A few notes before I get into this list:
- I watched at least two games (condensed into all-snap highlights) for all of the first round QBs, but QB is the hardest position to evaluate and the one that requires the most time commitment, so I feel like I still don't have a great handle on those guys. Mainly I am going with the party line at that position, and not moving anything around too radically. I'm not the guy to ask for a lot of insights on the finer points of these QBs.
- These rankings are for standard PPR and non-PPR formats where RB/WR positions are emphasized. If you are in a league that lends added weight to another position like TE or QB, you will have to think about how that might change the equation.
- Overall, I felt this class lacked true marquee talent at the top. However, it's deep with viable QB prospects and has some day 2-3 players with a pulse. I'm sure it will yield a fair share of strong FF contributors. The third tier is the most interesting spot to me, as it features a variety of interesting talents who don't carry a huge price tag. There's most likely some great value to be mined there if you can pick the right players.
- The trend in the NFL is obviously towards specialists and players who can add value-over-replacement with chunk plays, which is reflected in this population of players. In particular it's an odd WR class that lacks conventional outside X receiver types, but offers a variety of smaller gadget and hybrid weapons. It's the year of the chess piece.
1. WR Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins - His tape is better than Chase's, so he's my WR1. Waddle is like a human joystick, with instant speed, agility, and acceleration. ELITE athleticism. One of the most explosive and sudden WRs you will see. He can burn people down field, but also shed coverage and tacklers in small windows with his top tier quickness. Think of him as an even better version of TY Hilton. I call him the WR version of Darren Sproles because he's the smallest guy on the field, but also the most athletic. The only limitation on his game is size and durability. He's shorter than ideal and relatively light. What kind of workload can he handle at 182 pounds? He should thrive, though he may end up as more of a WR2 in FF terms than a WR1 depending on target volume. Without size, he doesn't automatically project as someone who can handle 140+ targets.
2. RB Najee Harris, Steelers - He's an easy evaluation. High-floor prospect with a mid-level ceiling. The B+ version of Steven Jackson. Above average size coupled with quality speed, cutting ability, and receiving skills. You know what you're getting here: a reliable three down player who can step in and handle a high volume of touches from year one. A lot of big backs struggle with agility, but Harris plays on a swivel and has pretty good feet and hips for a taller back (not elite, but good enough). He's not a generational talent or a special prospect, but he projects to be a solid starter at a position of high value in most FF formats. The role itself is valuable. Consider him as high as 1.01 depending on team needs and league format.
3. TE Kyle Pitts, Falcons - He's a 6'6" WR with TE eligibility. Pitts is very athletic and mobile, with rare vertical speed for a TE. He was a big play waiting to happen in college, and a lot of that should translate to the next level. He'll be a seam threat with exceptional RAC ability and strong red zone value. In terms of negatives, he runs a bit pigeon-toed and can get caught up in his routes sometimes, so defenders may be able to frustrate him in the short-intermediate game with tight coverage. The other glaring issue is that TE is a tertiary position in most FF leagues. If you spend a top 3-4 rookie pick on Pitts, you need him to become a Gonzo/Gronk/Kittle type of producer to justify the price tag, and there's always some risk that he won't hit that ceiling. Prospects usually don't become the best version of who we think they can be. Moreover, you can typically find high-ceiling TEs late in a rookie draft (i.e. Gronk/Graham/Kelce/Kittle/Witten), so it may not be maximizing the value of your picks to select a TE this high. I would compare Pitts to a pre-injury Tyler Eifert, another athletic TE who was quick enough to be split out wide and win against defensive backs in 1v1 situations. Injuries derailed Eifert's career, but Pitts can become a better version of him. He might be the best skill position prospect in this draft, but low positional value makes him a questionable choice over Waddle or Harris. You'd need him to become an all-timer.
