What's new
Fantasy Football - Footballguys Forums

Welcome to Our Forums. Once you've registered and logged in, you're primed to talk football, among other topics, with the sharpest and most experienced fantasy players on the internet.

Top 26 Rookies 2021 (1 Viewer)

EBF

Footballguy
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.

FIRST TIER

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.

SECOND TIER

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.

THIRD TIER

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.

OTHERS

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.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

travdogg

Footballguy
Great to see you did this again this year!

A few questions:

Did you look at Khalil Herbert at all? He feels like a sneaky late rounder to me, as a guy who could be a Chris Carson type late round steal. 

Love seeing you plant the flag on Waddle. Where would you have him compared to last year's guys?

Kind of seems as if you are pretty low on the class in general, think its a good year to trade rookie picks for players or future picks?

 
  • Smile
Reactions: EBF

EBF

Footballguy
Great to see you did this again this year!

A few questions:

Did you look at Khalil Herbert at all? He feels like a sneaky late rounder to me, as a guy who could be a Chris Carson type late round steal. 

Love seeing you plant the flag on Waddle. Where would you have him compared to last year's guys?

Kind of seems as if you are pretty low on the class in general, think its a good year to trade rookie picks for players or future picks?
I took a quick look at Herbert. He didn't really pop for me. With the day three guys, it often just comes down to injuries and opportunity. Players like Rountree and Evans aren't necessarily starting material either, but are capable of thriving in spurts if they get an opportunity. That's an apt description of the typical NFL backup RB. If you give them 25 touches, they can get 100 yards, but very few of them have the talent to sustain the opportunity across multiple seasons. We've seen it a million times with people like Stacy, Lindsay, Howard, etc. They play okay for a while, but then they get supplanted when a better talent shows up. It's a tough business.

Waddle was the sixth pick in the draft, so was considered a premium prospect by the league. I don't see it as a big stretch to have him as a 1.01 candidate. I was banging the drum already last summer. I think he would've been top 3 on my board last year along with CEH and Taylor. Ruggs is a decent baseline for Waddle, except Waddle is more agile than Ruggs (BTW I think Ruggs has a chance to be pretty good and is probably underrated now). Both are really fast.

I think the class is deep. There are lots of interesting prospects. I like the 2nd round rookie picks this year. If you can solve that 2nd-3rd round group of WRs, you can find value for a modest price. There's a good chance that there's a home run somewhere in that cluster. I just think the class lacks headliners. There's no Saquon or Dez Bryant where you know he's the real deal. Waddle and Pitts are close, but Pitts is a TE and Waddle has some size/workload questions. I guess I'm a little down on Chase/Smith/Toney/Etienne/Bateman compared to the level of WR/RB you usually see drafted in those slots.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

jwb

Footballguy
3. TE Kyle Pitts, Falcons -

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. 
I did take him at 3 in one league where I'm very thin at TE, but if I had a decent option there, I may have went in another direction for the reasons you outline. Seems like every year or three there's a "He's too fast for LB's, too big for DB's" TE prospect  (Eifert, Ebron, Njoku, etc) that never quite live up to the billing.

Nice work, EBF - glad you did this. 

 

Dez

Footballguy
Your too low on Williams.  Last year you were super low on Swift (10) and Akers (13).  Both those guys are going as 1st or early 2nd round startup picks.

 

EBF

Footballguy
Your too low on Williams.  Last year you were super low on Swift (10) and Akers (13).  Both those guys are going as 1st or early 2nd round startup picks.
Rookie RBs who flash potential are usually a hot commodity going into the next season, but only a fraction of them achieve sustained success. I don't see Williams as a special back. The best thing about him is that the Broncos drafted him with an early second, so they'll be incentivized to give him a lot of chances. My rankings acknowledged the possibility for a bump in value after year one. That doesn't mean his career will be anything special.

We've seen many times a RB come in, look decent in the first year, become overrated in the offseason, and ultimately flame out with a mediocre or worse career (i.e. Anthony Thomas, Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Ameer Abdullah, Jordan Howard, Julius Jones, Kevin Jones, Eddie Lacy, Leonard Fournette, etc). My rankings try to center on career value, not who will be the best trade chip in 12 months. Those are two different questions.

