Sports

Who are the best players in this year’s NFL Draft?

Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett competes in a drill at the 2017 NFL football scouting combine Sunday, March 5, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/AP
Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is near the top of most mock drafts.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the top players at each position in the 2017 NFL Draft. (* = underclassman).

The NFL Draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

Click on a button to jump to that position.

Quarterbacks

PLAYER

SCHOOL

HT.

WT.

40

ROUND

Deshaun Watson*

Clemson

6-2

221

4.66

1

Detractors point to his 17 interceptions last year, his college spread offense and spotty accuracy. We say: Hooey. Look at what he did to Alabama on the game’s biggest stage — two years in a row.

Patrick Mahomes*

Texas Tech

6-2

225

4.80

1-2

Another quarterback that threw too many interceptions (25 the last two years) and played in a gimmicky offense, but he has a huge arm and the pocket presence to develop into a starter.

Mitchell Trubisky*

North Carolina

6-2

222

4.67

1

The best raw tools and mechanics of any QB in the draft, and he threw only six interceptions last year. But we’re concerned by his limited body of work, starting only one season and 13 games.

DeShone Kizer*

Notre Dame

6-4

233

4.83

1-2

The biggest and most physically gifted QB in the draft. Was a bit inconsistent in 2016, completing just 59 percent of passes and getting benched against Stanford. Should’ve stayed in school another year.

Davis Webb

California

6-4

229

4.79

2-3

Another QB with good size and arm strength who can make some pretty throws downfield, but he started only one year, and in a college offense, that doesn’t translate at all to the NFL.

Nate Peterman

Pittsburgh

6-2

225

4.82

3-4

A transfer from Tennessee, he had two quality seasons at Pitt, including a 308-yard, five-touchdown, no-interception win at Clemson in 2016. Projects as a backup but could develop into a starter.

Brad Kaaya*

Miami

6-4

214

4.78

4-5

A three-year starter, he at times displayed excellent touch and the ability to fit the ball into tight windows. Had a tendency to stare down the pass rush too long, and doesn’t have great mobility to avoid sacks

Chad Kelly

Mississippi

6-1

215

n/a

5-7

Got kicked off the team at Clemson for maturity issues, threatened to use a gun during a Buffalo bar fight, and tore his ACL toward the end of 2016. But Jim Kelly’s nephew can play, and should get drafted.

Josh Dobbs

Tennessee

6-3

216

4.64

5-7

More of a dual threat than a true pocket QB, he started 36 games and had a great second half to 2016. Has significant issues as a passer, but his intelligence and athleticism will get him drafted on the third day.

Jerod Evans*

Virginia Tech

6-3

232

4.80

6-7

Played just one year of college ball after transferring from Air Force and Trinity Valley Community College. Had a nice 2016 season with 27 touchdowns and five interceptions, but could’ve used another year of college experience.

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Best of the rest: C.J. Beathard, Iowa (6-2, 219, 4.80, 7-undrafted); Trevor Knight, Texas A&M (6-1, 219, 4.54, 7-undrafted); Seth Russell, Baylor (6-2, 203, 4.68, 7-undrafted); Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin (6-0, 225, 4.68, 7-undrafted); Alek Torgersen, Pennsylvania (6-2, 220, 4.68, 7-undrafted)

Tight ends

PLAYER

SCHOOL

HT.

WT.

40

ROUND

O.J. Howard

Alabama

6-6

251

4.51

1

Has exceptional size, strength, and smarts, and should make an impact immediately. Was underutilized in Tuscaloosa but that’s a good thing now: There’s plenty left on these tires.

David Njoku*

Miami

6-4

246

4.64

1

A strong and fluid athlete with the explosiveness of a wide receiver (seam routes a specialty) and the strength of a tight end. He’ll need to polish his route-running.

Evan Engram

Mississippi

6-3

234

4.42

1

Athletic and versatile, he was used in every formation imaginable during four years in the tough SEC. Not an overly physical player, he relies on quickness and savvy to block defenders.

