It’s NFL Draft time! Finally, the season feels as if it’s within grasp! That’s fantastic and all, but if you’re a dynasty owner, or maybe just a re-draft junkie coming out of hibernation, there is still a lot of research to be done on the incoming rookie class.
I always love doing mock drafts prior to the NFL Draft because it helps keep me honest. What in the world am I talking about when I say that? I’ll keep it short because I don’t want to patronize you as the reader.
Everyone is tempted to grab a player based on landing spot over actual talent. Mocks that take place before the NFL draft are more based on an individual prospect’s talent than any potential landing spot for snaps and immediate contribution.
That’s where this mock draft comes in. Over the course of 4 days I held a 2-round, 12-team mock draft using Twitter polls to help formulate a mock draft. Thanks to nearly 2000 voters I was able to come up with some pretty reasonable data. Some of the results may surprise. Some of them may not. Either way, I hope you enjoy this piece & keep it in mind over the course of the next few months as players’ stocks will completely explode or implode in just a few short days, whether they should or not.
As always, reach me on Twitter @FF_TravisM or leave a comment. I’m all about serving you, the reader, and learning something new every day.
Pick 1.01 – Ezekiel Elliott RB (Ohio State)
This pick should not come as a surprise. It seemed as the NCAA College Football National Championship game concluded way back in January of last year that Elliott would be the presumed 1.01 in 2016 rookie drafts. This off-season, a couple wide receivers could be considered instead, but Elliott took home 85% of the votes in the poll for this mock. There really isn’t a landing spot where Elliott’s value drops below the 1.03. You can try and pick out a weakness in his game but there aren’t many. He runs with amazing technique, inside, outside, can catch, pass protect, & has the swagger to go along with it. The only interesting thing I noticed is that he never switches the ball to his left hand. He hasn’t had fumbling issues in college, but the pros will take that ball away if he doesn’t get that figured out. Anyway, he’s the 1.01, and it’s really not close.
Pick 1.02 – Laquon Treadwell WR (Ole Miss)
This is a pick where many people have Josh Doctson. In fact, the results were 51% to 36% in favor of Treadwell. Why is it that close? Josh Docston just looks to be a superior athletic specimen after the combine (and really looking at some of his tape). Depending on the NFL Draft the 1.02 & 1.03 could flip-flop, easy. Treadwell isn’t a burner. His slow 40-time (should have) surprised no one. He’s got solid hands, wins at the catch, great production, & even run blocks well. He’s going to make an NFL team happy, even though I’m hesitant to proclaim him as any sort of WR1 material. He’s a definite NFL talent, but given a poor landing spot could easily drop in drafts because of a fickle dynasty community. If I’m sitting at the 1.04 this year I’m hoping Treadwell’s landing spot isn’t the sexiest and my league mates get cute. Don’t overthink it guys, he’s a top 2 WR in this year’s class.
Pick 1.03 – Josh Doctson WR (TCU)
This pick was much easier for most. Doctson earned 68% of the votes on the Twitter poll. According to more than 20 mocks I’ve participated in this off-season he’s a consensus top 3 pick this year in rookie drafts. This is a guy who really came out of nowhere to become potentially the top WR prospect in this draft. He was a former walk-on, that slowly, but surely, developed into a stud who happens to have a 41-inch vertical. However, there’s one thing. He’ll be 24 before the NFL playoffs this year. That’s why I think many have him in the 1.03 slot. He may be around his developmental ceiling, whereas a 20-year-old like Treadwell potentially has more room to grow; at least that’s what dynasty obsessives will tell you. Doctson could hit the ground running and produce right away given the right landing spot. If he lands somewhere as the WR1 option right away he’ll probably jump to 1.02 (and even 1.01 in some rookie drafts). If he falls to you at 1.04 don’t be dumb. You know what to do.
Pick 1.04 – Corey Coleman WR (Baylor)
Corey Coleman is my WR5. He may have won this slot in the mock by garnering 67% of the vote (out of 4 options), but he’s not the 1.04 to me. I won’t get too specific here, but I have some issues with his consistency. I’m not talking about him jogging on go routes as his coaches have instructed him to do on off-plays. I’m talking about his hands on the deep ball. I’m talking about his ability to beat press consistently when faced with legitimate competition. He’s solid. Don’t get me wrong. He’s standing alone right now in nearly all mock drafts as the WR2, 3, or 4. He’s just a bit too undersized, inconsistent, & Baylor-ish for me to get super excited. I may be wrong, but I’m not taking him at the 1.04. I’d gladly take Carroo or Shepard before him, but we’ll get to that. He has the chance to be the first WR off the board to the Texans. If that happens his stock may be even pricier.
