Best College in the 2017 NFL Draft

Story posted April 9, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Brian McLaughlin

Surprisingly in the 2017 Super Bowl, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights had the most players from any school between the Falcons and Patriots. This came as a surprise to many football fans who have watched Rutgers struggle in the college football landscape for the last decade. Looking at what college team will have the most success in this year’s draft, Rutgers is definitely not in the discussion. The top teams in my opinion are Alabama, Ohio State, and Michigan.

Michigan has possibly 10 players that could get drafted from this year’s defense alone. They are led by arguably the most versatile player in the draft with Jabrill Peppers. He played linebacker in college, but a move to safety is likely for the college standout. Also headlining this class is Taco Charlton, a defensive end with great upside. He has great speed and should be a late first round pick. If he is drafted in a 3-4 scheme, a move to outside linebacker is possible. While these two players could turn into solid NFL players, I do not think they are deep enough to produce super stars to name them the best college team in the class.

Alabama has dominated the sport of college football ever since Nick Saban took over as head coach. This year in a draft stock full of defensive talent, Jonathan Allen leads the way as a defensive tackle. I see him translating to a powerful run stopper up the middle. I think he is ready to play right away and may not get quite as many sacks as in college but will still be productive. Also in this class out of Alabama is middle linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster has a nose for the ball and can be compared to other Alabama linebackers in the NFL such as CJ Mosley and Dont’a Hightower. I think Foster could be the best player of this draft on the defensive side. Also coming out of Alabama is a tight end who could be taken in the top 10 picks with OJ Howard. Howard was not fully utilized in Lane Kiffin’s offense with the Crimson Tide but has great potential as both a blocker and pass catcher. Almost any other year Alabama would have the top draft class that I think will succeed in the NFL but this year they are just short.

The Ohio State Buckeyes will have the most success in the NFL with this year’s draft class. Their entire secondary is graduating, and three of which could go in the top 15 picks. Starting with Marshon Lattimore, who is the top corner back in the draft. He has the potential to be a shut-down corner and was tasked at Ohio State with the best wide receiver on the opposing team. Next is the second-best safety in this class, Malik Hooker. A freak athlete with little experience, Hooker has tremendous upside but will need some grooming before he is ready to start. Hooker has the tools to be a powerful force in the rundown at the NFL level. Star linebacker at Ohio State, Raekwon McMillan will not reach the level of Reuben Foster but has tremendous speed and is similar to Ryan Shazier. Last on this list is a player who is flying up draft boards, Gareon Conley. While Lattimore was the player tasked with covering the best receiver, Conley still was a lock-down corner while at Ohio State. He has great physical player but it will be interesting to see if he can play against a number one receiver in the NFL. Overall, these four players could all be pro bowlers, which is why I believe they will be the most successful college team in the NFL draft this year.

 

Brian McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email bxm48@psu.edu