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2018 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Rookie Rankings

2018 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Rookie Rankings
RotoExperts Staff April 26, 2018 11:32AM EST
Saddle up, folks! This is the beefiest of beefy Fantasy Football rookie rankings and breakdowns I have ever done. In fact, I’m even including my first ever first round NFL Mock Draft at the end. A few notes for you before we get started.

First, I’ve done away with the pure 1, 2, 3, etc. rankings for each position. People get too caught up in “you had Rickie Receiver fourth and Wally Wideout fifth… how can that be, and why did they flip after the draft?” So, I’m doing tiers this year, especially because this is my pre-draft opinion on players and landing spots can significantly impact players’ post-draft rankings.

Second, when it comes to the first round NFL Mock Draft, I’m predicting the Giants trade the No. 2 pick to the Bills for 12, 22 and more. I also see the Colts dropping back with both Bradley Chubb and Saquon Barkley off the board, as the Dolphins jump up to grab Josh Rosen. With the numerous additional picks, the Colts can trade with the Eagles, a team lacking picks, to get back into the first round to take Derrius Guice.

I plan to hear plenty of backlash on my mock draft and even the pre-draft rookie rankings.

2018 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Rookie Rankings 1

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Sam Darnold
+ Great arm and accuracy; top level short and intermediate throws with solid deep ability; keeps eyes moving whether under pressure or to manipulate the defense; good quickness on throws and decisions
– Throwing motion dips too far (swatted balls); messy footwork; decisions can frustrate – will make the smart throw but then pass it up for the more aggressive option similar to Kirk Cousins or not throw it away
= There is a reason Darnold was the overall favorite for the first pick before the season. The attention to his throwing motion and turnovers have cooled the excitement, but those are small flaws in an overall great player. Darnold still has the potential to be the top player in the class and a QB1 in Fantasy, possibly even as a rookie.

Baker Mayfield
+ Ranked near or at the top in several PFF metrics; accuracy all over the field; mobility to extend plays and ability to maintain high level of play on the move; level of play consistent whether under pressure or in a clean pocket; good at reading man coverage and misleading safeties
– While great at reads, can sometimes wait too long; height is an issue, forcing regular use of shotgun or high-number drops under center; elite-level accuracy lacking on some throws; needs to develop at read progression, which when coupled with needed accuracy can lead to contested balls
= Mayfield’s play is undeniable, and if he was just 2-3 inches taller, he’d likely be the top pick. A team will have to scheme for Mayfield and his style, but the right team and teaching can maximize his ability for his QB1 potential.

Josh Rosen
+ Best pure passer in the draft; can make every throw and fit into tight windows; has NFL-level footwork and coordination to match; comfortable under pressure; intelligence off the charts
– Aggressive throws lead to turnover potential; inconsistency between intelligence and stubbornness – needs to throw the ball away more; injury history
= No quarterback matches Rosen’s pure passer ability or this thirst for knowledge. However, his aggressive approach both on the field and in learning can hurt him with turnovers and rubbing people the wrong way. Rosen has the makings of a future QB1 in Fantasy.

Lamar Jackson
+ Actually better under center than in shotgun; elite-level pocket presence and coming from a pro-style offense; clean and strong passes when in rhythm and control; dangerous on his feet with Michael Vick-like athleticism; smart with his throws and working the defenders with his eyes
– When in shotgun or out of rhythm will throw poorly; poor throws include sailing it, wobbling and/or inaccuracy; the inaccurate throws are main concern by either missing the target or making receiver work out of stride or position
= As with Vick, Jackson is a dual-threat with the ability to become unstoppable at times. However, the inaccuracy and discomfort in shotgun will need correcting if Jackson is to become an NFL starter. For Fantasy, he has Top 5 QB potential, and just wait until he breaks Madden.

2018 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Rookie Rankings 6

 

Tier 2

Mason Rudolph
+ Could have the best accuracy in the class; finds windows where few can, especially in the intermediate throws; sneaky threat in RPOs; good pocket mobility while also keeping eyes downfield
– While excels in intermediate throws, struggles in the short-yard situations and accuracy; can sail passes; offense style and talent disparity of team and competition a concern; progression reads a question
= As is often the case with Big 12 quarterbacks, translating college production to the NFL level is a concern. Rudolph has a few mechanical issues that lead to the inaccuracies in short throws and the sailed passes, but if he corrects those and can develop in progression reads, he has top-end QB2 ability.

