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2017 NFL draft preview

Too soon? Too bad. Here is a really early look at some interesting players for the 2017 draft.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I am a little bit mad that I already saw at least one writer put out a 2017 draft preview. So I can't be first, but I think my list will be better. In no particular order....
I watched a fair amount of Florida tape last year studying (mostly) Jon Bullard, and Gator inside linebacker Jarrad Davis flashed almost every single game. This guy has unbelievable speed, he knows how to get under much bigger players chins and win the leverage battle (kinda like Kam Chancellor), and he's had a very productive Junior year (98 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 4 PBU, 1 INT, 1 FF). Listed at 6'2"/230, he's also a great size for the modern NFL linebacker. Davis is #40 for Florida in this tape vs Alabama:

I feel like I've been waiting on Brandon Facyson for a long time. This 6'2"/196lb corner redshirted in 2012, started nine games as a rFR in 2013 and was named to some postseason all-freshman teams, was hurt and only played in 3 games in 2014, and then in 2015 played a full 13 games, recording 10 PBU. This is not a finished product...he needs to tighten up his technique and improve his tackling, but his cover skills are really good.

This next DB I've only been watching for a matter of weeks, but I have the feeling he'd quickly rise draft boards if he declares early. Jaleel Wadood will be a starting Junior safety for UCLA in 2016. He posted 72 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 4 PBU, and 2 INT in 2015. Dude is listed at 5'10"/175lbs, and filling out will be something he needs to work on, but we've seen guys like Honey Badger make it work at that size. Wadood is the definition of "flying to the ball" and brings surprising pop when he gets there. He is #2 for the Bruins...note how he plays the jetsweep about 3:20:

This next player might be my favorite 2017 name currently. And that's saying a lot when he's a RB in an expected awesome RB class. Now, I'm not under any illusions that he will be a Seahawk. A) they just drafted 3. B) he's a little smaller than the profile of a Seahawk RB at 5'10"/205. C) there might be some redflags with a foot injury that cut his 2015 season short after only 2 games, and then a DWI in the offseason. But his gritty, physical running style is exactly my jam. His balance is insane, and his strength is surprising for his size.

The other position (after RB) that 2017 looks to be richest at is Edge rusher. One guy that I'm personally intrigued by early is Missouri's Charles Harris. Harris is a late arrival to football, after spending more time as a kid playing basketball, but there are tools here. The projection is a bit like Ziggy Ansah, to me. At 6'3"/255, Harris has that good Leo size, and may end up at 260-265 by draft time. In 2015 he posted okay sack numbers (7.0 in 12 games), but with 18.5 TFL and another 10 QBH, he showed an ability to contibute all game in the backfield. His build and movement remind me of Cliff, and Charles has all the charm of Clem (same number, too), but I kinda dig that edge in an Edge.

The position group you haven't heard that 2017 could be stacked at is WR. It will depend a bit on underclass declares, but my cursory study tells me things will be up at WR from 2016.
A name many are anticipating at WR is Clemson's Mike Williams. That school has become WR-U the last 4-5 years, and after missing almost the entire 2015 season with a neck injury, Williams should be ready week 1 of 2016. He's 6'4"/210 and put up 1000 yards in his sophomore campaign.
Another big WR, but much less touted, is Northern Illinois' Kenny Golladay. 6'4"/213, he put up 73/1129 with 10 TD's last year. Moves well for a big man, hands seem good, and he has speed to run away from DB's.

I've been studying Fred Ross for a couple years now. After playing second fiddle to De'Runnya Wilson in 2014, Ross came out of 2015 as the clear #1 WR for Dak Prescott totallying 88 catches for 1007 yards and 5 TD. And a lot of his yardage comes from RAC, as Ross is primarily used as a screen pass target. He does occasionally show a concentration drop, but once the ball is in his hands, he's electric. Question is: can he be more OBJ or is his upside only Cordarelle?

The underclass WR that I'm most intrigued in now is Penn State's Chris Godwin. Godwin is 6'1"/208 and put together a 1000 yard true-sophomore season (16/1101/15.96ypc). Chris went for 100 yards in five of his final seven games. I really like his hands, and he always seems to get open at the last moment. #12 for PSU:

And I'd be remiss to start off the 2017 draft season without writing about the best WR in the country. Well...statistically, he is. Scouting-wise, he's still very damn good. It's Cooper Kupp from EWU. His 1642 receiving yards were more than everyone in the FBS last year, and over the course of 3 years Coop has posted 3 consecutive 1400 yard seasons (4764 total), and an astounding 56 touchdowns. If he stays on average, he will leave EWU with 6300 yards and 75 touchdowns for his career. That's insane. Detractors will question his level of competition, but the genius of Kupp is that in his last 2 meetings with Pac12 competition, he posted lines of 15/246/3 TD vs Oregon, and 8/145/3 TD vs Washington. The tape holds up. Grit, aggression, technique...there is so much goodness in there.

Well, I haven't gotten to the trenches yet, but this is probably enough for now.