NFL Network's draft guru Mike Mayock has released his first top five positional rankings for the 2017 NFL Draft.
I will be splitting up his offensive and defensive rankings into separate posts, so today we will be looking at the top offensive prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Broncos offense really struggled last season so we could see a couple of these prospects end up on the Broncos roster by the time the 2017 NFL Draft concludes.
- DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
- Deshaun Watson, Clemson
- Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
- Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech
- Davis Webb, California
The 2017 quarterback class is full of upside, but likely does not have a day one starter in it. The rankings of the top three will be debated every day leading up to the draft, but all three are far from a final product.
Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer is blessed with the physical tools and likely the highest upside of all the quarterback prospects, but was inconsistent at Notre Dame. Clemson's Deshaun Watson had a successful college career but is also coming off an inconsistent season and will need to learn an NFL offense before being able to start. North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky is considered the top quarterback prospect by some, but only has one year of starting under his belt. All three of these prospects are risky selections.
Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes is becoming a cult hero amongst some draftniks. He's the top "second-tier" quarterback prospect and could be a late first round target for some quarterback-needy team. Cal's Davis Webb rounds out the top five and is likely a day two developmental selection as well.
The Broncos are not in need of another young quarterback after they traded up for Paxton Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft and had second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian start the majority of the year for the team. So these rankings shouldn't mean too much to us Broncos fans.
- Dalvin Cook, Florida State
- Leonard Fournette, LSU
- Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
- Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
- Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
This is probably the deepest running back class we have seen in quite awhile and we could see three or four of them going in the first round.
The top two are Florida State's Dalvin Cook and LSU's Leonard Fournette. You can flip the two in the rankings if you want, but both figures to be top 15 picks and effective starters their rookie year.
Next, comes MHR's favorite son, Christian McCaffrey. He's a versatile player who may or may not be a full-time running back in the NFL. He needs to land on a team with a creative offensive coordinator who can take advantage of his skill set. He's an interesting prospect to watch and could be a mid-first round pick or a second round pick depending on who you ask.
This might not be cool anymore, but I love Christian McCaffrey's game. Legit top 25 player.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 9, 2017
Following McCaffrey is the electric Alvin Kamara. He's a favorite of mine and I think he'll get some positive buzz after he tests well at the Combine here in a few weeks.
Rounding out the top five is the talented but troubled Joe Mixon. He has RB1 talent, but off the field, issues make him a risky pick. He'll likely be off many team's draft boards and with the extra attention put on domestic violence, it wouldn't be surprising to see him go sometime on day three of the draft or go undrafted altogether.
I think the Broncos will be looking for another back this offseason but how high is the question. They already have the inconsistent and oft-injured C.J. Anderson and second-year Devontae Booker already but neither has been able to nail down the starting job. So it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
- Corey Davis, Western Michigan
- Mike Williams, Clemson
- John Ross, Washington
- Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
- Zay Jones, East Carolina
Another deep positional group in the 2017 NFL Draft is the wide receivers. You could easily see 4 or 5 of these prospects going in the first-round of April's NFL Draft.
Mayock has the touchdown catching machine Corey Davis topping his list and closely followed by big Mike Williams. Like with the running backs, you can flip the top two prospects and I'd be fine with it. Both are top prospects and figure to be top 15 picks.
John Ross, one of the top wide receivers in this year's draft, will have shoulder surgery after the Combine https://t.co/Huci7ECRMo— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) February 11, 2017
The very explosive John Ross is Mayock's third-ranked wide receiver and is another first-round prospect. He's a better version of Houston Texans receiver Will Fuller who went in the first round last season. He'll be an instant big play receiver in the NFL.
Following those three are two Senior Bowl standouts. Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp caught everything at Mobile and projects to be a dangerous slot weapon in the NFL. East Carolina's Zay Jones should have had three touchdowns in the Senior Bowl game, and also had himself a strong week of practices. Both could sneak into the first-round but are likely early second round picks.
The Broncos could be in the market for a slot receiver, and I believe Jones and Kupp will be on their radar in the second round. The explosive Ross could be in play at 20 if he is still available.
- O.J. Howard, Alabama
- David Njoku, Miami
- Evan Engram, Ole Miss
- Jake Butt, Michigan
- Gerald Everett, South Alabama
Like the running back and wide receiver classes, the tight end class might be(it is) one of the best we have seen in quite awhile. We could easily see three tight ends go in the first round, and like as many as nine or ten go in the first three rounds of the draft.
