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Bucky Brooks' top 5 2017 NFL Draft prospects by position 3.0

With a couple days to go before the 2017 NFL Draft, here's my final look at the top five prospects at each position.


  1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
  2. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
  3. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
  4. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
  5. Davis Webb, Cal

There aren't any sure-fire franchise quarterbacks in the 2017 class, but there are plenty of intriguing developmental candidates. Watson is a big-game player with a knack for delivering his best performances in his team's biggest games. Despite scouts' concerns about his turnover woes and inconsistent ball placement, he earns rave reviews for his leadership skills and unshakeable confidence. Kizer is the prototypical franchise quarterback that most NFL coaches covet at the position. The Notre Dame star has a rare combination of arm talent and athleticism, which could make him a star in the right system.

Trubisky is highly regarded in the scouting community as a big, athletic passer with impressive pocket-passing skills. He lacks extensive playing experience, but his accuracy and arm talent makes him an enticing option as a QB1 candidate. Mahomes has shot up the charts due to his exceptional arm talent as a fearless gunslinger. Coaches are smitten by his raw ability and some believe he could develop into a Matthew Stafford-like playmaker down the road.

Running backs

  1. Leonard Fournette, LSU
  2. Dalvin Cook, Florida State
  3. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
  4. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
  5. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee

The 2017 running back class is as talented as any unit that we've seen in recent years. Fournette is a rugged runner with an old-school game that makes him an ideal workhorse in a power-based system. Cook might be the most complete running back in the draft based on his spectacular skills as runner-receiver in a pro-style system. Character concerns cloud his draft status, but he is an RB1 capable of playing in any scheme.

McCaffrey is an electric "triple threat" (runner, receiver and returner) with the best hands and route-running ability of the backs in the class. He could be a matchup nightmare out of the backfield as a designated playmaker in the passing game. Mixon is a polarizing prospect due to his off-field baggage, but he is arguably the most talented running back in the class. He's a transcendent playmaker capable of delivering splash plays as a runner/receiver, which will prompt decision makers to weigh the risk/reward consequences of picking him.

Wide receivers

  1. Mike Williams, Clemson
  2. John Ross, Washington
  3. Corey Davis, Western Michigan
  4. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
  5. Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

Williams is a notch above the rest as a WR1 with an NFL body and a pro-ready game. Scouts expect him to shine as a dominant pass-catcher from Day 1. Ross and Davis are excellent complementary receivers with polished route-running skills and big-play ability. Smith-Schuster has been overlooked throughout the process but some teams will appreciate the big-bodied "chain mover" as a WR2. Westbrook might be the best route runner in the class, but his slender frame is a huge concern for scouts searching for bigger options to fill a WR2 role.

Tight ends

  1. O.J. Howard, Alabama
  2. David Njoku, Miami
  3. Evan Engram, Ole Miss
  4. Jake Butt, Michigan
  5. Jordan Leggett, Clemson

The 2017 tight end class is loaded with athletic pass-catchers with basketball-player-like bodies and the capacity to create mismatches on the perimeter with their combination of size, strength, and athleticism. Howard is an exceptional perimeter playmaker with solid blocking skills. He didn't put up big numbers at Alabama, but he has all of the tools to be a dominant "Y" in the NFL. Njoku is a freakish athlete with the size, speed and length to create problems in the red zone. He could be a touchdown machine in an offense that prominently features the "Y" in the game plan. Engram and Everett are ultra-athletic tight ends capable of acting as "Jumbo" receivers on the perimeter. Each could play a Jordan Reed-like role in an offense that features a variety of spread formations.

If not for a knee injury he suffered in the Orange Bowl, Butt would rate as a first-round talent as a "Y" tight end with a polished game and solid blocking skills.

Offensive tackles

  1. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
  2. Cam Robinson, Alabama
  3. Garett Bolles, Utah
  4. Dion Dawkins, Temple
  5. Roderick Johnson, Florida State

Rise: Robinson (3), Dawkins (5)
Fall: Bolles (2), Johnson (4)

Scouts have decried the lack of franchise offensive tackles in the 2017 class, but that won't stop them from taking a flier on a big, athletic blocker with a hint of agility, balance and body control. Ramcyzk is a skilled technician with the size, strength and athleticism to shine as a franchise tackle. Bolles has shot up the charts after scouts gained a better appreciation for his athleticism and movement skills. He is still a little raw but it's hard to find explosive athletes with his kind of tools. Robinson is a mauler/brawler with a game built for a power-based running attack. He needs to refine his technique in pass protection to be a legitimate franchise tackle candidate.

Offensive guards/centers

  1. Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
  2. Dan Feeney, Indiana
  3. Pat Elflein, Ohio State
  4. Ethan Pocic, LSU
  5. Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh

Rise: Elflein (4)
Fall: Pocic (3)

The 2017 class certainly has a handful of "hard-hat-and-lunch-pail" guys capable of stepping in as Day 1 starters. Lamp is nimble enough to play outside as an offensive tackle, but he could be a Pro Bowl-caliber player at guard due to his rugged game and nifty feet. He is a Day 1 starter in any scheme, which makes him a hot commodity in the scouting community. Feeney is one of the standouts of the group as a blue-collar blocker with a nasty game. He is a scheme-friendly player with the capacity to play in a zone- or power-based scheme at the point of attack. Elflein is a rugged interior blocker with a veteran-like game that should make him a plug-and-play starter from Day 1.