Gerald Everett

South Alabama

6-3

239

4.62

2

Has rare acceleration off the snap for a man his size and maintains separation throughout his routes. Doesn’t have elite strength but has gained muscle recently and must continue to do so.

Bucky Hodges*

Virginia Tech

6-6

257

4.57

2

Massive target with great strength and athleticism. Didn’t start playing the position until college (he was a high school QB) so there’s still some rawness. Could end up being the best of the bunch.

Jake Butt

Michigan

6-6

246

n/a

3

Would be higher were it not for a torn ACL suffered in the Orange Bowl. Decent athlete with excellent size, football smarts, and versatility. Tough and competitive in the Jim Harbaugh mold.

Jordan Leggett

Clemson

6-5

258

n/a

3

Good athlete with excellent size and receiving skills. He’s a willing blocker but needs to add strength if he wants to be a three-down guy. With the right team, he could blossom into a star.

Jeremy Sprinkle

Arkansas

6-5

262

4.69

4

Maybe the best pure blocker here, he’ll help right away in the run game but needs polish as a route runner and receiver. Lacks explosiveness off the line. Will do damage after the catch.

Eric Saubert

Drake

6-5

253

n/a

5

Pride of the football hotbed of Des Moines, he is a real bulldog. A good route runner with excellent hands who really improved his stock at the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl.

Jonnu Smith

Florida Int’l

6-3

248

4.62

5

Despite a comparative lack of size, he is an excellent in-line blocker with really good hands and decent after-the-catch escapability. Shows good burst off the line but can’t separate consistently.

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Best of the rest: *Adam Shaheen, Ashland (6-5, 277, 4.79, 6th); Cole Hikutini, Louisville (6-4, 248, n/a, 6th); Michael Roberts, Toledo (6-4, 261, 4.86, 7th); Pharaoh Brown, Oregon (6-6, 255, n/a, 7th); George Kittle, Iowa (6-4, 250, 4.52 7th).

Wide receivers

PLAYERSCHOOLHT.WT.40ROUND
*Mike WilliamsClemson6-4218 DNP 1st
This guy is right out of Central Casting. Possesses a premium blend of size, speed, and strength for the position. Uses all skills to consistently gain separation. Scored 11 touchdowns last season.
Corey DavisWestern Michigan6-3209DNP1st
Another NFL ready guy, Davis wreaked havoc on the MAC over the last four years, amassing 5,212 yards and 51 TDs. He’s big, has outstanding burst, and runs very precise routes.
*John Ross Washington5-11 1884.22 1st
One of the best pure athletes in the draft, settled in at receiver last season after bouncing between offense and defense. Put up more than 1,100 yards and 17 TDs for the Huskies. He needs to – and will – bulk up a tad.
*Curtis Samuel Ohio State5-11 1964.311st
An exceptionally versatile player, you could stick this guy in any formation and he’ll make hay. He can play receiver or running back and should contribute as a returner on special teams. He’s fluid and sneaky strong.
*Malachi DupreLSU 6-21964.522nd
A really fast guy with great body control and the ability to track the ball and go up and get it. The knock was a lack of size but he’s already added muscle since the end of the year. Could be an early steal.
Dede WestbrookOklahoma 6-0178DNP2nd
A true home run hitter, Westbrook can fly. He piled up over 2,200 yards and 21 TDs the last two seasons, picking up the Biletnikoff Award in 2016. A history of off-the-field issues will keep him off some boards.
Cooper KuppEastern Washington6-22044.622nd
Middle name should be production. He had more than 6,400 receiving yards and 78 TDs in four seasons. He lacks explosiveness and speed but has great hands and drive and plays with a chip on his shoulder.
JuJu Smith-SchusterSouthern Cal6-12154.542d
A wide body with big, powerful arms, Smith-Schuster can dominate opponents with strength. He chucks opponents at the line consistently but doesn’t have high-end speed. Can both take over a game and disappear at times.
*Isaiah FordVirginia Tech6-11944.612nd

Ford is a good athlete with nice explosiveness and a flair for the big play. He’s both fast and quick. Could stand to add some muscle and he’s a little shy when it comes to downfield blocking.

