DLF Mock Draft Study: Revealing the Rookie Pick Values

Jarrett Behar


This is Part IV in a series examining a full-scale mock dynasty league draft hosted by your gracious hosts here at DLF.  Part I examining Rounds 1 and 2, which details the participants and scoring, can be found here and Part II examining Rounds 3 and 4 can be found here.  Part III examining the first eight rounds of certain teams can be found here. You can see the whole draft report here and the team rosters here as well.

Now that the 2012 NFL Draft is in the books, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at where the rookie picks were selected in the DLF Mock which took place approximately two months before the NFL Draft to see where the picks were taken in relation to where the players that might be considered with those picks are likely to go in startup drafts.  Of course, this will obviously be affected by an individual’s own rookie rankings.  For purposes of this article, I’ll use mine, which I break up into tiers (I know it has 13 players, but I’m not limiting my last tier).  This year, my first round picks are tentatively in five tiers.  I’ll stay within my tiers when my pick comes up, but will pick among the players in the tier based on team need and ability to take risks, i.e. Griffin vs. Luck.

Tier 1

1          Trent Richardson, RB CLE

Tier 2

2.         Doug Martin, RB TB
3.         Robert Griffin III, QB WAS
4.         Andrew Luck, QB IND

Tier 3

5.         Michael Floyd, WR ARI
6.         Justin Blackmon, WR JAX
7.         Kendall Wright, WR TEN 

Tier 4

8.         Alshon Jeffery, WR CHI
9.         Stephen Hill, WR NYJ

Tier 5

10.       David Wilson, RB NYG
11.       Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN
12.       Rueben Randle, WR NYG
13.       Isaiah Pead, RB STL



Rookie Pick 1.01



Rookie Pick 1.02



Rookie Pick 1.03



Rookie Pick 1.04



Rookie Pick 1.05



Rookie Pick 1.06



Rookie Pick 1.07



Rookie Pick 1.08



Rookie Pick 1.09



Rookie Pick 1.10



Rookie Pick 1.11



Rookie Pick 1.12



Tier 1: Rookie Pick 1.01

I think that getting this pick at 2.09 represented a pretty good value.  I would expect Trent Richardson to go off the board no later than the early second at this point.  In fact, in one dynasty startup draft I’m currently involved in, he went at pick 1.03, before LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice.  While that is extreme, you are going to see his draft position fluctuate between the mid-first and early second.  With the Browns declaring him as a three-down back, and those kind of players in short supply, he is going to carry extremely high value in terms of both potential touches and potential production.

Tier 2: Rookie Picks 1.02, 1.03 and 1.04

While I thought these picks were good values during the draft, in retrospect, I now think these picks actually went just a little bit too high.  I have Doug Martin as the RB17, and Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck as QB6 and QB7 right now.  I think for the most part, you can and will be able to get those players in that range, depending on how your draft falls (the late 4th or 5th).  Of these values, I like the 1.04 the best.

As a side note, if you are doing a startup in a 12 team league (where QB is at less of a premium than in 14 or 16 team leagues), you are really going to have to pay attention to what your leaguemates think about the importance of the quarterback position.  If you are in a draft where Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Matt Stafford all go in the first, you may have to make a play for Griffin or Luck earlier than you otherwise would.  If only Rodgers goes in the first and Cam and Stafford make it into the second, you should be safe waiting until at least the fifth round to make your move.

Martin just ended up in the perfect situation.  When a running back who draws comparisons to Ray Rice ends up going to a RB-needy team coached by ex-Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano, you can’t really ask for more.  I expect Martin to start the season as the third down back with some work on early downs.  By the end of the season, I would not be surprised if he has relegated LeGarrette Blount to short-yardage duties.

Tier 3: Rookie Picks 1.05, 1.06 and 1.07

I dropped Blackmon into Tier 3 based on his lack of top-end speed that will likely prevent him from entering WR1 territory.  When I perceive a player’s ceiling as high-end WR2 territory, I can’t put him in my top two tiers – his situation caused me to push him down below Michael Floyd.

I like Floyd and he’s got a great guy to learn from in Larry Fitzgerald.  If he can learn to be more fluid in his route running, he will have a good shot to go down as the best receiver in this draft.  I don’t have any of the receivers in this draft on my Top 20 dynasty receiver list, which is why they are relegated to the third tier.  This makes Rookie Pick 1.05 a decent value in the early sixth round. On the other hand, 1.06 and 1.07 were extremely good values at the 8/9 turn when receivers like Mario Manningham, Laurent Robinson and Leonard Hankerson were at or around the top of the available receiver list.

This is true with respect to Kendall Wright as well.  I think he’ll go much higher than 9.01 in startup drafts.  He arguably landed in the best situation of these three receivers, and should be an important cog in what is looking like a high octane Tennessee offense.

Tier 4:  Rookie Picks 1.08 and 1.09

I’ve seen people comment both ways on Alshon Jeffery, but I really like his landing spot.  With Brandon Marshall in town, he’s not going to be asked to carry the load and should see mostly single coverage.  Whatever his negatives are, no one can deny he can locate and go get the ball, and Jay Cutler has the strong arm and gunslinger mentality to throw it up to him.  Admittedly, he is a risky, low floor player, which is why I have him in Tier 4, but he has huge upside.

Stephen Hill would be higher if he had landed in a better situation.  He’s in a run-heavy offense that doesn’t get the ball downfield that often, and it’s not likely he’s found a good mentor in Santonio Holmes.  He is extremely raw, and I don’t believe that the Jets are a good team for his development.

Again, these picks represented great value in the late ninth round.  I doubt these two players will still be around in this area in startup drafts going forward.

Tier 5: Rookie Picks 1.10, 1.11 and 1.12

The value of these picks were also tremendous.  I highly doubt any of these players make it into the tenth round of many, if any startup drafts.

I know I have David Wilson lower than most, but I don’t see the upside with him as much as others.  He is going to be in an undeniable timeshare for the foreseeable future, and I don’t really see the Giants transitioning from using multiple backs anytime soon.  If he corrects his fumbling issues, he will have RB2 upside, but I’m not sure he will ever get the workload necessary to elevate him to RB1 status.  This, coupled with the generally shorter shelf life of running backs compared to wide receivers, relegates Wilson to the top of Tier 5.

Ronnie Hilliman, however, is raw, but has the ability to mature and turn into a three-down back.  He is in a great scenario where he can play behind Willis McGahee this year and learn from both Willis and Peyton Manning.  He has a great chance to turn into a solid RB1 in the near future.

Reuben Randle is more of a developmental pick.  He’ll have an opportunity to take it slow behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, but the effect of playing behind those two will limit the available targets.  He has a good skill set and can go up and get a ball, but needs to work on his route running.  I feel like his upside for the foreseeable future is capped as a WR3, regardless of how wide open the Giants offense has become.

Isaiah Pead is someone I moved up into Tier 5 based on his situation.  He has a real chance to be the heir apparent to Steven Jackson, and has the talent to at least develop into the third-down back in St. Louis.

Final Impressions:

I think the main point to be derived is that if you are in a startup draft that occurs before the NFL Draft and allows you to draft rookie picks, there is great value in drafting the rookie picks that fall towards the end of the first round.  Essentially, you are getting the benefit of reduced value based on uncertainty.  Once we have some more post-draft dynasty startup ADP information, it will certainly be interesting to see where the ADP of these players (or whoever your top rookies are) falls compared to these early pre-draft results.

Please feel free to hit me up on Twitter or below with any questions or comments.  Follow me on Twitter.