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An Early Look at the 2013 Draft Class: Volume Two

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a growth in the popularity of developmental dynasty leagues. These leagues add another element of strategy to traditional dynasty competition. In these leagues, you generally have two drafts. You have your traditional rookie draft and later (generally sometime in August), the league holds an additional draft to include a NCAA draft eligible player.

This player generally gets stashed on your taxi squad, thus not counting towards your regular roster limit. Obviously, the more you know about future NFL draft prospects, the better off you’ll be in these drafts.

I play in a few of these leagues and I have to say they are my favorite ones. I’m sure my passion for studying college prospects and the draft has something to do with it. That passion also gives me a built in advantage, because no matter where I’m slotted in the developmental draft order, I feel I am able to make an informed draft pick.

Playing in these leagues the last few years brought to light that there’s very little information out there for them. It’s too early for draft experts to come to any conclusions with another year of college tape yet to digest – that leaves owners to either draft based on their own knowledge of college football or go to an NFL draft site that has an evolving rankings list. This list will change drastically throughout the upcoming season, as it should. Even then, the information is real life football specific.

It’s not a problem for me since I do all of my own film study and prep anyway, but it presents a challenge for many owners.

This year I decided to do something about the information gap. I’m going to share my research with the DLF faithful!

I’ll study about 40-50 players and narrow it down to about 30 or so players that I’ll write about. The ultimate goal is to give you a very early top 12 list by mid-August. Understand this is a preliminary look, but at least you’ll be a little more prepared for the upcoming draft class. If you don’t play in a developmental league, this will give you a head start for next year’s rookie class as well. I do it so you don’t have to. With that said, I’ve already posted volume one, so let’s get started with volume two:

Logan Thomas, QB Virginia Tech

2012 Class: Junior
Height: 6′ 6″
Weight: 254 lbs.
Unofficial 40 Time: 4.65

 

PASSING

Season

YDS

Completion %

TD

INT

2011 3013 59.8 19 10
2010 107 46.2 0 0

 

Overview:

Logan Thomas’ first year as the Virginia Tech starting quarterback was a bag of mixed results. You have to split his season in two. The great thing about his season is that you can literally see when the light came on for him.

His first five games were shaky at best. In game six, against Miami, it started to click for him. Prior to that game, Thomas had five touchdowns (one rushing) and five interceptions. Against the Hurricanes, Thomas went 23-for-25, for 310 yards and five touchdowns (2 rushing), matching his overall touchdown totals for his first five games. He also rushed for the game-winning 19 yard touchdown on fourth down to give his Hokies a 35-31 last minute victory.

Over the last nine games of the season (including the Miami game), Thomas scored 25 touchdowns (10 rushing) with only 6 INTs – it was truly amazing turnaround. As a prospect Thomas is in the same mold of quarterback as Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman, but even more gifted of a duel-threat quarterback, because he’s a much better playmaker as a runner. He has a smooth, easy delivery as a passer and has a good feel for when to abandon the pocket and make a play with his feet. He has a good arm and has above average accuracy, and I especially like his confidence and demeanor.

I’m not sure exactly what offense Virginia Tech officially runs (because they don’t seem to know either), but it resembles the spread most of the time. That always brings up transition to the NFL issues, but it’s not the deterrent it used to be now that NFL offenses have opened up. There’s no question that Thomas needs to improve in making quicker decisions as a passer. He’s too often late with his second and third reads, causing his receivers to wait on the ball. However, I feel some of that will come with experience and maturity. Overall, I feel that Thomas has the highest ceiling of any prospect in this draft class.

Early conclusion: If Thomas has the year I expect him to have, he’ll not only threaten to be the top quarterback of this class, but he’ll be in the running for the first overall pick. The way the offenses are opening up in the NFL, his skill set transitions well to what offenses are going towards. Duel threat quarterbacks are much more valuable than in past years. He’s not Cam Newton, but he’s close when it comes to his athletic potential. If he gets paired with an innovative coordinator, his potential upside is limitless. He’s definitely a legit QB1 prospect for fantasy. I look forward to watching his development this upcoming year.

