The 2017 NFL Draft is still months away, but we can already gauge pretty well who the top draft picks will be. So, we're not worrying about that anymore because it's becoming increasingly obvious who will and who will not get selected in the first round. Sure, some of the guys will fall and some will rise in the next couple months. But we’re confident that the guys who make this list will be a first round draft pick baring any major setbacks.
Each of these guys have been tremendous stars. Their football resumes coming out of college are stacked with successes. Getting drafted in the first round is a tremendous honor and it takes a lot of hard work to get here.
But not everyone taken in the first round will be stars during their first year. Actually, a lot of the guys who will be drafted in the first round will be lucky to string together enough success to see a full career in the NFL. But with this list, we’ll let you know the eight first rounders who will be stars by the end of their rookie season.
Like we've seen so many times in the past, there will be the rookie sensations that smoothly transition into the NFL. However, we will also see guys who were once at the top of their game in college, and will soon be riding the bench.
This list takes a look at both ends of the spectrum. We'll tell you which eight guys in the first round will be stars, and which seven guys will be benched come game day.
15 STAR: DESHAUN WATSON, QB
There’s going to be some competition for the top quarterback spot in the upcoming draft. Deshaun Watson played at Clemson and he’s topping a lot of team’s draft boards. However, the same could be said for North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky. They both could end up having successful and lengthy careers, but Watson is going to shine right away. Although both guys are capable of leading a franchise for years to come, Watson will be doing it by Week 1.
Watson has the capability for big time throws and will be a scoring force from Day 1. And his accuracy is compelling enough to have a few of teams that are guying to want to draft this guy in the first round. Watson’s last-minute win over Alabama for the national title was a good way to end his collegiate career, but he’s going to have many more shining moments as he stars in the NFL.
14 BENCHED: MITCH TRUBISKY, QB
This guy could be good in the NFL, but it’s not going to happen in his first year. The young quarterback has just one year collegiate experience as a starter. As much as he would like to prove the league wrong, there’s a long track record of quarterbacks who have failed in their first year (and most of those guys have a longer collegiate record of success).
Maybe Mitch Trubisky will get lucky and a team will draft him and keep him on the bench to learn and grow in his first season. But more likely, he’ll get tossed in too soon and end up getting benched before the season ends. Trubisky, who played high school football in the Cleveland-area, needs to hope the Browns don’t add him to the long list of first round failures as Cleveland has seemed to be a pit of despair for quarterbacks.
13 STAR: LEONARD FOURNETTE, RB
Leonard Fournette has the ability to shape an offense. Teams may begin looking at drafting around running backs after Fournette makes his mark in the league. He’s a rare talent when you account for his size and speed. Fournette would be a steal almost anywhere in the first draft, and a lot of teams are beginning to realize that.
Potential injuries are scary teams begin looking at Fournette’s long-term potential, but he’ll be a backfield star for at least a couple of years before injuries begin to take over. That’s mainly because Fournette has a shifty ability to make defenders miss. He forced 136 missed tackles in three seasons. Sure, that was college, but NFL defenders will struggle too the first few times they see Fournette.
12 BENCHED:MARSHON LATTIMORE, CB
A lot of scouts are looking at Marshon Lattimore as a guy who can lockdown the opposition. But he’s not going to be able to keep up with receivers as well as the scouts are expecting. At least not in his first year. Lattimore has the speed and quickness to keep up with receivers, but he’ll be seeing a whole new caliber of competition in the NFL. Although he saw some good competition playing for Ohio State, Lattimore started a full season just once. Just one full season as a starter will hurt Lattimore once he gets drafted.
Of course, a lot of front office guys are going to be watering at the mouth at the chance of adding Lattimore to their defense. Lattimore is going to be one of the more coveted defenders in this draft, but teams should be weary because Lattimore will be riding the bench in no time.
11 STAR: CAM ROBINSON, OT
Cam Robinson enters the draft as the top offensive line talent, though Ryan Ramczyk has skill. There is debate on where he will end up, but at this point he is no doubt a first round draft pick. Offensive linemen in the first round notoriously for years in the starting lineup more often than any other position. An O-linemen may be dreaded by the fans, who prefer seeing playmakers and decision makers drafted in the first round, but they can be a teams rock.
Robinson can be that base that whichever team drafts him can build on for years. Robinson proved himself as the left tackle at Alabama, and his powerful presence has the chance to transform the offensive front for many organizations. Robinson will be a tremendous protection force for any team who takes him in the first round.
10 BENCHED: MALIK HOOKER, S
Again, we have a one-year starter who is anticipated to get drafted high in the first round and who has started a full season just once as Ohio State’s safety. Malik Hooker just seems like he’ll get way too caught up in the atmosphere and a simple fake are juke will cause him to flat out miss the mark. He has struggled as a tackler in his time at Ohio State, which will be the biggest problem in the pros.
But no doubt, Hooker proved himself as the best safety and deep threat defender in collegiate football last season. Hooker was really fun to watch and the fans loved him. Some of that will transfer to the NFL. But he’s also going to have trouble his first year in the pros, and he will be riding the bench soon after seeing the field.
9 STAR: O. J. HOWARD, TE
There’s a few teams in the first round that will snag O.J. Howard if he’s still on the board. Tight ends aren’t always a good idea in the first round. But tight ends who have been drafted early are often reliable. In 2005, Heath Miller went to the Steelers; in 2006, Marcades Lewis became a Jaguar and in 2007, Greg Olsen was a first rounder. More recently, Tyler Eifert (2013) and Eric Ebron (2014) earned first-round honors. The list goes on. Tight ends can be considered highly reliable when they are deemed worthy to be selected in the first round.
