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Rookie Bust Mock Draft: Round One

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Most rookie mock drafts you see like to focus on the strengths of each prospect selected – this isn’t one of those drafts.

At this point in the process, dynasty owners are used to hearing about the impressive arm strength of Jameis Winston, the exceptional burst and agility of Melvin Gordon and the incredible hands and route running of Amari Cooper. For good reason, we like to focus on the positives in each prospect’s game and inform our readers why a specific player will propel your fantasy team to glory. In this mock, however, we’ll try to throw up the red flag on some of the weaknesses our favorite rookies possess and explain which ones have the most potential to “bust.”

To be clear, we’re not necessarily proclaiming a player as a bust in this exercise. We just want to shine a light on some of the things that should concern dynasty owners going into their drafts.

There was only one rule for who was eligible for this three-round mock draft. To make sure all players taken were relevant dynasty picks – any player selected had to have been taken in the first three rounds of any DLF rookie mock draft during this off-season.

Let’s get started with round one.

1.01 – Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska

Ryan McDowell’s thoughts: I could forgive the fumbles and his size when he was a late second round rookie pick, but now that he’s being considered in the first round, Abdullah is my top candidate to disappoint dynasty owners.

My thoughts: I couldn’t agree more with Ryan. Had I held the first pick in this draft, I would have made the same selection for the same reasons. Investing a first round pick in a 5’9”, 205 pound tailback who fumbled 13 times while at Nebraska is a bit too risky for my liking. I’m concerned he’ll never be more than a part-time running back in the NFL and I wouldn’t be comfortable taking him any higher than the middle of the second round in rookie drafts.

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1.02 – Breshad Perriman. WR Central Florida

George Kritikos’ thoughts: Perriman has climbed from the third round pre-combine, to second round pre-pro day, to now being cemented in the first round in April rookie mock drafts, but a 40-yard dash in the 4.2s is more impressive on the track than the football field. He struggles with release and doesn’t have the physicality to win matchups. He could develop into a fantasy starter, but at a first round price, there is no risk built in for the likelihood he flops.

My thoughts: George is right. Perriman has skyrocketed up draft boards and was selected as highly as sixth overall in DLF’s early April mock drafts – that’s a high price to pay for an unpolished route runner with very questionable hands. He’s also slipped as far as 15th overall which is a much more realistic place to gamble on his upside – especially considering his blazing speed and lightning quickness at 6’2” tall.

1.03 – Sammie Coates, WR Auburn

Doug Green’s thoughts: Everybody is in love with the athletic talent of Coates, but I just can’t get past the drops.

My thoughts: Coates is a true boom or bust prospect. His drops at Auburn were maddening. Perhaps more infuriating however, he made countless mental mistakes. Constantly stopping on a route as the ball was being released and giving up on passes that look to be catchable, his numbers could have been far better in his last two years in college. For a receiver of his size (6’1”, 212 pounds), he’s not nearly as physical as you’d expect. While his size, speed and leaping ability make Coates a high ceiling player, his lack of focus and disinterested attitude at times drags down his floor. Considering him any higher than the mid to late second round of a rookie drafts is risky.

1.04 – Dorial Green-Beckham, WR Missouri

Brian Bulmer’s thoughts: His physical tools supersede any other player in this draft class. Green-Beckham may be considered as the top overall rookie selection if he didn’t have personal issues off the field. Many will consider him in the 1.04-1.08 range of drafts and feel he is worth the risk. Josh Gordon and Justin Blackmon have given dynasty owners enough headaches to reconsider drafting him that highly however. With that said, Dez Bryant was also young and immature entering the NFL and dynasty owners know what they get from him each week. Green-Beckham has monster red zone potential, but is really raw in his route running. If he can grow as a person and professional he could be a value pick in the draft, but if he lands in a bad situation with a questionable locker room, he could be out of the NFL sooner rather than later.

My thoughts: To go along with the off the field problems, Green-Beckham also has some question marks on the field. A wide out that stands 6’5” tall and weighing 237 pounds should be physical, dominating smaller cornerbacks – that’s not the case with DGB. He’s rerouted easily and doesn’t use his large frame in traffic to “box out” defenders before going up for the catch. When added to his unpolished route running and the headaches he caused while at Missouri, it’s easy to see why Green-Beckham has the potential to bust despite his impressive speed, incredible catch radius and excellent hands.

1.05 – Devin Funchess, WR Michigan

My thoughts: Funchess is one of the most interesting prospects in this year’s draft. Half tight end and half wide receiver, he’s too big for most cornerbacks to cover and too athletic and fast for linebackers to stick with. Even as a matchup nightmare however, there are flaws to Funchess’ game.

