To say that I’m a forward-thinker is an understatement. My main worry is retirement and I’m just hitting 35-years-old. My dynasty teams share a similar approach with an eye towards the long-term. That includes a bench with young players without a clear path to accumulating stats and a draft pick portfolio that is intent on keeping my teams asset-rich.
With 2019 rookie drafts in full swing, many owners start to use 2020 picks as currency to move up or trade down. While the market has its general rules (example: an early to mid-second for a random future first), it is important to understand the potential of the future class to see if that pick carries the usual weight. I enlisted the help of Nick Whalen to conduct a three round 2020 rookie mock along with our analysis for each pick. Further, I’ll break down each half round with my overall assessment of the group. Let’s start at the top:
|1.1||Nick||D’Andre Swift||RB||Georgia||Swift is a complete RB prospect. Good size, quickness, speed, hands, power, and makes great cuts.|
|1.2||George||Jerry Jeudy||WR||Alabama||A likely top 10 NFL Draft selection, Jeudy is a refined player and a good athlete who should be the centerpiece of an NFL passing offense.|
|1.3||Nick||Travis Etienne||RB||Clemson||Explosive player, who has produced great numbers multiple years at Clemson, even in important games.|
|1.4||George||Laviska Shenault||WR||Colorado||Great hands, can play outside or in the slot, and has the size and speed to be a YAC demon.|
|1.5||Nick||Jonathan Taylor||RB||Wisconsin||Big, fast, powerful and now on the Wisconsin track team! Stat compiler extraordinaire.|
|1.6||George||Cam Akers||RB||Florida State||I’m banking on the talent to shine through despite an awful O-line. Still learning the position as a former QB but the flashes make this worth the risk.|
For me, the top four picks represent the elite tier of the 2020 draft and from a pure talent perspective, all would have been above this year’s class for the 1.01 prior to the NFL Draft. Swift and Etienne are complete backs who are likely first round NFL Draft picks while Jeudy and Shenault should both threaten the top half of the first round. Jonathan Taylor appears to have the skills but a Wisconsin offense that rarely targets the running back in the pass game leaves some questions. As for Akers, he is the gamble of this group but may be the best athlete of the entire class.
|1.7||Nick||Eno Benjamin||RB||Arizona State||3 down back with good balance and agility. Underrated prospect in this class due to playing on the left coast.|
|1.8||George||JK Dobbins||RB||Ohio State||A reminder that this running back class trumps the 2019 edition. Dobbins is talented and has back-to-back 1000 yard rushing seasons, but needs a good year to hang onto his potential Day 2 NFL Draft grade.|
|1.9||Nick||Ceedee Lamb||WR||Oklahoma||Lamb is a bit underrated because Hollywood Brown stole the show. But he’s very good in his own right, just not quite as fast.|
|1.10||George||Tee Higgins||WR||Clemson||Won’t have the gaudiest stats in this class but he is a good route runner with solid hands and awareness who has all the tools to be a solid NFL wide receiver.|
|1.11||Nick||Tyler Johnson||WR||Minnesota||Well rounded player who has thrived despite a subpar passing attack.|
|1.12||George||Jalen Reagor||WR||TCU||Speedster who will likely be a sub 4.4 athlete, Reagor is a gamble but someone who could see his stock soar with another strong season. Elite with the ball in his hands, the NFL loves playmakers like him.|
The RB run continued with Benjamin and Dobbins before the round closed out with four straight wide receivers. Benjamin is on the smaller side for a featured back while Dobbins doesn’t share the physicality of the upper tier of running backs. Lamb and Higgins have a common issue: they have been overshadowed by talented teammates. For Lamb, that ends with Marquise Brown moving on to the NFL while Higgins still has Justyn Ross on campus. Johnson is a personal favorite as the lone dominant option in a terrible Minnesota pass offense. Reagor is the type of speed merchant who tends to rise through the draft process, but he has the production to back up the hype.
|2.1||Nick||Bryan Edwards||WR||South Carolina||Big WR with good effort and athleticism. Edwards has flashed, but didn’t put together a monster season yet.|
|2.2||George||Tylan Wallace||WR||Oklahoma State||Another electrifying WR that thrives downfield? Yes please.|
|2.3||Nick||Anthony McFarland||RB||Maryland||Small, but explosive RB who burst onto the scene last year despite veteran Ty Johnson being in the way. McFarland produced over 1,000 yards, while averaging a 7.9 YPC! He ran for 298 yards against Ohio State!|
|2.4||George||AJ Dillon||RB||Boston College||Dillon answers the question: What if Jordan Howard was athletic?|
|2.5||Nick||Najee Harris||RB||Alabama||Highly touted RB out of HS, he’s going to get a big opportunity with Harris and Jacobs gone. I also took him because I know George likes Alabama players. (sniped)|
|2.6||George||Henry Ruggs III||WR||Alabama||Two can play at this game! I’ll take Ruggs, the speedster who allegedly broke the sound barrier during his 40 yard dash (4.25). Ruggs has good hands and scored a TD on nearly a quarter of his receptions in 2018.|
Edwards is clearly a faller in this mock draft, and for me, it feels similar to the Kelvin Harmon situation. A big-bodied technician with little that stands out athletically. Wallace, meanwhile, is another electric playmaker who had huge numbers last year but has to repeat the feat to try and stand out once more. Admittedly, McFarland felt like a surprise at first as a committee back who has shown flashes but couldn’t wrestle the backfield from a fringe NFL Draft prospect. 2019 will be telling. Dillon is athletic and physical but is limited to an early down player. Two Alabama prospects in Harris and Ruggs will need to step forward in 2019. Harris has a real opening in the backfield while Ruggs needs to stand out across from Jerry Jeudy.