That said, this highlights an argument for taking Najee #1, as you know he's going to be an early startup pick next year with even a mediocre rookie season. Very good chance he'll be valued ahead of Waddle/Chase/Pitts in 12 months by virtue of immediate returns and positional demand in FF leagues. I don't think it would be a bad move to take Najee #1. He's not a generational type of talent though. In a vacuum, Waddle and Pitts are closer to a special type of talent. In terms of who fits what's coveted in FF leagues, Najee has a solid case for the 1.01. I wouldn't fault anyone for picking him.

As for Williams, numerous QB/RB/WR/TE were valued more by the NFL than him, and his tape looks mediocre to me, so I think where I have him is fair. I had other 2nd round backs like Sanders, Mixon, and Cook higher in recent years, but IMO they were more impressive prospects.

 

EBF

Footballguy
I did take him at 3 in one league where I'm very thin at TE, but if I had a decent option there, I may have went in another direction for the reasons you outline. Seems like every year or three there's a "He's too fast for LB's, too big for DB's" TE prospect  (Eifert, Ebron, Njoku, etc) that never quite live up to the billing.

Nice work, EBF - glad you did this. 
Yea, I burned some early picks on Eifert and Ebron in various leagues, and they never fully lived up to the potential. I like Pitts more as a prospect, but TE is usually a low priority slot where you can find compelling prospects in the 20-30 range of rookie drafts (i.e. Hurst, Andrews, Graham, Kelce, Gronk, etc). If you pass on Pitts, you'll surely be able to find promising TEs in future seasons. They won't carry his pedigree, but they may have similar upside.

You're aiming at a small target with Pitts because he effectively needs to become a perennial 900-1000+ yard type of TE to justify the entry price, but if anyone seems equipped to achieve that, he fits the bill. Highest TE ever drafted. Relatively close to a can't-miss talent. It's a tricky dilemma if you're sitting there on the clock in the first few picks because the RB/WR options aren't necessarily locks to give you anything.

 

King of the Jungle

Footballguy
Just like to say I love (sarcasm) reading “your too low or high on player X”. Are we not past this? Everyone has an opinion, stating your opinion as a fact is not productive to ongoing conversation in most cases. Love the work EBF, thank you for your time and effort. 

 

Tha Guru

Footballguy
Thank you for putting this together!  I agree with a lot of your assessments.  One disagreement is Chase.  I’ve made my feelings known on other threads but I’ve watched every snap of his and he will be a stud.  Chase just has “it”.  He was the best receiver on the team at 19 that included Justin Jefferson.  Burrow looked for Chase in most crucial situations because he knew Chase was a dog.  You’re betting against the odds that Waddle will be the best WR in this class imo.

 

Tha Guru

Footballguy
Just like to say I love (sarcasm) reading “your too low or high on player X”. Are we not past this? Everyone has an opinion, stating your opinion as a fact is not productive to ongoing conversation in most cases. Love the work EBF, thank you for your time and effort. 
If everyone agreed on every player what fun would this hobby be?  I fully appreciate the work he put in.  I’m just adding to the discussion why I think differently.  Sorry for not being a sheep.

 

King of the Jungle

Footballguy
If everyone agreed on every player what fun would this hobby be?  I fully appreciate the work he put in.  I’m just adding to the discussion why I think differently.  Sorry for not being a sheep.
Not my take at all….love different opinions…maybe just a pet peeve of my…when you state “your too low/high…you are stating it as a fact…maybe I am just getting old. No interest in going back and forth on this and I will shut up on this topic.

 

Bob Henry

Footballguy
Always a joy to read your top X rookies, EBF. St. Brown is one of the most interesting players for sure. The Lions seem intent to give him every opportunity to earn a big, if not, multiple role in the offense straight away. I remember him as a 5-star HS recruit, too. On the flip side, he'll need to beat Quintez Cephus for his spot. A contrast in style, but both seem to have that physicality that a coach like ole Knee Caps will favor. Great stuff.

 
  • Smile
Reactions: EBF

Shrek

Having a great season
Really great write up. Thanks, this is a lot of effort that should be recognized. Well done.

 
  • Smile
Reactions: EBF

3 hour lunch

Footballguy
Always one of my favorite threads. The inclusion of Zach Davidson is interesting, as I’m a Vikings fan and had never heard of him when they drafted him. He’s not even in the fantasypros top 100 (not that it’s a great source of info, but helps to see consensus) even though 10 rookie tight ends are listed. What about him makes you list him as a flyer and not other guys like Long, Tremble, McKitty, Jordan etc?