 

 

Knile Davis, RB Arkansas

2012 Class: Junior
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 226 lbs.
Unofficial 40 Time: 4.43  

 

RUSHING

Season

ATT

YDS

AVG

TD

2011 N/A Injured
2010 204 1322 6.5 13
2009 33 163 4.9 4

 

RECEIVING

Season

REC

YDS

AVG

TD

2011 N/A Injured
2010 19 136 7.2 1
2009 2 4 2.0 0

 

Overview: If I had to describe Knile Davis in one sentence it would be, “A freak of an athlete who has had many bad breaks.” With breaks, I mean that in a literal sense. I can’t recall seeing anything like this in a prospect, at least in recent memory. Davis has broken his left and right collarbone and has broken his left and right ankle (twice). That’s five broken bone injuries, and his latest break (broken left ankle) had him miss all of the 2011 season. The common theme is he’s had multiple broken bones to many different parts of the body. That certainly raises red flags and makes him a major injury risk going forward.

Injuries aside, Davis runs with exceptional balance and forward lean. He stays low naturally until he sees daylight and he explodes through it. He’s a terrific inside runner as well as very patient, allowing for his blocking to develop. With his patience and strong cutting ability, it makes him an ideal fit for zone blocking schemes. You realize just how special of an athlete he is when he cranks in that extra gear, because when Davis hits “go,” you see a six foot plus, 220 pound athlete move faster than he’s supposed to.

To add to it, he also possesses good hands and can line up at receiver. Simply put, he’s a legit all-purpose back. He has a solid stiff arm and runs through arm tackles. He can be brought down effectively when tacklers go low and practice good fundamental tackling techniques, but as we’ve seen, is not always the case. He’s not the violent tackle breaker as we see in Adrian Peterson (not many are), but you’ll definitely have to come properly and low to take him down consistently. Overall, you’re getting a special athlete with rare size/speed ratio with a humungous injury history. He’ll dazzle at the combine next year, and afterwards, he’ll be in the conversation of who’s the best running back of the class.

Early conclusion: To me, it’s all about what your appetite is for injury risk. If you can live with a guy who may be injured throughout his career, you’re going to get a legit RB1 prospect. He has superstar ability, but you can’t ignore the injury red flags either. I’d say to view him in the same manner that you’d view DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys. Personally, I tend to bet on talent and live with the injuries. I’ve been burned doing that, but I’ve never been good with passing up talent and playing it safe, either.

 

 

Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin

2012 Class: Senior
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 210 lbs.
Unofficial 40 Time: 4.57

 

RUSHING

Season

ATT

YDS

AVG

TD

2011 307 1923 6.3 33
2010 163 996 6.1 18
2009 98 391 4.0 4

 

RECEIVING

Season

REC

YDS

AVG

TD

2011 24 306 12.8 6
2010 16 128 8.0 0
2009 9 92 10.2 0

 

Overview: Statistically speaking, it doesn’t get much better at the running back position than Montee Ball. Those eye-popping numbers were good enough to place him fourth in the Heisman race last season. So, the big question is if Ball’s production is the product of the Wisconsin system or just plain talent? To answer that, I had to erase the stats from my mind and just dive into the tape. What I saw was a running back with good balance and vision. He possesses good hands and looks to be a natural receiver out of the backfield. He also holds his own as a blocker, which bodes well for his chances of being a three down back at the next level.

His measurements are listed at 5’ 11”, but he doesn’t look that big on film (could be due to the massive Wisconsin line). Wisconsin is a power running team and Ball has proven he can more than handle taking the pounding and physical toll it takes to be a between the tackles runner. He’s tough for his size and doesn’t look to bounce runs outside unnecessarily. Ball doesn’t improvise and follows the intended design of the play. His short, quick bursts on cuts makes him an ideal fit for the cutback zone blocking scheme. I think he’s a fit for all schemes, but feel his ceiling is highest in that one. Going back to the production question, I see Ball’s production as a combination of both scheme and ability. The scheme has certainly ballooned his numbers, but it’s Ball’s vision and cutback ability that makes him so productive within the scheme.

