Matt’s writing at Top2 is focused on dynasty fantasy football. He loves blending his experience writing research in the field of education with fantasy football stats. Matt currently lives in Baltimore, MD and graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You can follow Matt on Twitter: @Top2Matt
The current tight end landscape in the NFL is bleak at best and horrifying if being honest. This tight class is getting a lot of hype because of its headliners: Fant, Hockenson, and Smith. Nauta may not be in the first tier, but he’s the next man up and he needs to be on your radar.
Nauta was a high school football and basketball standout at the famed IMG Academy. He was a 5-star recruit, an overall top 10 recruit in all major rankings, and the top tight end in his recruiting class. Nauta received major offers from around the country, including Alabama and Michigan, but chose to be a part of the momentum Georgia has been building over the last couple years.
Nauta made an impact early in Athens. He caught 29 receptions for 361 yards (12.4 yards/reception) and 3 touchdowns in his freshmen year with the Bulldogs. Nauta also contributed to a run-heavy offense his junior, and final year, with 30 receptions for 430 yards (14.3 yards/reception) and 3 touchdowns.
Nauta’s career numbers may not be overwhelming, but Jim Cheney’s scheme for Georgia is run heavy and his offense is loaded with NFL talent. Still, he pulled in 68 receptions for 905 yards (13.3 yards/reception) and 8 touchdowns over his 3-year career. His production in limited opportunity, combined with his high recruiting pedigree makes him an intriguing draft prospect.
It becomes clear quickly (pun intended) when watching Nauta’s tape that he has great speed. He gets to the second level quickly and outruns linebackers. He looks more like a big wide receiver than a tight end, and I mean that in the best way.
Nauta doesn’t have a developed route tree, but he does
well when he breaks off the line of scrimmage. He is a good seam route runner, works
the slant nicely, can find space underneath with a drag route, and can break
off an out route.
Nauta lines up next to the tackle in tight formations
but it also useful going out wide in a spread offense. He creates space off the
line of scrimmage and uses his hands nicely to swipe off defenders with ease.
Nauta’s route running is exciting and highlights his athleticism.
Nauta can hold a block nicely on one play, and then completely
whiff on the next. He is more efficient in pass blocking but doesn’t engage
with defenders the way you’d like to see from a body of his size. He bounces
off defenders when trying to run block and was completely overwhelmed by
Alabama defenders in 2018.
Nauta uses his hands well to create space, both on the
line of scrimmage and when creating space against defensive backs. His hands
look soft in space and he pulls in easy balls. Nauta, however, drops balls often
when in contested situations. He needs to consistently position his body for success;
he has a large frame and if coached up he could be seriously effective.
Nauta is mobile and can be effective at all levels of
the field. Georgia lined him up in various formations and can be useful in
multiple packages, making him an attractive choice for NFL teams come April.
Once he has the ball in his hands, he can make guys miss in space, making him a
3rd Round Value
Nauta won’t go early in your fantasy football drafts: he has inconsistent hands, needs to develop as a blocker, and could stand to add weight to his frame. Still, Nauta can be a huge value. He has great high school and college pedigree and is seriously athletic and quick. His speed and athleticism is not only a refreshing thing to see at the tight end position, but they are also critical elements of fantasy football success.
Don’t jump on Nauta early, his floor is much lower than
Fant, Hockenson, or Smith. Still, his ceiling is nearly as high and worth a mid
to late round pick.
This article is my personal breakdown of the 2019 running back draft class pre-combine and specifically from tape review. These rankings relate specifically to how these players will translate to fantasy football.
I’m positive these rankings will change as the NFL Draft process progresses, but this makes for a great starting point. This running back draft class, as a whole, has gotten a back reputation but there is a lot of potential for fantasy football value. Here we go!
Love dominated the college football landscape in 2017 whenhe ran for 2,118 yards (2nd most in NCAA) and 19 touchdowns. Love’s8.1 yards/carry average helped him finish 2nd in Heisman voting, andwin the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. Love chose to return to theCardinal for his senior season-a decision that has tanked his draft stock. In2018, he ran for 739 yards (1,379 less than 2017), 6 touchdowns (13 less), andran for 4.5 yards/carry (3.6 yard/carry less) on 166 carries (97 less). Hisdownhill senior season hit its disappointing apex in Stanford’s final game,where Love tore his ACL.
Loves tape shows good burst and sharp cuts. He can accelerate well in space and keeps his feet moving quickly-allowing him to have upside as an elusive back. Love wasn’t asked to contribute to the passing game much but was effective when targeted. Past that, he comes off very pedestrian. He has capped breakaway speed, and although he does display burst-it’s not consistent or as powerful as his draft classmates.
He’s not effective outside of the B gap-limited his usefulness as an NFL running back. His vision often failed him, and he’s an ineffective pass blocker. It’s believed Love was banged up for most of the 2018 season, and his 2017 production shows big upside-but there’s a lot that will need to happen before I think he’s worth investing a rookie draft pick on.
14. Myles Gaskin (5’9”, 191), Washington
Gaskin was an effective and consistent running back for the Huskies. He ran the ball at least 222 times in all 4 of his seasons starting for Washington. He ran for at least 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of those seasons. Additionally, he caught 65 passes for 465 yards and 5 touchdowns. Gaskin finished 13th in career rushing yards and 17th in career rushing touchdowns for the NCAA.
Gaskin is an interesting tape study-I find myself wanting tolike him more than I actually do. He’s a shifty runner with quick movements andoften makes big plays out of nothing. He can accelerate downfield and burstsoff the line of scrimmage. Gaskin has solid vision and is effective navigatingin between the tackles. His vision, however, is limited-he often tries tocutback and reverse field and more times than not it ends with him gettingblown up by defenders. He lacks strength and often gets swallowed up in the backfield.He will put his head down to take on a defender, but rarely overpowers them orscrapes out extra yardage.
I think he can best fit in an NFL offense as a pass catcher-he’sgreat in space and displayed good hands when utilized in the passing game.Gaskin, however, struggles in pass blocking; he fails to read blitzes and getsrocked by linebackers crashing the quarterback. Gaskin has the elusiveness tobe a PPR threat, but he has a lot of developing to do before contributing tofantasy football rosters.
13. Mike Weber (5’10”, 214), Ohio State
Weber played three seasons for the Buckeyes and rushed for atotal of just 455 attempts. In that fairly limited workload, he averaged 5.9 yards/carry(2,676 yards) and totaled 24 touchdowns. He also caught 54 passes for 297 receivingyards and a touchdown.
Weber is slow off the line of scrimmage but has great vision and a nasty jump cut that helps him bounce through gaps or to the outside. He’s effective on the edge and can make 10-15 yard gains up the sideline look easy. Weber, however, lacks true breakaway speed. He has great vision and patience-often squeezing himself through small holes and emerging for first down gains. Weber doesn’t have overwhelming strength and lacks the balance to fight through tackles.
He is, however, a very strong pass blocker-and I think that will land him on a roster on early Day 3 of the NFL draft. Weber lacks the ceiling of some other prospects I have ranked above and below him but he is a solid prospect that has the traits that will lead teams to get him the opportunity to succeed.
12. Damarea Crockett (5’11”, 225), Missouri
Crockett played in just 28 games over three seasons at Missouri.He ran the ball 153 times for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns his freshmen year.That season (2016) he finished 9th in the SEC un rushing yards, 10thin touchdowns, and 4th in rushing yards/attempt. His next two years,however, failed to match that production. In 17 games over his sophomore andjunior seasons he ran for 1,190 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Crockett bursts through a gap, with the potential to accelerate quickly downfield. He has a solid cut back and utilizes a mean stutter step to make defenders miss in space. He doesn’t run over defenders but has the strength to fight through tackles and the balance to get plays going. Crockett is a very patient runner, which often helps him find gaps to explode through. Other times, Crockett’s patience gets him caught behind the line of scrimmage-his tape shows many examples of him running right into his linemen.
I don’t love player comps, so I only make them when I see clear alignment in play style; Crockett reminds me of the way Carlos Hyde approaches the game. I think Crockett is a ways off of Hyde in his prime, but he has the potential to develop into an effective fantasy player in time.
11. Darrell Henderson (5’9”, 200), Memphis
Henderson had a successful sophomore season for the American Conference Memphis Tigers, rushing for 1,154 yards (8.9/carry) on 130 attempts for 9 touchdowns. Henderson took that impressive production to the next level in his junior season: he ran for 1,909 yards (2nd in NCAA) and for 22 touchdowns (2nd in NCAA) while leading the country in rushing yards/carry with 8.1 in 2018.
I like Henderson a lot, but I have him much lower in my rankings than most. Henderson’s tape is flashy-he has great acceleration and explodes down the field. He works extremely well in space and makes defenders miss often. He has great hands and is dangerous as a pass catcher-a role that could make him a big PPR threat. I question Henderson’s vision, though-he failed to fit through small holes and ran into his linemen often. He can absolutely run over defenders but doesn’t have the balance to keep the play going after defenders hit him.