Very slow in and out of his breaks, he doesn’t show the burst of a strong route runner. With the ball in the air, he seems to lack the killer instinct to go up and get it like many with his size possess. Instead, he consistently lets the ball get to his body rather than plucking it from the air with his hands, causing him to have far too many drops as a Wolverine.

Although Funchess hasn’t been picked higher than 12th in any recent rookie mock drafts, his pro day performance has his stock on the rise. While he has the upside to bust out due to his impressive size/speed combination, he also has the potential to just plain bust due to his questionable ball skills and unwillingness to use his size as an advantage. Dynasty owners should consider that before picking him in the first round of rookie drafts.

1.06 – Duke Johnson, RB Miami

Nathan Powell’s thoughts: Concussions, concussions, concussions with a side of fumbling. I like the talent, but it seemed like Johnson rarely got through a game healthy. Going in the late 1st/early 2nd range, there are safer options with similar upside.

My thoughts: Along with the concerns Nathan pointed out, Johnson was also a bit of a one trick pony while at Miami. Although he’s a very explosive perimeter runner, he struggled at times between the tackles. Often running into the backs of blockers while trying to create a hole rather than waiting for a running lane, he didn’t always display good patience and vision as an inside runner.   Johnson’s running style also depends on being the right offense unlike some tailbacks. A true one-cut runner, he’s best fitted in a zone running scheme and could struggle in a power scheme.

1.07 – Jameis Winston, QB Florida State

Jacob Feldman’s thoughts: This is a tough pick to make because I think Winston is the clear top QB in this year’s draft. From a physical tools standpoint, he easily trumps any quarterback since Andrew Luck. The problems all center on his maturity and character or rather the lack of it. Will he keep his head on straight? Can he avoid any further off the field issues? Can he be the face of a franchise without making that team regret it? There are an awful lot of questions surrounding the young man. For me they are all off the field. He’s going to be a huge gamble for Tampa Bay over the next few years. If they can keep him on the right path, they could have a star. If not, it is going to set the franchise back another five years. For fantasy teams, you can probably get him in the late first or early second round, which is a fair compromise of risk and reward if you really need a quarterback.

My thoughts: To go along with the off the field concerns Jacob highlighted, there are also some things on the field that should give dynasty owners pause when considering Winston – most notably his insistence on making risky throws. While Winston has a rocket arm and sees the field very well, he throws off balance regularly which takes away from his arm strength and gives defenders opportunities to make plays on his passes. Winston also showed a lack of focus early in games while at Florida State. Although he consistently made big plays to get his team out of the hole that he helped dig, it’s far more difficult to do that on Sundays.

While I agree with Jacob that Winston is the top quarterback prospect in the draft, I feel like the red flags both on and off the field make him a risky first round rookie pick in 1QB leagues and I’d still prefer a safer choice like Melvin Gordon or Amari Cooper in superflex or 2QB leagues.

1.08 – Todd Gurley, RB Georgia

Aaron Swinderman’s thoughts: I’ll take a grenade here. Yes, he is Todd Gurley and is an incredible player. With that said, he’s coming off of an ACL tear. Sure, he didn’t completely blow out his knee, NFL teams all seem to believe he is ahead of schedule and we have seen some major successes with ACL surgery recently, but we also don’t know anything for sure at this point. He’s still my top running back, but every recovery is different and I am always wary of players who I haven’t seen since a major surgery.

My thoughts: Dynasty owners need to keep in mind the ACL injury Gurley suffered in 2014 wasn’t the first time he missed time for Georgia. As a sophomore in 2013, he missed three games with an ankle injury and while a short term injury two years ago shouldn’t keep anybody from drafting a player, it’s still noteworthy. When he’s been on the field, Gurley’s shown everything expected out of a top-three rookie pick. If there’s a flaw in his game other than the questions of if he’ll ever be the same explosive player after the injury, it’s his tendency to outrun his blocking at times instead of having patience and waiting for running lanes to open up. Because he was so good after contact while at Georgia, he was able to cover up his lack of patience – that may not be as easy against NFL defenders. All said, any on the field flaw about Gurley’s game is nitpicking. He’s incredibly talented and worthy of a top selection in any rookie draft as long as you’re comfortable with his injury history.

1.09 – T.J. Yeldon, RB Alabama

Jeff Beran’s thoughts: I was a big fan of Yeldon after his sophomore year in 2013 when he put up over 1,400 total yards and averaged 6.0 yards per carry. His junior year, however, resulted in him being overshadowed, literally and figuratively, by Derrick Henry who looked more like the future star NFL running back. Yeldon is currently considered amongst the second tier of this running back draft class but his below average 40 yard dash (4.61 seconds) matched the lack of explosiveness he displayed last year. He’s still a good NFL prospect, especially if he can slim down and regain some speed, but there’s no way I’m reaching for him in the first round of rookie drafts this year.