Early conclusion: It’s hard saying anything bad about a guy who has amassed nearly 2,000 yards and scored 33 TDs in one season, but you have to put those numbers in proper context and judge him on pure ability. It’s kind of like judging a spread offense quarterback where the stats are going to be huge. With that’s said, I ultimately see Ball as a solid RB2 in fantasy. He has the vision, quickness, and the required toughness to be successful at the next level. He ‘s not a true home run threat, but he makes up for it with his multipurpose ability.

 

Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas

2012 Class: Senior
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 220 lbs.
Unofficial 40 Time: 4.77

 

PASSING

Season

YDS

Completion %

TD

INT

2011 3638 63.2 24 6
2010 453 66.7 4 3
2009 218 61.1 2 2
2008 69 50.1 1 2

 

Overview: Tyler Wilson is built like a prototypical pocket quarterback. He has the size, arm strength, and pocket awareness you look for in a quarterback prospect. However, Wilson also possesses deceiving mobility. He looks like a traditional pocket quarterback (a statue as the saying goes), until he decides to run. Only then you realize how good of an athlete he is. When he has time to throw, he stands in and delivers with a confident and authoritative release. When facing blitzes, he isn’t bothered as long as he can step to his right to avoid the pressure. When defenses don’t allow him to his right, he does tend to get flustered and looks more uncomfortable – his decision making and accuracy also suffer as a result. I do expect some growth in that department in his senior year, but admit I’m a bit concerned due to the coaching turnover this offseason in Arkansas. Wilson now has to learn a new offense with a new coordinator. I’m hoping it doesn’t stunt his development.

Early conclusion: Wilson has the ability to play in any offensive system. I feel he’s definitely franchise quarterback material. His biggest weakness is his decision making under duress, as addressed above. I expect significant growth in that department in his senior year with a second year of being the starting quarterback under his belt. He’s a borderline QB1 right now and that really could go either way depending on his growth this season.

 

Paymon Shokoohi can be found @setmyroster on twitter and in the forums as dlf_paymons. Special thanks to @Jmpasq on Twitter for his YouTube video clips.

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bulc flog
10 years ago

Really like this series of analysis, as watching college football brings out the “scout” in all fantasy football managers. With this group of players, I agree with your thoughts on Tyler Wilson but would expect him to be further along at this stage of his college career. In my opinion he doesn’t consistently show great fundamentals (though a defense like last years’ LSU can make anyone look this way). Funny, when I watch tape of Wilson my eyes always gravitate to the work of his wide receivers like Greg Childs and Joe Adams! Thank you Paymon…keep up the good work.

Bill Rayfield
10 years ago

Good stuff, thanks!

10 years ago

Looking forward to the Da’Rick Rogers / Justin Hunter write-ups!

Good stuff, Paymon.

Robert Austin
10 years ago

I’m really interested in Eddie Lacy. So many ypc for his alabama career but still an enigma.

Chris Crane
10 years ago

The perks of being a student at LSU is you get to see top tier talent visit Tiger Stadium in the fall every year. With that being said I am fans on Wilson, Murray, Bray, and Knile. Ive seen them play live and like them, but I tell y’all what: Logan Thomas has IT. I knew about him last season but never really “evaluated” him because that is a skill you have to develop. Watching his video just now I am absolutely blown away. His first throw I swear I thought it was Cam Newton. Everything about him says Cam Newton 2.0. All my dynasty 1sts are in 2014 so I hope he comes out then, but this kid is better than the media favorite Matt Barkley. Landry Jones is going to be the project QB. Barkley, Landry and Wilson will be the 1,2,3 QBs in 2013 (no particular order) so that might make Logan go back to Va Tech for senior year. Ill put my money on Logan Thomas over all the QBs I have listed above. Feel free to comment Sir Paymon!

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