 

EBF

Footballguy
Thank you for putting this together!  I agree with a lot of your assessments.  One disagreement is Chase.  I’ve made my feelings known on other threads but I’ve watched every snap of his and he will be a stud.  Chase just has “it”.  He was the best receiver on the team at 19 that included Justin Jefferson.  Burrow looked for Chase in most crucial situations because he knew Chase was a dog.  You’re betting against the odds that Waddle will be the best WR in this class imo.
They took him in the top 5, so they must think he's special. I found his film underwhelming for an alleged all-world type of talent. Certainly possible that I'm wrong, but I'm higher on the other three guys in my top tier. Waddle was selected literally one spot after Chase, so we're talking the finest of margins. I'd push back on the prevalent idea that Chase is clearly ahead of him. I didn't see it that way in the summer. I don't see it that way now. Waddle smokes him for play speed and mobility, but Chase is bigger and more physical.

College production is not a perfect predictor of pro value. We've seen it many times. Alvin Kamara was so far down on the depth chart at Alabama that he had to transfer to Tennessee to get playing time. Peter Warrick was a star for Florida State. Laveranues Coles was the afterthought. Coles had three seasons of 1,000+ yards in the NFL. Warrick had zero. I try to look at the tool kit and project what the player will be in the NFL, not necessarily who he was in college. Certain skills are stressed more at the pro level, and scheme/usage are an important variable at both levels.

That's not to say it's impossible for Chase to be incredible. For me, the tape didn't quite match the reputation/draft slot. Totally possible that I'm missing something, but I'm rolling with that evaluation. The guys I ranked ahead of him are all very strong prospects too (Waddle, Pitts, Harris), so it's not like I have him behind a bunch of day three JAGs.

 

EBF

Footballguy
Always one of my favorite threads. The inclusion of Zach Davidson is interesting, as I’m a Vikings fan and had never heard of him when they drafted him. He’s not even in the fantasypros top 100 (not that it’s a great source of info, but helps to see consensus) even though 10 rookie tight ends are listed. What about him makes you list him as a flyer and not other guys like Long, Tremble, McKitty, Jordan etc?
With day three guys, usually you're looking at low-ceiling players who are drafted to fill out backup roles and special teams spots. When real talent slips through the cracks, it's sometimes because it's a small school guy who never had a chance to show his wares against top competition.

Davidson fits that mold. He went to Central Missouri, so was basically off the map in terms of scouting and level of competition. For a guy who is 6'7", he shows some interesting suddenness, vertical speed, and fluidity. It's a case where maybe if he plays for a major program like Alabama or Notre Dame and he's in the shop window every weekend on national TV, we're talking about him as a top 60 pick and not a late round flyer.

I'd generally rather roll the dice on someone like that than a player who got all the national exposure at a big program and still came up as a day three talent by the scouts. He has a better excuse for falling besides being just mediocre.

The most likely scenario with a guy like this is a Moritz Boehringer situation where he flops completely, but you're talking about zero risk for a player with a decent ceiling. Every once in a while you will hit on a prospect like this, and add a lot of value to your roster for free.

 

King of the Jungle

Footballguy
They took him in the top 5, so they must think he's special. I found his film underwhelming for an alleged all-world type of talent. Certainly possible that I'm wrong, but I'm higher on the other three guys in my top tier. Waddle was selected literally one spot after Chase, so we're talking the finest of margins. I'd push back on the prevalent idea that Chase is clearly ahead of him. I didn't see it that way in the summer. I don't see it that way now. Waddle smokes him for play speed and mobility, but Chase is bigger and more physical.

College production is not a perfect predictor of pro value. We've seen it many times. Alvin Kamara was so far down on the depth chart at Alabama that he had to transfer to Tennessee to get playing time. Peter Warrick was a star for Florida State. Laveranues Coles was the afterthought. Coles had three seasons of 1,000+ yards in the NFL. Warrick had zero. I try to look at the tool kit and project what the player will be in the NFL, not necessarily who he was in college. Certain skills are stressed more at the pro level, and scheme/usage are an important variable at both levels.

