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Fri May 8th 2020

Rookie Draft Analysis #1

Analyizing My "Diehards" Rookie Draft

My first rookie draft took place last week in my favorite league - "The DieHards" league. This league is my most active league with tons of trades and savvy owners. It's a single quarterback league with 6 points per touchdown pass and half PPR. Last year I had the best regular-season record but lost in the semifinals, so I was tenth in the draft order minus trades.

I gave up two first-round picks late in the season in a trade for Alvin Kamara so I can't comment on my first and second-round picks, but I will share what I thought of the first two rounds of this draft in addition to thoughts on the players I was eventually able to pick.

As you prepare for your drafts, I hope seeing this draft helps you assess rookie ADP so that you might know which player you can wait on and for which players you might need to reach.

Round #1

1. Jonathan Taylor

2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

3. J.K. Dobbins

4. DeAndre Swift

5. Cam Akers

6. CeeDee Lamb

7. Jerry Jeudy

8. Justin Jefferson

9. Ke'Shawn Vaughn

10. Jalen Reagor

11. Denzel Mims

12. Brandon Aiyuk

  • Best Value: This draft went "chalk" for the most part through the first eight picks. I believe 9 of these picks will be in the first round of almost all of the rookie drafts. Denzel Mims and Brandon Aiyuk will be second-round picks in many drafts.
  • Biggest Stretch: Ke'Shawn Vaughn is the pick I disagree with most in this round, though I suspect he will be drafted in the first round in most rookie drafts. I would not draft him until the middle of the second round after many of the wide receivers and after the top two rookie quarterbacks. I feel like people are placing too much value on his landing spot in Tampa Bay as if Ronald Jones is not more talented and as if coach Arians drafted his next David Johnson. Jones improved in his second year, especially at the end of the year, and he's younger than Vaughn. I see this as a split backfield, one that Vaughn will never take over.
  • My Pick: I traded two first-round picks for Alvin Kamara last year.

Round #2

13. Joe Burrow

14. Michael Pittman

15. Zack Moss

16. Tee Higgins

17. A.J. Dillon

18. Laviska Shenault

19. Tua Tagovailoa

20. Henry Ruggs

21. Chase Claypool

22. Anthony McFarland

23. Devin Duvernay

24. Bryan Edwards

  • Best Value: Bryan Edwards was a steal at pick #24. I was trying to trade up during this draft to get him. He is my 18th ranked rookie. He has the talent to become the WR-1 in Las Vegas above Henry Ruggs. Edwards was thought to be among the top rookie wide receivers in this class before the 2019 college football season. He was considered to be a better prospect than Deebo Samuel in South Carolina. A solid but not spectacular 2019 season combined with a broken foot that meant he could not test at the NFL Combine or his pro-day caused him to drop in the NFL draft, but it should not cause him to drop this far in our rookie drafts.
  • Biggest Stretch: A.J. Dillon was a bit of a reach here, in my opinion. Aaron Jones is in a contract year, so there is speculation that Dillon was drafted to become Jones's replacement in Green Bay. I don't think that will happen. Jones is already proven, and Green Bay would be crazy to let him walk at the end of this season. There is almost always a way to make contracts work and stay under the salary cap. Jamaal Williams took 35% of the snaps last year, mostly on passing downs. Dillon is not a passing-downs back, so Williams could maintain his role and muddy the whole running back situation in Green Bay.
  • My Pick: I traded this pick during the 2019 rookie draft. I received T.Y. Hilton and a 2020 first-round pick (which was part of the Kamara trade mentioned above) for my 2020 second-round pick.