Amara DarbohMichigan6-2 2144.453rd
Like tight end teammate Jake Butt, Darboh has flourished under Jim Harbaugh. A good athlete with terrific size and competitive spirit, Darboh could contribute immediately. Lacks elite speed.

Best of the rest: Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M, (6-3, 194, 4.52); *Ardarius Stewart, Alabama, (5-11, 204, 4.49); Chad Hansen, California, (6-2, 203, 4.53); Noah Brown, Ohio State (6-2, 222, DNP); KD Cannon, Baylor (5-11, 182, 4.41).

Running backs

PLAYERSCHOOLHT.WT.40ROUND
Leonard Fournette*LSU6-12404.511
Running backs going in the first round is back en vogue, and Fournette won’t make it out of the top 10. An eye-popping combination of size and speed, he conjures comparisons to Adrian Peterson.
Dalvin CookFlorida State5-102104.491
Speedy, three-down back rushed for 3,456 yards and 38 touchdowns the last two seasons, while also displaying good hands with 57 catches for 732 yards. Has a bit of a fumbling issue but should go in the first round.
Christian McCaffrey*Stanford5-112024.481-2
There’s no doubting McCaffrey’s athleticism, as he possesses breakaway speed and the versatility to line up at slot receiver and kickoff/punt returner. The only question: Does he have the size to be an every-down back?
Joe Mixon*Oklahoma6-12264.482-3
One scout we spoke to called Mixon the best pure running back in the draft, with a running/receiving skill set that reminds him of Matt Forte. The domestic violence episode will cause him to fall but probably not out of the second day.
Alvin Kamara*Tennessee5-102144.562-3
More of a third-down, pass-catching back, Kamara doesn’t run with the most power but makes up for it with a great burst and excellent receiver skills. Also a dynamic kickoff and punt returner.
D’Onta Foreman*Texas6-02334.552-3
The opposite of Kamara — a big-bodied, bruising back who rushed for 2,028 yards and 15 TDs in 2016, but not much of a receiver. Only started one year in college, hasn’t taken much wear and tear.
Kareem Hunt Toledo 5-102164.623-4
Former track star has great athleticism, a good size-speed combo, and the receiving skills to be a three-down back. Shined at the Senior Bowl against better competition and only fumbled once in three college seasons.
Samaje PerrineOklahoma5-112334.653-4
More of a bruising, first-down back, Perrine burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2014 and rushed for 427 yards in one game. Has a disconcerting injury history with his knee, ankle, and hand.
Marlon Mack*South Florida5-112134.503-4
Productive three-year starter averaged 7.1 yards per carry in 2016 and showed good combo skills with 28 catches. Better suited as a third-down back but could be a good fit for an outside-zone, stretch-run team.
Donnel PumphreySan Diego State5-81764.494-5
Think Darren Sproles but a little faster and not quite as strong. The leading rushing in FBS history (6,405 yards), Pumphrey can do a little bit of everything and could be a great scat back and kick returner.

Best of the rest: James Conner*, Pittsburgh (6-1, 233, 4.65, 4-5); Jamaal Williams, BYU (6-0, 211, 4.59, 4-5); Jeremy McNichols*, Boise State (5-9, 212, 4.49, 4-5); Corey Clement, Wisconsin (5-10, 221, 4.68, 4-5); Joe Williams, Utah (5-11, 210, 4.41, 4-5); Brian Hill*, Wyoming (6-1, 219, 4.54, 4-5); De’Veon Smith, Michigan (5-11, 223, 4.59, 4-5); Wayne Gallman*, Clemson (6-0, 215, 4.60, 4-5).

