With the NFL Draft finally in our rearview mirror, we recently held a five round rookie draft mock with some of the writers from DLF and a few other industry experts. The draft was held in the linear format that most dynasty leagues use, and the drafters were asked to draft based on their own individual rookie rankings, and not assume any pre-existing team rosters. Everyone was also kind enough to include comments for each of their picks.
While much of the early drafting did not deviate too wildly from general expectations, it is certainly interesting to see people’s thoughts in the later rounds. As anyone who took Denarius Moore in the fourth round of a rookie draft last year can tell you, there are certainly gems to be found – you just have to know where to look and hopefully have a little bit of luck.
The fantastic people that participated in the draft, in draft order (randomized, I swear!) are as follows:
1. DLF – Myself (Jarrett Behar)
2. DLF – RyanMcDowell
3. DynastyBlitz – AndrewMiley
4. 2 MugsFantasyFootball – RyanForbes
5. DLF – SteveWyremski
6. DLF – PaymonShokoohi
7. Rotoworld – ChrisWesseling
8. DLF – ChaseWheetley
9. DLF – EricDickens
10. ProFootballFocus – BryanFontaine
11. 2 MugsFantasyFootball – JohnSarmento
12. DLF – TimStafford
You can check out the whole draft with commentary here.
1.01 Me – Trent Richardson, RB CLE
1.02 Ryan – Andrew Luck, QB IND
1.03 Andy – Robert Griffin III, QB WAS
1.04 Ryan – Doug Martin, RB TB
1.05 Steve – Michael Floyd, WR ARI
1.06 Paymon – Kendall Wright, WR TEN
1.07 Chris – Justin Blackmon, WR JAX
1.08 Chase – David Wilson, RB NYG
1.09 Eric – Alshon Jeffery, WR CHI
1.10 Bryan – Rueben Randle, WR NYG
1.11 John – Lamar Miller, RB MIA
1.12 Tim – Stephen Hill, WR NYJ
It’s become fairly crystallized that, outside of 2 QB leagues, Trent Richardson is the No.1 overall rookie draft pick. Considering that Cleveland has already indicated they intend to use him as a rare three-down back, its not hard to understand why. Can’t blame Ryan for taking Andrew Luck second overall – he’s probably the safest, “highest floor” quarterback prospect to ever come along. Remember that some people seriously debated whether the Colts should draft Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning. While people are concerned with RGIII’s durability considering that he’s a running quarterback who took some serious shots at Baylor, I believe that the Washington Shanahans are going to tailor their offense to protect the incredible investment they have made.
I don’t think we will see a rookie quarterback class like this for a while, if ever, and, given the greater longevity of quarterback vs. running back, I can understand why the quarterbacks went two and three in this format. That being said, I would have taken Doug Martin second overall. In my mind, 12 team leagues are the cutoff where quarterback is not yet at an extreme premium. You can win a championship with a quarterback in the 8-12 range, but finding a stud running back is becoming extremely more difficult these days. Martin’s skill set and the situation that he landed in make him too good for me to pass up at 1.02.
I am in the camp that takes Michael Floyd as the first receiver off the board. Playing second fiddle to Larry Fitzgerald can be re-characterized as getting to learn from Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals are going to figure out their quarterback situation, which may turn out to be as simple as getting their O-line transformed from being literally offensive. Floyd won’t see double coverage and he has the perfect teacher to help him with his route running, the main weakness in his game.
The first real surprise in the draft came when Paymon took Kendall Wright over Justin Blackmon at 1.06. Paymon said he had Wright as his No. 1 receiver overall going into the draft, and Blackmon’s landing spot only solidified that. Wright did land in what is shaping up to be a dynamic Tennessee offense. I can’t say that I’m not excited about him going forward. After missing the very beginning of rookie camp with a minor foot issue, Blackmon has already received rave reviews. Remember, he is likely going to play the Roddy White “Z receiver role” in Mike Mularkey’s system. The knock on Blackmon (lack of elite speed) is not something that should hold him back in that role. If he can even approach White-level production (something that may depend more on his quarterback than himself), he will provide justification for those who have him listed as this year’s WR1.
