The NFL Draft is now less than two weeks away and it will be remembered forever as decision makers around the league deal with the unavoidable technology issues on top of trying to make the correct picks with relatively limited information.
In a typical year, fantasy players and draftniks have a multitude of information to evaluate the incoming rookie class and that begins with the annual Combine, held each February in Indianapolis. In this year that is proving to be anything but typical, the Combine performances will nearly be the extent of pre-draft information as Pro Days and player visits have been shut down for the remainder of the spring.
While NFL teams may have less information than ever, fantasy footballers have been stuck at home for a month, left to study game clips, read scouting reports and participate in mock drafts. So, it was the perfect time to mock with friends around the industry. Here are the results.
Participants included, in draft order:
JJ Zachariason, NumberFire
Mike Clay, ESPN
Matthew Freedman, Action Network
Graham Barfield, NFL.com
Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
Sigmund Bloom, FootballGuys
Matt Kelley, Player Profiler
Ryan McDowell, Rotoworld
Ray Garvin, Dynasty League Football
Mike Tagliere, Fantasy Pros
Pat Thorman, Establish the Run
Rich Hribar, Sharp Football
1.01 Jonathan Taylor, RB Wisconsin
1.02 CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma
1.03 D’Andre Swift, RB Georgia
1.04 Jerry Jeudy, WR Alabama
1.05 Justin Jefferson, WR LSU
1.06 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB LSU
1.07 Cam Akers, RB Florida State
1.08 J.K. Dobbins, RB Ohio State
1.09 Jalen Reagor, WR TCU
1.10 Henry Ruggs, WR Alabama
1.11 Laviska Shenault, WR Colorado
1.12 Tee Higgins, WR Clemson
Following a standout Combine performance, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor claimed the throne as the near unanimous 1.01 pick, though it is still a close enough call that landing spot and draft capital will ultimately make the decision.
According to most rankings, the top tier consists of five players, but LSU WR Justin Jefferson broke the mold after a big-time Combine workout. Jefferson is a lock to be selected in Round One, which can’t be said for any running back.
J.K. Dobbins, Tee Higgins and Laviska Shenault all sat out the Combine and with limited Pro Days, left NFL teams with many questions. Higgins did sneak in his Pro Day workout before things shut down, but he may have wished he didn’t, as he failed to impress.
2.01 Denzel Mims, WR Baylor
2.02 Zack Moss, RB Utah
2.03 A.J. Dillon, RB Boston College
2.04 Brandon Aiyuk, WR Arizona State
2.05 Joe Burrow, QB LSU
2.06 Bryan Edwards, WR South Carolina
2.07 Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB Vanderbilt
2.08 Antonio Gibson, WR Memphis
2.09 Michael Pittman, WR USC
2.10 Brycen Hopkins, TE Purdue
2.11 Eno Benjamin, RB Arizona State
2.12 Tyler Johnson, WR Minnesota
Baylor’s Denzel Mims was the story of the Senior Bowl but some still questioned his athletic ability. A showcase in Indianapolis answered those questions and Mims is now knocking on the first-round door, for both the NFL Draft and rookie drafts. Here, he sneaks into the second round, but was an easy pick there.
Boston College mauler A.J. Dillon is another player who took advantage of his Combine performance to boost his draft stock, at least in fantasy leagues. Be careful though, Dillon offers almost nothing in the passing game, limiting his fantasy upside.
Zack Moss, Brandon Aiyuk and Bryan Edwards are other players who have dealt with draft-season injury woes, which could ultimately hurt their draft stock. All are still worthy of second-round shots in rookie drafts, barring a huge fall to the latter part of day three.
The second round includes the projected top-overall pick, QB Joe Burrow. With the expected landing spot in Cincinnati, Burrow will walk into a solid situation with multiple high-level weapons. Expect him to be valued as a top-twelve dynasty quarterback from day one.
3.01 Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama
3.02 K.J. Hamler, WR Penn State
3.03 Albert Okwuegbunam, TE Missouri
3.04 Anthony McFarland, RB Maryland
3.05 Cole Kmet, TE Notre Dame
3.06 Adam Trautman, TE Dayton
3.07 Joshua Kelley, RB UCLA
3.08 Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR Liberty
3.09 Darrynton Evans, RB Appalachian State
3.10 Quintez Cephus, WR Wisconsin
3.11 Devin Duvernay, WR Texas
3.12 Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR Michigan
The third round is a nice reminder of how deep this year’s draft really is, headlined by former Crimson Tide QB Tua Tagovailoa. Some recent negative reports about Tagovailoa’s health, specifically the hip injury that ended his college career, could push him down to the third round or later in rookie drafts.
Fantasy players might feel confident in their pre-draft ranking at quarterback, running back and receiver, but the rookie tight end class has never been more wide open. There is no clear TE1 either in NFL mock draft or early rookie rankings. While Brycen Hopkins snuck into the second round, we see three other tight ends drafted in round three.
With an obvious need at the receiver position following the trade of superstar WR DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans were projected by everyone to use their first pick, a second rounder, on a rookie wideout. That won’t happen now as Houston flipped the pick for veteran WR Brandin Cooks, who had seemingly worn out his stay with the Rams after yet another concussion last season.
It’s another curious move for Houston, who followed up the Hopkins trade by overpaying veteran WR Randall Cobb and now adds Cooks, whose strengths are similar to Houston’s top two wideouts, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills, all being vertical deep threats.
The latest trade leaves the Texans with just one pick on the first two days of the draft, the 90th overall selection. They also have a pair of fourth rounders, a fifth and three seventh-round picks.