After dissecting the winners from the last few weeks’ transactions, unfortunately there were also some losers from a fantasy perspective we need to address too.
Which of the moves have a negative impact on a players fantasy value? Let’s dive in:
How dare I besmirch the name of a fantasy God i hear you say. Well, it’s quite simple – Hopkins has gone from a team where he was the main weapon where everything went through him, to a team with a wider and deeper plethora of talent and a quarterback who is less proven than his old one, Deshaun Watson.
I am not for one second suggesting that Hopkins is going to be a fantasy bust in 2020, but I think it’s fair to say he, individually, was a loser from free agency when you’re talking fantasy value. In his 7 years as a Texans, Hopkins has averaged 90 receptions for 1,229 yards per season with 8 TD’s per season.
Will he keep to these figures in Arizona? Potentially, of course, however I think he will be more along the 80 for 1,100 and 6 TD line considering the amount of mouths Kyler Murray needs to feed in that offense – that would have seen him around the WR 11 – 14 range in PPR scoring in 2019. Still a WR1 in fantasy, just no longer a “top 5” weapon, in my opinion.
As an honourable mention too, Deshaun Watson’s fantasy value has to have taken a hit too as I struggle to see how Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills or Keke Coutee are going to replicate Hopkins’ production, either singularly or as a team effort. With no real draft capital to bring in a replacement superstar either, it begs the question where will Watson be able to sustain his QB1 tag in fantasy.
Patriots skill positions fantasy values
As of right now, we are still uncertain what is happening in Foxborough as regards to the Pats’ immediate future. With only a shade under $1mil left in cap space, it certainly looks like New England will be quarterbacked by either second year Jarrett Stidham, or in the way of an incoming rookie at the back end of the first round.
Either way, it’s fair to say the fantasy value of Sony Michel, James White, Julien Edelman and N’Keal Harry remains uncertain until we know who is under centre, but their combined value has to drop mainly due to the fact TB12 is no longer their leader.
Unfortnuately for Pats’ fans it looks like the last decade of dominance is coming to an end, and with it comes the fantasy value of it’s skill positions. They all lost out this off season.
Who remembers David Njoku’s 639 yards with 4 TD’s in 2018 sparking fantasy hype in 2019 only for it to come crashing down thanks to a season long wrist injury? Yeah, that was a derailed train that looks like it’s going to remain that way unless he gets traded away.
Thanks to the seemingly unnecessary move to acquire hot property Austin Hooper from Atlanta, Njoku’s fantasy production is about as questionable as whether the Browns will get to 8 wins or not this year.
With characters such as OBJ, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and now Hooper all likely ahead of Njoku in the receiving pecking order – unless Baker Mayfield suddenly makes a giant leap back to super-stardom, Njoku may well be a fantasy ghost again in 2020.
Keenan Allen and Mike Williams
We know both Allen and Williams are extraordinary talents in the NFL and will likely continue to be highly productive and fantasy relevant. However, with Pip Rivers off to pastures new in Indy and the re-sign of Hunter Henry on the franchise tag, the fantasy outlook for this dynamic duo is in question for the time being.
If the Chargers manage to get hold of Tua or more likely Justin Herbert as their new signal caller through the draft, then one would assume it would be business as usual in 2020 – Keenan Allen being a target hog and Mike Williams commanding targets in the redzone. But until then, they both have to be considered as losers from this season’s off season action. No more trusted connection with Rivers and Henry still around taking TD opportunities away.
New York Jets
How many fantasy players did the Jets have in the top 40 (not including QB’s) of PPR scoring in 2019? Zero. Top 50? 1 – Lev Bell. Jamison Crowder was just outside the top 50. In fact, there was only 3 Jets’ players to have over 100 PPR points throughout the 2019 season.
So what have they done as an organisation to combat and improve this? They failed to re-sign one of those players, Robby Anderson, signed the lackluster former first round pick Josh Doctson and the flighty journeyman Breshad Perriman. With bigger needs likely targetted in the draft (offensive line, edge rusher and defensive secondary), it’s likely that this make-shift ensemble will be the fantasy options heading into the 2020 season. Eeesh. The Jets are off-season losers as things stand. Poor Sam Darnold!
Now the madness of the free agency is mostly behind us and teams have bolstered their depth charts, we can take a more detailed and thorough look into what teams’ needs are and hopefully be a bit more accurate with predictions. With that in mind, here is my mock draft 2.0:
Pick 1: Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB – LSU
No change for the 1.01 pick. Burrow wanted A.J Green franchised tagged, and he got his wish. With trade chatter regarding Andy Dalton heating up too, it’s looking increasingly likely that Burrow will be the pick for Cinci
Pick 2 MOCK TRADE: Miami Dolphins via Washington – Tua Tagovailoa, QB – Alabama
Previously I had Las Vegas trading up here to grab Chase Young, but I think Miami will want to move up in order to guarantee they get their guy. I stand by my opinion that Washington does not need to draft Young thanks to their existing D-Line of D’Ron Payne, Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen. The price that is willing to be paid will prove more valuable to Washington to add better depth in more postions rather than adding to an area that does not need adding to.
Miami will get cold feet knowing that the Chargers and Jags have got trade-able assets to move here and it’s not beyond the realm for Tampa Bay, Indianapolis or New England to pull a rabbit out of the bag either… but it’s most likely Miami with their excess draft stock in the first round.
Pick 3: Detroit Lions – Chase Young, EDGE – Ohio State
Although probably hounded with offers to grab the best player in the draft, Detroit rub their hands together as they know they’ve hit the jackpot. Edge is a need, and Young is the answer for Matt Patricia to start building a better quality defense.
Pick 4: New York Giants – Mekhi Becton, OL – Louisville
Previous Pick Tristan Wirfs. OL, Iowa – however I think Gettleman prefers freak athletes, which Becton is basically the description of.
Offensive Line has been a glaring need for a few years now for the G-Men. At 6’7 and 364lbs, Becton is still one of the most athletic freaks in this class. He’ll be a game changer for Daniel Jones as they continue to want to help build around him and Saquon.
Pick 5 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Miami – Jeff Okudah, CB – Ohio State
Still available here for the Skins’ will be the best corner in the draft. They have a good defense but after passing on Young and opting for more depth picks, they replace last years’ stand out Quinton Dunbar who was the only stand out on the defensive secondary last season for them. They’ll need some quality back there
Pick 6: Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB – Oregon
The Chargers will be fighting an internal battle over this pick. They are still desperate for offensive line help and there are some gems in this draft class, yet their team is not a million miles away from being playoff worthy. However, to be that, they will need a replacement for Pip Rivers. Herbert ticks a lot of boxes. He was slated to go 1.01 last season before heading back to Oregon for another term and he impressed at the combine as expected. Herbert could be the answer Charger fans.
Luke Kuechly is gone. He was one of the centrepieces of the organisation and Simmons will fit into Matt Rhules’ desire to build a formidable defense as Kuechly’s replacement. Can also play at Safety if the Panthers prioritise building their defensive secondary first. Could go Derrick Brown here as there are many different needs for Carolina.. but Simmons is a unicorn.
Pick 8: Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, OL – Louisville
Offensive Line has been a glaring need for a few years now in Arizona. Wirfs was the stand out of the draft and cemented himself as a worthy top 10 pick. He’ll be a game changer for Kyler Murray as he searches for the next level.
Last year Josh Allen fell in their laps at pick 7 last year, and Brown is going to do the same this year for them. Defensive line is a need for Jacksonville and in a lesser talent-filled class, Brown would be considered a top 5 pick.
Pick 10: Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills, OL – Alabama
The Browns need a tackle. Their O-line has never lived up to the hype that it was supposed to be, and with the news of Greg Robinson’s arrest. they’ll need to sure the line up. Two stud O-lineman remain on the board, but I think Wills nudges it over Andrew Thomas down to a better showing in their Junior year. Jedrick Wills is an athletic tackle who has the strength to open up big running lanes which will help Nick Chubb continue on his improving production trajectory.
Pick 11: New York Jets – Andrew Thomas, OL – Georgia
The need for O-lineman in the NFL is plentiful. The Jets’ are in that conversation and will take the last remaining stud tackle in this first round. Andrew Thomas is an NFL ready tackle who will provide better protection for Sam Darnold. Good pick.
I originally has Vegas adopting a YOLO approach as the draft was on home soil and making a splash for Chase Young. However, with the draft now behind closed doors, and Miami likely able to offer more to go grab Tua, I think Mayock and Gruden take the best players available in their areas of need. Henderson is the second best CB in this draft and has been a weak point of the Raiders over the last couple of seasons. Bringing in Eli Apple and Jeff Heath isn’t the answer, Henderson may just be.
Pick 13: San Francisco 49ers – Jerry Jeudy, WR – Alabama
Jerry Jeudy is a stud receiver. With very few needs on their superbowl quality team, a replacement for the departed Emmanuel Sanders seems high on the priority list. He’s the most polished all-rounder and will fill that Sanders role perfectly.
