Mel Kiper Releases New 2017 NFL Draft Big Board - #6 Might Surprise You

The 2017 NFL Draft is nearly a full year away, but draft experts have already started to turn their attention towards prospects who could enter the draft. ESPN's Mel Kiper has posted him preliminary top 25 Big Board. Since Kiper's big board is blocked by the ESPN Insider Pay Wall, we've compiled the list below for you. 

All 25 players are listed below, along with their positions and schools. Not every player on this list is guaranteed to turn pro, and several might elect to stay for the senior (or in a few cases, junior) years. Kiper's big board will likely look much different closer to the draft, but this way-too-early look does give us a glimpse at some of the top prospects. With that in mind, let's get to the big board.

1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Kiper: "A brilliant, natural pass-rushing talent who, at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, has the length, strength and ability to bend the edge. Garrett has production -- 24.0 sacks in two years plus two games -- and he looks like a top-five lock if he stays healthy. He comes from an athletic family -- both his brother and sister are great athletes. He still needs to improve against the run."

2. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Kiper: "I usually devalue running backs at the top, but a healthy Fournette is really special. He has an incredible combination of size, speed and power that can make him look like a varsity player hanging with the JV. The question, of course, is whether he stays healthy, which is already an issue. The ankle injury he suffered before the season has already caused him to miss one game, but it could help his NFL value because he's less likely to match the 300 carries he had last season. He just needs to get healthy."

3. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
Kiper: "McDowell has already jumped a few spots from his preseason ranking of No. 6. I want to see his production this season, but he's a fantastic athlete with a huge frame (6-6, 290), and he can overwhelm blockers one-on-one. What happens when it's all double-teams is a question. He could be the top pick when it's all said and done."

4. Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Kiper: "Allen was brilliant in 2015, leading the Crimson Tide in sacks (12) and tackles for loss (14.5), and he already has 3.0 sacks in two games this season. Defensive end, defensive tackle -- he can play anywhere on the line. He could be in the mix for the top pick by April, and he has already risen a few spots on my board."

5. Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Kiper: "I moved Allen ahead of Williams, who was No. 1 two weeks ago, but don't get it wrong: Williams is still a premium pass-rusher who can be unblockable at times. He has had a quiet start to the season, but he had 10.5 sacks in 2015, even though he played only about 20 percent of defensive snaps. I'd like to see him become a more complete, productive player."

6. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Kiper: "Coach Jim Harbaugh raves about Peppers, who might be the most versatile player in college football. I had Peppers just outside the top 10 in my last Big Board, but I had to move him up. At 6-0 and 210 pounds, he plays safety, corner and outside linebacker -- he had a sack off the edge vs. Hawaii -- and is even a dynamic returner. Could he become a Deone Bucannon at the next level? I expect him to test off the charts at the NFL combine. He has been the most impressive player on my Big Board so far this season."

7. Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Kiper: "He has great bloodlines -- his dad, George Adams, was the No. 19 overall pick in the 1985 NFL draft -- and he is built for today's NFL: a versatile safety who can play in the box effectively and make tackles against the run and also move to the edges and track slot receivers. There is a premium on these monsterbacks."

8. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Kiper: "Watson is off to a funky start -- he's completing just 52.9 percent of his passes and has three interceptions in two games. He apologized on Monday and said high expectations have weighed him down. Let's see if he can get back to his form from last season. At 6-2 and 210 pounds, he might not have ideal size, but he's not small. He combines arm strength and touch and has tremendous ability with the ball in his hands, which doesn't just mean running; he also throws well on the move. He needs to get stronger, but as the nation saw in January's national title game, while Alabama won, Nick Saban's defense couldn't stop Watson."

9. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
Kiper: "Smith-Schuster is an elite and prolific wide receiver with a coveted combination of size and speed, and he isn't shy when it comes to delivering a blow or playing through contact. He was shut down by the stingy Alabama defense in the season opener (one catch for 9 yards), but he rebounded last week with two touchdown grabs vs. Utah State."

10. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Kiper: "Cook is a home run hitter, and he can turn small creases into massive gains. With good hands -- seven catches for 101 yards vs. Ole Miss -- and the ability to find and pick up blitzes, he's versatile. The thing you like about Cook is that he can flat-out run away from defenses but still packs a punch at 210-plus pounds. Running room was hard to come by vs. the Rebels, but he showed he can grind out yards."

11. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Kiper: "I thought Foster was Alabama's best linebacker last season. Yes, better than Reggie Ragland, who went in the second round to the Bills in this year's draft and whom I had as the No. 24-ranked player. Foster has more range and is more complete. Expect him to follow in the footsteps of inside linebackers from Alabama who have gone in the first round, such as Rolando McClain, Dont'a Hightower and C.J. Mosley."

12. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Kiper: "A 6-6, 327-pound tackle, Robinson was a starter from day one at Alabama, and he's already a known commodity around the NFL. He's battle-tested and extremely consistent. Robinson is pretty close to the range of "prototype" at the position and could move into the top 10 with another solid season."

13. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Kiper: "Williams has put behind him the scary neck injury that prematurely ended his 2015 season, and he's back to being Watson's go-to target in the Tigers' offense. Williams has great burst and speed for his size (6-2, 225 pounds) and he put up more than 1,000 receiving yards as a sophomore in 2014, which he's on his way to matching. He could be the first wideout off the board in April."

14. Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Kiper: "Tabor just makes big plays. He showed up in big moments every time I turned on the tape, breaking up passes and locking down defenders. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns in 2015. You can argue that Tabor was the most consistently effective Florida cornerback last season -- and Vernon Hargreaves III went No. 11 overall to the Bucs. Tabor was suspended for the Gators' first game of the season, but he played last week vs. Kentucky."

15. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Kiper: "Chubb didn't make my preseason Big Board because I wanted to see how he looked after the major knee injury he suffered last season. Well, he has looked incredibly strong so far this season. He showed power, carried defenders on his back, and ran through people while rushing for 222 yards and two touchdowns vs. North Carolina. He is always moving forward and utilizes great body lean, so when you tackle him he's taking you backward for a yard or two."

16. Mike McGlinchy, OT, Notre Dame
Kiper: "McGlinchey is a massive athlete (6-7, 310) who looks like a tight end with pads on. He could probably play tight end in a pinch. He played right tackle last season while Ronnie Stanley, who was the first tackle picked in the 2016 draft, played on the left. McGlinchey is now on the left side. Remember that Stanley made the same transition."

17. DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
Kiper: "After leading the Seminoles in tackles for loss last year (15.5), Walker is off to a strong start in 2016. I really like that he is strong vs. the run game and is building his pass-rush arsenal, not the other way around. With 4.5 TFL in two games so far in 2016, he's on pace for a big season, and if the pass rush comes along, watch out."

18. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Kiper: "Humphrey is a big lockdown corner at 6-1, but he's young. He had three interceptions as a redshirt freshman last season, and he was a key playmaker for the national champs. He already has a pick this season, returning it for a touchdown in the Tide's beatdown of USC in Week 1. Humphrey could end up being better than Tabor. And he has great bloodlines: His father, Bobby, was a big-time running back at Alabama who was picked in the first round of the 1989 supplemental draft by the Broncos."

19. Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Kiper: "Nelson is entertaining to watch. How many times do you say that about a guard? At 6-5 and 325 pounds, he's incredibly powerful. It's rare for me to rate a redshirt sophomore this high, but Nelson is a mauler. The Notre Dame offensive line is loaded again."

20. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama 
Kiper: "The senior hasn't been a prolific pass-catcher at Alabama, but he has all the tools scouts look for in an NFL tight end. At 6-6 and 250 pounds, Howard is going to light up the NFL combine. He can stretch the deep middle of the field and become a more dynamic weapon. So far this season, the trend of the Crimson Tide not getting him involved much has continued. He has five catches for 68 yards in two games. But the playmaking tight end is there, evidenced by last season's national title game when he had 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns. I could see a team taking him in the top 12."

21. Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Kiper: "The 6-3, 255-pound Harris is a pure pass-rusher. You also could make a case for him as the most disruptive defender in the SEC last season. He led the conference with 18.5 tackles for loss. He could play with his hand on the ground in a 4-3 defense or as a stand-up rusher in a 3-4."

22. Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
Kiper: "After breaking out last year (51 catches), Butt is off to a great start in 2016, with three touchdown catches in two games. He has the length NFL teams covet (6-6) and strong hands -- he consistently makes catches through contact, and can pluck the ball away from his body. He's not a big-time athlete, but he is above-average and has everything else you want in a tight end, and the Wolverines trust him to block, too."

23. Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Kiper: "At 6-7, Johnson is a natural left tackle with tremendous feet and good balance. After getting starts at left tackle as a true freshman, he was superb as a true sophomore and could rise up the board with another solid season. I could see him being picked in the top 10."

24. Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois
Kiper: "Illinois had two outstanding pass-rushers last season, and Smoot played like a first-round pick; Jihad Ward was on the other side and went to the Raiders in the second round. I had Ward as the No. 27 player on my final Big Board, but Smoot was more productive in 2015. He had 8.0 sacks to Ward's 3.0. At 6-3 and 255, Smoot plays the run well, too, and has a high motor."

25. Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (FL)
Kiper: "Kaaya is one of the toughest quarterbacks I've ever graded. He has a big arm, touch and growing poise as he reads the whole field. But he does force some throws and take some chances, and he needs to be more aware of coverages. He has 46 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions in his career. I'd like to see him improve his accuracy; through two games, he's completing below 60 percent of his passes."

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Related Topics: Mel Kiper Jr., 2017 NFL Draft, NFL Draft News, NFL News