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When it comes to the first round of the NFL draft, not every player is set in stone to be an All-Pro-type player.
While some are surer bets than others, there are always those few draftees who present some inherent risk. Sometimes those risks pay off. And sometimes they don’t.
Some recent examples include Johnny Manziel, Phillip Dorsett, Dion Jordan, Dee Milliner and, if you want to go back a little further, guys like Derrick Harvey and Matt Jones—both drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
You will find a first-round mock draft below, and you will also find three guys who are some of the riskiest picks from the first round below.
Who do you think is the riskiest player?
NFL Mock Draft: Round 1
1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
2. Buffalo Bills (projected trade w/ New York Giants): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Sam Darnold, QB, USC
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
9. San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
10. Oakland Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
12. New York Giants (projected trade w/ Buffalo Bills, via Cincinnati Bengals): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
14. New England Patriots (projected trade w/ Green Bay Packers): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
15. Arizona Cardinals: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
22. New York Giants (projected trade w/ Buffalo Bills, via Kansas City Chiefs): Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
23. Green Bay Packers (projected trade w/ New England Patriots, via Los Angeles Rams): Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
25. Tennessee Titans: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
27. New Orleans Saints: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
30. Minnesota Vikings: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
31. Green Bay Packers (projected trade w/ New England Patriots): Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
32. Arizona Cardinals (projected trade w/ Philadelphia Eagles): Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Riskiest Mid-1st-Round Picks
17. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
When it comes to risk and Maurice Hurst, talent and ability have nothing to do with it.
In fact, Hurst is probably going to be the hardest defensive tackle in this draft to block from an opposing offensive linemen’s perspective, and he’s perhaps the best defensive tackle in the class.
However, Hurst was diagnosed with a heart condition prior to the NFL Scouting Combine and did not participate.
Since then, though, Hurst has been cleared by doctors to resume playing football.
While that is all fantastic news, this is a heart we are talking about. It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that heart issues are not to be taken lightly.
There’s no arguing the talent, but will this issue take Hurst off the field at some point during his career? Do we find out a year from now it’s too much for him to resume playing?
We don’t know any of that.
But with the No. 17 overall pick, the Los Angeles Chargers should invest in Hurst because he, along with defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, would form a defensive line that is like a Murderers’ Row.
Thankfully, he’s cleared to play football. But a heart condition does present risk no matter which way you look at it.
19. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Dallas Cowboys released wide receiver Dez Bryant on Friday.
With that transaction unfolding, it’s easy to speculate that the Cowboys could look to draft his successor in the first round of this year’s draft.
In the mock above, the Baltimore Ravens selected Calvin Ridley with the No. 16 overall pick, leaving the Cowboys with one less option at No. 19.
In this case, they choose Courtland Sutton.
What this boils down to is drafting for need. When it comes to accumulating talent, it’s not always the best idea to draft solely for need.
Based on the mock above, Dallas would be leaving players like Harold Landry, Marcus Davenport, Josh Sweat and a crop of defensive tackles on the table.
Sutton has plenty of ability and has measurables and attributes similar to those of Alshon Jeffery, according to Player Profiler.
But one flaw you could point to in Sutton’s game is his ability to separate consistently. Bryant has a similar issue.
The wide receiver class is a tad wonky this year, but there are guys in later rounds who could also help out the Cowboys.
There’s not a bona fide stud in this class, and taking a wide receiver at No. 20 who’s not the clear-cut top guy and solely for need presents a risk for any team—especially one like the Cowboys, who have struggled to throw the ball recently.
23. Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
Sweat was mentioned as a player the Cowboys would overlook should they draft Sutton. But the defensive end is far from a safe prospect.
In fact, he’s arguably the riskiest first-round pick in the mock draft.
Sweat has an abundance of athleticism, and he can play football. Meaning, for his position, he can get to the quarterback and create problems.
At 6’4″ and 251 pounds, Sweat ran a 40-yard dash of 4.53—that’s absurd.
All of these numbers are nice, but Sweat has a few issues working against him.
First, it could be speculated Sweat has a worth of athleticism, but can he be coached the right way to hone that? Will he just end up being an athletic guy but not a great football player?
That comes down to the coaching staff. Going to the Green Bay Packers, with head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, Sweat would be in the right environment.
But the second concern is the biggest: his knee. When Sweat was in high school, he suffered a major knee injury that almost resulted in him getting his leg amputated.
Talking with Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne, Sweat said: “It just snapped in half.”
Dunne reported Sweat tore his ACL, MCL and PCL, as well as dislocated his knee.
To be where he is, Sweat has overcome a lot. But being in the NFL with fully-grown men, how will his knee manage?
Sweat needs to go to a team that will use him properly and coaches him correctly to succeed, but the knee injury was severe—how will it hold up?
The talent and athleticism are there, but can the right coaching staff mold it to succeed at the next level?
By selecting him at No. 23, the Packers would seem to think so.