That's not to say it's impossible for Chase to be incredible. For me, the tape didn't quite match the reputation/draft slot. Totally possible that I'm missing something, but I'm rolling with that evaluation. The guys I ranked ahead of him are all very strong prospects too (Waddle, Pitts, Harris), so it's not like I have him behind a bunch of day three JAGs.
I agree with the fact of on tape Chase looks like he is not getting a ton of separation. In his combine video he makes mention of people commenting that he doesn’t look like he is running real fast. I think he is just one of those guys that has a ton of talent and is physical enough (and enjoys being physical) that he picks and chooses the time to full throttle. I could be wrong but I think he is an upper echelon athlete and will rise and has a chance to become one of the leagues best once he figures out the best combination of play speed to use and when to use it. The fact that Cincy took him there tells me they asked Burrow about him and were sold enough to overlook other needs. I like Waddle as well but do not see him having the same upside as Chase unless he gets paired up with with a Mahomes type talent at some point.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
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.

FIRST TIER

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.

SECOND TIER

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.

THIRD TIER

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.

OTHERS

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.
Love this. I also enjoyed you going contrarian on the QBs. As always, thanks for doing these.

 

Faust

MVP
A few quick questions:

  • Your views on Jaylen Waddle versus Ja'Marr Chase are interesting as they go against current consensus; however, there are other analysts that agree with this viewpoint. My question is how much do you also factor in the quarterback talent feeding Waddle versus Chase? I feel a lot more confident in Joe Burrow hitting on an elite or near elite career trajectory right now than I do with Tua Tagovailoa.
  • What views do you hold with regards to Chuba Hubbard? Obviously in terms of landing spot he is currently a handcuff for CMC, and his 2020 college tape leaves a lot to be desired; however, his 2019 tape is a different story.
 

EBF

Footballguy
Faust said:
A few quick questions:

  • Your views on Jaylen Waddle versus Ja'Marr Chase are interesting as they go against current consensus; however, there are other analysts that agree with this viewpoint. My question is how much do you also factor in the quarterback talent feeding Waddle versus Chase? I feel a lot more confident in Joe Burrow hitting on an elite or near elite career trajectory right now than I do with Tua Tagovailoa.
  • What views do you hold with regards to Chuba Hubbard? Obviously in terms of landing spot he is currently a handcuff for CMC, and his 2020 college tape leaves a lot to be desired; however, his 2019 tape is a different story.
Situation can be a tie-breaker for me if two guys are close in talent level, but when we look at the difference in situation between Chase and Waddle, we're not talking about a Mahomes/Bortles type of obvious disparity here. Neither Burrow nor Tua has proven much of anything in the NFL. There were similar conversations the past two years about Brandon Aiyuk and AJ Brown. "How can you tout him if he has no QB?" If the player is good enough, I'll bet on the talent and let the situation solve itself. Bad starting QBs don't stay starters. You are ideally going to have these players for 5-10 years, and that's enough time for a sea change in terms of situation. So while supporting cast matters a lot for fringe players whose value is dependent solely on opportunity, such as Cornell Powell, I view it as a lot less important for potential elite talents.

Hubbard was always a stats > tape type of guy, and didn't shine for me when I looked at this class last summer for my devy drafts. Not all players who dominate in college have the right qualities to make the jump, and he appears to have some physical limitations. Since I don't think he has the talent to be situation-proof, the situation matters a lot. Landing behind McCaffrey is pretty far from ideal for a young RB.

 

-jb-

Footballguy
Love the takes. However, I love reading the names of yesterseason more. It makes me nostalgic. It also makes me feel old. Which makes me feel conflicted about being nostalgic. Regardless, lots of thoughtful opinions in this. 

 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Smile
Reactions: EBF

Shutout

Footballguy
Yea, I burned some early picks on Eifert and Ebron in various leagues, and they never fully lived up to the potential. I like Pitts more as a prospect, but TE is usually a low priority slot where you can find compelling prospects in the 20-30 range of rookie drafts (i.e. Hurst, Andrews, Graham, Kelce, Gronk, etc). If you pass on Pitts, you'll surely be able to find promising TEs in future seasons. They won't carry his pedigree, but they may have similar upside.

You're aiming at a small target with Pitts because he effectively needs to become a perennial 900-1000+ yard type of TE to justify the entry price, but if anyone seems equipped to achieve that, he fits the bill. Highest TE ever drafted. Relatively close to a can't-miss talent. It's a tricky dilemma if you're sitting there on the clock in the first few picks because the RB/WR options aren't necessarily locks to give you anything.
Re: Pitts, I think people who are smitten just take him if they can get him and never look back and if you are a person finding yourself in that position and are unsure, you can very easily trade back because there are those who love him. 

