Mocking Rookie Projections

Nathan Powell

NFL Mock drafts are fun, player comparisons for NFL prospects are fun. However, for whatever reason, sectors of the internet find these two things incredibly infuriating, particularly this early in the NFL draft process. Mock drafts and player comparisons are fun exercises than can spark interesting and informative conversations, they should not be seen as written in stone predictions, especially this early in the process. With this article, I will be projecting where players will be selected in the 2016 NFL draft and comparing them with a player from recent memory. The order I will be going by is how I rank this class of rookies, not exactly the order I think they will be drafted in the NFL draft or your dynasty rookie draft.

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Laquon Treadwell, Dynasty rookie 1.01, NFL Draft 1.16 Detroit Lions

Recent reports have hinted at Laquon Treadwell running a 4.6-4.65 40 time, which could cause him to slip out of the top 10 of the NFL draft. If that happens, he could fall right into the hands of the suddenly wide receiver needy Detroit Lions. With Calvin Johnson out of town, Treadwell will come into an offense that has averaged 643 pass attempts for 4634 passing yards per year with Matthew Stafford at the helm since 2011. With Golden Tate tagged as a prototypical WR2, adding the 6-foot-3, 216 pound Treadwell should work well for the Lions as they try to replace the irreplaceable in Calvin Johnson. The drop all the way to 16 would be a bit of a bummer as a Treadwell fan, but landing in an almost perfect situation would help make up for that and he would remain my 1.01 in dynasty rookie drafts.

NFL player comparison: The comparisons on Treadwell have ranged from Alshon Jeffery, all the way to Kenny Britt, but the comparison that I think is most apt is Michael Crabtree. I think if Crabtree hadn’t sustained the major lower body injuries, he would’ve been a long term WR1 in fantasy.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dynasty Rookie 1.02, NFL Draft 1.14 Oakland Raiders

This may be a bit of a surprise to some, as some believe Latavius Murray is the franchise back in Oakland. I am not part of that contingency. I think Murray is better suited for that 3rd down/change of pace back that can occasionally break a long run. In 2014, the Raiders selected Derek Carr in the 2nd round, in 2015 the Raiders gave Carr his No. 1 wide receiver with Cooper at No. 4 overall and I think the Raiders go best player available and complete their version of the triplets with Elliott at 14 overall. Treadwell/Elliott are the clear top 2 in rookie draft and I don’t think landing spots for either will change that.

NFL player comparison: Elliott is one of the more complete backs to come into the NFL in recent memory. I’ve seen this one thrown around a few times and I think it makes sense, Arian Foster. I think Elliott will have to develop a little more in the passing game to live up to the comparison, but I do think they have similar running styles.

Tyler Boyd, Dynasty Rookie 1.03, NFL Draft 2.01 Cleveland Browns

Tyler Boyd is the swiss army knife of this draft. He can do it all for you, as a wide receiver, as a runner and as a returner. The Pittsburgh coaches took every opportunity to get the ball in Boyd’s hands during his 3 seasons and that is one of the main reasons I am so high on him. I am getting the sense that draftniks and possibly NFL teams are not as high on Boyd as I am, so I do think he falls to the 2nd round of the NFL draft, but he will be a steal for the Cleveland Browns as they will likely let Travis Benjamin walk in free agency if they think Josh Gordon will be reinstated by the NFL.

NFL player comparison: Jeremy Maclin. Like Maclin, Boyd is likely to measure a bit lean for his size and Maclin did a lot of the things we saw from Boyd during his college career.

Derrick Henry, Dynasty Rookie 1.04, NFL Draft 2.09 New York Giants

After letting Elliott past them at 10 overall, the Giants will not let Derrick Henry past them in the 2nd round. I could even see them trading up earlier in the 2nd round to ensure the workhorse lands in their backfield. Henry is the clear RB2 in this class for me and many others as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is 1st round bound. In any scenario where Henry goes to a team where he is projected to get 18+ carries for the foreseeable future, I think he is a lock for my 1.04.

NFL player comparison: The name Brandon Jacobs has been tossed around a lot due to his stature, but I think a good comparison for Henry would be a less “fat” version of his former college teammate Eddie Lacy. Lacy was very impressive in his first two seasons in the NFL, and I think we could see something similar from Henry, lets just hope Henry lays off the “china food.”

Corey Coleman, Dynasty Rookie 1.05, NFL Draft 1.21 Washington Redskins

There is a possibility that one or both of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garcon are not back in Washington for the 2016 season. This would leave a massive hole at wide receiver for Kirk Cousins who figures to be franchise tagged or signed to a long-term contract at some point this offseason. In order for Cousins to have a shot at succeeding, they will have to provide him with weapons and they will do just that with selecting Coleman at the 21st pick. Like with Treadwell, this would be considered to be a bit of a fall for Coleman, but I think this would be a solid situation for Coleman to go to and he would wrap up the 2nd tier of rookies, where I think there is a big drop from 1.05 to 1.06

NFL player comparison: Faster Kendall Wright. Okay, okay, back to back comparisons from the same alma mater is funny. But that is what I see from Coleman. What Wright lacks in explosiveness, I think Coleman has and will show at the next level.

