4×4 Rookie Mock Series – v. 2.0
How have things changed since our first rookie mock? Jeff Ratcliffe gives insights and analysis into rookie mock draft 2.0.
4×4 Rookie Mock Series – v. 2.0
With the NFL Draft now less than one month away, it’s time to re-evaluate the fantasy rookie landscape. In mid-February, we held the first in a series of four rookie mock drafts, called the 4×4 Series. This past week, we held mock 2.0.
In our first mock, the Combine was still on the horizon. Now, we sit with the festivities in Indy along with the pro days of many of this year’s top prospects squarely in the rearview mirro.
The goal of this series was to keep our finger on the pulse of the fantasy community and see how our collective opinions about this rookie class changes in the lead up to the Draft. As you’ll see below, there was some significant change from our first mock.
So this information can have a wide reach, we kept things simple. The mocks are four rounds with no positional limitations. We also used a .5 PPR format, which gives the results the widest possible reach.
You’ll recognize most of the participants as PFF Fantasy staffers, and we were also joined by our friends Sigmund Bloom of FootballGuys.com, FSWA Hall of Famer Bob Harris, Rumford Johnny from the Rummy & Ray Podcast, Jon Moore from RotoViz, Rich Hribar of XNSports (among other sites), and Ryan McDowell from DynastyLeagueFootball.
Bellow I list the picks in a round-by-round fashion followed by my general thoughts. I also included the picker’s brief comments on their picks.
|1.01||Pat Thorman||Kevin White||WR||Went relative safety of WR over RB (strong RB depth factored), and White’s high ceiling over Cooper’s high floor. Big, fast, explosive and productive.|
|1.02||Shawn Siegele||Todd Gurley||RB||The Platonic ideal of a fantasy back, Gurley combines size, athleticism, youth, and elite receiving ability.|
|1.03||Rumford Johnny||Dorial Green-Beckham||WR||Cooper would have been the safe pick, but I’m still betting on the WR1 ceiling of DGB.|
|1.04||Ryan McDowell||Amari Cooper||WR||A top 3 talent in the draft and very safe pick. A steal at 4 overall.|
|1.05||Michael Moore||Melvin Gordon||RB||Didnt expect Gordon at this spot but will gladly take it. He’ll have a good shot to contribute right away.|
|1.06||Sigmund Bloom||DeVante Parker||WR||Ceiling to match the three WRs that went ahead of him. Needs to work on his craft to maximize that potential|
|1.07||Rich Hribar||Breshad Perriman||WR||This Kool-Aid might be sugar free, but I’m going to take a sip in what would be a trade down spot.|
|1.08||Jeff Ratcliffe||Jay Ajayi||RB||Had my hopes up for Perriman in this spot, but happy to snag Ajayi here. He’s a big boy who could see a significant role in the right landing spot *cough* Dallas.|
|1.09||Jon Moore||Jaelen Strong||WR||At pick 9, I’ll take Jaelen every single time.|
|1.10||Bob Harris||Tevin Coleman||RB||Was hoping Strong would fall to me here, but Coleman works. A little straight-liney, but could be solid in the right system.|
|1.11||Scott Spratt||Devin Funchess||WR||I took Funchess with the 7th pick a few months ago, and I’m happy to take him again. At 6’4, 235 lbs., he could have a Kelvin Benjamin-like impact in his rookie season.|
|1.12||Tyler Loechner||T.J. Yeldon||RB||He can block, which should help get him on the field sooner, and has been compared to Le’Veon Bell and Arian Foster. I’ll take those comparisons.|
There’s some interesting movement atop this mock, as Thorman stepped up and snagged Kevin White following his impressive Combine performance. In our previous mock, I managed to get White at 1.04. The times, they are a changing. Likewise, Dorial Green-Beckham bumped up slightly from his selection at 1.06 in the last mock, as did Breshad Perriman (1.10 in the previous mock).
It’s a testament to how deep this class is at running back that we see a player the caliber of Melvin Gordon fall to 1.05. An argument could certainly be made for him as the No. 1 overall pick, and it wouldn’t shock me if that’s where he ultimately ends up after the Draft.