4. WR Ja'Marr Chase, Bengals - When a team drafts a WR in the top 5, they are saying he's a special talent and likely Pro Bowler. I can't say Chase is a guaranteed bust, but I found his tape slightly underwhelming for a player with such a lofty reputation. He has an atypical, squatty frame for the position. He lacks elite open field agility and has a questionable vertical push off the line of scrimmage, often wearing a lot of coverage. He lacks elite body control and suddenness. Hindsight is 20/20 now that we've seen Justin Jefferson thrive in the NFL, but when you watch them side by side at LSU, Jefferson is the more elastic, explosive, and agile athlete. Chase is more compact and powerful, relying on solid break point separation and physicality to generate production. He has some other things going in his favor. He was a prolific stat machine in college. He tested well at his pro day. Perhaps more importantly, all of his film is from the 2019 season, so we haven't really seen him play lately. What we saw in 2019 may not be the maxed out version of Chase. The lofty draft spot also can't completely be ignored. Still, my sense is that he's closer to a Golden Tate type of player than a truly elite WR prospect. Squatty straight-line bull with toughness and burst. Not a top tier Pro Bowl type though. I feel more comfortable with the other options in the top 4 and would be inclined to trade out of Chase and let someone else see what they have.
5. WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles - Immensely productive. Mobile, loose, and has a real vertical burst. Quality route runner with good position-specific skills. The elephant in the room is more like the flamingo in the room in his case: he's painfully skinny at 6'0" and just 170 pounds. Can he hold up in the NFL? Will cornerbacks be able to smother him? I tend to be more comfortable with prospects who fit a well-defined mold than with players who are unprecedented, and I've never seen a WR as skinny as Smith with the same play style. Even Marvin Harrison and Calvin Ridley were significantly heavier. Ridley is the most logical comparison for Smith given size/play style/draft slot/alma mater. He has become a good pro and that bodes well for Smith's chances, but Smith is a unique proposition. Hard to classify. From a skill standpoint, I like what I see. The rail thin frame adds a significant layer of risk though. It could be a Paul Richardson type of situation where he's just never able to stay on the field.
6. RB Trey Sermon, 49ers - A nice synergy of talent and situation. Sermon isn't an elite back and probably doesn't have the ceiling to supernova in the NFL, but he has a well-rounded skill set and should push Mostert for a starting role as a rookie. Sermon has decent size and adequate quickness, with added value as serviceable receiving option out of the backfield. In terms of body type and play style, he's a poor man's Adrian Peterson. He has a similar frame, but lacks the elite wheels and evasiveness. His agility is not bad, but not special. He should be a useful starter in the NFL. Long-term, there's some risk that he gets Kerryon'd by a better talent because he's not sensational, merely solid.
7. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars - The hype and college career might have you thinking he's an Andrew Luck level QB prospect, but my sense is that he's closer to Eli Manning or Matt Ryan, albeit more athletic than either. Seemingly a high-floor QB prospect with a quality ceiling. He's tall and fast, though he's not Cam or Lamar from an athleticism standpoint. You'd want him in the pocket in the NFL, not running often. He's decisive and accurate, keeping his eyes active when forced to run. The arm strength looks good to me and he generally makes good decisions. He's an experienced player with a long track record of elite production against quality opposition. However, he'll sometimes throw off his back foot when pressured. With four other QBs selected in the first round and several more on day two, it's likely that one of them will end up being better than Lawrence in the long run. Still, he seems to be a quality franchise QB prospect with a high floor. You can take him as high as #5 in standard formats if you have acute QB needs. Also a strong option in superflex and QB-premium leagues, but his tape fell a little short of wowing me.
8. RB Travis Etienne, Jaguars - This is a low ranking for Etienne, but I don't see him becoming a reliable franchise back in the NFL. He's a bursty home run threat who lacks consistency, agility, and functional power. He is not a natural or smooth RB. Questionable feet. He's a one-cut-and-go sprinter who takes a lot of punishment and struggles to create in the second level of the defense. Elite speed is enough to dominate in college, but the windows are smaller in the NFL, so cutting ability and elusiveness are stressed to a much greater degree. Etienne is sub par in these categories and projects as a Duke Johnson type on Sundays. His chunk play potential and versatility may explain his high draft slot. He presents value-over-replacement in these areas, but his overall game is lacking to become a true lead back. If you are in position to draft him and your dynasty team has RB needs, I would look into trade possibilities for Edwards-Helaire, Josh Jacobs, or Mixon. They are ranked in similar territory on overall dynasty RB lists, but offer more talent than Etienne. I'm fading Etienne at his market value. Avoid.
