The NFL draft is done and the fun is just beginning!
The last few days have given us quite the adventure. In fact, when compared to the last few years, I think this NFL Draft has thrown more wrenches and curveballs into dynasty rookie drafts than the last few years combined. After all, when we have a receiver who some had on the top of their draft board (Kelvin Harmon) not being selected by an NFL team until the sixth round or someone who wasn’t even in the top 50 for many (Mecole Hardman) going as the fifth receiver off the board in the NFL Draft, things can only be defined as crazy.
In order to help get a handle on what to make of things, I gathered 11 of DLF’s finest and conducted a mock draft Saturday afternoon. The rules of the mock were simple – no trades were allowed and owners were instructed to simply take the best fantasy asset they believed was on the board. We assumed a standard PPR scoring system without any premiums on any positions. Here is how things unfolded in our first post-draft rookie mock draft.
1.01 = Josh Jacobs, RB OAK
1.02 = N’Keal Harry, WR NE
I’m going to put these two together because I think they will be the first two picks in the majority of rookie drafts this off-season. I’m not saying you can’t go in a different direction, I just think most are going to go one of the these two directions. Neither of these players is without risk, but they both do offer near elite upside at their position to go with immediate opportunity for production.
Jacobs should be the day one starter in Oakland and should really never leave the field unless good ol’ Chucky is going to start playing games to make the rookie “earn it.” Jacobs has a complete skill set with good hands, better than average pass protection skills, and the ability to run both inside and outside the tackles. With Antonio Brown on the outside to keep defenses honest, I could easily see Jacobs putting up RB1 numbers as a rookie and pushing for a spot as a top five player at the position.
Harry walks into New England with Josh Gordon-level athleticism and talent while lacking all the baggage. It might take him some time to pick up the schemes in New England, but I’m guessing Tom Brady will find a way to use his new toy right out of the gate. It might be a slower start than many want, but Harry should steadily improve as the season goes on. The biggest concern with Harry is sustaining long-term value. Brady isn’t going to be around for much longer and there doesn’t seem to be much of a plan for the afterlife even with the addition of Jarrett Stidham. Harry could always end up on a different team in five years, but we really don’t know and the future is very hard to predict, so enjoy the present.
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1.03 = Miles Sanders, RB PHI
1.04 = David Montgomery, RB CHI
Pre-NFL Draft, it wasn’t uncommon to see five receivers and one running back come off the board in the first six picks. Now we have three running backs in the first four picks. While this was just one mock draft, it’s going to be very common to see Jacobs, Sanders and Montgomery all off the board within the first six picks of most rookie drafts. I think Sanders will likely be in the top four most often while Montgomery will be in the four-to-six range most of the time. Sanders landing with the Eagles offers a bigger perceived upside and ceiling than Montgomery going to the Bears, but both of them should have a role in week one with a chance to grow on top of it.
In short, I think Sanders offers back end RB1 upside, but there is some risk with him as he’s is going to need to compete for a role in a crowded backfield. However, he should eventually win out. Montgomery is probably capped as a high end RB2 thanks to what will likely be a partial committee and some week-to-week inconsistency in his usage. The advantage here is he should be in that role from day one.
1.05 = TJ Hockenson, TE DET
1.06 = DK Metcalf, WR SEA
1.07 = Noah Fant, TE DEN
1.08 = AJ Brown, WR TEN
I lumped these four together because I think they will make up the middle of the first round in a lot of upcoming rookie drafts. Montgomery could definitely slide back and mix into this group or you might see one of these players leap over one of the running backs above, but I think after the top eight, there is a bit of a drop-off this year.
Hockenson and Fant both ended up in great situations where they should be used early and often by their teams and their quarterbacks. The draft capital invested in both of them (especially in Hockenson) all but guarantees their role. Hockenson is one of only three tight ends drafted in the first eight picks in the last 20 years – the other two are Vernon Davis and Kellen Winslow Jr. That’s pretty elite company. I think both have a chance to push for top five status at the position for many years to come with Hockenson being a bit of a safer play.
I have some concerns about Metcalf and he is currently somewhere in my third-to-fifth receiver range as a result. He has some massive upside with his athletic ability, but his injury history as well as his lack of agility combined with his new situation cause some hesitation for me. Seattle was last in the league in pass attempts and a bottom six team in passing yards last year – that isn’t a situation that screams fantasy production. What happens with Doug Baldwin could play a large part in what happens for Metcalf, however.
His college teammate, AJ Brown, is currently my number two ranked receiver. I almost drafted him at the 1.05 slot in this exercise, but chose Hockenson instead. Brown doesn’t offer the same level of upside as some of the other receivers, thanks in part of the team he landed on, but he is about as close to a sure thing as we can find. He should be at least a top 30 receiver with the upside to be a top 20 player at his position if the Titans can continue to grow into a passing team. If Corey Davis fizzles out, Brown could push slightly higher. However, I think the best case is he and Davis form a great one-two punch in the passing game.
1.09 = Marquise Brown, WR BAL
1.10 = JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR PHI
1.11 = Andy Isabella, WR ARI
1.12 = Kyler Murray, QB ARI
The first round of our mock draft was rounded out with these four players. I think there are at least three others who could have been (and potentially will be) swapped out with any of these players. My tier runs from about this point to the 15th pick, but I do have a pair of players who went in the second round of our mock draft above this group. Let’s just say I have Parris Campbell and Deebo Samuel both in my top five ranking of receivers and ahead of the three you see in this grouping.
Brown is an intriguing selection. As the first receiver taken in the NFL Draft, history tells us things are going to work out fairly well for him. However, history also says receivers with his physical size don’t turn into fantasy assets very often. My gut tells me in the Ravens run heavy offense, his production is going to be very inconsistent. He will be very difficult to trust in starting lineups and will likely be a better NFL player than a fantasy one. If you are in a best ball league, he is much more valuable.
Anyone drafting Arcega-Whiteside will need to be patient since he joins a team with a lot of talent in its receiving group. However, the majority of that talent is either aging or near the end of their contract. I don’t expect much from him as a rookie, but he is someone who should see his role in the offense grow in his second and third years. The upside isn’t on par with some of the other players in this class, but his floor is fairly high.
Isabella was a pre-draft darling for many, and the Cardinals seem to be all aboard with him. What we can expect out of him and his new team is a true mystery, though. You have a college coach with a college offense coming into the NFL. He added a rookie quarterback who doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an NFL quarterback and three rookie receivers to join him. We have no idea what the offense will look like or who will be featured. They also have Christian Kirk and the legendary Larry Fitzgerald in the fold, so things are going to get crowded. If you feel a bit like gambling, you could be in for a huge payoff with this one, but it is far from certain.
Speaking of that rookie quarterback, Kyler Murray rounded out our first twelve picks. There is a chance he could turn into an elite fantasy quarterback much like Patrick Mahomes did last year. There is also a chance this whole Arizona experiment crumbles to the ground in a flaming mess. I have no clue which one it will be, but I think it will be fun to watch one way or the other. I think seeing Murray come off the board somewhere between picks ten and fifteen will be fairly normal.
That is it for the first round! You can check out twitter using the tag #DLFrookiemock for the other two rounds or come back in a few days for the write-up. Good luck with your drafts!
- 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