Footballguys Staff Rookie Mock Draft: April

Three-Round Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft from the Footballguys staff.

The Footballguys staff recently held a dynasty rookie mock draft to help you prepare for the NFL Draft coming this week.  The mock draft consisted of three, 12-pick rounds.  The picks and commentary are below.

3.12 Jeff Haseley – Mark Andrews – It wasn't long ago that Andrews was headlining the discussion of this tight end class. A lack of true athleticism at the combine have some people lowering him in the rankings. It may take a year to get acclimated, but what if New England drafts him? I'll take that chance here.

3.11 Justin Howe - DaeSean Hamilton - He isn't a burner, but Hamilton was wildly successful with the deep ball at Penn State. An adept route-runner, Hamilton is great at setting defenses up with head-fakes and altering his gait for timing purposes; he can work his way downfield even if he can't glide it. All told, he boasts a lot of the small characteristics that other speed-deficient "fundamentals" guys like Muhsin Muhammad and Pierre Garcon have ridden to long NFL careers. This isn't a "ceiling" pick like Equanimeous St. Brown or Auden Tate, where we're grasping at size/speed upside. But it's a ceiling pick in that Hamilton has a better chance to be on a roster in three years than several guys picked above him. That's deep-fried gold as the 35th pick in a rookie draft, especially in such a relatively week year.

3.10 Jeff Tefertiller - Auden Tate – While Tate tested much slower than expected, he is a player who dominates in the redzone and runs solid routes.  Many will discount him due to his 40-yard dash time, Tate could follow in the shoes of another ex-Florida State Seminole who ran slowly but was a great NFL receiver, Anquan Boldin.  He is undervalued at this spot.  I also considered DaeSean Hamilton and Mark Walton. 

3.09 Matt Bitonti - Baker Mayfield - As the draft process has progressed, Mayfield is the elite QB who has been nitpicked the least. He's not perfect. He's short. And there was the story of how he admitted to not learning the Chargers' playbook, who pick 17 in round 1 which sounds similar to Deion Sanders' reaction when the New York Giants presented him with a stack of paper which was a Wonderlic/psych test. "When do you draft?" he asked? "10th," the Giants staff replied. Sanders laughed in their faces, "I'll be gone by then," and left the room. He was drafted 5th. I'm not a complicated man. I like the confidence, that's all there is to it. Life in the NFL is stupid hard, and it takes a delusional mindset to manage the day-to-day. That... plus the Jets are probably going to draft him (Parcells criteria) so I'm going to root for him as they lose in historic fashion.

For those who are fans of the 1989 film Glory, it's like that. We all know the New York Jets are going to be buried in some sort of pile when it's all said and done but at least maybe they found a Col. Robert Shaw to lead the doomed charge.

3.08 Devin Knotts - Jordan Lasley - Look, Jordan Lasley's off the field issues are well-documented having been suspended from UCLA multiple times. The truth of the matter is though, without these off-the-field issues, he is a first-round pick in my mind. Lasley has the ball skills and the speed to be a reliable deep threat. I view Lasley as a Nelson Agholor type receiver with better ball skills than Agholor. If he can stay on the field, he can produce in a major way. Lasley was the clear MVP of UCLA last year and has upside that very few players have this late in the draft.

3.07 Bob Henry - Bo Scarborough - At this point in the draft I'm looking at Scarborough's physicality and pedigree and hoping the landing spot maximizes his potential with his pro team. As a former 5-star back out of HS, Scarborough has been setback by injuries, but he goes to the pros with plenty of gas in his tank after splitting the workload throughout his tenure at Alabama with other 5-star backs. I still feel like he could be a better player in the NFL than what he's shown over the long haul in college. He flashed brilliantly in 2016, but again, that didn't quite materialize into a breakout 2017 or boost his draft stock. At the end of the day, there are questions about his game that need to be answered. I believe he has the ability to contribute at the next level, which makes him a solid value in my eyes as a third rounder.

3.06 Stephen Holloway - Equanimeous St. Brown - He has an intriguing combination of size and speed. He is 6’-5” and ran a 4.48 40-yard dash. He was the top receiver for the Irish in 2016, with Kizer at quarterback. His production went south last year as their quarterback play declined. Some pundits question his desire so that will be a question going forward. Glad to get him this late.

