2017 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Prospects in Danger of Falling

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 03: Offensive lineman Cam Robinson of Alabama looks on during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 3, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Every year on draft day, we ask ourselves, "How did this guy fall so far in the selection order?" Off-field matters or poor performances at the NFL Scouting Combine put prospects in this category.

General managers will attach a mental red flag to a player's name as a reminder to draft with caution. At times, the talent outweighs non-football related issues. For others, arrest records or poor interviews could drop the prospect off the board completely. 

Locker room culture plays a factor. A franchise with a strong-willed head coach and a close-knit veteran-laden roster may take a chance on a prospect with a troubled past. Whereas a general manager rebuilding a team from scratch will likely steer clear of incoming talents with character issues.

Last year, on draft day, Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil sat through a massive slide after an ill-timed video emerged via social media. In the short clip, he smoked a substance through a gas mask:

The standout Mississippi tackle went from the best non-quarterback asset in the 2016 draft to the No. 13 overall pick. It's unlikely we'll see something as bizarre on April 27, but players will fall for different reasons.

Who's in danger of waiting a little longer to hear their name called on Day 1 or Day 2?

NFL Mock Draft—Round 1
1Cleveland BrownsMyles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersSolomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
3Chicago BearsJonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
4Jacksonville JaguarsChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
5Tennessee Titans (via Rams)Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
6New York JetsJamal Adams, S, LSU
7Los Angeles ChargersMalik Hooker, S, Ohio State
8Carolina PanthersLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU
9Cincinnati BengalsReuben Foster, LB, Alabama
10Buffalo BillsMike Williams, WR, Clemson
11New Orleans SaintsDerek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
12Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
13Arizona CardinalsGareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
14Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
15Indianapolis ColtsMarlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
16Baltimore RavensCam Robinson, OT, Alabama
17Washington RedskinsJohn Ross, WR, Washington
18Tennessee TitansCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersRyan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
20Denver BroncosZach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
21Detroit LionsJarrad Davis, LB, Florida
22Miami DolphinsTaco Charlton, DE, Michigan
23New York GiantsO.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
24Oakland RaidersCaleb Brantley, DT, Florida
25Houston TexansMitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
26Seattle SeahawksChidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
27Kansas City ChiefsAlvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
28Dallas CowboysTre'Davious White, CB, LSU
29Green Bay PackersKevin, King, CB, Washington
30Pittsburgh SteelersJabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
31Atlanta FalconsMalik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
32New Orleans SaintsHaason Reddick, LB, Temple
Draft Order via NFL.com

DeShone Kizer Falling Due to Character Issues 

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26:  DeShone Kizer #14 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up before the game against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Initially, the Notre Dame quarterback listed within the top three at his position. However, character concerns hurt DeShone Kizer over the offseason. One AFC head coach cited diva qualities, per MMQB's Albert Breer.

"He's got the size, the arm talent and he's very bright," said one AFC head coach. "But there's a disconnect there. There are diva qualities there, and he seems to (overthink everything), like he's fighting who he is. And once the cycle starts, he can't get himself right."

The dings against Kizer's character didn't stop there. NFL execs weighed in, anonymously, and seem to favor more coachable prospects at the position, per CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora:

"Kizer might just slip out of the round entirely with execs not sold on his attitude and maturity, while [Davis] Webb continues to generate a groundswell of support. It could end up becoming much closer between those two than most would have expected back in September," said La Canfora.

For what it's worth, Mike Mayock, a well-respected draft analyst, dropped Kizer from No. 1 to No. 4 among quarterbacks in the evaluation process. Above all, it doesn't help that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said his former starting signal-caller should've stayed in school, per Indianapolis Star reporter Laken Litman.

The consensus doesn't look good for the Notre Dame passer. With all the negative assessments of his psyche and non-readiness to compete in the NFL, he'll fall into mid-second-round territory.


Cam Robinson's Pass Protection Issues, Off-Field Questions 

In February, Cam Robinson ranked as the best offensive tackle within the incoming crop with a chance to become a top-10 pick. After digging through his background and college film for two months, CBS Sports projects him as a late first-round selection. 

One unnamed scout questioned Robinson's ability to protect the passer, his penchant for drawing flags and off-field question marks, per Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Bob McGinn.

"Whiffed frequently in pass protection and had too many penalties. Arms measured 35.5. Very, very erratic," said the scout. "Off the field is a little bit of a question mark, too."

According to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, authorities arrested Robinson and a teammate with marijuana and a stolen gun in their possession.

NFL.com's Kimberly Jones reported the Alabama offensive tackle interviewed well. He likely helped his draft stock in the character area.

Still, the concerns about his perimeter protection may force him to move over to right tackle or guard, despite his extensive experience at left tackle. If general managers feel Wisconsin product Ryan Ramczyk and Utah prospect Garett Bolles project as better fits at left tackle, both may leapfrog Robinson on draft day.


Derek Barnett's Lackluster Offseason

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Derek Barnett #9 of the Tennessee Volunteers looks on against the Florida Gators during the game at Neyland Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee defeated Florida 38-28. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Based solely on production and college film, Tennessee pass-rusher Derek Barnett should be a top-10 pick. He racked up 32 sacks and 52 tackles for a loss in three years for the Volunteers.

Barnett went through a disappointing evaluation process. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, he had an illness while preparing for the combine and ran a 4.88 40-time:

Unfortunately, he didn't have an opportunity to improve on the underwhelming performance at his pro day due to a strained hamstring, per Schefter.

Prospects want to show their best to team representatives, and Barnett didn't scratch the surface during his workouts or on the practice field. It's difficult to argue against production, but first impressions also hold weight in the draft evaluation process.

Scouts may commend the Tennessee pass-rusher for fighting through an ailment and an injury, or he may drop behind other prospects who impressed over the past two months. Though, among the three incoming talents on this list, Barnett is the least likely to fall dramatically in the draft order. His collegiate production should keep him within the top 20 picks.

Stats provided by Sports Reference and Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.


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