Personally, I don’t love David Wilson. However, after the top seven picks were basically the projected top seven players in one order or another, I can’t blame Chase for grabbing him here at 1.08. I just don’t see the Giants moving towards anything other than a RBBC anytime soon, and Wilson is not a “run-between-the-tackles” guy who is going to grind out games for them in the fourth quarter. I think with Wilson, you either believe in him, or, if you don’t, you still pick him in this area because he has excellent general perceived value at this point. Find someone in your league that needs a running back and missed out on Richardson and Martin, or the Ahmad Bradshaw owner to see if you can get value for him.
I may be the guy who is most excited about Alshon Jeffery and where he ended up. My personal feeling is that he dominated two years ago and got complacent and out-of-shape this past year. By all accounts, he is back in shape, looks great, and is ready to put his elite-level ball skills to work. That is a perfect match for both Jay Cutler’s style of play/cannon arm, and the single coverage that Jeffery will usually see thanks to Brandon Marshall. I’m ready to have people throw this back at me if I’m wrong, but I think that at the end of the year, Jeffery may be the most valued receiver out of this class.
As excited as I am about Jeffery, I am less than enthused about Rueben Randle. Brian acknowledged as much, commenting that he doesn’t love having picks in the late first this year, and that Randle has limited upside behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. I guarantee that anyone trying to base their valuation of Randle on a claim that the Giants can’t afford to keep both Nicks (2014 UFA) and Cruz (2013 RFA) cannot tell you very much in the way of detail as to the Giants cap space next year, and certainly not in 2014.
John’s pick of Lamar Miller was a little outside the box at 1.11, as I haven’t really seen him go in the first, or over Ronnie Hillman or Isaiah Pead for that matter. I agree with John that Miller has a decent chance to overtake Daniel Thomas as the lead backup for Reggie Bush, but I also see Miller as more of third-down back and slot receiver. A major knock on him coming into the draft and a reason that he fell into the third (other than the shoulder surgery) was a question about his ability to pick up the playbook. It will be important for him to overcome that to pick up meaningful playing time.
I’ll be the first to admit that I keep going back and forth about Stephen Hill. I completely agree with Tim that he’s one of, if not the biggest, boom or bust player in this rookie draft. It is hard to pass on his upside, though. If the Jets can get some kind of downfield passing game going, and Hill can mature as soon as many expect he will, then he could end up being a real gem at his rookie draft ADP.
2.01 Me – Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN
2.02 Ryan – Isaiah Pead, RB STL
2.03 Andy – Coby Fleener, TE IND
2.04 Ryan – Mohamed Sanu, WR CIN
2.05 Steve – LaMichael James, RB SF
2.06 Paymon – Marvin Jones, WR CIN
2.07 Chris – Brian Quick, WR STL
2.08 Chase – Ryan Tannehill, QB MIA
2.09 Eric – A.J. Jenkins, WR SF
2.10 Bryan – Ryan Broyles, WR DET
2.11 John – Brandon Weeden, QB CLE
2.12 Tim – Bernard Pierce, RB BAL
Ronnie Hillman may have landed in the ideal spot. My pick comments summarize my beliefs: “fully expect him to take over as Denver’s lead RB in 2013 after a year of seasoning behind Willis McGahee. Talented running back on a Peyton Manning quarterbacked team? Yes, please.”
The talk is the Rams expect Isaiah Pead to take over as the replacement to Steven Jackson. Others see him as more of committee back. Either way, the value is there to take him at the end of the 1st/early 2nd.
Coby Fleener is really the only option in the first two (and maybe three) rounds at tight end this year. He’s got the added benefit of familiarity with Andrew Luck – just don’t get carried away with the Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez comparisons with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
I’m staying away from Mohamed Sanu in rookie drafts because I believe that Marvin Jones will eventually win the WR2 job in Cincinnati. As a result, I love Paymon’s pick of Jones at 2.06 – no way he gets back to him at 3.06. If you believe in a guy, sometimes you have to go ahead and take him even if it’s earlier than his ADP. At the end of the day, its your team.