A few slated Jeudy’s combine, however, his combine was still statistically better than those from DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas and Davante Adams…and they turned out to be elite receivers… just sayin’
Pick 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Xavier McKinney, S – Alabama
A close battle between McKinney and Delpit for the best Safety out of college this year. I’ve edged with Mckinney as he stood out in 2019 more than Delpit did. Both are first round talents, and both will be excellent in the pros. Tampa could use o-line help, but after the “elite 4” have gone in this scenario already, it’s too early to reach for the second tier of offensive lineman in my opinion. McKinney is a great pick.
Courtland Sutton is the up and coming receiver in Denver and it would be nice to pair him up with another stud on the opposite flank. Denver has a few other needs including o-line and cornerback, but personally I think Lamb is the best player available in those needed positions.
Pick 16: MOCK TRADE Jacksonville Jaguars via Atlanta Falcons – Jordan Love, QB – Utah State
Jags send 20th overall, 73rd overall and 118 overallto Atlanta who have a lot of holes to fill on o-line, d-line, linebacker and in the defensive secondary
Minshew mania was great while it lasted. But I think the NFL world realistically knows it probably won’t last. The Jags whiffed on Nick Foles last season and there going to want to get it right with a promising dual threat QB. He’s mouldable and the kind of character Jacksonville need leading the team as they look to re-build from the current ruins.
I originally had Dallas down as picking up Kinlaw (DT) here, but since they gave Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy healthy contracts, one would assume the orgnisation is happy with their veteran DT corps heading into the season.
Robert Quinn has left for Chicago meaning there is a need at EDGE for the Cowboys. Dallas will be lucky if a player of Chaisson’s talent falls to 17.. but if the draft falls this way there might be a chance. Some analysts have the former LSU stud as a top 10 pick.
Pick 18: Miami Dolphins – Austin Jackson, OL – USC
Miami have a lot of needs so your guess is as good as mine for this pick. They could get some defensive secondary help here adding the next best CB like Arnette or Diggs, even Delpit at Safety could be in play. Will they want to add a weapon here for Tua in the form of Swift at running back? I think they know that the insde o-linemen the acquired in the free agency (Karras and Flowers) are fill in pieces and they will want to invest in some proper talent on that line to protect their franchise QB aka Tua Tagovailoa.
Jackson is the best of tier 2 in this talented offensive line class. He’s agile with quick feet and a very good overall athlete. A slight reach, but an important one.
Pick 19: Las Vegas Raiders – Henry Ruggs III, WR – Alabama
Raiders take the darling of the combine here. Receiver is a big need with only Hunter Renfrow worth anything worth talking about in that receiver room. They get an explosive, dynamic speed freak that Derek Carr/Marcus Mariota can rely on to get open behind the defense.
Pick 20 MOCK TRADE: Atlanta Falcons via Jacksonville – Javon Kinlaw, DT – South Carolina
Atlanta can’t believe their luck when they see a top 15 prospect sitting here at 20. DT is a need, Kinlaw is a top class one. No brainer.
Pick 21: Philadelphia Eagles – Kenneth Murray, LB – Oklahoma
I originally had Philly down as improving their defensive secondary, but since then they signed Darius Slay meaning more pressing needs will need addressing. One of those needs is linebacker. Their defense is getting better, but they need better quality in the linebacker room. Murray fits the bill and was very impressive as Oklahoma’s record breaker for most tackles in one game (28).
The Vikes acquired this pick through giving Buffalo Stefon Diggs. So it makes sense that they are going to replace Diggs with a solid all rounder. He did himself a big favour with a good combine and has done enough to warrant a first rounder being spent on him.
Pick 23: New England Patriots – A.J Epenesa, EDGE – Iowa
Epenesa’s draft stock has taken a hit over the last few weeks due to a poor combine, but on his day he’s an exceptional talent – and getting the best out of a player is the kind of thing Belichick specialises in. They’ll know that Epenesa can be special after an impressive 2019 season, and with DE being a need, this will be the best option for them.
The next QB’s off the board will likely be Eason and Fromm, neither of which are a day 1 pick, and neither are TB12’s replacements. The other needs at receiver can be filled in day 2/3, don’t forget they wasted a first rounder on N’Keal Harry this time last year and won’t want to repeat that considering the top 3 WR’s are already off the board.
Pick 24 MOCK TRADE: Chicago Bears via New Orleans- Grant Delpit, S – LSU
Chicago give 43rd overall, 50th overall and a 2021 2nd
Yes, Chicago are prepared to go all in and give up what little ‘good’ draft capital they have left in2020 along with dipping into next years’ stock.
With Prince Amukamara out and HaHa Clinton-Dix not returning, Matt Nagy’s stringent defense needs it’s holes blocking up. As we headed into the 2019 season, Delpit was on a lot of ‘Top 5 prospect’ lists. Admittedly he didn’t live up to that expectation throughout the season, but he still possesses raw talent which nurtured in the right group could still wind up to be an elite level. The trade leaves Chicago with a fourth, a fifth, two sixths and two sevenths… potentially a dart throw at a sleeper tackle or receiver – but the offense rebuild will have to wait a year, Nagy needs his defense in order first!
With the receiver need addressed, the Vikings can concentrate on another pressing need – they lost their 3 most used CB’s this off-season (Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander) and they need to replenish. Luckily for the Vikes, the defensive secondary players are falling later in the first round thanks to plenty of o-line talent and the almost league-wide need for them.
Arnette is a versatile player that can play inside at nickel or on the outside with the ability to play man or zone. He ticks a lot of boxes and will help glue the defensive secondary in Minnesota together.
Pick 26 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Miami – Tee Higgins, WR – Clemson
Washington need depth at receiver with only ‘Scary’ Terry McLaurin breaking out to be a household name last season. They have unknown talents in Kelvin Harmon and Trey Quinn, but they need a big hitter. Tee Higgins is just that. Another all round specimen who is a danger in the redzone. Redskins need that redzone target since Jordan Reed won’t be returning.
Since (mock) trading back from 2, the Skins have picked up an elite corner and a top WR prospect and still have a extra pick at 70. I’d say that’s a win for Washington.
Pick 27: Seattle Seahawks – Isaiah Wilson, OL – Georgia
Whilst Andrew Thomas took the plaudits of being the most pro-ready tackle out of Georgia, Isaiah Wilson didn’t go un-noticed either. He impressed at the combine and is more than capable as a pass protector. Exactly what Seattle and Russell Wilson needs after being the most pressured QB in football since entering the league. A bit of a reach but he, or anyone near his skill set won’t be around come their next pick at 59.
Pick 28: Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen, LB – LSU
The Ravens don’t have many needs as things stand with how they move the ball. They invested in wide receivers last year and have a stout defense. However, they would benefit from having a stronger linebacking corps. Especially seeing Josh Bynes leave for Cinci. Queen is a busy-body linebacker that zips around the field and is a dangerous blitzer. He’d fit this defensive scheme well.
Pick 29: Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE – Penn State
The Titans improved all over the field in 2019 however their pass-rush left a alot to be desired. The only player with a pressure rate above 10% was Cameron Wake who walked out of the building this off season. Vic Beasley isn’t the answer either, so they’ll grab the next best DE in this class, Gross-Matos. He’s certainly a tier below those already taken, but his pass-rush did improve throughout his college career and he looks like he could continue those year on year improvements into the pros. 20 tackles for loss in 2019 certainly helps his draft stock
Pick 30: Green Bay Packers – Jalen Reagor, WR – TCU
Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, E.Q St Brown, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard. All average receivers that have had their spoils but ultimately aren’t trustworthy enough for Aaron Rodgers to use reliably. The Packers could thin that group down and take a receiver that could have been projected a lot higher had he had consistent QB play throughout his college career. Rodgers could make Reagor an elite weapon and the Packers could be back to the glory days of Nelson and Cobb. Unload the deadwood McCarthy brought in and restock with talent you choose, Matt LaFleur.
Pick 31 MOCK TRADE: Baltimore Ravens via San Francisco – D’Andre Swift, RB – Georgia
Baltimore send 55th, 60th, 106th and a 2021 4th rounder.
Before the trade with Indy that saw San Fran acquire the 13th overall pick, this was their only pick until the 157th in the 5th round. By getting an elite WR at 13, this free’s them up to trade back and grab a few more picks. On the other side, Baltimore know they almost have a complete squad. They need bolstering on the o-line and another receiver wouldn’t go amiss, they still have the 92nd and 129th to find depth there though.
Imagine having a swiss army knife like Swift in that offense. He and Jackson would be a dream combo on any fantasy roster and would be a great piece of business. Very Baltimore-like.
Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathan Taylor, RB – Wisconsin
Oh, i’ve just got your fantasy juices flowing, haven’t I… well have another. A superstar running back is heading to a team where the coach knows how to run the ball extremely well. It’s KC’s glaring hole in their elite offense, and I think Coach Reid will be licking his chops to get a talent like Taylor on his roster.
I know why you are here, you know why you are here. let’s not beat around the bush and get straight to it. Would love to hear your opinions on Twitter!
Cincinnati Bengals: QB – Joe Burrow – LSU
Keep it simple, keep it safe. Bengals get their ‘face of the franchise’ and plug him in to play on day one.