9. RB Javonte Williams, Broncos - The Broncos RB spot has a been a graveyard for overrated mediocre RB prospects in recent years. Will Williams become another Devontae Booker or Royce Freeman, an early pick who yields disappointing returns? He has good size and straight-line burst. His reputation is as a tough, competitive runner. When I watched his clips, I felt he had some clear limitations. He lacks true agility and is clearly inferior to his college teammate Michael Carter in terms of cutting ability and elusiveness. You don't see him weaving through traffic or making a lot of great cuts in the second level. Instead he looks to break everything to the outside and rely on his linear speed. He's faster than quick, reminiscent of someone like DeMarco Murray or Leonard Fournette in that regard. Once he reaches full speed, he struggles to throttle down or redirect his momentum. I think he'll have a chance to be a productive starter if his team can highlight his positive traits (straight-line speed, momentum) and minimize his weaknesses (agility, creating in small windows). I would say he's unlikely to become an elite pro back though, and will be vulnerable to replacement. Given the nature of FF leagues, he'll be a coveted asset if he has a strong rookie year, which is possible, but I don't see enduring starter talent, so I'm ranking him lower than where most probably have him. Overrated and overdrafted, but has short-term boom potential by virtue of opportunity.
10. WR Elijah Moore, Jets - I think he's essentially Brandin Cooks-lite. He's not quite as sudden in his routes as Cooks was and that may be why he fell further in the draft, but he has a similar frame and does some similar things. Fast. He can get vertical and is also a dangerous open field runner due more to his high end speed than his average quickness. He's not a naturally elusive player, but his sheer speed makes him a RAC threat on short throws and crossing patterns. Route running is just okay and he's a little undersized to handle a heavy workload. That could lead to Cooks-like issues down the road with big hits and durability. Still, I like his tape and think he can be a 1000 yard receiver in the NFL. He's the best WR talent on the Jets and even if they go out and get an elite #1 in the future, Moore will be a dangerous complementary piece. Not an elite prospect, but a solid value around the 10-12 range of rookie drafts as a possible long-term WR2-WR3 for your FF team.
11. WR Kadarius Toney, Giants - He's the second best athlete in this WR class behind Waddle. Very elastic and smooth in his movement. Fluid and sudden. Adequate size to play outside. The issue is that his usage makes it difficult to project exactly what he'll be on Sundays. Like Jalen Reagor last year, you don't quite know what you're getting. He did a lot of work out of the slot at Florida, which makes it hard to evaluate his ability to thrive as an outside receiver. Purely as a slot, he doesn't have "wow" speed or figure to be a high volume target. Essentially what you have here is a ball of clay, an athletic project that the Giants will try to develop into a receiver. You could compare him to former Gator Percy Harvin in that regard, but Harvin was a more explosive athlete and flashed more pure WR skill in college. A player like Cordarrelle Patterson illustrates the risk of these athlete types. Sometimes they never develop into more than a gadget player/return man (although Patterson had a very different body type + movement compared to Toney). Still, Toney is athletic enough to justify a gamble relatively early. The Giants spent a high pick on him and have a barren WR situation, so he'll have an opportunity to thrive. He'll add value in year one as a chess piece. From there, his ceiling will be determined by whether he can become more than just a dynamic situational threat.
12. WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens - Sneaky linear speed. Apparently he tested in the high 4.3 range. I wouldn't say he's a burner on film, but he can get vertical. It's one of his better qualities. His size is merely okay. He's on the lean side. More of a technician than someone who's going to overwhelm people with athleticism. There's some tightness in his lateral movement. There are shades of Justin Jefferson in terms of body type and play style, but he's not that fluid or athletic. I'll make a comparison to younger Robert Woods. Both are leaner, technical finesse WRs who lack any one single elite trait, but thrive with decent athleticism and crisp routes. Woods has gradually become a productive NFL player, but it took many years to reach that level. He was mostly anonymous when he was in Buffalo. Bateman doesn't have the "wow" talent to dominate on a mediocre team and the Baltimore offense is not known to be WR-friendly, so you could be looking at several 500-700 yard seasons before you can even figure out what you have. I don't hate him as a prospect, but I'm not super excited about the overall synergy of talent and situation. Feels like a guy who could plateau as an 800 yard WR without a favorable system/situation to prop him up.
