With the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine reaching its conclusion in Indianapolis, NFL fans are getting a better picture of how the 2017 NFL draft will shake out in April.
The combine doesn't offer the definitive evaluation for a player's outlook at the next level, but it's one of the last showcases draftees have to impress scouts and team executives. A strong pro day could elevate a player's draft stock, but most are locked into a general area in which they can expect to be selected.
Below is a mock for the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, followed by three players who received the most or least from their combine performance.
2017 Mock Draft
|2017 Draft—First-Round Mock|
|1||Cleveland Browns||Myles Garrett, DE||Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Mitch Trubisky, QB||North Carolina|
|3||Chicago Bears||Jonathan Allen, DE||Alabama|
|4||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jamal Adams, S||LSU|
|5||Tennessee Titans (from Rams)||Marshon Lattimore, CB||Ohio State|
|6||New York Jets||Deshaun Watson, QB||Clemson|
|7||San Diego Chargers||Malik Hooker, S||Ohio State|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Leonard Fournette, RB||LSU|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Solomon Thomas, DE||Stanford|
|10||Buffalo Bills||Patrick Mahomes II, QB||Texas Tech|
|11||New Orleans Saints||Reuben Foster, LB||Alabama|
|12||Cleveland Browns (from Eagles)||Teez Tabor, CB||Florida|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||Mike Williams, WR||Clemson|
|14||Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings)||Dalvin Cook, RB||Florida State|
|15||Indianapolis Colts||Derek Barnett, DE||Tennessee|
|16||Baltimore Ravens||Taco Charlton, DE||Michigan|
|17||Washington Redskins||Jabrill Peppers, S||Michigan|
|18||Tennessee Titans||Corey Davis, WR||Western Michigan|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||John Ross, WR||Washington|
|20||Denver Broncos||Ryan Ramczyk, OT||Wisconsin|
|21||Detroit Lions||Charles Harris, DE||Missouri|
|22||Miami Dolphins||O.J. Howard, TE||Alabama|
|23||New York Giants||Zach Cunningham, LB||Vanderbilt|
|24||Oakland Raiders||Sidney Jones, CB||Washington|
|25||Houston Texans||Garett Bolles, OT||Utah|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Cam Robinson, OT||Alabama|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs||Haason Reddick, LB||Temple|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Gareon Conley, CB||Ohio State|
|29||Green Bay Packers||Quincy Wilson, CB||Florida|
|30||Pittsburgh Steelers||Budda Baker, S||Washington|
|31||Atlanta Falcons||Tim Williams, LB||Alabama|
|32||New England Patriots||Christian McCaffrey, RB||Stanford|
|Draft order via NFL.com|
Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
In no particular order, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer were widely considered to be the top three quarterbacks available in the 2017 NFL draft immediately after the college football season ended.
In the weeks since, however, Patrick Mahomes II has closed ground on Kizer and arguably overtaken him in the QB hierarchy.
While Mike Leach is gone, Mahomes will have to overcome the general stigma around Texas Tech quarterbacks. Graham Harrell, B.J. Symons and Kliff Kingsbury posted monster numbers for the Red Raiders but did little at the next level.
Mahomes should buck the trend because he has skills that should transfer to the NFL. He has arguably the strongest arm of any quarterback in this year's class, and he ranked 13th in FBS in completion rate (65.7 percent), so he's an accurate thrower as well.
In addition—and something that will serve him well at the combine—he possesses above-average mobility. He ran for 845 yards and 22 touchdowns in three years with Texas Tech. According to NFL.com, Mahomes ran a 4.8-second 40-yard dash at the combine, which tied for sixth-best among quarterbacks.
Mahomes' rushing total in 2016 (285 yards) was well below its 2015 equivalent (456 yards), but that had more to do with Texas Tech dropping from eighth to 89th in adjusted sack rate last year, according to Football Outsiders.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah offered praise of Mahomes at the combine:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Asked a DPP the best interview they've had so far, "Mahomes. I love that kid."3/3/2017, 7:30:42 PM
Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks
For what it's worth...most impressive QBs today 1- Watson 2-Trubisky 3- Mahomes 4-Kizer3/4/2017, 7:31:05 PM
Not only has Mahomes climbed into the first round, he should also warrant top-10 consideration.
John Ross, WR, Washington
No player raised more eyebrows at the combine than John Ross, who ran a 4.22-second 40-yard dash. The NFL Network shared a replay of the record-breaking performance:
NFL Network @nflnetwork
The BEST 40 time in #NFLCombine History. 4.22 -- John Ross. The bar has been raised. https://t.co/ZiwKkuLwi53/4/2017, 6:59:02 PM
Of course, a great 40 time is hardly an accurate indicator for a player's future. Below are the 10 fastest runs at the combine from 2006 to 2016, per NFL.com:
|Fastest 40-Yard Dashes at NFL Combine (2006-16)|
|1||Chris Johnson||East Carolina||4.24|
|2||Dri Archer||Kent State||4.26|
|T4||DeMarcus Van Dyke||Miami||4.28|
|T7||Yamon Figurs||Kansas State||4.30|
|T10||Jonathan Joseph||South Carolina||4.31|
|T10||Justin King||Penn State||4.31|
|T10||Trae Waynes||Michigan State||4.31|
The fact Ross only has one good year at Washington further complicates his overall evaluation. After missing the entire 2015 season following a knee injury, Ross caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior for the Huskies.
Miller argued Ross is more than worthy of a first-round selection:
The NFL coach compared Ross to Tyreek Hill, and while that's a fun comparison, he isn't limited to special teams or being just a gadget player. Ross is a legit route-runner and has a much more dynamic ability to leave defenders in the dust with his breaks and cuts. Hill is arguably more powerful as a runner, but Ross is the more complete player. He's perhaps a mix of Hill's speed and DeSean Jackson's route-running skills.
That's a pretty dangerous combo.
Ross' injury history and lack of consistent success beyond 2016 may prevent him from jumping ahead of Corey Davis and Mike Williams. His combine performance, on the other hand, gave NFL evaluators a taste of his massive potential.
A team in the middle of the first round is guaranteed to gamble on the Huskies star.
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
The combine couldn't have gone much better for Jabrill Peppers.
He headed to Indianapolis with questions about his position in the NFL, and how he performed would help give teams a better idea whether he'll fit better at linebacker or safety. While Peppers was grouped together with the linebackers at the combine, he looked more like a defensive back, per the NFL:
Have an #NFLCombine, @JabrillPeppers! https://t.co/TC1wDE5x1s3/5/2017, 9:30:06 PM
LB24 on his jersey. But it doesn't matter. DB drills are NO problem for @JabrillPeppers. #NFLCombine https://t.co/M9rn5CHXrF3/6/2017, 5:52:03 PM
Peppers will likely need a season or two to find a comfort zone at the next level. His defensive versatility helped the Michigan Wolverines, but it was a slight detriment to his long-term development on the field since he couldn't gain a wealth of experience in any one role.
Similar questions hovered around Shaq Thompson, whom the Carolina Panthers selected 25th overall in 2015. Following an underwhelming rookie year, some questioned whether the Panthers made a mistake in taking Thompson. In 2016, Carolina knew better how to utilize Thompson, and Pro Football Focus graded him the 13th-best linebacker (85.6) in the NFL.
Thompson ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash and measured 33.5 inches in the vertical jump, both of which were worse than Peppers' 2017 showing.
Since he has more physical upside, Peppers should come off the board earlier than Thompson, but like Thompson, an NFL team shouldn't be surprised if the Michigan star fails to provide immediate dividends.