Washington Redskins: DE – Chase Young – Ohio State
I think the Redskins will try and move down here, they don’t pick again until the 3rd round and the new coaching staff needs to build a support system around Dwayne Haskins. The Dolphins at 5 seem the most likely candidates, but I think they’ll wait and see if there is any real need to move up.
Instead, the ‘Skins take the best player in the draft and get themselves a dominating edge rusher who will immediately give the NFC East’s defensive co-ordinators a significant headache.
Miami Dolphins: QB – Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama
The Dolphins give up pick 5, 39 & Houston’s 2021 2nd rounder, managing to keep their two other first rounders in place and get their guy.
Ever since Miami traded away Laremy Tunsil before the 2019 season started, it has looked like their sights have been firmly set on the Alabama signal caller. The surprisingly resolute nature of Brian Flores’ team at one point seemed to put that in danger, but the hip injury sustained by Tua means the Fins still have a shot at their guy.
This pick isn’t without risk, but the upside, attitude and star dust that Tua offers makes him the perfect candidate to head to South Florida. Will he wear #13?
New York Giants: OT – Jedrick Wills – Alabama
Tristan Wirfs had a dominant combine, and there is certainly an argument to be made for the Giants to take him 4th overall. But, I think Wills is the slightly better prospect.
Wills is a violent Right Tackle who excels in both pass protection and the running game. He’s a day one starter, with a ridiculous frame, and his addition will immediately help Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
Detroit Lions: CB – Jeffrey Okudah – Ohio State
I know, this isn’t offering many surprises so far, but Okudah to the Lions makes way too much sense. They’ve just traded away Darius Slay, and although Desmond Trufant has just arrived in Detroit, that isn’t going to put Matt Patricia off his guy.
Okudah brings a strong work ethic and willingness to contribute in the run game, alongside the ability to operate as a true shutdown corner.
LA Chargers: LB – Isaiah Simmons – Clemson
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Chargers probably go Herbert here. But, in this situation they take a gamble and take a QB slightly later in the draft.
Simmons is my favourite player in this draft, his range and versatility make him the perfect modern player and his hard hitting, explosive nature make him a turnover machine. Imagine him lined up in the same defense as Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram & Chris Harris. Whelp.
Cleveland Browns: OT – Tristan Wirfs – Iowa
Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry make the move up to 7, leapfrogging the Cardinals, to get the 2nd best Tackle in the class. To do so they give up pick 10, 74 and a 2021 4th.
As I mentioned earlier, Wirfs had a phenomenal combine, building on three years of strong performance at Iowa. A career starter at right tackle, Wirfs could easily slide across to the all-important left side of the defense. His footwork and patience in pass protection will look to buy Baker Mayfield time in the pocket and power will look to free up Nick Chubb out of the backfield.
Arizona Cardinals: OT – Mekhi Becton – Louisville
The run on Offensive Linemen continues, with the Cardinals adding a man mountain in Mekhi Becton to provide much needed protection for Kyler Murray.
Becton weighs in at 364 pounds and has the versatility to line up at tackle or guard. His strength lies in the run the game, where a powerful drive can easily open up lanes for the RB, or say, an athletic QB. However, he’s relatively comfortable in pass protection as well, possessing aggressive hands and a firm punch off the line. There are some slight concerns about his ability to redirect to hit a moving target, meaning the Browns are happy to pay to move up and take Wirfs instead of him.
Jacksonville Jaguars: DT – Derrick Brown – Auburn
Those of you who listen to the Move the Sticks podcast will have heard Daniel Jeremiah raving about Derrick Brown, giving him the 2nd overall grade in his 2nd Top 50 list.
It’s easy to see why, Brown is a three year starter who earned First Team All American honours in 2019. Effective across all three downs, Brown bull rushes opponents up the field to collapse the pocket and possesses incredibly quick hands. The Jags get a steal here at 9, making the most of the early run on tackles to boost a defensive line which just lost Calais Campbell.
Carolina Panthers: DT – Javon Kinlaw – South Carolina
Despite paying Teddy Bridgewater, it’s not hard to imagine the Panthers going all in for Trevor Lawrence next year. In this scenario they could take one of the other highly rated tackles at 10, or trade back again with the hope in boosting their pick haul.
Instead I’ve got them taking local lad Javon Kinlaw here, First Team All-SEC honours put the icing on top of a senior season which saw Kinlaw rack up 35 tackles and 6 sacks. After losing Gerald McCoy, Kinlaw is the perfect replacement, an explosive, athletic defensive tackle that’ll be an immediate boost to Phil Snow’s defense.
New York Jets: OT – Andrew Thomas – Georgia
Adam Gase’s first year in New York was a flop, with the most memorable moment being Sam Darnold’s confession that he was seeing ghosts in a Monday night horror show against the Patriots.
There were clear issues on the offensive line with 33 sacks allowed, and despite adding George Fant in free agency, I think the Jets address this further in the first round. Step forward Andrew Thomas, a two year starter at left tackle who projects as an immediate starter with high upside.
Las Vegas Raiders: WR – CeeDee Lamb – Oklahoma
It’s a coin toss for me here, between Lamb and Jeudy. Gruden and Mayock opt for the production of Lamb over the route running prowess of Jeudy.
Over three seasons, the Sooners receiver has posted 3300 yards, 32 TDs and a 19 yard per catch average. Those are elite numbers at any level and an impressive combine only helped Lamb’s stock. Derek Carr (or Marcus Mariota) gets a clear WR and the Raiders look to make a splash in Sin City from the off.
San Francisco 49ers: CB – CJ Henderson – Florida
The 49ers will probably want to trade down, but will there be a buyer that gives them the round 2 and 3 capital they want? In this scenario I’ve said no and had them address an area of need in their secondary.
Richard Sherman is aging and Ahkello Witherspoon is entering the last year of his rookie year with a lot left to prove. Henderson comes in and adds a dose of speed, athleticism and a ceiling to the mix, pushing Witherspoon for his spot on day 1.
Philadelphia Eagles: WR – Jerry Jeudy – Alabama
A big statement move by the Eagles here. We all know that Carson Wentz ended the season throwing to Greg Ward and co, so Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman trade up to get arguably the best receiver in the class. By trading pick 21, 103 and a 2021 3rd, the Eagles move up above. the Broncos who have been heavily linked with a WR pre-draft.
Despite the fact the WR class is loaded, Jeudy adds real class to the Eagles offense. A polished route runner who creates separation effortlessly, he’ll plug in opposite Alshon Jeffrey and gives Wentz a significant upgrade.
Denver Broncos: WR – Henry Ruggs – Alabama
The Broncos make it two Crimson Tide receivers in a row, adding explosive deep threat Henry Ruggs III to partner Courtland Sutton in a new look offense.
Drew Lock finished the season with a bang, going 4-1 as the starter in Denver. There’s a lot of feel good factor around the team at the moment, with Sutton and 2nd year Tight End, Noah Fant, being joined by Melvin Gordon in the offseason. Ruggs offers something different to Sutton, giving Lock a deep threat target and Pat Shurmur the opportunity to stretch the field with his play calling.
Atlanta Falcons: S – Xavier McKinney – Alabama
Three in a row for Alabama as the Falcons get in on the party. McKinney brings a well-rounded option to the Atlanta secondary, capable of playing against the run and the pass, particularly when lining up over the slot receiver.
Dallas Cowboys: S – Grant Delpit – LSU
Another coin toss here, as I had to decide between the Cowboys taking Delpit and his LSU teammate Kristian Fulton. The Cowboys lost Jeff Heath in free agency, and despite adding HaHa Clinton-Dix, they’re in need of an upgrade.
Delpit surged at the end of LSU’s championship winning season, leading the SEC in interceptions, whilst making 74 tackles. He tracks the ball well in the air and displays excellent sideline to sideline ability. Some concerns over his tackling ability, but Mike Nolan is getting a player with a lot of upside here.
Miami Dolphins: OT – Austin Jackson – USC
The Trojans left tackle becomes the Dolphins’ replacement for Laremy Tunsil here, slotting next to Ereck Flowers in their new look offensive line.
Jackson comes from NFL stock, his father having played 5 seasons on the offensive line for the Packers. His nimble feet and athleticism will entice the Fins to take him 18th overall, but there is work to be done on hand placement. Will benefit as a day one starter, but will need time to reach full potential.
Las Vegas Raiders: LB – Kenneth Murray – Oklahoma
I considered throwing a curveball in here and drafting Southern Illinois Safety Jeremy Chinn as a huge upside pick here. However, Mike Mayock reigns in my inner Jon Gruden to add Oklahoma linebacker, Kenneth Murray.
A three-year starter for the Sooners, Murray is a top quality run and chase style player, he’s incredibly quick and accompanies that with a violent nature at the point of tackle.
New Orleans Saints: QB – Justin Herbert – Oregon
Big one. The Saints move up above the Patriots and give the Jaguars some more capital in the 2021 draft for the privilege. With New England’s QB situation uncertain at the moment, it feels like they’re enough of a threat to ensure the Saints jump above them if they decide to go after Drew Brees’ successor.
