2017 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Rising Impact Prospects

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 03: Running back Christian McCaffrey of Stanford carries the ball during a drill on day three of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 3, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After pro days and predraft workouts, personnel executives start buzzing about who they like and which prospects helped themselves late in the evaluation process. Whether it’s real or fabricated, perceived rising draft stocks create intriguing dialogue leading up to April 27.

In-person workouts can either confirm what’s seen on college film or bring weaknesses to light. For one prospect in particular, the NFL Scouting Combine and subsequent visits have certainly boosted his draft stock. Who’s the new name within the top 10 picks?

In rebuild mode, the San Francisco 49ers can address a number of positions with the No. 2 overall selection. Three draft gurus have a consensus agreement on the projected pick. Should we consider this a definitive behind edge-rusher Myles Garrett?

Despite mediocre grades for this year’s quarterback class, a fourth passer has crept into first-round projections. Who is it? Which team might be interested in him?

NFL Mock Draft—Round 1
1Cleveland BrownsMyles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersSolomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
3Chicago BearsJonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
4Jacksonville JaguarsRyan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
5Tennessee Titans (via Rams)Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
6New York JetsChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
7Los Angeles ChargersJamal Adams, S, LSU
8Carolina PanthersLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU
9Cincinnati BengalsMarshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
10Buffalo BillsCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
11New Orleans SaintsDerek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
12Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
13Arizona CardinalsGareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
14Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
15Indianapolis ColtsReuben Foster, LB, Alabama
16Baltimore RavensMike Williams, WR, Clemson
17Washington RedskinsDalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
18Tennessee TitansJabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersGarett Bolles, OT, Utah
20Denver BroncosO.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
21Detroit LionsZach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
22Miami DolphinsTaco Charlton, DE, Michigan
23New York GiantsMalik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
24Oakland RaidersHaason Reddick, LB, Temple
25Houston TexansMitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
26Seattle SeahawksTeez Tabor, CB, Florida
27Kansas City ChiefsMarlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
28Dallas CowboysTre'Davious White, CB, LSU
29Green Bay PackersCordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
30Pittsburgh SteelersJohn Ross, WR, Washington
31Atlanta FalconsEvan Engram, TE, Mississippi
32New Orleans SaintsPatrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Draft order via NFL.com


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Is Solomon Thomas Sure-Fire No. 2 Pick?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 05: Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas of Stanford in action during day five of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, as well as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, have Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas penciled into the No. 2 spot. Maybe it’s a coincidence or the fact that none of the quarterbacks have a high enough grade to warrant the second overall pick.

According to CSN Bay Area reporter Matt Maiocco, the 49ers will operate under a new defensive alignment under Robert Saleh. In the report, general manager John Lynch feels Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner will adjust to the new system in place. The roles remain unclear, but the two 6’7” linemen may shift inside, which would indicate Thomas lining up on the outside.

At 6’3”, 273 pounds with 33-inch arms, it’s not clear where the Stanford product fits best between a 3-4 and 4-3 alignment. One AFC scouting director told NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein that Solomon projects as a productive tweener:

"He's damn good. I don't think he gets drafted as early as you do because he's not big enough for inside, and he's not as long as you like on the outside," said the scouting director. "You have to figure out where you will play him, but he won't stop. He's going to be really productive."

As the 49ers transition from a 3-4 scheme, the decision to add Solomon would stockpile three top-20 picks along the defensive line. San Francisco may not have a clear-cut quarterback for the future in place, but the decision to go with a defender at No. 2 would keep the team in games with a competitive front line.

Christian McCaffrey Reaching Top-10 Status

While everyone talked about LSU tailback Leonard Fournette and his weight, running back Christian McCaffrey climbed into top-10 status among discussion circles, per NFL executives via FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager:

Peter Schrager @PSchrags

Here's one for Wednesday night. Heard from multiple front office execs over last few days. Feeling is now Christian McCaffery goes Top 10.

According to Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue, the Carolina Panthers hosted the Stanford product for a predraft workout. In the same report, it’s noted Fournette will visit in the following week. 

Initially, Fournette and Florida State running back Dalvin Cook projected as the one-two order for this year’s running back class. Now, McCaffrey has generated enough buzz to potentially come off the board at No. 8 with the Panthers. Don’t forget the New York Jets hold the No. 6 selection with a 31-year-old tailback leading their backfield in Matt Forte

While the quarterback crop doesn’t look as impressive, two running backs could be selected within the top eight picks. Whether it’s Fournette then McCaffrey or vice versa, the latter offers a more reliable skill set as a receiver out of the backfield.

Patrick Mahomes Rising to First Round? 

After all the talk about a lackluster quarterback class, a fourth passer has emerged as a first-round option over the past few weeks. Miller, Kiper and McShay projected Texas Tech prospect Patrick Mahomes as a Day 1 selection:

Patrick Mahomes Draft Predictions as of April 8
Mel Kiper Jr.No. 13Arizona Cardinals
Matt MillerNo. 25Houston Texans
Todd McShayNo. 32New Orleans Saints
ESPN.com, Bleacherreport.com

Houston Chronicle reporter John McClain foresees the Houston Texans taking a quarterback with the No. 25 overall pick. Interestingly, he believes the team could miss out on Mahomes:

John McClain @McClain_on_NFL

I believe if Watson, Trubisky or Mahomes is available when the Texans pick 25th, they'll definitely take one.

John McClain @McClain_on_NFL

I'd like to see the Texans draft Patrick Mahomes, but his stock is soaring, and I don't think he'll be available when they pick 25th.

The Texans listed as a primary landing spot for Tony Romo, per NFL Network's Jeff Darlington, but he decided to hang up his cleats for a CBS broadcasting career:

Tony Romo @tonyromo

I guess it's time to start dressing up. #CBS https://t.co/GseSRiyNOo

Instead of signing veteran signal-callers like Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick, the Texans may start the process over at quarterback with Tom Savage holding the position in the meantime. 

In disagreement with McClain, despite Mahomes’ soaring stock, teams may opt to draft quarterbacks who are not quite ready to start in the second round. As a result, the Texas Tech passer along with Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer or Mitchell Trubisky should be available late in the first round. 

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