2017 NFL Draft: Live Fantasy Recap (Round 1)
The 2017 NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 27th with the first round. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday (beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET), while the remainder of the draft will finish up on Saturday (12 p.m. ET). Coverage is on ESPN and the NFL Network.
Throughout the first round, I'll be updating this page with player evaluation from our very own Brandon Niles, along with my take on the player's opportunity, potential fantasy impact in 2016. I'll also add athletic comparables from PlayerProfiler.com and Mockdraftable.com along with a highlight video, if I can find one. (Note: The music of the highlight videos is mostly terrible and sometimes offensive, so I highly recommend muting before watching.) Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second and third rounds. Brandon will be taking over on Saturday to summarize the mid- to late-round picks.
1.02 - Bears - QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
If Trubisky had two more seasons like last year for UNC, he’s be the consensus first overall pick. He had 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions and very nearly defeated Stanford in the Sun Bowl. However, with only one year as a starter for the Tar Heels, Trubisky has risk associated with him. He looks the part, with good size and excellent mobility. The ball comes out cleanly with above average velocity to make all the throws at the next level. Trubisky might need some additional coaching, but early signs show an ability to make multiple reads and to deliver in late-game situations.
The Bears traded up two third round picks and a fourth round pick to move up ONE SPOT to draft Trubisky, so clearly they like the guy. With Mike Glennon in tow, the Bears can afford to let Trubisky learn on the sideline if they so choose. The receiving corps isn't great, but he doesn't have a difficult path to the starting lineup with only Glennon to beat out for the job. If he does end up starting in 2017, he'll have a tough time to even get into the streaming conversation on a weekly basis.
1.04 - Jaguars - RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
Fournette is one of the most dominant running backs to come out of college since Adrian Peterson in 2007. He has the raw physical ability to impact the NFL in the same way Ezekiel Elliott did as a rookie, and his pass blocking is already pretty good for a young player, making it likely he sees three-down work early on. Fournette moves his feet well and blends a surprising amount of agility with tremendous raw power. He was nicked up and only played seven games last year, so durability may be a concern, but he looks like as safe a prospect as you can get and should be one of the best in the league before long.
1.05 - Titans - WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
The all-time FBS leader in receiving yards, Davis finished his four years as a Bronco with 332 receptions, 5,285 yards and 52 touchdowns. He has had limited pre-draft activity due to an ankle injury, but as long as it doesn’t become a long-term issue for him, Davis should develop into a quality WR1 in the NFL. Davis has excellent length, adequate speed, and uses his physicality and short-area quickness to get separation. He won’t blow by you, but he tracks the ball well and has the size to compete in the red zone. He has a high floor as a productive WR2, with WR1 upside.
Davis will be penciled in as the Titans' WR1 and he'll have a good quarterback throwing him the ball -- it doesn't get much better than that. Rishard Matthews is a solid WR2, so with Delanie Walker at tight end, Marcus Mariota has a nice group of receivers to throw to. I'd expect Davis's ADP to land in the 5th-7th round, depending on what sort of preseason he has.
1.07 - Chargers - WR Mike Williams, Clemson
After suffering a fractured neck in the 2015 season opener, Williams recovered well last year and caught 98 passes for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. With his 6-foot-4 frame, he was an excellent safety valve for quarterback Deshaun Watson and he had eight catches, 94 yards and a touchdown in the National Championship victory over Alabama. Williams has prototype size and just enough speed to maintain his status as a WR1 prospect. Williams relied heavily on his athleticism and physicality in college and will need to refine his route-running skills at the pro level, but he looks the part and has all the tools you look for in a top receiving prospect.
It's a curious pick given the Chargers' better-than-solid receiving corps of Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman. He'll have to play well this summer to get snaps given that competition. He's most likely to slide in as the Chargers' WR2, which leads me to believe he'll be going in the 7th/8th round come August.
1.08 - Panthers - RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
There might not be a more divisive running back in this draft than the son of former Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey. In three years at Stanford, Christian McCaffrey has established himself as one of the top playmakers in college football. He contributed as a runner, a receiver and in the return game for the Cardinals, and is one of the most accomplished route-runners in this draft – including out of the wide receivers. A creative coach will be able to use McCaffrey’s elite elusiveness and competitive drive to be a playmaker at the next level, and he may wind up being a fantasy stud in PPR formats if he lands in the right offense.
Long-term, McCaffrey has a great opportunity to hold down the Carolina RB1 job for years to come. In the short-term, he will have to battle with Jonathan Stewart for touches, though he should see plenty of the work in the passing game, an area where Stewart does not excel. From a PPR standpoint, he could have a Danny Woodhead-type season. I bet his ADP lands in the 5th round in that format.
