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Early Look at 2018 NFL Draft Rookie Rankings

A first look at the rookie rankings the week after the underclassmen declared.  This is a way-too-soon set of rankings which is likely to change as the all-star games, pro days, and Combine take place. 

The NFL Draft is an exciting time in the world of Dynasty Fantasy Leagues.  Below is an all-too-soon set of rankings which is bound to change as we gain more information about the players.  But, these rankings will be useful as you work on your personal rankings.  We rank the Top 10 quarterbacks, the Top 20 running backs and receivers, and the Top 10 tight ends.

Quarterbacks

The quarterback class is strong and deep this year with six viable options to be first-round picks and five to ten others eligible to be drafted.

  1. Josh Rosen (UCLA) – Leader with a strong arm and accuracy as a passer.
  2. Sam Darnold (USC) – A play-maker in the pocket who can throw the ball with the best in the NFL but turns the ball over frequently enough to give pause.
  3. Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) – Shorter than ideal but posses a solid arm, accuracy, and the ability to evade oncoming defenders. 
  4. Lamar Jackson (Louisville) – Thrown for 3,000 yards and ran for 1,000 in consecutive seasons.  NFL career will depend on landing in the right situation.  Jackson can easily be the top fantasy quarterback in this draft class. 
  5. Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) – Looks the part and throws a great deep ball but fails on intermediate throws due to lack of arm strength.
  6. Josh Allen (Wyoming) – While some think he is a first-round pick, the wild fluctuation in accuracy from play to play gives pause.  Looks like Kyle Boller, part two.
  7. Luke Falk (Washington State) – The opposite of Allen, Falk is a high-percentage passer who dinks and dunks short passes.  Arm strength could be a weakness.
  8. Nick Stevens (Colorado State) – Productive and good size.  Will be put to the test in the coming weeks.
  9. Riley Ferguson (Memphis) – Had a few monster games (with receiver Miller) against P5 teams so there is hope that Ferguson can be a viable pro.
  10. Logan Woodside (Toledo) – A little shorter than ideal but could surprise as the all-star games and Draft activities begin.  He is a player to monitor.

Running Backs

The running back class is deep with 30-40 quality ball carriers so our list of 20 will leave some decent backs off.  This list is expected to change the most as we discover size and speed measurements for the players.

  1.  Saquon Barkley (Penn State) – The top Dynasty player for most for good reason.  Star.
  2. Derrius Guice (LSU) – Hurt for much of his collegiate career but has flashed greatness when healthy.
  3. Ronald Jones II (USC) – Slight build (6’1”, 195 pounds) but quick and fast.  Very productive.
  4. Mark Walton (Miami) – Missed most of 2017 with an injury after having a monster 2016.  Most have forgotten how good Walton play in 2016.  He will surprise now healthy
  5. Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) – The Senior put up gaudy numbers throughout his career.  He has a stocky build (5’11”, 220 pounds) and is nimble in the hole.
  6. Sony Michel (Georgia) – Michel put on a clinic in the playoffs and should be a second-day pick based on his speed and receiving ability.
  7. Royce Freeman (Oregon) – Freeman is a big man (5’1”, 231 pounds) with good speed.  He disappointed as a collegian but has the tools to be an NFL starter.
  8. Nick Chubb (Georgia) – Pre-injury, Chubb was in contention for the top spot on this list, but the 2015 injury took a little juice away from Chubb’s burst.  He still will be an NFL back, just with less upside than before the gruesome knee injury. 
  9. Nyheim Hines (North Carolina State) – Hines is a world-class speedster who excels as a scat back and returner. 
  10. Josh Adams (Notre Dame) – Adams combines speed with a big frame.  One question he will need to answer is whether his big plays were due to the awesome Irish Offensive Line or Adams’ speed and vision as a runner.
  11. John Kelly (Tennessee) – Kelly carried the Volunteers offense for most of the season before his suspension.  He is stout (5’9”, 212 pounds) with great vision and cutback ability.
  12. Kerryon Johnson (Auburn) – The big back helped the Tigers to the playoffs.  He is a load between the tackles and is suited for a zone-blocking or downhill scheme. 
  13. Kalen Ballage (Arizona State) – Ballage has some ardent supporter but the Sun Devils coaching staff did not agree.  He was little-used in college but is a size/speed specimen who could be a much better pro than collegian. 
  14. Chase Edmonds (Fordham) – Will see his stock rise in the next two months.  Very difficult to tackle and will surprise many how highly he is drafted.
  15. Akrum Wadley (Iowa) – Undersized and slower than ideal, Wadley is a good runner and had a solid career.  He will need to land in a good situation to be fantasy-viable.
  16. Bo Scarbrough (Alabama) – The bruising running back has endured many injuries but has good speed for a man his size.  With good receiving ability, Scarbrough has a chance to have a solid NFL career.
  17. Ralph Webb (Vanderbilt) – Webb averaged good numbers while playing in a top conference on a middling team.  He is the type of back who could surprise in a committee after being a day-three pick.
  18. Ito Smith (Southern Mississippi) – Smith is on the smaller side of the scale but known for his jump-cuts. 
  19. Justin Crawford (West Virginia) – Crawford skipped the Mountaineers bowl game to prepare for the draft.  He had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and was named second-team all-conference both years, 2016 and 2017.
  20. Justin Jackson (Northwestern) – Accumulating almost 1,600 total yards from scrimmage with 44 receptions and 11 touchdowns, fantasy owners must take notice.  Of the running backs, Jackson is the most likely to move up significantly through the draft process. 

Wide Receivers

The wide receiver position is deep with several pass catchers bunched at the top.  The order of the first five or six on this list will be changing over the next two months.

