Flashback: A Look Back at a 2016 Rookie Mock

Ryan McDowell

At the conclusion of the 2015 NFL Draft, I continued my traditional series predicting what dynasty rookie drafts might look like a year in the future. This has become one of my favorite articles to write each year in a season full of enjoyable topics.

With the 2016 NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts inching ever so closer, it’s time to look back on that mock that is nearly a year old now. In the past twelve months, we’ve learned much about these specific prospects and the picture is much clearer now.

Note: The current projected draft position is based on the rookie ADP collected by DLF’s Scott Fish.

Laquon Treadwell, WR Ole Miss
Projected Draft Position: 1.01
Current Projected Draft Position: 1.02

What’s Changed?

While Treadwell had another productive season for the Rebels of Ole Miss, his off-season has not gone how he’d like. He was slowed by an injury and couldn’t fully workout at the February NFL Combine and then he disappointed at his Pro Day, specifically with his 4.65 40 time. Meanwhile, other players have been doing everything they need to show they should be a top pick in both the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts. Treadwell is still highly thought of and in the top tier, but the field has definitely gained on him over the past several months.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB Ohio State
Projected Draft Position: 1.02
Current Projected Draft Position: 1.01

What’s Changed?

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Elliott simply proved that his sophomore season was not a fluke. After helping to lead the Buckeyes to a National Championship in 2014, Zeke was right back at it last season and his off-season has been just as spectacular. While I still have an affinity for Treadwell, Elliott is nearly unquestioned as the top pick in rookie drafts. He’s projected to be chosen as high as the fourth overall pick by Dallas or the eighth pick to the Eagles. In either spot, he could be an every down back.

Tyler Boyd, WR Pittsburgh
Projected Draft Position: 1.03
Current Projected Draft Position: 1.10

What’s Changed?

In 2015, Boyd dealt with some off-field issues, which NFL teams and dynasty players have become accustomed to, along with a drop in production. It’s the latter that has really dropped Boyd’s stock. Once viewed as a sure bet for the top three in rookie drafts, Boyd’s dynasty value has tumbled down before he even takes an NFL snap. Like Treadwell, Boyd has failed to impress in the pre-draft process, but unlike Treadwell, Boyd can’t point to his final college season as cause to be drafted early. Boyd is now expected to be a day two pick in the upcoming draft and should show up in the late first round of your rookie drafts.

Derrick Henry, RB Alabama
Projected Draft Position: 1.04
Current Projected Draft Position: 1.06

What’s Changed?

In his final season at Alabama, Henry couldn’t have done much more to prove himself and his value. He rushed for over 2,200 yards and 28 touchdowns on his way to earning the Heisman Trophy. Henry’s doubters point to his enormous size, which is nearly unprecedented for an NFL back, along with his lack of agility as reasons Henry will not succeed in the league. As is the case for most running backs entering the league, landing spot will have a huge role in determining Henry’s actual rookie draft value, but his current ADP of 1.06 feels like a safe spot to take for former Crimson Tide back.

Mike Williams, WR Clemson
Projected Draft Position: 1.05
Current Projected Draft Position: N/A

What’s Changed?

For the past few months, this rookie class has been referred to as below average or “weak.” One reason for this is the high number of prospects who chose to return to school and wait on the NFL for another season. The first of those on this list did so with very good reason. Clemson’s star receiver Williams, suffered a serious neck injury in the season’s opening game and missed the remainder of the year. There was still some talk that he might declare for this 2016 NFL Draft, but he wisely chose to return to school for his senior season.

De’Runnya Wilson, WR Mississippi State
Projected Draft Position: 1.06
Current Projected Draft Position: 3.04

What’s Changed?

First of all, Wilson dealt with some off-field issues last summer, getting arrested for drug possession, and then dealt with yet another season in which he failed to produce big time numbers. While video game type statistics are not a prerequisite for NFL success, Wilson has always been about potential and never really much substance. Wilson also failed to do much during the NFL Combine with below average numbers is nearly every category.

D’haquille Williams, WR Auburn
Projected Draft Position: 1.07
Current Projected Draft Position: 4.06

What’s Changed?