Last year saw Dwayne Haskins ‘drop’ into the teens, and it’s not inconceivable that the same happens to one of the 2020 class. Herbert is probably the most likely candidate for a slight slide here, with most mocks having him go in the top 6.
Herbert is a big arm, traditional pocket passer. A three year starter who is confident attacking downfield sounds right up Sean Payton’s street. With a year to sit behind Brees, it’s easy to see a bright future for the Oregon star if the draft falls like this.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT – Ezra Cleveland – Boise State
The Buccs moved back from 14 to pick up further draft capital and with the top 4 tackles off the board. They get next first round tackle here at 21 instead, giving Tom Brady a big upgrade over Demar Dotson.
As you’d expect, Cleveland has the most to improve of the top five tackles, with Lance Zierlein noting how much stronger he needs to get to hold up as a starter. However, there’s a clear need at the position and with Tampa in win now mode, Cleveland makes sense here. Could possibly go Josh Jones instead.
Minnesota Vikings: DE – AJ Epenesa – Iowa
The Vikings use the first of their two first round picks to add a defensive end that has all the traits to become a thorn in the side of NFC North Quarterbacks for years to come.
14.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks in 2019 give a flavour of the Iowa product’s production, but it’s his ability to read the game and the explosiveness he shows out of the block that make him a first round pick.
Houston Texans: S – Antoine Winfield Jr – Minnesota
New England trade out of 23 here, opting to pick up some additional draft capital in 2021 and another pick in the top 100 of this draft.
The Texans improve their secondary with an instinctive safety in Winfield. Capable of tracking the ball through the air, and hit hard in the open field, he’ll bring a Honey Badger like attitude to a defense that missed him last season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: CB – Kristian Fulton – LSU
Simple one here for the Jags, who trade down from 20 and still get a corner to replace the departed Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye.
Fulton hasn’t sold everyone, with character issues putting off a few teams. Consistency is another concern, with the occasional lapse in judgement meaning the Jags are taking a risk on the flashes of bigtime ability we’ve seen over the last two season.
Minnesota Vikings: WR – Denzel Mims – Baylor
Another hand in glove fit here, as the Vikings choose to replace Stefon Diggs with the big upward mover in this receiver class. Mims impressed throughout Senior Bowl week and then took the combine by storm.
Quick off the line, with a big frame and the ability to high point the ball, Mims has all the makings of the perfect target for Kirk Cousins.
LA Chargers: QB – Jordan Love – Utah
With QBs sliding a bit here, the Chargers decide to jump over the Colts and back into the first round to take their new QB.
Lock comes as a bit of a project, with a huge arm but inconsistent decision making. Anthony Lynn and Shane Steichen will feel they’ve got a bargain on their hands at 26 though, with a few comparisons being thrown around to Pat Mahomes. I’m not so sure on that, but it’ll be fun to watch Love develop.
Seattle Seahawks: C – Cesar Ruiz – Michigan
Another trade candidate for the Chargers here, if the Dolphins choose to stick with 26. Pete Carroll and co have made a living trading out the back of the first round, so it feels unlikely they’ll make this pick in reality.
However, with Russell Wilson being sacked 48 times last year, in this scenario the Seahawks choose to upgrade their offensive line with Cesar Ruiz out of Michigan. Ruiz grew into the center role in Ann Arbor and will be a fine addition for whoever takes him at the end of the first / early second.
Baltimore Ravens: OLB – K’Lavon Chaisson – LSU
A dangerous Ravens defense only improves with this pick. Chaisson brings leadership on and off the field, as well as a dangerous set of athletic tools
With time to develop around the likes of Calais Campbell, Earl Thomas and Marcus Peters, Chaisson can not only become a dominant player, but the leader of the Ravens D for years to come.
Tennessee Titans: OT – Josh Jones – Houston
A direct replacement for Jack Conklin, Jones is a raw prospect that needs work. With the glut of tackles going in the first round, Tennessee will probably hope that any of the above fall to them here.
If that doesn’t happen then I don’t think they sweat it too much with Jones, he has the build that you want in a tackle and four years of playing experience with Houston. The red flags for scouts seem to be focused on handwork and timing, both things which can be developed with the right coaching.
Green Bay Packers: WR – Justin Jefferson – LSU
After throwing to a rag tag group of receivers with Davante Adams out for a few weeks last year, it’s fair to say Aaron Rodgers would be very happy with this pick.
Jefferson is a winner, he wins contested catches, wins at the line of scrimmage and wins national championships. With Rodgers heading towards the twilight of his career it seems only right that the Packers go all in now, Jefferson is a day one asset and will upgrade the wideout position no end.
Denver Broncos: CB – Jeff Gladney – TCU
With little draft capital outside the first round, the 49ers look all but guaranteed to trade back out of one of their top 32 picks.
I struggled to find a team that would want to trade into this spot. Eventually I settled on the Broncos, as they leap above their divisional rivals and take TCU’s Jeff Gladney.
Gladney is smaller in stature, which may mean he’s initially utilised in sub-packages at nickel cornerback. However, he strikes me as the ideal player to utilise against Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman as the Broncos play catch up to the Chiefs.
Kansas City Chiefs: CB – Trevon Diggs – Alabama
The last pick in the first round sees the 6th Crimson Tide prospect go off the board. Diggs possesses elite height, weight and length for a corner, mixing these attributes in with the skills he picked up as a former receiver.
The Chiefs often face themselves going against offenses in full attack mode, trying to play catch up with Mahomes and co. Diggs makes a lot of sense in that regard, upgrading the positional group and potentially making the transition to safety, should that be a more natural fit.
The picture is now a bit clearer after teams have made some moves in Free Agency. But how does that shake up the draft board? Let’s have a look at the movers and shakers.
I have not done any trades for this one just so that you can see the effect Free Agency has had on the first round as it stands. I will do my final 3.0 mock draft with trades the week of the draft. Happy to be shouted at over on Twitter @Tim_MonkF10Y, but I’d be happier if you told me your opinions on your teams pick as a rebuttle rather than a shouting match!
#1 – Joe Burrow – QB
Let’s not get too crazy right out of the gate, Joe Burrow is a 1/100 shot currently with bookmakers to go 1st overall. AJ Green will be back this year giving another reason for Burrow to not pull a fast one and try to get away.
#2 – Chase Young – DE
Again, not getting too creative here at 2 and the Redskins get a monster who’ll make his presence felt as soon as he walks through the door as the edge rusher from Ohio State lands in the Nation’s capital. Ron Rivera must weigh up whether or not he wants a stud here or pick up depth and trade back. Considering the impact Bosa had on the 49ers last year, you have to think Rivera will try to follow suit.
#3 – Jeffrey Okudah – CB
Detroit hold firm here and take Okudah. This especially makes sense now that Darius Slay has packed his bags for Philadelphia. Okudah comes in a saves the Lions some Cap space, whilst potentially not having much of a drop off in terms of production. Similar to Washington, Patricia and co. must weigh up whether they want to take a phone call from another team and try and pick up extra picks and move back a couple of spots and still have the potential to get the same guy.
#4 – Tristan Wirfs – OL
The Giants don’t trade in the draft and they stick to type here. Plenty of holes for Big Blue and whilst Okudah would have been nice for them to have fall in their laps, they take an Offensive lineman in Wirfs who had a stellar combine and gets the hype you need to go in the top 5 of drafts.
#5 – Tua Tagaviola – QB
No trades in the top 5. Surprising? Possibly, but this draft’s dominoes fall perfectly for Miami with the Chargers not moving ahead to sniper Miami, Tua Tagaviola and the #TankforTua works out perfectly.
#6 – Justin Herbert – QB
The Chargers take their shot at QB in Oregon QB Justin Herbert. He’s raw, and a project and the Chargers certainly wont want to be starting him until the latter parts of the 2020 season at the earliest! There are scenarios where I see them trade out of this spot as they acquire their QB in free agency (maybe Cam Newton?) but we’ll leave that until we have a bit more clarity. For now, Herbert is their guy.
#7 – Isaiah Simmons – LB
Lots of holes appearing in the Panthers roster. James Bradberry has moved the New York and had Luke Kuechly retiring. They get to draft the replacement for the latter here and Simmons is a an absolute must here for the Panthers, who are clearly in rebuild mode could trade back if they find a suitor.
#8 – CeeDee Lamb – WR
Arizona’s HC Kliff Kingsbury loves 3 and 4 WR sets. Imagine Hopkins, Kirk, Fitz and Lamb on the field! Yeah, good luck defending that. Whilst defence is more of a need after signing Nuk in FA, I just want to put that Murray had a little Lamb.
#9 – Derrick Brown – DT
The Jaguars were one of the worst against the run in 2019. How to fix that? Stick in Derrick Brown. Javon Kinlaw was another option.
#10 – Mekhi Becton – OT
I will be stunned if the Browns look this gift horse in the mouth. Plenty of tackle options for the Browns in this prime spot, Becton is an absolute monster of a man. He’s a freak of nature who moves unbelievably well for a man that is 6 foot 7 and 350+ lbs. Whilst he wont be as effective as some of the other tackles from day 1, a few years down the line, he could be one of the best around. A key piece for Baker’s resurgence as he enters his 3rd year. Better yet, he only has to the take the I-71 north and it’ll lead him right there.
