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!
3.01 – Joe Williams, RB SF
Jeff’s thoughts: Typically I’ve been selecting Kenny Golladay early in the third round but recent hype has fueled a rise into the mid second round. As it stands, Joe Williams has fallen from the early-to-mid second round into the third round as Carlos Hyde’s value is now increasing. Williams is said to be having a lack-luster camp but seems to be coming on of late. He’s got three-down size and ability and if not for a bizarre final collegiate year, he may have been a second round selection on skill-set alone. Behind only Carlos Hyde for the most part, I’m pleased to get him at the 3.01. There will be good backs that come out of 2017’s second and third rounds.
My thoughts: With a new coaching staff and a new GM, no one really knows what will happen in San Francisco. I think Hyde has a good chance of finally turning into the RB1 he was supposed to be when he was drafted, but there is a chance Williams gets a shot. I think he’s worth a third round pick even if I’m a part of team Hyde. After all, Hyde hasn’t exactly been the picture of health, so that might be the in that Williams needs.
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3.02 – Marlon Mack, RB IND
Tommy’s thoughts: So much for conservatism. Down in the third I’m happy to throw a dart. There’s a good chance Mack never does anything but his pass protection skill (honed by some Frank Gore close observation) should get him a decent chance at least and he’s one injury away from being an additional weapon. I won’t be surprised if he’s quiet at the start of the year but gets his chance late in the season.
My thoughts: When it comes to the running back position, there are two types of players. There are the extremely talented ones who will be stars until they reach a certain age. Players like LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson fit into this group. That covers about half of the NFL teams. The other half it all comes down to which running back is healthy. As long as they stay healthy, they will produce at a RB2 level until they get too expensive or get hurt. I think Mack is in the position to fit into the latter group. He isn’t a great talent, but he is on a team which is about to have a changing of the guard. Mack could easily slide into a starting role and be a decent RB2 for a few years. It is hard to ask for more than that from a late round pick.
3.03 – Gerald Everett, TE LAR
Nick’s thoughts: While the big three rookie TEs get all the attention, Everett represents sneaky third round value. I don’t think the gap between Everett and Howard/Njoku/Engram is as big as most people think. He was the first picks the Rams made in the draft, and he possesses elite athleticism on par with the big three. He has all the traits you want in a tight end prospect and he comes at a big discount. Some may be deterred by the landing spot but with Jeff Fisher out of the picture the Ram’s long term outlook improves.
My thoughts: I think Everett is a great third round pick. He is a low priced option with solid upside. Granted, he might be a player who is likely to fall into that very crowded tier of back end TE1 or upper end TE2, but those players can be a solid part of everyone’s roster. If you are drafting Everett, make sure you are patient. Rookie tight ends take years to develop. Rookie tight ends on bad teams with second year quarterbacks take even longer. If you’re willing to be patient, you could be rewarded with a very solid player in a few years.
3.04 – ArDarius Stewart, WR NYJ
Ryan M’s thoughts: Given the news out of Jets camp recently, I was surprised to land Stewart in the third round. He already had one mild value bump following the release of veteran Eric Decker and then the presumed top receiver for the Jets, Quincy Enunwa, suffered a season ending injury. It is unclear which young New York wideout will step up to fill the void, but Stewart seems like the most talented candidate. His potential early impact would also offer dynasty owners an early chance to flip him for a profit.
My thoughts: The Jets have the look of the NFL’s worst team, possibly not just this year but for the next few years. With that said, even the worst teams still score some points. The question is exactly how many points and if Stewart will be the one to score that handful of points for the Jets. In the middle of the third round, it is well worth the shot. I think the ceiling is fairly low due to his team, but if you can get a solid WR3 out of the third round it is a job well done.
3.05 – Carlos Henderson, WR DEN
Rob’s thoughts: Henderson seems to be getting lost in the third round receiver shuffle. Kenny Golladay has earned the nickname Minitron; Chris Godwin looks like a third round steal; and Ardarius Stewart may lead the Jets in targets this year. While Henderson’s ascension to prominence has not been as meteoric as the others, it is more due to having two excellent receivers ahead of him in a middling passing game. Both Denver receivers are nearing the end of their peak and Henderson’s RAC ability should net him early touches, and there’s an incredibly high ceiling if he rounds out his skill-set. In the middle of round three, I do not believe I could ask for much more.
My thoughts: We all have our favorites as well as those on the other end of the spectrum. For me, much like Cooper Kupp in round two, I’m just not a fan of Henderson. I wasn’t buying into the Henderson love before the draft, and his landing spot really didn’t help things in my eyes. Even if he wins the third receiver job in Denver this year or next, that still means he is at best the fourth target in the passing game. That isn’t really a role which will produce with the current crop of quarterbacks in Denver. Not to mention, I don’t think Henderson has the talent to be a top two target on an NFL team.
3.06– James Conner, RB PIT
Trevor’s thoughts: I was tempted to go back to quarterback at 3.06 for the same reasons listed for my 2.06 selection; however, what fantasy team needs two rookie quarterbacks? The other non-quarterback options at this point in the draft like Jonnu Smith, Mack Hollins, and Donnell Pumphrey all represent a higher chance at nailing down standalone value in the next several years than Conner does. That wasn’t really what I was looking for here as I’d rather have the guy who is backing up Le’Veon Bell, who seems to constantly find one way or another to miss time. While Conner might not hit the same statistical output as DeAngelo Williams over the past several years, at this point in the draft I’m fine with taking someone who could be a fantasy impact player in 2017 if he even musters two thirds of Williams’ output.
