We are now about a week removed from the draft. The dust is starting to settle and many leagues have already started their rookie drafts. In fact, about a third of my leagues have already begun their drafts with the rest starting in the next week or two. If you don’t have your rookie draft happening sometime in the next few weeks, I would ask you, “Why not?”
During draft weekend (starting on Saturday) 11 of DLF’s finest joined me to hold a mock draft. The picks were shared on twitter as they happened using #dlfrookiemock so you might have already seen them. Nonetheless, I wanted to take a little bit of time to reflect and share some further comments about the mock draft. Before we get to that, here were the ground rules:
- PPR scoring with standard lineups (not superflex, not TE premium, etc)
- Drafters were told to assume they had a balanced team with no glaring team needs
- No trades were allowed
If you missed the first round, make sure that you go back and take a look. Time to move on to the second round.
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At this point in the draft, it is tough to put an exact order on things. Heading into the second round, I still felt there were two maybe three players who are fringe first round picks in my book. I think that is going to be a common feeling for people in the early second round this year. There are a lot of players to like and everyone has different feelings on a few of them. This of course means that my 2-3 could be very different from your list. For me, it is Zay Jones, Samaje Perine, and Alvin Kamara. If you slotted any of those three into the last few picks of the first round, I would have no issues with it.
Speaking of Kamara, he went with the 2.01 pick. One of the major knocks against him pre-draft was his lack of history as a carry the load, bell cow type of running back. He definitely flashed at times as a committee rusher, but he never was “the guy” in college. People often wondered about his ceiling in the NFL. Getting drafted to New Orleans, where he won’t be asked to be the primary runner probably capped his ceiling but I think it also raised his floor a little bit. He has talent, and the Saints are one of the offenses that excel at using running backs in the passing game – this fits in well with Kamara’s skill set. There are still major questions about how he fits in with Mark Ingram and now Adrian Peterson, but given what the Saints did with Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas, Kamara could be a RB3 just on passing stats alone.
Godwin is another one of my favorite second round targets. While I have him as more of a middle second round pick given some of the others still on the board, I do still like him. He has solid size to go with plus athleticism. He was also a player who got better when the stage became bigger – just take a look at his production during bowl games. This is a huge positive when it comes to him translating to the NFL. He wants the ball when the lights are brightest. He has the upside of becoming a very good complement on an NFL team and he could potentially form a very dangerous duo across from Mike Evans when DeSean Jackson leaves. The issue from a fantasy standpoint is he is likely to be the third target on the team, at best. Behind Evans, I think OJ Howard will be the second target, especially given Winston’s affinity for the tight end position. So the ceiling might be more of a WR3 type for Godwin, but if the offense really starts to click he could reach back end WR2 heights.
I think you’re going to see Perine sneak into the back end of the first in a few leagues, especially in the leagues without PPR scoring. In a lot of ways, Perine is a better version of Alfred Morris. I make that comparison in part because Washington drafted him, but also because Perine isn’t the most fleet of foot running back in this draft class. In short, nobody is going to confuse Perine for Barry Sanders. What he does have is great size with a lot of power. He can get small through the hole and then completely run over a defender at the second level. He isn’t going to make many defenders miss, and he isn’t going to beat them to the edge. It is straight ahead through the hole, and arm tackles aren’t going to bring him down. Where he is much better than Morris ever was is in the passing game. While he isn’t a dynamic pass catcher by any means, he does have the ability to catch a few passes a game if needed. Given Washington’s glaring need at the position, it is great spot for him.
With the fourth pick of the round, the selection was Cooper Kupp. A highly productive receiver in college who some compare to a slightly bigger Julian Edelman, Kupp tumbled a bit down boards after running a 4.6+ time in the forty yard dash. There was a positive side of the combine performance when he turned in one of the best times in the three cone drill. Personally, I don’t see him as an early second round pick, so I asked Matt Price why he went with Kupp. Here is what he said:
“I believe Cooper Kupp is the perfect security blanket kind of pick to help save the career of Jared Goff. Kupp wins with his ability to beat press man coverage at the line using his quickness (6.75 3-cone, 4.08 20-yard shuttle) and a variety of chop and rip moves. He wins on short and intermediate routes where he creates mismatches on slot corners with his size and on linebackers with his quickness. He has a high football IQ as well. Kupp knows how much to press corners to get them to flip their hips before he throttles down on comeback routes. He is physical at the catch point and routinely makes spectacular catches in the middle of the field. I think he immediately becomes the best receiving option on a Rams team devoid of talent at the position. As his absolute ceiling in year one, I could see 65-70 receptions for 800-850 yards and five touchdowns.”