#11 – Jedrick Wills – OL
The most sensible option here for the Jets would be to take a offensive lineman to help protect Sam Darnold. As Jedrick Wills is still on the board and seemingly a great fit, the Jets take an offsenive lineman, to the dismay of Jets fans wanting a WR. Sam Darnold was pressured a lot last season and he needs to be able to feel comfortable with his line to eradicate poor decisions and ultimately interceptions. As the WR is ridiculously deep, look for the Jets to grab a WR in round 2 and/or maybe 3. Having Crowder, Perriman and Enunwa as your wideouts is not desireable.
#12 – Jerry Jeudy – WR
The Alabama WR heads to Sin City to be their star attraction. Jeudy is great at separation and garnering yards after the catch, something Derek Carr will love and it will give a helping hand to Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller after the Antonio Brown experiment failed catastrophically last year. Feel free to interchange this name with CeeDee Lamb as I undoubtedly will do as I get through more iterations of mock drafts.
#13 – Andrew Thomas – OT
*TRADE: SF trades DeForest Buckner for #13*
With the 49ers not having many middle round picks, you have to feel that they either trade back here or trade their #31 overall. That being said, you could also see a scenario where they trade up with the Jets to get the WR they want. However, Joe Staley is 35 years young and a replacement wil be needed. Andrew Thomas was a 3 year starter in Georgia and can slot in whenever the time comes.
#14 – Kristian Fulton – CB
Tampa Bay and Tom Brady wouldn’t have appreciated the pick previous, especially as Bruce Arians has apparently “spent a lot of time this year on the offensive line”, therefore have to switch to plan B. With Suh back for another year and JPP tied up to a new contract, look for the back end to be addressed here with the CB from LSU.
#15 – Henry Ruggs – WR
Difficult to pinpoint exactly what Denver want to do here. It must be refreshing that the QB talk (for now) has dissipated and in this mock, they give current QB Drew lock and his main guy Courtland Sutton a huge helping hand. Lock could do with someone opposite Sutton and both could prosper. There are a few holes for Denver to fill including O-Line and CB/LB but hey, WR are more sexy to mock aren’t they!?
#16 – K’Lavon Chaisson – EDGE
The Falcons let Vic Beasley go in Free Agencty. His replacement? Enter the man with a name perfect for an edge rusher almost so perfect, it’s a shame Chase Young is in this draft class. The LSU pass rusher is an explosive guy off the edge and should slip in quite nicely here in Atlanta.
#17 – CJ Henderson – CB
Safety is a position Jason Garrett avoided like the plague. But judging by some of the deals they have made throughout the offseason, it’s likely that the’ll seek a replacement for Jones with this pick, rather than go safety. They get a bit of a steal with the 2nd best CB in the class with play making ability, something Dallas needs in its defensive ranks.
#18 – Xavier McKinney – S
This is the Minkah Fitzpatrick pick that the Steelers sent over. Teams love to draft players of the same position so that they can directly see who will win the trade. Dolphins need a lot of help on defence and this is one of the final pieces after an expensive Free Agency shopping trip.
#19 – Trevon Diggs – CB
Marcus Mariota seems to be the guy that will do battle with Derek Carr this offseason, therefore we need to look elsewhere for the Raiders. Here we go for Trevon Diggs, CB out of Alabama. Jon Gruden loves picking from the big teams and his first 3 picks in 2019 either came from Clemson or Alabama. I expect him to follow suit here with Jeudy going earlier in the round.
#20 – Jordan Love- QB
The Jags are in disarray and have pretty much tried to have a firesale. After shipping out Nick Foles, The Jags bring in Love to compete with Minshew. With the Jags clearly not in win now mode, Love can sit for a year behind Minshew as they try and sort themselves out from the big mess they find themselves in. Doug Marrone is somehow still on a leash and he can extend that by being able to play the Rookie QB card at anytime. Whilst they are happy with Minshew for the moment, the Jags know he wont be the answer.
#21 – Justin Jefferson – WR
Philadelphia showed their hand in Free Agency that they will probably take a WR with this pick after signing Darius Slay in Free Agency. With Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs off the board (to their dismay) off the board, they pick up Jefferson.
#22 – Javon Kinlaw – DT
*TRADE: MIN sends Stefon Diggs for #22*
The Vikings need to reload on defence. They start here by getting one of the best, if not the best interior defensive line pass rusher in the class. Can also see Minnesota go WR here, but considering the arrial of Tajae Sharpe and the tendencies to run the ball, they’ll pick a WR up in the later rounds.
#23 – Grant Delpit – S
Grant Delpit falls all the way to 23 here into the arms of a welcoming Bill Belichick. Whilst WR probably makes more sense here, Tom Brady is no longer slinging the rock. Is it possible they’ll be #TankingForTrevor?
#24 – Jeff Gladney – CB
WR is probably off the board here considering the signing of Emmanuel Sanders in Free Agency. Corner is in need of a bolster so Jeff Gladney goes to the saints here and could be a long term starter.
#25 – Kenneth Murray – LB
Murray drops to #25 in this mock the athletic LB from Oklahoma is a sideline to sideline guy and would add a lot of speed to this defence that is in refurb mode.
#26 – Cesar Ruiz – OL
The Dolphins have taken their QB, now they take the guy snapping the ball to him. Ruiz can also play at Guard which would be great versatility for the Dolphins.
#27 – Terrell Lewis – EDGE
The Seahawks may trade back here to someone who wants to come up and get their guy or a QB. That being said, Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney headed to Free Agency this offseason and neither are back yet. This Alabama edge rusher is explosive and should help fill the gaping hole.
#28 – Patrick Queen – LB
The offence is pretty much there for the immediate future with no glaring holes. So they decide to bolster the defensive side to stop instances like the Derrick Henry train running through them like they did in the postseason. A quick-footed, speedy linebacker who can play all 3 downs is the call here.
#29 – Ross Blacklock – DL
The Titans have 1 or 2 holes to fill in the trenches on both sides of the ball with Conklin and Casey leaving Nashville. However, Blacklock is a good pickup for a Titans team as he’ll require a lot of effort to nullify from opposing O-lines due to his explosiveness and how disruptive he could be.
#30 – Laviska Shenault Jr. – WR
Aaron Rodgers’ window is not going to open for much longer. The Packers focused their efforts on the defence last offseason so this time, they give Aaron Rodgers a bit more help to try and win a 2nd ring. Do it all WR Shenault Jr will be a fun toy to play with and can stick around with Adams years after Rodgers retires. with the departure of a few pieces at LB, a replacement is possible here too.
#31 – Damon Arnette – CB
Richard Sherman getting toasted by Sammy Watkins will send alarm bells ringing and he is now 31 years old. They also need help opposite him with Witherspoon not pulling up trees, Verrett still always on the treatment table. Moseley filled in capably but the back end of the defence needs a bit of youth injected in to it. Arnette, the corner out of Ohio State is a decnet cover corner.
#32 – Noah Igbinoghene – CB
Whilst RB is a popular pick here, there is also a need at CB. With a fair amount of secondary players gone in the first round, the Chiefs make sure they don’t have scraps to pick from when their turn comes back around.
Whilst we’re all currently bound to the constraints of our homes at the moment due to the outbreak of Covid-19, so what better way to wait for the apocalypse than watch tape of college players that’ll never play in the NFL?
That is not because these players aren’t good enough but because the world is going to succumb to our new viral overlords and mankind will cease to be, therefore no more NFL.
Today I’m going to bring you my thoughts on Wyoming linebacker, Logan Wilson.
This is a player whom I was recommended to watch by Logan Wilson fan, Simon Carroll (@NFLDraftSi on Twitter).
Before I get going I have to make a small disclaimer – I’m not a huge fan of this linebacker class this year, so with that, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from Wilson when I pressed play on the tap this morning. I did, however, put my prejudices aside and tried to watch and note-take with a clear mind, and be as candid as possible.
Unfortunately there isn’t a great deal of tape available for Wilson – I was only able to find two games; New Mexico State from 2018 and San Diego State from this past season. Usually I like to watch at least 4 games of a player before making a solid judgement, so I can’t really be completely happy, or indeed complete in my judgement due to the small sample size.
I was pleasantly surprised.
I’m not head-over-heels with Wilson by any stretch of the imagination, but in a linebacker class that I’m not a massive fan of, he probably stands out more than most and I actually would love to see more film on him to expand on what I’ve seen – Please hit me up @Wakefield90 on Twitter if you know of any other cuts of Wilson.
I’m going to break this report down into three segments, in a different way than I usually do due to the lack of tape; each of the two games and then off the field – this will be interviews I watched, his athletic testing numbers, stats and background information.
Let’s start at the end of that list with the off field stuff.
So what do I like about him when it comes to the number and off the field?
