On the morning of April 26th, I finalized my pre-NFL draft rankings. Using college production and tape, NFL combine results, and researching what scouting experts believed, I came up with a top 60 players list, equivalent to a 12-team, 5-round rookie draft. That weekend 256 (82 QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs) players got drafted and I began to create my new rookie rankings. I wanted to come up with reasoning for why my rankings changed and I decided on these top variables affecting my ranks: 


Team Depth: Preceding depth at the rookies’ position is important. It gave me a visual of the rookies’ top competition and helped give a good estimate on workload. This helps for not only this year, the contract and age of the rookies’ competitors will help get a better prediction of the players future share of touches. It also helped me project the next 2 categories I used. 

 

Projected preseason depth: Here I projected where I believed the rookie would fall on the depth chart on opening day, after OTAs and the preseason. 

 

Projected end of season depth: Here I projected where I believed the rookie would fall after everything plays out this season and the team see’s the talent and NFL capability of the rookie. 

 

3rd down, Goal Line?: This category, for running backs only, is where I projected if the back would get the majority of the teams work on 3rd downs and on the goal line. 

 

2017 O-line rank: I used PFF’s final 2017 offensive line rankings. I chose to use 2017 for this category and the next 2 categories because I would rather use proven stats from the previous year than to start projecting how this offense will look in 2018. Last year, teams like Philly and the Rams showed us this is hard to do. This category held a heavier weight in my landing spot rating for running backs then it did for wide receivers but I still believe offensive line consistency has a very positive correlation with fantasy production for all offensive players. The link to these rankings and their explanations can be found here:

https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/pro-ranking-all-32-offensive-lines-from-the-2017-nfl-season

 

2017 Rush/Pass Rank: These rankings are based on the total yardage from 2017, once again not wanting to predict an entire offenses 2018 production. These specific stats also help show if the team prefers passing or rushing when compared to the next stat. This category and the next can both be found here:                           

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2017/index.htm

 

2017 Offense Rank: These rankings help show the productivity of the offense before the rookie joins. 

 

Offense expected to: For the previous 3 categories I did not want to predict how the offense would perform in 2018, but I obviously know each offense will not repeat the exact year they just had. I projected if this offense would improve, stay the same, or decline based on any players they lost or gained through injuries, if I thought last year was an outlier year for the offense, free agency and the draft, and any coach changes the team had. 

Landing spot rating: I considered all the previous categories and came up with a rating out of 5 grading the situation the rookie was drafted into. 

 

Prospect info: The notes I took on the player’s abilities pre-draft. I also try to include a player comparison. 

 

Why landing spot affected rank: I explained how I filled out the above categories for each player and how those categories affected the way I ranked the player. 

 

Straight trade I’d do for him: I list a few players I would trade 1 for 1 for the pick if this rookie was my highest available guy. 

 

Picks I’d trade for him: This would be the combination of picks I would trade to move up in the draft and select this rookie. I did this using my own rankings and where I believed big tier breaks were.

 