3.05 Daniel Simpkins – Chris Warren III - Thoughts: At this point in the draft, I want to take shots at guys that can exponentially increase in value if they hit. Chris Warren III fits that profile for me. He’s big at 247 pounds, but he’s agile for his size. He has vision, maintains balance through contact, the ability to cut in tight spaces, and really good burst. He was very miscast in the offense in Texas and given the chance at the NFL level, I think he has feature back potential. He’s projected for day three of the draft, but should he go any earlier, my interest in him will be all the more piqued.

3.04 James Brimacombe - Deon Cain - I thought about digging deep here and going with my sleeper pick in Darren Carrington out of Oregon/Utah, but I played it somewhat safe with Deon Cain. Cain has the rare combination of size and speed that you are looking for when trying to take a stab at a WR in a rookie draft. His strengths out weight his weaknesses as he is a physical receiver that is not afraid to go after the ball in the air and has been known to make tough catches in traffic and near the boundary. He is a great gamble in the third round of rookie drafts as his floor is that of a WR2 on a team, but his ceiling is that of a good NFL starter.

3.03 Jason Wood – Josh Rosen - Josh Rosen should be the 1st overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft but he won't be, for all the wrong reasons. He's political. He's opinionated. He's an atheist. As a result, the same NFL owners who look the other way when players beat women or use drugs are going to discount him relative to the other top quarterback prospects. Big mistake. Wherever Rosen lands, he'll be the starter in a year or two, max. There's nothing in his game I dislike, other than an unfortunate position at UCLA where poor coaching and recruiting kept him from living up to his early potential.

3.02 Mark Wimer – Hayden Hurst – Phew, I was afraid that Hurst wouldn't make it to me here at 3.02, but Dan went with Gesicki. Even though Hurst isn't a spring chicken (he's 25 years old due to delaying college football for a stint in the MLB minor league system) this guy has, like my first-round pick Derrius Guice, a fiery attitude and plays with a high level of intensity. As Dan noted, he is an accomplished blocker but that isn't all there is to his game - Hurst is dangerous on short, medium and long routes, is quick and athletic, and he has really excellent hands (one drop over 100 catches in college). He has good ball security while going for yards after contact, too. I think Hurst is the complete package who may reach Jason Witten-like numbers (Witten had over 1,000 yards receiving for the Cowboys in four seasons during 2007-2012 at the height of his career - and that stretch of his career began when he was 25 years old...). 90-some catches and 1,000ish yards in a season worth of potential here at 3.02 is an excellent value.

3.01 Dan Hindery – Mike Gesicki. I like the top tier of tight ends (Goedert, Gesicki, and Hurst) in this class more than the mid-round wide receivers. While Hurst probably gets picked earlier than Gesicki in the NFL draft because he's a better blocker, I like Gesicki's fantasy upside just a bit more due to his speed and ability to go up high and make plays in the red zone.

2.12 Jeff Haseley – Anthony Miller – Miller is quickly becoming my favorite rising player in the entire draft. There are a few negatives to his dynasty value, but the rest is all positive. He'll turn 24 during the 2018 season and at 5'11 and 190 pounds he doesn't have ideal height or weight for the position, but neither did Marvin Harrison or Antonio Brown. What does make Miller a worthy receiver and someone to consider in rookie drafts is his drive, energy, relentless work ethic and knowledge of the game. Miller is a former walk-on at Memphis who worked his way up to the best receiver on the team and eventually the most decorated receiver in Memphis history with school records in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and receptions. He is arguably one of the best blocking receivers in the draft and his play speaks volumes. Being able to land Miller at pick 2.12 is a huge surprise and one that I welcomed. I sprinted up to the podium with this pick. If he lands on a team with an established offense and signal caller, he could make an immediate impact in year one.

2.11 Justin Howe - Nyheim Hines - This NFL Draft is exceptionally top-heavy, and the well of guys we can project to early workloads runs dry fairly quickly. In my eyes, there's little truly projectable greatness beyond 2.06 or so. That's why I'm stabbing at upside here with Hines, who I think boasts a better chance to be seeing NFL touches 5+ years from now than a handful of RBs already taken. Hines is smallish and didn't carry the running load at North Carolina State until 2017, but he spent his early career as a dynamic pass game specialist. He's truly dangerous as a receiver, not merely because he's a great athlete, but because he's polished in downfield routes and willing in protection. I think he'll draw a Round 3 (or even late 2) NFL pick, and even if he slips, his diverse skillset and special teams value should land him solidly on a roster. In my eyes, this is arguably the best ceiling play left on the board, and I'll have Hines everywhere this year.