I really like the way Wilson talks in interviews, I feel like he considers his answers, he takes pause before answering the question at times and gets to the heart of what he’s saying and speaks in a measured and concise manner. I’ve seen interviews with him when he’s been asked about why he didn’t skip the bowl game this past year, why he chose Wyoming and what it was like to play for his home state university and each interview has impressed me with his maturity and his honesty. I feel like Wilson speaks with a good amount of gratitude and he realises what football has given him, but also what he has put into football and seems to know what he can get from it in return. From this, it’s easy to see why Wilson was a 3 year captain for the Cowboys.
Wilson came to Wyoming as a safety, having grown up in Casper Wyoming, around 150 miles north of the Cowboys’ campus in Laramie. He has spoken about the transformation his body has gone through in order to transition from safety to linebacker – Offering praise to the university, its facilities and the coaching staff at Wyoming. It just feels like he’s gone about things in the right way and has taken good advice from good people, and is now reaping the benefits. For reference Wilson said he arrived on campus as a 195lb safety, 5 years later he’s a 241lb linebacker.
When you are looking at late day 2, early day 3 players, this is the kind of attitude and the kind of guy you want on your football team – honest, hard-working and selfless. These are your grinders, your culture guys and the guys that back the back end of your roster better than other teams, and really elevate the overall level of your team.
Let’s talk numbers.
Stats and production get two big check marks here. Whilst I’m not an advocate of tackles as a high value stat without context, Wilson has been the model of consistency in his four years as a starting linebacker – the lowest number of total tackles that he registered in a season was 94, in his Freshman year. He racked up 111 in his Sophomore year, 99 as a Junior and finished off with 105 last season.
The tackles for loss numbers were consistent too, 7.5, 8, 10.5 and 8 in each year chronologically.
Wilson also affected the game in a number of ways, something I always like to see from defenders; he registered 10 interceptions throughout his college career and has a further 14 pass deflections – You can see that safety background in these numbers a mile away.
5 forced fumbles and 7 sacks in four years aren’t gaudy numbers but they add a little something on top of what is four years of very solid production. A multi-faceted, multi-dimensional prospect on the defensive side of the ball. Nice.
Let’s talk about athletic testing.
Wilson measured 6’2 and 241lbs in Indy, with 32 ⅜” arms and 9 ½” hands. All of which range from slightly above average to slightly below average for an NFL linebacker and that’s going to be the theme of this segment, average.
A quite nippy, 40 yards time of 4.63 second (74th percentile), was kind of cancelled out by a poor vertical jump of 32” (28th percentile) and aside from a nice performance in the broad 121” (76th percentile), every other event was just ok throughout the combine.
Which is all, well… fine. The lack of high end explosivity shows up on tape and is there for all to see, I’m not saying Wilson is a bad athlete – He’s not – He’s just not great either.
I don’t see this getting much better either unfortunately, the reason being, the one number I’m not least keen on of all, 24 – The age Wilson will turn in July. So we’re looking at one of the older rookies in the league, plus I also feel his frame is pretty maxed out considering he’s already packed on just over 45lbs since coming out of high school.
In summary, I like what I have heard and the production but not blown away by the athletic ability or age, but as I said, this is all fine for a mid round linebacker.
Anway, let’s talk football…
Game 1: New Mexico State, 2018
Wilson played mainly as a SAM or Mike linebacker in this game, which is where I feel he is most suited to playing at the next level. Wyoming trusted Wilson a lot in coverage throughout this game, which against New Mexico’s offense which on all but one play, lined up with either 4 or 5 wide receivers. Wilson’s flexibility and ability to guard running backs or tight ends when they flexed out wide was valuable – New Mexico ran a fair few times out of these spread formations, so Wyoming was able to keep another thumper out there instead of having 6 defensive backs and potentially getting eaten up in the run game.
This versatility is a great trait to have when you’re a back-up at the next level. As a mid round selection, you’re not a certainty to make the final 53 but being able perform a wider spectrum of duties definitely raises your odds of making it – for this reason, I definitely think that Wilson makes a final 53 man roster come the start of the season.
Throughout the game, I noted Wilson’s solid coverage ability in short zones and also his ability to keep his eyes on the backfield and where the ball was – His read and react skills were apparent in the game, as he was able to break off the man he was covering and head towards the action quickly once the ball was caught in another area of the field.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all great news against New Mexico. It was quite apparent that at this time, Wilson struggled to get off blocks and on a couple of occasions, he was completely eaten up by a block and gains were made in his vicinity.
Overall, a solid if not spectacular outing.
Game 2: San Diego State, 2019
In this game, I saw many of the same positives that I saw in the previous game – Wyoming trusted him in coverage, he barely ever came off the field and he was proficient when defending both the pass and the run.
There was even an occasion early when Wyoming was trying to sell an exotic blitz package which Wilson appeared to be a part of, but were actually sending just one lineback as a 5th rusher, along with a safety as a 6th – Wilson bailed deep and was actually asked to play deep middle of the field, with the other four defensive backs playing man coverage underneath him. I feel that this shows that Wilson is able to grasp complexities in the defensive scheme and also gained a lot of trust in his coverage ability from coaches.
A more traditional positive aspect of his play was that I feel that I saw a good amount of evidence that Wilson is able to set the edge and contain against the run, without ball watching and ruining the integrity of the defense. Wilson is also able to stop the run and has really good form as a tackler on top of this.
When dropping into short zones, I noted Wilson’s eyes are in the backfield and when they aren’t, his head is on a swivel as he’s looking for receivers coming his way – This shows up in his excellent reading of the game, I no longer felt like he overpersued plays, something I did see once or twice in the first game I watched.
Physically, I feel like Wilson had developed from the first game too and no longer found it so difficult to get off blocks in the run game, he’s still not too great at playing through the trees but he doesn’t have the elite physical tools to do so, however he definitely seems to have the strength to break free from blocks nowadays.
One thing I would love to see from Wilson is the development of some kind of pass rush move or plan – This is part of his game I simply don’t see anything in, aside from a basic bull rush. Wyoming rushed him a couple of times in his outing but I just had a sense that he was there to make up the numbers.
It would really add another string to his bow if he was able to show some hand-fighting proficiency and perhaps put some pressure on the passer from time-to-time and become more of an all around player.
To Sum Up
To sum up, I see Logan Wilson as a nice mid-round linebacker prospect who will be a hard worker and certainly add to a team’s locker room, but also be able to make some contribution on the field too.
I feel like this type of linebacker is definitely in vogue at the moment when it comes to him being comfortable in coverage but also good at traditional linebacking duties such as coming downhill to stop a ball carrier or maintaining edge and gap discipline in the run game.
Due to his relatively average athleticism I’m not too sure how high the ceiling is for Wilson but due to the football IQ, versatility and experience, the floor is fairly high.
If Wilson can contribute in limited snaps on defense and also as a special teamer, I feel he could earn the trust and respect of coaches and his peers quite quickly leading to an increased role and a solid NFL career long term.
There we have it then, some words on a potential pick that rounds out a team’s overall draft and makes a GM look pretty smart – If you would like to see more words on mid to late round picks who you like or feel could make a difference – get in touch on Twitter and I’ll put something together.
Follow Lee on Twitter @Wakefied90
Follow Full 10 Yards CFB on Twitter @Full10YardsCFB
It’s been a busy free agency for NFL teams over the last couple of weeks; but a much needed and welcome distraction to everything else that’s currently happening in the world.
But what do these moves mean for your fantasy teams in 2020? Over the next two articles, i’m going to break down the winners and the losers from all of the transactions that have taken place so far.
The Arizona Cardinals pulled of a move during the free agency that left everybody scratching their heads, wondering how they pulled off such a coup. That was, of course, the acquisition of superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans.
Kyler Murray all of a sudden now has one of the most tantalising skill set offenses in the NFL. From Hopkins to legendary Hall of Fame receiver LarryFitzgerald returning for one last year, and the emerging star of Christian Kirk alongside 2nd year hopefuls Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson. The Kliff Kingsbury ‘air raid’ offense really has got no excuses to be raking up the air miles on the field in 2020.
After a QB7 rookie campaign in fantasy last year, it’s hard to think Murray will be doing anything other than improving on that. Kenyan Drake made a good enough impression since his move from Miami that he’s earned another year on this offense too, yet another reliable, tried and trusted weapon for Kyler out of the backfield.
It’s exciting times for Cards fans and this ever-improving offense, fantasy fans should be sharing this excitement for Kyler Murray, there’s no such thing as too many weapons when it comes to fantasy QB’s
Staying in Dallas was one of the best places for Cooper to keep his fantasy value. He clearly loves it there in ‘Jerryworld’, and the feeling seems to be mutual between the fans and the other players.
In his 25 games for the Cowboys, Cooper has amassed 1,914 receiving yards with 14 touchdowns; that’s 77 yards per game and a touchdown every other game (0.56 TD’s per game). For context, that’s in the same vicinity as DeAndre Hopkins’ time in Houston (78 yards per game average with 0.49 TD’s per game) and Mike Evans in Tampa Bay (80 yards per game with 0.53 TD’s per game). Both of which will be within the top 2 wide receiver tiers for 2020.
Dez Bryant had many productive seasons as a WR1 in fantasy football from his time in Dallas with Tony Romo and Dak Prescott under centre. Now it is time for Amari to step up and continue being the reliable receiving option for the Cowboys and fantasy owners in turn for the next few years.