As Steve points out, LaMichael James could very well end up being a dynamic part of an excellent running back committee with Kendall Hunter after Frank Gore moves on. If he can learn to cut out the negative runs and live up to his second round draft status, he may be able to attain PPR RB2 status, which is not bad for a mid-second round rookie pick.
Chris, as usual, is dead-on with his comments on Brian Quick. His second round price could end up being far outpaced by his production if the Rams’ assessment of him is correct.
I really like Ryan Tannehill this late. I think he’s a great flier at the end of the second, especially if you have an older established quarterback like Drew Brees or Tom Brady, where you can afford to wait on him. I love what it says about his work ethic that he was willing to play receiver at college to get on the field, but kept attending the quarterback meetings – it just gives me a good feeling about him.
I loved A.J. Jenkins’ skill-set coming out of Illinois, but something just doesn’t feel right about him and his landing spot with the 49ers. He has a ton of early competition for playing time, not just from Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, but also UDFA Chris Owusu, who likely would have been drafted if not for concussion issues. Jenkins is fairly polished though, and if Moss ends up teaching him the finer points of being a deep threat, look out.
The Lions took Ryan Broyles in the second, despite the fact that he may start the season on the PUP list after ACL surgery. You may have to wait for year two for his impact, but the Detroit offense is going to be dynamic enough to give Broyles serious WR2 value if he pans out.
Brandon Weeden is more than likely going to start for the Browns this year. You should pretty much know what you have in him after the 2012 season, which is more than what you can say for most rookies. His major concern (pocket awareness and the ability to handle the blitz) will either prove itself to be manageable or not by the end of the year. If he can adjust, he has the arm and the intelligence to prosper, especially with the Browns offense running through Trent Richardson.
Bernard Pierce’s best case scenario is basically a handcuff to Ray Rice. I think you can do better at 2.12 given the depth of the receivers in this draft. Given my proclivity to build dynasty teams around receivers, that’s the route I would have gone here.
3.01 Me – Chris Givens, WR STL
3.02 Ryan – Robert Turbin, RB SEA
3.03 Andy – Greg Childs, WR MIN
3.04 Ryan – Nick Toon, WR NO
3.05 Steve – Ladarius Green, TE SD
3.06 Paymon – Devon Wylie, WR KC
3.07 Chris – Cyrus Gray, RB KC
3.08 Chase – Dwayne Allen, TE IND
3.09 Eric – Juron Criner, WR OAK
3.10 Bryan – Vick Ballard, RB IND
3.11 John – T.J. Graham, WR BUF
3.12 Tim – DeVier Posey, WR HOU
Chris Givens has good speed and elite level ball skills – two things that may help him develop into a reliable asset for Sam Bradford.
Robert Turbin is being drafted as the backup to Marshawn Lynch, but the Seahawks have other decent runners on the roster including Leon Washington, Tyrell Sutton and Kregg Lumpkin.
If Greg Childs can recover from injury and return to his prior, projected first round pick form, he’s in a good situation where there’s not a heck of lot going on after Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson.
This is as high as I’ve seen Nick Toon go – beware about drafting for situation and not talent.
This also seems a little early to me for Ladarius Green. Not many people can afford to wait multiple years for a tight end to develop, which is likely in Green’s case playing behind future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates.
Cyrus Gray may seem buried on the Kansas City depth chart, but Peyton Hillis is only there on a one-year deal.
Dwayne Allen was the best all around tight end in the draft, but is falling into the third and fourth because the Colts also selected Fleener. Its not going to be Gronk and Hernandez, but there’s still value there.
Juron Criner is getting the Denarius Moore treatment so far and his rookie draft ADP is shooting up because of it – just don’t forget he’s still playing in shorts and a t-shirt.
Vick Ballard has a shot to get playing time as the between the tackles complement to Donald Brown that Delone Carter doesn’t seem to be so far.
T.J. Graham is good upside pick in the late third. There’s nothing remarkable on the Bills roster outside of Stevie Johnson and maybe David Nelson – just don’t expect immediate results. DeVier Posey has a chance to win the Texans’ WR2 job now that the Jacoby Jones experiment is over. The only problem is that makes him the fourth option in the passing game at best.
