March has finally arrived, which means the start of the new NFL year. Free agency is just about to begin, and we were just treated to the NFL combine. Some rookies blew the doors off while others clearly left us wanting more. For a lot of people, the combine is the first real look at the 2018 class and the start of the formal pre-draft process.
The next few months will be filled with news reports and pro-days as well as a lot of speculation. It makes for an interesting time in the league. To help you navigate some of it, I was joined by 11 other DLF writers in a mock draft. I asked each of them to share some thoughts on their selections before I shared some thoughts of my own. Sometimes we agreed, sometimes we didn’t. Just like you are going to agree with some opinions and disagree with others.
For this mock, we did three rounds with twelve teams. We assumed PPR scoring and traditional lineups (so not a 2QB or superflex league). Keep in mind it is very early in the process. There are going to be opinions shared in this mock which will completely change in the next few weeks and months. There will be players selected in the top 36 who go undrafted in most rookie drafts this summer, and there might be some future first rounders we didn’t draft. It happens when you are doing things like this early, but that is a part of the fun. Enjoy!
3.01 – Kalen Ballage, RB Arizona State
Jake’s thoughts: Ballage may be the most polarizing running back prospect I’ve ever seen. He impressed at the combine just like everyone expected him to. Coming in at 6’1″, 227 lbs; he is a freak. His lack of vision, cutting and contact balance is worrisome. Where he wins is running north/south and as an outstanding pass catcher. Some people think he should convert to wide receiver in the NFL. If he lands with a creative offensive coordinator, he has a safe floor as a receiving back who could get carries and be the ‘pounder’ in an RB committee. I love taking a shot on him in the third round.
My thoughts: I think Jake nailed it in his write up. Ballage is a unique talent, which isn’t always a good thing. I think Ballage is more like an undersized H-back than a running back. Given his pass catching skills, it is entirely possible that an NFL team could try to convert him to a tight end instead of a running back. If he stays as a running back, I think his ceiling will be fairly limited.
3.02 – Antonio Callaway, WR Florida
Adam’s thoughts: When you get into the third round of a 1QB, non-IDP rookie draft, it’s time to start looking for dart throws. While I do like some of the other players around this pick (Tre’Quan Smith, Dante Pettis, Allen Lazard, and Jaylen Samuels), Callaway is dripping with upside. His tape is impressive and at one time he was a top devy option at the receiver position. That all went off the rails with a series of off-the-field incidents that will need to be taken into account on draft day.
Without getting into those things, he is a very quick twitch athlete with great ball skills and excellent route ability. Off-field question marks aside, he could be a very good player in the NFL. If none of those things happened, he would likely be a first-round rookie receiver. If those things can stay away, he will be an absolute steal for the NFL and for dynasty owners looking to take a shot.
My thoughts: Callaway will be a very interesting draft day follow. If we are looking at only the receiver, I think he is a day two selection in the NFL draft. He is a little undersized, but he definitely flashes on the field. The issue comes down to lack of maturity and discipline. He has been criticized for lack of effort in the weight room and when watching film. If it was just that, then teams could probably look past it. However, there is so much more. The off the field transgressions for Callaway are pretty serious, including fraud, drugs, and sexual misconduct. NFL teams will definitely be taking a risk on him.