Indianapolis Colts’ Receivers
Indy is lacking in skill position depth, but those that are there have just received a significant bump up in fantasy value with the upgrade of quarterback to Philip Rivers. Jacoby Brissett was admirable, and was far from terrible, but he wasn’t the best at getting great receiving production out of anyone not named T.Y Hilton.
Rivers in an experienced veteran who finally has a competent offensive line ahead of him to give him enough protection to provide some actual time in the pocket rather than being constantly under pressure like he was for the Chargers, especially in recent years.
I expect Indy will add to their receiving corps through the upcoming draft; but for now, T.Y Hilton cements himself as a fringe WR1 for a likely cheap price of a 4th/5th round pick, and last year’s rookie Parris Campbell will likely be in the sleeper category for analysts as the season grows closer.
If Jack Doyle remains the only pass catching tight end in Indy too, expect his value to also rise in a treacherous tight end fantasy landscape as Rivers has always produced fantasy relevant TE’s with the likes of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry in the past.
One of my favourite sleepers already also due to the Rivers’ upgrade, is running back Nyheim Hines. The swiss army knife is Indy’s version of Austin Ekeler (see later in article for Ekeler’s 2019 production), who should see plenty of work in the passing game out of the backfield.
Cleveland Brown’s Skill Players
One of the main contributing factors for the Browns’ miserable 2019 campaign was the offensive line, or lack-of, being unable to give Baker Mayfield time in the pocket.
Jack Conklin (former Titans OT) is a massive upgrade for that line and you can only imagine Cleveland will be taking whichever stud tackle is left with the 10th pick of the 2020 draft.
These pieces may well prove to be the difference for this offense which will open up the fantasy value for all of the keys players. Nick Chubb had a great season in 2019 and was third in the NFL for rushing yards (1,494) and has 18 combined touchdowns since becoming a Brown in 2017 so we can expect that to continue. As we can with Jarvis Landry, as he once again will benefit from OBJ taking the premier defense away, like in 2019. OBJ’s production might rise once again if Mayfield is able to improve and between David Njoku and newly acquired Austin Hooper, the tight ends’ should have their week to week match-up based values too.
With all the running back moves this off-season, i don’t think any have won more so than Austin Ekeler has. Not only does he see Melvin Gordon move away (to the Denver Broncos) from the backfield and no significant replacement brought in, he finds himself in a passing offense that will be moving forward with someone new. Therefore, a bigger emphasis may be placed on the tried and trusted running game with Ekeler as the sole star.
The beauty of the situation is- even if the Chargers do bring in another running back, they probably aren’t going to be the same quality as Melvin Gordon where Ekeler was still productive enough to see him finish as the RB4 in PPR scoring (RB8 in non-PPR) last season.
The new QB in LA will likely be a rookie in from the first round, if not the veteran Tyrod Taylor who served as Rivers’ backup last season. Either way, Ekeler is going to be hyper-targeted out of the backfield and should be a top 10 PPR running back once again in 2020.
A few days ago you were treated to a fantastic Sells equivalent which you can check out here. Today we take a look at those you should be trying to acquire. Let us know your thoughts, let us know YOUR OPINION. Because that’s what it is all about! Let’s see who can get these guys the cheapest!
The Denver Post, MediaNews Group.
Courtland Sutton – Denver Broncos
There’s a feel-good factor around Denver’s offense at the moment. After finishing the season 4-1 with Drew Lock under centre, John Elway has added Pat Shurmur to his coaching staff and signed Melvin Gordon, Graham Glasgow and Nick Vannett in free agency.
All this looks good for third year receiver Courtland Sutton. Coming off a 1,112 yard, 125 target, 72 reception season, the former SMU man has firmly established himself as the Broncos WR1.
The addition of Shurmur looks set to only help Sutton’s development, with his track record as an Offensive Co-ordinator unquestionably good for young QBs and the passing game. If Shurmur can recreate this in Denver, then look for more fireworks from Lock and Sutton as they look to navigate a difficult AFC West.
In your Dynasty League, the time to buy Sutton might not be now. There are plenty of rumours linking the Broncos to a high quality deep threat receiver in the draft, with CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs both regularly mocked their way. This shouldn’t harm Sutton’s production, in fact it should help minimise double coverage. Others may disagree, getting caught up with the inevitable post draft-fever, make your offer then!
The Associated Press
Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles
Another young player that finished the season well, Miles Sanders was a game changer during the Eagles’ late drive to secure a play-off spot.
The 3rd round pick out of Penn State had an up and down start to 2019, with Jordan Howard forcing him out of the starting role for a string of games before going down injured in week 9. Sanders capitalised on this, increasing his playing time and yardage increase until he peaked against the Redskins in week 14.
Howard is now completely out of the picture, having joined the Dolphins, leaving Sanders in competition with Boston Scott as the Eagles’ presumptive week 1 starter. It’s a battle he should win, considering his potential as a dual threat back and the relative draft capital invested in both.
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Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons
You’ve all seen the stat doing the rounds at the moment, the Atlanta Falcons have a starting offense built solely from first round picks. Calvin Ridley is amongst those, with the third year receiver currently occupying the WR2 designation behind Julio Jones.
Jones is contracted through 2024 and given the huge salary the Falcons have invested in him, it doesn’t look like he’ll be going anywhere soon. So why Ridley?
It’s all about consistency. In both his years in the league so far, Ridley has locked up 92 and 93 targets respectively, catching 64 of those in 2018 and 63 in 2019, those catches have gone for 821 and 866 yards, with 10 TDs in his rookie year, compared to 7 last year.
He’s the perfect flex player for your line ups, averaging above 10 points per game and providing the perfect complement to Julio it Atlanta’s offense. With such a stacked WR class this year, chances are he’s available relatively cheap in your league, and with Julio entering a period in which some players decline, Ridley could be set to ease in the other direction.
TJ Hockenson – Detroit Lions
After week one of the 2019 season, Hockenson was cleared off waiver wires everywhere. The first rounder caught six passes from Matthew Stafford, going for 131 yards and a TD. Huge numbers for a rookie Tight End.
From there, things went downhill, with Hockenson only adding another 230 yards across the whole season. When you look at the cards dealt to the Iowa product, it’s not hard to see why his form trailed off, when Stafford went down injured, a combination of Jeff Driskel and David Blough stepped into uninspiringly fill the void and the Lions only managed one win after week three.
So, why trade for him now? Everyone knows that rookie Tight Ends are to be avoided in fantasy, so that shouldn’t put you off when looking at Hockenson’s rookie production. Instead look at the upside, this year’s TE class is poor, he was a top 10 NFL pick for obvious reasons last year, and when fit, his QB is one of the most reliable in the game. Pick him up cheap where you can, and watch him develop into one of the league’s elite TE options.
Marcus Mariota – Las Vegas Raiders
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Marcus Mariota – Las Vegas Raiders
This time last year I picked up Ryan Tannehill in 3 leagues, I didn’t get a complete bargain in all cases, but he was cheap for a QB in superflex leagues. The things I liked about Tannehill were, his work ethic, his commitment to his team, his experience as a starter and the precarious nature of the QB he was backing up.
Fast forward 12 months and the irony is there for all to see that we could say the exact same of that QB, Marcus Mariota. The new Raiders QB has always been the model of professionalism, he’s got a ton of starts (including playoff games) under his belt and he’s backing up Derek Carr, who just doesn’t seem to fit the Jon Gruden school of thought.
So, I’m picking up Mariota where I can this year, half the league had him down as QB1 in the 2015 draft class, and in places he has flashed exactly why they believed that. With a bit of encouragement and the freedom to use his legs, Mariota can certainly be a starter in the NFL, if Carr slips you can bet Mariota will be straight in. Buy low, and buy now!
As the Hype Train Driver, I’m used to changing scenery. Looking out of the window, everything can look different from season to season. The NFL, and certainly fantasy football, are no different.
The Tight end position has been a bone of contention for many fantasy players over the years. The low number of fantasy relevant tight ends and the premium to get good ones has led to a variety of suggestions and solutions. Some leagues turned the TE position into a Flex spot including Tight end, others make it 1.5x points and some have scrapped the position altogether.
Going into last season, most people seemed to suggest that beyond Kelce, Ertz and Kittle, there’s very little out there. Through the season the likes of Austin Hooper, Darren Waller and Mark Andrews took flight and added their names to the “Relevant” list. Even the tandem at the Rams of Higbee and Everett became fantasy pickups. It leaves the fantasy world in an interesting position.
The free agency period has been hectic despite the Coronavirus pandemic.
As I currently see it, this is the situation at Tight End for each team:
The headlines this off-season have been made by Austin Hooper (going to the Browns), Hayden Hurst (filling the void in Atlanta), Greg Olsen (adding to the long list in Seattle), Jimmy Graham (being given yet another overpaid contract, this time from the Bears) and Eric Ebron (joining Vance McDonald in Pittsburgh).
