teez-tabor-faces-draft-slide-following-pro-day">a noteworthy 4.56 40</a> at 238 pounds at his pro day. 9

    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Linebacker: Jarrad Davis, Florida

    Very competitive with great instincts, Davis can play all three 4-3 linebacker positions. He ran a noteworthy 4.56 40 at 238 pounds at his pro day.

  • Lattimore is long, fast and has the quickness to be a shutdown corner. He has very good ball skills, very good hands and is an outstanding tackler. 8

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Cornerback: Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

    Lattimore is long, fast and has the quickness to be a shutdown corner. He has very good ball skills, very good hands and is an outstanding tackler.

  • Awuzie has great quickness and the toughness to play the position. The four-year starter is capable of also playing slot corner and possibly even safety. 7

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Cornerback: Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado

    Awuzie has great quickness and the toughness to play the position. The four-year starter is capable of also playing slot corner and possibly even safety.

  • Adams, who <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000797819/article/lsu-pro-day-jamal-adams-shows-major-improvement-in-40">ran a 4.45 40</a> at his pro day, was only burned 33 percent of the time in 2016 and was not called for pass interference or holding once. His father, George, was a first-round pick by the Giants in 1985. 6

    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Safety: Jamal Adams, LSU

    Adams, who ran a 4.45 40 at his pro day, was only burned 33 percent of the time in 2016 and was not called for pass interference or holding once. His father, George, was a first-round pick by the Giants in 1985.

  • Hooker returned three of seven interceptions for touchdowns. Though he doesn't have a lot of experience, the tough, competitive Hooker has long arms, big hands and great upside. 5

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Safety: Malik Hooker, Ohio State

    Hooker returned three of seven interceptions for touchdowns. Though he doesn't have a lot of experience, the tough, competitive Hooker has long arms, big hands and great upside.

  • An outstanding kickoff man who notched 96 field goals in four years, Gonzalez should play many seasons in the NFL. He has good leg strength and 50-plus-yards range. 4

    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Kicker: Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State

    An outstanding kickoff man who notched 96 field goals in four years, Gonzalez should play many seasons in the NFL. He has good leg strength and 50-plus-yards range.

  • The best punter at the combine led the nation with 47.8 yards per punt as a freshman. His kicks have excellent hang time. He can also kick off and kick field goals. 3

    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Punter: Austin Rehkow, Idaho

    The best punter at the combine led the nation with 47.8 yards per punt as a freshman. His kicks have excellent hang time. He can also kick off and kick field goals.

  • The cornerback is a great athlete with very good hands and explosiveness on kick returns. 2

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Kick returner: Adoree' Jackson, USC

    The cornerback is a great athlete with very good hands and explosiveness on kick returns.

  • Holba played in the Senior Bowl and worked out at the combine. He's got good size and coverage ability, and the ball comes back very fast. 1

    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Long snapper: Colin Holba, Louisville

    Holba played in the Senior Bowl and worked out at the combine. He's got good size and coverage ability, and the ball comes back very fast.

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