Offensive linemen

PLAYERPOS.SCHOOLHEIGHTWEIGHT40 TIMEROUND
Cam Robinson*TAlabama6-63225.151
Started all 43 games in three years, winning the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best lineman. But allowed 10 sacks in his career, doesn’t have the quickest feet, and might be better suited for right tackle.
Ryan Ramczyk* TWisconsin6-63105.001
An athletic tackle who excels in the run game with quick feet and good technique. But only played one season at the FBS level and is coming off surgery for a torn labrum.
Garett Bolles*TUtah6-52974.951-2
A 25-year-old rookie who played only one year at the FBS level after transferring from junior college, Bolles has great length and athleticism to excel in a zone-blocking scheme.
Forrest LampGWestern Kentucky6-33095.001-2
Played left tackle in college but has the build of an NFL guard. Stood out against good competition at the Senior Bowl and was among the leaders in the bench press and three-cone drill at the Combine.
Ethan PocicG/C LSU6-63105.152-3
Versatile lineman mostly played center in college but also right guard and right tackle. A bit oversized for an interior player and needs to add strength but makes up for it with great speed and footwork.
Dan FeeneyGIndiana6-43045.242-3
Four-year starter is a scrappy, physical run blocker, but he comes with an injury risk. Missed four games with a concussion last year and a Lisfranc fracture caused him to miss the 2013 season.
Dion DawkinsG/TTemple6-33175.113-4
Aggressive, powerful blocker played left tackle in college but is more suited for right tackle or guard in the NFL. Needs to work on his footwork but held up well against better competition at the Senior Bowl.
Pat Elflein G/COhio State6-33035.323-4
The Big Ten offensive lineman of the year in 2016 has played all three interior positions. Has great strength and work ethic but is a bit undersized to handle NFL defensive tackles.
Taylor MotonG/TWestern Michigan6-53305.003-4
Massive, aggressive blocker has the versatility to play all across the line. Played right tackle in college but has the strength and body type to play guard in the NFL.
Isaac AsiataG/CUtah6-33255.343-4
A two-year starter at left guard, Asiata (cousin of Vikings RB Matt Asiata) has excellent size and strength, particularly in the run game. Not the most athletic guard and needs to work on pass protection.

Best of the rest: OT Antonio Garcia, Troy (6-6, 293, 5.15, 3-4); OT David Sharpe*, Florida (6-6, 343, 5.44, 3-4); G Jordan Morgan, Kutztown (6-2, 313, 5.36, 3-4); G Danny Isidora, Miami (6-3, 311, 5.03, 3-4); OT Roderick Johnson*, Florida State (6-7, 298, 5.15, 4-5); OT Julie’n Davenport, Bucknell (6-6, 318, 5.45, 4-5); G Kyle Kalis, Michigan (6-4, 305, 5.33, 5-6); OT Chad Wheeler, Southern Cal (6-7, 306, 5.48, 5-6); G Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State (6-4, 318, 4.98, 5-6).

Defensive linemen

PLAYERPOS.SCHOOLHT.WT.40ROUND
Myles Garrett*DETexas A&M6-42744.641
An exceptionally explosive player in terms of speed and tackling ability. The term “freakish athleticism” gets tossed around a lot, but it’s apt here. Could play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Derek Barnett*DETennessee6-32594.881

Has exceptional instincts and gets underneath pass protectors quickly and will deliver a jolt. Lacks prototypical burst but is relentless in pursuit. Has the strength to set the edge against the run.

Jonathan AllenDTAlabama6-32865.001
Shocker alert: There’s a stud tackle coming out of the Tide defense. With an exceptionally strong upper body and hands, he sheds defenders in a flash before hunting the ball. Finished 2016 with 10½ sacks.
Solomon Thomas*DTStanford6-32734.691
Strong and quick off the ball with exceptional instincts and a relentless motor. Has the versatility to play inside or on the edge. Could step in and be star from the get-go.
Takkarist McKinleyDEUCLA6-22504.591
Despite being a tad undersized, he possesses excellent playing power with strong hands and really long arms. Can rag-doll blockers with those meat hooks. Works hard to get to the ball even when he’s being hugged and mugged.
Malik McDowell*DTMichigan State6-62954.851
Has a massive frame and will get even bigger and stronger. Excellent quickness and fluidity, allowing him to slip blocks and crash the ball carrier (24½ tackles for losses). Can plug in and play now.
Taco CharltonDEMichigan6-62774.921
After three nondescript seasons, he flourished in Don Brown’s 4-3 defense. Has excellent size and upper-body strength and will leave blockers flat-footed. Gives max effort.
Tim WilliamsDEAlabama6-32444.681
He might be the fastest guy off the line in this class and uses that burst to make up for a lack of bulk. Adding some muscle will be priority No. 1. Played both DE on OLB for Tide and likely will do that in NFL.
Caleb Brantley*DTFlorida6-33075.142
This dude already put on 10 pounds of mass since the season ended. Has excellent strength and deceptive quickness, allowing him to be a backfield menace. Also has the girth and trunk to anchor against the run.
DeMarcus WalkerDTFlorida State6-42804.882
Proved staying in school was a smart move, registering 21½ tackles for losses and 16 sacks. Had 10 sacks as a junior. Explosive and decisive and often lauded for his film work and preparation.