He’s slow off the line of scrimmage and has rounded cuts-which hurt his ability to produce in between the tackles. He’s a very ineffective blocker, something that could stop him from seeing the field quickly. I understand why people are hype on Henderson, and I want to be too-but when I look past the highlights there’s a lot to be concerned about.
10. Elijah Holyfield (5’11, 215), Georgia
Holyfield spent his first two seasons at Georgia behind NickChubb and Sony Michel. In his junior season (2018) Holyfield took command of thebackfield: rushing for 1,018 yards and 7 touchdowns. In his only season as atrue starter, Holyfield finished 8th in the SEC in rushing yards and5th in rushing yards/carry.
Holyfield checks a lot of boxes: he has wicked burst and when combined with his good vision it makes him a dangerous runner. He can get to the edge to the breakoff a big play, but has capped breakaway speed. He has tremendous strength and often overpowers some of the biggest linebackers in the country-dragging them forward and gaining extra yards on nearly every play.
He’s a good blocker who picks up on blitzes well and stands his ground-popping defenders while protecting his quarterback. Georgia didn’t utilize Holyfield much in the passing game, but then again who did they utilize well in the passing game? With a good combine, Holyfield could shoot up my rankings and be one of the best fantasy football values outside of the first round.
9. Devin Singletary (5’9”, 200), Florida Atlantic
Singletary ran all over C-USA defenses in his three years in Boca Raton. He ran for 4,287 yards (1,429/season) and 66 touchdowns (22/season). Singletary also caught 51 balls for 397 yards and a touchdown. He finished 4th in rushing yards the NCAA in 2017 and led C-USA in 2017 and 2018. He led the NCAA in rushing touchdowns in 2017 and is 8th in career rushing touchdowns in NCAA history.
Singletary is an intriguing mix of elusiveness, strength, and frame. He’s got a mean jump cut and he’s very quick when moving laterally. He bounces past defenders and can’t be stopped when running behind a good offensive line. He explodes through small holes and is a patient runner. Singletary has great strength and balance. His tape features him throwing defenders off him and absolutely shouldering dudes to finish plays. He has good hands and I can see contributing to the passing game of an NFL offense.
Perhaps more than anyone else, Singletary’s landing spot will be critical to his ability to translate to value for fantasy football rosters.
8. Miles Sanders (5’11, 215), Penn State
Sanders has a small sample size, with just one season as astarter at Penn State to work with. After spending his first two seasons behindthe 2018 offensive rookie of the year, Sanders got his shot to shine for theNittany Lions. He did well with his opportunity: rushing for 1,274 yards and 9touchdowns. Sanders finished 2nd in the Big Ten in rushing yards and7th in rushing touchdowns.
Sanders’ tape is a seriously fun time. He’s very athletic and makes plays out of nothing. He has a mean jump cut, bounces around the field, and there are examples on Barkley-esq hurdles. He’s explosive in between the tackles. He has great vision and fits himself into small holes. He’s shifty with great lateral speed.
He’s a good pass blocker and shows great strength; he has the ability to run over defenders. One of my favorite parts of Sanders’ game is that he seems to always get tackled forward; he never stops fighting for extra yards.
Sanders didn’t contribute much to the passing game, and his skillset at this point seems limited to first and second down work. His fantasy football potential, for now, is limited to fitting in well to a committee style role. Still, there’s a lot of potential for Sanders and can return great value as a mid-round rookie draft pick.
7. Justice Hill (5’10”, 190), Oklahoma State
Hill contributed to the Cowboys offense immediately as a freshman: running for 1,142 rushing yards (4th in the Big 12) and 6 touchdowns. He built on that in his sophomore season: 1,467 rushing yards (1st in the Big 12), and 15 rushing touchdowns (1st in the Big 12). His junior season, he totaled 930 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns in just 10 games.
I didn’t expect to like Hill’s tape as much as I did. He has strong burst and is very (very) quick. He has sharp cuts that allow him to shred Big 12 defenses with ease. Hill is perhaps the best running back in this draft class when it comes to working in space. His elusiveness and ability to make defenders miss will be a tremendous asset to his fantasy football value. H
ill may not be the most talented back in this class, but I think he slots perfectly into a PPR role. He has good hands and often bails out bad passes from his quarterback; Oklahoma State did well to give him targets in space and it paid off.
6. Trayveon Williams (5’9”, 200), Texas A&M
Williams surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in two of his threeseasons in College Station. He led the SEC in rushing yards and rushingtouchdowns in 2018, with 1,760 yards and 18 touchdowns. These stats were alsogood for 3rd most rushing yards in the NCAA and 5th mosttouchdowns in the country.
Williams is quick off the line of scrimmage, has top end acceleration, and great downhill speed. He sees holes well and has a great cut when moving in between the tackles. Williams is dangerous in space and it makes him a dynamic pass catcher. He has great hands and can make catches over the middle of the field like some of the best wideouts in the class. Williams hits the hole hard and levels SEC linebackers. He breaks off tackles consistently and fights for extra yards consistently.
Williams is a dynamic combination of pass-catching upside and speed and strength. He’s one of the few players in this class who I can see having long-term three-down potential. He’s not a locked and loaded pick but Williams has a ton of potential and I’ll be rostering him wherever I can.
5. Benny Snell (5’11”, 225), Kentucky
Snell racked up over 1,000 rushing yards in all three of hisseasons with the Wildcats-an impressive feat against SEC East defenses. Snell’s1,449 rushing yards in 2018 was 2nd best in the SEC and 6thbest in the country. His 3,873 career rushing yards are 12th best inSEC history and he finished top 3 in the SEC in rushing touchdowns in all threeof his seasons in Lexington.
Snell hits the hole hard, fights for extra yards on everyplay, and drags defenders forward consistently. He has great vision and is apatient runner-he consistently fits into small holes that no 225-pound manshould be able to squeeze through. He’s not the quickest off the line ofscrimmage but has great downhill momentum which turns into powerfulacceleration. He’s more effective through the A-gap but can get to the edgequickly for his size. He’s a great blocker who aggressively meets blitzers andkeeps his feet moving while protecting a very mobile quarterback.
Snell didn’t contribute much to the passing game for the Wildcatsbut made good catches when asked to. His pass blocking ability should get himon the field for 3rd downs, but Snell will be more productive earlyon with first and second downs. I’m higher on Snell than most, but I think he’sa great combination of strength and speed.
4. Damien Harris (5’10, 215), Alabama
Harris produced efficiently in his sophomore-senior seasonswith the Crimson Tide. Despite never rushing the ball more than 150 times (dueto scheme and surrounding talent) he finished with 850 rushing yards in those 3seasons. He also totaled 22 rushing touchdowns. Harris totaled 48 receiving yardsand 394 yards and 2 touchdowns in the passing game.
Harris was one of my favorite running backs in the class prior to this season, and although he slipped a bit for most he still deserves to be considered amongst the top backs in this class. He has good acceleration, quick burst, and sharp cuts that he uses to weave in between the tackles. He’s got solid vision, often working precisely through small holes and with a great instinct to cut back and reverse the field with success. He’s an aggressive runner that runs with a high motor but doesn’t level defenders. He has good hands and is extremely effective in open space.
Harris is a nice combination of experience without too much wear on his body. With hype around Jacobs, Harris has started to become very cheap-and I’ll be taking advantage of that as often as my league mates allow me to.
3. David Montgomery (5’11, 216), Iowa State
Montgomery came onto the scene in 2017; as a sophomore at Iowa State he ran from 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns on 258 attempts. He also pulled in 36 receptions for 296 yards. Montgomery built on his breakout season in 2018 with 1,216 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 257 attempts. He finished 3rd in the Big 12 in both rushing yards and touchdowns in 2017 and finished 2nd in the Big 12 in both rushing yards and touchdowns in 2018.
Montgomery is a well-rounded running back prospect that does a lot of things very well. He has good speed, solid burst, and great agility. Although his breakaway speed is capped, he has very clean cuts and is a very patient runner. He has great vision and anticipates contact well; helping his elusiveness.
Montgomery has a low center of gravity and stays on his feet after contact. He puts his head down to take of defenders and fight for extra yardage but rarely overpowers them. He is rarely utilized in the passing game but has solid hands when thrown to. Montgomery’s blocking needs improvement but can get the job done with less than ideal technique.
I’m not sure Montgomery is great at anything, but he’s very good at a lot. His well-rounded traits, though, give him great potential to be a 3 down back in the NFL. With the right landing spot, Montgomery can jump to RB1.
