There is a growing movement in the Dynasty community toward “devy” players. The term “devy” refers to developmental players carried on the dynasty league rosters. These devy players are usually college players but can even be high school athletes. During each week of the offseason and season, we will look at a different set of devy rankings.
We begin the offseason looking at the top devy players, beginning with the Top 10 devy players overall without regard of position or class. In general, we value the players entering the 2018 NFL Draft higher than future classes just due to the added risk associated with projecting into the future.
As we survey devy prospects, we will be looking at traits, abilities, and skill sets that will translate to the NFL. This week, we will look at the Top 10 devy players without regard to draft class.
10. Nick Chubb (Georgia) – Chubb’s comeback has been nothing short of amazing. Before he tore his PCL in Georgia's sixth game of 2015, the now-Senior was included in the conversation for the top spot on this list. Many thought he was as good of a prospect as Leonard Fournette. Chubb was playing at that high of a level. In the first game of last season, he put everyone on notice in a huge way, rushing for 222 yards and 2 scores on 32 carries, leading Georgia to a victory over North Carolina. The Bulldogs are a young team and lack proven talent on both sides of the ball. This has allowed opposing defenses to stack the box and dare the Jacob Eason to throw. At 5'11”, 228 pounds, Chubb combines the strength to run between the tackles and enough burst to break off huge runs. Chubb surprised many by returning to Georgia for his Senior season. While there is a risk of another injury, a return of the pre-injury player could vault Chubb to the top back in the 2018 NFL Draft class.
9. Cam Akers (Florida State) – Akers is a strong (5’11”, 213 pounds), physical back who can run through tackles. He was a rushing quarterback for parts of his high school career. Akers has the ability to stick his foot in the ground and get upfield in a hurry. While the True Freshman does not possess elite top-end speed, he is quick, explosive and fast enough. Akers is able to run inside the tackles or on the perimeter with his size and skill-set. We like Akers’ high school film and think he has a chance to be special. He is ranked this low because much can happen in the three years before Akers is able to enter the NFL Draft.
8. Calvin Ridley (Alabama) – Ridley enjoyed an impressive Freshman season. The 6'0”, 180-pounder easily seized the WR1 duties for the Crimson Tide in 2015. His 2016 season was not as prolific due to the run-oriented offense with Jalen Hurts under center. We expect Ridley to continue to add bulk to his slight frame. He is a dangerous receiver down the field and with the ball in his hands. But, Ridley has impressed most with his ability to win contested passes. He has an incredible ability to high-point the ball and aggressively attack it. This is a trait which will translate well in the NFL. For those who track the age of the incoming rookies, Ridley is one year older than most of the other Junior receivers, and two years older than one or two top pass catchers in his draft class. He turned 22 years of age this past December 20. He still is a great prospect, nonetheless. After catching 89 passes for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns as a Freshman in the Alabama offense, Ridley had an ok in 2016. In the victory over Kentucky early in his Sophomore season, Ridley caught 11 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. It was an impressive showing but Ridley caught six or fewer passes in the remainder of the 2016 games. There is optimism for Ridley having a great 2017 campaign as the Alabama offense will throw more after the running game was shut down in the National Championship game and the Crimson Tide offense was less than potent through the air.
7. Ammon Richards (Miami) – Richards committed to Miami from Wellington, Florida. He put up quality numbers as a True Freshman with Brad Kaaya throwing him passes. Richards caught 49 passes for 934 yards and three scores. The 19-yards per reception average was exceptional. Further, Richards, picked up at least 20 yards on 13 of those receptions and 38 of the 49 receptions went for a first down. It was a great year for the Freshman. He set a school Freshman record for receiving yards and was named Freshman All-American by most media outlets. Richards has a bright future.
6. Bryan Edwards (South Carolina) – Edwards is a local kid from Conway, South Carolina, who opted to stay near home to play for the Gamecocks. South Carolina had recruited Edwards since he was 13 years of age. He had a solid Freshman season with 44 receptions for 590 yards and four touchdowns. Edwards has a great rapport with quarterback Jake Bentley, who emerged as the starter in 2016. In year two, the pair of youngsters should be able to continue their ascent in the SEC Conference.
