Three schools will dominate the initial 15 picks of the 2017 NFL Draft
In the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, expect three schools to have six of the initial 15 picks selected in the first round including four from the University of Alabama, and two each from The Ohio State University and Louisiana State University (LSU). All expect the Cleveland Browns to start off the first round with the selection of defensive end Myles Garrett from Texas A&M. Despite the lack of a franchise quarterback, the Browns will not be able to keep themselves from picking Garrett since his performance at the recent NFL combine was more impressive than they had expected. The second pick belongs to the San Francisco 49’ers and it is expected that the first of four Alabama players will selected. Defensive end Jonathan Allen is expected to be the pick despite the poor showing he turned in at the combine. This selection could potentially change if the 49’ers are able to deal for New England Patriot’s backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo
or Washington Redskin’s signal caller Kirk Cousins.
The first of two LSU players to be drafted will be Jamal Adams. Adams, a safety, will be selected by the Tennessee Titans who have this pick which was obtained from a trade made with the Los Angeles Rams one year ago. Despite not having the best of combines, the Titans like Adams namely since Malik Hooker of Ohio State is expected to be out four to six months due to a pair of surgeries. The New York Jets will make it back to back LSU players drafted when they choose running back Leonard Fournette. Although Fournette was slowed by injuries in his senior season, he has graded out a lot better than a couple of running back selected of late in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley.
The seventh and eighth pick of the first round will come from the Buckeyes. The Los Angeles Chargers will go with Malik Hooker who will fill an immediate need since Eric Waddle departed. Although Hooker has gone through recent surgeries, he is expected to be available prior to Week One of the 2017 season. The Carolina Panthers have the eighth pick and will likely go after the best available player. Cornerbacks are deep in this year’s draft yet expect the Panthers to select Marshon Lattimore who is considered the top corner available. The Panthers value high character players which Lattimore fits and they need to fill a void left when Josh Norman departed to the Redskins.
The Cincinnati Bengals own the ninth pick and they are projected to take the third Alabama player selected in the first round. Linebacker Rueben Foster will likely fill in the spot filled by veteran Karlos Dansby who is a free agent. Foster is considered the top linebacker prospect but did not fair well at the combine as he was asked to leave when he had a disagreement with a hospital worker. The fourth Alabama prospect to be selected will be cornerback Marlon Humphrey. This second first round draft pick was obtained through the trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in last year’s draft. The Browns have several needs to address and own 11 picks in the 2017 draft. There secondary is considered the worst in the NFL anchored by a hobbled former Pro Bowler Joe Haden. Haden is no longer reliable enough to be counted on and the Browns need to move on with their overhaul of the roster. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey would fill the void, and along with expected first pick Myles Garrett, gives the Browns new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams an opportunity to realize immediate improvement.
NCAA Playoff Outlook
The NCAA college football season just completed week 7. We are now far enough into the season to have a clear picture of who is in the hunt for the playoffs and who isn’t. Remember, just the top 4 ranked teams in the NCAA make the playoffs every year. Some experts could argue that any team in the top 20 or 25 has a legitimate shot at the tournament. While this is true, there are certainly teams that have a much better shot than others. Obviously, teams that are currently undefeated have the best chance.
It is important to understand that teams that are in one of the power conferences have the best shot at making the playoffs if they are undefeated. The highest rated conference in college football is the SEC, and its best team is the University of Alabama. They have been walking all over teams lately and are currently the clear cut favorite for the NCAA championship. Barring any disaster, they should make it to the playoffs.
The same goes for Ohio State, Michigan, and Clemson. These three teams also control their destiny when it comes to the FBS playoffs. Ohio State and Michigan face off during the last week of the season. That game will essentially be a playoff game for both teams in their quest for a title. Other undefeated teams not ranked in the top 3 are Washington, Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Baylor. There is enough time left in the season for some of these teams to face off and had others a season-ending loss.
Thanks to the advent of the NCAA playoffs, a regular season loss isn’t the death knell that it used to be for many’s teams seasons. The strongest one-loss team so far is Louisville. Their only loss came at the hands of an undefeated division rival, Clemson. If they win out, they could face the Tigers in the conference championship for a shot at the playoffs. The University of Houston’s football program has come on strong the last couple of seasons. They also only have one loss and could be a dark horse candidate for the playoffs.
Dark Horse Candidates
Some schools that play in smaller conferences have an outside shot at making the top 4. Boise State seems to be undefeated every year but is hampered by their weaker conference schedule. If enough teams lose and they remain undefeated they could make it in, though. Their strong reputation from past seasons should help them. Big 12 mainstay Oklahoma has a couple of losses but plays a tough enough schedule that they could get in if enough things go their way.
Honestly, there are still too many undefeated teams this early in the season to have a clear cut picture of the playoff outlook. Obviously, any team that is ranked in the top 4 right now that wins out will get an invite. Anyone who has watched a lot of college football over the last few years understands that this is unlikely. The unpredictability of college football is what makes it so exciting. Let’s just sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of this NCAA football season.