Josh Allen
+ If you created a quarterback with the ideal body on Madden, it would spit out Allen; one of the best arms in years, especially from his knees; can make elite-level throws in the pocket or on the move; can fit the ball into peepholes let alone tight windows
– Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy; can fit the ball into a peephole but can he hit the door? Allen never topped a 56 percent completion rate as a starter and it dropped to 50 percent with 4.4 YPA and a TD:INT ratio of 1-8; impatient, struggles with pre-snap reads and post-snap progression
= If all we cared about was natural ability, Allen would be the best quarterback prospect in years, but he looks to be the poster boy for valuing athleticism over performance. Allen could become a QB1 in time (I don’t see it) or the biggest draft bust since JaMarcus Russell.

The Rest

Kyle Lauletta, Luke Falk, Kurt Benkert
Lauletta worked in a pro-style offense and the accuracy, mechanics and footwork to excel, but his arm strength is an enormous issue… Falk has good size, a nice release and accuracy, but has an average arm and has taken a beating already… Benkert has a NFL arm and can hit downfield passes with the best of them, but his accuracy and decision making are in need of significant work.

Running Backs

Tier 1

Saquon Barkley
+ Everything. Can turn any play into the big one; can change direction without losing speed and while breaking ankles… and spirits; slips tackles like he’s covered in Vaseline; amazing NFL body and the speed to match; terrific receiving ability; and on and on…
– Prefers to elude and slip tackles a bit too much and need to break a few more and/or fight for a yard instead; coupled with that point, Barkley will look for that big play too often; can struggle between the tackles and look to bounce outside too much
= Finding negatives in Barkley’s game is nitpicking, as it’s become cliché at this point despite being true, but he’s a generational talent. Barkley is a Top 10 player, not running back… player no matter which team drafts him.

Tier 2

Derrius Guice
+ Very strong/powerful; averaged 4.1 YAC in 2015-16 before injury-riddled 2017 season; sees the field extremely well, locating threats early and avoiding contact when possible; stays strong late into games; like Leonard Fournette, solid in the passing game despite low use given LSU’s offense
– Again like Fournette, nagging injuries; doesn’t have top-end/home run speed; while he’s smooth in his cuts, he’ll tighten up and even initiate contact before it’s needed
= Guice has several similarities to Fournette, but he’s not a clone. Guice is a highly talented running back that can mimic Fournette’s rookie production… possibly even on the health concern front, but that still makes him a fringe RB1.

Tier 3

Rashaad Penny
+ Elusive is his middle name (it’s actually Armein); always keeps his feet moving; can take any play to the house; only saw 24 targets, but caught 18 with only one drop; can evade tacklers or just break through the contact; patience to set up his moves; great hair
– Despite good patience, decision-making is a problem at times; struggles with pass blocking and, reportedly, with learning a playbook; good size but upright style can lead to being stopped/tackled by first quality tackler
= Penny has the potential to be this year’s Kareem Hunt – smaller school, high-end running back. However, he’s also a bit less talented than Hunt, making him more of a split backfield option. If Penny saw 20 touches, he could threaten the RB1 tier, but he’s more of a RB2/3.

Nick Chubb
+ Great after contact, 3.8 YAC last year, thanks to good balance; nice cutback/one-cut moves and can find creases or alternative holes; good mix of power and speed with top marks at the combine to match
– Injuries have taken their toll and doesn’t look quite 100 percent his 2015 self; can struggle with contact early in the run/behind line of scrimmage; limited passing game use, possibly ability, as well
= Chubb was on track to be one of the best prospects in college before the injuries started. If not for them, he could have been in the conversation with Barkley atop this draft, more in power than in speed and the passing game. If he’s even 95 percent of what he was on a team lets him lead the way, there is RB2 potential here.

