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These are my rankings/desires considering our scouted talent + the situation they’ve landed in + the coaching staffs, etc. Not necessarily where I would draft them but showing my desires mixed with the logic of the circumstances they are in.
*The top 250 Cheat Sheet/Spreadsheet has been updated up to 250 prospects today (see it at the 'positional reports' and the DRD tab.
1) RB Saquon Barkley, NY Giants
For a couple of reasons, this has become the most inarguable 1.01 in the history of dynasty rookie drafts that I can recall.
Reason one… Barkley is a highly intriguing talent.
Reason two… he will get a push from his team like Melvin Gordon – no matter how poorly he plays he’s getting 20+ touches a game. Around the league, there is such an abundance of talent at the position. Depth charts are getting congested and making it harder and harder to figure out who’s going to get the touches – but with Barkley and the Giants, that’s just not the case (JStew be damned).
So we all pretty much know this. The question I keep getting – what should I get in exchange for trading Barkley/the 1.01?
My answer is to get these four things, or you walk and just hold on and enjoy (hopefully) Barkley’s push…but it is logical to explore a trade here because Barkley fever is real and causes people to do strange things.
The trade you want is to obtain one or more of my four pillars of fantasy 2018 and beyond involved. The four horsemen of the fantasy apocalypse: David Johnson, Evan Engram, Tyreek Hill, Joe Mixon. I name them because rare few/no one LOVES them as much as we do (even if they do like them, they don’t love them like we do)…so, you can get multiple players involved from these names because most others think they’re ‘selling high’on them…especially Tyreek.
In exchange for Barkley, I want:
(1) A super-stud player…David Johnson or Antonio Brown + (2) A underrated/undervalued ‘good/great’ player…Mixon, Tyreek, Engram + (3) A prospect I like that they don’t value as highly…Trubisky for example. + (4) One of their 5th- 6th-7th-round picks…because I might turn that into Josh Adams or something gold and potentially totally offset the loss of the 1.0.
From your end, it’s the 1.01 and ____ to sweeten the pot. An overhyped prospect, a 2nd-round pick, etc. Something you know is overvalued, but remains delightful to them.
I would also accept Tyreek+Engram+Mixon+late pick
I would also accept Two of three of Tyreek+Engram+Mixon+ a prospect I liked+late pick
I would lower my standard/demands (or add more) if David Johnson was in the deal…because DJ is better than Barkley.
…it’s OK to add a sweetener to your Barkley/1.01 deal in any of these scenarios…but don’t give up too much. Remember the Barkley fever is burning in the other person’s veins!
You might look at all that and go…no one is going to do that for the 1.01/Barkley? Oh, but they are. And your league may have smarter players or more nervous players or no team with the right configuration of players to make my formula work – that’s fine then, KEEP THE PICK.
You don’t have to trade Barkley, but I would explore it and shoot high because I see that people are paying it for Barkley. You don’t realize how super-stoked people get over rookies…and then it’s this ‘generational’ rookie. David Johnson was and is a generational talent and no one in the NFL saw or sees it now. You’ll find DJ #5+ in ‘young RB rankings’ or fantasy/dynasty rankings all the time. Barkley is not a better talent than DJ. Even if they are equally good…look at the hysteria for Barkley and the murmur/crickets when DJ entered the league. This 1.01 move is trading on the hysteria, not debating whether Barkley is an A+, A, or B+. Don’t freeze up on trading Barkley just because the media is hysterical about him…they pick and choose things to get hysterical about without rhyme or reason. Right now, it’s all-in on Barkley for them. Take advantage of it if you can.
Every player remaining on the top of this list has a problem…a flaw (and we’ll discuss it…whether depth chart congestion, coach, whatever). The chasm from 1.01 to 1.02 is as big as I’ve ever seen. I would trade any 1st-round pick (1.02+) that I could for real player/s and a late pick – because who I want late may be better than anyone from 1.02 to 2.02 that I could take.
What should you get for a 1.02+?
If Joe Mixon, Evan Engram, or Tyreek Hill were in this draft, as they exist today with NFL experience…they’d all be the 1.02 hands down. Try to get 1-2 of them with this pick and add some nonsense to the deal to make it happen.
The 1.02+ and some media-loved prospect might get you David Johnson as well.
Sell this draft and get as many as you can of the four horsemen of the fantapocalypse.
2) WR Courtland Sutton, Denver
I think Sutton is going to be a superstar WR…an NFL true #1 WR. However, he lands with a team which already possesses Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders – and a QB we all don’t really trust (Keenum).
I want Sutton…a lot. However, I am willing to watch him get taken 1st-round of the DRD and do little in terms of production in 2018, and then I’ll swoop in later this season to trade off some hoax-of-the-moment for Sutton…doing so at .50-.70 on today’s dollar.
I love Sutton, but I am ready to wait. I want Sutton for 2019+, and I am willing to gamble I can acquire him cheaper even if he breaks out a little in 2018 and his value spikes faster than I expected.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Denver now traded or even cut Demaryius Thomas…he’s $12M to play this final year of his deal, or a $4M hit to cut. Emmanuel Sanders has the same type of economics in 2019. Sutton is going to be a starter sooner-rather-than-later, but I’m not going to kill myself to take him if I can trade a high rookie pick and get other stuff I already know is great.
Plus, I don’t trust Vance Joseph at all. He’s the next offense-killing, bust head coach a la John Fox, Jeff Fisher, Gus Bradley, et al.
3) WR Michael Gallup, Dallas
The more I look at this the more I love it. Gallup is a perfect complement to work with Dak Prescott – a guy who can get open quickly off the snap and catch passes in traffic with no fear.
Gallup is instantly a starter, I think. Allen Hurns will be a downfield route runner, he’s good at that. Terrence Williams sucks. Deonte Thompson is a #4 WR. Gallup starts as a #2 and has the total Davante Adams vibe going…a good WR who can go higher with the right QB to work with.
4) WR Christian Kirk, Arizona
Really lands in a great place. Arizona is devoid of WR talent outside of Larry Fitzgerald…and he’s got about a year to go on his career (as we say every year it seems). Working with Fitz is going to be good for Kirk…Fitz catches the coverage heat still and Kirk has room to do his thing, a great #2 WR working with #1 Fitzgerald. Kirk might catch 5-6 passes a game his rookie season. He may have the best setup for instant success WR of the rookie class. Plus, he may be the best in this class at playing the WR position from a knowledge, instinct standpoint.
5) QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland
There’s so much to love here… Great QB. Could start Week 1. Amazing WR weapons to work with. The fans will demand Mayfield. It’s going to work.
The fly in the ointment – Hue Jackson. Arguably, the worst head coach in the history of football. He could stick with Tyrod Taylor. He could have such a bland offense it doesn’t play to Mayfield’s strengths. If Mayfield landed here with Sean McVay just arriving, etc., then get excited and maybe draft him as the 1.02 no doubt. With Hue…it’s a pause.
The big question – are you better off waiting or chasing? This may be a 2019 story after Hue is moved out. You might have time to make a deal for him if he’s on the bench or if he struggles right away. You know what will happen when Mayfield mania hits and then he strings together three 220-yard games with 1 TD/1 INT in sloppy losses…they’ll talk about him being too short, etc. -- then is the time to slice in and get him cheaper if you want.
I like Mayfield but give me Goff, Garoppolo, Trubisky, Dak, Mahomes…and I (you) probably already have 1+ of them, so why should I pay too much for Mayfield?
