Let's start by emphasizing the first part of the headline above: way-too-early. There's a reason we use that terminology for this piece. I have not studied tape on most of these players. I've simply done my best to match up many of the top players on my preliminary list with teams that make sense.
A few more important notes:
Most of my evaluations below came from what I've been able to see watching them in person or on TV. We still have a ton of work to do on everyone in the 2017 class.
Last year, 15 players who were featured in my way-too-early mock draft ended up going in the 2016 first round. As we saw with Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith, injuries are impossible to predict and certainly impact a player's draft stock.
The draft order below was generated by Football Outsiders, using its early projected records for the 2016 season.
Here is my way-too-early NFL mock draft for 2017. Underclassmen are noted with an asterisk.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson*
We have limited information on Watson's intangibles, measurables and medical information, but by all accounts, he has outstanding personal and football character. While I still need to study his reads and true accuracy more, he has a good arm and flashes anticipation as a passer. Watson put up 40 points in the College Football Playoff National Championship against an Alabama defense that had four players drafted in the top 60 and has another three featured here.
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (FL)*
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Kaaya will have to bulk up to withstand the pounding in the NFL, but he's a tough competitor. You can tell watching him play that he's very smart and processes information quickly. He has the tools to develop and shows good touch/timing as a passer. If the 49ers are picking this high -- remember: I didn't set the order -- they're likely still in need of a quarterback upgrade.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M*
Ranked as the fourth overall recruit by ESPN in 2014, Garrett has lived up to the hype in his first two seasons in College Station. It's hard to watch much of a Texas A&M game without seeing him in the backfield. In total, he has posted an incredible 33.5 tackles for loss (including 24.0 sacks) in 25 college games. That's the kind of production you're looking for from a potential top-five pick.