The story on Williams is very similar to his SEC counterpart I mentioned above, with more off-field issues mixed in. Williams had issue after issue at Auburn and it was a bar brawl in which he assaulted a teammate that led the Williams’ dismissal from the football team and the school. Little was heard from Williams after that, but he did receive a surprise invite to the NFL Combine, where he performed reasonably well. Williams has the talent to play in the league, but may lack the maturity necessary to last.

Corey Davis, WR Western Michigandavis
Projected Draft Position: 1.08
Current Projected Draft Position: N/A

What’s Changed?

A favorite of our own Nick Whalen, Davis had another great year and really put himself on the map. Unlike last season, Davis and his Western Michigan team played in some big games that were nationally televised. That helped show everyone what Davis can do against top competition. Unfortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, Davis chose to return to school. He remains a favorite of the devy community and has a chance to be a high draft pick in 2017.

Corey Clement, RB Wisconsin
Projected Draft Position: 1.09
Current Projected Draft Position: N/A

What’s Changed?

It was somewhat of a lost junior season for Wisconsin running back Corey Clement. First, he suffered a sports hernia injury that cost him nearly half the season and once he was recovered and ready to play, he was involved in an altercation that resulted in him being cited for disorderly conduct. Clement’s play on the field didn’t really suffer, but it’s clear why he felt the need to return to school and prove himself. His value has dropped dramatically, so if you play in a devy league, he is a nice buy low. The rest of you will have to wait until 2017 to put this Badger running back on your roster.

Jordan Villamin, WR Oregon State
Projected Draft Position: 1.10
Current Projected Draft Position: N/A

What’s Changed?

Nothing has really changed for Villamin, whose redshirt sophomore season was nearly a statistical repeat of his previous breakout season. The problem was more of my own assessment. At this point last season, when I pegged Villamin as a potential first round dynasty pick, he had just one year of college production and even though he was eligible to leave for the NFL after the 2015 season, redshirt sophomore receivers rarely make that leap. This was simply a poor prediction on my part.

Bucky Hodges, TE Virginia Tech
Projected Draft Position: 1.11
Current Projected Draft Position: N/A

What’s Changed?

Another redshirt sophomore that chose to return to school was Hodges, the Hokies tight end. I feel this was also a poor projection on my part, not because there was little chance Hodges left for the league, but because he is a tight end. As you know, the first round of dynasty rookie drafts is dominated by wide receivers with a running back or two thrown in. Seeing a quarterback or tight end in the first has become rare and is not likely. Hodges is still a solid prospect and has a chance to be the top tight end off the board in 2017.

Pharoh Cooper, WR South Carolina
Projected Draft Position: 1.12
Current Projected Draft Position: 2.02

What’s Changed?

Cooper had a solid season for the Gamecocks, who suffered through multiple quarterbacks and even multiple head coaches. He once again proved he could do a little bit of everything, taking snaps out of the backfield and a runner and a passer, along with his role in the return game. I tabbed Cooper as a late first round rookie pick and that looks to be the range he will fall, with his current ADP listing him among the top players off the board in the second round.

Who Did I Miss?

Of the current top 12 rookies, based on DLF Rookie ADP, I only included four of them in last year’s mock draft. Obviously, that means I was wrong on two-thirds of the field. Those players I missed include:

  • Josh Doctson, WR
  • Corey Coleman, WR
  • Leonte Carroo, WR
  • Michael Thomas, WR
  • Sterling Shepard, WR
  • Kenneth Dixon, RB
  • Will Fuller, WR
  • CJ Prosise, RB

Seeing these names I once viewed as second or third round picks reminds me how deep this class could have been if some of the players opted to leave for the NFL rather than returning to school, but that is obviously beyond our control.

The top five receiver on this list were firmly on the radar even a year ago and were all in consideration for a spot in this mock draft. While I find it hard to project running backs, especially a year out, Dixon’s record-breaking numbers had him on the watch list a year ago as well. Both of the Notre Dame players, Prosise and Fuller, were not really considered at all. In both cases, I liked other Irish players better. Their respective growth in the past year has been very impressive.

Looking back at these twelve prospects who were once highly regarded reminds me how quickly things can change, not only in the NFL, but even for pre-NFL players. I’ll be back soon with a Flash Forward 2017 Rookie Mock Draft and I can’t wait to see all of the changes over the next calendar year!


ryan mcdowell
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