Defensive ends

  1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
  2. Solomon Thomas, Stanford
  3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee
  4. Jonathan Allen, Alabama
  5. Charles Harris, Missouri

Pass rushers are always coveted at a premium during draft season. The 2017 class features a number of marquee playmakers but Garrett is the crown jewel of the group. The freakishly athletic rusher displays exceptional first-step quickness and burst as an edge rusher. Most importantly, he amassed 32.5 sacks while showing outstanding skills as a closer. Thomas is a disruptive force as a pass rusher. He flashes outstanding quickness and violent hands as a versatile defender at the point of attack. Barnett might be the best pure pass rusher in the class. He shows outstanding hand skills and a natural feel for turning the corner as a rusher. Harris is a slippery pass rusher with a devastating inside move and slippery spin maneuver to get loose off the edge. Harris is an energizer bunny with a number of slick moves and a non-stop motor.

Defensive tackles

  1. Malik McDowell, Michigan State
  2. Chris Wormley, Michigan
  3. Montravius Adams, Auburn
  4. Carlos Watkins, Clemson
  5. Caleb Brantley, Florida

Rise: Watkins (5)
Fall: Brantley (4)

The 2017 defensive tackle class features a handful of blue-collar defenders with the size, strength, and power to control the line of scrimmage as run stoppers or pass rushers. McDowell headlines the group as a long, rangy interior defender with disruptive potential as an inside rusher. Although questions about his motor will trouble scouts looking for a dominant player at the top of the board, he is certainly a player who flashes intriguing potential. Adams is powerful plugger with quick hands and an explosive first step. He is a dominant run stuffer at the point but also flashes skills as a pocket pusher on passing downs. Brantley's stock could tumble, as he was charged over the weekend with battery.

Outside linebackers

  1. Tim Williams, Alabama
  2. Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
  3. Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
  4. T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
  5. Ryan Anderson, Alabama

The NFL's move to more hybrid schemes has changed the job description of outside linebackers entering the league. Scouts are looking for versatile defenders capable of rushing off the edge or dropping into coverage in dynamic schemes. Williams is a shop wrecker off the edge with explosive first-step quickness and burst. In addition, he shows the ability to turn speed into power as a bull rusher off the edge. McKinley is an energizer bunny off the edge. He outworks blockers with his relentless energy and non-stop motor. Cunningham is a long, rangy athlete with the size and pop to set the edge or plug holes against the run. Watt is a crafty edge player with outstanding hand skills and technique. He flashes a non-stop motor that could make him a 10-sack candidate each year.

Inside linebackers

  1. Reuben Foster, Alabama
  2. Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
  3. Jarrad Davis, Florida
  4. Duke Riley, LSU
  5. Anthony Walker, Northwestern

The 2017 class of inside linebackers features a number of hard-hitting traffic cops with sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability. Foster is the top dog of the group as a punishing defender with exceptional instincts, awareness and physicality. McMillan and Davis are solid playmakers with excellent communication skills and outstanding athletic ability. Each prospect has the potential step in as a Day 1 starter in aggressive schemes. Riley is an instinctive playmaker with sideline-to-sideline skills and a strong resume as a special-teams standout.


  1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
  2. Adoree' Jackson, USC
  3. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
  4. Tre'Davious White, LSU
  5. Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado

Rise: Jackson (NR), White (NR)
Fall: Humphrey (2), Awuzie (4), Gareon Conley, Ohio State (3), Teez Tabor, Florida (5)

The NFL scouting community loves long, rangy cornerbacks with versatile skills on the perimeter. The 2017 class is loaded with big corners capable of using press, bail or off technique in zone or man schemes. Unfortunately, a spate of injuries during pro-day workouts has altered the landscape at the position. Lattimore is viewed as the top CB1 in the class due to his exceptional athleticism, movement skills and technique. He is a bit of a finesse player but there's no denying his cover skills, particularly in press coverage. Awuzie is a feisty competitor in the mold of Malcolm Butler. He challenges receivers at the line and makes them work for every yard they gain on the perimeter.


  1. Jamal Adams, LSU
  2. Malik Hooker, Ohio State
  3. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
  4. Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
  5. Marcus Williams, Utah

There is a lot of excitement about the 2017 safety class in the NFL scouting community. Adams is the alpha dog that every coach covets in the secondary. He is a charismatic leader with a high football IQ and an enforcer's mentality. Hooker might be the best centerfielder to enter the league since Ed Reed in 2002. He displays exceptional instincts, awareness and ball skills as a deep middle defender. Peppers is a unique prospect with experience playing within the box or in the slot as a hybrid playmaker. He was a dynamic player at Michigan, but he lacks the turnover production to cement his reputation as a game-changing playmaker. Melifonwu is a Kam Chancellor clone with the size, speed and athleticism to dominate the game within the box or between the hashes. As a four-year starter with outstanding production, he should be a key contributor from Day 1. Williams is a smart centerfielder with superb ball skills, instincts and communication ability.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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