13. QB Zach Wilson, Jets - A slightly different style compared to Lawrence. He's shorter and more compact, but mobile and active. His play style reminds of Baker Mayfield. He's a good athlete. I thought his arm looked solid, but some sources question his deep ball velocity. The level of competition is also slight concern, as he wasn't facing many great teams. He often had a lot of time to throw the ball, but in the NFL the clock will be faster and the pressure will be greater. The overall vibe I get from the tape and other scouting sources is somewhere in the Romo/Mayfield territory as an accurate, intelligent QB with sneaky mobility to buy time and create openings.
14. QB Trey Lance, 49ers - Elite frame and very good athleticism. He's big and straight-line fast (not elusive though). Strong arm. It feels lazy to compare him to Kaepernick just because the 49ers drafted him, but there are undeniable similarities. Both are tall and mobile, but inconsistent as pure passers. In the games I watched, Lance struggled with ball placement. Questionable accuracy. His level of competition can be seen as both a positive and a negative. He never got to prove himself against elite opposition, yet the fact that the 49ers were still willing to pay a premium to draft him third overall indicates an extremely optimistic assessment of his long-term value. Lance is a project who will require some patience, but the potential payoff is high and in a few years you could be looking at a high level FF starter. Seemingly the boom-or-bust pick of the top three QBs. If you have strong QB needs, you can take Lance and Wilson 4-5 spots higher than where I have them here, but the position is devalued in many leagues.
15. QB Justin Fields, Bears - Might be the best pure athlete of all the QBs. He's built solid, but also has very good mobility. An ideal physical talent for the position. He makes some great throws and had gaudy stats in college. In terms of negatives, his field recognition seemed questionable at times. He also became panicky against the pass rush, with the instinct to tuck the ball and take off running rather than trying to keep the pass play alive. Considered by most evaluators to be a slow processor, which could lead to issues with sacks and interceptions. Like Lance, a boom-or-bust project with a high ceiling. If you already have a strong QB1 in place, consider Fields as a cheaper dart throw once the top 3 QBs come off the board, as he'd be a good QB2 to stash for the potential upside.
16. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions - A gritty chain-mover. He's been on my radar since his freshman season at USC. I had him as a day two talent going into the NCAA season, and he ended up going at the top of day 3. His lack of any one single elite trait may be part of why he slipped. St. Brown is merely average in terms of size and speed. He's not going to be an elite vertical threat. He's similar to former Trojan JuJu Smith-Schuster in terms of route suddenness and fluidity, but lacks the size or RAC skills. There's nothing really special here. There's no "wow" factor to his game, but I would bet on him finding some type of niche in the NFL. He's a natural football player who can do the dirty work in the short-intermediate game as a second or third option. Good route running and toughness. The best version of what he can be is someone like Adam Thielen, but you have to factor some long-term JAG risk into the equation, given draft slot and ordinary size/speed.
17. WR Rondale Moore, Cardinals - A tough FF asset to gauge because he's a pure slot WR. He's only 5'7" and doesn't look like someone who will ever be lining up outside. However, I liked his tape and think he's a high end slot prospect. Productive player with good play strength, movement, and burst. A good chain mover with occasional big play potential (he's not going to be Tyreek Hill though). There are no major warts. He should be a useful player for Arizona. The question is whether or not the volume will be there to make him relevant in FF leagues. We've seen some slot receivers like Cole Beasley and Wes Welker have significant FF value in recent years. Arizona seems like a team that may want to air it out and rack up a lot of pass attempts, which bodes well for Moore's chances. You may be looking at a lot of 4/40 and 5/50 type of weeks with a player like this. Potentially a nice PPR option, whose upside will ultimately hinge on usage.
