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 sharing my research with the DLF faithful!
Not everyone I study on film will make it to the written discussion. The purpose is to narrow it down to the top 12 prospects. Understand this is a preliminary look, but at least you’ll be a little more prepared for your developmental draft. If you don’t play in one of those leagues, you can use the information to better gauge the trade value of next year’sfirst round picks.
This entry will mark the fourth and final entry of the series. I’ve added a few more prospects to the discussion, and finally, the 2013 early ranking of the prospects. If you want to see the previous installments, just click the links below:
2012 Class: Junior
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 183 lbs.
Unofficial 40 Time: 4.53
Marquess Wilson is a tall, rangy, athletic receiver. He is a solid “hands catcher,” but does suffer from the occasional drop from time-to-time. He’s very quick for his 6’ 4” frame and is a solid route runner. He shows good speed on film and does well to create separation and press coverage doesn’t eat him up. Two of the routes that Wilson really excels in are the slant and the back-shoulder fade. Wilson will need to work on being more physical and could stand to gain another 8-10 lbs of muscle for his junior year. I feel he’s an ascending talent, but his quarterback situation is shaky from what I’ve seen on tape. It could factor in his stock rising this year. Overall, I feel Wilson has the skill set to develop into a WR2 talent in dynasty with some improvement in the physicality department.
Stepfan Taylor, RB Stanford
2012 Class: Senior
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 208 lbs.
Unofficial 40 Time: 4.57
Stepfan Taylor is one of my favorite underdog running backs of this class. He is severely underrated, and other than being in the shadow of Andrew Luck, I can’t figure out why that is. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t possess track speed for the highlight reel run. Whatever the reason, he needs to be recognized for the things he does well as a complete all purpose running back. Taylor possesses outstanding vision and lateral agility and quickness. He hits the hole aggressively and decisively and he even holds his own in pass blocking. I’d even venture to say he’s well ahead of most of the other running backs in pass blocking department – which is generally what holds most rookies back from playing time. Taylor’s vision and all purpose skill set translates well to the NFL level. He’s not flashy, but I project his dynasty value in the RB2-3 range. Don’t sleep on him because of the lack of flash.
Class of 2013 Dynasty Rankings
1. Marcus Lattimore, RB South Carolina: He’ll get knocked because of his speed, but the guy is as instinctive of a runner as you’ll see. Give me those instincts and his strong cutting ability over speed any day. If healthy, he’s a legit RB1 prospect in dynasty.
2. Knile Davis, RB Arkansas: I know the guy has injury issues with all those broken bones, but I can’t ignore the pure freak talent he possesses. I absolutely love watching him run the football. He has speed, size and everything in between. If he too can stay healthy (drink some milk!) he’s another RB1 prospect in dynasty.
3. Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee: I must be crazy because the top 3 guys on this list are all coming off of season ending injuries. However, talent trumps all and Hunter is the only receiver in this class that has elite talent. He hasn’t even scratched the surface of how good he can be. His talent level is in the Julio Jones and AJ Green territory. I don’t throw around praise like that lightly. No receiver in last year’s class (2012 class) received that kind of grade from me. WR1 talent doesn’t come along in every draft class, but this year there’s an opportunity to get one.
4. Keenan Allen, WR California: Just because I have Hunter as the only clear WR1 talent doesn’t mean I don’t value Allen’s potential. He has a lot of it and before I watched Hunter’s tape, he was my number one. Allen is more along the lines of what we had in this year’s draft class, which are solid WR2 prospects, but not quite elite.
5. Robert Woods, WR USC: I was a bit iffy on Robert Woods and still am. Statistically he’s very good, but in breaking down his tape, there are some questions about his game transitioning to the NFL. For details on what I mean see my write-up on him in Volume One. He’s currently ranked as number one on nearly every site I’ve seen. He’s a WR2 talent in my book.
6. Logan Thomas, QB Virginia Tech: To me, there’s only one QB1 talent in this class. Thomas may not be the first quarterback selected, but dynasty wise, he’s the player I want. His duel threat abilities sets him apart from the rest of the pack. He has some growing to do as a passer, but I think he has the tools to get there.
7. Marquess Wilson, WR Washington State: See above write-up.
8. Stepfan Taylor, RB Stanford: See above write-up.
9. Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina: Bernard is another guy on this list who will get knocked a bit because he’s not a burner. He has an opportunity to really elevate himself this season as the feature back at UNC. I expect him to produce at a level this season where he’ll forgo his junior season and enter the draft.
10. Terrance Williams, WR Baylor: A solid route runner and a good vertical receiver, I expect Williams to thrive this season and rise up the draft board now that Kendall Wright and Robert Griffin III are gone. The spotlight will be solely on Williams.
11. Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin: My evaluation of Ball is that he’s benefited greatly from the Wisconsin system. He’s good, but nowhere near as good as his statistics would indicate.
12. Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas or Matt Barkley, QB USC: There’s a virtual tie here between Barkley and Wilson. I feel Wilson is perhaps a bit more talented physically and Barkley has a leg up in accuracy and performing within the West Coast offensive system.
**Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama was one prospect that I did not have access to enough tape to form a conclusion. He belongs in the conversation, but because I couldn’t evaluate him he was not included**
Paymon Shokoohi can be found @setmyroster on twitter and in the forums as dlf_paymons.