2017 NFL Draft: Draft Radar Heading into NFL Week 17

Connor Rogers@@ConnorJRogersFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2016

2017 NFL Draft: Draft Radar Heading into NFL Week 17

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    BYU RB Jamaal Williams
    BYU RB Jamaal WilliamsKirk Irwin/Getty Images

    College football bowl season is off and running, and some 2017 NFL draft prospects are taking that literally. With brilliant performances from workhorse runners Jamaal Williams of Brigham Young University and Anthony Wales of Western Kentucky, the boys in the trenches deserve some of the spotlight heading into Week 17.

    Meanwhile, Ohio Bobcats defensive end Tarell Basham continued to be disruptive up front and will look to make even more noise at the Reese's Senior Bowl on Jan. 28 in Mobile, Alabama. With plenty of talented but risky quarterback prospects in this year's class, we'll take a look at a few big-time floors and ceilings for each.

    This week, we'll even take a look at my big board from last year to see who's shining as an NFL rookie and who's wishing he was still on the sidelines.

    To round it all out, I'll reveal the top 10 players for the 2017 NFL draft class, which is loaded with blue-chip talent all over.

Stock Up

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    Western Kentucky OL Forrest Lamp
    Western Kentucky OL Forrest LampRob Foldy/Getty Images

    Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky

    The Western Kentucky left tackle has received plenty of love in the NFL draft world, but to the average college football fan, he does not get a ton of exposure. Lamp did not waste a big opportunity against the Memphis Tigers in the Boca Raton Bowl last Tuesday, dominating as both a run- and pass-blocker while even catching a touchdown.

    Lamp has not allowed a sack this season and is projected to be one of the top offensive linemen taken in the spring.


    Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU

    It's no secret Williams is a favorite on draft radars, and his college send-off did not disappoint. He forced nine missed tackles on 26 rushing attempts and galloped for 210 yards and a touchdown. He's the third-most talented running back in this class behind Florida State's Dalvin Cook and LSU's Leonard Fournette.


    Tarell Basham, DL, Ohio 

    The senior's college career ended with a tough loss, but Basham came to play. He racked up a quarterback hit and six total pressures, one leading to an interception, against the Troy Trojans in the Dollar General Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Basham will have an opportunity to make an even bigger name for himself at the Senior Bowl in January.

Stock Down

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    Wyoming QB Josh Allen
    Wyoming QB Josh AllenSean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

    The redshirt sophomore quarterback clearly has a big arm and can extend plays with his legs, but he has a long way to go as an NFL prospect. He threw two interceptions in Wyoming's loss to BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl and only completed 53.1 percent of his passing attempts. The raw talent is there to mold, but he continues to force errant passes into double and triple coverage. He should return to school.


    Kendell Beckwith, LB, LSU

    The senior linebacker is rehabbing a torn ACL, according to Ross Dellenger of The Advocate. Beckwith is a solid linebacker prospect, but this could cause him to miss the entire predraft process—one that could have helped solidify his stock as a top-75 talent.

Eye-Popping Prospect Numbers of the Week

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    Western Kentucky RB Anthony Wales
    Western Kentucky RB Anthony WalesRob Foldy/Getty Images

    The Idaho Vandals scored 61 points in their win over Colorado State in the Idaho Potato Bowl, and some of that was thanks to the play of junior right tackle Jordan Rose. The 6'6", 345-pound brick wall did not allow a sack or a quarterback hit in 37 pass-blocking attempts. He also paved the way in a 200-plus yard rushing effort.

    Western Kentucky redshirt senior Anthony Wales had quite the performance in his final college game, rushing for 245 yards on 35 attempts (7.0 yards per carry) with three touchdowns, 73 yards after contact and four missed tackles forced. 

    After sitting out early series in the Cowboys' bowl game against BYU, Wyoming running back Brian Hill ran for 94 yards and a touchdown behind a poor offensive line. He's overachieved in his situation all season with a powerhouse running style that always welcomes contact. He forced 49 missed tackles and averaged three yards after contact this season.   

Rookie Review: Breaking Down Top 10 from 2016 Draft Rankings

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    Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott
    Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel ElliottTom Pennington/Getty Images

    With only one week remaining in the 2016 NFL season, it's always good to look back at how the rookies performed. Rather than breaking down the first 10 who came off the board last spring below, let's look at the top 10 from my big board last year.