1.09 - Bengals - WR John Ross, Washington
Ross blew away the combine by breaking Chris Johnson’s 40-yard-dash record time when he clocked in at 4.22 seconds. That solidified Ross’ status as one of the top prospects in this draft. Ross tore his ACL in 2015 and his slight frame may lead to durability issues as a pro, but there’s no doubting his big-play ability. Ross had a nice junior year with the Huskies last season, finishing with 17 touchdown receptions, but he struggled against Alabama in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl and his best games came against inferior defenses. He’s a boom-bust prospect, but with that kind of speed, a clever offensive coordinator will find a way to get him the ball in space and let him make plays. He should also help out as a kick returner.
Ross is a speedster who will be able to take the top off the defense and open things up for A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. Brandon LaFell is back, so there's no rush to get Ross on the field, though he should see some snaps given his world-class speed. Fantasy-wise, barring a terrific camp, it feels like he'll go in the double-digit rounds.
1.10 - Chiefs - QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
There will always be room for gunners in the NFL, and Mahomes fits that description perfectly. He has a rocket for an arm and wants to win the game on every throw. Mahomes was wildly productive in college, throwing for 5,052 yards and 41 touchdown passes last season, but he was in an Air Raid offense that usually features inflated passing statistics. Technique and discipline are going to be key for Mahomes, who relies on his arm strength too often, causing issues with his accuracy when he throws the ball off his back foot. He doesn’t throw receivers open and has big time boom-bust potential, but his athleticism, mobility and arm strength make him a high upside prospect.
Mahomes will spend the year learning from incumbent starter Alex Smith.
1.12 - Texans - QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Watson was 32-3 as a starter at Clemson, and was excellent in the National Championship game in January, completing 64 percent of his passes for 420 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in a thrilling victory over Alabama. Watson is criticized for his inconsistent accuracy and decision-making, but he’s been a tremendous leader on and off the field for Clemson in his three years as a starter and has enough size, arm strength, and athleticism to excel at the NFL level, particularly as a dual-threat option.
Watson should have the opportunity to start right away. Brock Osweiler notwithstanding, Bill O'Brien has gotten a lot out of his quarterbacks while in Houston. DeAndre Hopkins and the other Houston receivers get a bump. Watson could work his way into the streaming conversation rather quickly.
1.19 - Buccaneers - TE O.J. Howard, Alabama
Howard has all of the attributes you look for in an elite pass-catching tight end. He has oven mitts for hands that pluck the ball away from his body, has a 6-foot-6 frame and ran a 4.51 40-yard-dash at the combine. He was excellent at the Senior Bowl, showing body control and leaping ability that should help him wall off defenders and become a consistent red zone target in the NFL. Howard is an average blocker at best, but he’s going to make a big impact in the passing game. He has the speed to stretch the seam, the size to create mismatches and a wide catch radius. Tight ends don’t usually make an early impact in the NFL, but Howard is as good a prospect as they come.
Cameron Brate is on the hot seat with the addition of the draft's top tight end. As Brandon mentioned, rookie tight ends (even 1st rounders) rarely make an impact, but Howard has a chance to excel in 2017 if he has a good preseason. His arrival is good news for Jameis Winston. TE is obviously a onesie position, so Howard is unlikely to have an ADP in the single-digit rounds.
1.23 - Giants - TE Evan Engram, Mississippi
Engram had a breakout senior season for Ole Miss last year, catching 65 balls for 926 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a reliable safety valve for quarterback Chad Kelly and flashed the ability to contribute down the field or working the middle. He’s a willing and smart blocker but lacks the strength and physicality to really contribute in that area. Engram will fit best in the passing game as a versatile player who can line up in multiple positions and take advantage of mismatches. He’s quick off the line and can win jump ball situations with his 36-inch vertical.
Eli Manning likes to throw to his tight end, especially in the red zone. Will Tye currently sits atop the Giants' depth chart at the position, so Engram will have a chance to play immediately, provided he can pick things up quickly. As I mentioned before, rookie tight ends rarely make much of a fantasy impact, but Engram is a player to monitor this summer. Mike Mayock just compared him to Mike Evans, yes that Mike Evans, and called him a "matchup nightmare." According to Mockdraftable, he profiles athletically more as a receiver than as a tight end, so the Giants could use him as a Jordan Reed type, which may accelerate his learning curve.
1.29 - Browns - TE David Njoku, Miami
Njoku was productive for Miami last year, putting up 698 yards and eight touchdowns on 43 receptions, but he’s still a raw prospect relying mostly on athleticism at this point. Njoku struggles with some focus drops and can be caught out of position as an in-line blocker, but he has quality speed, excellent agility and explodes off the line and getting in and out of his breaks. He’ll need some time to develop the fundamentals of his game, but he flashes the ability to be an elite receiving option. He has nearly as much upside as O.J. Howard, but a much lower floor.
He's a good receiver an an athlete, but is unlikely to make much of an impact as a rookie tight end for the Browns. Stay tuned.