April has arrived! The snow is almost gone, the birds are returning, and the long winter is just about over (or just about the begin!!). This also means that the 2019 NFL Draft is very quickly approaching. The combine is over and the pro days are currently happening.
The pre-draft rankings for rookies are starting to solidify a little bit. The team these players land on will of course have some impact on their overall dynasty value, especially in the short term, but knowing where your favorites stack up now, especially if you are a believer in long term value, can give you an added edge in trade talks.
To help you out, I gathered some of DLF’s finest to do a run through of how the first three rounds might look.
The rules for this mock draft were pretty simple:
- Three rounds with 12 teams
- PPR scoring with standard lineups (not superflex, not TE premium, etc)
- Drafters were told to assume they had a balanced team with no glaring team needs
- No trades were allowed
With that in mind, let’s get on with the show!
1.01 – N’Keal Harry, WR Arizona State
Pete’s Thoughts – Harry stands out as my 1.01 in a 1QB league. He posted a 4.54-second 40-yard dash and has one of the best Breakout Ages of any of the top receivers. Harry produced strong numbers on the Sun Devils with poor quarterback play. Landing spot could change this view but until the NFL draft, Harry is my 1.01.
My Thoughts – I agree with Pete on this one. Prior to the combine, I had Harry and DK Metcalf as a toss up at the top slot and was probably leaning a bit towards Metcalf. However, Metcalf really struggled in the agility drills at the combine, which is a concern for his ability to turn into an excellent route runner. This just might give Harry the lead.
While Harry didn’t participate in the agility drills at the combine, his film does show some great agility for someone his size. For now, he has the slight edge in my book.
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1.02 – AJ Brown, WR Ole Miss
Kyle’s Thoughts – I would likely try to trade back in an actual rookie draft as I believe my selection will likely be there a few picks later, but I will go ahead and take AJ Brown. He might not have as much upside as Harry or Metcalf, but he is one of the players I have the least questions about in this year’s draft. He had good production in college, a strong showing at the combine, and figures to be selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. I am a big fan of his entire profile.
My Thoughts – I think Kyle nailed it with his description. Brown might have the highest floor out of any of the receivers in this draft class, but he lacks the ceiling of some of the others. I don’t think he has the ability to be a truly elite receiver, but he could be a top 15 fantasy receiver in the right situation and should turn into a top 30 receiver even in a bad situation.
I have him ranked as my third receiver because he is such a solid, safe choice. Like Kyle said, you probably don’t need to invest the 1.02 to get him, but if you love him or anyone else, go get them.
1.03 – DK Metcalf, WR Ole Miss
Jake’s Thoughts – Metcalf is an absolute freak show. If a coaching staff can maximize what he does well and avoid things he doesn’t, he has a legitimate chance to be a top five dynasty WR. There is some risk here – injuries, limited route tree and some concentration drops. If you’re risk-averse, you will most likely avoid Metcalf at this price but if you’re a gambling man, there’s no better shot at hitting a home run in selecting this Ole Miss product.
My Thoughts – If upside is your game, Metcalf might be the biggest upside wide receiver in the last few years. He could turn into the next Julio Jones. He could also turn into the next John Ross (always injured). What Metcalf has is a size/speed profile we haven’t seen since Julio. In fact, his combine numbers are almost spot on what Julio did… until we get to the agility drills.
To say Metcalf struggled with the agility drills is like saying the ocean is big. His numbers cast some doubt as to if he’ll be able to turn into the route technician the NFL requires of its elite receivers or if he’ll just be a big bodied burner who can win at the point of the catch. With that said, his game film doesn’t show major issues with this, but that could change against NFL quality corners. There are also all the injury issues to worry about. I still have him ranked second right now.
1.04 – Hakeem Butler, WR Iowa State
Levi’s Thoughts – I had a feeling Butler might be here at number four. Harry is my top WR in this class, and then after that I don’t see a ton of separation. I think Butler can be really good if given the right opportunity. He has a unique build at 6’5″, 230 lbs and ran under a 4.5 40… you simply can’t teach that. He’s a work in progress, but the traits and potential warrant taking a shot on him. He was an easy choice for me.