On the left are my rankings from the morning before the NFL draft and on the right, are rankings that were made with everything I have read and know about the rookie and his situation as of Tuesday, July 23rd. Underlined players indicate the last player before a tier break. Instead of using my post-draft rankings as your exact rankings when drafting, evaluate the weight and truth behind the statistics given and understand the importance between the skill of the rookie and the potential of the landing spot to make your own rookie rankings. If your team has a need at a position, it is okay to reach a little to fill that position but be careful in valuing need over talent. Usually I like to take the guy who I think will help me win now or have the best career rather than just drafting to help depth at one position.  You may find my rankings to heavily favor running backs over wideouts, QBs, and tight ends. I have a few reasons for that. First, if you are in a 1 QB 12 team dynasty league it is easy to find a good enough starting quarterback and I value any QB that is not elite as nearly worthless. My opinion of tight end is similar. If you do not have an elite TE (which I do not think any of the TEs in this rookie draft will be) you might as well just pick up any 3 with upside and hope one scores a few touchdowns on the days you choose to play them. I value running back slightly over wide receiver. I know wide receivers last longer in the league but when I play dynasty I am trying to win this year or the next at the most, and running backs give you immediate return. In the years you spent waiting for a wide receiver to finally breakout your running back could have won you 2 championships. It is easy to collect a group of startable wideouts, but I learned last year you can never have enough running backs. I figured my wide receiver heavy team would be okay with David Johnson as my number one and a combo of any of the other 8 running backs on my team to fill in as the RB2. The problem was David Johnson went down week 1. He avoided breaking his wrist but didn’t avoid breaking my heart as he was still forced to miss the year and my other running backs (some included Adrian Peterson, CJ Prosise, Chris Carson, D’Onta Foreman, Mike Gillislee, Donnel Pumphrey) all seemed to have the same luck as DJ. So, these rankings came with the assumption that your team needs a running back, because even if you don’t think you do, you do. 