My thoughts: I think Connor is a great pick at this point in the draft. He is exactly the kind of player the Steelers seem to love, which is a huge plus for him. Not only that, but who knows what is going to happen with Bell. Between the suspensions, injuries and Bell’s contract situation, who knows what could happen. Connor is going to get a chance, an if he makes the most of it, the Steelers might decide Bell isn’t worth the money and the headaches. Bell is pretty darn good, so the chance is slim, but it is still a chance.
3.07 – Chad Williams, WR ARI
Eric’s thoughts: Williams was a big Twitter favorite post draft but seems to have cooled off a bit since training camp started. I like his opportunity for targets a year or two from now. Being patient will be important but with Fitz nearing the end I like Williams here.
My thoughts: Arizona is definitely a team in transition. I think the mental image of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin still hangs in a lot of our heads. Those days are gone now. Palmer replaced Warner but he too is near the end. Fitz isn’t getting any younger either. If he has another good year, I think Arizona might be transitioning into David Johnson’s team. Even if they do become a run first team, someone is going to need to take over at the receiver position. The recent news out of the desert is they aren’t very happy with John Brown. That leaves a pretty thin depth chart behind Fitz.
3.08 – Jeremy McNichols, RB TB
Peter’s thoughts: Very athletic backs with the ability to catch the ball always have a chance to find a role – especially on less-certain depth charts. His college production is great, but making the leap from Boise State to the NFL will be tough. If he can, he could be a very good three-down back and I’ll take that upside at this price.
My thoughts: During OTAs and training camp, the press out of Tampa has been raving about McNichols’s ability, especially in the passing game. However, there have also been numerous reports that he doesn’t know the playbook and is missing a lot of assignments. When one missed assignment can mean a turnover or an injury to a quarterback, not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing is a sure path to the bench. He has a lot of talent, but the mental part of the game needs to catch up if he hopes to make an impact.
3.09 – Jonnu Smith, TE TEN
Ryan F’s thoughts: I had hoped to land someone like Chad Williams or perhaps James Conner late here, but the cupboard was quite bare at this point. Therefore, I again went with what I saw was the best value still on the board in Smith. Smith is another move tight end, with great athletic ability and the skills to feast on seam routes. He isn’t nearly as fast as Engram, but matches him athletically in other areas. He also landed in an ascendant offense with a budding superstar quarterback in Mariota. He hasn’t shown the best hands, but I’m hoping that’s an area where he can improve over time. I’m happy to get this kind of athletic talent this late in the third.
My thoughts: Smith is a definite project. He has physical tools, but he is exceptionally raw and has questionable hands. There are a lot of young tight ends who fit that bill, and most of them don’t work out. Maybe these are things that can be fixed, but it is a very long, uphill climb for Smith. There is definitely some upside if he can figure it out, but he is going to be a multi-year project. Make sure you have room to hold him for a few years.
3.10 – Patrick Mahomes, QB KC
My thoughts: At this point in the draft, it is all about upside. I thought about a few different receivers or running backs, but I didn’t see any of them who really stuck out to me. I don’t see much left on the board with the potential to be a top 25 player at their position. With that in mind, I decided to delve into the often overlooked quarterback position for this pick.
Mahomes offers one of if not the highest upside in this year’s quarterback class. With a huge arm and solid athletic ability, he has the potential to be a QB1 if all goes according to plan. Of course there are a lot of things which would need to go right for that to happen, but at the price of a late third round pick I think it is well worth it. I expect Mahomes to be given the starting role for the Chiefs possibly as soon as next year.
3.11 – Mack Hollins, WR PHI
Joseph’s thoughts: Hollins is a player who wasn’t on my radar much pre-draft, but I’m reconsidering that stance. The special teams standout is a lock to make the roster, even though he faces longer odds to contribute significantly in his rookie season. Past this season is where he becomes intriguing. A size-speed specimen, Hollins stands behind just Alshon Jeffery (on a one-year deal), Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor following the departure of Jordan Matthews. Hollins is a bit raw, but he’s flashed serious downfield and red zone ability, and that’s the type of guy I’m willing to take a flier on towards the end of the third round of rookie drafts.
My thoughts: There is a lot of talk surrounding Hollins right now. The departure of Matthews and the long term uncertainty of players like Jeffery and Smith has people speculating that Hollins could be a future starter for the Eagles. I think he is a bit too raw to step into that kind of role next year. When I look at Hollins, I think he’s going to need a few years to develop into someone the Eagles can trust on a regular basis.
3.12 – Donnel Pumphrey, RB PHI
Kyle’s thoughts: I am worried about Donnel Pumphrey’s size. He is only 5’8’’ and 176 pounds. It is going to be tough for him to block and he is an injury risk pretty much any time he is tackled. However, he is a shifty back who can play in the slot. He has taken reps with the first team offense in camp and has a great opportunity to learn from a very similar player in Darren Sproles. Because of this, I am happy to take a flier on Pumphrey at the end of the third round and hope he eventually takes over a Sproles-like role for the Eagles.
My thoughts: People are excited because they think Pumphrey will be able to slide right into the Sproles role in the offense. I think we overlook the fact that Sproles is unique. He isn’t someone who can be copied or who you can just replace, he is special. For that reason, I don’t think Pumphrey will be quite as successful as some can hope. However, with the last pick in the third round, why not give it a shot?
That’s it for our three rounds! Training camp battles and of course injuries will of course have a big impact on some of these players, so make sure you keep an eye on your favorite news outlet. Good luck if you are a late drafter, and good luck too all of you in your pre-season prep!