Sony Michel
+ One of the best pass blockers; three-down ability and a complete running back with the body to match; doesn’t waste many movements and powers through weak tackle attempts; can create big plays with quick acceleration and great lateral ability
– Could have benefited from Georgia’s high-end offensive line at times; some ball security issues; like Guice, can “bottle up” for contact if it’s late and appears unavoidable – to him
= Michel isn’t quite the receiver Alvin Kamara is, and I have always wondered where those comparisons came from. Nevertheless, Michel does have three-down ability and gets upfield easily. Michel can create a terrific one-two punch for a NFL team and provide RB3 value in Fantasy, possibly even RB2.

Ronald Jones
+ Extremely explosive (wasn’t 100 percent for the combine); patient runner and lets his blocking provide opportunities; great at finding and attacking those lanes and creases; plant foot is almost on par with Barkley and can get back up to speed in a heartbeat; terrific ball security
– Build leads to workload concerns and he had 275 touches last year; with that, needs to learn how to avoid big hits more; little work in the passing game; despite great moves, needs to alter his speed to help avoid tacklers
= Jones can develop as a pass catcher, and if so, he could become a three-down option if a team trusts him. Jones is a very talented runner, but it might be best to keep him in the 15-20 touch per game range similar to Lamar Miller’s most effective seasons/games. There is RB2 upside with Jones.

Tier 4

Kerryon Johnson
+ Gets up to speed quickly, shifts gears easily and quickly and has quality breakaway speed; very smooth runner… some sites like PFF say Johnson “glides”; fights for every yard and does a good job at lowering his pad level; good footwork
– Despite never backing down, he will go down on first contact too often; runs upright and lean frame; stride and body size increases likelihood of being stopped early/in the backfield; not sure willing to use nickname “Wayward Son”
= Johnson is best suited as a complementary running back of a duo. His grit is enviable, but it can’t overcome his size and running style. Nevertheless, he has the explosiveness and ability to provide RB3 value for the right team.

Royce Freeman
+ Great build with above-average acceleration, especially for his size; his build both brings power and balance to his game and likes to run downhill; smart runner with good vision; solid pass catcher
– Lots of wear already and doesn’t shy from contact; can get tripped up and isn’t slippery; doesn’t have the speed or elusiveness to excel when stretched to sidelines
= Freeman projects as the “power” and lead option of a split backfield. He draws some similarities to Carlos Hyde, including the injury concern given his workload. Freeman could be a mid-low RB2 on the right team with a good volume of red zone opportunities.

John Kelly
+ Unlike Mark Walton (up next), Kelly is short but comes with a nice frame and flashes power; nice set of elusive moves and a strong stiff arm; good weapon in the passing game; brings balance and a good pad level; looks like he should be in GQ
– Limited sample and inconsistent production; size is still a concern; can overlook lanes or is sometimes too late to attack them; speed to escape eludes him
= Kelly has some enviable traits with some obvious concerns. At the forefront of the concerns is his inconsistency, but we’ve also seen his high ceiling. To go all cliché on you, Kelly will be as boom or bust in Fantasy as he is on the field, and Fantasy Draft Twitter is all over him.

2018 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Rookie Rankings 3

Mark Walton
+ Great at creating his own yards; small but similar build to Ray Rice, which translated into top-end production before his injury; great mix of stop/start, cutback and lateral ability; good pass catcher
– Size/durability concern; will get happy feet and try to make too many moves; while great at stretching the field, will struggle between the tackles; hesitates too often
= Walton has that blink and he’s 20 yards downfield explosiveness, but he can get caught looking to make that play too much. His size is an undeniable concern, but the positives are strong enough to be a Theo Riddick-like threat on the right team.

Tier 5

Kalen Ballage
+ Athleticism among the best and body to match; can run, catch and return kicks; receiver is his best trait with great hands and ability to adjust; eludes his fair share of tacklers
– Decision making needs work; better receiver than runner; will miss lanes and will bounce plays unnecessarily; has confused look on his face
= Ballage resembles Josh Allen a bit in that he looks the part and has the athleticism but is lacking the intelligence and performance. The right team might be able to develop him into a strong piece of a timeshare.

Bo Scarbrough
+ Similar to Derrick Henry, once rolling, good luck stopping him; good initial burst for his size; adept at making pre-snap reads for gap/lane opportunities; can rock defenders in pass protection
– High number of injuries in his limited workload (has never reached 20 carries in a game); can get tripped up easy if not up to speed; won’t evade tacklers with good angles
= Scarbrough could be a nice thumper in the NFL. He’s not quite on Henry’s level, but he may find some Brandon Jacobs-like success, especially since he falls forward for the extra yard and not just… because… like Jacobs.

