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Wed Jan 8th 2020

Re-ranking the Second Round of the 2019 Rookie Class

Early Hits and Misses from the Rookie Class

Last week, I re-ranked the first round of the 2019 rookie draft.  This week, I will re-rank the second round of the 2019 rookie class.

It's another humbling process to re-rank the class and compare the players to where I had them ranked before rookie drafts last May, but it's an important way to learn from the past so I can improve for the future.  I'll be honest about my hits and misses.

13. Marquise Brown (previously #16)

  • I was a lot lower on Brown than most analysts last year, having him ranked #16 while he was drafted in the first round of all of my rookie drafts.  I did not like his landing spot in Baltimore with their run-first offense and what I thought at the time to be a questionable passing quarterback, Lamar Jackson.  I also was concerned about his size and propensity to get injured.  My injury concerns were proved right in Brown's rookie year since he missed two games and was on the injury report and less than 100% for much of the season. Lamar Jackson's improvement as a passer is what surprised me the most, which is why I have moved Brown up to #13 if I was to redraft today.  He scored seven touchdowns but only twice had more than four catches in a game, so he was efficient on a team that targets their tight ends more than their wide receivers.  There were enough big plays and big games to change my opinion about Brown slightly.

14. N'Keal Harry (previously #5)

  • This ranking is a bit unfair since Harry was injured for most of the season, but I still think there are reasons for Harry to drop our of the first round if redrafted today.  New England has not had much success drafting wide receivers, and their offense is difficult for young wide receivers to learn.  It's also possible that this is Brady's last year to play, so Harry will have a severe downgrade at quarterback in his future.  Harry's athleticism, college tape, and the Patriot's efforts to target him in the red zone this year are enough reasons to hold his value after a poor rookie year, but not enough to keep him in the first round anymore.

15. Diontae Johnson (previously #21)

  • Whereas New England struggles to draft wide receivers, Pittsburg excels at it.  Last year's rookie, James Washington, took two years to make an impact but finally did this year.  This year's rookie wide receiver made an impact year one, and that with back-up quarterbacks most of the season.  He had a catch in every game, scored five touchdowns, and by the end of the season was playing 70% of the snaps.  It's hard to know if his productivity elevated because Juju Smith-Schuster was injured for much of the season and if next year, Juju and James Washington will lead the team in targets.  That said, Johnson already scored more fantasy points than Washington this year.  I didn't rank him higher than #21 before the draft because I believed Washington would become the second-best wide receiver in Pittsburg.  Now I rank him #16 because I believe Johnson is better than Washington.

16. David Montgomery (previously #3)

  • Montgomery and a player to be named later have fallen more than any players in my rankings.  He was taken in the first five picks of all of my drafts but has not lived up to expectations even though he was given the starting role from game one.  He was just average, scoring 10 points a game with only three games over 20 points.  I can't excuse my pre-rookie-draft ranking of Montgomery at #3.  I ranked him #3 largely based on the opportunity and draft capital even though I had him ranked #10 in my re-combine and pre-draft rankings.  I think I was pressured into moving him up to #3 based on other people's opinions and wished I would have been bolder in my take on him.  I hope in the future to take stronger stands on players and only bump players up in my rankings because of opportunity and draft capital if I already believed in them.

17. Alexander Mattison (previously #19)

  • Mattison stays right about in the same spot I looked to draft him last year.  It stinks that he is buried behind Cook, who played so well this year.  It stinks even worse that Mattison was injured at the same time Cook was injured, so we never were able to see what he could do as the lead back while the often injured Cooks was finally injured.  Even so, Minnesota spelled Cook often with Mattison, and it was hard to tell the difference between the two of them when he did (the dreadlocks made it even harder to tell).  Cook is likely to get injured again next year, and as he nears his contract year, Minnesota may choose to let him go in free agency while keeping Mattison on his rookie contract for the next few years.  Mattison will only start on our dynasty teams if Cook is injured, but he's one of the best handcuffs to hold that may become a leading back in the future.

18. Dwyane Haskins (previously #24)

  • Haskins, along with the next two quarterbacks, have moved up in the second round of my rankings because they played a little better at the end of the year and largely because other guys I had ranked ahead of them did not play well in their rookie years.  Haskins has a lot of young weapons.  They were starting three rookie receivers at the end of the year in McLaurin, Sims, and Harmon.  He has a new coach in Ron Rivera who said he chose Washington largely because he like the weapons they have.  The team should get better around Haskins, and he'll be given every opportunity to excel.  He improved drastically as the year progressed.  I think he can continue to do so.

19. Gardner Minshew (previously unranked)

  • Minshew would be the largest riser in this re-draft, given that I did not even have him ranked among my top 75 rookies last year.  That's pretty amazing.  Jacksonville retained Doug Marone as their head coach, and while he has not committed to Minshew as the starter over Foles next year, he already did so this last year.  If Foles were not on the roster, I would have Minshew ranked ahead of Haskins.  Both have great receivers, but I prefer Chark, Westbrook, and Conley in Jacksonville.

20. Drew Lock (previously #35)

  • Lock only had a few games to convince Denver that he is their future franchise quarterback, but he appears to have done so according to John Elway.  Thus, he has made the jump from the back of the third round to the back of the second round if I were to re-draft today.  I had him ranked lower than most analysts last year before rookie drafts, and I still have questions about his footwork and accuracy, but he appears to have proven me wrong so far.

21. Damien Harris (previously #8)

  • It hurt me to move Harris so far down my rankings (13 spots like David Montgomery) because I really believed he would become the lead running back in New England by the end of the season because I am not a fan of Sony Michel.  Instead, he hardly played this year.  I am sticking to my guns a bit by continuing to have him ranked in the second round, but if I re-drafted today, I really would draft him here.  I still believe he's a better between-the-tackles and short-yardage running back than anyone on the Patriot's roster.  He's a guy I'll be trying to trade for this offseason.

22. Tony Pollard (previously #40)

  • Pollard has looked great when spelling Zeke Elliot.  He is permanently buried behind Zeke after he signed his new contract, but he's one of the best handcuffs to own at the running back position.  Dallas found ways to play Pollard and Zeke at the same time near the end of the season.  Hopefully, the new coaching staff will find ways to do so in the future.  Even though he'll never be better than Zeke, I'd draft him at the end of the second round today while he was a fourth-round value for me last May.

23. Ryquell Armstead (previously #27)

  • Armstead stays about the same in my rakings, though he moved up four spots to get into the second round.  Fournette had a surprising injury-free season this year, so Armstead did not get opportunities to show what he could do this year until the last week of the year when the season was over for Jacksonville.  He scored 17 fantasy points that week gave a taste of what he could be if Fournette did get injured.  Jacksonville retained their coaching staff so they'll be familiar with Armstead and what he can do next year.  I believe he will get more opportunities next year, much like Pollard did this year, while remaining one of the best handcuffs to own.

24. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (previously #13)

  • I am stubborn with my pre-draft evaluation here by keeping J.J. in the second round even though he has proved nothing this year even while given every opportunity.  Philadelphia wide receivers dropped like flies this year with injuries.  Even so, J.J. did not take advantage of his opportunity.  Even the undrafted college quarterback, Greg Ward, played better than J.J. as the season ended.  Philadelphia is one of my most trusted teams in evaluating talent.  I am trusting in their evaluation of J.J. and my own.  I could have been completely wrong on J.J., but for now, I'm not willing to move him out of my second round if I were to redraft today.


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