My Thoughts – There is currently a fair amount of disagreement in how the top five wide receivers are ranked. Most have Harry and Metcalf as one and two in some order, but there are a fair number, like Levi, who have Butler in that spot. I have him as my fourth receiver with a small tier break just before him.
He does have great size with the best catch radius of this draft class by a pretty fair amount. Add in the speed and there is a lot to like. The issue for me is that he is extremely raw. His routes and hands are both inconsistent, and I’m not sure he possesses the agility to run a full NFL route tree.
1.05 – Josh Jacobs, RB Alabama
My Thoughts – When I look at Jacobs, I see a prototypical running back. He has the ideal size, complete with massive hands. He also boasts a complete skill set as he was highly effective all over the field and on special teams. In college he was a true offensive weapon with scores as a returner, receiver, and a rusher. Some might look at his lack of college stats as a concern, but he was very efficient with his touches. I view his relatively low mileage in terms of hits taken as a plus.
Like almost all young running backs, his pass protection skills are a question mark, but he is such a good pass catcher that he could be a slot receiver on third downs instead of a running back. However, the biggest concern about Jacobs is his lack of home run speed.
He is a patient runner who lets the blocks develop before hitting the hole at the perfect time with a quick movement. He isn’t the ‘run around the edge and go 40 yards without being touched’ kind of speed back. That concerns some, but there have been an awful lot of very productive rushers who lack long speed but have quick feet, good instincts, and great balance. Ring any Bells?
1.06 – David Montgomery, RB Iowa State
Michael’s Thoughts – With the top receivers gone, I dip into the murky class of running backs. Luckily, Montgomery is one of, if not, the best one out there. He’s not fast in the traditional sense but is strong and showed a knack for pass blocking. Should be one of the top backs taken in the real draft.
My Thoughts – Montgomery is going to be one of the poster boys for the film vs athletic ability argument that we have every single year. His athletic ability according to the combine drills was very underwhelming. However, if you watch a few of his games his talent is unmistakable.
Some view him as a volume rusher due to his high number of carries and lack of big plays, but he is much more than that. He has ideal size, great hands, is a willing blocker, and has great instincts. He isn’t going to break a lot of big runs, but I think he is a pretty high floor potential three down back. He won’t be elite, but he could push for top ten status.
1.07 – Kelvin Harmon, WR North Carolina State
Jeff’s Thoughts – The 2019 class is an enigma. There is no true 1.01 pick and arguably there are eight players who could fit that selection. At 1.07, it’s easy enough to take whatever player happens to fall.
Harmon is a big target at 6’2, 221 lbs and he uses his body well to make contested catches. He’s not a burner (4.60 40) nor is he an athletic freak (32.5” vertical jump and 117” broad jump) but he’s an aggressive receiver who knows how to run routes, find soft areas in a zone defense and will man-handle smaller cornerbacks.
He possess average quickness and may be best inside the hash marks but his natural hands and competitiveness should provide a great foundation for effectiveness at the next level. He produced 150 receptions, 2,200 yards and 11 touchdowns over his final two years.
My Thoughts – Harmon is the last of the “big 5” receivers we sometimes hear about with this year’s draft. I also think most people have a fairly large drop off right around this pick in the first round. The NFL draft can always change that, but this seems to be a spot to watch.
Anyway, back to Harmon. I haven’t been overly impressed with him. When I look at his game and his athletic profile, I just don’t see someone who is going to be a top receiver in the NFL. I think he will struggle to separate at the next level, which means he could struggle against NFL-caliber defenses. Maybe after more review my opinion will change, but I just don’t see Harmon as being near the level of the other top WRs in this class.
1.08 – Miles Sanders, RB Penn State
Kyle’s Thoughts – Miles Sanders flew under the radar for a while at Penn State because of Saquon Barkley‘s presence. With Barkley gone to the NFL, Sanders made a name for himself this year, producing well both on the ground and in the air. He really saw his stock rise after an impressive NFL combine. He was one of the few running backs to test well this year and likely helped both his NFL and rookie draft stock by doing so.
My Thoughts – As Kyle mentioned, he had one of the better combines for his position this year. This made me go back and look at some of his games again. We don’t normally talk about rushers as being “raw”, but that is kind of how I feel about Sanders. He just lacks experience, which seems to cause some errors and hesitation at times.
