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2018 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft (Five Experts Picking with Commentary) *#2.09-2.11

Air Date:
April 4, 2018

Five experts mock drafting the rookie draft, pre-NFL Draft…so it’s a bit flying-blind on their landing spots, but we wanted to show you what some experts were thinking at this stage of the draft studies.

We’ll release a few picks each day as they are made, and the commentary is organized to be published. The draft is going on, a slow draft, as I type. After each round we'll publish the whole thing as one post and then all of them as a post in the end, but for now pieces at a time.

*Informal chats via email, so forgive typos or grammar.

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Welcome to the first annual FFMetrics expert rookie mock draft. The participants and draft order is as follows: 

1.1 Jason Katz (Katz)

1.2 Myles Crowe (MC)

1.3 Ender (END)

1.4 Xavier Cromartie (XC)

1.5 RC Fischer (RC)

And keeping that order for 25 picks.

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This Post: Picks #2.09-2.11

1.01 RB Saquon Barkley

1.02 RB Rashaad Penny

1.03 WR Courtland Sutton

1.04 QB Lamar Jackson

1.05 RB Royce Freeman

1.06 RB Derrius Guice

1.07 RB Ronald Jones

1.08 RB Sony Michel

1.09 WR DJ Moore

1.10 RB Josh Adams

1.11 RB Nick Chubb

1.12 WR DJ Chark

2.01 TE Dallas Goedert

2.02 QB Baker Mayfield

2.03 RB Jaylen Samuels

2.04 WR Calvin Ridley

2.05 RB Kalen Ballage

2.06 WR Christian Kirk

2.07 WR Michael Gallup

2.08 WR Anthony Miller

 

Katz: 2.09 WR Equanimeous St. Brown. No. I did not select him just because he has the coolest name in the draft. He was considered the top WR in this class at one point in 2016. St Brown's floor is Laquon Treadwell level uselessness, but his ceiling is as high as any WR in this class. At the back end of the second round, there's no real "safe" pick and no guarantee anyone will even be remotely useful. I'll take the guy that has WR1 upside, even if the odds of him reaching it aren't that great.

 

MC: Darn you Katz.  You swiped my guy.  I was deciding between Ballage and St Brown at my previous pick and opted for Ballage, believing that St Brown offered the greater chance of being there at my 2.10 pick.   If he stayed for his senior year he'd be 6'5 220+ and running 4.4's with good hands, great body control for his size, plus athleticism, and viability at all 3 levels rather than just a deep threat. With satisfactory QB play he's a 2019 1st rounder.     This kid could be a beast by the time he's 25.    Potential Brandon Marshall type receiver who suffered from horrendous QB play last year which resulted in his production being crushed.  He was knocked for seeming like his heart/mentality wasn't always in it last year, but what do you expect from a young 21 year old receiver of his caliber and production capability who sees his involvement cut in half b/c of his disastrous QB, during a season that's essentially viewed as a formality for entering the NFL for him, seeing as he has to wait 3 years to declare for the draft.  

 

XC: I thought about picking /anime/ too. He has star potential. Dropped from 58 catches in 2016 to 33 in 2017 but that is mostly on the QB. I thought he was like Martavis Bryant (long and lean). Had shoulder surgery a while back. Only 21, so you can wait for him to fix his flaws.

 

RC: E St.B probably should've been my 2.08, in hindsight. I was watching some more of Anthony Miller's work prepping for his Pro Day...not a great gamble pick by me. I should've gambled size and athleticism instead. I'll make it up with a radical pick next time I'm up. 

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1.01 RB Saquon Barkley

1.02 RB Rashaad Penny

1.03 WR Courtland Sutton

1.04 QB Lamar Jackson

1.05 RB Royce Freeman

1.06 RB Derrius Guice

1.07 RB Ronald Jones

1.08 RB Sony Michel

1.09 WR DJ Moore

1.10 RB Josh Adams

1.11 RB Nick Chubb

1.12 WR DJ Chark

2.01 TE Dallas Goedert

2.02 QB Baker Mayfield

2.03 RB Jaylen Samuels

2.04 WR Calvin Ridley

2.05 RB Kalen Ballage

2.06 WR Christian Kirk

2.07 WR Michael Gallup

2.08 WR Anthony Miller

2.09 WR Equanimeous St. Brown

 

