How Deep is the 2017 Draft Class? Part One

Mike Valverde

Editor’s note: We’re already in full swing with our preparation for the 2017 NFL Draft at DLF, and alongside our weekly dynasty scouts conference reviews we’ve added a 2017 draft first look, rookie mock draft and a top 100. Here, Mike Valverde takes a different approach to further investigate the depth of the class in a two-part series.

When looking at a depth of positions for the 2017 draft, there are certain procedures to consider when deciding on who you should draft and when to draft that particular player. Also, don’t forget that most valuable Mike Ditka question:

“Should I go all-in?”

I take a four-pronged approach when it comes to each of my rookie drafts, and for simplistic reasons, I am only going to review four rounds of 12 owners. Keep in mind that these players can go up and down in a flash, but these 48 players I feel have the most chance to stay around that cluster.

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The first three prongs or criteria are to review each position separately and rank accordingly. The fourth prong is gathering all the information from the three prongs and discovering how they stack against each section, or as we know it to be, the overall ADP. Ultimately, this is how I will end up drafting.

The first prong is aimed to look at is how deep each position is. This prong gives you an idea where you may position yourself or move your selection up or down. This season it’s about the running backs, and if you’re in the tenth spot, you will be out of luck for any of the top three coming in 2017.

The second prong understands exactly the direction you want your team to go in the long term. For instance, if you want to rebuild your running back depth this is a perfect season to do so. If you want your quarterbacks to deepen, this isn’t the season, and you may want to trade your picks depending on where you stand.

The third prong is present moment. Where is your team weakest and how do you solve that issue during the draft? Here is where trading is going to be important. If you need a top running back, being in the tenth position is not going to help you. However, if you are shopping for a quarterback then trading down could very well be a good decision.

The fourth prong deals with how the positions stack up when brought together as a collective group. Even though owners need to build at certain positions, we need to ask how each section stacks up to the rest of the clusters gives us the real value of each position.

Let’s take a look at each position for the first three prongs, and see how each stands up all alone. Then I will demonstrate how the fourth prong works all together and give it the final test for the rookie drafts coming up now or later.

I will first look at the two most shallow groups coming into the NFL. The most obvious are the tight end group, but the quarterbacks are also weak. This group has the depth for your fantasy team, but little starting quality. I will start with the quarterbacks.


There are four quarterbacks who I can see possibly going in the first round in fantasy drafts. More than likely only two will, and the rest will go in the extending rounds. The good news is that they are all quality quarterbacks who have good size and arm strength. The bad news is this group is very close together, and there isn’t much to separate them.

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see these players go up and down the draft board all winter. They do not have an exciting must-have quality about them. In other words, there is no Andrew Luck here. It does not mean they don’t have value. I just believe that value is better served for two-quarterback leagues but won’t do much for you if you are looking to get a leg up on your competition.

Tier I

  • Deshaun Watson, Junior – Clemson
  • DeShone Kizer, Junior – Notre Dame
  • Patrick Mahomes, Junior – Texas Tech
  • Mitch Trubisky, Junior – North Carolina

Tier II

  • Brad Kaaya, Junior – Miami (Fla.)
  • Davis Webb, Senior – California
  • Luke Falk, Junior – Washington State

There is not much left after the top tier, but if you want to look at those that could creep into the top list, I would say that Brad Kaaya has the best chance followed up by senior Davis Webb and junior Luke Falk.

Tight Ends

The tight ends are solid. The two you will want to target are O.J. Howard and Bucky Hodges who could both go in the first round of the NFL draft. Not since Eric Ebron has a tight end gone that early (2014). Both Howard and Hodges have great offensive talent, and not too far behind them are Jake Butt and Jordan Leggett. I am also interested in seeing how David Njoku develops in the upcoming months.

Tier I

  • O.J. Howard, Senior – Alabama
  • Bucky Hodges, Junior – Virginia Tech
  • Evan Engram, Senior – Ole Miss

Tier II

  • Jake Butt, Senior – Michigan
  • Jordan Leggett, Senior – Clemson

Running Backs

Now I will be digging into the two groups with the most depth. First, the running backs. It very well could be the deepest class in a long time. In 2017, there will be an assortment of backs from the bangers to the multi-talented to a mixture of both. Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook seem to be the obvious choices as the top two you should have as targets. But, players such as Christian McCaffrey and Nick Chubb could also sneak in the top two as the winter progresses.

Tier I

  • Leonard Fournette, Junior – LSU
  • Dalvin Cook, Junior – Florida St.

Tier II

  • Christian McCaffrey, Junior – Stanford
  • Nick Chubb, Junior – Georgia
  • Wayne Gallman, Junior – Clemson

Tier III

  • Alvin Kamara, Junior – Tennessee
  • Royce Freeman, Junior – Oregon
  • Jalen Hurd, Junior – Tennessee
  • Samaje Perine, Junior – Oklahoma
  • D’Onta Foreman, Junior – Texas

Tier IV

  • Donnel Pumphrey, Senior – San Diego State
  • Sony Michel, Junior – Georgia
  • De’Veon Smith, Senior – Michigan
  • Kareem Hunt, Senior – Toledo

Tier V

  • Shock Linwood, Senior – Baylor
  • Corey Clement, Senior – Wisconsin
  • Elijah Hood, Junior – North Carolina
  • James Connor, Junior – Pittsburgh
  • Jeremy McNichols, Junior – Boise State
  • Kalen Ballage, Junior – Arizona State

I am very excited to see Donnel Pumphrey and his progress through the draft, and Kareem Hunt, Shock Linwood and James Connor are intriguing as well.

Wide Receivers

As for the wide receivers, once again we have some serious athletes to consider. What is fun about this group is that there are possibly three receivers from smaller schools that have a strong possibility to go in the top-ten and one that surely will go in the top-five, Courtland Sutton (SMU). Also, look for Corey Davis (Western Michigan), and Cooper Kupp (Eastern Michigan) to be among the ten. This group isn’t as deep as the running backs, but many on here can make a difference on your team.

Tier I

  • Mike Williams, Junior – Clemson
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, Junior – USC
  • Courtland Sutton, Senior – SMU

Tier II

  • Isaiah Ford, Junior – Virginia Tech
  • John Ross, Junior – Washington
  • Corey Davis, Junior – Western Michigan
  • Curtis Samuel, Junior – Ohio State

Tier III

  • Malachi Dupre, Junior – LSU
  • Travin Dural, Senior – LSU
  • Cooper Kupp, Senior – Eastern Michigan
  • Darren Carrington II, Junior – Oregon
  • Ricky Seal-Jones, Junior – Texas A&M
  • Travis Rudolph, Junior – Florida State

Tier IV

  • Amara Darboh, Senior – Michigan
  • Jehu Chesson, Senior – Michigan
  • Zay Jones, Senior – East Carolina
  • Carlos Henderson, Senior – Louisiana Tech

Whenever two players enter the NFL Draft from the same position and the same team, I like to see which one will go first and where they land. We have Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural out of LSU will be this year’s two I will be following, but they are not the only duo. I also know Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson out of Michigan will also be added to this list.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for part two!


mike valverde
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