Pre-Draft Rankings


Post Draft Rankings

1.    Saquon Barkley

2.    Derrius Guice

3.    Sony Michel

4.    Nick Chubb

5.    Rashaad Penny

6.    Courtland Sutton

7.    Ronald Jones II 

8.    Royce Freeman

9.    Calvin Ridley

10.   Kerryon Johnson

11.   John Kelley

12.   D.J. Moore

13.   James Washington

14.   Josh Rosen

15.   Lamar Jackson

16.   Kalen Ballage

17.   Mark Walton

18.   Equanimeous St. Brown

19.   Christian Kirk

20.   Baker Mayfield

21.   Sam Darnold

22.   Josh Allen

23.   Dallas Goedert

24.   Mark Andrews

25.   Mike Gesicki

26.   Hayden Hurst

27.   Michael Gallup

28.   Nyheim Hines

29.   Akrum Wadley

30.   Chase Edmonds

31.   Bo Scarbrough

32.   Roc Thomas

33.   D.J. Chark

34.   Dante Pettis

35.   Anthony Miller

36.   Mason Rudolph

37.   Deon Cain

38.   Antonio Callaway

39.   Auden Tate

40.   Tre’Quan Smith

41.   Jordan Akins

42.   Ito Smith

43.   Jordan Wilkins 

44.   Justin Jackson

45.   Josh Adams

46.   Jaylen Samuels

47.   Keke Coutee

48.   DaeSean Hamilton

49.   J’Mon Moore

50.   Justin Watson

51.   Jordan Lasley

52.   Braxton Berrios

53.   Richie James

54.   Trey Quinn 

55.   Troy Fumagalli

56.   Ian Thomas

57.   Chris Herndon

58.   Dalton Schultz

59.   Boston Scott

60.   Michael Roberts



1.       Saquon Barkley

2.       Sony Michel

3.       Derrius Guice

4.       Rashaad Penny

5.       Royce Freeman

6.       Ronald Jones II

7.       Nick Chubb

8.       Kerryon Johnson

9.       Calvin Ridley

10.     D.J. Moore

11.     Courtland Sutton

12.     Michael Gallup

13.     Christian Kirk

14.     James Washington

15.     Anthony Miller

16.     Kalen Ballage

17.     Nyheim Hines

18.     Mike Gesicki

19.     Josh Rosen

20.     Lamar Jackson

21.     Baker Mayfield

22.     Sam Darnold

23.     Tre’Quan Smith

24.     Dante Pettis

25.     Mark Andrews

26.     Hayden Hurst

27.     Dallas Goedert

28.     Josh Allen

29.     Antonio Callaway

30.     Equanimeous St. Brown

31.     Mark Walton

32.     D.J. Chark

33.     Deon Cain

34.     John Kelley

35.     DaeSean Hamilton

36.     Ito Smith

37.     Jordan Wilkins 

38.     Chase Edmonds

39.     J’Mon Moore

40.     Akrum Wadley

41.     Mason Rudolph

42.     Trey Quinn

43.     Dalton Schultz

44.     Auden Tate

45.     Ian Thomas

46.     Jordan Akins

47.     Bo Scarbrough

48.     Roc Thomas

49.     Justin Jackson

50.     Josh Adams

51.     Jaylen Samuels

52.     Michael Roberts

53.     Braxton Berrios

54.     Keke Coutee

55.     Justin Watson

56.     Jordan Lasley

57.     Richie James

58.     Troy Fumagalli

59.     Chris Herndon

60.     Boston Scott



1. Saquan Barkley

Size: 5’11 230

Team: NYG

Pre-draft: 1

Change: -

Team Depth: Jonathon Stewart, Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins

Projected preseason depth: 1

Projected end of season depth: 1 

3rd down, Goal Line?: YES, YES

2017 O-line rank: 26

2017 Rush Rank: 26

2017 Offense Rank: 31

Offense expected to: Improve

Landing spot rating: 3.5/5

Prospect info: He’s a stud and ready to be an RB1 now. Take him 1. Plays like David Johnson.

Why landing spot affected rank: It didn’t. Take him 1.

Straight trade I’d do for him: Anyone not named Gurley, Zeke, Obj, Hopkins, AB, Leveon, DJ

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.02(Michel) & 1.09(Ridley) & 1.12(Gallup)

 

2. Sony Michel

Size: 5’11 215

Team: NE

Pre-draft: 3

Change: +1

Team Depth: Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill

Projected preseason depth: 1B

Projected end of season depth: 1A 

3rd down, Goal Line?: NO, YES

2017 O-line rank: 3

2017 Rush Rank: 10

2017 Offense Rank: 2

Offense expected to: Same

Landing spot rating: 3.5/5

Prospect info: 23(old for a rookie RB). Bad knees? (Edit: or did Pats blow that story up so they could draft him?) Can catch but didn’t do much in college. Good combine. College career was average until last year. DBs can catch from behind. Not great pass blocking. Fumbling issue. Plays like DeAngelo Williams, Alvin Kamara.

Why landing spot affected rank: At first, I didn’t want another Pats RB to have to guess the workload for. Then I imagined what could, and I think will happen. I think Sony has more skill than any Pats RB has had in years and was drafted too high for Bill to not use. A talented RB on a great offensive team could lead to Michel being an RB1 for the rest of Brady’s career (and maybe into the career of the QB they draft next year). He could have a season where he scores 18 TDs or a season where he catches 65 balls, and there could be a year he does both. His fumbling issue could put him in the dog house but I think the statistical upside is highest for Michel compared to any rookie minus Barkley. Having second pick is tough this year and I would consider moving down here or finding a way to turn this pick into Barkley.

Straight trade I’d do for him: Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram, Jordan Howard, or Jerick McKinnon

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.09(Ridley) & 1.12(Gallup)

3. Derrius Guice

Size: 5’11 218

Team: WAS

Pre-draft: 2

Change: -1

Team Depth: Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs

Projected preseason depth: 1

Projected end of season depth: 1 

3rd down, Goal Line?: NO, YES

2017 O-line rank: 21

2017 Rush Rank: 28

2017 Offense Rank: 16

Offense expected to: Same

Landing spot rating: 3/5

Prospect info: College bruiser but can he be a bruiser under 220 lbs. in NFL? Not great 2017, had nagging injuries. Initiates contact, injury concerns. Successful combine. Bad blocking. Plays like Marshawn Lynch. 

Why landing spot affected rank: He was jumped by Michel because of the offensive questions for Washington. We are not sure how it will be with Alex Smith this year and we are not sure how much Thompson, Perine and Kelley will be used. I still think he is strong and good enough to be a first and second down back and get all goal line carries. Receptions scare me even though recent reports have said Gruden is excited to see Guice as a receiver. A big drop in the draft doesn’t mean a big drop in rankings for me. I still trust the talent and I like the landing spot where he will be the featured back. 