2. Josh Jacobs (5’11, 215), Alabama
Jacobs’ small sample size makes him one of the most polarizing running backs in this draft class. Jacobs played three seasons with the Crimson Tide, but ran the ball just 251 times, and caught just 48 receptions. His freshmen year (2016) he ran for 567 yards and 4 touchdowns on just 85 attempts (6.7 yards/carry). Jacobs ran the ball just 46 times for 284 yards (6.2 yards/carry) and a touchdown.
His senior season was his largest workload; he ran the ball 120 times for 640 yards (5.3 yards/carry) and 11 touchdowns. His career receiving totals are: 48 receptions, 571 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.
The numbers might not be impressive, but his tape absolutely is. Jacobs bursts seriously quick off the line of scrimmage and has top end acceleration. He has a juke move that mirrors my best work when playing Madden and very crisp cuts. He’s very shifty and dangerous in space and looks like a receiver when catching the ball out of the backfield or over the middle of the field.
Jacobs is a solid blocker-not the best in the class but he’s strong and holds his ground when asked to block. He doesn’t have the best vision, and rarely makes plays out of nothing-something that makes me very nervous about his fantasy football value if he goes to a team with a poor offensive line.
Jacobs is also a truck out of the backfield: he runs right at defenders and rolls over them while fighting for extra yards. Jacobs can be effective on first down, third down, and on the goal line. There’s so much to love about Jacobs’ tape, and I’m completely okay with those who have him as their RB1.
1. Rodney Anderson (6’2”, 220), Oklahoma
Anderson also has a small sample size, but for a muchdifferent reason than Jacobs. He has just one full season with the Sooners: in2017, his sophomore season, he ran for 1,161 yards and 13 touchdowns on just188 carries (6.2 yards/carry). He also caught 17 balls for 281 receiving yardsand 5 touchdowns. That season he led the high scoring Big 12 in rushyards/carry and finished 2nd in rushing yards and rushing touchdownsin the conference. Anderson ran 11 times for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2018before tearing his ACL in his second game-cutting his would-be breakout seasonshort. Anderson also broke his leg in 2015 and broke a bone in his neck in 2016.
A lot are steering away from Anderson due to his injury history, but my rankings are rooted strictly in tape until the combine, and his tape is very impressive. Anderson is extremely explosive in between the tackles: he has quick burst off the line of scrimmage and had some of the best acceleration in the class. He has a mean jump cut and moves with ease through would-be tacklers.
He’s a patient runner and always finds an open hole. He’s a decent blocker, not the best but good enough to keep him on the field on 3rd down. He is dynamic in space and proved he can make big plays after catching balls in the flat or off the release. He truck-sticks line backers and it takes two or three defenders to pull down Anderson on almost every play.
There’s plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Anderson, but if he clears medical checks at the combine, he will remain my RB1. No player in this class has the ceiling of Anderson: he’s both powerful and elusive. He’s one of just two running backs I can legitimately see being a top 12 fantasy football running back from this class.
Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. Kelvin is THE WR1 in my humble opinion as of right now and deserves to be the first pick of all rookie drafts. I anticipate trying to have quite a few shares unless he ends up in a wasteland of an offense in the NFL.
Harry is my WR2, and you shouldn’t consider taking anyone but a WR in the top 3 picks of this year’s rookie drafts-even if it is superflex and TE premium. Harry is a PPR threat and has huge YAC potential. He has one of the highest floors of this draft class.
My RB1 in this class is definitely the value here at 1.03. Montgomery has all of the tools to succeed in the NFL. He has the highest floor in this class and when he tests well at the combine, teams and dynasty players alike will see he has the ceiling to go with it.
Relatively easy pick for me here. Not ready to take a QB or TE, even if they have premiums at their position. Metcalf has a great skill set that projects well in the NFL. With news that he is medically cleared to play football, I am excited to see him dominate the Pre-Draft process.
In tight end premium, this is a steal for Fant. He’s athletic, has great hands, and will be a refreshing infusion of receiving talent in a desolate tight end landscape. Hockenson will likely go earlier in NFL drafts because of his blocking ability, but for fantasy football purposes Fant is the guy I want.
I was hoping that Fant would fall to me, but I am more than happy to have Hockenson as a consolation prize. Many have him above Fant at the moment with the most well-rounded game in this class. He is a phenomenal blocker who will get on the field early and often. If he is drafted in the top 25 in the NFL draft, his stock will continue to skyrocket for fantasy.
From what I have seen, Lock is the most well-rounded QB prospect in this year’s draft. He has nice arm strength, good accuracy and has good decision making. I don’t know if he will be the first rookie QB to get playing time, but I like his potential in the NFL and think he has the best chance out of anyone in this class to have a productive career.
I feel like Campbell is being somewhat slept on, so I’m here to alter that. I believe in what I saw in his technique as a wide receiver and I know he’ll end up one of the top receivers in this class. Getting one of “my guys” is always a plus as well.
Brown is dynamic, has great hands, and is a solid route runner. He’s my WR5 and there’s a run early on wideouts in this draft so I’m snagging brown with my last pick in the first. Landing spot dependent, Brown could have an early impact for fantasy football players.
Getting the guy who most consider the QB1 in this class at 2.01 in a superflex draft? Probably not going to happen. Haskins is a strong prospect but he does not have the polish to start in year one. Hopefully, he will land where he can sit out for a season while he learns and adjusts to the NFL game.
This is a straight up value pick. Even in a league with QB and TE premiums, there will be very few drafts where Rodney Anderson falls to the 2nd round. Anderson displays good speed, strength and receiving chops. There are definitely injury concerns with Anderson, but in the 2nd round, Anderson is worth the risk.
Ok I hate his attitude at the moment but there’s no denying his ability as an all around QB. Not too concerned with the size which, along with his indecisiveness on which sport to play, is his only knock.
I heard it on by a commentator and I can’t un hear it, Henderson reminds me of Marshawn Lynch. Not completely, but boy is he a bull and has the best ball carrying style I’ve seen. Not to mention, his change of direction is probably the best in this class.
For fantasy football, Smith is my TE2. He’s athletic, dominated the middle of the field for the Crimson Tide, and is significantly underrated. You’ll be paying up to get Fant, but you can score huge value on Smith in the 2nd round.
Nauta is another tight end who is moving up draft boards due to athletic ability. In a tight end premium league, it’s not much of a reach to take him here with the possible upside. He also boasts the most well rounded game of the tight ends outside of the top 3.
Brown is extremely fast and has elite acceleration. He displayed a much more diverse route tree then most “burners” at the college level. His speed can allow him to be used in a variety of ways in an offense, almost like Tyreek Hill. Now, I am not saying that he is going to produce as a top 10 fantasy WR, but he has a similar skill set to Hill that can make him a nightmare for defenses
Great size and speed combo and if it weren’t for a deep WR class, he could be getting a lot more buzz. His tape is impressive and he seems to have a good personality…ok sure I like him because of his name but he’s good I swear.
Knox is my first draft crush at this position and there’s plenty reason why. He’s athletic, a capable pass catcher and he’s a really good blocker (doesn’t get enough credit for it). I love the high level he plays in and I believe he has the tools to start and produce a lot quicker than some of the other TEs in this class.
This is a ridiculous value for my RB4. Harris is a well-rounded powerful runner that slid much further than he should’ve due to a run on tight ends. He’s an aggressive runner and is equally athletic-Harris is a steal in the late 2nd.
This pick diverges from my general strategy here in the second round. I am often one to swing for the fences with a high upside guy, but Arcega-Whiteside presents the opposite. The floor is great for him. He will be a red zone threat and should be able to create pretty consistent separation in the short and medium areas of the field.
Hall is extremely fast. With the help of Drew Lock’s strong arm, Hall displayed the ability to get behind the defense and make big plays. He wasn’t asked to run a variety of routes at Missouri, but he displayed good footwork and football IQ that makes me believe he can develop into a more well-rounded receiver. Hall’s durability is a concern, but when Hall was healthy, he showed he can produce very well.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
The 49ers really could benefit from a trade back but I just don’t have the patience to seek a guy out right now and trade. Instead I’ll take who I believe is the second best defensive player in the draft, Quinnen Williams.
Sam Darnold wasn’t sacked as much as Deshaun Watson was, but he was in the top 10 when it came to QB hits. Bringing Jonah Williams in will definitely aid in giving Darnold more protection and time in the pocket.
The Raiders have a lot of needs to fill this offseason-and attempting to fill the large void left by Khalil Mack (literally and figuratively) is a great start. This 6’4” 258 defender racked up 17 sacks in his senior year in Lexington-he has the burst, flexibility, and size to translate those stats to NFL backfields.
Ed Oliver is easily the best player available. In Tampa, he will get the opportunity to play inside and out on the defensive line. With his combo of power and quickness, he will be a double digit sack player early in his career.
The talk will be all about the QBs leading up to the draft for the Giants but I would prefer to see them beef up the O-Line. Cody Ford gives them another great O-Line addition, further building around Saquon Barkley.
