The long, painful wait is over and the NFL season is finally upon us. Training camps are underway, the preseason games are being played, and the regular season is just around the corner. In just a few weeks now we will be worrying about who to start and who to sit. In the meantime, some of you still need to draft your rookies. If you already drafted, now is the time to make your final evaluations and take advantage of what might be your last chance to nab a late round rookie before they break out or sell an early round one before they bust. In order to help you we are back with one final rookie mock.
For this mock, we did three rounds with twelve teams. We assumed PPR scoring and traditional lineups (so not a 2QB or superflex league). All of the drafters were asked to give a brief intro to their selection, and I’ll be providing some additional thoughts on each one as well. These are just our personal opinions on the rookies, so it is likely there could be some disagreement which is perfectly okay. The goal is to provide you with as many different perspectives as possible with the start of the season just around the corner. Let’s take a look at the picks.
**Special Note: This mock was conducted prior to preseason games. Anything which occurred, good or bad, during those games did not factor into this mock.**
13 – Will Fuller, WR HOU
Brian’s thoughts: Will Fuller was a productive wide receiver for Notre Dame, and the Texans spent a first round pick on him, jumping to the Redskins pick to select him before Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell. Fuller is a speedy receiver who can take the top off of a defense. He is a little raw and will need to bulk up to fight through press coverage. I expect Fuller to see some snaps this season to run some deep routes, but I don’t expect him to make a real impact for at least one more season.
My thoughts: I have Fuller rated higher than most of the players taken in the late first round of this mock. I think he has a ton of potential and a great opportunity. He might never be a WR1 while playing second fiddle in the Texans’ passing offense, but he could easily be a solid WR2. He’s going to need a little bit of time to learn the game at the pro level and to get his body ready for NFL defenders, but I love what he could become in a few years.
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Nathan’s thoughts: The lack of depth in this class has been much publicized. When a fourth round NFL draft pick running back like Kenneth Dixon is going in the mid-late first of rookie drafts, you know it is a weak class. When choosing between Goff as the number one overall NFL draft pick versus day three (rounds four-seven) running backs and receivers, I’m taking the #1 overall pick every time. Additionally, I think that the Rams offense is just a WR1 away from being a really solid offense. Tavon Austin is a solid number two, Tyler Higbee and is a nice developmental tight end and Todd Gurley is the best running back in the NFL. So, when people talk about Goff not having good weapons, it really just means he’s lacking a #1.
My thoughts: I think this is about the right time to start looking to the quarterback position in this draft. Unless you are in a superflex or 2QB league, don’t reach for this year’s crop. I’m not saying they are worthless, just that they lack the ceiling of last year’s draft class. Of the quarterbacks, I think Goff is easily the best choice. You hopefully aren’t counting on him in 2016, but I like his chances of being a decent fantasy backup as soon as 2017. As Nathan mentioned, the Rams have some young, capable weapons. Give them another draft or two and Goff should be in business.
15 – DeAndre Washington, RB OAK
Austan’s thoughts: Washington’s stock has risen as much as any rookie over the past few months. I get a little scared when a player’s landing spot has a huge impact on his value. Shepard and Nelson Agholor are two recent examples of players whose value shot up because of what was thought to be an ideal landing spot. With that said, I’ve been on Washington’s bandwagon for a while — he’s my RB6 in this class — so him ending up in Oakland doesn’t play a huge factor for me. Washington looks like he’s going to be in line for at least some passing game work right away, but the Raiders have been hyping him up as a three-down weapon all off-season. Oakland’s depth chart is awfully thin, and Latavius Murray was pretty “blah” in 2015, ranking 33rd in yards per attempt. As a sidenote: I was really hoping Carroo would be available here.
My thoughts: I think Austan is right to be a little concerned about massively rising stock based purely on the team they get drafted into. Prior to the NFL draft, Washington was going undrafted in a lot of three round rookie drafts. Now he is a fixture in the early to middle second round. I’m probably not going to be the one to grab him here, but it is probably where he’s going to go. For a running back, opportunity matters a little bit more than other positions, so I can understand the hype. However, I don’t know how good Washington would be if he did earn the starting role. I think he’s a middle level RB2 in that case.
16 – Kenyan Drake, RB MIA
Dan’s thoughts: After the first eight-ten players in this draft class, the quality really seems to fall off. Drake is going to be more of a stash play (for now), but don’t let that fool you. He has some serious breakaway speed, and he really knows how to finish runs. He has the potential to do some great things as a receiver, and should draw plenty of third down work. With two guys in front of him on the depth chart who struggle with injury, Drake may see the field sooner rather than later if not for only to keep the others healthy. His early production will be sporadic and unsustainable, but he should carve out a role this year. The only things that worry me, aside from the depth chart, are his hesitation at the line and his willingness to bounce runs outside when there is nothing there. All in all, Drake is a nice stash with some solid PPR upside.