MC: 2.10 John Kelly.  This kid's just a really solid player. Great feel as a running back.  If he were an inch taller and 8 pounds heavier he'd be one of the higher regarded backs in this draft.   On the Sony Michel spectrum.  Kelly isn't quite Sony as a runner, but what he is a better compliment to the passing game who can do damage in space.  He's on the cusp of being a borderline 3 down back.  Give him a year in the league and perhaps he traverses that threshold to reward you with a viable RB2.  A team that likes to use its backs in the passing game will look for an excuse to keep Kelly on the field once he solidifies his pass protection.  I was highly considering a different back here whom I'd be looking to flip the moment he has a great game.     

I'll dig into Boston Scott in a few days.  He's a bit of a conundrum.

 

XC: Kelly seems like a wannabe Kareem Hunt but nowhere near his level. Limited physically; 4.51 shuttle. Never produced much. Tennessee had no offense and went 0-8 in the SEC. Caught with marijuana during the season (brainlet). Can catch but that's what 3rd-down specialists are for.

 

MC: shuttle and cone times don't really mean much for running backs.  It's not what their positional duties are predicated upon.  Plenty of good-to-great backs with poor times, and an abundance of nobodies with amazing times.  Kareem Hunt posted a 4.53 shuttle and 7.22 cone.  Adrian Peterson with a 4.40 shuttle.  Dalvin Cook ran a 4.53 shuttle and 7.27 cone.  Kamara ran a 4.35 shuttle. Arian Foster, 4.53. Mark Ingram 4.62.  Marshawn Lynch 4.55.   Maurice Jones Drew 4.38.  

A back's game isn't about getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible like a LB or a S. It isn't about having to directly beat a man trying to cover him like we see for a WR or a TE, nor is it about having to stay with that man in coverage like a CB, LB, or S has to.  A back doesn't need a fast shuttle or cone time in order to be able to make a defender miss in the hole or miss in space.  He doesn't need to run a blazing shuttle time in order to be a great outsize zone runner (see Arian Foster), nor does he need one to burst through a crease or follow a lead blocker through one.  I care infinitely more about a back's ability to have the vision to identify a crease and put his foot in the ground to burst through it.  Vision, pad level, leg drive, balance, contact balance, the ability to stay square to the LOS and bounce left-right while remaining square, the anticipation of creases and defensive flow, the wherewithal to take what a defense gives you, and the ability to make a defender miss are all infinitely more important than shuttle/cone times, and they can all be present in spades despite possessing mediocre to poor shuttle/cone times.  Kareem Hunt led the NFL in 'forced missed tackles' last year, with 16 more than Lev Bell and 20 more than Gurley, despite a lazy 4.53 shuttle and pedestrian 7.22 cone.  The only way to grade a back is to watch his film.... and you can incorporate his 40 time to better gauge his long speed.   

 

END: Agility times are just one piece of the puzzle. Having a weak 3-cone isn’t necessarily damning, but you better have excellent vision to make up for it. All those backs you named had that and it’s not always the easiest thing to see on tape. 

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1.01 RB Saquon Barkley

1.02 RB Rashaad Penny

1.03 WR Courtland Sutton

1.04 QB Lamar Jackson

1.05 RB Royce Freeman

1.06 RB Derrius Guice

1.07 RB Ronald Jones

1.08 RB Sony Michel

1.09 WR DJ Moore

1.10 RB Josh Adams

1.11 RB Nick Chubb

1.12 WR DJ Chark

2.01 TE Dallas Goedert

2.02 QB Baker Mayfield

2.03 RB Jaylen Samuels

2.04 WR Calvin Ridley

2.05 RB Kalen Ballage

2.06 WR Christian Kirk

2.07 WR Michael Gallup

2.08 WR Anthony Miller

2.09 WR Equanimeous St. Brown

2.10 RB John Kelly

 

END: 2.11 Well since I missed out on ESB like seemingly everyone else, I guess I’ll take James Washington somewhat reluctantly. As everyone has pointed out ESB has incredible upside. Washington probably not so much. He just doesn’t really have the athleticism you’re looking for. That said he seems to find a way to make catches. Hard work and dedication can overcome some athletic deficiencies, but I’m not entirely sure what Washington’s ceiling might be. Davante Adams maybe? I’m not sure he’s even as athletic as Adams. 