6) TE Mike Gesicki, Miami
I’m sure you’re shocked to see him up this high. Well, I am too, but hear me out…
I’m concerned, like many, that Gesicki is all measurables and not a great NFL tight end prospect. On tape, he looks nothing like his surreal measurables. I’m more ‘anti’ than ‘pro’ Gesicki as a talent, but I understand that the measurables make you pause… with his speed and athleticism, you have to take him a little more seriously.
It seems like Gesicki to the Dolphins is a clear path to instant playing time and fantasy success…and it does look positive. However, I would caution that a pretty athletic, experienced A.J. Derby is on the roster. It may not be a given that Gesicki starts right away.
I’m torn between not liking Miami’s offense and wondering whether Gesicki gets the full start (or is any good if he does)…OR just me looking at his measurables and having my eyes pop out of their sockets. To some degree, the measurables are so strong you dive in and prepare to get burned – in hopes you end up with something special.
There’s only so many ‘special’ athletes (Combine numbers) from this draft class – Gesicki is one of them. I like Dallas Goedert a whole lot better from my eye’s standpoint…but Gesicki is in a way better situation to start.
7) RB Royce Freeman, Denver
The one non-Barkley rookie RB who has the clearest path to taking over a backfield and being ‘the man’ right away. Built for NFL success and on a team with a limited depth chart.
It looks promising but there are road blocks. Vance Joseph loves Devontae Booker…I could see that being an issue. DeAngelo Henderson is not without talent in this backfield, though he’s behind Freeman for sure.
I like other rookies for their 2019+ future, but when considering an immediate hit player in 2018 – there are not many better 2018 rookie outlooks than Freeman. He could be a three-down RB if they want, but they’ll likely make Freeman the main guy with Booker in relief/passing downs – get used to it, that’s the story with every NFL team now…multiple talented RBs fighting for oxygen.
8) RB Rashaad Penny, Seattle
I get how exciting this is on the surface, but I cannot help but wonder what happens with Chris Carson in this mix. The guy was going to be the future of the Seattle backfield…oh, and so was Christine Michael…and Thomas Rawls…and Eddie Lacy had a cup of coffee last season. Then Mike Davis looked great for a moment. Am I supposed to trust the Seahawks’ judgement on all the backfield stuff?
The one thing they really needed was blockers from this draft…and they didn’t get any.
So, do I forget about Chris Carson? Do I forget about C.J. Prosise (memba him)? J.D. McKissic just floats away? I mean, I guess Seattle will try to justify this pick…but I can’t help but wonder if this backfield is going to be messy with no blocking whatsoever. Plus, I’m not sold that Penny is a superstar, although it’s not out of the question.
Penny has the inside track for all the touches here, but I’m just not swayed as much as most. I’m going to rank him high because he’s going to get forced touches, but I’m not really thrilled about it. Whatever 1st round pick it would take to get him, I’d rather trade the pick.
9) TE Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia
Love the player…hate the situation. Zach Ertz is the established starter and remain so until injury takes him away…or contract expense in 2020. The only way Goedert is getting onto the field to have an impact in 2018 is if Ertz is hurt.
The issue behind the scenes is…Ertz has logged a couple of concussions. There has to be a little fear with Philly and Ertz. Goedert is a smart plan…he’s better than Ertz, as a talent. BUT that talent won’t be seen for another year or two. Have to downgrade him on this terrible situation.
On the plus side…he is a tight end, and at his size and skill…he may get on the field in two-TE sets or as a WR enough to be a shock fringe TE1 playing only 50% of the snaps.
10) QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore
I’m not the biggest Lamar Jackson fan, but the more I ponder this situation the more interested I get. We all would have gone wild if LJax was drafted by a team to be an immediate starter…he wasn’t. However, short of Jacksonville, he winds up behind one of the worst starting QBs in the NFL…on a dying team that can’t put people in the stands anymore. There will be a call for Jackson sooner rather than later and when LJax hits the league…for about 2-3-4-5 weeks he’s going to be the talk of the NFL…and fantasy. You either hold from that point on if you believe in him – or you sell the hot sauce at the perfect time.
Either way…LJax is going to give you value at some point and that’s worth a lot in this rookie draft.
11) WR D.J. Moore, Carolina
I’m a fan, but I’m not as totally jacked up by this landing spot as I want to be.
When has Cam pushed a WR to a WR1 status? Kelvin Benjamin, big target guy, had a moment for half a season as a rookie…and then faded. Look at Greg Olsen’s TD counts (4 TDs the past two seasons). Steve Smith was a savvy veteran WR who had some high catch counts but up and down yards and a lack of TDs as well. Devin Funchess got hot for a moment last year and then fizzled.
There’s mounting evidence that Cam’s style isn’t making WR1s…and if that’s true, why would I dive head first into D.J. Moore? He comes into the league with great athleticism, but outside of that athleticism, he hasn’t displayed great receiving skills… he has work to do on his WR skills. He’s not a given…but his upside is terrific.
12) DE Marcus Davenport, New Orleans
The DE set up for the quickest output/IDP success is Marcus Davenport, not Bradley Chubb. Two reasons…
(1) Davenport is as good/better a pass rush talent as Chubb and goes right into a very good defense working opposite Cameron Jordan.
(2) Davenport is almost assured of being classified as a ‘DE’ (DL)…where Chubb may be headed towards an ‘LB’ designation. If position classification doesn’t matter/all equal, then Chubb may be the better IDP.
If your league favors sacks in its scoring system, then Davenport over Chubb is probably the way to go. If Danielle Hunter was great in your league a couple seasons ago…Davenport could be a repeat of that.
This class is weak on elite IDPs, so now we’re pushing for talented guys in great landing spots.
13) LB Harold Landry, Tennessee
It might take a year for Landry to have a real IDP impact. He joins a Tennessee team with Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo already in place at OLB. Landry will work his way into the lineup, but he may not be fully starting until later 2018 or to begin 2019.
Landry has a chance to be the best IDP of 2018. He’s the most athletically gifted OLB prospect. However, he may be more pass rusher than tackle accumulator and classified as an ‘LB’, he can get lost in IDP among the ILBs racking high tackle counts. Landry might be better for the NFL than IDP.
Because Landry is likely not to start right away and because he isn’t as media beloved…you can pass on him in a rookie draft and come back to trade for him in October-November this year at a discount because most people won’t care out him due to the media not hyper focused on him. *That’s my May 2018 take, he might blow up in the preseason games and change the narrative, but for now he’s flying below the radar.
14) RB Sony Michel, New England
So…James White and Rex Burkhead just go by the wayside? Belichick stops rotating hot hand RBs and just shoves all the chips in on Sony Michel? It’s not impossible for that to happen, but it’s improbable. The Patriots have deployed an RBBC for years featuring the various talent’s best strengths.
Is Michel the best RB the Pats have? Yes.
Is that going to lead to 15+ carries and most of the pass targets in a game…probably not.
I’m not ruling out a heavy dose of Michel given Belichick broke his pattern and drafted him in the first-round, but it’s always safer to bet against one RB getting the heavy workflow on this team – not good news from a fantasy perspective.
15) RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland
On the same roster with Carlos Hyde is a big problem…and Duke Johnson lurking. Sure, Hyde could be traded…but why? The Browns stole Hyde and they all kinds of money to spend. They could easily keep the trio together, and let Chubb work his way into the role…and then deal Hyde.
Or don’t. Maybe Chubb just doesn’t have the juice Hyde does? As long as Hyde exists in Cleveland, then Chubb is not a good fantasy bet. On top of that, I haven’t been as impressed with post-knee injury Chubb either. There’s risk Chubb is more ‘average/good than good/great.