We all know Bortles has to go and the Jags need their heir apparent. Drew Lock is the most pro-ready QB in this draft and should do well on a team that already has a good 3 defense to take pressure off of him in the early going.
8. Detroit Lions: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Detroit is in desperate need of help along the edge and Burns is well-rounded and polished. He has great technique that allows him to get into the backfield early and often-recording 123 tackles, 38.5 for a loss, and 23 sacks in 3 years with the Seminoles.
The Bills pick the best playmaker in this draft. Harry compliments Josh Allen very well as he can create big plays out of the simplest routes and concepts. As well as Allen played this past year, he still needs to develop in a lot.
Harry will be able to help him early in that development and will develop alongside him. If these two can reach their respective ceilings, the Bills will be cooking.
The Broncos need to get back to the days of 2013/15. New head coach Vic Fangio will look to retool the defense, snagging Greedy Williams and forming a tremendous cornerback duo to go along with a fierce pass rush.
The Bengals LB corps is not good and they need a shakeup in the worst way. Devin White has the athleticism/skill to start right away and contribute. With his ability to get through the offensive line and attack the QB or RB, Cincinnati has to pull the trigger here.
EDGE is a big need for Green Bay, and support at the safety position could also help this defense grow. I’m not sure new head coach Matt Lafleur, a McVay “prodigy” wants that, though. Instead, I’m giving him one of the most versatile weapons in the draft-Hockenson can come in and immediately contribute as a receiver and a blocker.
The Dolphins wait it out and are amazed their top QB is still on the board at 13. It’s time to end the Tannehill era in Miami and with the truly elite talent in this draft already off the board, Haskins is too valuable to pass up.
No one on this roster screams WR1 at all, so I think Kelvin will come in and immediately make that room better. He’d definitely be a bigger improvement over the oft hurt and under performing Josh Doctson. Whatever QB that gets brought in will have a very good route runner to throw to.
16. Carolina Panthers: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
Risner impressed me with his performance at the Senior Bowl-he’s an impressive pass protector who also plays aggressive and drives defenders back when run blocking.
Carolina has a lot of need upfront-and protecting Newton while opening up holes for CMC has to be their priority. Risner can play anywhere on the offensive line, and although he prefers tackle he’s willing to play anywhere an NFL team needs him to.
17. Cleveland Browns: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Cleveland picks up Murphy who has been steadily rising draft boards thanks to a very strong year at Washington. Recording 4 interceptions helped show off the ball skills to go with the elite speed and quickness that helps him as a lockdown man corner. Ward and Murphy could be one of the top corner tandems in this league right away.
The Titans already have Davis on roster as one of their good WRs, adding Metcalf gives them another great look on the outside. Metcalf brings size and red zone threat-ability that will open up the offense.
Pittsburgh needs help in the secondary, and they did theyselves no favors by reaching in the first for safety help last year. With Baker they get a first round talent-he’s quick, athletic and is a ball hawk.
Polite is ready to contribute day 1, but going to Seattle raises his ceiling significantly. The bend and the explosion are great. He has some technique issues to polish up, but Seattle will take care of those very quickly.
Baltimore can go a lot of ways with this pick but they need to get back to who they were. Suggs is too old to be relied on as heavily as he is. Gary would give them their best pass rushing threat in a while.
23. Houston Texans: Chris Lindstrom, iOL, Boston College
With what was left as far as top shelf talent, Lindstrom was the best option available. When it comes to the offensive line, Houston can’t afford to not go for best available here. Lindstrom is a solid guy who looks very strong on the line against tough competition.
Mack Wilson screams Raiders to me-he’s a monster of a linebacker. His powerful tackling is complimented by his quickness and the lateral ability to cover a lot of field. With Allen and Wilson, the Raiders have a great core of young talent for their defense.
25.Philadelphia Eagles: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
With depth a problem at the tackle spot for the Eagles, Cajuste becomes the backup for both Jason Peters and Lane Johnson. With Peters at 37 years old with injury concerns, Cajuste likely won’t remain on the bench for long.
Maintaining the strength of the offensive line is very important in keeping Wentz clean and continuing to succeed in the run game especially with mediocre running backs.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas): Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
Oakland needs a ton of things and Hakeem is another great young piece for this offense. One of my favorite big body receivers his year, Hakeem has the tools to excel on the outsides on most routes. I absolutely love this kid’s handwork.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Wilkins, iDL, Clemson
Wilkins is a big body (6’4”, 300) and makes a tremendous compliment to Bosa and Ingram locking down the edges. Wilkins recorded 40.5 tackles for a loss in his career at Clemson and will help lock down an already impressive defensive unit.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
This pick is a huge value for the Chiefs. Pairing a ball hawk like Thompson with Eric Berry would shore up the back end of a defense that struggled all last season. Creating some more turnovers would really improve this defense.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Dexter Lawrence, iDL, Clemson
I’m a believer that all 3 defensive line prospects from Clemson will go in the first round and what a place to go. Dexter is a great cheap option for the Rams who have a lot of money in their team as a whole and will need flexibility and talent going forward. Dexter is a mauler who will fit in with the Rams defensive culture.
32. New England Patriots: Charles Omenihu, iDL, Texas
I debated a lot of options for the Patriots here: A.J. Brown to round out their receiving corps., Noah Fant as a dynamic replacement for Gronk, and even Kyler Murray.
Instead, I have them reacting to the early run on interior defensive linemen and taking Omenihu. He has the versatility to move to the outside, if needed, and showed out at the Senior Bowl-making him a great replacement for likely free agency departures on the defensive line.
33. Arizona Cardinals: Noah Fant, Space Cowboy*, Iowa
Fant is a beast of a prospect. He is the best receiving tight end in this class and his blocking is far better than he gets credit for. As complete a tight end as OJ Howard was coming in, a little patience may be necessary, but Fant will be a top 5 tight end in this league. Book it.
Derek Carr constantly played in the pocket from downward dog position. It’s not right to get any further in this draft without addressing another big weakness which is definitely the o-line. Greg Little isn’t a finished product but has the tools to be a consistent starter for year to come.
A big time splash pick for the Giants, Murray will put butts in seats. Will he be available here? With all the baseball speculation, who knows? If and when he commits, Murray is certainly talented, and with this group of skill players, he would be a lot of fun.
Surprised to see a name like this fall this far but the Bucs will be glad to snatch him up here in the second round. Edwards still has some learning to do having transitioned from TE to OL, but has the necessary tools to stick in the NFL. Definitely not too shabby getting a big bodied guy like this down there protection Jameis and aiding the run.
Perhaps my favorite fit in this mock draft: Jacobs is explosive, fast, and powerful-everything that LeSean McCoy no longer is. It’s time to Buffalo to move past Shady and Jacobs is the perfect replacement (or compliment for 2019). He can contribute to the pass game, help protect Josh Allen with great blocking, and burst through the tackles.
I expect the Bengals to move on from Andy Dalton. The next guy up is Will Grier who provides a flair for the dramatic. New coach Zac Taylor gets the WVU signal caller to open a new era of Bengals football.
The Detroit Lions get a really good receiver to pair with GollaBAE (Golladay) who can run inside or outside. You could tell at times, the Lions struggled without Tate and Golladay seeing heavy coverage. This additions will keep teams honest and help side slingin’ Stafford out a lot.
44. Green Bay: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Sweat is explosive and can get to backfield quickly. He’s flexible and demonstrated solid counters against tough offensive linemen. He got Day One hype from a solid week in Mobile, and the Packers get good value with him in the mid 2nd round.
45. Atlanta Falcons: Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Bolstering the line solidifies the a defense that is young and talented at every level. Simmons is a first round talent. There is a video out there of him being involved in an altercation with a female in his freshman year. He was not invited to the combine. NFL teams will have to decide if he is beyond this incident and where the risk is worth taking.
Buggs (6’4’, 290) is a big man who totaled 103 tackles (13.5 for a loss) in just two years with the Crimson Tide. The Dolphins rush defense was porous, at best, this season and they could use Buggs clogging up the middle.
The Browns depth at tackle is not pretty. Since Joe Thomas retired, they need some help on the outside blocking. Taylor is a big man at 6’5” 335 lbs. He needs some refinement, but he can succeed early on especially as a run blocker which will be the bread and butter of this Browns offense as Baker continues to develop.
52. Pittsburgh Steelers: Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
This pick comes with the expectation that Brown moves on, which given the salary cap restrictions make this a relatively whimsical pick.Still Samuel could fit well in a redeveloped Pittsburgh offense.
The offense can run through Smith-Schuster as the “X” and Washington burning defenders on the outside-Samuel can run drags, slants, and reverses to dominate the middle of the field and keep defenses off balanced.
53. Philadelphia Eagles (From BAL): David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
The Eagles had a confusing running back situation. Not anymore. Montgomery is the best running back in this class and would be the best back on the Eagles roster. He can succeed on all three downs and really help this offense with some continuity.