My thoughts: Drake is an interesting selection. If you’re drafting him, you’re pretty much saying you don’t have much faith in Jay Ajayi’s ability to be an NFL rusher. You’re also saying you’re okay with a running back in the Darren Sproles/Danny Woodhead model. Drake is obviously quite a bit bigger than those guys, but he’s primarily a pass catcher and outside runner. He’s likely to be a committee back for his career, but he might be talented enough to carve out high end RB3 or low end RB2 numbers even in a part time role.
17 – Malcolm Mitchell, WR NE
Bruce’s thoughts: I might have reached a little bit on Mitchell here, according to DLF’s Rookie ADP Mitchell is falling to the end of the second round. He owned a 35.95 percent market share of Georgia’s passing offense last season. His superb route running allows him to consistently separate from defenders. Matt Harmon, fantasy analyst for NFL.Com, charted Mitchell in his Perception Reception series while giving high praise, noting him as a top-ten wide receiver in this draft class. I’m on board with Harmon’s sentiments and I also feel that he’s going to be a good fit in New England’s passing offense.
My thoughts: When you think about the Patriots’ offense, you think high-powered attack. How many consistent players do they really have though? Once you get past Gronk and Edelman, there really isn’t much else in the passing game. Sure, players pop up for a few games here and there, but there isn’t anyone consistent over the years. There is a chance Mitchell could be the future at the position, taking advantage of the one on one coverage and giving Tom Brady a third option. I’m a little concerned that by the time Mitchell is ready to be an every down player Brady will be declining, but I think Mitchell has some promise.
18 – Wendell Smallwood, RB PHI
Austan’s thoughts: Smallwood is pretty similar to Washington in that his stock has risen because he was drafted by a team with a pretty uncertain running back depth chart. Like I said with Washington, when that happens, you need to make sure you like the player and not just the situation. I certainly like Smallwood’s game. Ryan Mathews isn’t nearly as bad as people think — 4.5 YPC for his career and 5.1 YPC last year — but Smallwood has agility and quickness for days. He reminds me a lot of Jonathan Franklin, a back out of UCLA who the Green Bay Packers took in the fourth round in 2013. Franklin was a prospect I really liked, but his career was cut short by a serious neck injury. In a weak draft class, Smallwood is worth a second-round selection.
My thoughts: I feel like this is a touch early for Smallwood, and he wouldn’t have been my choice here, but I think this is probably about where he is going to go. People are really excited about him due to the lack of depth the Eagles have and the injury history of Mathews. I’m not a huge fan of Smallwood’s ability, but opportunity is huge for a running back. He won’t beat Mathews out, and I don’t think he’s the kind of rusher a team feels comfortable with as their starter, but he could have some value in case of injury.
19 – Carson Wentz, QB PHI
My thoughts: At this point I was deciding between Wentz and Austin Hooper, who went with the very next pick. There are actually a lot of similarities between Wentz and rookie tight ends. Both will need some time to develop, have a lot to learn, and have a lot of risk to them. When it comes to Wentz, who was my selection, most of that risk comes in the form of him making a huge jump in competition. Not only is it a big jump, but he has had limited starts in college at his own level. The Eagles went all in on him, but I think everyone not wearing Eagle green can see the major risks.
From a fantasy perspective, Wentz is my second rated rookie quarterback. I think Goff is easily the safer pick and has a ceiling which is pretty much the same. Wentz has great physical attributes, but I think he’s very raw as a quarterback. For that reason, I don’t expect him to be a fantasy QB2 for several years. I think he will sit most of 2016 and have a fairly rough 2017. For that reason, he might actually be cheaper to acquire mid-season than drafting him, but he has the best long term value of the players remaining.
20 – Austin Hooper, TE ATL
Brian’s thoughts: I know, the rule is to avoid tight ends in rookie drafts. But that rule loses its force in the back half of the second round in a weak rookie draft. Hooper is an undersized but productive prospect, and he landed in Atlanta, where the main tight end competition is Jacob Tamme and the second receiving option is running back Devonta Freeman. I’m not expecting fantasy points from him in 2016, but I’m optimistic he’ll start earning playing time in the second half of the season. If he shines, or even just flashes, he’ll be worth more then than he is now.
My thoughts: If you are willing to sit and wait for a rookie tight end, since they all take time to develop, then I have no problem taking one in the late second round. I’m not sure if Hooper is the most talented tight end in this class, but he is pretty close to the top. His situation is also great. The Falcons really don’t have anyone after Julio Jones. Tamme is near the end and Mohammad Sanu is at best a bandaid for the glaring need at pass catcher. Hooper has a real chance to be the number two weapon in the passing game within a year or two. Well worth a shot at this point in the draft.
