Mid-August has finally arrived! That means training camps are in full swing, depth charts are starting to fall into place, injuries are unfortunately occurring, and player stocks are rising and falling. For some of you, it is also time for your rookie drafts. Even if you drafted this spring, it is the perfect time to start sending out some pre-season trade offers. In either case, we are back with one last mock draft to help give you just a little more perspective on the rookie class of 2017.
For this mock, I was joined by 11 other DLF writers just as the first round of the preseason was kicking off. That means we knew about the first few weeks of training camp when we drafted. However, we had no knowledge of any injuries, performances, or other news that happened during or since the first set of games.
We did three rounds with twelve teams. We assumed PPR scoring and traditional lineups (so not a 2QB or superflex league). All of the drafters were asked to give a brief intro to their selection, and I’ll be providing some additional thoughts on each one as well. Personal opinion is of course still in play. We all have our favorites and those we just don’t like. So don’t take this as a ranking or the way a rookie draft should go right now. It is just an example of one rookie draft. Things are still fluid, even at this late stage. There will of course be misses and disagreements, but that is a part of the fun! Enjoy!
If you missed the first round, you can take a look at it here.
2.01 – John Ross, WR CIN
Jeff’s thoughts: Not a huge fan of smaller slot-type receivers but Ross’s route running and feel for space is a cut above most others. He’s got the dynamic ability of a Tavon Austin but the route ability of DeSean Jackson. Makes for a very intriguing selection at the top of the second round.
My thoughts: Ross slipped a little bit in this mock, and I think it is largely due to a fairly quiet summer for him. Between Washington’s late end of the school year preventing Ross from attending OTAs and his recovery from shoulder surgery, he is a little behind. However, given the talent and the opportunity, I think he’s going to catch up fairly quickly. When you consider he’s competing with Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell for snaps, he should be seeing the starting lineup sooner rather than later. With AJ Green on the other side, defenses will have a tough time with Ross’s speed. It could be a dream for Andy Dalton.
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2.02 – Cooper Kupp, WR LAR
Tommy’s thoughts: Yes he’s a day younger than Sammy Watkins but I don’t draft players to be “there for a decade”. I draft them to produce over two-four years. Kupp seems NFL-ready and although I don’t expect 1,000 yards, I do think he can reliably be a WR3 for a few seasons. I’ll take that over spending a high second on a player who never comes off.
My thoughts: If I’m being completely honest, I’ve never understood the Kupp love. To me he is limited athletically and trying to make the jump from small school to the NFL with limited physical skills very rarely goes well. Yes, he has great hands and runs nice routes, but that also means he’s almost reached his ceiling already. I have a hard time seeing him as a reliable fantasy asset. I think he’ll be much more valuable to the Rams than any fantasy team. There are several others I would have taken at this pick instead.
2.03 – Chris Godwin, WR TB
Nick’s thoughts: If I were drafting a month ago, there would be many players to consider here. But so many second round rookie picks have seen their stocks fall due to injuries, poor preseason performance, etc. Godwin possesses elite college production and has impressed in the preseason, separating him from everyone else still on the board. This pick was a slam dunk for me. Even if Godwin doesn’t get a big chance this season, he is as good as bet as any WR still on the board to have a great career. I’d consider Godwin as early as the late first.
My thoughts: Godwin is definitely a favorite of a lot of people, and he seems to be gaining more and more fans with each and every day. I think his short term production will be fairly sporadic and somewhat limited, but if you are willing to be patient with him he has the talent to be a fantasy WR2. DeSean Jackson is going to be the second target in that offense, and by the time the tight ends and running backs take a piece, there won’t be much left for Godwin this year. However, Jackson will turn 31 mid-season, so he isn’t the long term answer for the Bucs.
2.04 – JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR PIT
Ryan M’s thoughts: Smith-Schuster has lost a ton of value over the past year, once being viewed as a potential top three dynasty rookie pick. He fell a bit further in the NFL Draft than many expected, but I love his landing spot. The Steelers have done well turning mid round picks into star receivers. I don’t expect a big impact in 2017 from the rookie, but love his long-term upside.
My thoughts: As Ryan mentioned, JuJu’s stock just keeps falling, falling, and falling. There were so many expectations for him, and maybe that is a part of the issue. It is sometimes tough to live up to everyone thinking you are going to be a star. While I’m not super high on JuJu, him falling to the middle parts of the second round is a huge steal. Long term, he should be able to earn a spot in the starting lineup for the Steelers. The only question I have is what will the Steelers look like by the time he does that?