Straight trade I’d do: Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram, Jordan Howard, or Jerick McKinnon

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.09(Ridley) & 1.12(Gallup)

 

4. Rashaad Penny

Size: 5’11 220

Team: SEA

Pre-draft: 5

Change: +1

Team Depth: Chris Carson, CJ Prosise, Mike Davis, JD McKissic

Projected preseason depth: 1

Projected end of season depth: 1

3rd down, Goal Line?: YES, YES

2017 O-line rank: 27

2017 Rush Rank: 23

2017 Offense Rank: 11

Offense expected to: Same

Landing spot rating: 3/5

Prospect info: Played bad college defenses lead to crazy stats and highlights but great bowl game and senior bowl. Good hands, good on goal line. Great vision, elusiveness and balance. Big and fast. Avoids big hits so stays healthy. Awful pass blocker. Plays like Jay Ajayi.

Why landing spot affected rank: Bad O-line that Seattle slightly worked on in offseason. A running quarterback usually fairs well for the running back, especially one that can catch. It’s nice that Seattle thought highly enough of him to take him that early and there were reports they declined trade offers for him already. He’s an above average player on an above average offense that will get an above average workload. Not to mention, new O-coordinator Brian Shottenheimer loves to run the ball. Early OTS reports have said Carson looks like the best RB in camp but I believe Penny will still lead the team in touches. He’s a safe pick with a high floor but a low ceiling relative to the top 3. 

Straight trade I’d do: Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram, Jordan Howard, or Jerick McKinnon

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.09(Ridley) & 1.12(Gallup)


5. Royce Freeman

Size: 6’0 229

Team: DEN

Pre-draft: 8

Change: +3

Team Depth: Devonte Booker, Deangelo Henderson

Projected preseason depth: 2

Projected end of season depth: 1

3rd down, Goal Line?: YES, YES

2017 O-line rank:23

2017 Rush Rank: 12

2017 Offense Rank: 27

Offense expected to: Improve

Landing spot rating: 3.5/5

Prospect info: Very productive college career but a lot of carries. Big back that can catch. Patient, explosive and dependable player just a good not a great talent. Missed only one career college game even after being very over worked. Bad pass blocker but who isn’t in this class. Plays like CJA/ Carlos Hyde.

Why landing spot affected rank: There’s a big drop off after the top 4 RBS and the next 4 RBs could arguably be drafted in any order. If you need a WR this is where you take one of the big 3(Ridley, Sutton, Moore). Booker is the supposed starting back heading into the year but if he performs like he did last year Freeman will take over early. He’s the best receiver in the backfield and the biggest. He’s another back with low upside but a seemingly safe enough floor.  

Straight trade I’d do: Ingram, D’Onta Foreman, Lesean McCoy, Carlos Hyde, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.09(Ridley) & 2.11(T. Smith)

 

6. Ronald Jones

Size: 6’0 200

Team: TB

Pre-draft: 7

Change: +1

Team Depth: Peyton Barber, Charles Sims, Jaquizz Rodgers

Projected preseason depth: 1

Projected end of season depth: 1

3rd down, Goal Line?: NO, NO

2017 O-line rank: 17

2017 Rush Rank: 27

2017 Offense Rank: 18

Offense expected to: Improve

Landing spot rating: 3.5/5

Prospect info: Small with bad vision and goes down easy after contact. Bad college o-line but still had 1500 yards. Injury and drops concerns. Fast, explosive, big play back. Could be Ameer Abdullah Lamar Miller or Jamaal Charles. Bad pass protection like the rest. Plays like Lamar Miller or Dalvin Cook. 

Why landing spot affected rank: He’s the best RB on the team but isn’t the best pass catcher or goal line back on the team which limits his upside. The offense should improve if Winston and Evans can.