Josh Doctson, Dynasty Rookie 1.06, NFL Draft 2.03 Dallas Cowboys

Josh Doctson was one of the most prolific wide receivers in college football in 2015, posting a line of 78-1,326-14 touchdowns in only 10 games. The Cowboys are in desperate need of a receiving option opposite of Dez Bryant, and I think Doctson would be a good fit for a Cowboys team looking to capitalize on the last few years of Tony Romo at quarterback. I expect Doctson to go in this range in the NFL draft and barring a player not yet mentioned going earlier than expected, I think he will be at the top at the third tier of rookies for those who agree with me on the first two tiers.

NFL player comparison: Faster Kelvin Benjamin. Two of Benjamin’s biggest concerns coming into the NFL were his age and his drops in college. Doctson shares those concerns with questionable hands and he will be 3 months short of his 24th birthday when he takes his first NFL snap.

Michael Thomas, Dynasty Rookie 1.07, NFL Draft 2.12 St. Louis Rams

It is clear that the Rams need a big playmaker at the wide receiver position. Tavon Austin is a weapon that progressed in 2015, but he is not a guy who I think can be a No. 1 wide receiver for an NFL team. Thomas is the best receiver on the board for the Rams here, and while some think Thomas could go as high as the 1st, I think this tier of receivers lands in the 2nd round of the NFL draft.

NFL player comparison: Somewhere between Rueben Randle and Allen Robinson. Okay, that’s a wide range of outcomes, but I think he has shown similar traits and body frame to both players.

Alex Collins, Dynasty Rookie 1.08, NFL Draft 3.04 Dallas Cowboys

After filling the hole at the WR2 position in the 2nd round with Doctson, the Cowboys continue to help out Romo by giving him a weapon in the backfield. Many people think a running back landing in Dallas could vault them all the way to 1.03, I don’t think that is the case, but I think it would solidify Collins as the RB3 in this class. I expect Collins and this run of running backs to go in the early-mid 3rd round of the NFL draft and they will be in position to get starter carries in 2016.

NFL player comparison: My friend on Twitter, Fusue Vue (@lifesyourcup) compared Collins to Isaiah Crowell, I can definitely see this as both are powerful and shifty runners with limitations in the passing game. Collins averaged greater than 5 yards per carry in each college season, but he maxed out at only 13 receptions in his Junior season.

Leonte Carroo, Dynasty Rookie 1.09, NFL Draft 2.23 Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings landed a solid wide receiver in the 5th round in Stefon Diggs last year, but in order for Minnesota to be successful, Teddy Bridgewater will need a weapon on the other side of the field. I think Minnesota addresses the position with one of their first two picks and I project Carroo out of Rutgers as a big bodied wide receiver who can be the weapon Bridgewater needs to further his development.

NFL player comparison: Bigger Stefon Diggs This one may seem a bit random, but it is what I saw when I watched a few games on Carroo. I think they play the position similarly, and I think Carroo could see some nice early career success like Diggs did this past season.

Kenneth Dixon, Dynasty Rookie 1.10 Kenneth Dixon NFL Draft 3.01 Tennessee Titans

One thing is clear through two seasons of Bishop Sankey’s career, he is not the answer at running back in the Titans offense.  Dixon averaged 5 or more yards per carry in each college season, with 1,000 or more rushing yards in 3 of those seasons. Dixon can be the workhorse back that the Marcus Mariota-led offense needs and going near the top of the 3rd round of the NFL draft should make him a late 1st round pick in dynasty rookie drafts.

NFL player comparison: Rotoworld’s Josh Norris recently compare Dixon to Doug Martin on On The Couch with Sigmund Bloom, both backs are a bit heavier in stature and don’t go down easily and have the ability to be 3 down backs for an NFL offense.

Rashard Higgins, Dynasty Rookie 1.11, NFL Draft 3.03 San Diego Chargers

The Chargers need a wide receiver opposite of Keenan Allen, particularly with Stevie Johnson not getting any younger and one or both of Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green could be elsewhere in 2016. Higgins would be the perfect speed compliment to Allen and would add another dimension to the Chargers offense. Higgins didn’t produce the video game type numbers he did in 2014 with 96 catches for 1,750 yards and 17 touchdowns, but his line of 75-1,062-7 should be good enough for him to land in the 2nd-3rd round range and he would be a nice fit in San Diego

NFL player comparison: Desean Jackson. With the explosive speed and big play ability, you will see this comparison a lot throughout the draft process, but I think that it can be an accurate one

Will Fuller, Dynasty Rookie 1.12, NFL Draft 3.24 Cincinnati Bengals

Marvin Jones expects to be one of the hottest commodities when free agency opens up, I expect Jones to walk elsewhere for a big payday and Mohamed Sanu could return on a reasonable contract. Even with Sanu back, the Bengals will be looking for help at the wide receiver position and could do so in the draft. This won’t be the sexiest landing spot from a dynasty perspective as plenty of targets will be allocated to AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, however, I think that Fuller would be a very solid No. 2 for Cincinnati and would land in the late 1st/early 2nd round of rookie drafts if he goes in the 3rd round of the NFL draft.

NFL player comparison: Another same alumni comparison. but I think it makes sense here is Golden Tate. I think Fuller will score his points at the next level in similar ways, but like Tate, he may take some time to be a consistent fantasy producer.

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