Every year, NFL fans hear about incoming rookies who are ready for the NFL right now and others who are longer-term projects.
Both types of players have positives and drawbacks. Ready-made prospects should be able to contribute immediately but might have less room to grow. Players who are further from the finished product will deliver fewer short-term returns but could pay off in a big way in the long term.
The three players below fall into the former category.
First-Round Mock Draft
|1||Cleveland Browns||Myles Garrett, DE||Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Solomon Thomas, DE||Stanford|
|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||Mitchell Trubisky, QB||North Carolina|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||Malik Hooker, S||Ohio State|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Leonard Fournette, RB||LSU|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Reuben Foster, LB||Alabama|
|10||Buffalo Bills||Corey Davis, WR||Western Michigan|
|11||New Orleans Saints||Teez Tabor, CB||Florida|
|12||Cleveland Browns (from Eagles)||Deshaun Watson, QB||Clemson|
|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||O.J. Howard, TE||Alabama|
|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||David Njoku, TE||Miami|
|23||New York Giants||Zach Cunningham, LB||Vanderbilt|
|24||Oakland Raiders||Sidney Jones, CB||Washington|
|25||Houston Texans||Patrick Mahomes, QB||Texas Tech|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Garett Bolles, OT||Utah|
|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 Orleans Saints||Tre'Davious White, CB||LSU|
|Draft order via NFL.com|
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
At another school, O.J. Howard likely would've assembled a stronger body of work. In four years at Alabama, he caught 114 passes for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns.
The athletic tight end stepped up in big moments, finishing with nine receptions, 314 yards and three touchdowns in the Crimson Tide's two national championship matchups with Clemson in 2015 and 2016.
At 6'6" and 251 pounds, Howard will present problems for opposing defenses at the next level. He also ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash (4.51 seconds) for tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Howard isn't merely a pass-catcher, either. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller labeled him the best blocker among this year's tight end group.
In the last 10 years, six tight ends have been selected in the first round—the results of which so far have been mixed:
|First-Round Tight Ends (2007-16)|
|2014||10th||Eric Ebron||Detroit Lions|
|2013||21st||Tyler Eifert||Cincinnati Bengals|
|2010||21st||Jermaine Gresham||Cincinnati Bengals|
|2009||20th||Brandon Pettigrew||Detroit Lions|
|2008||30th||Dustin Keller||New York Jets|
|2007||31st||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers|
Howard should fall closer to the Greg Olsen end of the spectrum than Eric Ebron. He has all of the tools teams are looking for in a potential Pro Bowl tight end.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Leonard Fournette looked like a future NFL star during his sophomore year at LSU, when he was running roughshod over SEC defenses. An underwhelming junior season doesn't change what Fournette can do at the next level.
Pro Football Focus' Matt Claassen listed him as the second-best running back in this year's draft class:
With Fournette’s combination of size and speed, he is an athletic freak in many ways. His 2015 season remains one of our highest-graded among runners over the past three years. There are some small concerns, though, on how well he can create on his own if behind a bad offensive line, how much of an impact he can have in the passing game, and if the ankle injury was the only reason for his lessened effectiveness in 2016.
The fact Fournette only played seven games for the Tigers in 2016 could be a blessing in disguise. Rather than racking up 250 to 300 carries, he had 144 total touches between his carries and receptions. The less wear and tear he has on his body coming out of college the better.
Fournette isn't as agile as Dalvin Cook, who's two inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter, and the Florida State star may go on to have the better NFL career when all is said and done.
In terms of which of the two is more suited to help an NFL offense now, though, Fournette gets the clear edge. At 6'0" and 240 pounds, he'll have no trouble overpowering defenders at the next level.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Myles Garrett is widely considered the No. 1 overall player in 2017 for a reason. The Texas A&M star compiled 47 tackles for loss and 31 sacks in three years for the Aggies.
It's not as if major questions needed to be answered about his athleticism, but Garrett further solidified his draft stock with an excellent combine performance. He posted a 4.64-second 40-yard dash and a 41-inch vertical jump, both of which are absurd for somebody who's 6'4" and 272 pounds.
Garrett is strong enough to outmuscle offensive tackles and fast enough to beat them around the edge. He was a bit too reliant on his physical tools in college, which is understandable from his perspective given the results.
Even though Garrett will need to work on his technique, he could have a Joey Bosa-type impact as a rookie in 2017.