18. RB Michael Carter, Jets - Athletic. He's a better athlete than Javonte Williams, with better agility and cuts. Don't be totally surprised if he ends up having a better pro career. Carter is one of the only backs in this draft who can make sharp lateral cuts at high speed, and that can be a very valuable skill set in the NFL. The questions involve size and consistency. He's only 200 pounds, built approximately the same as someone like Ameer Abdullah or Jerick McKinnon. Like those two backs, he lacks sheer bulk and runs with marginal power. This type of smaller, hyper athletic back sometimes struggles to transition to a full-time role, and that's the real risk with Carter. I'm pretty confident that he has the run talent to be a useful NFL player, but I don't know if he's going to be able to transition into a starting position. McKinnon and Abdullah have hung around the NFL for years without ever really being startable. Another comparison is Chase Edmonds, who has flirted with FF relevance the last few years without yet taking the next step. I like Carter and would happily roll the dice on him for a 2nd round rookie pick, but anything higher would be too risky.
19. WR Josh Palmer, Chargers - The biggest enigma in this WR class. Despite playing four seasons in a major program (Tennessee), he never topped 500 receiving yards in a single season. That's concerning. Is he an underutilized hidden gem or an underachiever? He flashes interesting potential at times, as a big body WR with good break point separation skills. He is sudden out of his plants and has the frame to shield the ball from DBs at the catch point. Some of the stuff he does is reminiscent of NFL success stories like DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas, and there's a sense that maybe his best football is in front of him. The Chargers invested a relatively early pick on him and have a spotty WR corps, so there could be an opportunity to impact within a year or two. Palmer is a risky home run swing as an FF asset, but I like the value and potential at his modest ADP.
20. WR Terrace Marshall, Panthers - On paper, he's very light for his height, but he has a solid base and may be able to accommodate more bulk without the loss of speed. A three year collegiate, he's younger than most of this WR class. Solid athlete. Smooth on the field, but not the route runner that Jefferson was in the same system. Speed is good, but not "wow" level. A work-in-progress with a limited ceiling, but can become a system-dependent WR2 in the NFL.
21. WR D'Wayne Eskridge, Seahawks - Vertical threat. His best attribute is his speed. He can run by people and is a constant big play threat. While not tall, he's built relatively solid and shouldn't have obvious problems with durability. He may be a little underrated by virtue of attending a low profile program (Western Michigan). He's not without faults though. A 5 year collegiate, he's probably a maxed out physical talent. He lacks height and has a small catch radius. His hands can be inconsistent. He is more straight-line fast than elusive, though his speed threatens defensive backs and helps him create separation on a variety of routes. Perhaps the biggest immediate issue is that he goes to a Seahawks team that has DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett locked into multi-year contracts already. Even an elite QB like Wilson may struggle to sustain startable production for 3 WRs, so the most likely short-term scenario for Eskridge is being a boom-or-bust lid lifter who catches a few bombs per season without really having reliable FF value. There's a route to a DeSean Jackson type of long-term upside, but it's not a guarantee and you will have to be patient.
22. RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots - Bowling ball type. Surprisingly light on his feet. For a guy with terrible combine numbers, his tape is not bad. He has more athleticism than the numbers would suggest. He can pick through traffic and make some decent cuts. Sometimes he gets caught up in his own legs and struggles to redirect, but he's not a total plodder. Big backs with mobility typically translate well to the NFL, but there may be a ceiling on what this type of back can become. I'm thinking of people like LenDale White and LeGarrette Blount. You could look at Eddie Lacy's first few years with the Packers as an optimistic best-case scenario. If a team commits to Stevenson, he can produce. Damien Harris is probably a more talented overall back though, so it's unclear what Stevenson's role will look like out of the box. My sense is that he will be a useful power back who is capable of thriving in spurts. A worthy stash at his ADP. He's more talented than most 4th round RBs. Think of him as Blount 2.0 for New England.
23. WR Nico Collins, Texans - 15-20 years ago, he might have been a first round pick. He presents something different and unique in this WR class: a jumbo deep threat who specializes in the jump ball. There was a time when 6'3"+ WRs were all the rage in the league, but lately it seems that speed and quickness are more coveted than height. Collins has modest burst off the line and average quickness. He is fluid, but not sudden. He cannot reliably separate on short-intermediate routes. That's why he's not a safe projection as a productive starter. He specializes in galloping downfield and using his height/length/strength to sky for the deep throw. He would've fit well with a QB like Ben Roethlisberger who can utilize deep threats effectively (Burress, Wallace). In a system that caters to his strengths, it's not impossible for him to be a 1000+ yard WR. However, he presents some limitations in the possession game that may cap his potential.
