A few weeks ago, I gathered some team members from here at DLF along with our friends from Campus2Canton to complete an updated look at the 2022 rookie class by taking part in a mock draft. That was so much fun, we got the same gang back together to look ahead to the upcoming rookie class.
While the 2023 rookie crop is not set in stone (the deadline for underclassmen to declare is January 16th) we know enough to start making some decisions about this class.
Here are our mock drafters, in order…
Ryan McDowell, Dynasty League Football
Austin Nace, Campus2Canton
Dan Meylor, Dynasty League Football
Chris Moxley, Campus2Canton
Matt Price, Dynasty League Football
Felix Sharpe, Campus2Canton
Bruce Matson, Dynasty League Football
Matt Bruening, Campus2Canton
Scott Conner, Dynasty League Football
Colin Decker, Campus2Canton
Addison Hayes, Dynasty League Football
Alfred Fernandez, Campus2Canton
Here is our first look at what a superflex, tight end premium dynasty rookie draft might look like in 2023.
Note: At the time of our mock draft, LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte had announced he would remain in school for the upcoming season. He has since changed his mind and will be part of this class. I estimate that he would’ve been a mid-first round selection in this mock draft.
1.01 – Bijan Robinson, RB Texas
The easiest pick of the draft is the do-it-all running back from Texas. Robinson has been penciled in as the eventual 1.01 in rookie drafts since he burst onto the scene as a freshman, leading the team with over 700 rushing yards. His numbers improved from there, culminating in a 1,500+ yard, 18-touchdown season this year. It already feels unfair to compare Robinson to his fellow rookies as he has a chance to be valued as the overall dynasty RB1 immediately.
1.02 – Bryce Young, QB Alabama
For most, Alabama’s Young is the QB1 and a favorite to be the first player selected in the NFL Draft. Young is a dynamo, making wow plays on a weekly basis for the Crimson Tide. Young proved to be an elite passer and also made an impact on the ground. Young is reportedly 6’0 and 194 pounds. Don’t be surprised if both of those numbers are inflated and that is really the only reason for concern with Young as a prospect.
1.03 – CJ Stroud, QB Ohio State
If Young is not the QB1 in the class, expect it to be Stroud instead. The Ohio State product possesses the prototypical size that Young lacks. The 6’3”, 215-pound sophomore is an accurate passer who has already been unfairly compared to the man he replaced, Justin Fields. While Stroud did show off his running ability in the playoff game against TCU, that was not a consistent part of Stroud’s game. For now, there are some early questions about Stroud’s upside from a fantasy standpoint.
1.04 – Jahmyr Gibbs, RB Alabama
The second running back and second Alabama product of the top-four picks is Gibbs, who transferred in from Georgia Tech in what looks like a very wise move. Gibbs was a vital part of the Crimson Tide offense in 2022, making his greatest impact as a receiver out of the backfield. Gibbs caught 78 passes for 848 yards and, per PFF, dropped only two passes all season. Gibbs has already drawn comparisons to another former Bama back, Alvin Kamara, due to his dual role and upside as both a ball carrier and receiver.
1.05 – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR Ohio State
If college sophomores were eligible for the NFL Draft, Smith-Njigba would’ve almost certainly have been one of the top receivers drafted as a year ago. After all, he emerged as the go-to option for a Buckeyes team that also included Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. With those two off to the league, the 2022 Ohio State was expected to be dominated by JSN. Not so much, Instead, he was limited all season with a hamstring injury and even caused some to question his love and dedication for the game and his team.
1.06 – Anthony Richardson, QB Florida
One of the most hotly debated prospects in the coming months will be Florida quarterback Richardson, who went from intriguing prospect to Heisman favorite overnight, before quickly fading from the limelight after some disappointing performances. Richardson already has dynasty managers chasing his upside and playmaking ability. His running ability, combined with a huge, powerful frame (6’4”, 232 pounds) makes for an intriguing dynasty asset. He might have the strongest arm in the class but may also have the worst accuracy of any draftable prospect.
1.07 – Jordan Addison, WR USC
Addison’s transfer from Pittsburgh to USC may have worked out in the long run, but he saw his production fall from the previous year in almost every category, despite the upgrade at the QB position. His slight frame (6’0″, 170 lbs.) is the only concern at the NFL level, but his elite speed and ability to create separation keeps him as a top option going into the NFL Draft.
1.08 – Quentin Johnston, WR Texas Christian
A few years ago, dynasty managers only chased the wide receiver prospects that had the combination of size and speed. While we are a group have come around and are now more inclusive of all types of skill sets, it’s still exciting to see the prototypical WR1 enter the league. That’s what we are getting with Johnston from TCU. The 6’4”, 215-pound freak enjoyed a true breakout season and is now considered the favorite to be the first receiver selected in what looks like a top-heavy class at the position.
1.09 – Will Levis, QB Kentucky
Another player that dynasty managers are already hotly debating is Levis, Kentucky’s veteran signal caller. Unlike the other top quarterbacks in the class, Levis did not have a supporting cast filled with five-star prospects. Maybe that’s enough of an excuse for a subpar touchdown to turnover ratio and an overall disappointing year in 2022. If you’re checking out Levis’ play, I suggest you spend some time on his 2021 film, when he was throwing to Wan’Dale Robinson and being coached by current Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen. The difference between that season and 2022 was night and day.
1.10 – Zach Evans, RB Mississippi
After the rule changes brought on from Covid protocols, it was difficult to keep up with all of the players transferring from one Power-Five school to another. Most of those proved to be good decisions, but that is not really the case for Evans. The former top-ranked running back recruit in his class. Evans muddled through two frustrating seasons at TCU before bolting for Mississippi. There, he was outplayed and outproduced by true freshman Quinshon Judkins, losing some dynasty value through his final college season.
1.11 – Sean Tucker, RB Syracuse
At the beginning of the season, Evans was considered the most likely candidate to be the RB3 in the class and while he’s still holding onto that title based on this mock, Tucker is quickly gaining ground. Tucker enjoyed a breakout season for Syracuse and possesses the ideal combination of play strength and speed. He should have the chance to be an early-down force in the league, though likely won’t have much of a role in the passing game.
1.12 – Michael Mayer, TE Notre Dame
I mentioned this was a tight end premium mock draft, making it somewhat of a surprise to see Notre Dame product Mayer fall to the end of the first round. Considered the overwhelming favorite to be the first tight end drafted, Mayer could be selected as early as the top-ten in May’s draft. Mayer is a bully in the mold of old school tight ends. He does not have the speed of some recent tight end prospects, which could turn off some dynasty managers.
2.01 Josh Downs, WR North Carolina
2.02 Tank Bigsby, RB Auburn
2.03 Blake Corum, RB Michigan
2.04 Kendre Miller, RB TCU
2.05 Hendon Hooker, QB Tennessee
2.06 Chase Brown, RB Illinois
2.07 Zach Charbonnet, RB UCLA
2.08 Evan Hull, RB Northwestern
2.09 Jalin Hyatt, WR Tennessee
2.10 Devon Achane, RB Texas A&M
2.11 Rashee Rice, WR SMU
2.12 Zay Flowers, WR Boston College
We’ll see you next week!
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