NFL Draft 2017: 1st-Round Mock Draft and Projections for Top Prospects

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2017

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Tight end O.J. Howard #88 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs to the end zone after making a 68-yard touchdown reception during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The NFL news cycle and Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, have forced analysts to shift their 2017 NFL draft predictions yet again. Erase last week's thoughts and heed the buzz from the draft experts, scouts and reporters over the past few days. 

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney compared quarterback Deshaun Watson to Michael Jordan. Cleveland.com posted the footage with his exact words:

However, the junior quarterback didn't participate in the Senior Bowl, which seems like the right call when considering his extensive body of work on film and his coming off a successful championship run. Is he projected as the No. 1 prospect at his position?

Which player added enough buzz to his name to be identified as "the most complete" prospect in the draft? And why might the New York Giants find interest in him at No. 23? 

We'll project the entire first round and go in depth on a few intriguing selections involving the top prospects.

NFL Mock Draft—Round 1
PickNFL TeamSelection
1Cleveland BrownsMyles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersCam Robinson, OT, Alabama
3Chicago BearsMitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
4Jacksonville JaguarsJamal Adams, S, LSU
5Tennessee Titans (via Rams)Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
6New York JetsTeez Tabor, CB, Florida
7Los Angeles ChargersJonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
8Carolina PanthersLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU
9Cincinnati BengalsReuben Foster, LB, Alabama
10Buffalo BillsCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
11New Orleans SaintsMalik Hooker, S, Ohio State
12Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
13Arizona CardinalsMarshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
14Indianapolis ColtsRaekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
15Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
16Baltimore RavensTakkarist McKinley, LB, UCLA
17Washington RedskinsCarlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
18Tennessee TitansZach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersMalik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
20Denver BroncosRyan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
21Detroit LionsDerek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
22Miami DolphinsJabrill Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
23New York GiantsO.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
24Oakland RaidersHaason Reddick, LB, Temple
25Houston TexansCaleb Brantley, DL, Florida
26Seattle SeahawksSidney Jones, CB, Washington
27Kansas City ChiefsMarlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
28Dallas CowboysTim Williams, LB/DE, Alabama
29Green Bay PackersJarrad Davis, LB, Florida
30Pittsburgh SteelersT.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin
31Atlanta FalconsTaco Charlton, DE, Michigan
32New England PatriotsRoderick Johnson, OT, Florida State


3. Chicago Bears, Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 05:  Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in action against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the game at Kenan Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Imag
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

According to USA Today's Tom Pelissero, Mitch Trubisky holds the title as the No. 1 quarterback in this year's draft due to his physical attributes and mechanics.

"Conversations with scouts and personnel executives here pegged Trubisky as the top QB entering the draft process," Pelissero wrote. "He's an accurate passer, has the physical tools and figures to put on a show at the scouting combine in March." 

Many draft analysts feel the San Francisco 49ers should select the best quarterback available. However, Trubisky's limited action as a starter (13 starts) suggests he'll need at least a year on the sideline before taking on the pros.

Why should the 49ers take a quarterback with little game film at No. 2? Whoever takes the general manager seat could either choose a second-round prospect and sit him for a year or sign a more capable veteran for the interim.

The Chicago Bears still have Jay Cutler on the books. He's not the long-term answer but is capable of keeping the seat warm for Trubisky as he develops behind the scenes. The Bears wouldn't have to rush their inexperienced rookie into action, and Cutler's serviceable play could boost his trade value with a quarterback-needy team. 


16. Baltimore Ravens, Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Takkarist McKinley #98 of the UCLA Bruins celebrates after sacking quarterback Cody Kessler #6 of the USC Trojans in the third quarter at the Rose Bowl on November 22, 2014 in Pasadena, California.   UCLA on 38-20.  (Photo by
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

All of a sudden, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker corps needs starting bodies for the near future. Inside linebacker Zachary Orr decided to retire due to a serious injury, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

#Ravens star LB Zach Orr is retiring because of a serious injury, sources say. Heart-breaking. Team couldn’t talk him out of it.

Entering his 11th year in the league, edge-rusher Elvis Dumervil has started 16 games in just one of the last four seasons. In the twilight of his career, he's a rotational pass-rusher.

Terrell Suggs, the leading linebacker on the field and voice in the locker room, has 14 years of tread on his tires. He'll also celebrate his 35th birthday in October. In recent memory, the Ravens had put together a strong unit behind the defensive line. For once, it's lacking as presently constructed. 

UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley would bring youth and a resume with proven production to the Ravens defense. Unlike Alabama's Tim Williams, McKinley didn't line up shoulder to shoulder or behind first-round picks. He flashed as the best defender on UCLA's front seven.

In his breakout senior year, McKinley notched 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He also displayed the ability to cover the field in short pass coverage with six passes defensed. The UCLA linebacker could lead the youth movement on the second level of Baltimore's front seven.


23. New York Giants, O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Tight end O.J. Howard #88 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs to the end zone after making a 68-yard touchdown reception during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship G
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

ESPN’s Todd McShay didn't hesitate to crown Alabama tight end O.J. Howard as the total package in the draft after the Senior Bowl. Fellow ESPN analyst Matt Bowen confirmed the notion.

"Oh, without a doubt. The most complete player down here," Bowen said.

Howard started the process with a first- or second-round grade, but his showing in Mobile added more cement to his name as a top-32 pick. He had earned Offensive MVP honors for hauling in five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns last year in Alabama's College Football Playoff National Championship. Nonetheless, he returned to school and put up nearly identical season numbers with a freshman quarterback. 

The New York Giants must give quarterback Eli Manning as much help as possible in his final years. Wide receiver Victor Cruz no longer scares defenses, and wideout Sterling Shepard will continue to develop into a solid No. 2 behind megastar Odell Beckham Jr. However, the Giants could use another set of reliable hands if their star receiver goes down with an injury or struggles against a top-tier secondary.

Howard possesses a complete tight end profile as compared to Will Tye or Larry Donnell. The latter will become an unrestricted free agent in March. Of course, New York should start with providing better pass protection for Manning, but a weak offensive tackle class allows the Giants to look elsewhere in the first round.