    1. Laremy Tunsil, OT: Selected 13th overall by the Miami Dolphins

    Transitioning from left tackle in college to NFL guard is no easy task when you're expected to play right away, but Tunsil has been solid as a rookie in Miami. He hasn't surrendered a sack since Week 4, the only time he allowed one all season. Running back Jay Ajayi has three games in which he's rushed for over 200 yards, and part of that successful ground attack is because of the addition of Tunsil. Head coach Adam Gase has a franchise piece on his offensive line for a team that is finally moving in a positive direction.


    2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB: Selected fourth overall by the Dallas Cowboys

    The star of the show, Elliott has already surpassed 1,500 rushing yards while scoring 14 total touchdowns. The former Ohio State star is averaging three yards after contact and has forced 34 missed tackles. He's the key cog for the Cowboys' superb season and is in the NFL MVP conversation.


    3. Myles Jack, LB: Selected 36th overall (fifth pick of second round) by the Jacksonville Jaguars

    As a rookie, Jack has been a situational player in the disaster that's been the 2016 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12). He's looked good in limited reps, especially in coverage.


    4. Jalen Ramsey, CB: Selected fifth overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars

    Ramsey has run away with the title of best rookie defensive back this season. His pick-six against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday put an exclamation point on his season as one of the lone bright spots for the Jaguars. He's allowed 49 of 94 targets to be completed against him (52.1 percent) for 619 yards and three touchdowns, and he has two interceptions and nine passes defended.


    5. Jared Goff, QB: Selected first overall by the Los Angeles Rams

    The Rams (4-11) have been a disaster. Goff has had little help, but there is no denying he's been bad as well (league-worst 61.8 QB rating). The L.A. offense has problems in multiple areas, especially the offensive line, and the Rams will hit the reset button this offseason and look to build for next year. They won't give up on Goff that quickly, but he has to take gigantic leaps this summer to prove he was worth anything near what the Rams traded to land him.


    6. Noah Spence, DL: Selected 39th overall (eighth pick of second round) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Spence's previous off-field troubles at Ohio State helped the Bucs get a great value pick on Day 2 of the draft. In a somewhat limited role, he's racked up six sacks, five more quarterback hits and 35 total pressures.


    7. Joey Bosa, DL: Selected third overall by the San Diego Chargers

    After a bizarre contract standoff that caused Bosa to miss training camp, he's been nearly unstoppable. In just 11 games this year, he has 10 sacks, 11 quarterback hits and 52 total quarterback pressures. He's also been solid against the run. It's hard to imagine anyone beating him for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.


    8. Vernon Hargreaves, CB: Selected 11th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    It's been an up-and-down season for Hargreaves, who's had the tough task of being a rookie corner playing starting reps right away (968 snaps in 16 games). He's been targeted 103 times, allowing 74 catches for 971 yards and only one touchdown. He's also had one interception and seven passes defended. Quarterbacks have targeted him a lot—like most starting rookies corners—and he's shown plenty of flashes for a promising future.


    9. Reggie Ragland, LB: Selected 41st overall (10th pick of second round) by the Buffalo Bills

    At the beginning of August, Ragland tore his ACL in training camp. He will look to rebound next season when he returns to action as a projected starter for the Bills. 


    10. Laquon Treadwell, WR: Selected 23rd overall by the Minnesota Vikings

    The Vikings' season has spiraled out of control after losing multiple key pieces to injury. Major injuries can lead to big opportunities for rookies, but Treadwell has not proved himself. He only has one catch for 15 yards over nine games this season. 

Quarterback Spectrums

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    Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
    Texas Tech QB Patrick MahomesJohn Weast/Getty Images

    Projecting quarterbacks can be one of the trickiest parts of scouting. There are seemingly endless factors, including the situations they land in and their fit in the offenses, how and if their traits ascend, and if they can handle the speed of the pro game.

    Let's take a look at spectrums for this year's class, essentially comparisons for each player's floor and ceiling.


    Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech: Logan Thomas —> Matt Stafford 

    At 6'3", 230 pounds with above-average mobility and a rocket arm, Mahomes is essentially the perfect raw specimen for the position. Coming out of Texas Tech, he has huge questions surrounding not only the spread offense he played in, but his mechanics. There is a chance he never puts it all together and bottoms out like Buffalo's Logan Thomas did, but if given time with the right staff, he has franchise talent to excel and a huge ceiling.


    Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina: Blaine Gabbert —> Derek Carr

    Trubisky has arguably been the biggest riser this season. If he declares, he'll go from being a first year-starter at UNC to a potential top-10 selection in April. He has impressive mobility and an above-average arm that NFL franchises will fall in love with. Like most young quarterback prospects, he can break down under pressure, and with his limited experience, he'll need to improve the speed he plays at. One-year wonders have burned the NFL before, but Trubisky's potential will draw interest with quarterback-needy teams picking early.


    DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame: Josh Freeman —> Ben Roethlisberger 

    You won’t find a quarterback in this draft class with as much upside as DeShone Kizer. He has a big frame (6'4 ½", 230 lbs) and arm, and he's a dangerous runner when he has space to escape (eight rushing TDs in 2016). It was a disastrous season for Notre Dame (4-8), and all of that blame doesn't fall on him.

    He flourished in the vertical passing game, completing 23 of his 61 attempts on passes of 20-plus yards for 767 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. Kizer has a bad habit of holding on to the ball too long—he's been sacked 50 times over the past two seasons—and trying to do too much. But a franchise that invests the proper time in letting him acclimate to the NFL could be rewarded with the best passer to come out of this class.

Top 10 Players in 2017 NFL Draft

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    Auburn EDGE Carl Lawson
    Auburn EDGE Carl LawsonJoe Robbins/Getty Images

     1. Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M

    Garrett is a special pass-rushing presence on the edge with great size (6'5", 270 lbs), power and the ability to bend and dip. His play does not drop off against the run, and when he was healthy, there wasn't a team that could slow him down. It's rare to find a player with Garrett's combination of motor and freakish talent. He's a blue-chip prospect who's expected to go No. 1 overall this year and will fit perfectly as a 4-3 defensive end at the next level.


    2. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

    It's hard to find a player in college football who's had better week-to-week tape than Allen over the last two seasons. He sheds blocks with ease and brings an interior-rush presence similar to Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks. He had top-level production this year against upper-tier talent, racking up 10 sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 60 total pressures. 


    3. Jamal Adams, S, LSU

    It's hard for a safety to find his way this high up the big board, but Adams is a special talent on the back end of a defense. He's a do-it-all defender who can cover, lay the wood and possesses special closing speed and range. His versatility will also be a weapon in the NFL, as he can play both free and strong safety as well as slot corner. 


    4. Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn

    Injuries hampered Lawson's college career at times, but his presence as an edge-rusher was nearly as good as it gets. His violent hands tossed offensive tackles around, and he saved his best for crunch time on potential game-winning drives. With nine sacks, 13 quarterback hits and 38 quarterback hurries, he potentially closed out a college career with a brilliant season. His potential as a 3-4 rush backer in the NFL is high.


    5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

    This might come as the first surprise of the rankings, but Cook's transition to the NFL could be a bit easier than Leonard Fournette's. His home run ability and elusiveness in the open field make him an instant-impact player who should thrive as a starter right away. 


    6. Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee

    Barnett, much like Garrett, is a bigger edge player who surrenders little against the run. The 6'3", 265-pounder does not possess much of an inside move, but he can turn the corner and is explosive off the snap. He was a nightmare for quarterbacks in the SEC.


    7. Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama

    There might be no player with a bigger pass-rushing ceiling in this draft class ceiling than Tim Williams. His speed and power for his size (6'4", 252 lbs) is rare, and he possesses a wide variety of pass-rushing moves. His run defense significantly improved in 2016, but Alabama had so much talent up front that it did not need him to be an every-down player. He can be a star in the NFL. 

    8. Jalen "Teez" Tabor, CB, Florida

    The second defensive back to crack the top 10, Tabor is a lockdown corner who is aggressive, smooth and physical. He only allowed 20 catches on 39 targets this season for 276 passing yards and one touchdown, and he had four interceptions and six passes defended. He projects as a true shutdown No. 1 corner at the next level.


    9. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

    While the college football world won't be seeing Leonard Fournette anymore, he can make a lot of noise throughout the draft process with a big-time NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. His speed and power in the second level of the field are a nightmare for any tackler to deal with. With his build (6'1", 235 lbs), he can be a workhorse back right away for any offense. 


    10. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

    One of the more underrated players expected to be in the draft this spring, Jones has fantastic length and physicality as an outside corner. He only allowed 47.9 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed (23 of 48) for 301 yards and zero touchdowns, and he had three interceptions and four passes defended. Quarterbacks in the Pac-12 wanted little to do with him, and it won't be long until NFL passers feel the same way.


    All advanced stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus Premium.


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