Round #3

25. Antonio Gibson

26. Joshua Kelly

27. K.J. Hamler

28. DeeJay Dallas

29. Tyler Johnson

30. Cole Kmet

31. Justin Herbert

32. Raymond Calais

33. Albert Okwwuegbunam

34. My Pick: Darrynton Evans

35. Adam Trautman

36. Van Jefferson

  • Best Value: Tyler Johnson is my 22nd ranked wide receiver, but was drafted at #29 in this draft. He was the last player I was trying to trade up for in this draft. After he was drafted, I was content to wait until my pick at #34. Johnson was ridiculously productive at Minnesota but fell in the NFL draft based on questions about his athleticism and ability to beat man-to-man coverage. He did not participate in the NFL Combine or the Senior Bowl, which dropped his stock as well. I place far more value on college production than I do in scouts' assessments or athletic scores. He had 1169 yards and 12 touchdowns his junior year and 1317 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior season. What's not to like?
  • Biggest Stretch: It's hard to call anything a stretch at this point in the draft. Here is where many teams were reaching for guys they valued, and many surprise picks were made. That said, I'd say Albert Okwwuegbunam was the biggest stretch. He was a star at the Combine and is reunited with his college quarterback, Drew Lock, but he was drafted by Denver, who drafted two offensive weapons ahead of him this year (Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler) and will be stuck behind a better tight end, Noah Fant. In dynasty, it already takes too long for tight ends to break out. Let alone when he is buried on the depth chart and target chart.
  • My Pick: I finally was able to make a draft pick and drafted Darrynton Evans. My running back depth is weak, though I do have Nick Chubb and Alvin Kamara. I wanted to draft a running back and was debating between Evans and Eno Benjamin. I like both players and have them only four spots apart in my rankings (#28 and #32), but the fact that Evans is excellent in the passing game and appears to be locked into the RB-2 role behind Derrick Henry who not used in the passing game made Evans an easy choice for me. 

Round #4

37. Eno Benjamin

38. Joe Reed

39. Quintez Cephus

40. La'Mical Perine

41. Devin Asaiasi

42. Lynn Bowden

43. Antonio Gandy-Golden

44. Jordan Love

45. James Proche

46. My Pick: Salvon Ahmed

47. Donovan Peoples-Jones

48. Darnell Mooney

  • Best Value: Antonio Gandy-Golden fell way too far in this draft. He picked 43 while he is my 27th ranked rookie. This pick was shocking. I don't believe I will see this again in any of my drafts. He was drafted in the fourth round to a Redskins team that has the WR-2 position open for competition. Terry McLaurin was the steal of the draft last year in the 3rd round. Gandy-Golden could be the steal of this draft, especially if drafted this late. He's a raw prospect given that he played against weaker competition at Liberty University, but he has the size, raw talent, and intelligence to become a star with a little NFL coaching.
  • Biggest Stretch: Joe Reed, I believe, was drafted to be a special teams player and overall athletic contributor rather than a starting wide receiver. K.J. Hill will be a better wide receiver to complement Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The Chargers are building up their defense and look to become a more conservative offense with Tyrod Taylor or rookie, Justin Herbert, at quarterback. Reed is not on my 72-man draft board.
  • My Pick: I was the team to draft a UDFA in Salvon Ahmed. As I said earlier, I needed running back depth in this draft. If Gandy-Golden or James Proche (who went right before me) were available, I would have drafted them. San Francisco signed Ahmed to a 3-year UDFA contract. The Shanahan's are known for their ability to turn UDFA running backs into stars, and their running back depth is a little weaker after trading Matt Breida in the draft. In the fourth round, I thought it was worth a risk to see what he does in the preseason. If he can make the final roster by the time I have to cut back my line-up, I'd be happy to have him on my roster. 