5. N'keal Harry (Arizona State) – Harry is a big receiver (6’3”, 210 pounds) who has made a big impact early in his college career. In the loss to Utah last year, the true Freshman had his best game of the season, hauling in 8 passes for 114 yards. For the season, Harry caught 58 passes for 659 yards and 5 touchdowns. In high school, Harry grabbed 119 passes for 2,715 yards and 25 touchdowns. Rivals ranked Harry as the top wide receiver and the 18th best prospect in the country. His stellar pedigree and quality play as a Freshman vault Harry to near the top of our list of players available for the 2019 NFL Draft. He has an exciting future. With either Alabama cast-off Blake Barnett or Junior Manny Wilkins at quarterback, Harry could see his number rise significantly. The Arizona State offense could be potent this year.
4. Courtland Sutton (Southern Methodist) – Sutton was only a three-star player (Rivals) coming out of Brenham, TX, but he has shown how that was a mistake. As a redshirt Freshman, Sutton broke Emmanuel Sanders Freshman school record for receiving yards (862) and tied the record set by NFL veteran with nine touchdowns as a Freshman. This strong season earned Sutton a spot on the USA Today All-Freshman team. He is a mountain of a receiver, (6’4”, 215 pounds) and uses his size well. SMU utilizes the tall receiver in the red-zone, but he is much more than a one-dimensional threat. As if Sutton’s athleticism was not chronicled enough, he played basketball in 2015 for the Mustangs after the football season was finished. Sutton was eligible to turn professional after last season but opted to return to school. For the 2016 season, Sutton had 76 receptions for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns on 76 receptions. This included an awesome two-game stretch (against East Carolina and South Florida) with 25 combined receptions for 418 yards and four scoring grabs. This means that the youngster grabbed one-third of his season-long receptions and yardage in just two games. Make of that what you will. Sutton is a very smart and articulate person who should transition to the NFL faster than most players.
3. Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) – St. Brown is a player who we have come around on as his route running and big plays are undeniable. After catching just one eight-yard pass as a Freshman, he exploded as a Sophomore. In 2016, St. Brown hauled in 58 passes for 961 yards and nine scores. The Fighting Irish offense was a mess but the youngster continued to shine. St. Brown caught at least three passes in every contest and topped 50 receiving yards in all but three games. We think he is going to take another large step in his development this season and be a star.
2. Saquon Barkley (Penn State) – While not as highly touted coming out of high school as many on this list, Barkley was studly as a true Freshman in 2015. The 5'11”, 215-pounder possesses a solid combination of size and speed. In 2015, his first collegiate year, Barkley carried the Penn State offense through the well-chronicled struggles of Christian Hackenberg. In that season, Barkley carried the ball 182 times for 1,076 yards and 7 touchdowns. He added another 161 yards and a score as a receiver. It was an impressive Freshman season. It was enough to be ranked No. 1 in Pro Football Focus' elusive rating. This is a great indicator for his professional prospects. Also, ESPN's Kevin Weidl was effusive in his praise for the Penn State star’s combination of power, agility, burst, competitiveness, and strength as a 220-pound runner. Considering Barkley has enjoyed some big outings in his short career, we agree with Weidl’s analysis. Barkley topped the 1,000-yard mark as a true Freshman playing in a one-dimensional offense and topped those numbers again in 2016. In fact, Barkley led the Nittany Lions to the upset over Ohio State last year, running for 99 yards on only 12 carries. Also, in the game against Purdue, Barkley ran the ball 18 times for 207 yards and 2 scores plus he added another 70 yards on three receptions. Yes, that is correct. Barkley totaled 277 yards and a pair of scoring runs in the lopsided victory over the Boilermakers. For the 2016 season, Barley has 1,496 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 272 carries. He added another 402 yards and four scores as a receiver. We expect Barkley to continue his development and gain supporters throughout the NFL Draft community. At this time, Barkley is not far the top player on this list and can overtake him this season. Both are great players.
1. Derrius Guice (LSU) – Even as a Freshman, Guice was able to get carries behind superstar Leonard Fournette. With Fournette injured for a few weeks as a Sophomore, Guice shined. In the game against Missouri, the youngster gained 163 yards and scored thrice on just 17 carries. He was impressive. Guice received the start the next game against Southern Mississippi as Fournette was not back from injury. In that game, Guice carried the ball 16 times for 162 yards and a pair of scoring runs. The 5'11”, 215-pound back was ranked RB2 by Rivals and has lived up to the high ranking. Guice was the MVP of the US Army All-American game. We think he is a star in the making who will be in the 2017 Heisman Trophy race. Expected to go to the NFL after next season, Guice will be only 20 years of age at the time of the 2018 NFL Draft. His combination of burst and balance is nothing short of amazing.