2.05 – D’Onta Foreman, RB HOU
Rob’s thoughts: I had different hopes for this pick (was crossing my fingers Chris Godwin would fall, as unlikely as it was). However, I am still happy with Foreman, a forgotten man in this draft class which seemingly has dozens of different guys gaining positive camp buzz. While we gush about Fournette’s size/speed combo (and rightfully so) we seldom discuss Foreman’s even though it is among the best in this class. He is big, fast, agile and has better receiving skills than many think. Foreman should carve out a role in Houston this season and has better long-term opportunity in Houston than most people perceive. Were this a real team, I’d feel pretty excited adding this depth to my backfield with the first two picks.
My thoughts: While others have moved up or down draft boards over the last few months, Foreman has stayed in pretty much exactly the same place. In fact, I think he was the 2.05 pick in at least two of the other mock drafts I’ve done. I think the question a lot of people have about Foreman is if he can be a bell cow, three down running back in Houston. He has a little bit of work to do before he can convince me the answer is yes, but he’ll at least be involved as a change of pace back in the short term. If he can develop, he’s a huge steal in the middle of the second round.
2.06 – Deshaun Watson, QB HOU
Trevor’s thoughts: At 2.06 I was staring at a ton of boom/bust prospects that have a tough road to playing time and fantasy relevance, or my choice of quarterbacks that appear guaranteed a starting role sooner than later. While the upside and ultimate value of a quarterback is generally lower, they are the safer pick as at the end of the day, you won’t be left holding an asset with zero value. Watson was my choice of the available quarterbacks due to his situation. The Texans have a solid defense and a lot of great skill position players in place. Brock Osweiler made a mess of things, but with Watson’s skill set and Bill O’Brien’s coaching I have no doubt that Watson can be a consistent contributor at quarterback.
My thoughts: It is the middle of the second round, which means the quarterback position is now in play. Of course if you’re in a superflex or 2QB league, we are probably talking about three if not four QBs off the board by now. However, in your normal start one quarterback league, this is about the right place for the first one off the board. As the preseason moves on, who that is might be up for more debate. Some of the other quarterbacks looked good in early action, but so did Watson. I think he is probably the best leader of the quarterbacks, but he isn’t the most physically gifted passer. This could mean a higher floor but lower ceiling for him. I don’t ever see QB1 numbers from him, but high end QB2 could definitely be in play.
2.07 – Kenny Golladay, WR DET
Eric’s thoughts: It might be a bit of a reach at this point but I really like Golladay and his hype has gotten a bit out of control. There’s no way he’d make it back to me in round three and I don’t want to miss out on him. Joe Williams was my other option.
My thoughts: With all the hype, I was almost expecting Golladay to be an early second round selection. I’m sure he will be in some leagues. There has been a lot of great press on him. He has great size to go with 4.50 speed. But keep in mind, many felt the Lions reached when they took him in the late third round of the NFL draft. He has a lot of things to work on in his game. The Lions throw the ball a ton though, and even with Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Eric Ebron in the fold, Golladay could carve out some production this year with a huge ceiling in the future.
2.08 – Taywan Taylor, WR TEN
Peter’s thoughts: I’d like to take this time to curse Eric for helping to continue the inflation of Kenny Golladay’s draft stock. I wanted to do that. My pick here is an overreaction to it as well – I should go running back. Taywan projects to have a safer floor but lower ceiling then Golladay, but I find once he goes the next few wide receivers I want go in quick succession. With the crowded depth chart it also means I can’t hope for any rookie production, which I feel is a nice theme for my fictional team. I’d call it the “we’ll get you next years” and spend all season posting images of my players on the practice field on the message board.
My thoughts: I disagree a little bit with Peter, because I don’t see drafting Taylor as a reach at all. I love Taylor. In fact, I think he’s on my team in about 80% of my leagues as I routinely targeted him in the late second round. I think Peter is dead on when he said Taylor is a high floor player, though I think he has a higher ceiling than Peter believes. I see him as the future number two in that system with a rapidly growing offense. I see them transitioning to a passing team with the evolution of their quarterback and a true number one in Corey Davis. That means Taylor could be a 75 receptions or more receiver, which should put him squarely on the WR2 radar in a few years.
