We are now about a week removed from the draft and things are starting to settle down a bit. I know about a third of my leagues have already begun or even ended 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 or the second round, make sure that you go back and take a look. It’s now time to move on to the third round where picks still have value and diamonds in the rough can commonly be found.
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Just a few picks after Jamaal Williams went off the board, the second Packers’ running back went at 3.01. This has been pretty standard in virtually all of the drafts I have seen so far where they both go in the late second/early third, typically within a few picks of each other, and normally mirroring the NFL Draft with Williams going first. I still think the position will be a train wreck for the Packers this year, and they will invest heavily in 2018 on the position. For the time being, I can’t help but wonder if Jones is actually the better choice between the two rookies. I asked Nick Whalen that question, and here is what he had to say about Jones:
“The battle to be the starting running back in Green Bay will be an interesting debate heading into 2017. I’m going to grab as many Ty Montgomery shares as I can because he’s the best combination runner they have on the roster. However, it’s possible Green Bay moves him back to wide receiver if they plan on moving on from or reducing Randall Cobb’s role, which would leave a hole at running back again.
Aaron Jones would be my next investment at the position by default. I don’t believe Jones has the ability to be a long term starter in the NFL, but neither does Jamaal Williams. For fantasy football purposes, Jones is a much better threat to break a big play and make receptions out of the backfield – he’s a solid athlete who plays faster than he tested. However, he lacks lower body power and inconsistent with his cutting ability. Still, Green Bay puts pressure on defenses and allows for some solid run lanes Jones can capitalize on. Williams lacks the athletic ability, more specifically burst and speed, to be a difference maker in fantasy football. He’s simply a grinder with solid cutting ability. However, his game is much more conducive for helping an NFL team than your fantasy team. I believe Green Bay would bring in a better back if they had to count on either of these backs as a starter for more than a season.”
It took us 26 picks, but we finally have a quarterback go off the board in this mock draft. It doesn’t really surprise me that there wasn’t a quarterback in the first round and a half, but I was expecting the first signal caller to come off the board in the late second round. So this is a bit later than I was expecting. I was also a little surprised it was Patrick Mahomes who went off the board first for the position. I asked Dr. Peak to talk a little bit about that.
“I thought about D’onta Foreman but went with Mahomes. Mahomes is the top fantasy quarterback for me. He has the tools to be a top 10 quarterback in the NFL and has Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to refine his game. The Chiefs traded a ton of capital to get Mahomes, so he’ll get plenty of chances to reach is potential. Yes there are a lot of quarterbacks in dynasty, but don’t forget the upper echelon are getting older and the quarterback position may thin out faster than we think.”
At the third pick in the round, the second Rams receiver of the mock went off the board. Nearly a full round after Cooper Kupp went in this mock, we see Josh Reynolds has quite a few fans. In fact, there are some people who feel he is going to be the more productive receiver of the pair. Tall but slim, Reynolds’s lack of physical strength is one of the biggest weaknesses in his game. He was often easily out-muscled by college defenders, so that is a major concern in the NFL. Fortunately, he has some other key skills such as his leaping ability, hands, and he just might be one of the best ball trackers in the draft. He has some things to work on, but his size and big play ability make him an intriguing prospect.
How the mighty have fallen! I don’t think Foreman falling to the third is going to be a common occurrence, but it did happen here. I’ve seen him go as high as 2.04 in mocks and live drafts so far. I think his fall is a combination of two things. The first is concern over his talent. He is a big runner who doesn’t run like it, often choosing to try to make someone miss instead of just breaking the tackle. He is also a true liability in the passing game with his obvious pass catching deficiencies. The second major concern is his landing place. While some don’t think Lamar Miller is a feature back, he is still the starter for the Texans. Foreman’s chances of being a bell cow even if Miller goes down with an injury are pretty slim. On the plus side, he has shown the ability to produce at a high level, and his mix of size and athleticism is rare. With a bit of coaching, he could turn into an NFL-level starter. A lot of things need to go right for that to happen, though.
It wasn’t long after the first quarterback went off the board that the second one joined him. Out of all of the quarterbacks drafted this year, the one with the best chance to produce immediately is Deshaun Watson. He is the most pro-ready of this year’s draft class and he probably landed in the best situation. Not only that, but he is easily the best when it comes to intangibles. He has shown his ability to rise to the occasion and he is an unquestioned leader of men. Where the questions do show up is when it comes to his physical talent and actual upside as an NFL quarterback. If we were ranking him just based on physical skills, he might not even be in the top five of this draft class. He is going to need to work hard to maximize the talents he does have if he is going to stand a chance at the next level. Fortunately for him, he is no stranger to hard work.
ArDarius Stewart is a very interesting player. He definitely underproduced in college, but that is largely a product of the Alabama offense and their poor quarterback play. Stewart is a highly competitive, high motor player with plus athleticism. He runs decent but not great routes, so there is a little bit of room to grow there while still being good enough right now to compete for a role on the Jets. His real strength is when the ball is in his hands as his yards after the catch numbers in college suggest. From a situation standpoint, the Jets are a mess offensively. They have no quarterback in sight. Someone does need to catch passes, but I’m not sure how much consistency the offense can support, so that is a huge concern with Stewart. If you think the Jets will figure it out in the next few years, he’s a bargain at his third round price tag.