My thoughts: To go along with the limited foot speed that Jeff shined a light on, Yeldon also displayed a lack of power in his time at Alabama. Despite his size (6’1”, 226 lbs.) he failed to break tackles at times and struggled in short yardage. Yeldon is a determined runner with good burst and footwork, but doesn’t run behind his pads well. Instead, he runs upright and takes a lot of big hits. While I like his upside, I wonder if he’ll ever learn to play up to his size.

1.10 – Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin

Scott Peak’s thoughts: Gordon is expected to go as a top five rookie pick and I’m not convinced he will bring that value as an NFL player. His combine wasn’t stellar (RB10 Bench, RB13 40 yard dash, RB14 vertical, RB20 shuttle, RB8 3-cone), Wisconsin running backs have had a tough time transitioning to the NFL, he’s relatively unproven as a receiving running back (22 total receptions in three years at Wisconsin) and the Wisconsin offensive line opened up huge holes for him. Gordon picked up a lot of yards in big chunks which won’t happen in the NFL. I believe Gordon may not bring the production expected relative to his draft position in rookie drafts.

My thoughts: While I’m not a believer in the “Wisconsin running backs always bust in the NFL” mindset and think it’s silly to pigeonhole a player as a potential bust because of it, there are weaknesses to Gordon’s game worth noting. On top of the lack of opportunities as a pass catcher in college Scott pointed out, Gordon also struggled between the tackles at times – particularly on I-formation dive plays right up the middle. He also relied on his speed too much at times as a Badger, choosing to bounce runs to the perimeter rather than use cutback lanes. While that worked in the Big Ten, it may not work as well on Sundays. Much like with Gurley, finding flaws in Gordon’s game takes a high powered microscope, however. Because he’s fallen out of the top three in most rookie drafts, the reward far outweighs the risk associated with Gordon in my opinion.

1.11 – Maxx Williams, TE Minnesota

Jeff Miller’s thoughts: I don’t know about you, but I never trust a man with two x’s in his name – that fact alone is enough reason for me to steer clear. My other issues with Williams are plentiful – he is not a crisp route runner, is a bit stiff, doesn’t block well and isn’t particularly physical. My feeling is he is only being considered in the late first or early second round because he is the best TE in the class. If you pick the prettiest rock out of a bucket, you still just have a rock.

My thoughts: While I don’t share Jeff’s strange aversion to any prospect with two x’s in his name, I completely agree with everything he listed beyond that. Williams isn’t a physical player and is an average route runner at best. His athleticism masked most of his weaknesses in college, but NFL cover men will key on his rounded routes and take advantage of his inability to fend off defenders at the point of the catch. Williams has massive potential due to his speed, leaping ability and body control, but he also has the potential to bust if he doesn’t improve as a route runner and learn to use his large frame to dominate smaller defenders on a regular basis.

1.12 – Chris Conley, WR Georgia

Eric Hardter’s thoughts: I understand Conley was, at least somewhat, impeded by the Bulldogs’ run-first offense (hard to blame them there). With that said, he really didn’t improve between his junior and senior seasons, and he wasn’t on anyone’s radar prior to busting out at the Combine. Now, according to our own Scott Fish, he’s been drafted as high as pick 1.11 in the DLF rookie mock drafts. No thanks. Maybe his physical skills will translate, but his 1,938 career receiving yards barely top Amari Cooper’s 2014 season. Let someone else draft the potential here, there are too many other proven options on the table.

My thoughts: Much like with Perriman after his pro day, Conley sent me straight to my computer to see if he truly has the potential that his combine numbers suggest. While watching him, it was easy to see his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and his separation skills down the field when defended in off coverage, but it was also very clear that he struggles to get into his route in press coverage. When re-routed by physical corners, he had a hard time regaining his momentum and creating his own space at the top of his routes despite being a relatively solid route runner. Considering his lack of production in college as well as the lack of quality game film, however, I’d have a difficult time investing a high pick in Conley.

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Dan Meylor

Senior Writer at Dynasty League Football
Dan is a jack of all trades but master of none.He has far too many hobbies (including writing the article you just read), is a die-hard Packers fan and can't wait to introduce his young son to fantasy football.Dan is a true believer that being a daily league player will make you a better dynasty owner.

Find Dan on Twitter at @dmeylor22
Dan Meylor

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Vince

    April 22, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Interesting exercise and I like the idea of putting a magnifying glass on some of the prospects flaws. I’ll be curious to see how the other two rounds shake out, but as it was pointed out, a lot of these guys are being mocked in the first round. If you don’t take these guys are there guys that would appear later that are worth a first rounder? Someone has to go there.

