The 2017 NFL offseason is officially underway, so you all know what that means: draft talk is heating up. With the return of draft season comes plenty of disagreements and arguments. Fans and analysts alike will debate about the skillsets of their favorite prospects for the next few months. Some have already started doing this, in fact. Here are the five prospects that are bound to be the subject of many arguments this year.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
I discussed Deshaun Watson in great length in an article last month. People tend to be split down the middle as to where he will end up.
Some love him for his leadership qualities, big-game production and agility in the pocket. Others feel that his accuracy and decision-making aren’t quite up to par with those of other NFL quarterbacks. He doesn’t have a true value, but a team like the Cleveland Browns will definitely give him a look in the middle of the first round.
Dawuane Smoot, EDGE, Illinois
When I scouted Dawuane Smoot back in October, I saw an immediate first-round talent. However, some scouts have him falling as low as the fourth round. While I obviously don’t agree with this, I can see why some scouts have grown sour on him.
Smoot doesn’t have top-end production like the other elite edge rushers in this class. He only had five sacks in 2016, which doesn’t necessarily scream “first-round talent”. Those who have actually watched Smoot’s film can tell you that the stats don’t reflect his impact. He is consistently a presence in the backfield. His first-step acceleration and tenacity are among the top in the class. While he’s still a first-rounder on my board, he’ll be a fantastic addition to any team in Day 2.
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Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Patrick Mahomes has developed a huge following in the draft community, but he also has his fair share of doubters. This is no surprise for a quarterback who’s raw, yet has athleticism and arm strength in spades.
Mahomes is not the type of quarterback to start right away. His mechanics are questionable and his footwork is a mess. It’ll take him at least a year to adjust to the NFL game. If/when he does adjust though, he can be something special. He has the strongest arm in this class, and is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the draft. Even though he has a gunslinger mentality, the passes he throws are pretty accurate for the most part. Mahomes might not be the most NFL-ready quarterback out there, but he could very well develop to be the best in this group.
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Cam Robinson entered the 2016 season as a top-ten lock, but now appears to be a fringe first-round talent at best. Many teams need offensive tackles though, so he could end up getting picked in the mid-teens.
At 6’6″ and 326 pounds, Robinson is an absolute monster. He is able to blend brute strength with good footwork, technique and agility. He can be described as what some like to call a “dancing bear”. However, his off-the-field issues raise some eyebrows. Back in May of last year, Robinson was arrested for possession of firearms, illegal drugs and a stolen gun. That will definitely scare more than a few teams off. If he proves that his troublemaking days are over, then he could be a lock for an early pick. If not, he could end up being the third offensive tackle selected.
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
It’s simple: you either like Joe Mixon, or you don’t. There’s no middle ground for the Oklahoma tailback.
His skillset is among the best in the class at running back – and that includes Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette. He is a threat as a runner and a receiver; he’s a bit Le’Veon Bell-like in that he’s supremely talented at both. However, some argue that his off-the-field issues make him undraftable. He punched a woman in the face back in 2014. Say what you want about the tape, but domestic abuse is a huge red flag on a prospect’s record. His film says first-round pick, his background says undrafted free agent. Only time will tell where Mixon ends up come Draft Day.