21 – Jordan Howard, RB CHI
Ryan’s thoughts: I love targeting running backs in the second round of rookie drafts. In many cases, those players are in similar situations to Jordan Howard, who is currently pegged to be the backup in Chicago, behind a starter that many don’t have faith in to keep the job. There is a very good chance this backfield becomes a timeshare by the middle of the season and Howard could even overtake Jeremy Langford for the starting role.
My thoughts: While I agree with Ryan’s assessment of the backfield situation in Chicago, I differ a little bit on what Howard could become. I don’t view Howard as being more complete than Langford. Instead I think Howard is pretty much limited to a committee role with almost no chance to be the guy in Chicago or elsewhere. Now could he be forced into that role for a short time by injury? Sure, but I don’t think he would excel in that role. I’m not sold on Langford, but I don’t think Howard is a better solution to the Bears rushing needs.
22 – Paul Perkins, RB NYG
Trevor’s thoughts: I’ve come off of Perkins a bit over the past few months, but I think he is an excellent value at this point in the draft. The Giants have been touting that they want to get away from their four headed monster of a committee attack and give Rashad Jennings a relatively full workload. My thinking on Perkins is that if (likely when) Jennings goes down due to injury, he will be best positioned as the guy to pick up the workload due to his all around skill set. Andre Williams will factor in on run plays and Shane Vereen will factor in on passing downs with or without Jennings, but neither of them can step up and effectively fill the versatile role of Rashad Jennings, making Perkins the guy to grab here.
My thoughts: At one point Perkins was making appearances in the late first or early parts of the second round, so he’s definitely been dropping off a bit. This does make him a solid value. In fact, I would rather take a chance on Perkins than a lot of the other running backs drafted in this round. The situation in New York is a huge mess. They are one of the founders of the running back by committee approach, so it is anyone’s guess what will happen there. No one will ever be a bell cow for the Giants, so the ceiling is limited, but I’m not overly impressed with the other running backs on their roster. Perkins could end up being the lead dog in this committee by the end of the year and approaching RB2 value.
23 – Josh Ferguson, RB IND
Mike’s thoughts: Josh Ferguson (5-foot-10, 198-pounds) is getting a lot of praise from the coaching staff in Indianapolis. He was a UDFA, but is making a splash that shows he deserved to be drafted. The reason why the league passed on him was a leg injury and his size, but he ran a 4.48 forty with a 10-foot broad jump at the NFL Combine. Out of Illinois, he finished his career with 2.568 yards rushing on 505 attempts and 168 receptions for 1,507 yards and totaled 26 touchdowns from scrimmage. Now he is getting praise from those who matter. Head coach Chuck Pagano stated: “He’s got juice. He can go.” Beat writer Stephen Holder reports Ferguson “made a distinct impression” during OTAs. What gives him a shot is Frank Gore and Robert Turbin are not mainstays in the Colts offense, and they need someone like Ferguson to cause havoc on defense.
My thoughts: Ferguson is someone a lot of people like. He was basically the entire offense for Illinois during his time there and he definitely flashed. The situation is also pretty favorable. Turbin is a perennial disappointment and Gore is a grandpa by NFL standards. If Ferguson can lock down a long term role he has some nice upside in that offense. The most glaring downside, even bigger than the size and injury issues, is that every NFL team passed on him throughout the whole draft process. They spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours on evaluation and while they aren’t perfect, they must have saw something they didn’t like. He’s a long shot, but the risk is minimal at this point in the draft.
24 – Tajae Sharpe, WR TEN
Eric’s thoughts: Sharpe is currently being touted as the starting slot receiver for the Titans while Dorial Green-Beckham plays with the third team. At first it sounded like the Titans were using it as a motivational ploy to get DGB serious about the game. Now it appears as though Sharpe might actually unseat Kendall Wright for snaps in two wide sets. If the chemistry between he and Marcus Mariota gels quick enough, he could be a steal at this point in the draft.
(Editor’s Note: Remember this pick was made before DGB’s move to the Eagles. Read about the dynasty fallout of the trade here.)
My thoughts: I’m starting to believe that Sharpe could actually be a starter for the Titans this year. I don’t think he is overly talented, but we’ve seen guys with limited physical ability, like Allen Hurns, be quite successful when they fit the scheme and mesh with their quarterback. I think we need to keep expectations for Sharpe in check, but he could definitely turn in WR3 numbers as soon as this year if all goes as planned. That’s quite the value for a late second or early third round selection!
That’s it for round two. Our third and final round will be out soon. Who was your favorite value of the second round? Who are you surprised is still on the board?