The remainder of this round is fairly straightforward, so I’ll take a moment to comment a little further on my selection of Jay Ajayi. This kid is a very versatile player who has the skill set to stay on the field for all three downs. He’s not an elite talent like Gurley or Gordon, but it doesn’t take an elite talent to be a fantasy RB1. If Ajayi lands in the right spot (like Dallas), watch out.
|2.01||Pat Thorman||Ameer Abdullah||RB||Versatile, explosive, agile, and pro day 40 helped timed speed worry. Can run inside. Size and ball security keeping price down. Arguably top tier-2 RB.|
|2.02||Shawn Siegele||Marcus Mariota||QB||One of the top QB prospects ever from a fantasy perspective, Mariota faces a lot of potential landmine franchises in the draft.|
|2.03||Rumford Johnny||David Cobb||RB||One of my favorite RBs in this class. Stevan Ridley but with better hands. Sunday ready.|
|2.04||Ryan McDowell||Duke Johnson||RB||Getting a lot of hate lately, but I’m taking him in the 2nd round every chance I get. Not an every down RB, but he will have a role.|
|2.05||Michael Moore||Jameis Winston||QB||Winston has a good shot to be a franchise QB and getting him in the second is a steal.|
|2.06||Sigmund Bloom||Nelson Agholor||WR||Silky smooth athlete could end up being closer to the top tier in production than the difference in rookie draft slot would indicate|
|2.07||Rich Hribar||David Johnson||RB||Dammit Bloom.|
|2.08||Jeff Ratcliffe||Sammie Coates||WR||Decent size with good speed, but still very unpolished. This pick is more for fantasy ceiling than an immediate ROI.|
|2.09||Jon Moore||Maxx Williams||TE||I don’t think Maxx is elite, but to get him a full round later than where Ebron/Eifert went in rookie drafts feels like great value.|
|2.10||Bob Harris||Mike Davis||RB||Williams was the guy I wanted, but Davis has enough size, speed and power to be of interest here.|
|2.11||Scott Spratt||Devin Smith||WR||Devin Smith is really fast and should make a lot of plays on deep balls.|
|2.12||Tyler Loechner||Jeremy Langford||RB||The fastest 40 time among RBs this year, and 5th fastest in past 3 years.|
Early in Round 2, we get a very eye opening comment from Shawn Siegele. He calls Marcus Mariota “one of the top QB prospects ever from a fantasy perspective.” Shawn is one of the top high stakes players out there and a darn good analyst, so when he speaks, I listen. This is bold statement, but there’s certainly a lot of merit to what he’s saying. Mariota has a skill set in the vein of Russell Wilson in that he can beat you with his legs but is also a capable passer. If Shawn’s words come to fruition, Mariota is an absolute steal at 2.02.
However, I tend to side more with the Jameis Winston camp, and like where he went in this mock. Winston is a more pro-ready quarterback who will likely step into a Tampa offense with a potential long-term WR1 in Mike Evans. Winston’s fantasy ceiling may not rival Mariota’s, but his floor (especially short term) is much higher.
Half of the picks in this round are running backs. This is the year, folks. Load up at the running back position. The best part is you likely won’t need a bunch of first-round picks to do so. See if you can stockpile some second-round picks and scoop as many of the second-tier guys as you can.
That being said, it’s not the year of the tight end. Maxx Williams comes off the board in the late second, but I’d much rather have taken my chances with Mike Davis or Jeremy Langford. Rookie tight ends rarely pay immediate dividends, but rookie running backs do so frequently.
|3.01||Pat Thorman||Javorius Allen||RB||A big back who fits a three-down profile, has good hands and agility, and can pass protect. A bit on the old side though.|
|3.02||Shawn Siegele||Chris Conley||WR||With a career msYDs of 0.16, Conley is an athletic flier.|
|3.03||Rumford Johnny||Zach Zenner||RB||Small school stud, incredibly productive and is being comped as a bigger Danny Woodhead. Unlike Woodhead, I think Zenner can be an every down workhorse.|
|3.04||Ryan McDowell||Phillip Dorsett||WR||Love the speed and some team will too. He’ll see some targets from day one.|
|3.05||Michael Moore||Jesse James||TE||Still just 20, James was a combine stud and the kind of high ceiling player you take in the third round of rookie drafts.|
|3.06||Sigmund Bloom||Tre McBride||WR||Don’t be surprised when this small school stud ends up being one of the best wide receivers in the draft. effortless separation and graceful going up for the ball.|
|3.07||Rich Hribar||Tyler Lockett||WR||Big production from a small WR. Back to back seasons of 40% of his team’s receiving yardage with 38% of the targets.|
|3.08||Jeff Ratcliffe||Rashad Greene||WR||Not a size/speed guy, but Greene is a very polished route runner who has the athletic chops to produce at the pro level.|
|3.09||Jon Moore||Kenny Bell||WR||A discount Devin Smith, Bell has the big play potential and run blocking experience to get on the NFL field early… In other news, MFL needs more rookies.|
|3.10||Bob Harris||Stefon Diggs||WR||Biggest hands of any WR at the combine. Talked to him this week and liked his confidence. He’s not a lock to succeed, but he damn well thinks he can.|
|3.11||Scott Spratt||Justin Hardy||WR||Small but could be productive out of the slot.|
|3.12||Tyler Loechner||Clive Walford||TE||A top 30 player in many rookie drafts, I’ll take him at 3.12. Mayock called him most explosive TE in 2015 class.|
A few interesting players come off the board in the third round, namely Zach Zenner and Tre McBride. Neither was selected in our first mock.
