2020 Rookie Bust Mock: Round One

Dwight Peebles

The rookie bust mock draft is one of our favorite things to do at DLF and I had a panel join me for our annual ritual. Nathan Powell, James Koutoulas, Kane Fossell, Frank Gruber, and Matt Griffith participated and here is who we think has the highest likelihood to bust due to their landing spot, draft capital, or ADP.

Here is round one!

Note: All of these players were within the top 24 of rookie rankings at DLF at the time of drafting.

1.01 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB KC

The first running back selected in the NFL Draft, Edwards-Helaire joins the most potent offense in the NFL and should see playing time in year one. His ADP since the draft has skyrocketed and he is going first overall in many rookie drafts. This also sets him up to be a potential bust.

Upon selecting him, Nathan noted: “He had only 658 rushing yards and 4.5 yards per carry in 2018. His play and stock were catapulted by playing in one of the best college offenses in NCAA history. He would need to be a top ten dynasty running back to live up to his price tag and I don’t see this as likely for him.”

1.02 Cam Akers, RB LAR

Akers came to Florida State as one of the highest-ranked running backs in history per 247Sports. He struggled at times behind a terrible offensive line but showed flashes of the all-around who earned the ranking. He can catch, block, run inside or break it outside, and has the speed to break away when he gets into the open field.

The Rams just cut ties with Todd Gurley and they have Darrell Henderson as well as Malcolm Brown who could cut into Akers touches. The team’s offensive line struggled last, ranking 31st per PFF, and they did little to address it via draft or free agency. The path to Akers being successful will be a tough one but he will be drafted in the first few picks of rookie drafts.

1.03 Henry Ruggs, WR LV

It seems to be a trendy thing to hate on the Raiders’ first-round speedy wideout and James was quick to highlight why. He points out: “Ruggs has speed in spades but he finds himself relying on Derek Carr to get him the ball in an antiquated offensive system run by once-great head coach Jon Gruden. The Raiders also drafted Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden Jr. to compete for touches as well.”

Those are valid points but in my mind, Ruggs showed more than just speed at Alabama. Either way, the first-round draft capital puts him in a spot where the pressure to succeed will be great. Fantasy owners are skeptical as well, often letting him fall into the second round of rookie drafts.

1.04 Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB TB

A lot of people are drafting Vaughn likes it is a foregone conclusion he will take the job from the incumbent starter Ronald Jones. Nathan says: “He’s a third-round pick who will split carries with Jones and he is being drafted ahead of first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk and second-rounders Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman. I’ll gladly take the early wide receivers in prime landing spots over a third-round running back.”

Vaughn is a phenomenal pass-catching back with solid production in the SEC. He does have a good opportunity but the job is likely going to be primarily Jones’ for the time being. Drafting him at the end of the first round seems risky with other players with sure opportunities still on the board.

1.05 D’Andre Swift, RB DET

Many people had Swift as the top back going into the draft and he now has the draft capital, getting taken in the second round by the Lions. The talent is there – he is an electric runner and one of the best pass-catching backs in recent years. The Lions already have Kerryon Johnson in the backfield but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. The path to a big role appears to be attainable, so why is he so risky?

Matt drafted him here and says: “Coach Matt Patricia has been trying to emulate Bill Belichick since he took the job. Bringing in former Patriots, drafting TJ Hockenson to be his Rob Gronkowski, and now drafting Swift to be his Sony Michel. It scares me a little because Detroit’s history of making backs relevant speaks for itself.” After the great Barry Sanders, it is true – the Lions have had talented backs but none have been relevant fantasy producers.

1.06 Jalen Reagor, WR PHI

The Eagles were undone down the stretch due to a lack of receiving options and they addressed the need in the first round with the selection of Reagor. Many expected them to go a different route with receivers but they selected the playmaker from TCU. Kane was one of a few who did not like the pick and he selected him seventh in this draft.

Kane says: “He has deficiencies against press coverage because he is not physical at the line. Reagor predominantly lined up on the right side in college and could be predictable due to this. These are risks I don’t want to take in the first round of rookie drafts.”

