2017 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Boom or Bust Prospects

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2017

CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 26:  Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels throws against the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens during their game at Kenan Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 41-14.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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
1Cleveland BrownsMyles GarrettDETexas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersSolomon ThomasDLStanford
3Chicago BearsJamal AdamsSLSU
4Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard FournetteRBLSU
5Tennessee Titans (via LAR)Marshon LattimoreCBOhio State
6New York JetsO.J. HowardTEAlabama
7Los Angeles ChargersMalik HookerFSOhio State
8Carolina PanthersJonathan AllenDTAlabama
9Cincinnati BengalsReuben FosterLBAlabama
10Buffalo BillsMitchell TrubiskyQBNorth Carolina
11New Orleans SaintsHaason ReddickLBTemple
12Cleveland Browns (via PHI)Gareon ConleyCBOhio State
13Arizona CardinalsJohn RossWRWashington
14Philadelphia Eagles (via MIN)Derek BarnettDETennessee
15Indianapolis ColtsRyan RamczykOTWisconsin
16Baltimore RavensMike WilliamsWRClemson
17Washington RedskinsMalik McDowellDLMichigan State
18Tennessee TitansForrest LampOLW. Kentucky
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersCorey DavisWRW. Michigan
20Denver BroncosGarett BollesOTUtah
21Detroit LionsTaco CharltonDEMichigan
22Miami DolphinsDavid NjokuTEMiami FL
23New York GiantsCharles HarrisDEMissouri
24Oakland RaidersTre'Davious WhiteCBLSU
25Houston TexansDeshaun WatsonQBClemson
26Seattle SeahawksCam RobinsonOTAlabama
27Kansas City ChiefsPatrick MahomesQBTexas Tech
28Dallas CowboysTakkarist McKinleyLBUCLA
29Green Bay PackersKevin KingCBWashington
30Pittsburgh SteelersTyus BowserLBHouston
31Atlanta FalconsChidobe AwuzieCBColorado
32New Orleans SaintsMarlon HumphreyCBAlabama

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 18:  Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during their game at Kenan Stadium on October 18, 2014 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 48-43.  (Photo by Grant Hal
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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:

Doug Farrar @BR_DougFarrar

Watching more Malik McDowell tape this morning. I know there are issues, but man... this guy is a wrecking machine. Superhuman at times.

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

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: David Njoku #86 of the Miami Hurricanes has the ball go off his fingertip in the end zone against the Florida Atlantic Owls on September 10, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.Miami defeated Florida Atlan
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

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. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.