This is a kid I really liked while watching him cover various receivers I was scouting. He has some work to do when reacting to receiver routes but this is the area where most project him going. The Texans have a glaring need at this position and Love will help stop the bleeding.
56. New England Patriots (via CHI): Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WR, Texas
I passed on wideout for the Pats in the first-and this is why; there’s a lot of depth at the position in this draft class. I loved Humphrey’s tape-he’s a large frame (6’4”, 225) and has big-play athleticism. He’s got great hands and his versatile skill set compliments the eclectic receiving corps. In New England.
57. Philadelphia Eagles: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Depth at corner is lacking for the Eagles and the value is here with their 3rd top 60 pick. Whether Mullen is ready to start or not can be debated, but he is talented enough to develop into a quality corner for this team.
59. Indianapolis Colts: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Another team who was routinely beat in their secondary, this pick needed to be made. Thornhill won’t translate into being a star, but he’ll definitely end up a capable starter with a high IQ who can make plays when necessary.
Samia can offset some serious concern on the offensive line for the Chargers. He has the mobility to efficiently work in the interior and can help protect Rivers and open up holes for Gordon. With Samia, the Chargers get help on both sides of the trenches.
61. Kansas City Chiefs: D’Andre Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Help on the edge is a critical need even though the Chiefs have been able to get to the passer at a reasonable rate. Walker can make an impact early especially with Chris Jones commanding doubles in the middle consistently.
The Saints need to start adding players to their offense who people can actually name. It can’t be all Thomas and the RBs. Nauta has some good speed to him as a move tight end and would cook with Brees as his QB.
63. Kansas City Chiefs (via LAR): Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia
I contemplated going defense here, but I preferred running back. I really liked what I saw from Elijah and I really think he can play well with Damien Williams in this offense. It kills so many Williams shares, but I’m not here to please haha.
With wideout and defensive line help already secured, the Patriots will look to offset the potential loss of Gronkowski with their 3rd pick in the top 64. They’ve missed out on an early run at tight end but they score a highly athletic (but raw) potential playmaker. Knox is far from a sure thing, but it wouldn’t be the first time Belichick made some mid-round magic.
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding some top prospects for the 2019 Senior Bowl after an exciting week in Mobile. It’s time to put those prospects into perspective and get going on our Rookie Mock Draft 2.0! We have our 5 dynasty and devy writers contributing to this mock draft-sit back and enjoy:
D.K. Metcalf is currently my WR1 in this class. He has the size, speed, handwork and athleticism to a be an absolute stud in the NFL. By no means is he a finished product, but I believe he has the highest ceiling out of anyone in this class.
All reports say that he is healthy and ready for the combine, but i will definitely be keeping an eye on him there to make sure that he passes all of the medical exams/tests
Sweet Christmas, I’m picking at #2 but I got my WR1! Kelvin Harmon is one of the few prospects that I think has the “complete package”. He can block his tail off, run almost every route in the tree, make athletic adjustments when needed and so on. There’s not many guys I get excited about in this class like I do with Harmon.
Harry is a consistent pass catcher, has huge big-play athleticism, and is a monster after the catch. Barring a terrible landing spot, Harry will be a versatile weapon for an NFL team and an amazing combination of PPR safety and TD potential for fantasy football players.
Montgomery is the best running back in this class. I have said it before and I will continue saying it. He has the most complete skill set which helps raise his ceiling. He has the pass catching ability and elite level agility and balance to help set a high floor. Montgomery will go high enough in April that he should get a shot a workload to make him fantasy relevant in his rookie campaign.
Butler has quickly become one of my favorite WRs due to his combination of size, speed and all around ability to play the position. He might be landing spot-proof and I look forward to having some shares of him this season.
Now it is time to take the more productive wide receiver out of Ole Miss. Playing out of the slot most of his college career, Brown displayed nice hands, the ability to make contested catches and became a huge threat after the catch. Brown can become a PPR machine in the NFL and has some nice upside.
Another exciting chance here at the 7th pick to be able to land Parris Campbell! He reminds me of a technician that is currently on the outs in Pittsburgh. Watching him play, you can tell he’s dedicated to his craft and allows his talent to shine through the hard work vs just relying on talent.
His footwork is impeccable, he’s disciplined in his route running and super fast. I’d take him right here all day. One of those guys who I could see as an eventual WR1 on a team who can play the X, Y or Z.
Getting Rodney Anderson at 1.08 is equal parts insulting and highway robbery. Anderson is my RB1 and my 2nd favorite prospect overall-in terms of translating to fantasy football value. Anderson took this slide because of his injury history-but once he clears the combine with flying colors his draft stock will skyrocket.
Anderson is explosive in between the tackles and can accelerate to the edge equally quick. He has great vision, and sharp cuts (including a nasty jump cut) that compliment his agility nicely. He’s very strong too-he breaks tackles and when he’s not shredding Big 12 defenders, he’s trucking SEC linebackers. He fights for extra yards and easily has the most upside of any running back in this draft class.
Looking across the barren landscape, a man appears. He is walking slowly through the dust blowing ferociously around his helmet. As the man approaches, you begin to understand the size and the strength of this stranger. You realize he is your ticket out of this wasteland.
That man is Noah Fant. He is here to save you from the TE wasteland. Draft him in the first round or you won’t get him, and you will regret watching the next great tight end blossom into an elite fantasy asset.
He will be the most dynamic QB in the draft and I don’t think any QB at the senior bowl lit the world on fire. The way QB is played in the NFL is changing and Murray will further prove that point. He’s worth taking in the 1st Round.
Josh Jacobs has become my draft crush. He is a violent runner. He uses his natural strength and power to bounce off players and break tackles. Jacobs also displays decent vision with some nice cutting ability.
Jacobs showed that he is a natural pass catcher and can produce in the passing game. Considering Alabama is loaded at running back, I don’t care that Jacobs didn’t have workhorse production. This kid is really good at football.
The man that #DraftTwitter seems torn on, Riley Ridley. For all the lack of production he had while at Georgia, he showed me enough to have faith in him. Sure he has a great name to latch onto given his brother’s success, but that’s not what makes him.
What draws me to him is ability to create separation as well as his hands in tight coverage. He’s also not afraid of contact and will go up for even the most dangerous throws.
Wide receivers will go off the board quickly in this year’s rookie drafts. That means if you’re drafting late 1st/early second you will likely not get to take: Melcalf, AJ Brown, Harry, Harmon, or Butler. That leaves Lil’Jordan Humphrey as my top target at this point in the draft-he’s my WR6.
The only thing more impressive than his name is his route running-he has a diverse and well-developed route tree. He dominates the middle of the field and has the athletic ability to be break off a big play at any point. At 6’4”, 225 Humphrey is one of the biggest wideouts in the draft-and at this point in your draft, he’d be a very big value.
Hall was the best player in a good Missouri offense last year. After battling a bevy of injuries throughout his college career, he inherently carries a lot of risk especially here in the early second round. At only 195 pounds, his 6’3” frame is relatively lanky. He could improve on his play strength, but he can’t let that affect his quickness in his breaks or his down the field speed.
Hall averaged over 22 yards per reception last year. He can stretch the field in a big way and has the craftiness underneath to contribute all across the field.
This guy can literally do everything. A running back at Tennessee, Hurd decided to transfer because he wanted to play WR. He put up good numbers as a WR and will be looked at as a versatile offensive weapon, the type of weapon teams love to utilize in creative ways.
Do you remember me saying how Alabama was loaded at running back? Damian Harris was the starter and isn’t even the first Alabama RB drafted. I don’t think Harris has the upside Josh Jacobs has, but Harris still is a powerful runner with some nice receiving ability. At this point, I’d be ecstatic to get Harris at the 2.04
I heart the value here. This kid is going to be pretty good. I won’t say RB1 yet, but definitely strong RB2 with RB1 upside. It’s almost mechanical how he changes directions and hits open gaps in the line.
Not only does he turn on a dime, when he hits the edge you can say bye because he’s gone. Great speed, strong and good enough hands on the catch, he’d make a fine 3 down back.
I need to start by saying I’m very salty Eric took Hurd at 2.03-I love his upside and will gush about him all day; I thought he’d make it to me here at 2.06. Still, I love Trayveon Williams, and at 2.06 he makes for a very valuable 2nd round selection-I took him at 1.10 in our first mock draft.
Williams led the SEC with 1,760 rushing yards in 2018-against a lot of NFL level talent. Williams sees holes well and hits them hard for his size. He breaks off tackles consistently while accelerating downfield very quickly. He makes defenders miss in space and has good hands-making him a serious PPR threat. AT 5’9”, 200 Williams may be overlooked by NFL teams-don’t make that mistake, I absolutely expect him to make an impact for fantasy football.
