College football has many great players, but not all of them will make it into the NFL. Even fewer will become highly-touted first round prospects. Those who are will get a lot of attention and hype in 2017, from fans, analysts, and NFL people alike.
Here’s a list of eight players who, if all goes well, will likely be highly-touted first-round picks in next April’s NFL Draft.
1) Sam Darnold, QB, Redshirt Sophomore, USC
All eyes will be on the USC quarterback once the season gets underway, as he has a legitimate chance of being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft if he has a good enough season and other things fall his way. It will be an interesting study in how he handles pressure; Darnold wasn’t even the starter at the beginning of last season, and even as he was lighting up the Pac-12, expectations weren’t as high as they will be now. This is a USC team with playoff aspirations and a player surrounded by lots of Heisman hype.
If Darnold proves he’s the real deal, he’ll easily be a top-five pick at minimum. Consider that he threw for 31 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards despite not even starting his first game until the end of September.
Of course, Darnold is only a sophomore. If things don’t work out the way he hopes in 2017, he can always stay in school for another season. He may choose to return for his junior season even if he does light it up this coming season.
2) Josh Rosen, QB, Junior, UCLA