2.10 Jeff Tefertiller – John Kelly – The forgotten running back who played very well last year on a poor Tennessee offense.  He is a tough runner between the tackles and offers good receiving ability out of the backfield.  Kelly could see his stock jump to the late first round if he lands in a good situation.

2.09 Matt Bitonti - Kallen Ballage - I seriously considered John Kelly from Tennessee, who went one pick later. If I had gone with another position here and went RB in round-3 those targets would be Ito Smith, Southern Miss and Akrum Wadley, Iowa. As for Ballage, he is a straight-line size/speed prospect (89% SPARQ) who doesn't have special field vision or elusiveness. He probably won't make a Pro Bowl, but he can do many things well including staying on the field for 3rd down and return kicks. The Pro comp is Rashad Jennings. I'm not in love with the pick, to be honest, but that's how it goes in the FBG mock, we are swimming with sharks.

2.08 Devin Knotts - Sam Darnold - To get a potential 10-year starter in the NFL at 2.08 is a gift. Darnold is the only quarterback who feels safe in this draft as all the other quarterbacks have glaring questions. Darnold did have turnover issues in college, but Phillip Rivers who Darnold is being compared to also had interception issues in college. The two best spots for Darnold to land are Cleveland or with the Giants, as both have receiving talent that should help him transition to the NFL compared to the Jets or Bills which both lack receiving options which would make it difficult for a quarterback to succeed immediately.

2.07 Bob Henry - Dante Pettis - I was leaning towards a quarterback here (Darnold) as a somewhat safe pick with a seemingly high floor, but just as I started to type I couldn't resist the urge to go receiver again and nab what could be the best player of the entire group at a spot where his value could be exceedingly strong.

Pettis is an elite athlete and a fairly polished receiver coming into the league. He's also arguably the most dynamic, elite returner at his position in the past several years. I love his functional speed, separation and ability to make people miss and run right by them.

Given my current rankings, Pettis jumped out at me when this pick came and he's easily the best value and the highest ceiling guy left. That's saying something considering the pedigree of the QBs remaining.

2.06 Stephen Holloway - D. J. Chark - Chark is my top-ranked player on the board at this point. Perhaps some may consider this a reach, but if you watch much SEC football, you know how poorly the quarterback play has been at LSU during Chark’s playing days and well beyond. A gifted athlete who is a better receiver than believed.

2.05 Daniel Simpkins – Lamar Jackson - Thoughts: Usually, no matter where I am in a draft, someone that I valued higher than my current pick falls to me. I have to say that hasn’t happened in this one. The guys ahead of me did a fantastic job of mopping up all the value. I’m especially mad at Justin Howe Justin for grabbing one of my favorites in Royce Freeman at 1.12 and James Brimacombe James for sniping Christian Kirk at 2.04. That’s why I’m going to go with the top quarterback on my board with this pick, which is Lamar Jackson. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Baker Mayfield will likely go before Jackson in the Draft, which in turn will probably have them going ahead of him in fantasy drafts. Knowing that, if I were in a real draft, I would try to trade down, get some additional capital, and still take Jackson a little later. Since I can't do that in this one, I'm going to take him here. Don't get me wrong - those other quarterbacks I mentioned will have value, but Jackson is the one I feel has the best fantasy upside. I love how Jackson can throw off platform and has the arm strength to sling it, even on the run. The ability to burn defenders with his legs reminds me very much of Michael Vick in his prime. The great thing is, I think Jackson has a better processor upstairs than Vick ever did. Jackson has gotten better in his college journey in the areas of keeping his eyes downfield, sliding to avoid pressure in the pocket, and pass placement. With the right team fit, Jackson could be the next Russel Wilson or Aaron Rodgers in terms of being a perennial top-five fantasy scorer.