 

Katz: Interestingly enough, before pulling the trigger on ESB, I considered both John Kelly and James Washington, but ultimately went with ESB because he's the best athlete of the bunch. When getting into the deeper part of rookie drafts, athleticism starts to become more and more important because none of the guys being selected will come with any NFL draft pedigree. At this point, we're hoping to find the Tyrell Williamses and Cameron Merediths of the world that force their way into relevance due to their athletic ability.

 

XC: There's a wide range of opinions on Washington. Some NFL people have him as the #2 WR behind Ridley. He's a strange eval. Not tall or particularly athletic but plays like a big receiver. Young breakout age is a huge plus. Had the most yards thanks to success on a lot of deep routes. But he can run the normal NFL routes too. There's no real comp for him. I've heard people going all the way back to Chris Chambers, which makes sense except Chambers was a stellar athlete.

 

MC: That's fair, END, but the agility times for backs don't have the same implication that they do for WR, DB, LB, and TE.  You don't move backs up or down based on their agility times like you do those other aforementioned positions, for the reasons I noted in my prior post. If a person doesn't have an eye for grading RBs, then using agility times or Sparq scores is nearly akin to a dart throw.   Case in point: from 2015-2016, there were 19 backs with a Sparq of 80% or greater.  Only 1 of those 19, however, is a starting RB, 2 if you include Derrick Henry.  

 

Additional case in point: since 2015.... 55 RBs have posted a sub 4.2 shuttle time.  Of that 55, only 5 are starters or starting caliber (David Johnson, Todd Gurley, Gordon, Ajayi, and Tevin Coleman).   

 

RC: That’s not to mention the NFLs questionable timing mechanisms...like when they screwed David Johnson with a fake news 40-time. 

It’s getting more difficult to have a calc/number formula to lead you to the RBs you should investigate further or ignore. 

Kareem Hunt is someone I would have ignored/hated 5 years ago based on his Combine numbers the way I knew/assumed them back then. I’m constantly looking for new ways to try to evaluate RBs and question my existing logic. 

 

MC: James Washington also ran all of his routes from the right side and typically as the boundary receiver if memory serves me.  It could conceivably require a couple years to become an NFL receiver as he takes time cross-training on the left side and in the slot where he probably belongs the most.  I could see Washington becoming one of the players that dynasty GM's cut following his rookie year after growing impatient/frustrated with his development.  He might be a candidate for the Taxi Squad.  

 

RC: James Washington makes me wonder about WRs who had great production but never made any analytics sense. Is he another Anquan Boldin — or just another mediocre athlete/good hands-good routes guy doomed to be forgotten in 2-3 years? 

My lean is he’s more forgotten but he is a pretty solid technician. He might make it in the end. 

 

Katz: The problem with guys like Washington is that historically, their odds of going on to be very successful at the pro level are not great. There's a natural tendency, when someone likes a guy, to compare him to the best case scenario. We see it happening with Calvin Ridley when his athleticism is questioned: "Well, Antonio Brown has one of the worst athletic profiles of all time." Yes, but we're talking about the outlier of all outliers. AB is a truly special case. We should never value the exception over the rule despite acknowledging that exceptions happen. If we always go with the rule, sure, we will miss the exceptions, but is that not okay? I liken it to my philosophy on not taking RBs over 30 or WRs over 32. I'm going to miss out on players that perform at a high level beyond the point where production usually declines. I acknowledge that. But more often, I will avoid drafting players the year of their decline. I tend to favor the analytics because in a game where there are so many variables; so many moving parts, they seem to be the most accurate predictor of future success. I am not an analytics guy that dismisses the value of tape. This isn't baseball where you can literally have a metric for everything and know the abilities of every player without ever watching a game - football tape can show you things that numbers cannot purely because there are so many things that influence the outcome of every play. I would not dismiss Washington at all - but the most likely outcome is that he not a highly productive NFL receiver.

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>