Shifting into the middle of the second round, we have four of my favorite selections of this round. As I mentioned earlier, I almost went with Zay Jones at the 1.12 pick, so I think he’s a steal here at the 2.05 pick. Instead of going into it myself, I asked the man behind the pick, our own Jeff Haverlack, to break down the selection. It is nice to see he agrees with me!
“There’s a lot to like about Zay Jones but most didn’t know anything about him until he blew up at the NFL Combine. He ran a respectable 4.45 40, notched a vertical jump of 36.5” and leapt out of the building with an incredible 133.” Combine that with times of 4.01 and 11.17 in the 20 and 60 yard shuttles and, even without looking at his collegiate production, it’s obvious he’s an athletic freak. But these freaks come and go in the NFL and few have the production to impress once the eyeball test is over. In Jones’ case, he’s a star in that respect as well.
In four years at East Carolina, he reeled in 399 receptions for 4,279 yards and 23 touchdowns. In 2016 alone, he amassed an incredible 158 receptions for 1,746 yards to go with eight touchdowns. He’s got the NFL pedigree, production and athleticism that provides for a very solid foundation as a rookie. He’ll need to overcome questions about competition at East Carolina and his drafted situation (Buffalo Bills) leaves a lot to be desired but I’d be comfortable selecting Jones as an upside receiver as early as the 1.10 for receiver-needy teams.”
At the 2.06 selection, the first of a pair of running backs came off the board. Both of them rose up the board after the draft when they landed in situations where they have a decent chance at carving out a role. They make for some excellent upside picks, but be careful to not push them too far up your board. There is a reason both of them were day three NFL picks after all. Here is what Bill Latin had to say about his selection of McNichols:
“Jeremy McNichols is tethered to an emerging offense with an array of weapons. He was a complete back at Boise State putting up 314 rushing attempts for 1709 yards averaging 5.6 YPC in 2016. He also pitched in 37 catches for 474 yards averaging 12.8 YPC. He is one of the most complete three down backs in this draft class. Doug Martin’s 2017 salary is not guaranteed due to his PED suspension. Finally, Charles Sims is in the final year of his contract. There is a lot to like about Jeremy McNichols in Tampa Bay. After looking at all of the landing spots I have him as my 17th ranked rookie this year.”
It will be interesting to see which of these two backs is the better choice three years from now, but at the moment I think I prefer the 2.07 choice of Marlon Mack. Mack is also a complete back in terms of his ability to play all three downs. On the flip side, he doesn’t play quite as big as his size would suggest. He struggles running between the tackles, preferring to bounce most runs to the outside. We will need to see if this is something NFL coaches can fix. There is also a bit of a fumbling issue. With all of that said, I think the situation in Indy is more favorable to Tampa Bay. There are a lot of “ifs” when it comes to McNichols emerging thanks to both Martin and Sims being there, but in Indy there is only the ancient one known as Frank Gore. The clock is definitely ticking there.
Moving on, there is an awful lot to like about Taywan Taylor. I think he is one of the most undervalued and overlooked prospects in this draft class. He is a great target in the middle second, and I’ve seen him slip into the third round in a lot of drafts. At that point he’s an absolute steal! I told Jeff Miller it was a great pick, which is always a dangerous thing to say to Jeff, and he proceeded to dislocate his shoulder as he pat himself on the back. Once we got him an ice pack and a beverage, he was able to settle down and tell me what he likes about Taylor.
“The future slot man plays much bigger than his size, not backing down from physical coverage. A solid route runner who is willing to go over the middle, Taylor is also a machine after the catch, showing plenty of quickness to leave defenders behind.