Chubb is not a must-have gamble for me. I’d rather trade the pick.
16) D.J. Chark, Jacksonville
Instantly the most dangerous WR on the Jags…but works with Blake Bortles. BUT Bortles will throw prayers/wounded ducks deep to big WRs…and he has some success hitting some as defenses are so committed to stopping the run that a guy like Chark can get off the snap on one-on-one coverage and just outrace coverage.
I don’t like the Jags passing game…low-volume/low success, but Chark can be a homerun hitter, a fantasy viable rookie right away making big lightning strike plays. And then, if the Jags ever get a real QB…Chark could go to a next level.
17) LB Roquan Smith, Chicago
It looks like Smith is going to get inserted as a 3-4 ILB right away. I don’t believe that’s his best fit…that he’s better as an OLB. I still have questions on his game, in general, but I also know he’s got ‘draft status’ and is a very good athlete – he’s going to get plenty of opportunity. He may not light up the world for the NFL but be better for IDP because he can chase things down and surprise blitz the backfield well.
I’m not in the ‘Smith is an unquestionable talent’ camp, but I do see he’s got all the playing time momentum early on. He’s going to put up numbers just because he’s on the field more than most rookies.
18) RB Ronald Jones, USC
Ronald Jones has fallen into a perfect situation. The Buccaneers backfield is a collection of hot garbage…and here comes Jones as the fresh face/draft status guy. He’s going to get all the opportunity. People love him, the media adores him, so he’s going to be drafted very highly in the rookie draft…and I want nothing to do with it. I’d take him to trade him or I’d trade the pick for a real player.
I don’t believe Jones’s style meshes with the NFL…great for college, trouble for the NFL. He has good/average-good speed for a 200+ pound RB…he’s nothing special with foot speed. His agility times were terrible. His tape showed me a guy running nicely between the tackles and a problem going east-west. Jones won’t last long going north-south in the NFL at 200+ pounds.
He’s not a complete disaster, but I believe he will ultimately disappoint and get too many chances, and eventually split with another…and then eventually drift from the main touch scene – all in 2018, potentially.
He’ll likely be OK for fantasy early with the push he’ll get, but I want nothing to do with it. I want out…trade or don’t pick, for me.
19) RB/TE Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh
I hated the NFL Draft for most of my beloved prospects and this one was the topper. The radical value here was Samuels as a classified TE working as a WR/TE and taking 1-3 carries a game as an RB. It’s not out of the question at this stage but the Steelers quickly classified Samuels as an RB and they typically deploy more traditional tight ends in their offense. If they’re going to get radical here, I need to see it to believe it.
Yes, there is value for him as the Le’Veon handcuff.
Yes, it’s possible he becomes a #3 WR for them…and takes some handoffs on jet sweeps, etc.
There are several ways this can go, but my big interest in him was a team taking him on purpose and boasting about how crazy they can use him…and that it come from a progressive coach that would walk the talk, like Sean McVay. That didn’t happen, but it might…maybe…eventually.
I want to hold Samuels’s stock on the hopes all that I envisioned…while realizing I’m likely daydreaming and it will never happen, and all I have is Bell’s ‘maybe’ handcuff.
20) DE Bradley Chubb, Denver
Chubb lands with a 3-4 defense, which means he’s either a 3-4 DE or, and I think more likely, he’ll be a 3-4 OLB.
If he is a 3-4 DE…that scheme would not be as great for his pass rush/sack tallies, but better for tackle numbers. As an ‘LB’ classification, competing for numbers with the ILBs…Chubb would be an also ran. A pass rusher not a tackle accumulator.
Chubb put up decent sack totals in college but not ‘wow’…which is odd for a guy who was so athletically superior and his whole D-Line was drafted into the NFL this year. I know Chubb is good, but I don’t think he is ‘great’. He doesn’t ‘land’ as well (in DEN) as DE Marcus Davenport did in New Orleans.
21) QB Josh Rosen, Arizona
Josh Rosen is a pretty decent QB talent. If shoved into action right away…I think he’d hit the ground running. He is one of the more talented QBs in this draft. However, his downside is how frail he is. I worry he’ll never become as a good as his talent might have taken to due to injuries…a la Christian Ponder, who was excellent in college until he tore up his elbow and shoulder.
Rosen won’t start on purpose in 2018, but he’s a Sam Bradford injury (highly probable) away from getting the call. He may deserve a higher ranking than this.
One other slight issue – UDFA QB Chad Kanoff from Princeton is as-good/a better QB talent than Rosen…so, he has that little nugget to possibly contend with (but I’m sure Arizona won’t see it).
22) RB Josh Adams, Philadelphia
This is interesting. Three pieces to the puzzle…
1) The best pure RB talent I scouted for the 2018 NFL Draft. An incredibly instinctive between-the-tackles runner with breakaway speed at 215-220 pounds.
2) Goes undrafted (not good), but lands with Philly (thanks BC alum Mike Mayock)…and is instantly the best RB on the depth chart today (but I doubt they acknowledge that).
3) Philly/Doug Pederson is committed to an RBBC. So, Adams might be a part of that…but never enough touches to matter greatly for FF.
Whatever the pros and cons -- I don’t want to leave a dynasty rookie draft without Adams…
23) LB Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo
He’ll be classified an ‘LB’ but he’s not a high tackle count LB, more of a jack-of-all-trades guy…he can patrol the middle, drop into coverage, and rush the passer. People say, and I agree, ‘Anthony Barr’ as a comp. I then ask, “How exciting has Barr been for IDP?”
The upside here is if Buffalo pushes him to the inside more. I don’t love his inside skills…he’s not a run-game tackle monster, but he’s a talent and will produce…just not sure he’ll produce enough to move the needle big-time for FF.
24) WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta
I think Ridley is a solid NFL WR prospect…like a 3rd-4th-round type NFL Draft pick option. This hysteria that he’s a 1st-round WR is ridiculous. He has good speed, good agility, a thin-frame and has OK/solid hands. He’s really not much different than DaeSean Hamilton…except Ridley went to ‘Alabama’ and that is the most important thing in the world.
How does Ridley shine in Atlanta? Julio gets all the targets and 2-3 other WRs typically share the scraps/rest of Matt Ryan’s opportunities. Mohammed Sanu never rose much past a WR2 over time…more WR3/hot-cold output. Justin Hardy is a really talented, similar receiver as Ridley and he’s been buried in Atlanta. I don’t see Ridley as more than a WR3…and then for the price, I’m not touching him for the cost.
25) TE Hayden Hurst, Baltimore
I like Hayden Hurst. He’s going to be a very solid NFL tight end, but I don’t like much at all about his dynasty-fantasy outlook.
For starters, he begins working with one of the worst, least imaginative offenses in the NFL…and works with a declining Joe Flacco.
If Flacco fails and/or Lamar Jackson takes over…LJax is not a QB who makes great use of a tight end. A bad mix for Hurst.
Long-term, Hurst is one of the older top rookie prospects (25+ years old at kickoff 2018). Not a crisis but not a great attribute thinking big picture.
I get that Flacco can lean on a tight end…like he did with Dennis Pitta, but consider – that was when Flacco was a better QB and recall that Pitta was a much better/more gifted receiving threat. Hurst is good but is no Pitta as a receiver (or athletically). Hurst has value because he’ll start and see targets…but a very limited upside.
26) LB Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas
Vander Esch is likely going to start right away as a 4-3 OLB…a nice fit for him. He’s going to be solid playing the run and can drop into coverage because he is more athletic/quick than Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith. JVE is probably going to lose out on some tackle counts because he’s in coverage but he’ll start/play right and way and give you output with a potential upside at some point.