We have no doubt that Howard will join that list of recent tight ends who have been successful in the league. In fact, there’s good odds Howard will put together a career that outmatches any of those guys. No matter what he does in the long-term, there’s no doubting the fact that he will be a star in his rookie season.
8 BENCHED: DAVID NJOKU, TE
David Njoku would need a team with a lot of offensive threats to draft him. Unlike O.J. Howard, Njoku doesn’t have the ability to jump in the NFL and be a threatening offensive target from Day 1. Njoku will need some time to grow and will be seeing the bench a lot during his first season. But he’s a former high school high jump champion, so we know NFL teams are going to expect this guy to get big when it counts most. Unfortunately, it’s more likely that Njoku will be seeing the bench more often in those scenarios during his first year. Howard and Njoku will both end up seeing their names called during the first round, but even if Njoku ends up on the field beside a talented crew, he won’t be there for long.
7 STAR: JAMAL ADAMS, S
Jamal Adams will likely be gone in one of the top five or 10 spots in the 2017 draft. No matter where he ends up, Adams will be tearing apart offenses and starring on the field almost immediately. Adams will rarely see the bench (partly because he’ll be drafted early on a struggling team, which will rely heavy on its defense).
Adams will prove worth of picking apart defenses with his mind and body by Day 1. He’ll lead in the locker room and on the field. Heck, it’ll be tough to tell he’s a rookie by the team the regular season starts. Adams has good instincts, which separates him from a draft class that displays a lot of defensive talent. His instincts will allow him to pick off passes or stop guys for a loss, he can really do anything on the field and will continue that trend in the NFL.
6 BENCHED: JABRILL PEPPERS, S
This guy has kept falling on draft boards because of his lack of production, but we have no doubt that Jabrill Peppers will see a spot near the bottom of the first round. Teams will like the dual-threat capabilities Peppers brings. He’s been a great collegiate defender and has proved he has the talent to be a return man in the league.
But that lack of production that has scared scouts will also scare coaches from putting Peppers onto the field. His size also will make things tougher for Peppers transition to the NFL . Once he begins taking aim at NFL-sized blockers, Peppers will start seeing more and more time on the bench. He had a good run at Michigan, but he will fail to see that trend continue in 2017.
5 STAR: COREY DAVIS, WR
The next two guys up on this list come from the wide receiver position. A lot can change depending on what caliber of quarterback their paired up with. But regardless of the quarterback dishing out the passes, Corey Davis will be a star. And Davis has the numbers to prove it from a very successful career at Western Michigan.
Davis is coming to the NFL with the tools needed to succeed. He’s a great rout runner and he’s got size. That combination makes him a tough guy to defend. And most fans could care less, but Davis’ blocking ability is what really separates him from the pack. With his talent and all-around skill, Davis will be a man showing up in Pro Bowls as early as next year.
4 BENCHED: MIKE WILLIAMS, WR
Mike Williams is a physical specimen who will no doubt be drafted high up based on his physical attributes. He’ll be able to use some of that physicality for initial success, but that can only take him so far in the NFL. By the end of his first season Williams will be seeing the bench more often than not.
Williams used his physicality in college too much and didn’t develop into the type of experienced route runner needed to be successful in the NFL. This is going to prevent Williams from getting the space needed to get any type of meaningful targets. After a couple of seasons, Williams will no doubt have a good chance of success in the NFL. But he’ll need to grow and learn on the bench before that can happen.
3 STAR: JONATHAN ALLEN, DT
Jonathan Allen will prove to be one of the biggest stars out of the 2017 draft class. The upcoming draft is bursting at the seams with defensive talent, and Allen is one of the most talented guys out there. He’s an absolute force against the run as well as the pass. His versatility makes him a top-5 draft pick and it will elevate him to star-status during his rookie season.
Allen’s versatility gives him the exact combination of skills to be able to attack the offense and get through blocks. It happened often in college at Alabama, and it will continue with whatever team is lucky enough to draft the young star. We have no doubt that this talent from Alabama will have no trouble in continuing his success in the NFL.
2 BENCHED: RYAN RAMCZYK, OT
Ryan Ramczyk is slated to become a first round draft pick, but that should concern fans of whatever team he ends up on. Ramczyk is about to be thrust into the NFL’s most physical position play after play, and his body might not be able to handle the work load. Sure, Ramczyk is quick and he’s a forceful blocking presence for any O-line.
But his hip surgery following Wisconsin’s bowl game raises a huge red flag. Again, Ramczyk is playing a position that involves tons of force every play, every game. Just the toll of the game is going to knock Ramczyk to the bench quicker than most of the rookies showing up on this list. Plus, Ramczyk has just one full year of major college experience on his resume.
1 STAR: MYLES GARRETT, DE
No matter where Myles Garrett ends up, even if it’s on the continually failing Cleveland Browns, Myles Garrett will be a star. Fans (and us) are dying for a new defensive superstar in the league. Garrett is the best talent available in the draft. Yeah, defensive ends have a tough time making an immediate impact out of college. But Garrett is extremely skilled. Although careers generally go to die with the Cleveland Browns, Garrett can finally be the guy who lifts the Browns to a winning season. And if he does go to Cleveland, that just gets him a bit closer and quicker to success. The comparisons to Jadeveon Clowney are relentless, but that’s not a bad guy to be compared to. Plus, Garrett seems like he has a good locker room presence and looks to be deadest on honing his game.
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