Arcega-Whiteside is not the most exciting prospect in the draft. He is however, very safe. A contested catch specialist who has knack for getting the endzone is a welcome addition to any team. He is a much less athletic Mike Williams, a guy who is poised for a break out this year by the way. Go get Arcega-Whiteside in the mid to late second and be prepared to wait for the opportunity, you will be pleased with the result.
I am enamored with the speed of Brown. He certainly isn’t the biggest guy but he is definitely the fastest. In a league where Tyreek Hill and Brandin Cooks are dominating, I’m sure teams see more of the same in the Oklahoma speedster.
Irv Smith Jr. is an extremely athletic tight end that looks to follow the same mold as Evan Engram. With his speed, route running and elusiveness after the catch, Smith will be able to line up on the line or in the slot and be a nice producer at the tight end position. I would like for him to fine tune his blocking a bit more so he can get on the field as early as possible.
I think that here is where the QB run could start and I’m happy I got my QB1 in this draft. Drew Lock is one of the best in this class when it comes to tight window throws all over the field.
He’s patient, can run it when needed and will definitely be a starter sooner than later. As long as he gets good weapons around him and stays confident (one of his issues) I could see him being somewhere around QB 15-20 after his rookie season. Essentially, I could see him as a QB2 who will give you QB1 weeks every once in awhile.
Snell seems to be the best kept secret in this year’s NFL draft, and getting him at 2.11 proves that. I’ll be honest, I would’ve loved to get Irv Smith here, but Mike’s a smart man and didn’t let that happen. Instead, I’ll happily move on with Benny Snell on my roster.
Snell is a powerful runner-he hits holes hard and is a weekly presence against SEC defenders. Snell has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all 3 of his seasons with Kentucky. That includes 1,333 rushing yards in his sophomore season (2017) 1,499 rushing yards in 2018, and 48 career touchdowns. In addition to smashing through the A gap-Snell has the ability to beat defenders to the edge and accelerate downfield. He might not be the flashiest, but he has 3 down potential and I’ll have lots of Benny Snell come the end of draft season
Darrell Henderson was flat out impressive at Memphis last year. 2200 yards from scrimmage and 25 trips to the house in 13 games. He averaged almost 10 yards a touch. This kid is clearly explosive. I have concerns as to whether he can handle a heavy workload at the NFL level with his listed weight at only 200 pounds. Henderson is a great change of pace player who has a high ceiling if he can figure out a way to add some weight while maintaining that patent explosiveness.
This article is my personal breakdown of the 2019 wide receiver draft class in, pre-combine and specifically from tape review. These rankings relate specifically to how these players will translate to fantasy football.
I’m positive these rankings will change as the NFL Draft process progresses, but this makes for a great starting point. I will also note that this article was written during Senior Bowl week-and it doesn’t include some players that had great weeks. Barring poor tape review, Penny Hart, Hunter Renfrow, Terry McLaurin will likely be added to my rankings update article (to come post combine). Let’s talk about them-let me know what you think on twitter!
Lodge played in a dynamic Ole Miss offense; one with 2 other
wide receivers (A.J. Brown, Metcalf) that are much higher on my list. In his
senior year, in which Metcalf missed half the season, he caught 65 balls for 877
yards and 4 touchdowns. Metcalf, who played in just 7 games finished with more
touchdowns (5) than Lodge. A.J. Brown finished with 2 more touchdowns, and 443
more yards. Lodge was snubbed from a Senior Bowl invite, and instead participated
in the Shrine Game week of practices; although he did not play in the game.
Lodge came off very slow on tape; he displays limited acceleration and can’t burn defensive backs consistently. He’s inconsistent on jump balls-despite his size he rarely uses his body to position himself for success. Lodge has good footwork and works a decent route tree; for me, this is his best trait. He’s an average blocker, and Ole Miss often ran the ball away from him.
He occasionally flashes big play athleticism, but it’s very inconsistent. Lodge finds himself at the bottom of my list; he flashes upside in his athletic ability and route running but his inconsistency, lack of acceleration, and inability to pull down contested balls often makes me skeptical that he will make an impact early in his NFL career.
16. Greg Dortch (5’9”, 170), Wake Forest
Dortch, the 20-year-old Redshirt Sophomore out of Wake
Forest has a lot of people excited. In just two seasons he’s racked up 142
receptions, 1800 receiving yards, and 17 touchdowns vs ACC defenses. Dortch had
big games against Duke (10 receptions for 124 yards, 1 touchdown) and Louisville
(8 receptions, 135 yards) but struggled against tougher teams like Notre Dame
(6 receptions, 56 yards) and Clemson (3 receptions, 37 yards).
Dortch is a good route runner; he has quick feet and creates separation at the line of scrimmage. He has a fairly diverse route tree and works primarily, but not exclusively, out of the slot. He is quick, but not necessarily speedy-he doesn’t torch defenders over the middle, but he can be effective on end arounds. I’m not impressed by his blocking, and his athleticism seems limited for me. My biggest concern for Dortch is his hands: he struggles to make contested catches and during tape review I saw him drop multiple easy balls. He got overpowered multiple times when trying to go up and grab a ball.
At the right draft position (3rd round) he could provide nice value for your dynasty rosters-but Dortch is seriously raw and I don’t seem him translating quickly to the NFL game. I think he would’ve been better served with another year in college.
Arcega-Whiteside was a 3-year starter at Stanford, culminating with a senior season with 63 receptions, 1,059 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns. Arcega-Whiteside is a big bodied receiver that built a lot of hype after finishing the 2018 season with 90+ receiving yards in 6 of his last 7 games.
Arcega-Whiteside’s best trait is his route running. He has great footwork that allows him to create separation consistently. He rarely uses his hands, though, and has a limited route tree-still he has one of the meanest curl routes in the class. He’s not super athletic-but he is strong and that helps him box out defenders and win jump balls. It also helps him be an effective blocker. His speed is seriously capped, though, and he rarely beats a defensive back. Given his size, you’d hope to see a higher vert from him, instead you see limited ability to jump and a reliance on his size to make catches.
Given the right landing spot, he could see a jump in my rankings. For now, though, his limited athletic ability and speed limit him to a redzone threat, which isn’t appealing for his fantasy football value.
14. Andy Isabella (5’10”, 190), University of Massachusetts
Isabella is one of the most hyped “small-name” prospects
heading into the NFL draft season. He’s coming off back to back 1000+ yard
seasons for FBS UMass (who play as Independents). In his senior season,
Isabella totaled 1,698 receiving yards; 1st in the FBS by over 200
yards. Don’t take his small school lightly either; the Minutemen played tough
opponents that Isabella excelled against. He caught 5 receptions for 96 yards
against Boston College, 13 receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown against
South Florida, and 15 receptions for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns against
Tape is limited on Isabella so my review for him is a bit short and fairly limited; so, he may vary a lot in my rankings throughout the draft process. What’s clear from the tape is that he’s quick, seriously quick. He can move vertically and horizontally, displaying dangerous go routes and the ability to hit the edge on a reverse. His route tree didn’t impress me (again, limited tape) but he really loves running the slant out of the slot (and he’s good at it, too).
His hands are a serious concern for me: he had the ball ripped out of his hands multiple times in contention, and rarely extends his arms fully when pulling in balls. NFL teams need slot receivers and if Isabella is a late round score for a dangerous offense he value will skyrocket-there’s just not enough there for me yet, though.
13. Anthony Johnson (6’2”, 207), Buffalo
You may only recognize Anthony Johnson from Tyree Jackson tape, that’s a mistake-this dude can play. He totaled 133 receptions, 2,367 receiving yards (17.8 yards/catch), and 25 touchdowns in his final two seasons at the University of Buffalo. In his senior season, he had 4 games with at least 95 receiving yards and caught touchdowns in 7 of his 11 match-ups. Although he primarily faced MAC defenses, he did catch 2 balls for 101 yard and a touchdown vs Rutgers.
It’s tough for me to rank Johnson this low-there’s a lot of good in his game. He works a decent route tree, but it’s primarily in the short field: drags, short outs, and screens off the line of scrimmage, and curls (seriously, so many curls) dominate his tape. He’s a solid blocker, but doesn’t work over guys like some of the other bigger bodied receivers in this class do. He has solid hands, but really struggles to put his body in a position to win contested balls.
He has good athleticism and is a YAC threat, but his speed is capped; making him essentially a N’Keal Harry-lite on tape. There’s a lot to like watching Anthony Johnson tape, there’s not just enough to love.
12. Riley Ridley (6’2”, 200), Georgia
Ridley played in 28 games for the Bulldogs, but totaled just 69 receptions, 1,015 yards, and 13 touchdowns. His best senior was his junior year (2018): he pulled in 43 balls for 559 yards and 9 touchdowns. Ridley is being used as the example of much debate in the fantasy football and NFL Draft communities: he seems to be a non-negotiable between analysts and scouts that love his tape and analytic-minded writers whose models reject his poor performance in one of the best offenses in the nation in 2018.