27) RB Derrius Guice, Washington
Guice is a solid enough RB talent, but he’s being sold as something special…and I think he’s just average-good. Average-good with a giant bag of problems he brings to the table -- he’s arrogant, lazy, a diva, and his coaches and teammates are going to turn on him fast. Washington will try to keep pushing him to show drafting him wasn’t a mistake, but I think at some point this blows up and you have nothing of value.
He’s another fantasy asset that I’m sure will start early, have a moment, get everyone all jacked up…and then 4 weeks, 4 months, whatever later, everyone is disappointed and questioning.
I still go to my grave believing Samaje Perine is the better RB talent all around, but I know Guice is going to get a big push from the worst front office in the NFL. Poor Jay Gruden…good luck in your next job as O-C in Oakland.
28) SAF Terrell Edmunds, Pittsburgh
Edmunds is a big dude at 6’0”/217 with nice 4.47 speed. He has all the markers of a great tackle accumulator in the NFL/for IDP. If I knew he was starting Week 1, he might be a top 3 ranked IDP…but he’s projected to be a backup/rotational player in 2018 if Morgan Burnett stays healthy…and that’s a big ‘if’.
I like Edmunds…and I might FF-love him if he were starting Week 1.
29) DT P.J. Hall, Oakland
There’s a little Aaron Donald hope here. A highly athletic, freakishly athletic DT prospect – a 4.73 (Pro Day) 40-time runner at 308 pounds? Wowzah! 36 bench reps? 38.0” vertical? He’s a freak of nature…with poor agility times holding him back from being ‘super special’.
Guys like this only come around so often, so you have to take a shot on them when you can. He could start day one for Oakland.
30) QB Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh
I think Mason Rudolph could very well be the best QB from this class in the long run…a more mature QB than Baker Mayfield, and a better medium-deep thrower – he’s got some Big Ben in him (minus the immaturity/whining of Ben).
Obviously, you get nothing here in 2018 (unless Ben goes down), but in 2019 or more likely 2020 you’re getting a legit starter and producer. His value is depressed as you have to wait for him to ‘happen’.
31) SAF Derwin James, LA Chargers
James is projected to start right away, so that has IDP value immediately. I’m not sure James is going to be that great an IDP option – he seems to be more comfortable in coverage than mixing it up…but he will mix it up. He might surprise with his tackle ability as an NFL starter.
James is a solid talent and will get work right away, so he’ll be IDP useful, to some degree, immediately.
32) Rashaan Evans, Tennessee
I’m not as in love with Evans as most are, but I believe he is a very solid football player and a capable linebacker; possible ILB starter right away. He’s better than most overhyped ‘Alabama’ prospects. He’s stable and will always get extra chances/opportunities because of his draft status and college. There are more talented LBs, but Evans is good enough + has ‘things’ going for him.
33) LB Dorian O’Daniel, Kansas City
One of my favorite defensive prospects of 2018. Has hope as a disruptive OLB or could bulk up a bit and go to ILB, or could slim down to strong safety. O’Daniel may have the swiftest, most graceful feet in the draft…a terrific east-west, agile with ease mover (his 6.64 three-cone doesn’t lie) – and a solid tackler. He can cover, rush the passer, or play the run…he’s a three-down defender.
I don’t know what position he’ll wind up in on the field, but he’s going to have an impact. I worry the Chiefs fall asleep on it for years like they did with Daniel Sorensen.
34) WR DaeSean Hamilton, Denver
I’m a fan of his work, but he may be a better NFL option than an FF one -- a professional WR…not a gaudy stat producer/FF delight. Hamilton is amazing at getting open off the snap and on short-medium routes. He offers a lot to a QB. My fear is he’s more Jason Avant than Golden Tate. However, he’s so gifted you have to take him seriously as a bet that his game fits the NFL much better than in college – I wish Denver had better QB play, though.
Hamilton will be buried in 2018, barring major roster changes, but in 2019 it’s likely he and Courtland Sutton as a 1-2 punch with Thomas-Sanders gone to free agency/released.
35) LB Shaquem Griffin, Seattle
Griffin is kinda like Mike Gesicki…I have concerns, but the measurables are so good, at a certain point you go ‘screw it’ and roll the dice.
Griffin nags at me…makes me worried he might not be able to cleanly tackle in the NFL due to his hand issue. It’s real. However, he is so fast and can hit without having to use his arms to grab tackles all the time that he might be fine as a joker LB who pass rushes, covers…does all the interesting IDP stuff. He also might be an excellent safety prospect.
There’s hope…and fear…here. But he’s such an athletic talent he’s worth a dice roll.
36) LB Darius Leonard, Indianapolis
I could see Darius Leonard bouncing Antonio Morrison right out of the lineup for Week 1…and be a semi-shock top IDP producer among the rookie IDPs. Leonard is a nice tackler, but not the fastest linebacker out there (4.70 40-time). I like him inside versus outside and I think he might get that ILB job right away and give you something as a rookie. I’m not sure he’ll ever be a star, but he could get hot and be useful to use or trade hot.
37) LB Josey Jewell, Denver
Jewell might be the best pure ILB in this draft class…the more classic planted-in-the-middle, patrolling side-to-side brick wall between the tackles. Jewell tested with ‘meh’ 4.82 speed but then posted a golden 6.80 three-cone. He’s not going to catch Saquon Barkley from behind, but he will likely stop him on any shift between the tackles. Jewell has a chance to start Week 1 but more likely he’s a 2019 story.
38) RB Kalen Ballage, Miami
I like Ballage as a 7-10 carries and 5+ target a game RB weapon for fantasy…a pass game weapon…an Alvin Kamara on steroids. I just don’t believe the Dolphins will use him that way. If he doesn’t get used like a weapon AND he sits 3rd-string as a power RB behind Gore-Drake…then we don’t have much to bank on here.
I have to start out assuming the worst for Ballage but watching for the upside if they really do try to make him a unique, giant pass-game weapon – that’s where he could be a great fantasy event out of somewhat nowhere. As a regular old, typical NFL RB…not all that exciting. As a purposed pass-game weapon…this could be a mild shocker.
39) RB Kerryon Johnson, Detroit
Not a fan. Big totals in some games because of big carry counts. Weaker yards per game performance numbers against the better opponents (like Alabama, Georgia, LSU, bowl games, etc.). Should have been better playing in a pro-run game offense. What he produced is because of the system. His tape looks weak. His performance metrics are poor. His measurables were borderline terrible for the NFL. He’s only up this high on the list because we know he’ll get several chances to be ‘the man’.
40) LB Malik Jefferson, Cincinnati
A pretty nice ILB prospect. He’ll have to get past Preston Brown…and/or see the inevitable suspension, etc., of Vontaze Burfict before he can get on the field to make a FF-impact. He may be starting sooner-rather-than-later. He’s in the argument for best ILB of the 2018 draft class…a weak ILB draft class.
41) SAF Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami
Fitzpatrick is projected to be in the same role for Miami as he was at Alabama…roving around as an LB/SAF, but we have to consider that besides a few INT return TDs (somewhat luck) in college, Fitzpatrick didn’t rack great numbers/stats for Alabama. He’s a solid player but somewhat overrated, better for the NFL than IDP…unless he finds new life/a new style in the NFL. With Reshad Jones taking numbers, as he does…not sure Fitz will do much IDP damage right away.
42) WR Caylon Weathers, Chicago
Getting a tryout with the Bears, finally, and that’s a good starting place for him. He’ll impress enough to get signed to camp. He’ll then have a chance to show himself in full training camp…he’ll either make the team as a shock performer in the preseason or get put on the practice squad. His NFL journey started a bit later in the UDFA period…but he should climb his way up the ladder now.
