NFL draft 2017 late risers: Gareon Conley, Patrick Mahomes, Charles Harris and other prospects on the move
The 2017 NFL draft is within reach, bringing an end to rampant speculation and the beginning of actual picks that move NFL teams — and the offseason schedule — in the right direction. Smoke and mirrors are in full effect now as teams leak bad information and play head games, leading to confusion between what’s real and fake news.
One of those hard-to-interpret issues is the idea of players taking momentum into the draft. These are guys whose game might remain a secret through the run-up to the draft, who explode onto the scene at the NFL combine or have highlight film that isn’t appreciated until it’s studied further. In the latter case, sometimes NFL draft analysts are just catching up with scouts and executives in their draft prep.
Whether publicly or behind the scenes, prospect rankings for the NFL draft do evolve continuously until the picks start flying off the board. Sometimes, the reality of position depth doesn’t hit until closer to the draft, which can shift values for elite players at those positions in the final hours. The offensive line crop in the 2013 NFL draft is a good example as three tackles went off the board in the first four picks.
The quarterback position, of course, is a wild card in most drafts, but particularly this one. Not one prospect in this class, highlighted by North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, falls in the elite category, but teams will stumble over themselves to draft one anyway. Trade activity has a chance to influence the sequence of the top 15 picks and put urgency on other teams to reach later.
Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes and California’s Davis Webb are two players who could benefit from a late run on quarterbacks. They could also be tantalizing options early in Round 2. Both arrive at this point with their share of red flags, but they also have legitimate NFL skills that could be unearthed with the right coaching touch. Every franchise would like to believe it has the ability to cultivate that type of talent.
Real news events can also cause a ripple effect in the draft, much like Monday’s news that Michigan safety/linebacker Jabrill Peppers failed a drug test at the NFL combine because of a diluted sample.
On the surface, that news could bump Peppers out of the first-round mix entirely. And if so, the scarcity dynamic at the safety position could change to the benefit of fringe first-rounders such as NC State’s Josh Jones or Washington’s Budda Baker. Or maybe it couldn’t. The NFL draft is impossible to predict given its inherent misdirection.
Below is an attempt to identify 10 players with a shot to go higher than many NFL draft pundits suggest. But before we get there, be sure to know the very basics of the 2017 NFL draft, including the dates, times and how to watch it.
Dates: Thursday-Saturday, April 27-29, 2017
Thursday, April 27: Round 1, 8 p.m.
Friday, April 28: Rounds 2 and 3, 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 29: Rounds 4-7, Noon
Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
Television: ESPN and NFL Network
Live stream: Watch ESPN