It is tough to ignore those shortcomings and he also struggled with drops, although some were due to poor quarterback play. The former Horned Frog is a risk with a possible high reward, but hard to take where he is being drafted in the latter half of the first round of rookie drafts.

1.07 Joe Burrow, QB CIN

The top overall pick, Burrow burst onto the scene and led the most prolific scoring offense in college history. He is from Ohio and seems to be the savior at quarterback the Bengals have been searching for since Boomer Esiason. He is intelligent and can make any throw asked. He is adept at moving in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield. The killer instinct is there, and he seems poised to take the Bengals to the next level.

All this seems perfect so why is he being chosen? I took him here simply because of the organization. The ownership has not fully invested leading the team to the Super Bowl since the late 1980s and I don’t trust them to surround him with the team he needs. A good quarterback can only do so much and we don’t know if Burrow is a great one. I love everything about his game but the Cincinnati organization has been toxic and I worry he won’t make it through alive.

1.08 Michael Pittman, WR IND

Pittman landed in one of the best spots of all offensive players but Nathan doesn’t believe he is as sure of success as some. He said: “He is an older prospect who is turning 23 during his rookie season. With a run game led by Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack, it may be harder to come by targets in the Colts offense than some are anticipating.”

Pittman is a complete receiver and can fit anywhere on the offense. He is not particularly elite at anything but good at many things. However, the Colts should run a lot and if Pittman doesn’t click with Philip Rivers, he could be quiet this season and not find his stride in Indianapolis.

1.09 Laviska Shenault, WR JAC

When Shenault was on the field, he was one of the best players in college football. The injury history has always been his biggest detraction. The offense in Jacksonville has not been one of the most creative and another big reason he is such a risk. Matt took him here, saying: “The talent is undeniable. He is a player who needs manufactured touches and could see a let down on usage.”

Shenault can line up in the backfield and be used as a weapon all over. Early reports from Jacksonville are they do plan on using him creatively. Fantasy owners will be skeptical and the creative usage could also lead to little fantasy production.

1.10 Tua Tagovailoa, QB MIA

James selected the former Alabama quarterback with the tenth overall pick. He had this to say: “Tagovailoa struggled with some major injuries in college and if he can’t stay healthy in the NFL, he may find himself replaceable.”

The biggest knock – and the only way he will be held back – is the injury risk. Tagovailoa was phenomenal in college. He was efficient, accurate, and a great leader. He can make throws to all levels of the field with perfect touch and accuracy. But it was the injury risk that made him fall to the fifth pick in the draft and has him falling in rookie drafts.

The Dolphins should be able to let veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick take the reins in 2020 and give Tagovailoa time to develop and fully recover. The team still needs offensive weapons and the line needs a ton of help as well. It could be several years before he really makes a difference for your fantasy team.

1.11 CeeDee Lamb, WR DAL

Lamb was the top wide receiver for many going into the draft and landed on a prolific offense with many weapons. Despite all the weapons the Cowboys have, they did lose players who accounted for 32.7% of the teams’ targets in 2019. There is still a strong group left – Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Ezekiel Elliott will command targets.

Lamb did not consistently create separation at Oklahoma, even though he was one of the best at tracking balls in the air and using the sideline to create highlight-reel catches. He may struggle to find his place in the offense and get the looks from Dak Prescott he needs to be a consistent fantasy producer.

1.12 Brandon Aiyuk, WR SF

The former Sun Devil was drafted in the first round by a team with a huge need for wide receivers. So why is he a risk? He has the draft capital and lands on a strong offensive team with an offensive-minded head coach.

Matt said: “Aiyuk went from JUCO transfer to arguably a better prospect than N’Keal Harry in a calendar year, according to some. I actually like his ability, but he is more of a scheme fit for the 49ers than a complete receiver.” He will need to carve out a dominant role to cash in on the draft capital, and lack of consistency could be a detriment to his fantasy role.

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