I believe Weathers is one of the 3-5 most gifted WRs that I scouted this offseason, considering his size (6’4+) and his incredible target radius (36” arms). He should be a top 10 prospect on this overall rookie list, but he has to work his way through the bias of small school prospect and UDFA rookie…not easy, but doable. Cameron Meredith wasn’t expected to make the Bears roster as a UDFA a few years ago – he made the 53-man as a rookie and then was their #1 WR halfway into his 2nd-season…no one saw that coming. Hopefully, Weathers gets a chance to shine and he’d be the natural replacement for the Bears losing Cam Meredith to New Orleans this offseason.
43) WR Justin Watson, Tampa Bay
We graded Watson as one of the best WR prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft…a Chris Hogan-like WR. Had he gone to Alabama, he might be a 1st-round pick WR, but he went to stupid ‘ol Penn, so you know he can’t be good…
Watson joins a Tampa Bay team that is not a great fit for him. He definitely doesn’t start Week 1 unless a rash of injuries hit. Once he does crack the lineup, he has to deal with inaccurate Jameis Winston, who only throws to Mike Evans and tight ends. Just like Chris Hogan floundered in Buffalo under Rex Ryan/Tyrod Taylor, etc., so too will Watson be wasted in Tampa. The talent is there but the surroundings are terrible for him.
44) LB Micah Kizer, LA Rams
110+ tackles three-straight seasons for Virginia. He had a solid Combine (4.66 40-time, 7.05 three-cone). He kinda got lost in the shuffle of names at the Combine, but he came out of there are a respected ILB prospect…and the Rams, in desperate need of ILB help, made him at #147 pick. He has a pretty good chance to be a starter Week 1 if he impresses in training camp. We all may be undervaluing him.ad a
45) WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Green Bay
I could find myself liking the 6’5” guy who runs a 4.48 40-time, who works with the great Aaron Rodgers. ESB might have been in our top 10 overall had the Packers not drafted two other WRs just like him – Marquez Valdes-Scantling and J’Mon Moore. I’d bet on ESB to emerge, but by a hair…the other guys are tall and athletic as well. ESB is not a given in this race. It’s a cluster situation more than an obvious fantasy play.
46) WR James Washington, Pittsburgh
A solid, professional WR. Good routes. Capable hands. Plays faster than his Combine numbers. A good all-around WR, but not an athletic freak or greatest worker you’ve ever seen. He’s just a very solid hand joining a team with established WRs, so his 2018 impact doesn’t project to be all that great. Washington might be better year three for fantasy than expecting any splash as a rookie…especially if his college QB (Mason Rudolph) takes over soon.
47) WR Dylan Cantrell, LA Chargers
It looks like this is a weak landing spot on the surface…Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams. How is Cantrell going to breakthrough in year one? Well, Allen is high-probability to get hurt. They ignore/disrespect Tyrell, and they like Mike W., but he’s a yawn. Cantrell needs one of these 3 to fall…and it’s likely one will. Worse case Tyrell will be gone next year to free agency or a trade this year. Cantrell has athletic gifts in a big body/big catch radius. He’s one of the more intriguing WRs in this class…high end athleticism, but not sure he has the toughness to thrive in the NFL. He might be a highlight reel catch one game, and then doesn’t catch a pass for weeks disappearing act. This may be more of a 2019-2020 story.
48) RB Chase Edmonds, Arizona
Edmunds is a talented small-school RB (Fordham), who is just a great kid – smaller (5’9”/205) but strong (21 bench reps) and shifty (4.07 shuttle, 6.79 three-cone). He’s a perfect change of pace, complementary RB for a guy like David Johnson…and then is tough enough that he can fill in for a stretch as ‘the guy’ if needed. He’s not likely a future workhorse RB but is a great hand to have for 10-20 snaps a game and there for an emergency. He has value as a DJ ‘handcuff’ but T.J. Logan still exists and takes a little shine off of that.
49) WR J’Mon Moore, Green Bay
Sometimes I think I see A.J. Green when I watch Moore play…but then I see the inconsistencies watching enough of his snaps -- and I shy away from bigger projections. He has great feet (6.56 three-cone) and a nice size (6’2”+) but he’s definitely not supplanting Adams-Cobb and then he has very intriguing rookies Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to deal with to make the roster. I like Moore, but he wound up in a weird situation with GB drafting so many big/fast WRs. They did take Moore higher in the draft than the other two, but I think St. Brown might be better. There’s hope and concern here.
50) WR Allen Lazard, Jacksonville
I’m shocked Lazard was not drafted. Not for nothing, so I don’t seem like a total loon for having him as a top 100 prospect…Mike Mayock also had him in his top 100 overall. For Lazard to fly by all the draft boards…something must be up behind the scenes. I’m not sure if there is an off-field issue, but I know on the field he has some Mike Evans characteristics. He’s a very talented, big bodied, very natural body positioning WR. Being a UDFA is bad enough, but he’ll not have a prayer of making the Jags roster with their WR group. Hopefully he impresses enough in the preseason to get grabbed when the Jags try to put him on the practice squad. I think Lazard has #1 WR skills for the NFL…but it’s a rocky start to that realization right now.
51) SAF Godwin Igwebuike, Tampa Bay
Igwebuike was our top-rated 2018 safety prospect, albeit in a very weak draft class. He’s a solid player and should be a start in the NFL before too long…but he went undrafted and that’s a big hill to have to climb to start out his journey. He’ll start out a backup/special teamer, but he might be good enough to get in the rotation year one and before long seize a role. It’s possible for 2018, but 2019 is more likely his time. He’s a starting safety talent but not sure how long we’ll have to wait here.
52) QB San Darnold, NY Jets
I think Sam Darnold is going to be a ‘C-‘ quarterback at best in the NFL. He’s not DeShone Kizer terrible…he’s just not that good. He’s got a decent head on his shoulders/good instincts, but he has a borderline terrible arm…very inaccurate and struggles to read defenses properly. He’s better scrambling around and finding stuff…but that’s not going to work in the NFL as he’s not an escape artist type of QB. He’s more Matt Barkley circa 2018. He’s only rated this highly for us because of his likely push/playing time being of some value to our computer models. You know he’s getting a shot, where many of my beloved prospects have multiple NFL hurdles they have to climb and then they’ll get one chance to make it…Darnold will get 87 chances in the NFL.
53) LB Christian Sam, New England
Our top-rated ILB prospect in a very weak ILB class. He’s a sound, quality defender. He’s going to make it in the NFL, but on the Patriots that may mean it takes 2-3 years of learning and honing under the master. I like this player, this landing spot, but I know I’m probably looking at 2019-2020 before any ROI might happen. Elandon Roberts is a better ILB prospect for the Pats.
54) RB Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis
This seems like it might be a crime of opportunity… The Colts have a void of talent in their backfield and Hines is arguably their #2 RB option…a 3rd-down specialist/weapon in the pass game. People are excited because Hines is ‘so fast’. He tested fast at the Combine (4.38) but showed weaker agility (7.18 three-cone). He can move with a head of steam.
On tape, I didn’t see anything all that exciting. He plays running back like a wide receiver (a former WR convert to RB) and I saw him caught from behind too much for a supposed 4.3+ runner. His lack of high-end agility makes him clunky get out into space for screen passes, etc. He has good hands, he has speed, and should have an opportunity…unless Indy adds another RB, which I expect they would.