2.09 – Mitchell Trubisky, QB CHI
Ryan F’s thoughts: If I hadn’t watched Trubisky in his debut Thursday night, I would not have made this pick here. At this point of the draft, top prospects at running back and wide receiver are scarce. I did consider a few backs that were available, like Perine, Joe or Jamaal Williams, but ultimately decided the most upside on the board was at the quarterback position. The running backs I named are not guaranteed anything, while I see Trubisky as nearly a lock to start for the Bears for some time. Before I saw him play, I might have gone Mahomes here, but I was very, very impressed with Trubisky Thursday night. He showed great movement, fantastic presence in the pocket and smart decision making in his debut. He also threw a great looking ball, and gave me high hopes for his future.
My thoughts: As a Bears fan, I was very happy to see what Trubisky did in the first preseason game. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, it was just the first preseason game. That means very vanilla defensive schemes and often top facing the best players. Nonetheless, it was a step in the right direction. There is a lot of upside here, and if you are someone with an older quarterback as your starter (Brady, Brees, etc), it might be time to invest a late second in a potential replacement. It is going to take a few years before we see what Trubisky can really do, especially given the lack of pass catching weapons the Bears have right now, but there is a little more hope now than there was a few weeks ago.
2.10 – Samaje Perine, RB WAS
My thoughts: I was hoping Taylor would fall to me at this spot. My plan B was to go with Trubisky. When he went one pick earlier, that left me with choosing one of three different running backs. Ultimately I went with the one I felt has the most direct path to a starting role in the offense he is in. That isn’t to say Perine is a lock for any kind of role for Washington, because I think Rob Kelley will actually be the starter this year. I just think Perine has the talent to take over if needed.
Maybe it is the team he ended up on, but when I look at Perine, I see a more talented and versatile Alfred Morris. A true power rusher, Perine was actually superior to his college teammate Joe Mixon in some areas. Often living in Mixon’s shadow, Perine is a much better pass catcher than people realize. When it comes to rushing, there was a reason that even someone of Mixon’s talent couldn’t push Perine to the bench. I think he is being over looked just a little bit, and should an injury occur for Kelley, Perine could take the starting job and run with it.
2.11 – Jamaal Williams, RB GB
Joseph’s thoughts: I wasn’t the biggest fan of Williams pre-draft, but I was surprised to see him available at the end of the second round. The steady drumbeat for Ty Montgomery all off-season has depressed Jamaal’s value to the point where I could be getting a potential workhorse in almost the third round. He’s not an overly impressive receiver out of the backfield, but he’s a strong runner that is built to handle a significant workload. More importantly, he’s adept in pass protection – an area where incumbent starter Montgomery has serious deficiencies. If Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy grow frustrated with Montgomery’s ability to pass protect, it’s Williams that will begin to see playing time, and not Aaron Jones.
My thoughts: Personally, I’m staying as far away from the Green Bay backfield as possible. It is an absolute mess at this point in time. Right now I would say there is about a 40 percent chance Montgomery is the guy to own, 35 percent it is Williams, and 25 percent it is Jones. Even when one of them does win the starting role, it is something which could be very fluid during the season or even during a game. It is likely to be a fantasy nightmare, so I’m keeping my distance. With that said, Joseph mentioned the one big advantage Williams has over the others, his pass protection. Of course the problem there is that you don’t get any fantasy points for being a good blocker. Yes, I know it means he will at least be on the field, but I expect this to be a committee.
2.12 – Curtis Samuel, WR CAR
Kyle’s thoughts: I am not a huge fan of Curtis Samuel, but I could not pass on him at the end of the second round. He might be slipping a little lately due to his hamstring issue. The Panthers seem to be trying to revamp their offense with the additions of Christian McCaffrey and Samuel. Both are dynamic running backs who can both run and catch the ball. McCaffrey’s presence might limit Samuel’s role, but the upside is there if the Panthers can find a way for them to coexist.
Ted Ginn did well in Carolina as a speedy deep threat for Cam Newton, who loves to throw the deep ball. Samuel did run a 4.31 at the combine. If he has a role somewhere in between what Ginn had in Carolina and what Tyreek Hill had in Kansas City last year, he will be a great value pick here.
My thoughts: At one point, Samuel was a fringe first round selection. I often saw him going off the board in the first fifteen picks a few months ago. Between the injury and people feeling very uneasy about the kind of role Samuel will play, I think the late second is going to be a common place for him now. When your game is built around speed, leg injuries are the worst thing you can have. I think Samuel is going to be extremely unpredictable which makes him very difficult to own. It is going to be a struggle figuring out when to start him, and I’m not really a fan of having to do that.
That makes 24 picks down and only 12 more to go. Some of these guys were first round picks not that long ago. Others were almost after thoughts in three round drafts. What a difference a few months makes. Round three is just around the corner!