I find myself somewhere in between: I watch tape, and as
much as I respect analytics models, I don’t use one and I haven’t created one
myself-so I’ll focus on the tape. He’s fast, but not likely in the top 5 of wideouts
in this class. Ridley has great footwork but fails to use his hands to create
space at the line of scrimmage or in contested situations. He hasn’t mastered a
full route tree, but does work well when running slants, curls, posts, and 9
routes. He has solid hands, I rarely saw him drop balls in his tape. He has
great athleticism and his big play potential is why many will fall in love with
Ridley. I like Ridley, and I see the appeal but as his ranking indicates-he
doesn’t standout compared to the upside I see in a lot of the guys in this
talented wide receiver class.
11. Emanuel Hall (6’3”, 195), Missouri
Emanuel Hall recorded back to back 800+ yard seasons in his
junior and senior seasons with Drew Lock at the University of Missouri. In
those two seasons, he averaged 23.6 yards per reception and pulled in 14
touchdowns. Hall’s senior season was cut short (8 games) but he had 3 games
with at least 150 receiving yards and had 2 games with multiple touchdowns. He
had just 1 game with less than 70 receiving yards and found the endzone in half
of his games.
Hall is a big play threat, one fantasy football players could come to love. He’s quick off the line of scrimmage and has top-end acceleration. He consistently beats SEC defensive backs. He has subtle hands and good awareness when going up for balls-he consistently adjusted to, and caught balls thrown behind him. He really doesn’t drop footballs. His route tree is limited: it was primarily go routes and slants at Missouri, and his vertical seems limited from tape. Still, his speed and ability to work along the sideline is appealing-he could shoot up my rankings with a landing spot that will compliment his skillset.
10. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (5’10”, 168), Oklahoma
Marquise Brown, the cousin of Antonio Brown, flashed at Oklahoma
in his senior season with Kyler Murray. He caught 75 passes for 1,318 yards
(18.3 yards/reception) and 10 touchdowns. Hollywood had some huge games this
season-6 games with at least 130 yards, including an 11 reception, 243 yard and
2 touchdown games against West Virginia.
Brown will likely finish as one of the three fastest 40 times at the NFL Combine. He’s quick off the line of scrimmage, and perhaps it’s the fact they’re Big 12 defenders but even when defensive backs lined up 12 yards off the line of scrimmage, Brown burned them. He creates serious space with his slant route, but essentially depends on that and his vertical routes to perform. He has a serious motor when blocking and doesn’t mind engaging with a defender and churning his feet to drive him back-a noticeable quality for a player of his size.
He has decent hands, but benefited from Murray putting the ball on spot often-he showed no capability to making a play out of a bad pass. His vertical seems limited, and he often tries, but fails, to make men miss in space. In 5 years, Hollywood very well may be a top 3 receiver from this class-but as John Ross has proved to us: speed isn’t everything and his limited route tree is seriously concerning. Don’t let Big 12 stats convince you to take a shot on this receiver.
9. Deebo Samuel (6’0”, 210), South Carolina
Deebo Samuel impressed early in his career for the Gamecocks: pulling in 59 receptions, 783 receiving yards, and a touchdown in his sophomore season. After injury cut his junior year short, he pulled in 62 receptions for 62 yard and 11 touchdowns in his senior year in Columbia. Samuel also has 25 carries for 154 yards and 7 touchdowns in his career (98 yards, and 6 touchdowns came in 2016).
Samuel is fast: he torched the Clemson secondary and
consistently moves quickly in space. Samuel is quick off the line of scrimmage
and isn’t afraid to use his hands and body to get physical when trying to
create space or lay a block. He has good balance, and can absorb contact and
stay on his feet when taking hits. From returning kicks to running end-arounds,
NFL coaches will fall in love with his versatility. His route tree isn’t
impressive, though, it’s primarily slants and screen off the line of scrimmage.
He also struggles to catch contested passes, rarely bringing in catches when he’s
not operating in space. He’s destined for the slot, but with the recent success
of players like Kupp and Coutee, that shouldn’t scare off fantasy players.
8. Parris Campbell (6’1”, 208), Ohio State
After 3 pedestrian seasons for the Buckeyes, Campbell’s
stock rose from a senior season that included 1,063 receiving yards, 90
receptions, and 12 touchdowns. Campbell impressed against Michigan-catching 6
passes for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns. The shootout against the Wolverines was
1 of 3 games where Campbell pulled in at least 140 receiving yards. Campbell,
though, also had 9 (out of 14) games with less than 70 receiving yards, and 5
games below 50 receiving yards.
Campbell is all around fast-he’s quick off the line of scrimmage, he creates a ton of space when running routes, and can accelerate up the sideline. Campbell has solid hands-he catches almost everything sent his way, which can often require adjustments on passes off the mark from Haskins. Campbell was wide-open on almost a lot of the receptions he made, a testament to his route running ability; but he primarily ran slants, curls, and drags-fairly simple routes. He is athletic and teams will like his versatility-he can be effective on reverse players, work out of the slot, catch passes at the line of scrimmage, or run a 9 route from the outside (although he primarily lined up stacked, or in the slot).
Campbell is getting a lot of hype from the NFL Draft community, and personally considered his stock to be above the Senior Bowl. He could be a late 1st/2nd round NFL draft target and has top 5 wide out potential, if he finds himself in the right spot.
7. Jalen Hurd (6’4”, 217), Baylor
I’m higher on Hurd than most, and I’ll admit now that I had the chance to watch Hurd live while attending school at the University of Tennessee-but this player serious upside, and isn’t being talked about-a formula that could equate to serious fantasy football value. Hurd ran for 899 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns, and caught 35 receptions for 221 yards as a freshman running back (yes, running back) at the University of Tennessee. In his sophomore year, still at Tennessee and still at running back, he ran for 1,285 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns while catching 22 receptions for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Halfway through his junior year (2016), Hurd was receiving serious NFL Draft consideration, with talk indicating he could be a first round pick. Hurd decided he wanted to switch to wide receiver-a position he believed would allow for him to have a longer and more lucrative NFL career. After the Butch Jones led Tennessee coaching staff refused to grant him the position change, Hurd announced his decision to leave Rocky Top; he later announced a transfer to Baylor. Note: Hurd’s transfer allowed Alvin Kamara to take on the starting job-a role he could not beat Hurd for.
As a wideout in a rebuilding Baylor offense, Hurd caught 69 passes for 946 yards and 4 touchdowns. Hurd was still utilized as a running back, though, and rushed the ball 48 times for 209 yards and 3 touchdowns. In total, Hurd finished his college career (which spanned 5 years) with 4,282 total yards from scrimmage (2,844 rushing and 1,438 receiving) and 33 touchdowns (23 rushing, 10 receiving).
Hurd moves quickly in space and burns along the sideline. He breaks guys with his speed and footwork in space, displaying elite running back and top level wideout skills-giving him serious upside potential. Hurd catches everything that comes his way; watching him work along the sideline and over the middle makes you understand why he wanted to make the position change.
He has serious athletic ability, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Hurd finishes top 3 in vert for the position at the Combine. Hurd’s route tree is limited, but I’m impressed with how crisp his routes are-for just one season at the position. He has great footwork that he uses to create space on curls and posts, and aggressive handwork that allows him to create space on drags and outs. He sells his route well, and often overwhelms Big 12 defenders.
Hurd is raw, and I’m hooked by his upside-so there’s risk in this ranking but I believe Hurd will stand out as the most valuable pick for fantasy football players from this draft class.
6. Lil’Jordan Humphrey (6’4”, 225), Texas
Humphrey’s name is equal parts amazing and ironic-he stands as one of the largest receivers in the 2019 class. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than his name is his junior season for the Longhorns: he caught 86 balls for 1,176 yards and 9 touchdowns. Humphrey, like most of the Big 12 prospects, had plenty of big games: catching 9 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown against the Sooners, 143 yards on 9 receptions for 1 touchdown against West Virginia, and 8 receptions for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns against Texas Tech. What’s impressive for me, though, is he put up good performances against solid non-conference competition too: 4 receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown against the Trojans of South California, 6 receptions for 82 yards against Maryland, and 7 receptions for 67 yards against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Humphrey’s route running seriously impressed me: I saw examples of him working a seriously diverse route tree but in particular excels at ins, outs, curls, and drags. He also lines up in the backfield and stacked to take/fake reverses. Humphrey lines up primarily inside, which is odd for his size, but he dominates the middle of the field. He has decent hands, and solid body positioning but I’d like to see him develop this part of his game at the next level.
He doesn’t come off as the quickest guy on the field but he has good acceleration; a trait that helps him both as a wideout and kick returner. Humphrey likely won’t be ranked this high for many, but there’s a lot that I love with his tape-still, he’s fairly raw in a wideout class that has a lot of developed talent. Humphrey may slip in the NFL Draft and in your rookie drafts, but he is a big bodied, impressive, future highlight maker.