I think Hines will be buried in 2017, and I don’t know that he’s all that talented to begin with.
55) SAF Justin Reid, Houston
You have to love the measurables…6’0”/207, 4.40 40-time, 6.65 three-cone. He’s an athletic, willing hitter safety. He’s got a decent chance to start Week 1…or at least be starting by Week 4-5. He may be the right guy in the right place at the right time for fantasy/IDP.
56) QB Chad Kanoff, Arizona
One of my favorite ‘deep sleeper’ prospects of 2018. How teams could watch this guy’s tape and be unmoved is beyond me. He has a Patrick Mahomes vibe from the first second you watch him play. 73.2% Comp Pct., 347.4 passing yards, and 2.9 passing TDs per game in 2017 from the Ivy League gunslinger. In a more rational football universe, Kanoff is a 1st-round pick prospect…instead he’s undrafted and will have to fight UDFA and Ivy League bias for years hoping to get just ONE shot. The odds are against him, BUT it’s not improbable, in the NFL, for UDFAs to rise up. Kanoff is in a tough spot working on a team that took Josh Rosen as well. You’re betting on the talent to shine through…with the NFL establish ready to fight against you.
57) DT Taven Bryan, Jacksonville
Bryan gets added to an already stacked D-Line, so it might be a year or two before he becomes fantasy viable. He gets the ‘J.J. Watt’ label thrown around a lot, but he doesn’t look like a ‘next J.J. Watt’ to me (and it’s almost impossible to live up to). Bryan looks good, solid, with upside. But I’m not onboard with the ’J.J. Watt’ comps yet, but there is some size-athleticism profile similar between them…no denying.
It’s just Watt was THAT much more athletic and showed it on tape. Bryan flashes some things from time to time but was not pure domination when I watched his tape…but he’s good.
58) RB Bo Scarbrough, Dallas
This could get interesting. If Scarbrough can become Dallas’s #2 RB…he is an Ezekiel Elliott misstep away from mattering big-time in fantasy. Remember how excited you (maybe) got for Alfred Morris and Rod Smith at points last season? Scarbrough has that Derrick Henry vibe…only not as talented. A big dude/power runner with not-so-great hands. A bet on Scarbrough is a bet or a hedge on Elliott doing something stupid and you winding up with a shock starting RB behind the Dallas O-Line.
59) QB Luke Falk, Tennessee
I love Luke Falk the QB, but this landing spot did nothing for him. He’s not beating out Marcus Mariota…he has to wait for Mariota to get hurt and/or he has to wait 3-4 years before Tennessee trades him or he hits free agency. None of this outlook is great for Falk for fantasy. As much as I love his abilities…he’s more NFL savvy/good and not so much fantasy great. He has ‘next Brady’ attributes but likely never gets to work with his Bill Belichick. He’s one of the 20-30 or so most talented guys in this draft class, so he’s worth some attention…but likely you waste a lot of time waiting here.
60) DT Harrison Phillips, Buffalo
Our top-rated DT for the 2018 NFL Draft, he and P.J. Hall. Hall is the more obvious ‘exciting’ DT of the two, an athletic freak. Phillips doesn’t look like anything special at a glance, but he has great, shifty feet for his size and has an incredible knack for getting into the backfield. Comparing Phillips numbers to Vita Vea’s in the same conference the past two seasons – Phillips puts Vea to shame. I am a big Phillips fan, but not sure if he might be better for the NFL than he is a great IDP play coming. He may start Week 1, he’s that good.
61) TE Jordan Thomas, Houston
Thomas played WR (yes, WR) at 290+ pounds in college…and was split out and working the pass game, etc., but was more a giant blocker out in space – a brilliant concept…and notable that Thomas was trusted in that role. He then shed 25+ pounds for the NFL Combine and started looking like a legit TE prospect – 6’5”+/265 and runs a not-bad 4.74 40-time. His body has changed so much, we’re not sure what to expect here but it creates some intrigue. He looked good catching the ball at the Combine and at his Pro Day. I think he’s better all-around than higher Texans draft pick TE Jordan Akins. Thomas is a deep sleeper to be the Texans opening day starting TE.
62) TE Tyler Conklin, Minnesota
I was hoping Conklin would land in a better place…I like him as a sleeper receiving weapon from this class. So-so athleticism, very good hands. He’s got Kyle Rudolph in front of him and sleeper UDFA TE Tyler Hoppes behind him. I like Conklin…hate his landing spot.
63) WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay
The Packers drafted three similar WRs…tall, speedy…Equanimeous St. Brown and J’Mon Moore with MVS. And I think Valdez-Scantling is the least talented of the three. Not that he’s bad, just the other guys are better WRs. MSV looks to me like a neat tall/deep ball guy…not a legit #1-2 W/consistent performer for an NFL team. Upside on his speed-agility, but what a tough surround group to compete with.
64) WR Anthony Miller, Chicago
His college numbers make him look like a sure-fire stud for the NFL. However, his tape has a lot of flaws…as did his Pro Day. I think Miller is closer to a bust than not. Very stiff in his movements. Makes a nice play then butchers a catch the next. Caught a lot of simple passes, bubbles, etc. I think he’s flawed, but his output in college makes you give him a slight break that perhaps he’s just tough and finds a way. I couldn’t make this pick, but he has some valuation to our computer models due to his college tallies/performance.
65) RB Boston Scott, New Orleans
5/9/18: Mark Ingram suspension helps Scott pick up some steam.
Incredibly athletic (4.40 40-time, 6.67 three-cone, 21 bench, 38.5 vertical) and intriguing but man, did he land in a bad spot. He’s for sure behind Ingram-Kamara at best. Remember how athletic Daniel Lasco was when he came out of college and was drafted by the Saints…and nothing ever developed with him? Scott may suffer the same fate buried in New Orleans. However, an injury to others might spring him onto the main scene.
66) WR Jaleel Scott, Baltimore
Great size (6’4”+/218). Has good speed (4.56 40-time). Was the main man for New Mexico State. He’s not bad. He’s flashed some potential for the NFL, but he just seemed like another big WR with some speed who wasn’t a ‘pro’ WR beyond the fact that he has ‘size’. I studied Scott and Michael Gallup at the same time, and it wasn’t even close between the two. Scott has some useful skills/size, but I didn’t see a dominant, fluid receiver…just a better-than-his-weak-conference receiver.
67) QB Josh Allen, Buffalo
I’m not making this pick. I don’t believe in Josh Allen at all. I don’t think he can read a defense well. I think his inaccuracies ARE an issue However, I know he’ll get plenty of opportunities, so he has some value because you know he’ll get every chance in the world and then some. Not for me. I’m calling ‘bust’ and am fine if I’m wrong.
68) DT Bruce Hector, Philadelphia
This is one of my favorite defensive sleepers of 2018. He was a nice 3-4 DE in college, but his true, hidden gift is being moved to 4-3 DT…more suited for his 299-pound frame. I just love his game and movement skills at his size – I thought it from the very first time I watched a play from his game tape. Uphill road to climb as a UDFA, so it might take 2-3 years but keep tabs on him for a DT sleeper down the road. Really keep tabs if he shines in the preseason and forces his way onto the 53-man roster. The Timmy Jernigan injury outlook/news gives him another boost.
69) CB Josh Jackson, Green Bay
Likely to start right away…the bigger of the two rookie CBs, more potential for tackles, should be tested by QBs, which means nice PD potential. Jackson also picked off 8 passes and returned 2 for TDs. He has a little magic in him, potentially.