Joe Williams is one of the most interesting players in this year’s draft class. If you sift through his past, it is quite a mixed bag. The start of his college career at Connecticut is something he would like to forget. Not only was is on the field production completely forgettable, he also got in legal trouble for credit card theft and fraud. He then dropped down to a lesser level before finding his way to Utah. His first year there was just okay (only 3.5 YPC), then there was the surprise “retirement” before he came back and was one of the top players in the nation in yards per game. He does have a bit of a fumbling issue and is a liability in the passing game, but he has solid size and very nice athletic ability. I think he is more of a change of pace back than someone who could threaten for a starting role. It will be interesting to see if the 49ers envision him as someone who can mix in with Carlos Hyde or if it is a pure depth move.
With the eighth pick in the round, Butt came off the board. It truly is unfortunate when anyone gets injured and it is even more so when it happens like it did for Butt. One of the best tight ends in the nation last year, he likely would have been drafted in the second round of the NFL and likely fantasy drafts as well. Now he will miss at least part if not all of the 2017 season. Add in a little bit of time to get fully healthy and then the time it normally takes for tight ends to transition from the college level to the NFL and we are looking at a very long term prospect here. I love what he brings to the table, but you need to be in a league where you have the roster space to hold onto him for several years without having him produce. He can be great, but I think it will likely be at least 2019 before we or the Broncos start to see much return on this selection.
At this point in a mock draft, it is all about grabbing your guy – the bigger the upside the better in my opinion. So it is no surprise to see some of the players taken with these picks. Let’s start at the top with Mitchell Trubisky. As a Bears fan, I really, really hope he pans out. However, the fact he is already being viewed as the third best quarterback by fantasy owners isn’t a very reassuring sign. I asked Michael what he thought about getting Trubisky with the 3.09 as the third quarterback off the board and here is what he had to say:
“I find it interesting that Trubisky was the third quarterback taken after Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky is the more pro-ready quarterback with a gigantic arm. He can make all the throws and is capable of running with the ball. He is a leader which a quarterback needs to be. Trubisky has only started one season and even though he goes through progressions, he was in a one-read system at North Carolina. He also seems to be fooled when defenses adjust to him. Even so, he is capable of fixing those issues and be a leader in Chicago. Now, they just need Kevin White to stay healthy and add arsenal to the passing game.”
I don’t fully agree Trubisky is the most pro-ready of this year’s quarterback group, but I think that probably all depends on how you define it. To me, his lack of ability to read a defense is a huge concern. Hopefully he can learn and figure that out.
There was a lot of news this year about character issues with situations like Joe Mixon’s in the news. I didn’t see nearly as much about Dede Westbrook’s issues, and I would say his are even more concerning. He has had multiple issues, including a few domestic violence charges against him. The difference is that in all cases, the charges were dropped when the victim refused to testify. The really concerning part is Westbrook’s attitude about it. During an interview this spring his response to all of it was basically that since he wasn’t charged it is like nothing ever happened. The lack of personal responsibility and remorse is a huge red flag.
On the field, Westbrook is undersized but was highly productive. In fact, he won numerous awards and accolades for his play on the field. The major question is if at 6’ and 178 pounds he can handle the physical nature of the NFL. There were times in college when he was just out muscled and pushed around by bigger and stronger corner backs. He’s going to need to figure out ways to deal with that at the next level or all of his skills won’t matter. When you mix in the talent, size and character issues he is a high risk, high reward player.
It is a little interesting to me that Smith is the fifth tight end off the board in this mock draft. He wouldn’t have been the one I expected or the one I would have taken at this spot, but I know he has a lot of fans. When I look at him, I see someone who is a very good athlete for his size but he isn’t a natural nor a refined receiver. His hands are questionable at times and his routes are extremely raw. With a lot of time, he might be able to fix this issues and turn into a quality move tight end in the NFL, but it is going to take a lot of patience for the Titans and fantasy owners alike. Personally, I would prefer Gerald Everett or Adam Shaheen as my own tight end flier, but in the late third you take who you like.
With the final pick in this mock draft (our very own Mr. Irrelevant), I went with someone I’m really hoping will be anything but irrelevant. Robert Davis is a player I’ve been watching all through the draft process. According to my own metric which quantifies the combine performances of receivers, Davis was far and away the best performer at the combine. Our own Travis May was all over Davis a few months ago when he put together this article on him. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Davis has the work ethic and the physical traits to be something special. His deficiencies are largely things he can improve with some hard work, like his route running. With the holes Washington suddenly has in their receiver depth chart, I think Davis is someone who could carve out a role. With some quality coaching, he could turn into a steal of this year’s draft as Travis talked about.
That’s it for our three round mock! I’ll be back this summer with another look to give some perspective on how OTAs and all of the minicamp news is impacting these rookies. Who didn’t make the cut in our three round mock that surprised you?
Good luck drafting!