Five 2017 NFL Draft Picks to Watch

The 2016 NCAA season is nearly upon us, and fans of the NFL Draft – as well as virtual General Managers – begin a new season of scouting the next generation of pro football superstars.

Here are five NCAA players who will draw attention at the top of the 2017 NFL Draft:

  1. DeShaun Watson, QB/Clemson – The consensus No. 1 pick among internet mock drafts, Watson boasts a strong arm and excellent touch. He, like many young QBs, suffers from bouts of poor accuracy and slow reads, but overall, he might have rated ahead of 2016’s first-overall pick Jared Goff if they entered the draft in the same year.

  2. Myles Garrett, OLB/Texas A&M – Could Garrett evolve into a first-overall selection? Some NFL Draft watchers love his ability to rush off the edge. At best, he’s a consensus Top 5 pick. At 6-5 and 262 pounds, Garrett’s frame projects as an every-down lineman. If you’re scouting him this season, monitor his performance against the run as his pass rushing skills remain well-documented.

  3. Brad Kaaya, QB/Miami – Kaaya’s season deserves close monitoring not only because of his role as a quarterback, but because it will determine if he’s a Top 5 draft choice. He’ll constantly face comparisons to Watson. At this stage, online mock drafts rate Kaaya all over the board – from the Top three to eighth overall. Pro Football Focus doesn’t even rate Kaaya as a first round pick!

  4. Leonard Fournette, RB/LSU – Like the QB position, fans love running backs, and Fournette looks to be the consensus runner in first round mock drafts. Fournette boasts speed, power and some shake-and-bake. One thing to watch: Can he improve his pass catching? An uptick in receiving yards could move him into the upper reaches of the draft.

  5. Tim Williams, LB-DE/Alabama – Williams opted to finish his career at Alabama this season even though scouts projected him as a first or second-rounder in 2016. Naysayers will point to his lean frame at 6-4, 235 as being undersized as a pure DE. But as Mike Mayock pointed out during this year’s draft, the NFL’s evolving into a league where special defensive packages appear on the field more often than conventional defenses. Players with the ability to compete in multiple roles offer great value and flexibility. Watch the video as Williams lines up on the left side of the ‘Bama defense and preys upon right tackles. QB’s see him coming and still can’t get out of the way!

Among the 2017 NFL Draft prospects that are already highly-regarded, but have “something to prove,” who will you be looking at this year? What do they need to show to validate their lofty pre-season status and get drafted in the top half of the first round?

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