 

Shutout

Footballguy
I agree with the fact of on tape Chase looks like he is not getting a ton of separation. In his combine video he makes mention of people commenting that he doesn’t look like he is running real fast. I think he is just one of those guys that has a ton of talent and is physical enough (and enjoys being physical) that he picks and chooses the time to full throttle. I could be wrong but I think he is an upper echelon athlete and will rise and has a chance to become one of the leagues best once he figures out the best combination of play speed to use and when to use it. The fact that Cincy took him there tells me they asked Burrow about him and were sold enough to overlook other needs. I like Waddle as well but do not see him having the same upside as Chase unless he gets paired up with with a Mahomes type talent at some point.
Terrell Owens type.  Slightly misleading stride on the eyeball test and he likes the physical play so it's not the priority effort to blaze past people, especially in a year where we see so many fast guys.  But I think when he gets that ball in space, he will live up to the hype.   

 

ArrylT

Footballguy
I just logged on to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.   It is always interesting and appreciated by me when someone takes the time to go in-depth about their perspective of rookies rather than the typical "good/bad/bust hot takes" .   Kudos.  

 
  • Smile
Reactions: EBF

rockaction

Footballguy
Thanks for taking the time to do this, EBF. I got on you last year about Duvernay and didn't tell you enough that I appreciated your rankings then, so I hope the subsequent apologies and clamoring for some good material have made up for my jerkiness back then. 

And indeed, I like your list. A bunch. I have disagreements with it, of course, but you've put the work in and deserve your moment. Even in your more off-consensus moments there's stuff I heard filtering through the grapevine, so there's that. Peace and best.

 
  • Smile
Reactions: EBF

Biabreakable

Footballguy
Good stuff EBF thanks for posting.

I cant get on board with Waddle being the best player of the 2021 draft at all. I am not even sure he belongs in the top tier despite the high draft position because I think Chase and Smith are head and shoulders better than him they at least deserve to be ranked ahead of him based on college productivity.

Chase was drafted higher is younger broke out younger you name it Chase is better than Waddle. Smith greatly outperformed Waddle on the same team.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

EBF

Footballguy
Good stuff EBF thanks for posting.

I cant get on board with Waddle being the best player of the 2021 draft at all. I am not even sure he belongs in the top tier despite the high draft position because I think Chase and Smith are head and shoulders better than him they at least deserve to be ranked ahead of him based on college roductivity.

Chase was drafted higher is younger broke out younger you name it Chase is better than Waddle. Smith greatly outperformed Waddle on the same team.
Yet the Dolphins took Waddle when they could've had Smith. None of this stuff is concrete.

Teams are trying to do the same calculus we are in terms of projecting futures and what someone will look like against pro competition. Smith was a 4 year collegiate who played in 13 games last year. Waddle was a 3 year collegiate who played in 5 games, suffered a serious injury, and then came back prematurely for the bowl game. Waddle did a lot of damage when he was healthy. The per-game averages are at least in the same general ballpark.

Alabama is a unique college program. They tend to have a lot more talent than the typical NCAA team. That's why you can have situations where people like Josh Jacobs, Alvin Kamara, Eddie Lacy, Henry Ruggs, Kenyan Drake, DeVonta Smith, and Najee Harris are buried on the depth chart by more established players. To use Jacobs as an example, he never rushed for more than 640 yards in a season at Alabama. He had 1,150 rushing yards in his rookie NFL season, and 1,065 rushing yards last year.

I've watched a lot of WRs over the years and some of the stuff Waddle does is special. The 2010s decade had only six WRs drafted in the top 6 of their class: Corey Davis, Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, Justin Blackmon, AJ Green, and Julio Jones. Good company. That can be used as an argument to be bullish on Chase, but also as an argument to be bullish on Waddle. That he was taken so high suggests a very rosy evaluation from NFL personnel people, which often correlates with success. It's not some big contrarian take to have him in the mix for the top few spots in a rookie draft when he was the second WR or RB off the board. The size issue is something that people like Julio and Green never had to answer, but the fact that Waddle went top 6 despite being 182 pounds is also a testament to the unusual qualities that he has. He's a more agile version of Ruggs, and Ruggs was the first WR picked last year. Seems like some people are underestimating his potential.

 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Smile
Reactions: jwb

Biabreakable

Footballguy
Yet the Dolphins took Waddle when they could've had Smith. None of this stuff is concrete.