Pick 1.05 – Derrick Henry RB (Alabama)
Early on in this mock the picks were pretty set in stone. Henry took 40% of the vote (16% more than 2nd place, Sterling Shepard). Henry is a massive ogre of a human. His numbers on the ground will scare you. His numbers through the air will make you laugh and pick him last at recess. His legs are often utilized as well as toothpicks up the hole, unless he generates enough steam. He has horrible agility by every measure. Yet, here he sits at 1.05. I probably wouldn’t take him here if you paid me, but you can’t deny that he is a monster. There really are 0 professional comparisons for him. You can say Brandon Jacobs, but you’d be wrong. He could absolutely dominate in a ground & pound offense. He could also fizzle out due to poor offensive line play and being absolutely useless on 3rd downs. Either way, Derrick Henry is a polarizing rookie whose stock will largely be predicated upon his landing spot. I buy him as a Patriot, Cowboy, Raider or Seahawk. I don’t touch him with a 25000-foot pole in a few places.
Pick 1.06 – Leonte Carroo WR (Rutgers)
Leonte what? This is a guy who just a few months ago was looking at the 1st round of rookie mocks drafts from the outside in. Now, you can find people on #DynastyTwitter who claim he’s the WR1. Why? He absolutely dominates when given the opportunity. He is a big play machine with soft hands. Also, please just watch his footwork for a game or two. He just does all the small things well. Plus, he has adequate size, speed & burst that you want to see from an NFL prospect. He’ll be a Day 2 selection whose landing spot could drastically affect his value. I’m all over taking him in the middle of the 1st round regardless of landing spot.
Pick 1.07 – Sterling Shepard WR (Oklahoma)
Don’t get me started on Sterling. He’s my 1.o4 this year. If you want to know the full extent of reasoning behind my man-crush please reach out to me on Twitter. Sterling is a guy who really doesn’t do anything poorly. His strength over the middle is unbelievable. His route-running versatility, post-snap adjustments, body control & tracking skills amaze every time I watch him. He may be smaller, but he packs a punch. He earned 40% of the vote in this slot, and frankly, should have gotten more. I never saw Shepard fall below the 1.10 in any rookie or start-up mock draft all off-season. He’ll go anywhere from the 1.04 to 1.09 most likely, regardless of landing spot. Be prepared & confident to invest.
Pick 1.08 – Kenneth Dixon RB (Louisiana Tech)
This one surprised me a little bit. It actually somewhat surprised Twitter too, I think. Dixon beat out Ohio State’s Michael Thomas (WR) by 4%. Dixon was the RB 4 or 5 in January for the most part. However, now that more and more people have watched his hard-to-get tape, & have thoroughly drooled over his receiving ability, it’s going to be hard to invest the draft capital required to get Kenneth. He’s my RB2 over Henry, and it isn’t very close. Please take some time yourself to watch some tape. You’ll want to put him in your top 5. I’m fine taking him here at the 1.08, but much higher and I would rather have some WRs.
Pick 1.09 – Michael Thomas WR (Ohio State)
It’s funny, because #DynastyTwitter calls him “Bad” Michael Thomas (since they’re bitter that Mike Thomas from SMU got snubbed without a combine invite). They should probably just stop. This Michael Thomas man-handles defensive backs after the catch. He’s a crisp route runner who could thrive in many NFL offenses. He’s not perfect. Sometimes he sells his routes with repetitive tendencies. I don’t care. The guy looks the part, & outside of his 40, he absolutely killed it at the combine. I would be glad to take him at the 1.09. In fact, I would take him over Derrick Henry. *Ducks to avoid the tomatoes*
Pick 1.10 – Will Fuller WR (Notre Dame)
This scrawny little baby-handed sprinter has gone anywhere from the 1.04 to the 2.08 in the drafts I’ve participated in this off-season. He really could go anywhere, but just beat out Tyler Boyd in this poll by 7%. Fuller has a couple things going for him: speed & body control. He ran about a 4.3 in the 40 at the combine, which was basically light-speed for this draft class in particular. You can’t teach that. NFL teams do love them some speed guys (just look at Phillip Dorsett, Kevin White & Breshad Perriman’s stock last year). He also hand-fights well & times his jumps to offset his somewhat limited athletic abilities outside of straight-line speed. I like that, but I’m not sure his tiny frame & hands, plus average agility & hops will serve him well at the next level. 1.10 is a reach for me here, regardless of landing spot in the draft.
