Expect the unexpected to unfold as the draft gets started in Philadelphia on Thursday night
This is the week us draft geeks live for – the 2017 NFL Draft starts on Thursday night. We've read every mock draft out there. We know who is going where and in what round. It's all written in stone, right?
No so much.
The exercise of trying to predict how the NFL draft will unfold is — for all intents and purposes — useless. Be that as it may, many people somehow get paid a lot of money by some very reputable outlets to be wrong about the NFL draft. Nobody knows how it's going to go. The only group of people that can, without a doubt, project any one pick during the 2017 NFL Draft will be sitting in the Cleveland Browns’ war room on Thursday night.
The NFL draft is the biggest of crapshoots, and that leaves the door open for the outrageous to occur. Here is my best attempt at predicting some of it during the first round from Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Outrageous Predictions for the First Round of the 2017 NFL Draft
Four quarterbacks will be selected in the first round
NFL GMs just can't help themselves. Truth be told, less than half of the teams in the league are comfortable with their situations at the quarterback position as they look toward the next few seasons. As weak as this year's class supposedly is at the position, there are enough guys with enough potential to cause some of the more weak-willed executives in the league to pull the trigger on a signal-caller earlier than they should. Four of these five names will be drafted before they turn out the lights in Philadelphia on Thursday: Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina), Deshaun Watson (Clemson), DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) and Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh).
Four running backs will be selected in the first round
The evolution of the modern running back is complete. As a result, it's now safe to draft them early and often again. There are a bunch of guys who owe Ezekiel Elliott a cut of the rookie contract they are about to sign, as it was Zeke who last season convinced everyone that it wasn't crazy to grab your franchise running back early if you had the chance to do so. Leonard Fournette (LSU), Dalvin Cook (Florida State), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and Joe Mixon (Oklahoma) will all be drafted on Thursday night.
Three tight ends will be selected in the first round
We haven't seen a class as talented as this at the tight end position in a long time. This athletic group has it all: traditional guys, blocking specialists, oversized receivers and guys who can take handoffs out of the backfield. This combined with the ever-increasing complexity of NFL offenses in today's game puts these players at a premium. You'll see three of these guys included in the first round mini-run of tight ends: O.J. Howard (Alabama), David Njoku (Miami), Evan Engram (Ole Miss), Jordan Leggett (Clemson) and the fast-rising George Kittle (Iowa).
Jabrill Peppers won't hear his name called Thursday night
Even without the recent revelation of a positive test for a dilute sample at the NFL Scouting Combine, Peppers was at risk of falling to the second round. He's a great athlete with the potential to be a great football player, but the truth that nobody is really talking about is that he is a man without a position. NFL teams don't draft guys in the first round because they could play a certain position or role, they take guys who will play a position or role. It's all situational for Peppers. A combination of the needs of some teams, the players available and a general uncertainty of where and how he'll be used will cause him to fall. He's not a huge gamble, but he's enough not to risk a first-round pick on.
New England will draft before any other playoff team from this past season
As of right now, they are without a first-round pick — but I promise that will change. There are far too many talented players in this draft who play positions of need for Bill Belichick and the Patriots to pass up. They have enough picks to trade up and grab the guy they want. Additionally, they still have that Jimmy Garoppolo chip in their pocket, should any of those aforementioned weak-willed, quarterback-hungry GMs come calling.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.