Teams are trying to do the same calculus we are in terms of projecting futures and what someone will look like against pro competition. Smith was a 4 year collegiate who played in 13 games last year. Waddle was a 3 year collegiate who played in 5 games, suffered a serious injury, and then came back prematurely for the bowl game. Waddle did a lot of damage when he was healthy. The per-game averages are at least in the same general ballpark.

Alabama is a unique college program. They tend to have a lot more talent than the typical NCAA team. That's why you can have situations where people like Josh Jacobs, Alvin Kamara, Eddie Lacy, Henry Ruggs, Kenyan Drake, DeVonta Smith, and Najee Harris are buried on the depth chart by more established players. To use Jacobs as an example, he never rushed for more than 640 yards in a season at Alabama. He had 1,150 rushing yards in his rookie NFL season, and 1,065 rushing yards last year.

I've watched a lot of WRs over the years and some of the stuff Waddle does is special. The 2010s decade had only six WRs drafted in the top 6 of their class: Corey Davis, Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, Justin Blackmon, AJ Green, and Julio Jones. That can be used as an argument to be bullish on Chase, but also as an argument to be bullish on Waddle. That he was taken so high suggests a very rosy evaluation from NFL personnel people, which often correlates with success. It's not some big contrarian take to have him in the mix for the top few spots in a rookie draft when he was the second WR or RB off the board. The size issue is something that people like Julio and Green never had to answer, but the fact that Waddle went top 6 despite being 182 pounds is also a testament to the unusual qualities that he has. He's a more agile version of Ruggs, and Ruggs was the first WR picked last year. Seems like some people are underestimating his potential.
Well there is my problem with Waddle. Its potential not actual productivity with him.

I will go with the players who produced at a lower level of competition over those who didnt every single time.

 

EBF

Footballguy
Well there is my problem with Waddle. Its potential not actual productivity with him.

I will go with the players who produced at a lower level of competition over those who didnt every single time.
Waddle was great this season. Here are his week-by-week stats:

8/134

5/142

6/120

6/161

Then he got injured on literally the opening kickoff against Tennessee, so he "played" in the game, but not really.

Rushed back for the bowl game, obviously still injured, and went 3/30 against Ohio State.

So 557 in the first four games. 30 in the gimped bowl game. 117 receiving yards per game, even including the bowl game.

I would say that is "actual productivity" and not just potential.

Interestingly, DeVonta Smith had "only" 483 receiving yards in the first four games of the season. 74 fewer yards than Waddle to that point.

It almost looks like Waddle's injury is the reason Smith won the Biletnikoff, as Waddle had been outproducing him the whole way until he got hurt.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Biabreakable

Footballguy
Waddle was great this season. Here are his week-by-week stats:

8/134

5/142

6/120

6/161

Then he got injured on literally the opening kickoff against Tennessee, so he "played" in the game, but not really.

Rushed back for the bowl game, obviously still injured, and went 3/30 against Ohio State.

So 557 in the first four games. 30 in the gimped bowl game. 117 receiving yards per game, even including the bowl game.

I would say that is "actual productivity" and not just potential.

Interestingly, DeVonta Smith had "only" 483 receiving yards in the first four games of the season. 74 fewer yards than Waddle to that point.

It almost looks like Waddle's injury is the reason Smith won the Biletnikoff, as Waddle had been outproducing him the whole way until he got hurt.
Yes I know he was productive in those 4 games. Its a very small sample size compared to his entire career.

He produced more in those 4 games than he did in the entire 2019 season where he played in 13 games.

From a productivity stand point his best year was as a freshman. While what he produced was not technically a break out by some standards it was good enough to get my attention and I have been tracking him since then. He has been disappointing since then. Not a regular part of their offense as they used other players more than him until 2020 where it looked like he was on pace to do a lot more before the injury.

I think its absurd to say that Smtih only produced as much as he did because Waddle got injured when Smith greatly out produced Waddle in 2019 when both were fully healthy.

 

Deamon

Footballguy
Yes I know he was productive in those 4 games. Its a very small sample size compared to his entire career.

He produced more in those 4 games than he did in the entire 2019 season where he played in 13 games.

From a productivity stand point his best year was as a freshman. While what he produced was not technically a break out by some standards it was good enough to get my attention and I have been tracking him since then. He has been disappointing since then. Not a regular part of their offense as they used other players more than him until 2020 where it looked like he was on pace to do a lot more before the injury.

I think its absurd to say that Smtih only produced as much as he did because Waddle got injured when Smith greatly out produced Waddle in 2019 when both were fully healthy.
I hate to say it because I'm an Eagles fan, but I'm with @EBF here.  There's a very good chance Waddle improved immensely after that 2019 season and passed Smith in terms of talent. 