Zenner is an intriguing running back out of South Dakota State who put up some big numbers in the Missouri Valley Conference. He has good size and could end up being a viable fantasy prospect if he lands in a zone-blocking scheme.
McBride also dominated against small school competition and improved his draft stock with a strong showing at the Combine, including running 4.41 in the 40. He’s a potential Day 2 pick whom you should keep your eye on.
While this round is wide receiver heavy (eight receivers selected), two tight ends were also selected – Jesse James and Clive Walford. If you are going to go tight end in rookie drafts this year, this point feels much better than where Maxx Williams went. There’s too much value on the board to pass up in Round 2.
An athletic freak, James actually posted better Combine numbers than Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. That’s not to say he’s a potential elite talent, but his high ceiling is worth a flier at this point. Walford has an interesting skill set with some explosive playmaking ability who has drawn comparisons to Dwayne Allen. For fantasy purposes, his ceiling is in the back end TE1 range.
|4.01||Pat Thorman||Devante Davis||WR||Great size, hands, good (enough) athleticism. Strong on contested catches. Injury-muted ’14 production contines to keep him an under the radar bargain.|
|4.02||Shawn Siegele||Ty Montgomery||WR||Endured terrible 2014 but has better SPARQ and career msYDs than several selected before him.|
|4.03||Rumford Johnny||DeAndre Smelter||WR||Wins similarly to former GT WR Demaryius Thomas. Injury plagued year makes him a potential value at this point.|
|4.04||Ryan McDowell||Karlos Williams||RB||Still a believer in the talent and worth a gamble this late in a draft.|
|4.05||Michael Moore||Antwan Goodley||WR||Goodley has 4.44 wheels despite a 5′ 10″, 220-pound frame but played in pass-heavy Baylor’s system which has had an effect on his stock. Still, I’ll take that body in a receiver.|
|4.06||Sigmund Bloom||Malcolm Brown||RB||Between the tackles grinder who could be surprisingly productive in the right spot.|
|4.07||Rich Hribar||RJ Harris||WR||What would a fourth rounder be without a long toss?|
|4.08||Jeff Ratcliffe||Josh Robinson||RB||Doesn’t blow you away, but could be an asset if he lands in a good spot. Worth a flier at this point.|
|4.09||Jon Moore||Brett Hundley||QB||Debated taking Hundley 12 picks ago. Considering his accuracy, mobility and likely high draft position, he’s a no-brainer this late in the draft.|
|4.10||Bob Harris||Titus Davis||WR||Nice size and quickness. Decent stright-line speed. Nose for the end zone. Just needs to catch the ball (would have preferred Hundley here)|
|4.11||Scott Spratt||Cameron Artis-Payne||RB||His age and lack of speed limit his potential, but Artis-Payne can be an effective early-down back at the next level.|
|4.12||Tyler Loechner||Vince Mayle||WR||Injured during these crucial months, so his stock is slipping a bit. Makes him a nice value pick as the final pick of the draft.|
Bring on the fliers here in the fourth round. Of all the rounds, this one is the most likely to change following the Draft. However, a few names will likely stick and could potentially move up.
Brett Hundley screams value at 4.09. While he’s raw and unpolished, his skillset is ideal for putting up fantasy points. In the right landing spot, Hundley is a strong pick to stash in the mid- to late-rounds of your rookie draft.
Bloom’s pick of Malcolm Brown also sticks out. He’s a bigger back with a solid pedigree (he played at Texas) who projects as a Day 3 pick. As Bloom notes, he’s solid between the tackles and doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s not a game-breaker, but Browns north-south running style and three-down ability could lead to solid production as the pro level.
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven and DFS junkie of PFF Fantasy.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.