Straight trade I’d do: Ingram, D’Onta Foreman, Lesean McCoy, Carlos Hyde, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.09(Ridley) & 2.11(T. Smith)

 

 

7. Nick Chubb

Size: 5’10 225

Team: CLE

Pre-draft: 4

Change: -3

Team Depth: Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, Matt Dayes

Projected preseason depth: 2

Projected end of season depth: 2

3rd down, Goal Line?: NO, NO

2017 O-line rank: 14

2017 Rush Rank: 18

2017 Offense Rank: 32

Offense expected to: Improve

Landing spot rating: 2/5

Prospect info: Injury risk and history, takes big hits. Not very fast without much elusiveness after injury. Td dependent, average receiving skills. Knee could lead to short career. Plays like Jordan Howard.

Why landing spot affected rank: Chubb’s career could be over before he ever sees a starting role or he could take over for Hyde midyear and stay that way for years to come. I have him after the top 6 because I think it will be a combination of those two possibilities. The Browns will get their money’s worth in Hyde this year and use Duke Johnson on 3rd downs. Hyde will be gone at the end of the year and the job will be Chubb’s with Duke still taking 3rd down work. By that time the other 6 RBs have a chance to show off their skills and be this year’s Kamara, Hunt, Fournette, or McCaffery. Chubb is more likely to be this year’s Mixon, disappointing but keeping people believing he will get the job done year 2. It also doesn’t help that it is impossible to trust the Browns and we don’t know if they have finally found a QB that can last multiple years. We also don’t know if he is even fully healed or if he ever will be from his major knee injury. What we do know is Todd Haley is one of the most successful coaches to go to Cleveland and their offense should take a forward leap. 

Straight trade I’d do: Ingram, D’Onta Foreman, Lesean McCoy, Carlos Hyde, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.09(Ridley) & 2.11(T. Smith)

 

 

8. Kerryon Johnson

Size: 5’11 206

Team: DET

Pre-draft: 10

Change: +2

Team Depth: Theo Riddick, Blount, Ameer Abdullah

Projected preseason depth: 2

Projected end of season depth: 1

3rd down, Goal Line?: NO, NO

2017 O-line rank: 19

2017 Rush Rank: 32

2017 Offense Rank: 7

Offense expected to: Same

Landing spot rating: 2.5/5

Prospect info: Arkansas St TD highlight is crazy. Only turning 21 in June. Workhorse type back with good hands. Productive when healthy... does have durability questions. Straight up runner like Mcfadden, initiates contact and takes big hits to legs. Bad combine, looked unathletic. Plays like Tevin Coleman.

Why landing spot affected rank: Lions traded up for him and it is obvious they have given up on Abdullah. Will lose all 3rd down work to Riddick and goal line work to Blount and will split carries with both. Lions haven’t had much luck with RBs in past but maybe this could be his team once Blount leaves or even while Blount is still there. Hopefully, Matt Patricia won’t have much say in the offense and doesn’t create a New England like RBBC nightmare. 

Straight trade I’d do: Ingram, D’Onta Foreman, Lesean McCoy, Carlos Hyde, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.09(Ridley) & 2.11(T. Smith)

 

9. Calvin Ridley

Size: 6’1 190

Team: ATL

Pre-draft: 9

Change: -

Team Depth: Julio Jones, Mo Sanu, Justin Hardy

Projected preseason depth: 3

Projected end of season depth: 2

2017 O-line rank: 2

2017 Pass Rank: 8

2017 Offense Rank: 15

Offense expected to: Same

Landing spot rating: 4/5

Prospect info: Safe, low ceiling WR1 potential. 23 turning 24 during season. Needs to put weight on if he is going to be a slot WR to start career. Good route running and hands. Plays like Greg Jennings. 

Why landing spot affected rank: Calvin lands in my favorite spot for a rookie WR. A great QB to throw him the ball for the coming years and a great WR to learn the ropes from. As a great route runner he could fit the Roddy White role Matt Ryan used to love throwing to. I think he also has a great chance to get involved right away as the slot WR and potentially the 2nd most targeted wide out on a great offense. 

