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NFL Mock Draft 2017: 1st-Round Projections and Riskiest Prospects

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2017

AMES, IA – NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II #5 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders passes the ball in the first half of play against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. The Iowa State Cyclones won 66-10 over the Texas Tech Red Raiders. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images)
David K Purdy/Getty Images

Less than a week stands between 32 NFL franchises and the NFL draft, but some of this year's riskiest prospects figure to be on edge when the first night of the proceedings roll around Thursday. 

This year, that group includes a slew of signal-callers, several high-profile running backs and a former Heisman Trophy finalist whose best position in the NFL remains a mystery.

So, as the annual selection extravaganza inches closer, here's a fresh first-round mock draft complete with a focus on this year's most polarizing prospects:  

2017 NFL Mock Draft (Round 1)
PickTeamSelection
1Cleveland BrownsMyles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersSolomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
3Chicago BearsMarshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
4Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU
5Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams)Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
6New York JetsMitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
7Los Angeles ChargersJamal Adams, S, LSU
8Carolina PanthersChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
9Cincinnati BengalsReuben Foster, LB, Alabama
10Buffalo BillsMike Williams, WR, Clemson
11New Orleans SaintsGareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
12Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles)Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
13Arizona CardinalsPatrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
14Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings)Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
15Indianapolis ColtsGarett Bolles, OT, Utah
16Baltimore RavensO.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
17Washington RedskinsJonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
18Tennessee TitansCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersDalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
20Denver BroncosCam Robinson, OT, Alabama
21Detroit LionsTaco Charlton, EDGE, Michigan
22Miami DolphinsForrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
23New York GiantsRyan Ramczyk, OG, Wisconsin
24Oakland RaidersQuincy Wilson, CB, Florida
25Houston TexansDeshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
26Seattle SeahawksKevin King, CB, Washington
27Kansas City ChiefsJarrad Davis, LB, Florida
28Dallas CowboysChidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
29Green Bay PackersT.J. Watt, EDGE, Wisconsin
30Pittsburgh SteelersJabrill Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
31Atlanta FalconsCharles Harris, EDGE, Missouri
32New Orleans Saints (via New England Patriots)Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Author's Projections

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Patrick Mahomes' stock has been skyrocketing for weeks now, and it appears several first-round teams in need of future franchise quarterbacks have circled the Texas Tech gunslinger as a possible target.

Just take it from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, who pointed to the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs as interested parties: 

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Keep hearing the same about Cardinals and Chiefs. Mahomes is a hot property. https://t.co/1PLsdmJ1Uo

But despite his ascending profile, Mahomes remains something of a risk in the first round since he's coming from a quarterback-friendly Air Raid system at Texas Tech that masked some of his flaws.

Now, that's not completely fair to Mahomes considering he could only play within the confines of the scheme he was surrounded by, but the fact remains that he'll have to refine his approach from the pocket as he transitions to life at the next level. 

As The Ringer's Danny Kelly wrote: "Mahomes frequently makes off-balance throws and lets the ball fly from an awkward arm angle. Based on his college performance, we still have no idea if he'll be able to function within the constraints of an NFL offense."  

There's no doubting Mahomes' raw arm talent, but he'll need to polish his arsenal quite a bit in order to reach his potential if a team like Arizona tabs him to lead its offense for years to come. 

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Dalvin Cook is one of the most talented running backs in this year's class, but a flurry of red flags have cropped up regarding his long-term viability in the pros. 

First and foremost, there are the injury concerns. 

Not only was Cook bothered by hamstring injuries during his time with the Seminoles, he also underwent shoulder surgery a year ago—which represented the continuation of a troublesome trend. As Tomahawk Nation's David Visser noted at the time, Cook also had surgery on his front left labrum in high school and front right labrum in 2014. 

Cook also has a history of legal issues that could give prospective employers pause.

Although he's never been convicted of a crime, ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco noted Cook "was charged with criminal mischief in June 2014 after he was one of several players involved in an alleged shooting with a BB gun that caused property damage." 

Cook also received a citation in 2014 stemming from his mistreatment of three pit bull puppies that were chained together, according to Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples

Most recently, the 21-year-old was accused of punching a woman outside a bar. He was later found not guilty

With a litany of questions to answer regarding his ability to perform on the field and stay out of trouble off it, Cook could be in for an interesting draft night as action unfolds in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan

Jabrill Peppers is an athletic specimen. That much is clear. 

What's less apparent is where the former Michigan defensive hybrid is going to line up at the next level following stints at cornerback, safety and linebacker with the Wolverines.

As a result of that constant shuffle, Peppers remains rather devoid of polish.  

"He's raw when it comes to the intricacies of any one position," Miller wrote. "Peppers had just one college interception, and it came on a tipped ball. The team drafting Peppers must have an imagination to project him forward and patience to let him grow on the job."

However, it appears one team would be willing to roll the dice on Peppers' upside if he falls to the end of the first round. 

According to NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert "plans to pull the trigger on the best available cornerback or safety with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft." 

Furthermore, Kinkhabwala added Colbert "loves" Peppers. 

The Steelers have the developmental staff in place necessary to maximize Peppers' potential in time, but patience will have to be exercised when it comes to short-term performance as he adjusts to life in the NFL. 

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