We’ve got one week to the 2017 NFL Draft.
Lacking a first-round pick this year, there’s no certainty afforded the Los Angeles Rams. With their first pick coming at #37 overall, they’re going to be forced to wait and let the draft come to them.
So with that being the case, here are eight prospects headed into the draft that could change everything both ahead of #37 and beyond:
Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs
Right now, the top tier of QB prospects consists of UNC QB Mitch Trubisky, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes. While they tend to fill out first rounds in most mocks, there’s a second tier of QBs led by Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer and Dobbs.
This morning on ESPN’s Mike and Mike, Draft Analyst Todd McShay suggested Dobbs could be a first-round pick. Forget being one of the smarter football players you’ll ever meet. He’s just smart period.
This weekend Dobbs will be competing at the height of his profession. No, not football. Aerospatial engineering:
Dobbs is part of an eight-student team participating in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Design/Build/Fly competition in Tucson, Arizona. The Tennessee engineers must design and build a lightweight model aircraft with folding wings that can carry three hockey pucks around three laps of a 3,000-foot flight course.
"We just got one of our prototypes to fly," Dobbs told B/R in late March, one week before his pro-day workout made waves among NFL evaluators. "That was great progress.
"We're finalizing our next prototype, then building our final plane from the data that we get."
And it’s not just talent between the ears. Dobbs helped rescue the program in Knoxville after a lengthy exodus from national attention. While the 2016 season didn’t live up to lofty expectations, Dobbs’ skill set was apparent as a dual-threat QB. Even if he doesn’t land in the first round, he could slide in to one of those first four selections in front of the Rams in the second.
LSU CB Tre’Davious White
Speed kills. Hell, it’s two-thirds of the name of our network’s SEC football blog.
White has it. Not the combine-ready, fake stance-built speed of a 40-yard dash. Not pro day speed. Game speed.
Is size an issue? Sure. Does he lack physicality? Yeah. Don’t matter.
By the middle of last season, teams were actively avoiding his side of the field. Throw in his annual punt return touchdown, and White is going to provide a multi-purpose spark to whatever team he joins. While not an NFL shutdown corner by any means as a prospect, he offers enough demand from his speed and acceleration to creep into the end of Round 1.
East Carolina WR Zay Jones
We’ve seen Jones mocked to the Rams a ton. It’s very easy to envision a scenario in which he comes off before the Rams are even on the clock.
Certainly, the top tier of WRs will determine how this position class develops into the end of Round 1. Clemson WR Mike Williams, Washington WR John Ross and Western Michigan WR Corey Davis occupy the top three slots on the position big board; if all three come off early in Round 1, that opens things up for Jones and the rest of hte next tier.
There might not be a more important position to track over the final dozen selections of the first round heading from Thursday night into Friday’s Rounds 2 and 3.
Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon
You’ve likely heard the stories by now. If not, here’s a quick timeline. Suffice to say, the incident was not handled well at Oklahoma. Now heading into the NFL, Mixon’s entire first chapter of his career will revolve around how he deals with the ignominy of his past.
Will a team be willing to spend an early pick on him knowing the media climate he’ll enter? He definitely said all the right things in an interview with MMQB back in early March. He’ll have to say them again. And again. And again.
And then he’ll have to hew to the old maxim that actions speak louder than words. The NFL will no doubt be listening.
Vanderbilt Commodores LB Zach Cunningham
Cunningham’s an example of one of the classic scouting conundra. Extremely talented player goes against top talent opposition surrounded by...welp. Go Vanderbilt. Had Cunningham taken one of his other offers out of high school to play at Auburn or Penn St. or Tennessee or UCLA, perhaps his trajectory would have been different.
As our QBKlass laid out in a scouting report back in January, he’s got a ridiculous skill set and the versatility to apply it at multiple positions at the linebacker level. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits somewhere in the middle of the first round.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fall well below the Rams at #37 either.
Florida CB Teez Tabor
Has any prospect fallen more since President’s Day?
Tabor was once bandied about as a potential top-10 pick. Now I’m seeing projections that slide him all the way down to Round 3.
If he’s a boom or bust prospect, will someone jump for the boom early?
Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman
I’ve heard from a ton of draftniks in the last two weeks who think Peterman is going to rocket up board in the closing stretch.
If Dobbs is the more popular name to join Kizer in discussions to come off after the first trio, I might consider Peterman the dark horse.
Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon
A physical freak that no fans know about because...he played at Villanova. Nobody watches Villanova football.
Which team will go in for the athleticism with the confidence that they can coach him up against a level of competition that he has yet to face? I wouldn’t be all that upset to put enroll him in Wade Phillips University. Otherwise, could he jump the Rams at 37 as a surprise pick? If not, he could certainly slide into the second round.
One week to the draft.
Who are some prospects you think could shake up the conventional wisdom from the end of the first to the early third round? What players do you think shake things up and change the board for the Rams and the NFL as a whole?