2.04 James Brimacombe - Christian Kirk - There was a time when Christian Kirk was actually the top prospect at the position by many and since others have emerged ahead of him. He doesn't have the size that many would like at just 5'11" but he makes up for it with his route running, good hands, and ability to run after the catch. He has big-play ability surrounding his name with 7 kickoff returns for touchdowns while at Texas A&M and 26 receiving touchdowns in three seasons.

2.03 Jason Wood – Michael Gallup - Gallup didn't have the benefit of strong quarterback play, yet his physical abilities and his attacking mentality allowed him to overcome that deficiency in the eyes of savvy talent scouts. In what's a deep but flat receiver class, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Gallup sits 5th in my personal receiver rankings and if he lands in the right situation, he could be an immediate starter.

2.02 Mark Wimer – Josh Allen – I know that fantasy QB is not a trendy pick early in the second round, but as I wrote in the last edition of the FBG rookie Mock Draft I am a huge fan of Josh Allen and his upside potential as an NFL starter. Yes, he is more of a "Gunslinger" type quarterback who goes for the long ball - but that is exactly the kind of NFL QB who can help you win weekly matchups and league championships. I see him as a potential Brett Favre 2.0 - some weeks there will be multiple interceptions to deal with, but a lot of weeks there will be multiple long TDs to benefit from - so here I go Allen and feel set up at #1 running back and #1 quarterback for the foreseeable future after the first two rounds of this draft.

2.01 Dan Hindery – Dallas Goedert - At the top of the second, I’ll roll the dice a bit on Goedert ending up in a favorable situation. Landing with a top quarterback and in a pass-heavy system is especially important for tight ends. Goedert could rocket up rookie draft boards if he goes off the board late in the first round to a potent offensive team like the Saints. He has first-round talent and could quickly become one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the NFL.

1.12 Jeff Haseley - Kerryon Johnson - At 6'0, 212 pounds, Kerryon Johnson has ideal size to be a three-down running back in the NFL. He has excellent patience when running, often waiting for blocks to develop before bursting through the line, not dissimilar to Le'Veon Bell. While his receiving skills are not on the same elite level as Bell, he has shown the ability to excel as a receiver when given the opportunity. He has a bag full of tools that make him an exciting prospect. He runs below pad level, can be elusive when necessary and is capable of attacking the line and moving the pile. Ball security is not a big issue but pass protection tendencies may curb his ability to start from the beginning. Landing spot is a key factor for rookie running backs, but I feel Johnson is a player who can play an immediate role for a team with the potential to have fantasy appeal in year one.

1.11 Justin Howe - Royce Freeman - Freeman is sliding into Round 2 of many rookie mocks, thanks to the perception that he's simply not on par with the top running back tier. (Well, the top sub-Barkley tier. No one's on par with Barkley.) But why? He was solidly productive at Oregon, locking down more than half the Ducks' wide-open running game over his career and improving across the board in his final year, a great sign. He caught 79 balls over 4 years, showing willingness and strong technique in pass protection. And he showed well at the combine, with a good 40 and great agility numbers for a 234-pound back. At this stage, I don't see him as a markedly lower rookie/dynasty asset than Sony Michel or Nick Chubb; draft position will ultimately tell the tale. There's a solid chance Freeman winds up somewhere like Tampa Bay or Indianapolis, leading an ascending backfield and producing a Kareem Hunt-like debut season.

1.10 Jeff Tefertiller – James Washington – While many like Washington better than I, he is a steal in the late first round.  The Oklahoma State star offers good route running and the ability to get vertical against every defensive back he faced in college. 

1.09 Matt Bitonti - DJ Moore - Fantasy is often about opportunity. Seeing the run on RB's, decided to take a chance at a different position. Moore had a good combine. He recorded a vertical leap of 39.5 inches and ran a 4.42 second 40-yard-dash. Stefon Diggs went to the same Maryland program in 2015 and had similar testing numbers. Mike Mayock compared him to Golden Tate, which is another appropriate pro comparison for Moore's skill set. He has to work on his route running but he seems to be a natural play-maker.

1.08 Devin Knotts – Calvin Ridley – No, Ridley did not run well at the NFL Combine, but his speed and play-making ability were on display for his collegiate career.  Ridley is a tactician at the receiver position and was able to beat several NFL corners deep. 

