The 2017 NFL draft is less than a month away, and the first-round picture is beginning to come into focus. But many teams still have some tough decisions to make on some of the more controversial prospects in this year's draft class.
While there are plenty of elite talents waiting to begin their NFL careers, inevitably some of these college stars will turn into busts at the NFL level.
The boom-or-bust prospects are often the best storylines on draft day. While they have the potential to develop into future stars, they also possess the power to get general managers and coaches fired. Following this updated mock draft, here's a look at a few of the most volatile prospects in this year's class and where they could land on draft day.
|NFL Mock Draft|
|1||Cleveland Browns||Myles Garrett||DE||Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Solomon Thomas||DL||Stanford|
|3||Chicago Bears||Jamal Adams||S||LSU|
|4||Jacksonville Jaguars||Leonard Fournette||RB||LSU|
|5||Tennessee Titans (via LAR)||Marshon Lattimore||CB||Ohio State|
|6||New York Jets||O.J. Howard||TE||Alabama|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||Malik Hooker||FS||Ohio State|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Jonathan Allen||DT||Alabama|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Reuben Foster||LB||Alabama|
|10||Buffalo Bills||Mitchell Trubisky||QB||North Carolina|
|11||New Orleans Saints||Haason Reddick||LB||Temple|
|12||Cleveland Browns (via PHI)||Gareon Conley||CB||Ohio State|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||John Ross||WR||Washington|
|14||Philadelphia Eagles (via MIN)||Derek Barnett||DE||Tennessee|
|15||Indianapolis Colts||Ryan Ramczyk||OT||Wisconsin|
|16||Baltimore Ravens||Mike Williams||WR||Clemson|
|17||Washington Redskins||Malik McDowell||DL||Michigan State|
|18||Tennessee Titans||Forrest Lamp||OL||W. Kentucky|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Corey Davis||WR||W. Michigan|
|20||Denver Broncos||Garett Bolles||OT||Utah|
|21||Detroit Lions||Taco Charlton||DE||Michigan|
|22||Miami Dolphins||David Njoku||TE||Miami FL|
|23||New York Giants||Charles Harris||DE||Missouri|
|24||Oakland Raiders||Tre'Davious White||CB||LSU|
|25||Houston Texans||Deshaun Watson||QB||Clemson|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Cam Robinson||OT||Alabama|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs||Patrick Mahomes||QB||Texas Tech|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Takkarist McKinley||LB||UCLA|
|29||Green Bay Packers||Kevin King||CB||Washington|
|30||Pittsburgh Steelers||Tyus Bowser||LB||Houston|
|31||Atlanta Falcons||Chidobe Awuzie||CB||Colorado|
|32||New Orleans Saints||Marlon Humphrey||CB||Alabama|
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Due to the fact that Mitchell Trubisky has just one year of starting experience, it's easy to understand why many scouts are skeptical about his ability to make a smooth transition to the NFL.
Pro Football Focus also mentions Trubisky's "poor blitz recogition" skills as another question he'll have to answer at the NFL level. And if he's thrown into the fire early in his career, that could be an issue that stunts his growth.
However, a team such as the Buffalo Bills—who have a Tyrod Taylor already in place as the short-term starter—could take a chance on Trubisky and bring him along slowly. If Trubisky is able to spend the majority of his first season acclimating to the NFL from the bench, he could benefit substantially in the long run.
Allowing a quarterback to learn from the sidelines during his rookie year doesn't guarantee long-term success—Johnny Manziel is a recent example that didn't work out. But there are a number of high-profile quarterbacks, such as Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer, who benefited from being brought along slowly in the NFL.
Given Trubisky's inexperience, managing his playing time may be even more critical than with the average prospect, and it could be the determining factor in whether or not he turns into a bust.
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell may be the most talented player in this draft class not named Myles Garrett. Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar is among those on the McDowell bandwagon:
But due to some off-field questions, few experts are expecting McDowell to be among the first players off the draft board. In fact, ESPN.com's Mel Kiper Jr. didn't even include McDowell in his most recent mock draft.
According to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, an NFL scout raised this concern about McDowell: "He's just a little lazy, and I worry about whether he is going to be a self-starter."
There's little margin for error in the NFL, and the difference between a Pro Bowler and a bust can sometimes all boil down to effort. So each team considering McDowell will need to thoroughly investigate his background and determine if he's going to work hard to reach his ceiling in the pros.
McDowell's versatility would fit in well with the Washington Redskins' defensive scheme. His ability to create penetration from multiple spots on the defensive line could allow Washington to use him creatively and make him an instant-impact player in 2017.
David Njoku, TE, Miami FL
Trubisky gets the most attention for his inexperience, but David Njoku enters the NFL in a similar situation. The redshirt-sophomore made just nine starts during his brief career with the Miami Hurricanes and will be one of the most unproven players available in the upcoming draft.
Due to his remarkable athleticism, however, Njoku is a viable first-round pick and could even make an immediate impact as a situational weapon in the NFL.
The Miami Dolphins could be an ideal landing spot for Njoku and a place where he could contribute without being relied upon as a go-to weapon in the offense early in his career.
The Dolphins recently traded for veteran tight end Julius Thomas, another ultra-athletic tight end who struggled during his two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Njoku has similar skill set and could benefit from playing behind a tight end like Thomas early in his career.