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 Best of the rest: DE T.J. Watt*, Wisconsin (6-4, 252, 4.69); DE Carl Lawson*, Auburn (6-2, 261, 4.67); DE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State (6-4, 248, 4.61); DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State (6-4, 255, 4.53); DE Dawuane Smoot, Illinois (6-3, 264, 4.77); DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa (6-3, 316, 5.38); DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama (6-3, 310, 5.19); DT Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte (6-3, 305, 4.97); DT Jarron Jones, Notre Dame (6-6, 316, 5.33); DT Vincent Taylor*, Oklahoma State (6-3, 304, 5.07).

Linebackers

PLAYERPOS.SCHOOLHT.WT.40ROUND
Reuben FosterILBAlabama6-02294.691

A speedy, explosive linebacker with great instincts and the ability to lay big hits, but his stock may drop after testing positive for a diluted urine sample at the Combine and getting in a heated argument with a hospital worker.

Charles HarrisOLBMissouri6-32534.821-2

Was a DE at Missouri, racking up 16 sacks and 30½ tackles for loss the past two seasons, but is better suited as a 3-4 rush linebacker in the NFL. One red flag is he had surgery on both shoulders in college.

Haason ReddickILBTemple6-12374.521-2

Undersized for an edge rusher, Reddick still has great speed and instincts to get to the QB, recording 10½ sacks and 22½ tackles for loss last year. Will be either a 3-4 edge rusher or inside linebacker in the NFL.

Zach Cunningham*ILBVanderbilt6-32344.671-2

Has great combination of size, speed, and instincts to excel as a three-down linebacker in the NFL. Also impressed scouts at the Combine with a 35-inch vertical jump, 81-inch wingspan, and 10-foot-5-inch broad jump.

Jarrad DavisILBFlorida6-12384.741-2

Didn’t have a great 2016 season, but Davis is still a solid all-around prospect, with great speed, instincts, leadership skills, and blitz ability. Leg injuries that forced him out of three games could hurt his stock.

Raekwon McMillanILBOhio State6-22404.612-3

Doesn’t have great pass coverage skills, but should be drafted on the second day as a run-stuffing inside linebacker. Racked up 221 tackles the last two years and has good size and instincts.

Tyus BowserOLBHouston6-22444.652-3

A terrific athlete who had the best vertical jump of any linebacker at the Combine (37½ inches), Bowser had 8½ sacks and 12 tackles for loss last year, but his best fit is likely as an outside linebacker.

Ryan AndersonOLBAlabama6-22534.822-3

One of those “high motor” prospects who can chase down ballcarriers and has excellent upper-body strength to shed blockers. Was a productive strong-side linebacker in 2016 and projects as the same in the NFL.

Kendell Beckwith*ILBLSU6-22524.752-3

Would probably be ranked higher if not for a torn ACL suffered at the end of the 2016 season. Has great size and power, and projects as a starting middle linebacker in the NFL.

Carroll PhillipsOLBIllinois6-32424.642-3

Explosive edge rusher had nine sacks and 20 tackles for loss in his one year as a starter. Has a few off-field concerns, but is an intriguing prospect who can easily add some muscle to his lanky frame.

