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2017 NFL Mock Draft: Projections for Event's Fastest-Rising Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2017

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Defensive back Adoree' Jackson #2 of the USC Trojans runs with the ball in the first half as linebacker Brandon Bell #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions attempts to tackle him during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The 2017 NFL draft is a month away, and while some prospects have looked like blue-chip material for some time, others have been steadily gaining steam.

Former Washington receiver John Ross, for example, gave his draft stock a major boost at the scouting combine by setting a new record in the 40-yard dash. He completed the event in just 4.22 seconds. Former Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, meanwhile, added a bit to his draft stock by running receiver drills at his pro day.

The draft landscape certainly looks a bit different than it did a couple of months ago, even if defensive standouts like Myles Garrett and Jamal Adams still project as the draft's top prospects.

Let's take what we've witnessed since the end of the NFL season and apply it to the NFL draft. We'll run down the current draft order and make projections based on factors like team needs, team fit, player potential and player stock. We'll also examine the latest buzz surrounding prospects whose draft stock is on the rise.

2017 NFL Mock Draft

Round 1
PickNFL TeamProj. Selection
1Cleveland BrownsMyles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersJamal Adams, S, LSU
3Chicago BearsSolomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
4Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU
5Tennessee Titans (from LAR)Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
6New York JetsMalik Hooker, S, Ohio State
7Los Angeles ChargersJonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
8Carolina PanthersMarshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
9Cincinnati BengalsHaason Reddick, LB, Temple
10Buffalo BillsMike Williams, WR, Clemson
11New Orleans SaintsDerek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
12Cleveland Browns (from PHI)Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
13Arizona CardinalsDeshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
14Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN)Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
15Indianapolis ColtsReuben Foster, LB, Alabama
16Baltimore RavensO.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
17Washington RedskinsMalik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
18Tennessee TitansTakkarist McKinley, LB, UCLA
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
20Denver BroncosForrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
21Detroit LionsGareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
22Miami DolphinsTeez Tabor, CB, Florida
23New York GiantsDavid Njoku, TE, Miami
24Oakland RaidersDalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
25Houston TexansJabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan
26Seattle SeahawksRyan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
27Kansas City ChiefsJohn Ross, WR, Washington
28Dallas CowboysTaco Charlton, DE, Michigan
29Green Bay PackersT.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin
30Pittsburgh SteelersTim Williams, LB, Alabama
31Atlanta FalonsDan Feeney, OG, Indiana
32New Orleans Saints (from NE)Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
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Latest Buzz

Trubisky Easing Concerns

The one big red flag for former North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is the fact that he only made 13 collegiate starts. This means teams only have a limited sample size with which to judge him.

The good news for Trubisky is that his limited sample size was pretty darn impressive. He passed for 3,748 yards in 2016 with 30 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also completed 68.2 percent of his passes and was rated 10th overall among all college quarterbacks by Pro Football Focus.

What's even better for Trubisky is the fact that he has only increased his draft stock since the end of the college season. He showed above-average athleticism for the position at the combine, and he impressed at his pro day.

In Indianapolis, Trubisky ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds. He also ran the three-cone drill in 6.87 seconds and did the short shuttle in 4.25 seconds. In other words, Trubisky should have enough short-area quickness to evade pass-rushers in the pocket.

Trubisky threw 68 passes at North Carolina's pro day and managed to impress those in attendance in the process.

According to Emily Kaplan of The MMQB, one scout in attendance said that Trubisky looked "crisp" with "no real areas for concern" during his pro day workout.

It seems that Trubisky and Clemson product Deshaun Watson are the two quarterbacks vying to be the first off the board in April. While Watson's stock may have peaked with his national championship win over Alabama, Trubisky may have pushed himself ahead in the time since.

Jackson Getting Special Teams Boost

I don't currently have former USC cornerback Adoree' Jackson going in the first round, but there's a solid chance he slips in there on draft weekend. While he is a bit on the smaller side (5'10", 186 lbs), Jackson has adequate athleticism and some pretty solid coverage skills.

"I didn't expect him to have the year he did in coverage. I saw ball skills and coverage ability that I didn't see last year," one AFC scout told NFL Media's Lance Zierlein.

What might push Jackson into Round 1, though, is his return ability. Last season, he averaged 15.75 yards per punt return and 29.5 yards per kickoff return. He also scored four touchdowns as a return specialist.

Teams have been testing his special teams ability during the buildup to the draft. Teams wanted to see his ability to field the ball at USC's pro day, and Jackson responded by catching a ball with two footballs in his arms and one pinned between his legs:

Keely Eure @keelyismyname

Adoree' Jackson just caught a football with two already in his arms and one between his knees... because why not? https://t.co/RMyILqvXxV

While the kickoff has lost some of its value at the NFL level, teams still love guys who can flip field position on punts. Jackson appears to be exactly this type of prospect.

When you add in Jackson's 11 passes defended and five interceptions from 2016, you get the feeling he can be enough of a playmaker to warrant a first-round selection.

Webb Also Trending Toward First Round

Trubisky and Watson might be the only two quarterbacks who currently appear to be first-round locks. However, California's Davis Webb could soon find himself in that conversation.

Webb has the size of a pro quarterback at 6'5" and 229 pounds. He also showed decent athletic ability at the combine, running the 40 in 4.79 seconds and producing a 33.0-inch vertical. He further impressed teams at Cal's pro day.

According to Courtney Cronin of the San Jose Mercury News, Webb decided to run through his pro day workout despite there being a heavy downpour. Per Cronin, Webb believes this decision garnered respect from the scouts in attendance.

Webb also believes that teams view him as a first-round prospect.

"I've talked to a lot of NFL people," Webb said, per David Lombardi of ESPN.com. "And double-digit teams have told me I'm a first-round guy. Every meeting [with an NFL team] I've had, they've said I'm one of the best quarterbacks on the board."

Webb certainly shined in 2016, passing for 4,295 yards with 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. However, teams are going to wonder how and why he lost his starting job at Texans Tech to Patrick Mahomes before moving on to California.

If Webb can provide acceptable answers in his private visits with teams, someone is likely to pull the trigger on him in Round 1.

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