4.01 Me – T.Y. Hilton, WR IND
4.02 Ryan – Chris Polk, RB PHI
4.03 Andy – Joe Adams, WR CAR
4.04 Ryan – B.J. Cunningham, WR MIA
4.05 Steve – Travis Benjamin, WR CLE
4.06 Paymon – Tommy Streeter, WR BAL
4.07 Chris – Adrien Robinson, TE NYG
4.08 Chase – Russell Wilson, QB SEA
4.09 Eric – Ryan Lindley, QB ARI
4.10 Bryan – Marvin McNutt, WR PHI
4.11 John – Chris Rainey, RB PIT
4.12 Tim – Orson Charles, TE CIN
T.Y. Hilton has good speed and could turn into Andrew Luck’s downfield threat.
Chris Polk has talent, but can he stay healthy?
There is currently a open slot across from Steve Smith in Carolina and if Joe Adams can deal with NFL press coverage (and if Brandon LaFell falters), he could be a good fantasy producer.
The best thing I can think of to say about B.J. Cunningham is that he has a shot for relevance on a Miami team lacking depth at receiver.
Travis Benjamin might start at slot receiver for the Browns – that’s about as good as you are going to do for 2012 impact in the fourth round.
Tommy Streeter has good size and makes a decent stash, though shouldn’t be counted on to produce this year.
When a solid talent evaluator like Jerry Reese anoints Adrien Robinson as the “JPP” of TEs, you listen, even if you never heard of the player before.
The only negative thing people can find to say about Russell Wilson is his height and he makes a decent quarterback stash if you have the roster space.
The same goes for Ryan Lindley with no established quarterback and a good receiving stable that includes Larry Fitzgerald and young receiving talent in Arizona.
Marvin McNutt could challenge Riley Cooper as the WR4 in Philadelphia.
I love Chris Rainey, but see more chance for real football relevance than in fantasy. Keep in mind that Todd Haley couldn’t/didn’t turn Dexter McCluster into a fantasy asset.
Orson Charles was once rated as the best tight end prospect in this draft. The situation seems less than ideal, but he could turn into a nice complement to Jermaine Gresham.
5.01 Me – LaVon Brazill, WR IND
5.02 Ryan – Jarius Wright, WR MIN
5.03 Andy – Evan Rodriguez, TE CHI
5.04 Ryan – Brock Osweiler, QB DEN
5.05 Steve – Rishard Matthews, WR MIA
5.06 Paymon – Jeff Fuller, WR MIA
5.07 Chris – Michael Smith, RB TBB
5.08 Chase – Taylor Thompson, TE TEN
5.09 Eric – Danny Coale, WR DAL
5.10 Bryan – Nick Foles, QB PHI
5.11 John – Michael Egnew, TE MIA
5.12 Tim – Chris Owusu, WR SF
LaVon Brazill is going to take some seasoning, but could end up as Andrew Luck’s go to guy not named Coby Fleener.
I can name four Vikings WRs who I’d rather have than Jarius Wright and that’s saying something.
Evan Rodriguez may end up passing Kellen Davis as the Bears pass catching tight end at some point, but that’s probably not something you are going to see carried on many rosters.
Brock Osweiler is very tall.
Rishard Mathews and Jeff Fuller (see B.J. Cunningham above).
Michael Smith may be the best pick in this round. He could end up being the other half of a rookie running back attack for the Buccaneers, especially if they split ways with a soon-to-be, if not already, disgruntled LeGarrette Blount.
Taylor Thompson is raw, but the former DE is extremely athletic.
Danny Coale could end up as the Cowboys WR3 – a position that was very fantasy friendly last year. See Robinson, Laurent.
Nick Foles might turn into Mike Kafka in a year or two.
My five year old son can block better than Michael Egnew, but he is a pass catcher on a Dolphins team bereft of those.
Chris Owusu would have been drafted if not for a history of concussions, and is someone to watch if he makes the 49ers.