The 2017 NFL Draft is two weeks away, meaning it is time for a massive ramp up of mock drafts, rankings and projections. If you missed it, we ranked the top five quarterbacks right here. Today we are going to focus on the secondary…
1. Malik Hooker, Safety, OSU – Outside of Myles Garrett, the best defensive player in the NFL Draft. Hooker has a higher ceiling but a lower floor than Adams, who is nipping at his heels for this spot. He has elite range and the ability to cover up for the flaws of the cornerbacks in front of him. Hooker is playmaker with a nose for the football who is still growing into his body as a 21 year old. He needs to improve his tackling fundamentals and run game support but Hooker has the potential to be a game changer for an entire defensive unit. He played through labrum and hernia issues last season but is expected to be ready for workouts in May.
NFL Comparison: Somewhere between a rich man’s Reggie Nelson and Earl Thomas
Projected Pick: #3 to the Chicago Bears
2. Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU – Athletic enough to play both safety positions but probably best served in a traditional strong safety role that allows him to regularly creep into the box. Adams is a high floor player who has been lauded for his leadership, consistency and ability to come downhill against the run. Adams may struggle with the transition to the NFL when it comes to coverage and his ability to play center-field. The lack of bust potential and promise of a plug and play starter will be appealing to multiple teams in the top ten.
NFL Comparison: Landon Collins
Projected Pick: #6 to the New York Jets
3. Marshon Lattimore, Corner, OSU – A long history of hamstring problems is a major red flag for a cornerback prospect in the top ten. Medicals aside, Lattimore is clearly the best corner in this class based on his athleticism, instincts and natural man to man ability. He has the toolkit to be left on an island in man coverage starting on day one. This is a bigger boom or bust pick than his teammate Hooker but some team is going to roll the dice on him early.
NFL Comparison: Somewhere between Casey Hayward and a plus version of Vontae Davis
Projected Pick: #5 to the Tennessee Titans
4. Gareon Conley, Corner, OSU – Despite lacking the hype and ceiling of his teammate Lattimore, Conley is a safer pick who has the necessary tools to be a successful day one starter. He is versatile enough to play in a number of schemes and has terrific instincts and an ability to read patterns. Conley needs to improve in run support and as a tackler. He lacks top end athleticism and speed, which could lead to struggles against elite receivers in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Malcolm Butler
Projected Pick: #17 to the Washington Redskins
5. Budda Baker, Safety, Washington – A versatile, athletic safety who can also play slot corner in certain situations. Baker’s lack of size concerns some but it looks like he has solidified himself as a first round pick. He has the instincts to be a center-fielder and a game changer on the back end for the right defense. Durability at the next level is a fair concern.
NFL Comparison: Bob Sanders or a slightly lesser version of Tyrian Mathieu
Projected Pick: #31 to the Atlanta Falcons
Photo Credit: OSU.com