Biggest fallers in the 2017 NFL draft class
With Mock Draft 1.0 out, it’s time to check in on those potential first-rounders who didn’t make the cut. As always, a number of factors come into play when sorting out the top 32, but there are some players who were initially thought to be in the mix who have not lived up to expectations this season. Here’s a look at the top draft fallers from preseason to this point in the year.
- Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
After grading among the nation’s top runners last season, Freeman is currently 36th overall at 75.3 and he’s even been benched by the Oregon coaching staff. Reportedly for effort/attitude issues, any benching is alarming no matter how talented Freeman may be. While he still moves well for a 230-pounder, Freeman has been moving east/west far too often for a downhill runner and it’s showed in his recent production where he had only 86 yards on 42 carries over a three-game stretch. Freeman’s workload will be watched closely down the stretch, as will his running style to see if he can get back on track.
- Devonte Fields, Edge, Louisville
Thought to be among the best of the top pass-rushers in the nation, Fields has taken a slight step back this season, ranking 31st at the position at 82.2 overall. It’s not a bad grade by any means, but for a potential first-round edge rusher, we’d like to see more pass-rushing production than his 80.2 grade that ranks 45th in the nation. He has only 21 pressures (three sacks, three QB hits, 15 hurries) on his 203 rushes after notching 49 pressures (13 sacks, seven QB hits, 29 hurries) on 350 rushes a year ago. It’s not a massive drop for Fields, but to make his run at the first round, he needs to win more of his one-on-one matchups on the edge.
- Zach Banner, OT, USC
It’s hard to ignore Banner’s Week 1 outing against Alabama in which he struggled against the nation’s top defensive front, particularly edge-rusher Tim Williams. As a pass protector, he’s recovered since that game, allowing only three pressures after allowing six to kick off the season, but it’s concerning that he hasn’t achieved last year’s strong work in the run game. After ranking among the nation’s best in 2015, Banner’s 70.5 run blocking grade ranks 86th in the nation this season. In a weak tackle class, Banner was on a trajectory to be in the early-round mix, and while he still may be, it hasn’t been his finest work this season.
- Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA
Like Banner, McDermott had a rough first impression and while he’s bounced back in pass protection, he was dominated by potential top-five pick Myles Garrett in Week 1. He’s recovered to grade at a respectable 81.4 in pass protection but he hasn’t taken the necessary step forward as a run blocker and his 45.3 grade in that department is alarming. Coming into the season, we saw McDermott as a reasonable pass protector who had room to improve in the run game, but he’s regressed so far this season. If there’s a glimmer of hope, McDermott has just put together his best three games of the year, so perhaps he’s finally turning it all around down the stretch.
- Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
McMillan was never the flashiest prospect, just a sure tackler who was always in position in both the run game and in coverage. This season, he’s found himself sealed at the second level far too often in the run game while getting lost in coverage more than usual, all while not making up for it with impact plays in either area. With other linebackers such as Alabama’ Reuben Foster and Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham outplaying McMillan this season, his first-round hype has died down though he still remains a solid linebacker prospect.
- Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
While uneven quarterback play certainly hasn’t helped matters for Dupre, he got off a rough start this season, losing contested catches and dropping three passes in his first two games. He’s worked back to form the last few weeks, but he hasn’t shown the ability to dominate like you’d like to see from a future top-round receiver. His ability to track the downfield pass has always been a strength though we’ve rarely seen him make tough catches over the middle. The lack of physicality at the catch point is most concerning and something to keep an eye on in his development going forward.