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NFL Mock Draft analysis: QB projections offer little consensus

In a week, the 2017 NFL Draft will be in full swing from Philadelphia (April 27-29), where answers to questions that have been asked for months will finally reveal themselves. Until then, expert prognostications will have to suffice, and analysts have been posting mock drafts throughout the spring. Below are seven takeaways from the current mock drafts of some of the sharpest minds in the business: Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks, Lance Zierlein, Charley Casserly and Chad Reuter.

1. QB quandary. Draft analysts don't have the luxury of penciling in the top-rated quarterbacks with the first two picks of the draft, as they have for the past two years (Jared Goff and Carson Wentz in 2016, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota in 2015). No, this year's quarterback pecking order is far cloudier. By some accounts, there isn't a quarterback worthy of a top-10 pick. By others, a couple teams could go for a QB in the top 10. Brooks sees Clemson's Deshaun Watson going to the Jets at No. 6; Reuter projects North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky to the 49ers at No. 2. Point is, expert expectations are somewhat scattered. Zierlein has the Bills opening the QB box with Trubisky at No. 10. Jeremiah also has Trubisky going first among QBs, but not until No. 25 overall (Texans). And Casserly projects the group's availability to be intact all the way to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 27, where they'll take Watson. You can just smell a trade-up. Watching it all unfold will be fine theater.

2. All in. Nothing in the NFL draft is a certainty, but there are two first-round picks on which all five analysts are unanimous. Consider these projections as close to a lock as any mock draft can provide: Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett to the Cleveland Browns at No. 1 overall and LSU RB Leonard Fournette to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 4.

3. McCaffrey's destination. Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey is a tough call. Zierlein has him outside the first round altogether. Reuter and Jeremiah have him slotted at No. 8 overall to the Carolina Panthers. Does he have the power to rush between the tackles on Sundays? At 200 pounds, will he have the durability? If he goes in the top 10, it'll be clear that at least one team is betting he'll make a huge impact, regardless of his potential limitations.

4. Howard's night. Although the tight end position has been lauded for its depth in this draft, Alabama's O.J. Howard is the only consensus first-round pick at tight end, projected as high as No. 6 overall to the Jets. Other than Howard, Miami's David Njoku is the only other tight end with any first-round projections. Reuter pegs him for the Giants at No. 23.

5. Three for the show. All five mock drafts project the same three receivers to be selected in the first round -- Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis and Washington's John Ross -- but the order in which they fall isn't so clear. Most expect Williams to be first off the board at the position.

6. Late call for tackles. The draft class of offensive tackles, weak by all accounts, doesn't figure to make its presence felt much in the first half of the opening round. Casserly and Brooks see the Denver Broncos breaking the ice at No. 20 overall, either with Utah's Garett Bolles (Casserly) or Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk (Brooks).

7. Numbers game. There are 19 prospects who made all five mock drafts, while the analysts are on their own with 10 outliers who made only one mock. Those 10 include Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer, Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon, Kansas State LB Jordan Willis, N.C. State S Josh Jones, Temple OG Dion Dawkins, Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham, Florida DT Caleb Brantley, UConn S Obi Melifonwu, Washington S Budda Baker and Florida CB Teez Tabor.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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