Pick 1.11 – Tyler Boyd WR (Pittsburgh)
Okay, so this guy is a prime example of a combine bust. Prior to the combine, I saw Boyd flying off draft boards as the 1.04, 5 or 6. However, sadly he ran a 4.58 40, had a poor broad jump & less than stellar shuttle time. This is a massive overreaction by the dynasty community. Boyd produced every year at Pitt, but finished up on a low note due to some inconsistency in QB play & clear frustration on his part. To me, and many other smart dynasty owners, Boyd is still solidly inside the 1st round of rookie drafts as a prospect, regardless of landing spot. Don’t get obsessed over his combine. If there at 1.11, he’s the best player on the board.
Pick 1.12 – C.J. Prosise RB (Notre Dame)
C.J. Prosise is an impressive athlete. He got tossed around at different positions, but landed at RB for Notre Dame this past season. At 6’0, 220, he runs a sub-4.5 40 & catches the ball like a receiver (because he was one). In many ways he reminds me of David Johnson from last year, albeit with less actual RB experience. However, instead his lack of experience discouraging me, it actually makes me love him more. He was able to put together solid production against tough competition in his first year at the position. The end of the 1st round is exactly where I want to take a guy like Prosise this year. The WRs are starting to look like what’s left at the bar at 1:47am, & the other RBs have question marks (outside of maybe Booker). Take Prosise at this point even if he’s supposedly buried on a depth chart after the draft.
Pick 2.01 – Devontae Booker RB (Utah)
This is an RB to watch. He’s coming off a torn meniscus, so there are some questions concerning his immediate impact in the NFL. Booker does have some great tape, though. His vision, decisiveness & balance to his game is just what you want to see coming out of college. I feel like you could plug him in just about anywhere and he could contribute at the next level on any down. He’s a safe early 2nd round rookie pick to me. I haven’t seen him go this early that often this off-season, but take him around 2.01, 2 or 3 with 100% confidence if he’s still there.
Pick 2.02 – Mike Thomas WR (SMU)
Finally, the “Good” Mike Thomas goes off the board. Sorry, I just enjoy mocking that narrative. I like Mike Thomas, but not as the 2.02 in rookie drafts. The guy didn’t even get an invite to combine & played sub-par competition quite often. He’s got the right twitch & deception in his routes to take advantage at the college level, but I want to see what happens draft day. We like to think we’re smarter than NFL scouts here in the fantasy world, but for the most part we usually aren’t. If Mike Thomas gets drafted inside of round 5 I’m paying attention, but still probably not taking him inside of 2.05.
Pick 2.03 – Braxton Miller WR (Ohio State)
I have already written a piece on why you should avoid this guy, so I won’t bother repeating everything. Braxton is only in the 2.03 conversation because of his name. He was a stud QB for a while. He played for Ohio State. He had that one spin move against Virginia Tech last year. That’s great and all, but he caught more than 2 balls in a game just twice. He is incredibly raw. I’m not taking Braxton inside the first two rounds, period. That’s how you waste solid draft capital. Let someone else draft him, then buy low when he does nothing for the first two seasons.
Pick 2.04 – Paul Perkins RB (UCLA)
Perkins is a guy I was just “meh” on for some time. Then I really watched his tape & looked at his ability force missed tackles. He is a top 5 RB in this class when it comes to forcing missed tackles per carry. That’s impressive for his frame. Some pundits say he’s just a 3rd down guy. He may be, given his average athletic measurables at the combine. However, he’s also an incredibly complete back who can do everything you want. If he lands in the right place his stock could go too high for my blood, but I absolutely love him at 2.04.
Pick 2.05 – Jonathan Williams RB (Arkansas)
This was a massive, yet pleasant surprise. For a while there, in January, Jonathan Williams was the forgotten Arkansas RB. Alex Collins was supposedly a top 3 RB, & Williams was just this guy who played for Arkansas one time. Here’s the thing: Jonathan Williams is a better RB than Alex Collins. He’s more agile, has a more complete athletic profile (by a mile), is a better receiver, & actually pass protects some too. Jonathan did miss significant time due to injuries, but if he stays healthy he’ll beast it head and shoulders above Alex Collins.