The fact that Miami took him is the most telling thing to me.  I truly believe that of all the people who know who is better between Waddle/Smith, it's Tua.  We may have the small sample size of 4 games, but he has known and worked out with him for a LONG time, and probably a ton leading up to last season.  I'm confident that the Miami brass asked Tua's opinion on the two players and that he told them Waddle was the man and more talented.

 

EBF

Footballguy
I hate to say it because I'm an Eagles fan, but I'm with @EBF here.  There's a very good chance Waddle improved immensely after that 2019 season and passed Smith in terms of talent. 

The fact that Miami took him is the most telling thing to me.  I truly believe that of all the people who know who is better between Waddle/Smith, it's Tua.  We may have the small sample size of 4 games, but he has known and worked out with him for a LONG time, and probably a ton leading up to last season.  I'm confident that the Miami brass asked Tua's opinion on the two players and that he told them Waddle was the man and more talented.
Also worth repeating that Smith last year was a 4th year player whereas Waddle was a 3rd year player, so there's a one year stagger in terms of age/development/time in the program. Alabama under Saban has typically respected seniority. If two players are close in talent, it's usually been the older player who has gotten the starting opportunity. Consider the RB continuity.

Ingram starts ahead of Richardson

Richardson starts ahead of Lacy

Lacy starts ahead of Yeldon

Yeldon starts ahead of Henry

Henry starts ahead of D Harris

D Harris starts ahead of Jacobs

You can basically draw a straight chronological line where seniority is respected and the older guys are given the nod over the younger guy even if there's probably a talent disparity. Maybe the one exception is Henry starting as a third year junior over a fourth year Kenyan Drake. Henry was absurdly good that season, rushing for 2200+ yards and winning the Heisman. As good as Henry was, he still sat behind TJ Yeldon earlier in his college career. Is Yeldon a better back than Henry? We all know the answer now. Saban doesn't tend to rock the boat. Even big time prospects like Richardson, D Harris, and Najee had to come in and accept a small initial role. They would've walked into the starting lineup at 95% of college programs.

With Jeudy/Ruggs/Smith (all first round WRs) ahead of Waddle in seniority, there's no great mystery as to why his college production was modest. Once Jeudy and Ruggs were gone, he came out of the gates blistering hot in 2020 and was only slowed down by injury. We saw what a 4th year version of Smith looks like at Alabama. We'll never know what a 4th year version of Waddle would look like at Alabama because his stock was so high after three seasons that he could bolt for the draft and be a top 10 pick.

 

Biabreakable

Footballguy
I hate to say it because I'm an Eagles fan, but I'm with @EBF here.  There's a very good chance Waddle improved immensely after that 2019 season and passed Smith in terms of talent. 

The fact that Miami took him is the most telling thing to me.  I truly believe that of all the people who know who is better between Waddle/Smith, it's Tua.  We may have the small sample size of 4 games, but he has known and worked out with him for a LONG time, and probably a ton leading up to last season.  I'm confident that the Miami brass asked Tua's opinion on the two players and that he told them Waddle was the man and more talented.
Have you read anything to support this idea?

Not that I think Tua is an authority on WR play but if this is his opinion and it influenced Miamis decision that would be something to take note of.

 

Biabreakable

Footballguy
Also worth repeating that Smith last year was a 4th year player whereas Waddle was a 3rd year player, so there's a one year stagger in terms of age/development/time in the program. Alabama under Saban has typically respected seniority. If two players are close in talent, it's usually been the older player who has gotten the starting opportunity. Consider the RB continuity.

Ingram starts ahead of Richardson

Richardson starts ahead of Lacy

Lacy starts ahead of Yeldon

Yeldon starts ahead of Henry

Henry starts ahead of D Harris

D Harris starts ahead of Jacobs

You can basically draw a straight chronological line where seniority is respected and the older guys are given the nod over the younger guy even if there's probably a talent disparity. Maybe the one exception is Henry starting as a third year junior over a fourth year Kenyan Drake. Henry was absurdly good that season, rushing for 2200+ yards and winning the Heisman. As good as Henry was, he still sat behind TJ Yeldon earlier in his college career. Is Yeldon a better back than Henry? We all know the answer now. Saban doesn't tend to rock the boat. Even big time prospects like Richardson, D Harris, and Najee had to come in and accept a small initial role. They would've walked into the starting lineup at 95% of college programs.

