2017 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Top Prospects on the Rise

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2017

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 15: Tyus Bowser #81 of the Houston Cougars in action against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the game at Nippert Stadium on September 15, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Houston defeated Cincinnati 40-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The 2017 NFL draft is right around corner, and yet there is still so much uncertainty surrounding the first round. 

Thursday's first round is sure to be filled with surprises, including a few slightly under-the-radar prospects coming off the board earlier than expected. 

It's tough to predict who these prospects will be, but there are a number of candidates who have been generating some serious buzz over the past few weeks. Following this updated mock draft, here's a look at three hot names who are likely to come off the board much higher than they were projected to go just a few weeks ago. 

2017 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 JetsMitchell TrubiskyQBNorth Carolina
7Los Angeles ChargersJonathan AllenDLAlabama
8Carolina PanthersChristian McCaffreyRBStanford
9Cincinnati BengalsDerek BarnettDETennessee
10Buffalo BillsO.J. HowardTEAlabama
11New Orleans SaintsReuben FosterLBAlabama
12Cleveland Browns (via PHI)Malik HookerFSOhio State
13Arizona CardinalsPatrick MahomesQBTexas Tech
14Philadelphia Eagles (via MIN)Marlon HumphreyCBAlabama
15Indianapolis ColtsCharles HarrisDEMissouri
16Baltimore RavensMike WilliamsWRClemson
17Washington RedskinsHaason ReddickLBTemple
18Tennessee TitansCorey DavisWRW. Michigan
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersDalvin CookRBFlorida State
20Denver BroncosRyan RamczykOTWisconsin
21Detroit LionsJarrad DavisLBFlorida
22Miami DolphinsTaco CharltonDEMichigan
23New York GiantsForrest LampOLW. Kentucky
24Oakland RaidersTyus BowserLBHouston
25Houston TexansDeshaun WatsonQBClemson
26Seattle SeahawksCam RobinsonOTAlabama
27Kansas City ChiefsTre'Davious WhiteCBLSU
28Dallas CowboysTakkarist McKinleyLBUCLA
29Green Bay PackersKevin KingCBWashington
30Pittsburgh SteelersJabrill PeppersSSMichigan
31Atlanta FalconsJordan WillisDEKansas State
32New Orleans SaintsJohn RossWRWashington

Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

COLUMBIA , MO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Charles Harris #91 of the Missouri Tigers lines up against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium on September 20, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

NFL teams are always looking to improve their pass rush, which often pushes one-dimensional players up the board. If you can get to the quarterback, the NFL wants you—even if you're lacking in other areas. 

Charles Harris is latest prospect who could benefit from that philosophy and is a candidate to rise into the top half of the first round based on his pass-rush ability alone. 

NFL.com's Lance Zierlein summed up Harris' weaknesses: "Found himself too easily engulfed by size this season. Gives ground on the edge and can be widened out of his run fit...Lacks desired glass-chewing mentality against the run."

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Despite those concerns, Harris gets after the quarterback with impressive consistency. According to Pro Football Focus, he generated a sack, hit or hurry once every six pass-rush snaps in 2016. 

The Indianapolis Colts are another team who could be interested in Harris. In his latest mock draft, MMQB's Peter King described Colts general manager Chris Ballard as "desperate" for a pass-rusher with the 15th pick. If Harris is still on the board, he could fill that need. 

Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 28:  Tyus Bowser #5 of the South team  of the North team defends during the Reese's Senior Bowl at the Ladd-Peebles Stadium on January 28, 2017 in Mobile, Alabama.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Another pass-rusher on the rise is Houston's Tyus Bowser. While he's even more raw than Harris in terms of his fundamentals, Bowser's elite performance at the combine helped generate some buzz. 

While Bowser isn't rising due to his combine performance alone, his numbers caused many evaluators to go back to the tape and take a closer look. Due to limited reps in college, Bowser's production didn't generate much hype during the 2016 season, but his potential is obvious based on the splash plays he made at Houston. 

Pro Football Focus called Bowser "as raw as one could possibly be with four years of major college football under his belt," but they also praised his sack production despite limited pass-rush snaps. 

Bowser might not interest a team in the market for an immediate starter, but a team with a proven pass-rush such as the Oakland Raiders could target him for his value. Bowser could offer immediate production as a situational pass-rusher in Oakland while growing into a more prominent role down the road. 

Kevin King, CB, Washington

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 06: Defensive back Kevin King of Washington in action during day six of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 6, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

In recent years, we've seen teams target taller cornerbacks in an effort to mimic the Seattle Seahawks secondary. And 6'3" Kevin King could be the latest cornerback to benefit from this interest in developing corners with size. 

Early in the draft process, King was viewed as a first-round longshot, but he has steadily risen throughout the spring. A strong combine performance helped answer some concerns about his all-around athleticism, but King has also benefited from circumstances out of his control. 

Prospects who were solidly ahead of King on draft boards two months ago have been dropping like flies. Serious injuries caused King's college teammate Sidney Jones and UCLA's Fabian Moreau to drop out of first-round consideration. And now, according to TMZ Sports, Ohio State's Gareon Conley has been accused of rape and could fall on draft day if the situation isn't quickly resolved. 

With so many cornerbacks falling out of the first-round conversation, the next tier of prospects, including King, are entering the picture in the late first round. 

A contender desperate for help in the secondary, such as the Green Bay Packers, could take a chance on King late on Day 1. 

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