Round #5

49. Collin Johnson

50. Thaddeus Moss

51. Michael Warren

52. Jalen Hurts

53. Jauan Jennings

54. Gabriel Davis

55. Jamycal Hasty

56. My Pick: Isaiah Hodgins

57. Russell Gage

58. My Pick: Brian Hill

59. John Hightower

60. K.J. Hill

  • Best Value: K.J. Hill landed in a great spot in LA. He has an excellent opportunity to become the WR-3 in LA behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Hill became the all-time reception leader at Ohio State. While not testing well and clearly not showing the ability, in my opinion, to ever become a WR-1 on a team, he could become a WR-3 as early as this year and perhaps develop into a WR-2 in LA and WR-3 on dynasty teams. At rookie #58 in my rankings, I could not believe he became "Mr. Insignificant" as the last pick of our Diehard Draft.
  • Biggest Stretch: It's hard to pick a stretch pick here in the 5th round, but I'll pick Jamycal Hasty. The owner who picked him was likely banking on the fact that Kyle Shanahan knows how to hit on UDFA running backs, which is true. However, Salvon Ahmed was given a longer contract in this crowded backfield. I don't blame an owner for waiting to see on Hasty, but he was already out of my rookie rankings before the NFL draft. Salvon Ahmed was still in my rankings and, while not drafted, moved up significantly after signing his UDFA contract.
  • My Picks: Because I had five open roster spots in this draft and I only had two draft picks, I wanted to be sure to secure at least one player before having to fight for them among the UDFAs, especially since I would be 10th in the UDFA draft priority. Therefore, I traded my 2021 fifth-round pick to pick Isaiah Hodgins, who was my #37 ranked player overall. Hodgins, drafted in the sixth round by Buffalo, has a lot of competition with Stefan Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley, and their fourth-round draft pick Gabriel Davis, ahead of him. Still, I believe Hodgins has the size, talent, and productivity to become the WR-2 in Buffalo within 2-3 years. I'm committed to holding him for at least two years to prove it. His 1171 yard, 13 touchdown season his junior year before the draft is too impressive to me. I was trying to trade up to get him in this fourth round. If he falls to the fifth round, I'll pick him in every draft.
  • Brian Hill was the first non-rookie draft and just a last-minute insurance pick for me. He could be the back-up behind Todd Gurley like he was last year behind Devonta Freeman. I needed running back depth and went with the semi-proven player with my last pick and targeted UDFA running backs in free agency since I had one roster spot available. Atlanta did not draft a running back, so Hill could be the primary back-up to Gurley if he can hold off Qadree Ollison, who I also considered drafted here.

My draft was not too exciting, but I have to remind myself that I have Alvin Kamara and T.Y. Hilton for what would have been three picks in the first and second round. I love my "Diehards League" and know that if I have a need, there are hyperactive teams to trade with at any time.

Here is what my roster looks like after the draft.

  • Quarterback: Jameis Winston, Gardner Minshew, Phillip Rivers, Nick Foles, and Tyrod Taylor.
    • I hate rostering this many QBs, but Jameis Winston's offseason really hurt me. The chance of him becoming a starter next year in New Orleans thrills me, so I have to keep him and roster a lot of streaming QBs. I am hopeful that Minshew can become a top-12 QB in the years to come. I am trying to trade a 2021 third-round pick for an upgrade at QB for this year. I can survive with this roster since this is a one-QB league.
  • Running Back: Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Latavius Murray, Carlos Hyde, Darrynton Evans, Salvon Ahmed, Brian Hill, and Corey Clement.
    • I am loaded at the top, but lack depth. I am happy to have Murray if Kamara was to get injured again, but a Chubb injury would kill me. It was hard for me to see DeAndre Swift land in Detroit, but I still think Kerryon will get a good percentage of the snaps there. I tried to use this draft to get depth at this position, but it was hard to do without a first or second-round pick.
  • Wide Receiver: Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Adam Thielen, Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, Hunter Renfrow, Nelson Agholor, Isaiah Hodgins, Josh Reynolds, Tajae Sharpe.
    • This group is the strength of my team, though the players are getting older, and I don't have a top-15 guy in my rankings. I hope to trade one or two of them for a younger wide receiver or running back this year, especially if they are all performing well, and I can only start four of them.
  • Tight End: Jared Cook, Jack Doyle, Chris Herndon, Will Dissly, Ryan Griffin
    • I also hate to roster this many TEs, but I could not find a trade partner this offseason while shopping them. In a 12-team league with 27-man (now 32-man) rosters, there just are not players available that I would rather roster. I like Cook and Doyle and the safe floors they provide week to week, and Herndon is the one I hope finally breaks out this year.
  • Kicker: Zane Gonzalez
    • He has a high-scoring offense that struggled in the red-zone last year.  He also signed a long-term contract with Arizona this offseason.
  • DST: Saints and Broncos
    • The Saints are solid, and their high-powered offense forces teams to play catch-up a lot, resulting in sacks and interceptions. The Broncos have a defensive-minded head coach and added talent in free agency this year. They will be even better this year.

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