Nyheim Hines
+ Home run potential with every touch; can line up in the slot and is dangerous as a receiver or runner; good pad level for approaching tacklers, leading to additional yards; will cut up a defense like a shinsu knife
– Struggles to elude the big boys… imagine a WWE wrestler getting clotheslined running at full speed; relies more on his explosiveness than vision
= Hines looks like a third piece of a backfield to start with the explosive potential to reach double-digit touches and have some deep appeal, more so in PPR.

Akrum Wadley
+ Defenders seemingly never know where he’s going; great athlete with quick and light feet; changes directions well and keeps his speed or gets back to it quick; gets to and turns the edge with the best of them
– Goes down relatively easy with contact; as with Hines, vision and decision-making are subpar, which is why he relies on that athleticism; good pass catching but not a great route runner
= Wadley basically has the same potential as Hines with the hope of PPR value.

Chase Edmonds
+ Plenty of production, albeit at a small school; good build and base to break off-angle tacklers; has the burst to break through the line and speed to run away from your average defender
– Workload a concern, especially given injuries last year; can be tentative and looking to push his runs outside; needs work in pass protection, especially if he’s going to take advantage of his receiving ability
= Edmonds has some similarities to running backs way higher in this class, but the small school and ability concerns will push him into the NFL Draft’s late rounds and as a Fantasy flier.

Josh Adams
+ As with Scarbrough, you don’t want Adams rumbling down the field; decisiveness a plus to help him get going and not tripped up quickly; regularly breaks tackles; good speed for his size
– Concern back to getting stopped before rolling, the dominant Notre Dame offensive line could be a major factor behind Adams’ production; not elusive or a great pass catcher; struggles in pass protection
= Adams profiles as an early-down and short-yard thumper with some upside for more if his production wasn’t heavily reliant on that Irish OL.

Justin Jackson
+ For yet another comparison, Jackson is similar to Baker Mayfield in that he’d rank higher if he was bigger; Jackson can make any defender, anywhere, miss thanks to his burst/quickness/twitchiness (wait, that’s really a word?); cutting ability rivals the best; adept pass catcher and playmaker
– Size; lacks leg strength to drive defenders and break tackles; awkward runner at times; heavy college workload can scare teams even more given his size
= Jackson will have a role on a team where the coach and OC have an eye for his ability. Unfortunately, a likely limited workload will means Jackson needs to do a lot with little or have injuries in front of him.

The Rest

Boston Scott, Ryan Nall, Darrell Williams, Ito Smith, Chris Warren
Scott is greatly undersized but will bounce off contact with good burst and speed, and he increased his production each year… Nall could end up as a fullback or H-back as he eats up the yards he’s given but struggles to produce on his own… Backup to Guice, Williams is a decisive runner and has NFL size, but he doesn’t break enough tackles, see the field well or gain many yards after contact… Ito Smith is another small-sized that plays peek-a-boo with the line to find holes but isn’t explosive or powerful… Warren has an enviable frame, but like Nall, he could end up asked to play a different position despite a good combination of balance and vision.

More Names

Larry Rose, Keith Ford, Lavon Coleman, Demario Richard

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Calvin Ridley
+ Terrific speed: top-end, deep, short range, breaking; route running is NFL level; clean movements; ran full route tree and in a pro-style offense; puts defenders on their heels; attacks the ball in the air and dangerous after the catch
– Fair to wonder about age (23); a tad lean; can struggle with man/press coverage; drops too many passes; can get running back-like happy feet on short routes instead of immediately turning upfield
= It’s fair to draw a few comparisons to Amari Cooper, especially with the drops, but Ridley is still a step behind where Cooper was as a rookie. Ridley is NFL ready in many ways and has Fantasy WR3 potential for the right team. His NFL success could actually mirror Cooper given his skill though, and that would mean some huge games and several M.I.A. weeks.