  1.  Cortland Sutton (SMU) – The monstrous youngster was unable to match his 2016 numbers but flashed play-making ability to go along with his red-zone prowess.
  2. Calvin Ridley (Alabama) – Ridley was underutilized in college as the Crimson Tide chose to anchor the offense on the running game, but Ridley still made enough plays to warrant hope that he could be special.  He is older than most rookies, so some may knock his value.
  3. Auden Tate (Florida State) – Tate was injured for most of the year and suffered through a young, backup quarterback.  But, Tate still was a star.
  4. D.J. Moore (Maryland) – Moore is on the shorter, stockier side of the receiver builds but makes plays with the ball in his hands.  He looks like a young Steve Smith breaking arm tackles.
  5. Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) – St. Brown suffered through a rough season in 2017 even though he improved as a route runner.  Still very young, he has room to develop, much more so than most on this list.
  6. James Washington (Oklahoma State) – Great in the air and deep down the field.  In last year’s bowl game, Washington lit up the vaunted Colorado secondary like they were Baylor. 
  7. Michael Gallup (Colorado State) – Big-time play-maker who is unknown nationally.  Gallup caught 100 balls in 2017 for 1,413 yards and 7 scores. 
  8. Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) – Limited in college by the way the Aggies coaching staff ran off the quality quarterbacks.  He offers big plays as a runner, receiver, and returner.
  9. Anthony Miller (Memphis) – Miller is a savvy, smaller receiver who may be moved to the slot in the NFL.  Had several huge games in 2017. 
  10. Deon Cain (Clemson) – Cain is big and fast, like most Tigers receivers.  As a converted quarterback, he understands how to get open.  His off-field decision-making will be discussed this pre-draft.
  11. Tre’Quan Smith (Central Florida) – Smith has a good build and produced in a big way.  On just 59 receptions, Smith amassed 1,171 yards and 13 scores.  He is legit.
  12. Marcell Ateman (Oklahoma State) – Ateman has a large build (6’4”, 220 pounds) and is great attacking the ball in the air.  Speed will be the big question for his draft status.
  13. Simmie Cobbs (Indiana) – Cobbs may lack the speed to be an NFL star but has all the tools to be a starter.  He showed off these talents against Ohio State this season, having his way with the Buckeye secondary.
  14. Korey Robinson (Southern Mississippi) – Robinson enjoyed a great 2017, bursting onto the scene with 76 catches for 1,106 yards and 12 touchdowns.  The one area of concern is the quickness to separate against NFL cornerbacks. 
  15. Richie James (Middle Tennessee State) – James has the look of an NFL slot receiver.  He was oft-injured in 2017 before entering the draft pool as a surprise.  James was very good in 2016 and could surprise fantasy owners if landing on the right team.
  16. DaeSean Hamilton (Penn State) – Many forgot about Hamilton after his solid Freshman campaign.  He is picking up steam from scouts.
  17. Keke Coutee (Texas Tech) – Combining speed and quickness, Coutee put up gaudy numbers in the Red Raiders offense, catching 93 passes for 1,429 yards with 10 touchdowns.
  18. Cedric Wilson (Boise State) - In 2017, Wilson caught 83 balls for 1,511 yards and seven touchdowns. The Senior lit up Virginia with 209 yards and Washington State with 147 yards.  Speed is the lone concern.
  19. Byron Pringle (Kansas State) – Languishing in a conservative offense, Pringle only caught 30 passes in 2017.  He averaged a whopping 24 yards per reception.  He is the type of receiver who could come from nowhere ala Adam Thielen.
  20. Jordan Lasley (UCLA) – Even though he missed the first four games of the season, Lasley totaled 69 receptions for 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns. With Rosen throwing him a high volume of targets, Lasley had big games against USC (10-204-3), California (12-227-1), and Kansas State (8-128-1) to close out the season.

Tight Ends

The tight end position is not as deep as last year’s mammoth class but has several NFL starters.

  1.  Mark Andrews (Oklahoma) – Andrews looked comfortable exploiting the seam in the Sooners offense.  He is solid after the catch and has good hands.
  2. Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State) – Athletic ability in spades and strong after the catch.  In 2017, he hauled in 72 receptions for 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns.  This was a step back from 2016 which saw Goedert grab 92 receptions for 1,293 yards and 11 touchdowns.
  3. Ian Thomas (Indiana) – Many will be surprised with Thomas ranked this highly, but he should show well in the lead-up activities to the draft.  The Senior had a great game against Ohio State this season, catching two touchdowns on great routes and showing good hands.
  4. Hayden Hurst (South Carolina) – Could move up this list (to the first or second spot) depending on the size/speed measurables.  Hurst was not utilized much in the Gamecocks offense but could be a day-two pick.
  5. Christopher Herndon IV (Miami) – Could he be next in the long line of Miami tight ends? Some of the coaches told the media he was as good as Njoku in 2016.
  6. Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin) – Good blocker and receiver who is a solid receiver.  One of few all-around tight ends in this class.
  7. Dalton Schultz (Stanford) – Good route runner, solid hands, but a very good blocker.  The main concern is that Schultz is such a good blocker (like O.J. Howard) that he is used in that capacity more, and as a receiver less, than fantasy owners desire. 
  8. Mike Gesicki (Penn State) -  A good blocker and receiver who does nothing in spectacular fashion, Gesicki will need to land in a tight end-friendly system to be a fantasy factor.
  9.  DeAndre Goolsby (Florida) – Great receiver who gives poor effort as a blocker, Goolsby could surprise as a day-three pick.  If he goes to the right situation, remember Goolsby has big-time upside.
  10. Adam Breneman (UMass) – Productive against lesser competition but will need to show well in the Senior Bowl. 

Feel free to (email me) with feedback.  Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.