1.07 Bob Henry - Courtland Sutton - As Jason mentioned earlier, the RB class is insanely talented and deep, so it wouldn't be far-fetched for me to go Kerryon Johnson here to mark seven straight backs at the top of the board. It was a close call, but my #1 overall receiver on the board, the value is too strong to look away. Sutton's size, athleticism, and power forward-like skills have me excited about his potential as a legitimate #1 receiver in the NFL. He's not a can't miss prospect, but I like his chances of becoming a team's go-to redzone option and developing into an upper-tier WR in the mold of Alshon Jeffery or better.

1.06 Stephen Holloway - Rashaad Penny - Good size running back with decent speed and agility. Some questions about big statistics from a smaller school. Penny was not an effective blocker and not used much as a receiver. It seems that great athletes with desire can easily overcome perceived collegiate short-comings. Will he have the drive and coaching to add to his impressive running skills? I considered Sutton, but Penny was the choice.

1.05 Daniel Simpkins – Nick Chubb - Thoughts: Pinch me— I must be dreaming! I can’t believe I’m getting Chubb at 1.05. It won’t happen in most rookie drafts, but there may be a few like this one where Chubb slips through to 1.04 or 1.05. I actually prefer Chubb to Guice, who is locked in at 1.02 in most drafts. Chubb has more natural pass catching ability than Guice from what I have been able to ascertain in my film study. That’s an important difference in a PPR format.

In terms of traits Chubb has that really stand out, I would list three: 1. Supreme patience as a runner. 2. He is able to keep his balance through contact. 3. Chubb is able to flip his hips and create bad angles for defensive pursuers. Also, Chubb seems to be fully healthy from his knee injury in 2016, so that’s not a concern for me the way it may be for other drafters. Let’s see where he and Guice land, but on talent considerations alone, I would rather own Chubb.

1.04 James Brimacombe - Ronald Jones - After Barkley and Guice, this year’s rookie drafts can go any which way as there are no clear-cut options as to who has the best talent at the top. Ronald Jones has had mixed results from the draft community, but for that reason, you can get him much later in rookie drafts currently. If I had the option to move down in the first round at 1.04 I would so I could try to land Jones a few picks down the board, but I do prefer him over the wide receivers and Nick Chubb and the remaining running backs. Jones keeps getting the Jamaal Charles comparisons and looks to be the type of player that will be a playmaker and even on limited touches could give you a big fantasy day any Sunday. I suspect if he lands with the Colts or the Bucs that he will fault up the rookie draft board.

Jones has adequate size to be a full-time ball carrier with good dexterity and elusiveness to command 15 carries a game. Many liken him to a Jamaal Charles comparison with the frame and flowing dreadlocks to boot. His receiving prowess isn't as refined as Charles', but that could improve with experience and coaching. A hamstring injury from the combine may push him down the draft ranks, which makes him an ideal mid-late round selection in rookie drafts.

1.03 Jason Wood - Sony Michel – I'm sure it's no surprise seeing a Georgia Bulldog at this pick, but it may surprise many to see my choice of Michel over Chubb. Let me be clear, I see the running back class as otherworldly and could easily justify selecting Chubb with this spot, but I have to pick one and so I'm opting for Michel. Michel gets the nod, for me, because his game evokes what's en vogue with the league's best offensive coordinators. He's got the size and strength to handle inside run plays, but he is equally adept out in space and as a receiver. His versatility makes him more likely to succeed regardless of destination. My enthusiasm for Michel does presume he cuts down on turnovers -- a problem that plagued him in the SEC.

1.02 Mark Wimer - Derrius Guice – Here at 1.02, I have to go with Guice. He has the fiery attitude that helps rookie prospects thrive and he looks like a player who will successfully make the transition to the NFL level after competing in the ultra-tough SEC in college (LSU). He should be an impact player from week 1 in the regular season wherever he winds up playing due to the vagaries of the draft/the likelihood of trades during the draft process. I like him best among the remaining running back prospects.

1.01 Dan Hindery – Saquon Barkley – The no-brainer pick. The more interesting question is where he ranks overall in the dynasty landscape. I already see Barkley as a top-6 overall dynasty asset. It would take a monster trade package for me to even consider moving the 1.01.

Thank you for reading.  Footballguys will have dynasty content of all types throughout the offseason.

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