James Washington
+ Great ball-tracking ability; gets up to speed quickly, which throws off defenders; despite size, is great at high-pointing a ball; regularly leaves defenders in the dust after the catch; doesn’t slow down running his routes
– While maintains speed, not a great route runner; majority of damage done deep and to the sides; soft breaks in route running – needs to get more sudden/precise; loses his fair share of contested balls
= Even if Washington can’t address his issues, he has the ability – especially deep downfield – to be a strong No.2/3 receiver for a team. I like him more than Torrey Smith, obviously, but even Smith ranked inside the Top 25 for a few years.

D.J. Moore
+ Extremely dangerous after the catch – averaged 7.0 YAC and 39 missed tackles; another receiver with great speed, and he carries it through his routes; intelligence shows in working the field and to his quarterback when things break down; good body control to make tough catches
– Downfield production lacking; need work on setting up defenders both at the time of the catch and at the top of routes; has the ability and makeup to succeed in the slot, but doesn’t create enough space or run crisp enough cuts yet
= Moore has plenty of athleticism and speed to succeed, and he’s a nightmare after the catch. To be a truly effective NFL receiver, though, Moore will have to learn how to place defenders and clean up his routes. Even with those issues, Moore still has WR4 potential.

Christian Kirk
+ Part Jarvis Landry, part Sterling Shepard, overall strong talent; manipulates field space very well and will work to his quarterback when it’s not there; can make tough catches away from his body (low, high, behind); quick with his breaks; eyebrows for days
– Bobbles too many passes and lets the ball get on top of him at times; needs to stretch defenders with quickness, as can struggle with strong/tight coverage; lacks top speed
= You can likely gather this from the above, but Kirk has the ability to be a great slot receiver. As with Landry, the negative side of that is overblown, and Kirk can be a team’s 1B to a true outside 1A receiver. Especially in PPR, Kirk can find WR3 value.

Courtland Sutton
+ Enviable size; moves well for his size; knows how to use his body to shield off defenders; easily breaks contact whether pre- or post-catch; good catch radius and adjustment to passes
– Inconsistency in his play – appears to lack effort at times; can break tackles but isn’t fearsome after the catch; production dipped against stiffer competition; good quickness but nonthreatening speed
= Sutton can be an immediate red zone threat, but he needs to show more desire and the ability to create more space. As I wrote about Marquise Lee a few years back, Sutton seems to take his ability for granted and try to get away with being physically better than his opponent versus developing his skills. His touchdown potential on the right team makes Sutton a possible WR4.

Tier 2

Anthony Miller
+ Footwork off the line can mesmerize defenders; opposite of Sutton in that he works his tail off; nation’s leading receiver in screen pass yards; excellent ball tracker; succeeds outside or in and short or deep
– Like Kirk, can body catch and not attack the ball enough leading to drops; route running needs work and can let defenders undercut him; can get too movement happy while running routes
= Miller plays above his size and has the ability to succeed all over the field. If he cleans up his technique both in routes and catches, Miller could become a NFL No. 2 receiver and WR4 in Fantasy.

Michael Gallup
+ Good all-around ability with room to improve technique; has the three S’s: size, speed, strength; faced a high percentage of press coverage and routinely beat it; uses hands well in shunning defenders; good routes and breaks, again, with ability to improve; last name make you envision a horse in stride
– Actually needs to improve to become a top-end option; body movement and balance tip defenders to his route/course; need to adjust a bit more to broken plays and/or errant throws; struggled against Alabama
= Gallup is arguably the most well-rounded receiver in the draft. He has many traits to help him succeed in the NFL as is, but he will need to continue his route development and play intelligence to reach the WR3 or better Fantasy tiers.

2018 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Rookie Rankings 4

Deon Cain
+ Quicker and faster in his play than you think; another glider in his routes; uses his hands and speed to break through press coverage; “looks” the part; can work all three levels but truly succeeds deep; name makes me think of Superman
– Way too many drops – some will argue more concentration than ability issue; need route tree development; can struggle in the short game and fails to create meaningful separation early
= Cain has the size and speed to succeed in the NFL, and he’s great downfield. To become a complete weapon, he needs route refinement and improved concentration. That said, Cain has a higher ceiling than most and could become a No. 2 option and WR3 in Fantasy.

