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2017 NFL Draft Sneak Peek

Deshaun Watson
The 2016 NFL Draft was among one of the most peculiar and intriguing Drafts in recent memory, with the top two picks being dealt away, and the Laremy Tunsil debacle unraveling mere minutes before the first round. Though, it has reached its inevitable conclusion, and while the 2016-2017 college football season is still months away, here is a sneak peek at which players at each position group are sure to be the top prospects to watch for the 2017 cycle.


Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: This past season, Watson was perhaps the nation's best quarterback, throwing for over 4,000 yards and leading Clemson to a near perfect record. When considering he was only a true sophomore ad coming off a torn ACL, his play becomes even more impressive. Watson's tremendous athleticism, big arm and great feel for the game makes him a rock-solid NFL prospect. With many NFL teams still searching for a franchise quarterback, he could very well be a high selection next spring.

Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami: Kaaya was thrust into a starting role with Miami two seasons ago and the true freshman responded by playing terrific. He continued that this past season, putting up solid stats across the board, even with his head coach being let go in the midseason. Kaaya won't wow you with his arm strength but he is extremely accurate and also has a great mind. While Watson may be the flashier of the NFL QB prospects, expect Kaaya to get plenty of attention this season.

Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss: Few players in college football have had the road that Chad Kelly has. The nephew of NFL legend Jim Kelly, Chad was kicked out of Clemson, dominated competition in the junior college ranks, and had an up-and-down past season with Ole Miss. Although turnovers and poor decisions remain issues, Kelly's talent is as good as you will find at the position. His arm is dazzling, and Kelly possesses amazing playmaking potential. His off-the-field antics are question marks, but he has shown he can lead a team at Ole Miss and one has to believe an NFL team could take a waiver on him.

Others to Watch: 
C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
Gunner Kiel, QB, Cincinnati


Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Fournette absolutely terrorized opposing defenses in his true sophomore season, and he could be even better this next year. Fournette's size, power-running and fearlessness have all drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson; if he can figure out some of the smaller things in his game like blocking, catching and more, he should easily be the first back off the board next year.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: Although he ended up being a Heisman runner-up, McCaffrey probably was the nation's best player last season. He did it all for the Stanford Cardinal and obliterated a solid Iowa defense in the Rose Bowl to cap it all off. He is a little undersized, but his playmaking ability and impressive speed make him a candidate to be a first round pick.

Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin: Few players in college football were as disappointing last year as Clement. Sure, injuries and inconsistent offensive line play restricted him, but Clement never found his stride after rushing for 1,000 yards as a backup to Melvin Gordon. He should be able to regain his stride this year, and his size and strength make him an ideal NFL runner.

Others to Watch:
Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State

Receivers/Tight Ends

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC: The Trojans have produced some terrific wide receiver talent over the years, but it hasn't always lived up to the hype in the NFL. That should change with Smith-Schuster, a burner. Smith-Schuster not only brings outstanding speed and potential, he can also be a major help to any team as a possible returner on special teams.

Travin Dural, WR, LSU: Due to the fact their pass offense has been so mediocre over the Les Miles era, LSU receivers don't get the credit they deserve. But, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham have proven great prospects can come out of Baton Rouge, and Dural could be next. The wide out has great size and tremendous athleticism, and is also blessed with as reliable of hands as you can get.

Jake Butt, TE, Michigan: His name doesn't scream superstar, but Butt was maybe the nation's best tight end this past season at Michigan, and he should only get better in 2016. Butt is a tremendous route-runner and pass-catcher, and showed a tremendous connection with Jake Rudock this past season. If he can get comfortable with Houston transfer John O'Korn (presumably UM's next QB) and improve as a blocker, he is a first-rounder.

Others to Watch:
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State

Offensive Line

Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: Alabama produces great NFL talent everywhere, but they do particularly well in the trenches. Cam Robinson has started since he stepped on campus in Tuscaloosca, and has been terrific. His size, at 6'6" is ideal, and he already has experience against elite pass rushers, spending his Saturdays in the SEC.

Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State: Florida State has also been producing stud offensive linemen over the past couple years, and it continues with Johnson. The former big-time recruit has been a beast throughout his time in Tallahassee, and should continue to prove himself this season.

Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA: It isn't to hard to understand why NFL scouts may love McDermott. The redshirt junior stands at 6'8" and weighs in at over 310 pounds but still moves pretty well for his size. He is still ironing out flaws in his game but the raw tools are there for him to be dominant linemen at the next level.

Others to Watch:
Zach Banner, OL, USC
Ethan Pocic, OG, LSU
Greg Pyke, OL, Georgia

Defensive Line

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Yet another five-star recruit, Myles Garrett has met and even exceed many expectations for him. The defensive end has had 22.5 sacks in two seasons at Texas A&M, while also piling on 32 tackles for loss. He will face constant double and even triple teams this season, but don't expect the junior to go down quietly. He very well could be the No. 1 overall pick next year.

Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama: Instead of bolting for a possible first-round selection this year, Allen decided to stick it out with Alabama and fight for another national title. He isn't the best pass rusher, but few can match his disruptive nature or be as solid of a run stopper as he is. He isn't flashy, but Allen is the type of prospect that can help a defense for a long, long time.

Da'Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama: Another blue-chip recruit, Hand hasn't quite had the amount of snaps he needs to be dominant. However, he has shown great pass rushing ability in short spurts, and should get a chance to start this season with the Tide. Scouts love players with high upside, perhaps even to a fault. He certainly fits that mold.

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: Butch Jones has attracted some amazing talent in his time in Knoxville, including Barnett. The defensive end has terrific size and power, and while Tennessee disappointed this past season, he did not. Another year for him and his defense to grow should only solidify Barnett as a first-rounder.

Others to Watch:
Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
Devonte Fields, DE, Louisville
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State


Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State: McMillan has been solid throughout his time at Ohio State, but could truly have a breakout this season, with fellow linebackers Joshua Perry and Darron Lee off to the NFL. McMillan is an elite coverage linebacker, but and also possesses the versatility to make his presence felt as an inside 'backer or on the outside.

Tim Williams, DE/LB, Alabama: Yet another Alabama prospect, Tim Williams is going to be an interesting prospect to watch this season. His sole purpose on defense is to rush the passer, and he did that well last season, with 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. It will be interesting to see what he can do with more snaps, and what other parts of his game he can grow.

Charles Harris, DE/LB, Missouri: While Mizzou endured a rough season this past year, Charles Harris was far from the issue. The dynamic edge pass rusher led the SEC in tackles for loss this past season, pretty amazing considering how many talented pass rushers come out of the conference. He still has to get stronger, but Harris appears to be the next great Missouri pass rusher, following in the footsteps of Shane Ray and Michael Sam.

Others to Watch:
Marquis Haynes, DE/LB, Ole Miss
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Skal Moore, LB, South Carolina
Vince Biegel, LB, Wisconsin


Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida: Many of Florida's opponents last season thought the smart approach to taking on Florida was throwing the ball away from Vernon Hargreaves III, the Gators' All-American corner. Turns out that didn't work very well, as Jalen Tabor exploded on to the scene with four interceptions and 14 pass deflections. Tabor is more athletic than Hargreaves and also possesses more ideal size, at 6'1".

Jamal Adams, S, LSU: LSU has sent more than a few great defensive backs through their ranks over the past few years (Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne to name a few), and Adams appears to be the next one. The safety is a ball hawk who makes plays all over the field and showed a knack for the big hit this past season.

Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan: Over the course of the past two years, Jabrill Peppers has been picked by many as a breakout star. The true junior hasn't really produced, but the talent is there for the cornerback/safety to dominate. He is an outstanding athlete, possesses great speed, and leaping ability. Scouts love him, but he has to start producing. If there is anyone that can get it out of him though, it is Jim Harbaugh.

Others to Watch:
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
Desmond King, CB, Iowa
Nate Andrews, S, Florida State
Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama

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