Straight trade I’d do: Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Devante Parker, DT, Michael Crabtree, Mike Williams 

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.12(Gallup) & 2.04(Ballage)

 

10. DJ Moore

Size: 5’11 215

Team: CAR

Pre-draft: 6

Change: +2

Team Depth: Funchess, Torrey Smith, Curtis Samuel

Projected preseason depth: 2

Projected end of season depth:  1

2017 O-line rank: 10

2017 Pass Rank: 28

2017 Offense Rank: 12

Offense expected to: Same

Landing spot rating: 4/5

Prospect info: Productive but seems to lack play style to score TDs. Impressive in college with bad QBs and impressive combine. Good build, RB like, helps go over middle and break tackles. Just turned 21. Plays like Golden Tate.

Why landing spot affected rank: Great chance to lead the team in targets in his first year. Barely any competition for being at least second in targets on the team. Could get Antonio Brown like target share eventually in career. Will have Cam to grow with for coming years. Norv Turner should improve passing game and play calling. 

Straight trade I’d do: Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Devante Parker, DT, Michael Crabtree, Mike Williams


Picks I’d trade for him: 1.12(Gallup) & 2.04(Ballage)



11. Courtland Sutton

Size: 6’4 216

Team: DEN

Pre-draft: 6

Change: -5

Team Depth: DT, Emmanuel Sanders, Carlos Henderson

Projected preseason depth: 3

Projected end of season depth: 3

2017 O-line rank: 23

2017 Pass Rank: 20

2017 Offense Rank: 27

Offense expected to: Improve

Landing spot rating: 2/5

Prospect info: Great NFL size. High upside but very low floor. Will need time to fit into an NFL system and learn NFL playbook and play styles. Plays like Demaryius Thomas.

Why landing spot affected rank: Sutton won’t be top 2 in targets this year but does have the opportunity to win the outside WR job opposite of DT. Demaryious will be a great player to learn from as they have similar build and play style. DT and sanders could be gone at the end of the year and Sutton and Daesean Hamilton could step right in their place. Sutton could become a WR1 as soon as next year if he impresses enough this year. Denver still has a lot of QB questions after not drafting one and signing an only somewhat proven Case Keenum. 

Straight trade I’d do: DT, Michael Crabtree, Mike Williams, Will Fuller, Dez Bryant, Robert Woods

Picks I’d trade for him: 1.12(Gallup) & 2.11(TreQuan Smith)


12. Mike Gallup

Size: 6’1 200

Team: DAL

Pre-draft: 27

Change: +15

Team Depth: Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley

Projected preseason depth: 2

Projected end of season depth: 1

2017 O-line rank: 4

2017 Pass Rank: 26

2017 Offense Rank: 14

Offense expected to: Same

Landing spot rating: 4/5

Prospect info: Great hands and route running, does a good job getting open. Productive in college. Physical style in college, may need to add weight if going to play same way in NFL. NFL ready WR can start in an offense if he gets the playbook down.  Plays like Michael Crabtree.

Why landing spot affected rank: This is where I see the biggest tier drop. After the top 8 RBs and the top 3 WRs I think the remaining RBs are either not good or not in a good landing spot and several of the remaining WRs could be stuck into this 12 spot. I chose Gallup because his landing spot was nearly ideal. He had one of the biggest jumps in my rankings because he will take the Dez role in Dallas’s offense and only has to compete with the often-disappointing Allen Hurns, the potentially suspended Williams, and the 5’8’’ 180lb Beasley.With Zeke forcing defenses to crowd the box Gallup will have many opportunities to get open and earn targets. 

Straight trade I’d do: Crabtree, Martavis Bryant, Chris Godwin, Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Sanders

Picks I’d trade for him: 2.04(Ballage) & 2.11(TreQuan Smith)


Part 2 coming soon...