Mayock's top tight end is Alabama's, O.J. Howard. He wasn't used much in Alabama's passing game but has excellent receiving skills, athleticism, and soft hands. While he wasn't used much in the passing game at Alabama, he did get used as a blocker often and has become of the better blocking tight ends in this class. This skill set makes him a versatile weapon for any team that drafts him. He's likely a top 20 pick in April's NFL Draft.
David Njoku is fun to watch pic.twitter.com/tYdtcGtAie— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) February 8, 2017
Following Howard is someone we're all going to know after the Combine. That player is former Miami Hurricane David Njoku. While Howard is a more balanced tight end, Njoku is a big and very athletic move tight end. You can line him up anywhere and he's likely a mismatch for whoever lines up across from him. He's rather raw, but his upside is immense and Njoku will be a household name after he dominates the Combine.
Ole Miss's Evan Engram is another solid move tight end option who could go as early as the late first round of the NFL Draft. Like Njoku, he's a move tight end who can line up in the slot and be a solid red zone option for whoever drafts him. He runs smooth routes, has soft hands, and will be a matchup problem for defenses. He looks like Jordan Reed 2.0.
The following two are Michigan's Jake Butt who is coming off an ACL injury and South Alabama's Gerald Everett. Butt would go higher if he wasn't coming off an ACL injury and Everett figures to be a second-round pick.
- Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
- Garett Bolles, Utah
- Antonio Garcia, Troy
- Roderick Johnson, Florida State
- Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
- T-5 Jermaine Eluemunor, Texas A&M
One of the weaker positional groups in this year's NFL Draft is the offensive tackle position. That doesn't mean there aren't any good prospect, but that it lacks the depth and top talent at the position.
Topping the list is Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk. He is probably the best-left tackle option in the draft but is coming off hip surgery and his status is up in the air until teams can review his medicals at the Combine, Pro Day and/or during pre-draft visits.
After Ramczyk is Utah's Garett Bolles, a highly athletic offensive tackle. He's a little undersized and probably is best suited for a zone blocking scheme. My biggest concern is his age. He will be 25 years old in May, and if he's a first-round pick, he'll be 30 years old by the time his rookie contract comes to an end. So while he's a nice talent, his age concerns me.
Next is the powerful Antonio Garcia and the long-limbed Roderick Johnson. Garcia is raw but powerful and full of potential. I do not think he's ready to start day one but has the potential to be a starting left tackle in this league. Johnson looks the part of an NFL offensive lineman with his long frame, big body, and long arms. However, he struggles against speed rushers.
The next two are likely guards in the NFL. The powerful Taylor Moton could be a right tackle but probably is best suited being a run-blocking right guard at the next level. Jermaine Eluemunor like Moton is a powerful blocker but is rather raw. He will need some work before he'll be a starting caliber offensive lineman.
The Broncos should be in the market for an offensive lineman no matter what they do in Free Agency. I wouldn't be surprised to see one of these guys on the Broncos roster after the draft.
Interior offensive line:
- Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
- Cam Robinson, Alabama
- Dan Feeney, Indiana
- Ethan Pocic, LSU
- Dion Dawkins, Temple
While the offensive tackle position has question marks, the interior group has some solid prospects at the top of the group.
Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp is making the transition from tackle to guard and figures to be the first interior offensive lineman off the board during the draft. He is powerful, has solid technique, and can be a plug and play starter for whoever drafts him. I wouldn't be shocked to see him go in the bottom half of the first round.
The biggest surprise on this list was Mayock listed Alabama's Cam Robinson as an interior offensive lineman. While people are split on him, some believe he can be a starting left tackle, while the rest think he can be a powerful run blocking right tackle. This if the first person I have seen list Cam as a guard. So it will be interesting to see if this continues in the coming weeks.
After Robinson comes Indiana's Dan Feeney. He showed off his versatility during the Senior Bowl where lined up at guard and center and continued to stonewall the competition. He's another powerful plug and play guard for whoever drafts him. I think he goes in the early portions of the second round.
LSU's Ethan Pocic is listed at center, but with him being 6-6 he might be best suited to play guard in the NFL and Dion Dawkins is making the transition from tackle to guard, but could play some right tackle in the NFL as well. Both figure to be second round picks during April's NFL Draft.
I believe the Broncos will be on the lookout for a guard the draft as well. If they sign one during Free Agency really depends on when they will draft one. If they fail to sign a starter, look for Fenney or Lamp to be in play for them early on. If they do sign someone, look for depth in the later rounds.