The NFL’s regular season has come to an end, and that means that the top of the draft order is now set. This allows football writers and analysts to compile their most accurate mock drafts yet, which gives us a better idea of which skill position players from the college ranks could end up on which professional teams.
We won’t know about these players’ destinations for sure until the draft actually takes place, but here are a few potential impact rookies toward the top of the order to keep an eye on for your 2017 fantasy drafts.
Mitch Trubisky – QB, North Carolina
UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky is expected to enter the draft following his junior season, despite his rough curtain call in the Tar Heels’ bowl game against Stanford. In that game, Trubisky threw two picks as his team lost by only two points. On the season he was terrific, throwing for more than 3,700 yards with 30 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. As a result the QB has been listed as a possible number one pick. More and more people seem to be guessing that Trubisky will wind up with the Browns who, once again, desperately need a QB. Whether or not that makes him an instant fantasy stud is debatable, but he’s certainly a player to keep in mind.
Dalvin Cook – RB, Florida State
With over 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns on the season, Dalvin Cook has probably solidified himself as the top running prospect in this year’s class. He also had a monster bowl game as Florida State took down Michigan, while fellow top RB Leonard Fournette chose to sit out his bowl game. Either could be picked before the other, but most projections have Cook going earlier—possibly as high as number four to the Jaguars. Jacksonville failed to make a fantasy star out of T.J. Yeldon, but the way some other young backs (think Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley) have produced in recent years, there’s every chance that Cook could be a strong rookie asset.
Deshaun Watson – QB, Clemson
Heading into this year’s College Football Playoff, there’s been a lot of talk about Clemson clawing its way to a rematch with Alabama. Much of that discussion has centered around QB Deshaun Watson, a two-year Heisman candidate (but not a winner) who many view as the player with the best shot at taking down the Crimson Tide. Watson helped Clemson to a semifinal win over Ohio State, and regardless of what happens in the final he’s probably the top QB prospect behind Trubisky. His ability to rush and create opportunities for himself makes him a very exciting fantasy player to keep on your radar.
Leonard Fournette – RB, LSU
Fournette has had some injury issues during his college career, and he skipped LSU’s bowl win over Louisville, which has earned him a fair bit of criticism. He’s also probably the most talented running back available, if not the best we’ve seen in several years. There’s growing buzz about Fournette potentially landing with the Carolina Panthers at number 8, and it’s hard to imagine him not being an instant impact player if that scenario comes to fruition.
Mike Williams – QB, Clemson
We probably shouldn’t overthink this one. Clemson has produced excellent wide receivers in recent years, most notably Sammy Watkins and Deandre Hopkins. Mike Williams looks to be next in line. At 6’3” and about 205 lbs., with great hands and good speed, he’s a virtually flawless receiver prospect and a clear pick as the best at his position in this class. He could go as high as number 5 to Tennessee, though the Bills at number 10 have also come up as a possible destination. Either way, he’s the rookie WR to watch.