DaeSean Hamilton
+ One of the best out of the slot; knows how to break his routes, position himself against defenders and use speed variation to keep them guessing; appears to sense clutch moments and come up big; great teammate and leader
– May be limited to slot work; lacks speed to break press or break away; while great at attacking the ball with his hands, also drops a few by letting them get close to his body; not a great blocker
= Hamilton could be similar to Jordan Matthews, when Matthews was productive early in his career. Being “clutch” really isn’t a trait, but Hamilton appears to work harder when needed on third downs or needing a score. Hamilton has some No. 3 receiver potential, maybe more for the right team, and that right team could give him late-round Fantasy value.

Dante Pettis
+ Stickum hands; can play outside or in the slot with the route running to find separation at both; won’t get lost in the weeds; has been called a “sharp” route runner by many; never know how he’s going to rock the ‘fro each week
– Doesn’t always get the vertical push against defenders; needs more bulk or he’s going to struggle with man coverage despite good footwork and hand swatting; lacks top-end speed
= Pettis played better when John Ross was on the other side in 2016, and it appears he’s going to be a third option for most teams. Pettis is terrific in the return game, and that could help him find value similar to Tyler Lockett’s early years.

Keke Coutee
+ Not just a slot threat, as had the eighth most deep pass yards (542) on just 18 targets; his speed is a big reason for the success separating in the slot or deep; dangerous after the catch; finds holes in the defense and can turn into big plays; big bang for your buck if buying a vowel
– Struggles with contested passes and with tough contact; most of his route work was on the basic level – could be better served being allowed to run more option routes; dropped a few too many, partly due to strength concern
= Coutee looks to be a slot receiver in the NFL with the added depth threat ability. His limited game will keep him in that No. 3 role for a team, which hurts his Fantasy value unless he’s on a high-volume offense (i.e. Packers).

Tier 3

Marcell Ateman
+ Enviable size and knows how to use it; knows how to protect the reception; ranked near the top both in contested and press coverage catches; adjusts to passes with his body and control; easy, groan-worthy pun if he has a big day because he Ate… Man!
– Won’t offer much after the catch; lacks elusiveness; uses his size over athleticism to win; limited effectiveness outside of the red zone and go/out routes
= Read all of that again, and you might think of another former Cowboys receiver… well, doubly a former Cowboy, as Dez Bryant is a former OSU receiver and Dallas Cowboy. Bryant isn’t great at separating but wins plenty with his body and ability to use it better than most… especially in the red zone. If Ateman finds a team where he can press for No. 2 work, he could be a touchdown reliant WR4.

Jordan Lasley
+ Naturally athletic and great initial burst; finds room on all three levels using his speed and quality route running; problem for defenders after the catch with a nice stiff arm; big-play threat
– Drops, drops, drops; lets too many passes get in on his body; catch radius is lacking; struggles with strong defenders than can get him off his routes; off-field concerns
= Lasley is as impressive to watch as he is frustrating. If not for the drops and poor catch technique, Lasley would rank much higher. Lasley can work inside or out, which will help his potential, but he will likely fall into later rounds during the drafts due to concerns on and off the field and therefore buried on a depth chart.

D.J. Chark
+ Speed that receivers much smaller envy (ran a 4.34); gets up to speed easily and is explosive with high touchdown volume and 572 yards on deep passes; not afraid to go over the middle and adjusts to passes well
– Can struggle to separate from tight man coverage; lacking in strength a bit, especially in arm fighting; doesn’t break many tackles after the catch; ball tracking merely adequate
= At worst, Chark can be a big-play threat and downfield weapon give his size and speed. He could be a Will Fuller-type option with better hands, which gives him the potential for more if he can improve his consistency and technique.

Cedrick Wilson
+ Can work outside or in the slot, where he’s a real threat; varies his speed and is a high-quality route runner; uses those traits to get defenders off balance/confuse them; good hands with few drops; a threat after the catch; when rocking glasses, looks like he can do your taxes
– Not a deep threat; can sometimes lag off the line; makes some special off-target catches but struggles to adjust to many; when outside, press coverage can frustrate him
= Wilson is a high school quarterback that still has room to grow as a receiver. As it stands, he can take over the middle of the field similar to Julian Edelman. Wilson will be a No. 3 option for a team to start and have more value in PPR. His ceiling is higher, but he also has a floor where he’s relegated to slot work.