70) DB Dane Cruikshank, Tennessee
Fantastic measurables…could be a big corner or very athletic safety. He’s versatile and is going to play sooner-rather-than-later. As a safety he has more IDP value, but he might not be too bad as a corner who would be tested a lot (for nice PD opps) and can tackle better than most safeties. I’m not sure where he’ll play or how fast until he starts for the Titans, but I see a lot of nice upside here for the value.
71) TE Tyler Hoppes, Minnesota
I really like the look of Hoppes game…he’s like a smaller Vance McDonald when I watch him play. He just moves so effortlessly for his size. He displayed nice receiving skills at Nebraska but played in an offense that wasn’t going to help Hoppes go to new heights of success. He’s not the biggest (6’3”/236) or the fastest (4.76) but he is nimble (7.02 three-cone) and really has a nice burst (1.58 10-yard). He’s a top deep sleeper from this draft but lands in a bad place with Kyle Rudolph in place and the Vikes drafting a talented Tyler Conklin as well. Hoppes will have to impress this preseason to hopefully get poached by another team off the Vikes practice squad. Hoppes may need a season to add 5+ pounds of muscle and transform himself into a more legit NFL TE.
72) DE Dorance Armstrong, Dallas
I liked Armstrong the first time I did a preview scouting of him early in the pre-Draft study process. He had a good-not-great college career, statistically, but played on a bad team and was a guy that opponents could/wanted to double-team. He tested slow at the NFL Combine (4.87) but his tape shows a quicker/better pass rusher than that…to my eye. I just noted him as a ‘not dead’ prospect/kinda sleeper, but nothing immanent…however, when Dallas took him it made me perk up. Dallas personnel V.P. Will McClay has a pretty good eye for non-great-Combine DEs. He’s going to force me to go back and take a deeper look here. On the surface ‘meh’, but some hope/interest in his landing spot.
73) LB Lorenzo Carter, NY Giants
Awesome athlete (6’5”/250, 4.46 40-time, but suspect defender…3 or fewer solo tackles in 24 of his last 28 games. He’s not a tackle accumulator not a real big sack or TFL guy in college either. His performance doesn’t match his athleticism. He may be more athlete than performer…but could be molded or coached up into a better player. There’s hope but he’s not a given.
74) DT Vita Vea, Tampa Bay
Vea may be good or great for the NFL as a big body to clog the middle, but for IDP…I don’t see the upside. He was stuck in the mud in college from everything I saw. He wasn’t a force of nature at his size, and he should have been. He’s a big body that gets a good push sometimes and makes a play but mostly he’s too easily blocked away from plays or has his back turned/head down and misses plays. He doesn’t put up numbers as much as ‘takes up space’. If Star Lotulelei is ‘your kinda jam’ for IDP – then here you go.
75) LB Joe Ostman, Philadelphia
Overachiever, great DE/OLB in college. Doesn’t have the size-speed to be a true edge rush guy, but he’s a good player and will probably find/make a home in the NFL somewhere. I like the potential that Ostman is transformed into a middle linebacker. He’s a talent, and if we hear that a move to ILB is coming then he’ll move into the top 50 overall for us most likely. He’s here this high on the rankings on the potential he goes to ILB a la Joe Schobert/CLE.
76) TE Will Dissly, Seattle
Seattle doesn’t have the greatest roster of TEs…Nick Vannett and Ed Dickson are the #1-2. Dissly is an incredible blocker at TE…he walks into the NFL as one of the better blocking TEs in the league; he’s that good. That blocking skill may get him onto the field quickly…and for a guy not used as a receiver in college much – I thought Dissly displayed very solid hands at the NFL Combine. He has a limited ceiling, but he may have a quicker path to playing time/a starting role than most would have thought.
77) RB Mike Boone, Minnesota
One of my favorite RB sleepers for 2018. A bulldog tough RB – 5’10”/206 with 25 bench rep strength and 42.0” vertical and an 11’7” broad jump to go with his 4.44 speed and 6.95 agility. His measurables are NFL-starter worthy. His performance at Cincy was kinda ‘meh’. The tape looked good, but the output wasn’t great. It’s possible the Cincy offense held him back some. There’s hesitation…but also a lot of intrigue for me. I just wish ‘anywhere but Minnesota’.
78) WR Braxton Berrios, New England
A Welker-Edelman-like WR prospect for Belichick to tinker with. It will take years to develop a high-end relationship with Brady, and Brady will be gone before too long. Berrios has to also compete with a pretty talented Riley McCarron for the same role. Berrios fits the ‘Welker’ role, and is a very smart guy…so, Belichick is going to love him. If Edelman goes down, Berrios could suddenly be rather FF-important. I’ve seen better ‘Edelman-alikes’ but Berrios is decent too.
79) CB Isaiah Oliver, Atlanta
Possible argument for the 2nd-best CB in this draft. An athletic corner with size. It will probably take a year or so for him to become a starter/high snap count player. I like him but not sure how fast he’s going to push into the lineup in ATL.
80) TE Jordan Akins, Houston
Akins has a pro baseball background and has a decent football/TE awareness and hands for the passing game. He’s competent but we see the ceiling being very low for him. In fact, I think the TE they took later in the 2018 NFL Draft might be a better NFL fit for the Texans (Jordan Thomas, Miss State). The Texans aren’t going to feature the TE running the spread with DeShaun Watson, and Akins is not a star TE…but he may start and see enough targets to matter for a moment.
81) SAF Troy Apke, Washington
Anytime a 6’1”/200 safety runs a 4.34 40-time with a 6.56 three-cone, you have to stop in your tracks. He’s a former WR converted to safety. He plays safety a bit like a WR. Not a great hitter but moves around so well he can get to the ball or ballcarrier better than most. I wonder if they might move him to corner. Might be better for the NFL than fantasy, but there’s hope that his athleticism is a sign of a great DB to come. In college, he didn’t really rack up a lot of numbers.
82) WR Jaelon Acklin, Baltimore
Baltimore…where small-school/lesser-lauded WR prospects go to die. Acklin is an interesting athletic talent as a Julian Edelman type. He’ll be buried in Baltimore, but there’s hope he plucked away when the Ravens try to stash him on their practice squad. One of the worst things that could happen for his 2018 is Acklin gets on the Ravens’ practice squad. He’s got an upside with his Pro Day athleticism and interesting tape…he’s a hope for 2019+ and a risk he gets lost in the shuffle.
83) LB Tegray Scales, LA Rams
One or both of LBs Tegray Scales and Micah Kiser have a decent chance to be a shot starting ILB Week 1 for the Rams. In 2016, Scales made 125 tackles along with 24.0 TFLs. He led the NCAAs in solo and total tackles and TFLs in 2016. His numbers dipped a bit in 2017 and, somehow, he went undrafted. He’s solid linebacker joining a team that has a big need for ILBs.
84) DT Deadrin Senat, Atlanta
One of our higher-rated DTs of the 2018 draft class. He has a chance to start as a 4-3 DT pretty quickly, maybe even by opening day. He’ll gobble up tackles if given the playing time, a big 6’0”/314 plugger in the middle who is very strong and has decent feet for a DT.
85) TE Ian Thomas, Carolina
Thomas has some mild FF intrigue. He’s a solid tight end – he isn’t the most athletic TE I’ve ever scouted, but he gets open and makes some plays. He seems to be a somewhat reliable WR. He joins a Carolina team with Greg Olsen on his last year or two before he goes into broadcasting. I like Thomas, but I believe the upside is very limited. He’s going to get work/touches at some point and be a steady hand.
