Editor’s Note: The season is just beginning for DLF! We continue our 2019 Early Look series today as the new year really puts our rookie coverage into high gear. Enjoy all we have to offer in the upcoming months and thanks to all of you for making DLF the world’s number one dynasty fantasy football site.
This is one of the most interesting draft classes I’ve ever seen. The draft is loaded at wide receiver and tight end. Running back is suspect but has the potential to be better than advertised. The quarterback position has less talent compared to recent years, but the drama surrounding Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray’s draft stock is going to make things very intriguing. Fasten your seat belts because this year’s draft season is going to be very entertaining.
AS A RECRUIT
Surprisingly, Snell was a three-star prospect out of high school. He hails from Westerville, Ohio, where he was spitting distance from Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes. After being looked over by the school down the road, he decided to commit to Kentucky in 2015. It was very hard for other schools to influence him because his bond with Kentucky only strengthened throughout the recruiting process. Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Iowa, Miami (OH), and Toledo all sent offers letters but it wasn’t enough as he officially signed his letter of intent in February of 2016.
At Westerville Central High School, he was very productive, rushing for 2,077 yards and 28 touchdowns during his junior season and 1,826 rushing yards and 29 total touchdowns during his senior year. Even though he was one of the best running backs in the state, he still only yielded a three-star rating and wasn’t highly ranked on many recruiting sites. 247Sports had him ranked the 56th running back in his recruiting class and the 38th-best prospect out of the state of Ohio.
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Below is a highlight video from his high school days. This will give you a good visual of how his game has developed from his high school years to now.
Stats courtesy of sports-reference.com
There wasn’t much of a transition from high school to the college game for him. He rushed for 136 yards and four touchdowns against New Mexico State, tying the school record for the most rushing touchdowns in a single game. His first career start came against Georgia where he rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He was the first player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards during their freshman season and he also holds the UK freshman record with five 100-yard games.
His sophomore season was even better. He finished the regular season leading the SEC in carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. This made him the first player in school history to rush for more than a 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Snell was also the third player in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards and at least 13 touchdowns in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. The other two players were Hershel Walker and Knowshon Moreno. He was also awarded All-SEC First Team by the Associated Press and was on the watch list for both the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards.
Snell laid all his cards on the table for his third and final season with the Wildcats. He had seven 100-yard games. His best game came against the Florida Gators in week two where he rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns. He scored a touchdown in every game but four of them and he had five multi-touchdown games. Snell finished the season with at 13% target share and a nine percent ownership of the passing yardage. He also rushed for five yards per carry with 21 percent of his runs going for eight yards or more.
According to PFF, 63.3 percent of his yards came after contact and he forced 39 missed tackles on the season. After his junior season was over, he was named a semifinalist for both the Doak Walker and Maxwell Awards. Snell finished his career as the all-time leading rusher for Kentucky. He has a prominent spot in the SEC record books, considering he ranks 12th all-time in rushing and third in rushing touchdowns.
Snell broke out at a young age and continued to be productive during the remainder of his career. His dominator rating spiked during his sophomore season, mainly because Kentucky’s passing game could only record ten passing touchdowns during the entire season and Snell took a stranglehold of the team’s rushing production with 18 rushing touchdowns. Keep in mind, his ratings are supported by mostly ground statistics since he only recorded 216 yards and zero touchdowns in the passing game during his three-year career.
Testing results courtesy of ESPN.com
He is currently listed at 5’11’’ and 223-pounds. During the recruiting process, he tested with a 4.75 40-yard dash time, 4.12 20-yard shuttle and a 33.4 vertical jump. All of those numbers will improve when the Combine rolls around. Usually, a player’s testing results will dramatically improve from high school to the end of their collegiate career. They are bigger, thicker, stronger and more explosive compared to what they were a few years ago and therefore the changes in the player’s body composition will impact how a player tests.
From watching him on tape, it’s easy to see that he doesn’t have elite speed. He can get caught from behind in the open field and he doesn’t have enough boost in his step to consistently burn the defense for sizeable gains. However, he is fast enough to get the job done at the NFL level. He just doesn’t possess elite level speed.
- Work Ethic
- Sweet Feet
- His athleticism will be questioned throughout the entire draft process
- Only recorded 29 receptions during his three-year collegiate career
- Not very dynamic in the open field
- Lacks burst
Walter Football has him being selected somewhere between the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft. Their projections seem to follow the consensus of most draft sites. With that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he slips into the fourth round or further due to his lack of receiving production. The Combine is going to be very important for his draft stock. If he exceeds expectations, then he will definitely be a top-100 pick. On the other hand, if he botches the 40-yard dash and other workouts, then there’s a good chance that he falls in the draft.
Draft capital is very important, but we also must pay attention to who selects him in the draft. He needs to go to a team where there’s plenty of opportunity for growth. The most optimal situation would not have an elite pass-catching running back on the roster, therefore there’s a chance that he could get the opportunity to play on passing downs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem like a great fit for him. They currently have an opening for a starting running back and they have a history of overlooking running backs with limited receiving production (cough, cough Ronald Jones).
His lack of use in the passing game combined with his questionable athleticism prevents him from being an elite-level running back prospect in dynasty. His value is going to be strictly dependent on where he goes in the draft. An advantageous situation will elevate his draft stock. On the contrary, getting drafted by the wrong team will absolutely kill his stock in dynasty. With that being said, there’s a lot of ambiguity in his dynasty value right now. If everything goes perfect, then he’s going to be selected around the 1.08-1.12 range in rookie drafts. However, if he slips in the draft and gets selected by a team with a crowded running back situation, then we could see him fall to the mid-second-round.
This year’s draft class has a lot of depth at the wide receiver position and that could dilute the value at running back, causing players like Snell to fall down the pecking order. There’s also an influx of talent at tight end this year and that could push some players down the board. Don’t be surprised if we see tight ends like Noah Fant getting drafted in the first-round this year, causing some players to drop a spot or two.
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