Best of the rest: ILB Alex Anzalone*, Florida (6-3, 240, 4.63, 3-4); ILB Duke Riley, LSU (6-0, 232, 4.58, 3-4); OLB Demarcus Walker, Florida State (6-4, 280, 4.83, 3-4); OLB Dawuane Smoot, Illinois (6-2, 255, 4.77, 3-4); ILB Elijah Lee*, Kansas State (6-2, 229, 4.70, 4-5); ILB Ben Boulware, Clemson (6-0, 238, 4.85, 4-5); ILB Anthony Walker*, Northwestern (6-1, 238, 4.65, 4-5); OLB Carl Lawson*, Auburn (6-2, 261, 4.67, 4-5).

Defensive backs

PLAYER

POS.

SCHOOL

HT.

WT.

40

ROUND

Jamal Adams*

S

LSU

6-0

214

4.56

1

Has a nice package of size, strength, and speed, allowing him to play press man or zone coverage. Excellent instincts, awareness, and closing speed. He will slip blocks fluidly and is a vicious tackler.

Marshon Lattimore*

CB

Ohio State

6-0

193

4.36

1

An outstanding mirror player, he has the quickness and long arms to drape players and knock balls away at the last second. A very confident player and has receiver-like moves after interceptions.

Jabrill Peppers*

S

Michigan

5-11

213

4.36

1

Highly instinctive and versatile player who can line up anywhere and make an impact. Also one of the best return men in this class. Like getting two players with one pick.

Gareon Conley*

CB

Ohio State

6-0

195

4.44

1

Very smart and anticipatory player. He’ll cut off receivers and use his long arms to shield his opponent and get his hands on the ball. An excellent backpedaler and changes directions fluidly.

Malik Hooker*

S

Ohio State

6-1

205

n/a

1

Has been slowed by recent surgeries for a hernia and torn labrum but should be good to go for rookie camp. Excellent recognition skills, vision, and closing burst. A true ballhawk, had 7 picks in 2016.

Tre’Davious White

CB

LSU

5-11

192

4.47

1

A four-year starter, he led the SEC with 14 pass breakups in 2016 and had six picks in his career. Has outstanding playing speed, quickness, and hand strength. Could thrive best as a slot corner at the NFL level.

Marlon Humphrey*

CB

Alabama

6-0

197

4.41

1

Long, lean athlete with long, strong arms allowing him to match up well with bigger receivers. Like most Tide stars, he’s smart and instinctual, and a good tackler. His father Bobby (running back) and mother Barbara (track) were stars in Tuscaloosa.

Kevin King

CB

Washington

6-3

200

4.43

1-2

Tall, athletic corner with excellent playing strength. He can jam receivers with his strong hands and cover them deep with his long arms. More fast than quick, he may be the best run support corner in the draft.

Budda Baker*

S

Washington

5-10

195

4.45

1-2

An instinctive heat seeker, he makes up for a comparative lack of size with speed and toughness. Can play safety or hybrid linebacker. Was very productive (200 tackles, 5 INTs) in his career.

Obi Melifonwu

S

Connecticut

6-4

224

4.40

1-2

Blew away the competition at the combine with track star speed and athleticism (44.0 inches in the vertical leap, 141 inches in the broad jump). A bit of a tweener (does he bulk up and play LB?) but could emerge as a star in the right scheme.

Best of the rest: *Teez Tabor, Florida, CB (6-0, 199, 4.62); *Sidney Jones, Washington, CB (6-0, 186, 4.47); Desmond King, Iowa, CB (5-10, 201, n/a); Justin Evans, Texas A&M, S (6-0, 199, n/a); Corn Elder, Miami, CB (5-11, 183, 4.55); John Johnson, Boston College, S (6-0, 208, 4.61); *Josh Jones, North Carolina State, S (6-1, 220, 4.41); Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson, CB (6-1, 199, 4.40); *Quincy Wilson, Florida, CB (6-1, 211, 4.54); *Adoree’ Jackson, Southern Cal, CB (5-10, 186, 4.42).

Follow Jim McBride on Twitter at @GlobeJimMcBride. Follow Ben Volin on Twitter at @BenVolin.