2017 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Stock Watch for Hyped Prospects

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2017

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 12: Running back Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal runs in for a touchdown during the first quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The wait for the 2017 NFL draft is nearly over as Philadelphia becomes the center of the NFL universe for the next few days ahead of the first round Thursday.

As scouts and draft experts have pored over hours of game film and interviewed the incoming crop of rookies, the player rankings have undergone numerous changes over the past few months. In retrospect, projecting DeShone Kizer to be a top-10 pick may not have been the best of decisions.

Below is a mock for the first round followed by a stock report for four stars who are likely to be first-round prospects.

Mock Draft

First-Round Mock Draft
1Cleveland BrownsMyles Garrett, DETexas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersSolomon Thomas, DEStanford
3Chicago BearsJonathan Allen, DEAlabama
4Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Fournette, RBLSU
5Tennessee Titans (from Rams)Marshon Lattimore, CBOhio State
6New York JetsJamal Adams, SLSU
7Los Angeles ChargersMalik Hooker, SOhio State
8Carolina PanthersChristian McCaffrey, RBStanford
9Cincinnati BengalsReuben Foster, LBAlabama
10Buffalo BillsMitchell Trubisky, QBNorth Carolina
11New Orleans SaintsTeez Tabor, CBFlorida
12Cleveland Browns (from Eagles)Deshaun Watson, QBClemson
13Arizona CardinalsMike Williams, WRClemson
14Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings)Dalvin Cook, RBFlorida State
15Indianapolis ColtsDerek Barnett, DETennessee
16Baltimore RavensCorey Davis, WRWestern Michigan
17Washington RedskinsHaason Reddick, LBTemple
18Tennessee TitansO.J. Howard, TEAlabama
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersJohn Ross, WRWashington
20Denver BroncosRyan Ramczyk, OTWisconsin
21Detroit LionsCharles Harris, DEMissouri
22Miami DolphinsDavid Njoku, TEMiami
23New York GiantsGarett Bolles, OTUtah
24Oakland RaidersSidney Jones, CBWashington
25Houston TexansCam Robinson, OTAlabama
26Seattle SeahawksJabrill Peppers, SMichigan
27Kansas City ChiefsPatrick Mahomes, QBTexas Tech
28Dallas CowboysGareon Conley, CBOhio State
29Green Bay PackersQuincy Wilson, CBFlorida
30Pittsburgh SteelersBudda Baker, SWashington
31Atlanta FalconsZach Cunningham, LBVanderbilt
32New Orleans SaintsTre'Davious White, CBLSU
Draft order via NFL.com

Stock Watch

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 29:  Myles Garrett #15 of the Texas A&M Aggies leaves the field following a victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 56th annual Autozone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on December 29, 2014 in Memphis, Tenne
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Myles Garrett has been the consensus top player in this year's draft for months, and little has changed despite him facing an increased level of scrutiny following the end of the 2016 season.

ESPN.com's Adam Schefter reported April 13 the Cleveland Browns were considering both Garrett and Mitchell Trubisky with the first overall pick.

While the Browns are likely covering all of their bases in terms of player scouting, they may be throwing out Trubisky as an option in order to drive trade interest in the No. 1 selection. Last year, Cleveland received five picks from the Philadelphia Eagles in return for the second overall selection.

As Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski argued, it's not as if taking Trubisky with the first pick is the only path for the Browns to get a talented quarterback in the first round:

Brent Sobleski @brentsobleski

The Browns own enough draft capital to land Garrett AND a top QB prospect. It doesn't have to be an either/or situation.

Cleveland is in a position where its first selection shouldn't be solely about addressing an area of need such as quarterback. Instead, the Browns can take the best player available—Garrett—and worry about need later.

Draft Stock: Holding Strong

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 05:  Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in action against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the game at Kenan Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Imag
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Whereas Trubisky appeared to be a logical option for the San Francisco 49ers with the second pick, the chances of him landing in the Bay Area are looking increasingly unlikely.

Instead, Trubisky may slip more toward the back end of the top 10, and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller wrote April 14 the Browns may even be able to select the North Carolina Tar Heels star with the 12th pick.

Trubisky threw for 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns in his only season as North Carolina's starter. He also had an encouraging NFL Scouting Combine, running the fourth-fastest 40-yard dash (4.67 seconds) among quarterbacks.

His lack of experience as a starter at the FBS level is slightly concerning, a point that has been thoroughly dissected already.

Trubisky will still likely be the first quarterback off the board on Day 1, but the hype around his potential appears to be cooling a little bit.

Draft Stock: Dropping Slightly

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Kick returner Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal rushes against the Washington Huskies on September 30, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

There's no arguing with Christian McCaffrey's numbers in his last two years with the Stanford Cardinal. He ran for 3,622 yards and 21 touchdowns and caught 82 passes for 955 yards and eight touchdowns. The 20-year-old also boasts an impressive pedigree as the son of 13-year NFL veteran Ed McCaffrey.

Reggie Bush is one of the bigger cautionary tales in terms of a versatile, athletic running back who electrified college fans but failed to replicate that success in the NFL.

It is worth noting that McCaffrey has proved himself to be much more of an every-down back than Bush did. Bush logged 343 carries in his final two seasons at USC before going to the NFL compared to 590 for McCaffrey.

Shortly after the 2016 season concluded, McCaffrey looked like a mid-to-late first-round pick. In recent weeks, however, he has skyrocketed into the top 10, according to Fox Sports' Peter Schrager.

If Leonard Fournette is off the board, the running back-needy Carolina Panthers would be a nice home for the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up.

Draft Stock: Rising

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 3: O.J. Howard #88 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts  at the Tide take on the USC Trojans in the second half during the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Image
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Strictly in terms of offensive style and the team's general game plan, O.J. Howard didn't exactly make a great decision when he committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide. With the exception of a small handful of games, head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin rarely showed they could maximize Howard's talent and athleticism.

Of course, Howard won a national championship with the Crimson Tide, and he's a lock to be a first-round pick in the draft, so everything worked out pretty well.

Howard fits the profile of what NFL teams expect from their tight ends in today's game. He stands 6'6", weighs 251 pounds and ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the combine.

In January, Miller called Howard "the best blocking tight end I saw this year," which allays some fears he'll be another Julius Thomas or Jimmy Graham, whose collective inability to block has held them back to a certain extent in the NFL.

As the top tight end in this year's draft, Howard could hear his name earlier than expected Thursday.

Draft Stock: Rising