While NFL training camps will open shortly, college scouts still have several weeks to prepare to get out on the road. Camps on campus open their doors in early August and it is a good time for scouts to start game-planning for the months-long trips that they will be taken. With bags packed, itinerary set, they pat the dog on the head, tell the kids to behave and remind the wife to save them the drumstick on Thanksgiving.
Well, you the draft fans, only need to sit back in the comfort of your own home. All college season, The NFL Draft Report will be providing position analysis, player interviews, profiles and scouting reports, a look back at the draft’s history, extensive ratings and one of my favorites – introducing the unknown, unappreciated, underrated talent that my staff feel will become valuable performers in the NFL ranks.
Now, today, you will find the release of our preseason Offensive Draft Class. Inside are detailed information and reports on the draft-eligible players I feel you need to know about. That class includes red-shirt sophomores, juniors and seniors. You will not only receive position reports, but the ratings will provide you two different categories on each player – their projection based on the pro potential and their draft round value board grade.
In two weeks, The NFL Draft Report will be launching the complete Defensive Draft Class Report. While the defensive reports are "under construction," I will give those with "ants in their pants" a look at the info as we finalize each position before launching the entire Defensive Report.
Yes, the draft is quite a few months away, but a scout’s work is never done. With the air conditioner on "high" and a slew of game tapes littering the floor in the film room left in my wake, I will also be reporting from the road, once August camps commence. In the meantime, here is the link to the Offensive Draft Class Directory. Or, if you’d like, links to the position reports are provided below. For the "numbers" guys out there, at the bottom of this directory is a link to the offense’s overall grades, listing the top 860 players.
This position will have to hope that several high profile underclassmen decide to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. One of the league’s top scouting services did not have any senior signal-caller rated higher than a fourth round choice, but in this day and age where quarterbacks are taken earlier than their draft stock indicates, California’s Davis Webb might give that veteran group its best draft hope. Miami’s Brad Kaaya and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson could repeat last year’s draft, where two quarterbacks went in the first two picks. If you are a "long range" football fan, the best quarterback in any class could be sophomore sensation Josh Rosen, as the UCLA product is not eligible for the 2017 draft, but based on his debut performance, he could be the first player taken in 2018.
2017 Wide Receiver Draft Class
Much like UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, the best athlete at the wide receiver position is not eligible for the 2017 draft – Alabama true sophomore Calvin Ridley. However, many scouts would argue that the best athlete at this position is also a player who might be the best defensive back in the country – Southern California’s Adoree’ Jackson, who currently holds the second spot on our position ratings chart behind his teammate, JuJu Smith-Schuster. Much like Jackson, scouts see this talented receiver as also a viable draft candidate as a free safety. Four of the top spots on this chart are underclassmen, but at least eight prospects have strong chances for being selected in the opening round of the 2017 draft.
Unlike the quarterback and wide receiver positions, the senior crop rules this tight end draft class. Michigan’s Jake Butt heads a contingent of six Wolverines seniors that are among the top eight senior prospects on our overall ratings evaluation chart. He is expected to emerge as a late round one candidate, but he could face a challenge from Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges, if the junior opts to enter the 2017 draft, as expected. The enigma at this position is Alabama’s O.J. Howard, as scouts are now entering "Year Three" in their wait to see if the Tide five-star recruit could finally live up to that high school billing. Keep an eye on Jordan Leggett, as the Clemson Tiger could be the recipient of lots of passes from Heisman Trophy QB hopeful, Deshaun Watson.
Ah, the "Return of the Big BacK" is upon us folks, led by Louisiana State sensation, Leonard Fournette. The top offensive player on our ratings board, the Tiger will possibly see a challenge mounted for that honor, if Georgia’s Nick Chubb can prove he is over knee woes. Injuries also see Wisconsin’s Corey Clement return to action, as most scouts regard him as the best slasher in this draft class. He will probably split time in the backfield, as both Clement and Oluwadare Ogunbowale looked sensation toting the pigskin throughout spring camp. Joining Fournette, Chubb and Clement as strong first round candidates are Florida State’s Davin Cook and multi-talented Stanford star, Christian McCaffrey. Another rising star who could make next year’s draft bountiful with featured ball carriers is Oregon’s speedy Royce Freeman, a 230-pound bruiser with 4.4 speed. This is our expanded report. The previous link was to the ratings only, but inside, we have added position overview, player statistics, analysis and scouting excerpts, along with photos to give it a nice few hours of reading material. An update on the position’s draft history is also included.
The fullback position looked like it was becoming a dying breed, as teams utilized multiple receiver formations, tight ends in motion, H-Backs and even a handful of defensive players as receivers rather than use a two-back system in the NFL. Of the twenty-eight players selected as fullbacks since the 2010 draft, eleven have actually performed as H-Backs. Currently, seven college fullbacks have been deemed by The NFL Draft Report as draft worthy, with three more on the cusp of possibly being selected in the final round. Still, four of the top ten rated players here have also been viewed by scouts at other positions – two as tailbacks and the other two as linebackers.
2017 Offensive Center Draft Class
The college centers are becoming bigger than ever before – evident by ten of the top twenty snappers on The NFL Draft Report’s current preseason ratings chart standing at least 6:04. That is not to say that there are any blue chip prospects in the pile, though. No senior center has received a Round One draft grade from any NFL team and that unit lacks depth, with college guards Pat Elflein (Ohio State) and others possibly shifting inside to compensate. Four of the top ten centers come from the junior ranks, so unless they all bolt to the pros, finding quality at this position will likely see several centers drafted earlier than their stock indicates. The link to the position ratings and analysis can be located here;
2017 Offensive Tackle Draft Class
There are a lot of candidates at this position vying for Round One draft status, but at the moment, the only clear-cut prospect to earn that rating from The NFL Draft Report is Florida State junior Roderick Johnson, who leads this group that features eight underclassmen among the top fifteen ranked tackles. Southern California boasts an imposing pair in Chad Wheeler and Zack Banner, but Wheeler was suspended for the past Holiday Bowl after getting into a fracas with police and Banner just tipped the scales at 373. Toss in the recent dismissal of gun charges vs. Alabama’s Cam Robinson and you have several high profile tackles whose off-field issues could see them slide on draft day. The link to the position ratings and analysis can be located here;
2017 Offensive Guard Draft Class
Much like the center position, there do not appear to be any Round One prospect among the draft eligible guard class. Several players like Ohio State’s Pat Elflein, Georgia’s Greg Pike and Oregon State’s Pat Harlow could be in line for position changes at the pro level. Three of the top five rated guards on The NFL Draft Report’s preseason chart hail from the Big Ten Conference, but unlike the offensive tackle class, the juniors and red-shirt sophomores fail to make a ratings dent, as the top thirteen positions on the ratings chart are upper classmen.
Everyone "in the pool," folks! For those wanting to see how the offensive position-class stacks up overall, here is how they rank based on their PRO grade numbers. Each player also has a draft "value" grade also associated with their ranking (based on where we would be comfortable drafting that athlete). Please note that several players are being evaluated at multiple positions and have been graded accordingly, if they are listed at that primary spot in the POS column (other potential positions will be listed next to the player’s name).