  2. Zyphros

    April 22, 2015 at 8:40 am

    You mentioned Funchess in this, and I just want to point out that he is on my DND (Do Not Draft) list. I didn’t even bother ranking him.

  3. Jacob Feldman

    April 22, 2015 at 8:45 am

    I really don’t think it is fair to lump the off the field issues of Dez Bryant in with Gordon, Blackmon and DGB. Bryant was raised by a convicted drug addict and drug user when he wasn’t bouncing from home to home. He was suspended because he worked out with Deion Sanders, accepted free lunch while doing so, and then left some parts out when asked about it. His only legal issues have been getting booted from a mall because his pants were too low and being sued by a jewelry dealer who took advantage of him in the first place. His off the field issues aren’t even in the same league as DGB’s issues.

    DGB has multiple failed drug tests, was in a car with enough drugs to be classified as a felony in most states (but someone else took the rap for it), and was the main suspect in a burglary and assault case which was never tried. This is even beyond the issues Gordon and Blackmon have had. He would have been my easy choice at 1.01 in this.

    • Aaron

      April 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      He also was convicted for domestic violence.

  4. Kory

    April 22, 2015 at 9:42 am

    “I don’t know about you, but I never trust a man with two x’s in his name.”

    Glad to see I’m not alone.

    • Jeff Miller

      April 22, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Preach!

  5. Darkaine

    April 22, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I can’t believe someone took Conley at 1.11…that’s ridiculous lol. I loved him at UGA but the odds of him turning his combine numbers into elite production are extremely small.

    • Aaron Swinderman

      April 22, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Just for clarification, this is the order in which we picked players we thought had an opportunity to bust. This is not indicative of our preference for when we would draft one of these players.

      • Go Badgers

        April 22, 2015 at 7:02 pm

        I think Darkaine is referencing this phrase from the Conley pick review:

        “Now, according to our own Scott Fish, he’s been drafted as high as pick 1.11 in the DLF rookie mock drafts. No thanks…”

  6. PurplePride

    April 22, 2015 at 10:37 am

    This article is awesome and helps me remember why I am a premium member. Love this concept and like how it helps point out the bust potential. I love to hear the good with the bad to try and gauge a realistic ranking list.

    Thanks for doing great work!

  7. Rich A.

    April 22, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Fantastic article. I have 5 of the top 6 players on my do not draft list. I need to look at Ameer more in depth.

  8. jeff

    April 22, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I think its funny how different talent evaluators are. Here we have 2 writers thinking that abdullah is the highest likely bust. Then you have other talent scouts who are excellent as well like Matt Waldman who are very high on him and have him ranked as high as third best rb. Almost impossible to get a decent report on rookies these days.

    • Jacob Feldman

      April 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to evaluating talent. Some are great at QBs but terrible at RBs. Others nail pretty much every WR but couldn’t pick a QB to save their life, etc. Figure out who you like for each position and trust them. Just realize it probably won’t be the same guy for every position.

      • Sam

        April 22, 2015 at 6:19 pm

        Who’s your go to for each position?

    • Jeff Miller

      April 22, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Talent scouting is an incredibly inexact science. Even the best miss very, very often. It is completely valid to see wildly different opinions on the same player.

  9. cactusdave

    April 22, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Talent is far less important to an RB’s success in the NFL no matter who the evaluator is or what he says, then workload and opportunity.

    Not to say it will happen, but if you put Ameer Abdullah behind the Cowboys offensive line in Dallas along with the rest of that offense, he’ll be just fine and you won’t be the least bit disappointed with his fantasy relevance.

    Put Todd Gurley in Jacksonville which is unlikely but not impossible either and you aren’t going to like his fantasy production. At least not for a while.

    WR’s are not quite the same, but put them on the same team as the league’s most accurate QB’s and you’ve got a fantasy relevant player.

    It’s not supernatural

  10. Ethan Rodgers

    April 23, 2015 at 10:50 am

    The short yardage knock on Yeldon is a total generalization and complete garbage. I’m not necessarily a huge proponent of his NFL prospects, but he converted 82% of goal line carries into touchdowns (from 2 yards and in) between his last two seasons. Considering the rest of the NCAA backs converted at a rate of about 59% is telling that he’s no slouch in short yardage situations.

    http://www.rotoworld.com/player/cfb/131212/t.j.-yeldon

  11. Ace Petix

    April 23, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I would echo Abdullah, but for different reasons. He is an intelligent, thoughtful and driven. He is the youngest of 9 (I think?) and his family is littered with successful, educated professionals. This kid doesn’t need football. I’m afraid he could elect to cut his playing career short.

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