With Jeudy/Ruggs/Smith (all first round WRs) ahead of Waddle in seniority, there's no great mystery as to why his college production was modest. Once Jeudy and Ruggs were gone, he came out of the gates blistering hot in 2020 and was only slowed down by injury. We saw what a 4th year version of Smith looks like at Alabama. We'll never know what a 4th year version of Waddle would look like at Alabama because his stock was so high after three seasons that he could bolt for the draft and be a top 10 pick.
Devonta Smith is about 10 days older than Jaylyn Waddle and it is no mystery to me why he didnt produce more until the 2020 season. Because the other WR on the team were better than him.

 

Deamon

Footballguy
Have you read anything to support this idea?

Not that I think Tua is an authority on WR play but if this is his opinion and it influenced Miamis decision that would be something to take note of.
Nope, more so just a hunch. I would be shocked if these teams (Cin, Jax, Mia, Phi) didn't at least talk to their QBs about the possibility of taking that player and how they gelled together in the past. A sort of reference check. I'm not suggesting Tua got to pick, but I'd be shocked if they'd take Waddle that high unless he was on board with it or agreed that he was as good/better than Smith. 

 

Biabreakable

Footballguy
Nope, more so just a hunch. I would be shocked if these teams (Cin, Jax, Mia, Phi) didn't at least talk to their QBs about the possibility of taking that player and how they gelled together in the past. A sort of reference check. I'm not suggesting Tua got to pick, but I'd be shocked if they'd take Waddle that high unless he was on board with it or agreed that he was as good/better than Smith. 
Ok I was hoping maybe there was something out there to back up this idea, which I think is totally plausible by the way.

Since we were talking about this I went back and looked at who was producing with Tua in college.

2017 Tua didnt play as much as Jalen Hurts did. He does play in 8 games but not many attempts at all. Calvin Ridley dominated what receiving they did have that season (less than 2000 yards passing) and Bo Scraborough had the 2nd most receptions with 17. Whatever.

2018 Tua wins the job and plays almost all of the QB snaps. Jerry Jeudy leads the team in receptions ( 68) followed by Ruggs (46) Waddle (45) Irv Smith (44) and Devonta Smith (42). To me this isnt showing a strong preference for any of these players besides Juedy and a QB who spreads the ball around with almost even distribution to 4 players after Juedy. Waddle does have his best season in 2018 with Tua.

2019 Tua plays in 9 games before being injured.  Jerry Jeudy leads the team in receptions (77) Devonta Smith (68) Ruggs (40) Waddle (33)

So what happened to Waddle in 2019? If what you are saying is true that Tua thinks Waddle is a better WR than Smith then why didnt he use Waddle more in 2019?

It doesnt really add up does it?

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
Nope, more so just a hunch. I would be shocked if these teams (Cin, Jax, Mia, Phi) didn't at least talk to their QBs about the possibility of taking that player and how they gelled together in the past. A sort of reference check. I'm not suggesting Tua got to pick, but I'd be shocked if they'd take Waddle that high unless he was on board with it or agreed that he was as good/better than Smith. 
My guess is that happens a ton. It's just natural. We all like to think of the NFL as some other worldly entity. But it's really just like any other business.

When you're looking to hire a super important person that is going to have to work with your most important person, and those two people have experience working together in the past, you ask the person who's working with you already what they think. It's just basic human relationship. I'd be shocked if Tagovailoa wasn't in this conversation. 

Which is another reminder of how baffling it is the Packers have bungled the Aaron Rodgers situation so badly. 

You see teams like Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Seattle and Buffalo who seem to understand the value of the most important player on the roster and make moves to get him the resources he needs and wants. And then there's Green Bay. 

 

Dr. Octopus

Footballguy
Not my take at all….love different opinions…maybe just a pet peeve of my…when you state “your too low/high…you are stating it as a fact…maybe I am just getting old. No interest in going back and forth on this and I will shut up on this topic.
Would it be better if they typed out “in my opinion”, because I assume that’s implied?

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
Would it be better if they typed out “in my opinion”, because I assume that’s implied?
In general, I've found typing that out or using words to that effect have a dramatically positive effect on discussion. 

It's a way more productive way to communicate. Meaning people are much more likely to interact and discuss. Instead of argue with shots or zingers back and forth. At least that's been my experience. 

And I'd love to see us do more of that here. 

 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top