With very few good quality tight ends left on the market, it appear a lot of teams are going to be relying on 2nd year tight ends stepping up or maybe even rookies. I’ll leave it to the podcast and twitter feeds to talk about those impacts on the NFL, but in terms of fantasy, Hurst has value, Hooper has some value but it’s more stunted than if he had stayed in Atlanta. Ebron will be a red-zone target so he has to score a TD to be relevant week to week. Jimmy Graham won’t see any kind of uptick while Greg Olsen may be a dark horse option if he can stay healthy. As the off-season rumbles on I’m sure it will be touched on more, but that’s my initial thoughts.
The 2020 Draft
There are a few interesting landing spots. The Patriots, Cardinals, Redskins, Panthers, Packers and Jaguars could be in the hunt for a new Tight End after some other possible spots were filled in free agency. There’s time yet for some trades, but many teams are going to be looking to develop the talent they have or target one in the draft. With 6 strong landing spots we could well see 1 or 2 rookie tight ends make it into starting line-ups.
There’s not as many standout options as in previous years but Cole Kmet (Notre Dame), Brycen Hopkins (Purdue) and Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt) are the 3 gathering the most interest. There’s not likely to be a 1st season breakout this season. Rookie Tight ends usually require a full season before becoming fantasy relevant and a feature of the offence but there have been times where this has been overruled.
The 2020 Season
After years of Gronk… Kelce… Then the rest; there’s now more than just 2 or 3 tiers of Tight End and no real dominant Tight End causing early round headaches in fantasy drafts. The lack of an outright #1 reduces the value and with so many options, 2020 might see tight ends fall down the order and, in some leagues, they may become a streaming position similar to QB’s and Defence/Special Teams.
Kelce, Waller, Andrews and Kittle are the guys who are going to give you a solid score every week and are a key piece of their offences. These will be most likely be the first 4 Tight Ends off the board and the value will probably be in drafting the 4th one so that you have the best RB and WR options possible, whilst still being able to trust your TE.
The next level contains tight ends where you’ll want to play them in plus matchups, and they will probably provide a good return more often then they will fail. The issue is consistency and knowing that any week there is a reasonable chance they won’t be much help. Tandems like Ertz and Goedert may find themselves here. Injury risks like Engram and Olsen may also feature here. Similarly, second season breakout candidates like Fant and Gesicki should be in this wide tier. (I’ll dive a bit more into this shortly).
The third tier includes those who are a gamble and the risk of them not performing is built into their ADP, and those who will be consistent but not in a very effective way. Rudolph and Smith in Minnesota are a duo that may stunt each other’s fantasy relevance, but Kirk Cousins doesn’t help either. Jimmy Graham may end up here depending on the TE and QB battles in Chicago. The rookie tight ends may also end up in this tier.
The final tier is for the players who will remain on the waiver wire unless their matchup is particular tempting (e.g. Playing Arizona last season). The likes of Eifert, I.Thomas and Burton come to mind. The Tennessee situation is difficult to determine as Walker is injury prone and Jonnu Smith doesn’t seem quite ready to be the #1 so the tandem with him and Firkser may make them. The off season could change some of these scenarios, but it will take a few weeks of the season before it becomes a bit clearer.
Examining Tier 2
The success of schemes where Tight Ends are RedZone threats, check down options or planned in as pass catcher have led to an increase in targets. The fact George Kittle, and Travis Kelce ended up as the highest scoring Non-QB fantasy players (from the season) in the Superbowl shows the importance of the position in the modern NFL. The days of it being a baron landscape have been overblown in my opinion. This all bodes well for the new generation with the likes of Waller, Andrews and Goedert coming through.
The increase in the “Tier 2” Tight ends and the chances that one will crack tier 1 make the fantasy draft much more interesting. I’ve listed 20 players who could be in Tier 2. These wont all be tier 2 as fantasy season rolls around but there’s arguments for each of them. I’ve split them into categories.
Established Options: Doyle, Cook, Engram, Olsen, Henry, Fells.
Two TE Sets: Olsen/Dissly, Ertz/Goedert, Higbee/Everett, Howard/Brate, McDonald/Ebron, Njoku/Hooper.
Be it because of injury, QB play or competition these guys won’t be able to crack the upper echelons but are usually going to be playable.
Cook had a decent year with Drew Brees last season while Greg Olsen has moved to the TE haven in Seattle. Both he and Evan Engram are injury risks and if they are missing more often then you can play them, you’re better looking elsewhere.
Jack Doyle is perhaps the least spectacular on the list but is the most consistent and may actually be a sleeper pick now with Eric Ebron out of the way and Philip Rivers slinging the ball for one year in Indy. The recently franchise tagged Hunter Henry will be reliant on what the Chargers do at QB, while Darren Fells will need to prove that his form last season can be made consistent, though did sign a new deal this offseason. Jordan Thomas behind him may also steal some targets so buyer beware.
Two TE Sets
A big threat to the relevance of the TE position in fantasy is the two tight end systems. When one goes down the remaining player isn’t guaranteed to take off (but sometimes they do). It’s often a case that when both options are playing, one will take off each week, but it never stays consistent who it is.
Take Higbee and Everett for the LA Rams. After both toiled early on in the season, Everett broke out, only to then go down injured and leave Higbee to pick up the slack. It’s a combo where one or the other can work but together they ruin each-others value. Everett started getting the targets over Higbee and that got the ball rolling. They ended up with similar stat-lines, but I’d be wary of drafting either of them in 2020 as you’re going to have to hope you pick the one that takes off first.
I’ve mentioned Olsen already but when you look at Seattle, they could play 4TE and only 2WR looking at their depth charts. Olsen, Dissly, Hollister and Dickson could all be playable if they are in that weeks set. Will Dissly (when he’s fit) has been superb but you’re just waiting for something to break. He’s probably worth a roster spot while he’s active unless Olsen hogs all the targets.
Howard and Brate are going to have Tom Brady this year which leaves them as total wildcards so it’s obvious that some people will take the gamble in drafts. McDonald and Ebron at the Steelers are probably going to flip-flop in terms of being relevant but across a season they should be usable. I nearly put Njoku and Hooper into tier 3 but Baker can’t be that bad again can he? If Njoku gets trades he gets a boost and Hooper likewise become more trustworthy. Again, both will be a gamble but if anything gives them an uptick in opportunities, their draft stock will rise with it.
The big one currently is in Philly as the Ertz/Goedert combination is proving to be great news for the Eagles but bad news for fantasy. Ertz is still tabbed as a top 4 TE and with good reason. He is still a beast, a great catcher and can dominate a game. The problem is, Goedert is very much going to same way but has a few less years wear on the tyres. Using both is allowing them to stay healthier and give Wentz options. With their lack of true WR options I think you’ll find both can be top 12 options this season but calling which games will be Ertz dominated and which Goedert dominated may be the difference between a win and a loss.
Most rookie Tight Ends don’t hit in their first year but start really coming on in their second. There’s going to be some differing levels of improvement thanks to their respective teams’ philosophies and personnel but if it’s late in your fantasy draft and you fancy a gamble, hopefully one of these will be kicking around.
Noah Fant is one of my major hopes for this season. Drew Lock has improved the QB situation in Denver and with Sutton breaking out, Fant found himself becoming relevant late in the season. He was well hyped last season after the draft, and this is probably the year he really gets going. Mike Gesicki falls into the same boat here. His main issue is being in Miami and not being certain what he’s working with. The advantage he has is that the offence is sort of being built around him as he’s one of the few decent, young offensive pieces they have.
TJ Hockensen may need a few things to go his way to truly break out. The Lions have never historically been a good place for Tight Ends but considering the capital they spent on him, they are going to have to find ways of getting him the ball. Matt Stafford isn’t a bad QB, he just needs to be 100% healthy mentally and physically (which he hasn’t been for a few years now). Dawson Knox is also a rookie who may need some team improvement to see relevance, however the Bills keep progressing and is Josh Allen can start finding Knox like he did towards the end of last season, then who knows what they may create.
Jordan Thomas is a long shot who could be a serious sleeper. If Darren Fells doesn’t come back and the Texans rest their hopes on Thomas, he will get the targets from Deshaun Watson and when you consider how good fells was for fantasy last season, that could be a decent position to have.
The final name to throw in here is Chris Herndon. He’s threatened to break out before but suspensions, injuries and QB changes have stopped that from happening. With a new season can come new hope, however he is last on my list at this level.
The Tight End landscape is now probably as wide spread as it has been for a long time. The calls for the position to be scrapped were a little pre-mature and now that younger guys are breaking through, and taking less time to become relevant, the turnover is only going to get better. The success of the Chiefs and 49ers this season with Kelce and Kittle as prime targets does bode well for teams trying to find their TE equivalent so it’s possible more teams may look this way.
The good news for fantasy is that it’s not as much of a headache as it used to be. The need to weight up when to take a relevant tight end was tough. You could guarantee a good one but which RB/WR would you miss out on? But if you waited too long and had to settle for what was left, was your RB/WR worth it? Now there’s enough late options to know it’s fine to delay. Where the likes of Waller and Andrews fall may be critical to how the fantasy draft season goes. It’s just nice to be able to say that fantasy Tight ends are becoming an interesting thing once more.