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2017 NFL Draft: Shakin’ The Tree...

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Teams are going to make a move on Draft Day to land these special players...

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pre-draft disinformation is part of the annual dance leading up to the NFL Draft. Like myths and legends, it’s said there’s a smidgen of truth to be found if you’re willing to slice through the analyst filled jungle. Invariably, there will be a couple “shocking” rises and falls among highly touted players in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. It’s a given, right? Rumors will sprout up minutes before the draft begins, and a pre-draft top 10 talent will suddenly go into a free fall as he sits in the green room just off stage with family and friends. Agents will work their phones, vehemently denying his client had an inappropriate relationship with a sock puppet, or that it was really a long lost twin brother who appeared in that YouTube video splashing and trending in social media... You get the idea, eh?

Tossing all the muck aside, there are a few players who I believe hold that rare transcendent talent NFL teams covet. I’m not going to re-hash the Myles Garrett-s, and quarterback pretenders, everyone has their collective eyes locked onto. The real meat in this draft (or in Brandon Bate’s case: Kale), is what’s going to move the interest needle in the 2017 NFL Draft. For those who know me, and my infamous Mock Drafting prowess, you know that I’m only wrong on days that end in the letter “Y”, so pay attention!

Brandon Bate’s secret fishing trick...

... Alabama’s O.J. Howard is “The Guy” to watch in the first round of the NFL Draft. Not only will a few teams be working to find a way to move up so they snag him in the top 15 picks, he may very well be the top offensive talent in this entire draft class. A strong NFL Combine - topped off with outstanding college film and personal character assessments - has put Howard in in that odd “Move along, there’s nothing to see here...” quiet zone NFL GMs slide players they hope others will overlook. It’s not going to happen!

I see Howard coming off the board as high as pick 7 or 8 in the first round. In fact, don’t be surprised if Cleveland uses their uber-hoard of draft picks to move up from pick 12. Chicago, Jacksonville, Tennessee and the New York Jets are all in need of a game changing tight end...

... Leonard Fournette is not going to make it out of the top ten picks. While many seem to be leaning toward Florida State’s Davin Cook, his ability to secure the ball in college is troubling...

Fournette is a running back that’s going to take heat off any marginal quarterback. A small injury history doesn’t budge my needle. Think of him as a more talented Jordan Howard, who went in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears. The LSU star would be a perfect fit in Minnesota, but the odds of them getting back into the first round high enough to snag him are long indeed. Carolina isn’t going to look away at #8, so I believe he’ll be a Panther in 2017...

... Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers has the Pittsburgh Steelers written all over him. It’s very possible he’ll last until the Steelers pick at #30 overall, but I doubt it. Don’t be shocked if we hear Pittsburgh tried to make a move up for Peppers. He doesn’t have those Polumalu locks we all came to know so well during the future Hall of Famer’s career, but the similarities are there enough to make the Steelers twitch. He won’t make it past the Dallas Cowboys at #28, and could go as high as #13 overall to Arizona...

... A draft day wallflower, you say? You know, the player who garnered loads of hype leading up to the draft, then slide mysteriously out of the first round... Well, how about the previously mentioned Davin Cook. Look, I get he has some decent highlight reels, but don’t discount those 13 careers fumbles, or the off field stuff. Yes, charges were dropped, but have a look at them...

Now throw million of $$$ his way, and put him in a city like New York, or Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas?). I’m just sayin’... Teams will be crawling through his past leading up to the NFL Draft. The odds they’ll find something swept under the proverbial rug are fairly good. Remember, it took only innuendo to see Dallas’ La’el Collins drop completely off the Draft day map in 2015... NFL teams are soooo image conscious, are they?

The NFL Draft is an exciting time for fans. Sussing out just what will happen when Commissioner Rodger Goodell steps on the stage in Philadelphia - April 27th - is anyone’s guess...