Auden Tate
+ Look at that size; press coverage and defensive contact are a non-issue; willingly played through injury; uses that body to out-jump and out-muscle defenders; good body control and adjustment, even in midair
– Slow both in game speed and initial burst; lack of speed carries into his routes and cuts; won’t separate downfield
= Tate sets up to be a possession receiver due to his inability to create space at any level. Nevertheless, he makes up for that deficiency with a big body and knowing how to use it. If Tate lands on a team with a quarterback throwing for 30-plus touchdowns, he could have deeper touchdown-reliant value.

Allen Lazard
See: Auden Tate with a killer smile

2018 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Rookie Rankings 5

The Rest

Antonio Callaway, Equanimeous St. Brown, Richie James, Deontay Burnett, J’Mon Moore, Tre’Quan Smith, Jaleel Scott
If not for off-field problems (several!), Callaway would rank in the Tier 1-2 range on his talent and athleticism, but he might not even have a team… Let’s call him Q or ESB – something shorter – but St. Brown has the size and speed but a lack of production, which can be attributed to poor quarterback play. Size translates to a good radius, but also has questions about his effort/desire… James can line up at various spots, including the backfield. Creates great separation and quickly, despite needing route work… Burnett is small in stature but big in grit and can be a consistent slot receiver in the NFL… Moore has developmental talent and has value in the deep game. If he can continue to work on his routes and short-to-mid field game, he could surprise. Name also kinda sounds like Michael Jackson in “Bad”… Smith is a nice downfield weapon with a large catch radius thanks to his arms. He also has good speed and acceleration with the ability to play outside or in, but he needs more strength and consistency… Scott doesn’t separate well, but his size helps make up for it at times, as do his ball skills. Speed is also an issue for Scott, but can be a nice red zone option. He could also be Ramses Barden.

More Names

Javon Wims, Trey Quinn, Simmie Cobbs, Justin Watson, Korey Robertson, Cam Phillips, Teo Redding, Ray-Ray McCloud, Tavares Martin

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Dallas Goedert
+ A team can line him up in various spots and find numerous ways to get him the ball; forces plenty of missed tackles; great speed for the position; hauls in nearly every catchable ball, and even some that aren’t; athleticism helps him excel short and mid, sometimes even deep
– Some of his movements telegraph his route plan; added some bulk and slightly lost a step last year; questionable blocking; looks a bit creepy without the beard
= When it comes to Fantasy, we don’t care about the blocking… just ask Evan Engram owners. Goedert has wide receiver skills and could be a mix of Cameron Brate and Zach Ertz.

Mike Gesicki
+ Great work in the slot and running the seam; routinely makes contested catches; creates separation at all three levels with a smooth running style; knows how to vary speeds and looks to disguise his routes
– A tad lanky, leading to slight struggles close to the line of scrimmage; also needs work in the short-route area/more precision
= Even though some people have thrown Jimmy Graham’s name around with Goedert, I think he fits more with Gesicki’s potential. That may seem like high praise, but Gesicki is one of the best, if not the best, pass-catching tight ends in the draft and a future TE1.

Hayden Hurst
+ Some of the best hands you can find; needed speed and strength to separate and make contested catches; strength in not losing catches to hits or strong defenders and the ability to break his share of tackles
– Old enough to “Remember the Titans”; defenders read his routes and lets them jump or undercut him at times; maxed out physically; run blocking lacking
= Again, as is the theme with tight ends here, we’re less concerned with blocking than NFL teams or when talking about complete tight end prospects. Hurst looks to be more of a reliable, check-down tight end type in a Dwayne Allen-type of mold.

The Rest

Mark Andrews, Jordan Akins, Ian Thomas
Andrews is actually a former wide receiver with great athleticism, spending most of his time running routes in the slot. The only reason Andrews doesn’t rank higher is his team will likely move slow with him given his inability to block, meaning Year 2 production is even in question… Akins is rather similar to Andrews with downfield ability and better run blocking, but he’s also going to be 26 on April 19… Thomas has a NFL body and enough speed to separate in the seam. His hands are solid but could improve, but he flashes the potential to be a nice move/combo tight end with more development.

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1

Since too many of you have proven to be lazy already… READ THE DANG INTRO, which includes trade details for the mock draft!! (And if can’t see Pick 32, I have Guice there.)

Main Image Credit: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

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