Pick 2.06 – Alex Collins RB (Arkansas)
Speak of the devil! I’m not a fan, and like Braxton, I already wrote a piece on why i’m avoiding him. I won’t delve too far into it. Simpl put, he is not an NFL athlete. He flat out embarrassed himself at the combine with the worst vertical, poor 40, poor broad jump & wouldn’t even man up & complete the agility drills. What’s worse is that he sat on the majority of his combine numbers at his pro day. With all of that said, he has absolutely stunning technique. His pad level, footwork, ability to make decisive shuffles in traffic, & nose for the end zone all entice me, but 2.06 is about the absolute earliest I even start to have his name in my head. He just can’t cut or accelerate like NFL RBs should.
Pick 2.07 – Pharoh Cooper WR (South Carolina)
Pharoh was also in that Rookie WRs To Avoid article with Braxton. He’s dropped some in mocks in the last month, so I’m feeling a little better about taking him. 2.07 is still too rich for Pharoh’s talent, though. He can’t get open against anything but soft zone & way-off-man coverage. Plus, he’s not an especially impressive athlete. He also functions primarily from the slot. I’m not spending a mid-2nd on a guy like Cooper. I took him in a couple Devy leagues & I regret it to this day.
Pick 2.08 – Jordan Howard RB (Indiana)
As a former Purdue Boilermaker I am programmed to dislike IU anything, but I can’t hate this guy. He was in my Rookie RBs to Avoid article, but at 2.08 I’m beginning to consider him. He, like Collins, has fairly impressive vision & technique. He may not make people miss. He may not be super quick. However, he does make the right reads & shuffle just enough to add some on to the end of the carry. Plus, he’s a pretty solid tackle breaker in one on one situations. I probably wait until the end of the 2nd to get Jordan, but this isn’t terrible.
Pick 2.09 – Malcolm Mitchell WR (Georgia)
This guy’s stock keeps rising & I hate it. Back in early March he was a late round rookie steal for me. Now he’s sneaking into the back end of round 2 with some consistency. He’s got a solid athletic profile with the ability to move the chains. I’d like to see him develop his deep game, but he can line up on the outside right away as a WR2 if he can stay healthy. I love me some Malcolm Mitchell. Do yourself a favor and snag him at 2.09 or earlier.
Pick 2.10 – Keith Marshall RB (Georgia)
Stop freaking out over 40-yard dash times. Stop it. No, no, no. Just stop it. I like Marshall’s potential, but that’s all he has. He ran a 4.3ish 40 & he’s big. That great. You can look at his stats. You can watch his tape. There’s nothing insane about any of it. He’s an okay RB for the beginning of the 3rd round, maybe. He could blow us away for a year or two as a fairly strong sprinter, but I don’t see a sustained feature back with him. Most scouts don’t either.
Pick 2.11 – Rashard Higgins (Colorado State)
I want to root for this guy. He’s a small school prospect with some nasty numbers (over 230 catches at Colorado State). The problem is that he’s a terrible athlete by NFL standards. He was near the bottom in every measurable athletic category at the combine. That’s not encouraging. He completely annihilated the competition he faced in college, and definitely has one of the most diverse route trees in this class, but I’m torn on Higgins. I like him around this spot, but I’m not confident at all that he’ll succeed at the next level. He’s basically a less athletic version of Kenny Bell (2015 5th round talent).
Pick 2.12 – Keyarris Garrett (Tulsa)
Keyarris has been climbing boards. It’s probably because he’s the exact opposite of Higgins. He has a massive stereotypical X-WR body type, but he’s only solid on a short list of routes. I like to call him small school Demaryius Thomas, though, given what he does & his frame. That’s probably too high of praise, but I’m intrigued by Keyarris more than anyone else at this point in the draft. Earlier this off-season you could get him near the end of round 3. Sorry, you’ll probably have to take him before the turn of round 2 if he gets drafted in the first 4 rounds of the draft.
First 3 Out
Tajae Sharpe WR (UMass) – Small school market share (target hog) warrior that is way too scrawny to go early in the draft. See where he lands & don’t reach.
Charone Peake WR (Clemson) – Clemson WRs tend to be okay. Peake never lived up to his hype until it was too late in college.
Kenyan Drake RB (Alabama) – Kenyan very well may outperform Derrick Henry at the next level. That is not crazy.
Thanks for reading! Again, feel free to reach me on Twitter @FF_TravisM. Good luck in all your drafts!