24. QB Mac Jones, Patriots - Off the charts production, albeit with a sensational supporting cast. He's above average as a pure passer compared his peers in this draft, but he's also regarded as a limited athlete with a lower ceiling. Vulnerable to pressure. The comparison I've seen is Kirk Cousins, and that seems to fit in terms of talent level and play style. Look for him to become a mid-level NFL starter whose athletic shortcomings prevent him from ever hitting the elite category. It's not a compelling outlook in 1QB leagues, but in superflex formats he may be a sneaky pick.
25. TE Pat Freiermuth, Steelers - A high-floor, low-ceiling two-way TE. He'll be somewhere between Kyle Rudolph and Hunter Henry in the NFL. Solid athlete and can develop into a quality possession outlet, but lacks explosiveness and big play ability. The modest ceiling makes him a lukewarm option in most FF formats.
26. WR Dyami Brown, Team - He's a Mike Wallace/Will Fuller type. One trick pony deep threat with a wispy frame. Vertically explosive, but that's basically all he provides. It's always tough to rely on this type of player, but there's a chance that he can carve out a niche.
QB Kyle Trask, Buccaneers - Regarded as a bit of a throwback to the 90s type of QB, a statuesque pocket passer with limited mobility and slow operation time. He goes to a team with experience protecting an immobile QB and a head coach with a quality history of developing QB talent, so it's not the worst landing spot. Consider him a long-term stash with modest starter potential.
QB Kellen Mond, Vikings - Inconsistent college production compared to other QBs in this class. He offers some mobility and has made strides as a passer, but is still regarded as unreliable and enigmatic with his decisions and passing ability. Given all the marquee talent in this QB class, there's no real impetus to prioritize someone like Mond, but he could get a chance as a starter in the future.
QB Davis Mills, Texans - Raw player with a high ceiling as a pocket passer. His best football may be ahead of him, but he's still a work-in-progress and will likely be on the sidelines for a while. It would actually be a good thing for him if Watson were to stick around, as it would give him time to learn. Think about him as a stash in deep leagues.
RB Chris Evans, Bengals - His film is intriguing and there are individual reps where he really looks like an NFL back. For a bigger back, he is mobile and agile. Think James Starks or Thomas Rawls. Spot starter potential if Mixon continues to have durability issues.
RB Larry Rountree, Chargers - A no-nonsense banger. I don't view Ekeler as well-suited to full-time duty and Rountree might be the favorite to win whatever carries are left over, but he's a long-term backup in all likelihood.
RB Brenden Knox, Cowboys - I was intrigued by him when I reviewed this class for last year's devy drafts. I think he was a draftable talent on day 3. Dallas got him as a UDFA and he'll have a chance to win the backup job. Compact power back with okay feet, but limited burst. David Cobb type.
WR Amari Rodgers, Packers - Squatty slot WR with a running back body type. Agile and mobile, but his explosiveness is merely good and not elite. Decent player, but I don't know if there's a big ceiling here, especially with Aaron Rodgers trending towards the exit.
WR Tutu Atwell, Rams - Tiny slot WR. A Tavon Austin type. Limitations cap his upside.
WR Tylan Wallace, Ravens - A competitive Cecil Shorts type of player or poor man's Robert Woods. Not a great ceiling, but has the talent level to become a relevant FF player as a second or third option for his NFL team. Limited athletic traits.
WR Cornell Powell, Chiefs - You can't help but notice him when you watch Trevor Lawrence's film. Powell lacks separation ability, but is a physical possession outlet. He'll be a less talented Dwayne Bowe type of player as a complementary piece in Kansas City. Getting a piece of this passing attack might be wise, and Powell could outproduce his talent by virtue of Mahomes.
WR Jalen Camp, Jaguars - The typical Georgia Tech workout freak type, like another Darren Waller. Very raw and may face an uphill battle to make a roster, but if you're going to go mining for day three WRs, he at least presents a useful ceiling.
TE Zach Davidson, Vikings - Small school project. Maybe too limited to pan out, but has a compelling blend of height and vertical explosiveness. Straight-line player. Reminiscent of a Gesicki or Jared Cook type. Reasonable flyer in TE-premium.