86) LB Frank Ginda, Arizona
A pretty athletic linebacker (4.72 40-time, 6.97 three-cone, 29 bench reps) who led the nation in solo tackles and total tackles in 2017 (173 tackles). He also had 13.0 TFLs and forced 3 fumbles. He’s a solid, hard-nosed, overachiever LB prospect. His tape doesn’t blow you away but he’s somehow always making plays. He’s going to play in this league at some point. Not sure how fast he’ll get the chance.
87) CB Simeon Thomas, Cleveland
A very long 6’2”/197 corner with 35”+ arms…and is a 4.45+ runner with a 39.0” vertical. A nice athlete with freakish size – a very savvy pick by the Browns. If Thomas can catch on to the NFL game quickly…he’ll be thrust into the starting lineup because his length is ‘special’. Of the tape I’ve seen, Thomas moves very gracefully at corner but wasn’t tested enough by top WRs like he’ll see in the league now. If he is a natural, and he might be – he’ll be one of the best steals if the 2018 NFL Draft. He might be moved to free safety as a possibility as well. There is a downside – he’s already 25 years old, but even worse…2014 academic suspension, 2017 arrested for stealing $2,000+ worth of items from a dorm.
88) RB Justin Jackson, LA Chargers
Jackson adds more dimensions as a backup to Melvin Gordon than Austin Ekeler does…Jackson is a more natural main-carry RB versus the homerun hitter Ekeler, but Jackson is no prize or imminent star. Tested great at the Combine but was more of a head down not super-instinctual runner at Northwestern…but he was solid. He can work short-term but not a long-term takeover of the backfield play.
89) CB Tarvarius Moore, San Francisco
Moving to CB from (college) safety, which is smart by the 49ers. He’s 6’1”/199 with great reach but the speed and agility, and athleticism of a corner – 4.32 runner 6.95 three-cone, 38.5” vertical, 11’1” broad jump. He’s a little thin framed and inexperienced at corner, so it may take a year to get him ready (or more), but if he gets there – he’s a great CB prospect with his size, safety mentality, and CB reach/athleticism.
90) WR Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans
I think Smith is a one-trick pony WR…just a ‘go deep’ guy, not a worker short or intermediate or in traffic. His whole thing at Central Florida was sprinting deep in their jail break offense/pass patterns and sometimes Smith would win the race in the confusion and get separated and catch easy bombs from his QB. The fact that he’s with Drew Brees means he might be WR3 viable some weeks but I think, long-term, Smith will run as a #4-5 WR there, considering all the WR talent they have assembled suddenly.
91) CB Denzel Ward, Cleveland
Love his coverage skills…but that’s what’s probably going to hurt him for IDP/fantasy. No one is going to want to throw his way, ever. Ward could be like Patrick Peterson, Jalen Ramsey…limited stat production because they never get challenged. As a rookie he might see some action, but if you see an early IPD number pop – I’d sell it hot because he’ll be a shutdown corner with barren fantasy stats before too long.
92) WR Daurice Fountain, Indianapolis
Hard-working, grinder WR who played his way into getting drafted despite not getting an NFL Combine invite. He’s solid but I’m not sure he was draft pick worthy. He’s a worker bee WR. Has some size (6’1”/206) and is fast enough (4.51 40-time, 7.02 three-cone) for the pro game. He’s going to outwork many but not sure he’ll ever be a high-impact WR in the league…but careful betting against hard-nosed WRs with a chip on their shoulder like this.
93) WR Trey Quinn, Washington
Another one of those ‘Wes Welker’ type underneath WRs. Quinn sat at LSU for a few years, barely getting onto the field, and then transferred to SMU and in his one year there as a senior – 114 catches, 1,236 yards, 13 TDs. 5’11”/203 with 4.55 40-time. He’s a worker bee WR, but there are a lot better of these ‘Welker’ type WRs out there. Quinn had a big 2017, but the presence of Courtland Sutton helped push that as teams doubled and tripled Sutton and let Quinn roam. Quinn can work…it just depends what QB/offense/coach and if he gets a chance.
94) TE Chris Herndon, NY Jets
Herndon was a sleeper TE prospect for many this draft season and him not doing all the Combine workouts allowed people to fill in their own blanks on his athleticism. I see a shorter, poor agility TE who had a so-so college career, statistically, at Miami. On tape, he looks OK but nothing that stands out. He’s propped up a little bit by landing with the TE deprived Jets…but that’s about it – average TE goes to team in need is the ‘case to be made’ here. I’m not that excited yet.
95) LB Kenny Young, Baltimore
An underrated ILB prospect for 2018, and he has an outside shot to steal the show in the preseason and become a starter Week 1.
96) SAF Tracy Walker, Detroit
Big safety prospect (6’1”/206) with quick feet (4.51 40-time, 1.56 10-yard) and a pretty solid tackler (97 tackles last season in 12 games at Louisiana). Detroit must really see something they like grabbing him with a #82 pick…well ahead of what anyone expected. He has a chance to start Week 1 but more likely he is a 2019+ story.
97) CB Jaire Alexander, Green Bay
Alexander has some value because he’s likely to start right away but he’s also not all that exciting or IDP because his expertise is in coverage not tackles, etc., and he’s a pretty small CB…more of a slot CB size. He’s going to start Week 1, so perhaps he gets his share of tackles right away while racking PDs because he’ll be picked on by opposing QBs right away.
98) QB Mike White, Dallas
I thought White was a solid ‘C’ grade NFL QB prospect, but I wasn’t really thinking too much about him until he waltzed into the Senior Bowl and looked like the best QB there (and Mayfield, Rudolph, Lauletta, J. Allen were there among others). White has skills, but he had very little prospect momentum and thus he became a mid-draft selection and goes to a team where he is bound to be a backup for four years unless Dak gets hurt. The situation looks bleak, for fantasy usefulness, but if he can get into the action for a bit for whatever reason, you never know. White is possibly an NFL ‘B’ rather than ‘C’. We have him as a C-D’ but I could see ‘B-C’ easily as the new age college prospects can find the pro game easier/less complicated/more scripted than the college game was.
99) WR Devin Gray, Atlanta
Honestly, I just like what I saw on some preview tape. I need to study him a little deeper but from what I’ve seen so far -- he’s a pretty aggressive, solid WR who played on a team with up and down QB play…mostly down. A 4.41 40-time and 1.50 10-yard time runner at his Pro Day with a 6.90 three-cone. There are the makings of something here.
100) SAF Kyzir White, LA Chargers
Huge safety (6’2”/218) but troubling speed (4.60 40-time at his Pro Day). He may need to move to linebacker or drop about 10 pounds to play safety/ I think a move to linebacker could be in the cards.
101) WR Richie James, San Francisco
Not sure where James is going to play for SF. He’s not better than Garcon-Godwin-Taylor. Rookie Dante Pettis is more of an outside, deep threat WR. James has size more like Trent Taylor but is nowhere near the WR Taylor is. Where James gets interesting is…he played a kinda Tyreek Hill role at Middle Tennessee State. Bubble screens, deep balls, jet sweeps, lined up as a tailback…he was used very creatively. Might the 49ers use him the same way? Might they make him a passing game RB/#4 WR who plays 30-50% of the snaps and is just an offensive weapon? That’s the potential with James, who is a pretty solid football player.
102) RB Chris Warren, Oakland
FINALLY signed a UDFA contract 5/8/18 with the Raiders. He’s got a bottleneck ahead of him…Martin-Lynch and Richard-Washington, but Warren is better than the Jack Del Rio holdovers. He might make this roster, especially if Marshawn Lynch flakes out. He’s more likely to get hidden on a practice squad. One of the bigger sleepers to watch of the 2018 rookies for fantasy.