Up to this point, I’ve mainly been using other people’s NFL mocks and the DLF mock draft simulator tool to give some mock data and introduce people to this rookie class. Now, for the first time, I was able to participate in an actual, real-life, real-person mock draft. This was a 12-team, superflex draft on MFL, and I was randomly given the ninth pick. I recently completed my personal rookie rankings ahead of the NFL combine and used those rankings as my guide when I was on the clock.
Now, let’s see how things shook out.
Picks 1-10 seemed chalky to me. Barring anyone blowing the doors of the combine or really laying an egg, I suspect these ten players to be the top ten in some order, at least until the draft, if not the remainder of the off-season as a whole.
Even in superflex, Bijan Robinson is locked in as the 1.01 everywhere. Bryce Young and CJ Stroud will likely be second and third in most drafts, although they’ll probably flip-flop back and forth based on owner preference. Anthony Richardson at 1.04 might seem high now, but there is a world where I have him leap-frogging both Young and Stroud after the NFL draft. With Jahmyr Gibbs and Will Levis wrapping up the top six, it was finally time to get into the wide receivers.
For the most part, everyone on the interwebs seems to have the same top three, although the particular order changes from person to person. I have it: Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Quentin Johnston. I’m down on this quarterback class and have Johnston ranked fourth overall, even in superflex, so I felt like I got tremendous value too.
My pick was followed by Josh Downs, Sean Tucker, and Devon Achane to wrap up the first round. I’m not a big Downs guy, and I like several running backs more than Tucker, so I wasn’t sad to see them go right after my pick. Texas A&M’s Achane is interesting, though. He is rumored to potentially run his 40-yard dash in the 4.2s, which, if true, will propel him up NFL and dynasty boards, so keep an eye on that during the combine.
In previous mocks, I started to sour on this class midway through the second round, although now, as I’m more familiar with the class, I’d be pleased to find many of these names on the board for me once I’m on the clock. I was hoping Zach Evans would fall to me as my pick was getting closer, as he is my RB3 and would have been an awesome pick at 2.09, but alas, it was not to be. I’ve tinkered with my rankings since this mock concluded, and I now have Tyjae Spears ahead of my actual pick, Cedric Tillman.
In a class full of undersized receivers, the big-bodied Tillman is one of the few receivers in this class who fits the old-school alpha-receiver build, so I’d be happy to hang my hopes on him succeeding in the NFL at 6’3″ and 215-pounds. If Zay Flowers gets the NFL draft capital I’ve seen projected, he’ll probably get bumped into round one in dynasty drafts. Kayshon Boutte brings the name cache and LSU receiver hype with him and arguably has as much upside as anyone in the class.
This year, there is a clear top-four at quarterback, and all are projected to go in the first round during the NFL draft. There is a giant tier break; then there’s Hendon Hooker, then there is an even bigger tier break to whoever you think is the QB5 in this class. I was salivating at the prospect of landing Hooker with my 3.09 pick, but he went two picks ahead of me at 3.07. Hooker might end up the biggest seal in drafts if this continues. He is old and injured, but if a team like Seattle or Detroit were to draft him for what is essentially a redshirt season, he could easily be a starter in a year or two. His landing spot will be crucial to his fantasy value, but there are several great spots for him.
I ended up with Stanford’s Michael Wilson, who was a standout during the Senior Bowl. I’m a sucker for Senior Bowl guys, and I have Wilson ranked as my WR6 and 18th overall in the class – which is ahead of my second-round pick Tillman. But knowing where others have players valued, I can afford to skip over “my guys” and hope they’ll fall to me later. I got lucky, and Wilson made it back to me. Aside from injuries – which are a significant concern – Wilson is a stud when he can get on the field. You’re not drafting anyone without warts at the end of round three. Speaking of Senior Bowl receivers, I also really like Jayden Reed, and he would’ve been my pick had Wilson not been there.
We’ve officially reached the “dart throw with upside” portion of the draft. Most of my leagues have five-round rookie drafts, I have one league with a ten-round draft, and they seem equally ridiculous right now, seeing some of the names with only 48 picks here. However, the sleeper-lover in me likes quite a few players in this range. Rakim Jarrett, Chase Brown, Eric Gray, Jonathan Mingo, and Dontayvion Wicks are all on my radar. I like Chase Brown, but I’m cautiously optimistic, pending his landing spot and draft capital. But he went a couple of picks ahead of me, and I was happy to get Ole Miss’ Mingo. Again, another “bigger” receiver, which is what I’m looking for this year.
I didn’t go into this hoping to land four receivers, and truthfully, I always like to grab some rookie running backs. I had mentioned I probably go Spears over Tillman now, but other than that, anything else would have been a reach had I tried to shoehorn running backs in there. Had I taken Spears at 2.09, I would’ve been beyond thrilled to come out of a draft with that group. This is one of the benefits of doing multiple mock drafts, seeing what works and what you’re happy with. It’s better to make a mistake in a mock than in your actual drafts.
The miss on Spears aside, I’m pleased with the rookies I brought in from the nine-hole. I repeatedly mentioned receiver size and how several of the “names” in this class are smaller-bodied. Unofficially, my four selections are measured as follows; Johnston: 6’4″, 215 lbs. Tillman: 6’3″, 215 lbs. Wilson: 6’2″, 216 lbs. Mingo: 6’2″, 226 lbs. so I’ve definitely got a type in 2023 drafts.
Over the next few months, I think Zay Flowers, Jaylin Hyatt, Devon Achane, and Tank Dell will all be moving upward. I was surprised Northwestern’s Evan Hull went undrafted. I’m not comparing the players – not at all – but he reminds me a bit of Austin Ekeler and Matt Breida, who were both overlooked in a stacked running back class back in 2017. The top of the class will depress a few of the players at the bottom, and Hull might be one of them.
Malik Cunningham was the only quarterback taken after Hendon Hooker. Aside from super deep superflex leagues with giant taxi squads, I suspect that will probably be the case all off-season unless someone explodes at the combine or gets unreasonable draft capital.
I hope you enjoyed this mock with our first look at an actual mock draft with human beings pulling the trigger. Next week I’m going to complete another mock draft simulation, but I’ll put all the same settings in place and draft from the ninth spot and see how much difference there is between the two drafts, so be sure to come back and check that out. Thanks again for reading, and don’t forget to watch the NFL combine!
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