As with most prospects who are on the board in the third round of the NFL draft, there are a few issues. He body catches too much, faced pretty bad competition and feasted on short passes designed to get him the ball in space. He will need some time to expand his route tree and has to prove he can do more than handle bubble screens.
All that said, Taylor has the upside of a future slot stud. If things break perfectly, he has WR2 upside, catching fewer passes than a Julian Edelman but posing more yards per catch. In order to get there, he will need Davis to pull coverage to his side and Marcus Mariota to continue to ascend, but none of that is anywhere near to out of the question.”
Heading into the later parts of the second round, almost all of my highly prized rookies are off the board. With the players who are left, I don’t see a ton of difference between the ones taken with these four picks and those available through the middle of the third round – that means it all comes down to personal preference. There are some players others love and I’m not a huge fan of, and of course, the opposite is also true as well. But in actuality, I think they are all a part of one big tier.
The tail end of the second was started off with the selection of Carlos Henderson. Prior to the draft process, I wasn’t a huge fan of Henderson. I just didn’t see what some of his supporters saw when they watched him. I view him as more of an imperfect prospect who is going to have a hard time translating his college game to the NFL. His landing spot in Denver really didn’t do much for me either. With their quarterback situation up in the air and the general mindset of the team being good defense and run the ball, it doesn’t do much to lift his draft stock. I asked Michael Valverde to share a bit of what he likes about Henderson.
“He should have gotten more love coming into the draft. However, he didn’t set the combine on fire and being out of Louisiana Tech dimmed the lights on him. He is excellent downfield and a big-play weapon. Defensive backs will learn to fear him as he stacks them like flapjacks. He has excellent body control and is competitive when it comes to high pointing the ball. Just like Engram, Henderson is a running back in a wide receiver body. He will need to develop more routes and doesn’t have the turbo to run past defenders as he did in college. Look for him to play the slot and just rack up the receptions.”
Samuel slipped a little bit further than I’ve seen in a lot of drafts. I’ve seen him go as early as the first few picks of the second round. He oozes athletic ability and playmaking ability, but there are major questions about how all of that will translate into production at the NFL level. He was a true swiss army knife in college, but most NFL teams really struggle to make the most out of players like that. With the Panthers already drafting Christian McCaffrey in the first round, the selection of Samuel caused many to doubt how much of a fantasy asset he could actually become in Carolina. I think Samuel is doomed to be one of those players who is extremely valuable to their NFL team but can’t produce consistently enough in the box score to be startable in fantasy leagues. Obviously some people disagree if they are taking him in the early second round, but him going off the board in the late second here seems to reinforce I’m not the only one with concerns.
For about an hour on Saturday, Jamaal Williams was being talked about as one of the biggest risers in dynasty rankings as a result of the NFL Draft. Getting drafted to the Packers with their high powered offense and lack of a true running back on the roster was seen as a premium position for any running back. I saw a few tweets which were even wondering if he would sneak into the tail end of the first round. Then, in the very next round, the Packers took another rusher, and Williams’ stock crashed back down almost as fast as it rose up in the first place. I think the late second is a pretty normal spot for him at the current point in time. He is a tough, physical rusher who tends to play to contact instead of avoiding it. I don’t see him as a complete, do it all running back, and he’s going to face some stiff competition for carries. Time will tell if he is going to pay off. It is definitely something to watch as the summer goes on. He could easily slide up to the early second if he seems to be winning the battle.
With the final pick of the round I selected Wayne Gallman. He is a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none kind of running back. He isn’t going to wow anyone with elite physical traits, but he also doesn’t have any major deficiencies. He is going to be a very reliable player for the Giants and I think he has the upside of a back end RB2 as the potential leader of the backfield committee. Coming out of the Clemson system, he is no stranger to big games and high pressure situations. I think he’s going to translate very well to the NFL, but he does lack the ceiling of a lot of other players due to his relatively limited athletic profile.
Round two is now in the books – that means there are only 12 picks left to discuss when it comes to this mock draft. If you want to see the picks before the write up is completed, check out my twitter timeline or #dlfrookiemock