He has all of the tools, he just needs to figure out how to put them together. He also struggled against some of the stronger defenses he played. With some good coaching, I think he could definitely turn into a starter in the NFL.
1.09 – Darrell Henderson, RB Memphis
Brian’s Thoughts – Henderson is questioned about his size and whether he can handle a large workload. I’m not concerned. He’s an explosive back who put up gaudy numbers in his college career and could be one of the more underrated RB prospects coming out this season.
My Thoughts – Henderson is a highly productive, big-play rusher. What he is doing definitely seems to work because his stats were huge. However, I wonder if his game can translate to the next level. More concerning for me than his size is some of the things he doesn’t seem to do very well.
He runs high, which isn’t good for a running back, but especially one who shouldn’t take a lot of big hits due to lack of size. This also means some of his cuts aren’t quite as sharp as I would like to see. His acceleration is phenomenal, but he isn’t super clean when changing directions. Nonetheless, he’ll be an exciting player to watch on Sundays. The question is what will he do for your fantasy team?
1.10 – Andy Isabella, WR Massachusetts
Peter’s Thoughts – He’s in the category of receivers most likely to have a fantasy-relevant season statistical based on his college production, so as long as he’s drafted in the first three rounds, I don’t mind him late in the first at all.
I don’t think this class is as deep at WR, meaning that I don’t think there are as many gems as most people believe in later rounds. This makes me very happy to take a shot on Isabella early or switch to TE if I can hold them for a few years.
My Thoughts – If you have done so, you’ll need to check out Peter’s work on fantasy-relevant seasons, because Isabella is one of his favorites thanks to that metric. With that said, this might be a bit of a reach.
Though the opinions on Isabella vary drastically (our rankers have him anywhere from 13-34), if you love him, go get him. He had a great showing at the combine, but he is someone who I’m not sure where he fits on a fantasy roster. He is going to need to go to a top offense for him to be fantasy relevant, because his size might limit him to the slot.
1.11 – Parris Campbell, WR Ohio State
Levi’s Thoughts – This was a tough decision for me at pick 11. I like Noah Fant and think a team may select him early in the draft, but drafting a TE in the first round is always risky. Kyler Murray was also an option, and I also could have gone with a safe pick in Damien Harris but think Campbell has a higher ceiling.
Campbell wasn’t on my first round radar, but I’ll be the first to admit that a 4.31 40 will put you on my radar. I know that 40 times are not everything (see John Ross), but if Campbell goes somewhere like Kansas City at pick 29, or the Colts at pick 34, I think he will shoot up people’s draft boards. He could be a dark-horse in this year’s draft.
My Thoughts – I love the selection of Campbell. He is one of my late first round targets, and I don’t think nearly enough people are talking about him. According to the athletic profile, Campbell is a slightly faster Odell Beckham. Just let that sink in for a bit.
He has similar size, the same explosiveness and acceleration, but he’s faster. He does need a lot of work on his routes, in part due to the college system he came out of, but he has all of the physical traits to be great in the NFL. I actually have him pushing for the fourth receiver in my rankings.
1.12 – Damien Harris, RB Alabama
Michael’s Thoughts – Harris was a proven producer at “RB-U” Alabama for multiple years. He’s shown flashes of every aspect needed in today’s game for running backs, but he just hasn’t carried a full workload. Given that he played with earlier pick Josh Jacobs and managed to out-produce the former for three consecutive seasons, I’m more than willing to take the risk that Harris can beat out NFL competition for a sizable, efficient workload.
My Thoughts – A high floor, slightly lower ceiling player, Harris is a pretty safe pick near the end of the first round. He is the type of player who might end up as the head of a committee in the NFL who gets paired with a more explosive option.
This means he might be more of a RB2 type of fantasy player, but at pick 12 I’m happy with that. He is a very reliable rusher with good feel and instincts, but he isn’t going to make many people miss and isn’t going to out run defenders.
That wraps up round one! Rounds two and three will be up over the next few days.
- Final 2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Round Three - April 28, 2021
- Final 2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Round Two - April 26, 2021
- Final 2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Round One - April 25, 2021