THE STARTING FIVE: NFL Draft Predictions

Carter Landis, Sports Editor

Another year, another slew of middle aged men who have never played football assessing future professional athletes on their ability to play a sport and giving incessant criticism for months before the players are even selected. Sports media, right? As the NFL Draft approaches once again, experts are giving their mock drafts and predictions, along with scouting players and examining their future careers as professional football players. Instead of answering the basic questions causing buzz in the draft world, here’s a few scorching hot takes about the outcome of Thursday’s draft.

Christian McCaffrey will bust

This is one that not too many people would guess would happen. After setting multiple records at Stanford in just two years, running for 3,922 yards and 21 touchdowns, McCaffrey won Pac-12 player of the year, was a consensus All-American, and won the 2015 AP player of the year. Doesn’t sound like a terrible resume for a tiny white kid, right? The reason I believe he’ll be a bust is that he is cut from the same cloth as guys like Danny Woodhead, Peyton Hillis, Rex Burkhead, etc. See a pattern here? College success doesn’t always translate to NFL success.

Malik McDowell will be a top five player from the class

Michigan State’s Malik McDowell, the only bright spot in a nightmare season for the Spartans, is projected anywhere from being picked within the first five picks all the way to having to wait till the second day to be selected. The talent is evident in McDowell. A physical freak at 6’6, 295, McDowell suffered multiple minor injuries during a 3-9 season, holding him out for the final three games. Playing in Harlon Barnett’s 3-4 tech, he was shedding double teams and getting in the backfield. ESPN’s Todd McShay calls McDowell one of the most talented players in the draft. If front offices focus on McDowell’s talent instead of his work ethic or low motor in college, he should solidify himself as a top selection, and end up being a top five player from the class based on talent alone.

Joe Mixon will be a first round pick

A disturbing video of former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon surfaced in late 2014 of him punching his then girlfriend, and Mixon was charged in 2016. The implications of these charges were assumed to be the end of Mixon’s career, but as running back needy teams look past morality and focus on who is going to help their team, Mixon’s name started to show up in first and second rounds of mock drafts. In a football manner, this makes complete sense. Mixon is a downhill back with great vision and the ability to make cuts and cause tacklers to miss. His talent probably ranks higher than other backs like Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. Mixon’s ability to play football should cause GMs to turn a blind eye to his troubled past.

Patrick Mahomes II has no future in the NFL

For the same reason as McCaffrey, Texas Tech QB Pat Mahomes II will not be considered a success from the 2017 draft class. Despite posting monster numbers in college (77 TDs to just 25 INT in two years) it does not seem that those performances will translate into the NFL. Reason being, just because a college player has a great collegiate career does not mean they’ll thrive in the NFL, and for quarterbacks, the list is rather extensive. Robert Griffin III, Matt Leinart, Kellen Moore, Matt Barkley, there’s a countless amount. It seems rather obvious that Mahomes will fit into this category rather than the one of successful QBs.

Deshaun Watson will be the best QB from the class by far

Two consecutive national championship appearances, 10,000 career yards and 90 career touchdowns, twice a Heisman trophy finalist, sounds like an impressive resume for a player that hasn’t yet played professional football yet, right? Exactly. Despite these improbable feats, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is rather scrutinized by media, general managers, and draft experts. This makes no sense because Watson is by far the best quarterback in the draft class that features young raw arms like Mitchell Trubisky, Deshone Kizer, probable busts like Patrick Mahomes II, and guys who don’t project to make an impact in the league like Nathan Peterman and Brad Kaaya. Watson has received comparisons to legends like Brett Favre and Tony Romo , which makes sense, because it seems inevitable that Watson is destined for success in the NFL.