With the first round of the draft officially in the books I wanted to share my thoughts and recap the fantasy relevant picks. So enough small talk here we go.
Pick 1: Cleveland Browns- QB Baker Mayfield:
A surprise pick for the Browns since everyone was expecting Sam Darnold or Josh Allen to go here.
Mayfield was my #1 QB coming into the draft and it is not going to change. He has a good top target in Josh Gordon (assuming he stays out of trouble) and a great possession receiver with Jarvis Landry.
If Njoku continues to improve and they add another running back in day 2 of the draft this offense could be turning around quicker than some would think.
Pick 2: New York Giants- RB Saquon Barkley:
The undoubted rookie 1.01 goes second overall in the draft. That offensive line needs some work but if you have the 1.01 rookie pick don’t think twice about picking him.
This offense has a lot of weapons and can be productive and Saquon is going to be one of the top running backs for many many years to come.
Pick 3: New York Jets- QB Sam Darnold:
A great pick for the Jets. He needs to work on cutting down on turnovers but has all the traits of a franchise QB. I want to see the Jets add more weapons for him but a good spot for the USC QB.
Pick 7: Buffalo Bills- QB Josh Allen:
My least favorite of the top QB prospects but it was rumored that the Bills were in love with him so they traded up and got their guy. Big hands and a rocket arm aren’t all you need to succeed in the NFL and if there is one first round QB I would bet on to bust it would be Allen.
How much of an upgrade will Allen be to Tyrod Taylor? Both athletic QBs who don’t check the ball down, love airing it out and have questionable accuracy. Are the Bills the new Browns?
Pick 10: Arizona Cardinals- QB Josh Rosen:
The Cardinals trade up and get a unique QB prospect who is being mentored by Aaron Rogers. A similar quirky personality to Rogers, everyone hated on him for his lack of love for the game and having “other interests” but this is a motivated and intelligent young QB.
I worry about his injury history (shoulder injury and multiple concussions) but he has the ability to be a long term starter.
The Cardinals entire roster has more holes than a block of swiss cheese so they have a lot of things to address before I feel comfortable in investing in Josh Rosen from a fantasy perspective.
Pick 24: Carolina Panthers- WR D.J. Moore:
Fantasy enthusiasts had a bit of a lull during the middle part of this draft but the drought ended with this pick. A late riser in the draft process, Moore was a guy that I thought had a good athletic profile but lacked the makings of a bona fide consistent play-making pass catcher(poor route running and lots of body catching were my main concerns).
Pair that with an inaccurate QB in Cam Newton and this quickly becomes a recipe for disaster. Run of the mill dynasty owners are going to be taking him in the first half of the first round of dynasty leagues just because he was the first WR off the board.
Remember that does not always equate to success (reference Tavon Austin, DHB and Justin Blackmon) so don’t let that blind you. Let the better prospects like Ridley, Miller, Sutton and Kirk fall to you at even better values.
Pick 25: Baltimore Ravens- TE Hayden Hurst:
This pick really surprised me. I have Mike Gesicki and Dallas Goedert as much better weapons (from a fantasy perspective) but this becomes one of those famous picks that will help the Ravens more than it will your fantasy team.
Hurst is still an athletic TE with good hands and run after the catch ability but still does not compare to the impact that the previously mentioned TEs will have. Keep your rankings as they are with Hurst as a distant third.
Pick 26: Atlanta Falcons- Calvin Ridley WR:
Man what a fantastic spot for Ridley. Pair him with another Bama WR alumni and let him feast on the single coverage he gets thanks to Julio.
There have been rumblings that Julio is not happy with the Falcons organization, but this is an exciting weapon to add to help take some pressure off Jones. Ridley could make an instant impact which is important considering he is one of the older WR prospects in the draft.
If he goes off of the board in your rookie draft as the first WR I would not be surprised. I probably wouldn’t do it but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Pick 27: Seattle Seahawks- Rashaad Penny RB:
…..Wut? Did the Seahawks forget that Michel, Guice and Chubb existed? Maybe the rumors of the bone on bone knee Michel has scared them off (spoiler: the Patriots didn’t seem to mind) and Guice’s off the field chatter spooked them but this was probably the biggest head scratcher of the night.
I am as big a Penny fan as the next guy but this might be one of the worst spots for a RB to land. The offensive line in atrocious, the only proven playmaker for Russ is Baldwin and there are a stable of (albeit oft-injured) running backs that have shown flashes in the past couple of years.
Being a first round pick would make you think that Penny will be pushed to the top of the depth chart but color me skeptical as to how Penny produces in the beginning of his career.
Pick 31: New England Patriots- Sony Michel RB:
My #2 RB and overall rookie lands in an interesting spot. A crowded backfield with Burkhead, White, Jeremy Hill and Gillislee will scare some dynasty owners off, but not this guy. The consensus will say that Sony has the opportunity to step in as a two down back and leave the receiving work to White and Burkhead. I disagree.
Georgia was a run first team and did not feature the backfield in their passing attack. I believe Sony still has the ability to excel in the pass game due to his pass blocking (which is above average compared to most backs coming out of college) and he can catch just as well as any other back in this class.
It will be too difficult to keep him off of the field. He may be another player that slips a few spots to maybe that 1.04-1.06 range in rookie drafts which means I turn into a 90s boy band and start singing “Baby buy buy buy!”
Pick 32: Baltimore Ravens- Lamar Jackson QB:
The Ravens were busy bees tonight busting out trades left and right. There was some buzz around their connection to Jackson earlier in the draft but they passed him up until the last pick where they decided to trade back up to grab their guy.
Probably one of the biggest fallers today, Jackson ends up in an interesting spot. Obviously Flacco is their starting QB this year but his contract is set up that he has no more guaranteed money left so the Ravens can cut/trade him without much concern once they feel Jackson is ready to go.
An obvious enigma to the QB position, Jackson is someone I am willing to invest a late second-early third round pick in if I don’t like the players left and I have a QB need. He doesn’t have as defined a path to a starting role like these other top QB prospects which makes him less valuable to your more short sighted dynasty owners.
I would bet he is available in the middle of the third round in most single QB rookie drafts which is a great spot to grab a potential dual threat QB for the coming years. Even if he struggles as a passer early in his career his legs provide almost guaranteed points because he is such an electric athlete.
That’s my evaluation of our Day 1 Rookie Draft Picks. Time to get amped for Day 2.