5. A.J. Brown (6’1”, 225), Ole Miss
Brown was the driving force behind a high-functioning Ole
Miss offense that has to be considered one of the most dangerous offenses in
the SEC West over the past two seasons. In those two seasons, Brown caught 160
receptions for 2,572 yards and 17 touchdowns. Brown caught at least 6 passes in
10 of 12 games in his senior season: pulling in at least 100 receiving yards in
6 of those 12 games. He caught 6 for 115 against South Carolina, 10 for 155 and
a touchdown against Auburn, 6 for 127 against Texas A&M, and 9 for 212 and
a touchdown against Vanderbilt.
Brown works the middle of the field like no other wideout in this class. He’s fast off the line of scrimmage, creates spaces consistently with his speed, and is very agile when working in that space. He can accelerate across the field and hit the edge and burst up the sideline like an elite running back would. He has great footwork that makes his route running impressive, but his route tree is limited. He banks on his impressive slant route (I’m talking OBJ-esq quality), but I’d like to have seen more. He’s competitive on jump balls-often using subtle handwork and positioning to bring in jump balls, but isn’t automatic-he has some frustrating drops when contested.
Brown has serious YAC capability and it makes him even more appealing for fantasy football purposes. He is consistent, reliable, and has a lot of upside. He would do best in an offense where he can be the WR2-he’s not the highlight maker but he’s a coach’s dream. In a top tier offense, he will be an immediate fantasy football player’s dream too.
4. D.K. Metcalf (6’4”, 225), Ole Miss
Metcalf is one of the most intoxicating prospects in this draft-serious, put a towel on your desk when you’re watching his tape-because you will be drooling. Metcalf very well may be the first wideout to come off the board in April, and in turn your rookie drafts. His college profile, though, is limited: giving us limited tape and numbers to work off. Metcalf began his career in Oxford in 2016, but after just 2 games (and 2 receptions) suffered a season-ending broken foot. In his redshirt freshmen year (2017), Metcalf caught 39 balls for 646 yards (16.6 yards/catch) and 7 touchdowns. Just to clarify, he caught a touchdown on 18% of his receptions.
After 7 games with 26 receptions and 569 yards (21.9 yards/catch) in 2018, Metcalf suffering a season-ending neck injury. Metcalf has been cleared for football activities, but the combine will be essential for his draft stock. For now, though, we will focus on the tape.
Metcalf is fast, but not to the level of guys mentioned previously-like Hollywood Brown, Campbell, or Hurd. He has a limited route tree (to match limited tape/play time) but showed the ability to contribute in the short game with screens off line of scrimmage, and at the mid field with deeper curl routes, and downfield with a explosive 9 route. He has excellent footwork and sells defenders hard on inside moves-which allows him to get down the field with 3-5 steps on some of the best defensive backs in the nation. He’s seriously aggressive at the line of scrimmage and has tremendous handwork.
He uses his hands violently at the line of scrimmage and subtly in pass contention. He uses his large body well to position himself into easy catches. He has seriously impressive athleticism-I’d place my bets on him having the top vertical at the combine. He consistently catches contested passes in double coverage and has fantastic balance when taking hits both during and after passes. The play never seems over when Metcalf has the ball in his hands. I don’t blame you if you like Metcalf best in this class, and he’s close for me-but there’s a few guys that stand out as more finished players.
3. Hakeem Butler (6’6”, 225), Iowa State
Butler is the largest wideout in this class, and he could
return the largest value of any first-round projected fantasy football rookie
picks. Butler caught 41 receptions for 697 yards (17 yards/catch) in his
redshirt sophomore year (2017) while bringing in 7 touchdowns. In 2018 he took
his game to a whole new level: catching 60 balls for 1,318 yards (22 yards/catch)
and 9 touchdowns. Butler’s 22 yards/reception was best in the Big 12 in 2018,
and his 1,318 receiving yards was 8th best in the nation. Butler had
6 games (out of 13) with at least 100 receiving yards (and a 7th
game with 99 yards). He balled out against the best competition in the
conference (5 receptions for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns against Oklahoma) and
against out of conference foes (9 receptions for 192 yards in their bowl game
against Washington State).
Butler has great footwork which compliments a developed route tree. He has subtle, but convincing moves that allow him space against defenders when running curls, corners, posts, and slants. He has aggressive hands that allow him space when beating defenders at the line of scrimmage and opening up serious success when running vertical routes. Butler isn’t the fastest guy in this class-but he accelerates downfield and has quick movements.
He’s serious athletic and can go up and grab just about any ball-he works well over the middle and has great presence along the sideline. Butler can block too-I know not the flashiest thing to talk about but it’ll get him on the field; he literally throws defensive backs off him and finishes blocks to the end. He has fantastic extension and uses all of his long wingspan. On multiple occasions, you can find him dragging smaller defenders down the field.
Butler’s name might not carry the same weight as guys like Metcalf and Brown now, but come rookie draft season-it will.
2. N’Keal Harry (6’4”, 213), Arizona State
Harry racked up back to back 1,000+ yard seasons for Arizona
State in his sophomore and junior seasons (2017 & 2018). In those seasons,
he combined for 155 receptions, 2,230 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns, 20
rushing attempts, 75 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Harry finished 2nd
in the Pac-12 in receiving yards in both of those seasons. In 2018, Harry had
just 3 games (out of 13) with less than 80 receiving yards-and totaled 4 games
with 100+. Harry’s stats aren’t as flashy as some of the other wideouts in this
class, but he’s consistency is seriously attractive for fantasy football
purposes-and was doing a lot with a little around him in Tempe.
Harry catches everything thrown his way (accurate or not). His ability to box out defenders with his body is perhaps the best of the class. He uses his hands to create significant separation when going up for contested passes. His footwork helps him create space at the line of scrimmage-often selling defenders and making them look silly.
His route tree is solid, but could use some expansion: he loves curls and slants but Arizona State really loved to put the ball in his hands at or behind the line of scrimmage. You can’t blame them for that-Harry is seriously dangerous when he has the ball in his hands. He’s quick and using his feet and vision in a way that mocks the best running backs in this class. He will make guys miss in space and isn’t afraid to smash the circle button on a line backer (that’s a spin move for my non-Madden players). He’s strong too: he gets physical with defenders when blocking and has the strength to throw would-be tacklers off him when running the ball.
Whether it’s the NFL or your rookie drafts, there’s always risk associated with making your selection-with Harry, so much of that risk is eliminated. He’s consistent, competitive, and has the athletic upside you can only dream of.
Harmon pulled in 69 receptions for 1,017 receiving yards and
4 touchdowns as a sophomore (2017) at North Carolina State. This was despite
being in a run-heavy offense which featured 2017 draft picks Jaylen Samuels and
Nyheim Hines. In 2018, he brought those impressive numbers up to 81 receptions
for 1,186 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns against ACC opponents. He finished
with 7 (out of 12) games with over 90 receiving yards and caught 6 receptions
in 8 games. Harmon finished 6th in receptions and 2nd in receiving
yards in the ACC in 2017, and 4th in receptions and 1st
in receiving yards in 2018.
Harmon comes off as the most pro-ready wide receiver in the class to me. Harmon’s footwork is next level, it allows him to create separation on comeback routes that seem like automatic 7-12 yard gains and allow him to break the ankles of defenders in space. Harmon has the speed to burn defenders on 9 routes-giving him the big play potential every fantasy football player wants. More impressive, though, is Harmon’s short to mid field work. In addition to footwork, Harmon’s handwork allows him to create separation at the line of scrimmage immediately and consistently.
I’m low-key in love with Harmon’s ability to subtly, but effectively, use his hands to create spaces on contested space. This combination makes him a intoxicating combination of a PPR dream and the big play upside that makes fantasy players fantasy champions.
Harmon also has one of (if not the best) high point in this draft class. He’s extremely long and athletic and is able to extend his body to make even the worst Ryan Findley throw catchable. He consistently adjusts to bad passes with quick reactions, and high level of awareness. He has top level presence along the sideline and has great balance. Harmon is also a great blocker-he seeks contact with defenders and has great mechanics when holding blocks, not the flashiest skill to have but it should allow him to get on (and stay on) the field early in his NFL career.
Harmon’s upside might not be the same as Metcalf, and his
stats might not be as padded as A.J. Brown-but he checks all of the boxes, and
consistently performs at a high level in an offense that wasn’t made for his
success. His tape is impressive and he’s ready to contribute to an NFL offense.
I expect him to have a successful combine, and baring a tough landing spot he
will be my 1.01.
This article is my personal breakdown of the 2019 wide receiver draft class in, pre-combine and specifically from tape review. These rankings relate specifically to how these players will translate […]