|2.7||Nick||Tua Tagovailoa||QB||Alabama||Reaching the point where taking the top Quarterback just makes sense.|
|2.8||George||Collin Johnson||WR||Texas||Here’s a spot where Nick and I likely differ. I see a big-bodied (6’6″, 220 lb) receiver who is capable of big plays (29% of catches for 20+ yards) and has solid hands. Limited burst is the con with his game.|
|2.9||Nick||Kylin Hill||RB||Mississippi State||Flashed at Mississippi State and catches the football well.|
|2.10||George||Trey Sermon||RB||Oklahoma||The choice was going to be Hill or Sermon so Nick made it easier for me. Sermon has had moments but lacks consistency. This season will be key to whether he deserves this spot or not.|
|2.11||Nick||Stephen Guidry||WR||Mississippi State||Top Juco WR last year, he played well at Mississippi State despite subpar QB play. Tall and athletic!|
|2.12||George||Jhamon Ausbon||WR||Texas A&M||Admittedly, this is a gamble but that’s where we are at this stage. Ausbon had some strong games, including the Belk Bowl in 2017 but a foot injury derailed him last year. Fingers crossed for health and dominance.|
Tua feels right at this point as he is a better overall prospect than Kyler Murray. Johnson is another favorite of mine with a strong body of work and a style reminiscent of Hakeem Butler. The two Mississippi State players feel like major steals by Nick as either could rise significantly between now and next offseason. Sermon is a safer pick with some upside while Ausbon has tremendous tools but multiple medical red flags.
|3.1||Nick||Donovan Peoples-Jones||WR||Michigan||His role within the offense has continually grown, despite subpar QB play. Athletic player, who also can be a returner even though he’s 6’2″|
|3.2||George||Justin Herbert||QB||Oregon||Herbert regressed in most efficiency stats during his first full starting season. That said, I suspect a bounceback here with more experience and he should be a top 10 NFL Draft pick.|
|3.3||Nick||Chuba Hubbard||RB||Oklahoma State||Great athlete, who can catch. He’ll see an expanded role with Justice Hill out of the way.|
|3.4||George||Albert Okwuegbunam||TE||Missouri||The likely top tight end in this class, AOK (trying this nickname on) can split out wide, is a terror in the RZ, and can stretch the seam. Feels like the right point to take a shot on him.|
|3.5||Nick||Tarik Black||WR||Michigan||Huge potential, but has been injured at Michigan. Will he finally put it all together.|
|3.6||George||Tyler Vaughns||WR||USC||Still clinging to the idea that he puts it together with some consistency at QB. Vaughns works well downfield but has a limited route tree and struggles with contact. The YAC ability and good hands should interest NFL teams.|
The top half of the third round featured another quarterback candidate for the NFL Draft’s first overall pick (Herbert), three talented but underachieving wide receivers, the top tight end, and a running back who could quickly rise with a larger offensive role. Hubbard stands out in this group as the best upside pick while Peoples-Jones could just as easily be a Day 2 or undrafted NFL player by this time next year.
|3.7||Nick||Ty Chandler||RB||Tennessee||Chandler was highly touted out of HS. He’s continually received a bigger workload, but still needs a monster season.|
|3.8||George||Tamorrion Terry||WR||Florida State||A tall, lean player who excels down the field, Terry needs to bulk up (6’4″, 197 lbs) to deal with press off the line.|
|3.9||Nick||Ke’Shawn Vaughn||RB||Vanderbilt||Fast player with good size. Ran for over 1,200 yards in the SEC at 7.9 YPC!!!|
|3.10||George||Spencer Brown||RB||UAB||Highly productive running back who can’t catch. Basically, next year’s Devin Singletary.|
|3.11||Nick||Stephen Carr||RB||USC||This is a bit of a gamble as he’s never lived up to the hype he flashed early his freshman year.|
|3.12||George||JaTarvious Whitlow||RB||Auburn||It gives me heartburn to make this pick, but “Boobee” is talented and just needs some consistency. The former HS quarterback started as a slot receiver but now seems locked in as the featured back.|
The last half of the third round unsurprisingly featured a lot of fliers on talent. Chander and Carr were both former top recruits who haven’t put it together yet. Vaughn and Brown are accomplished but neither are hyped up…yet. Terry is another downfield threat that could rise while Whitlow is talented but hasn’t had positional consistency.
That wraps up a look at the 2020 class. Expect much of this to change over the next year but take away the fact that this is a much better crop, particularly at the top. If you’re drafting in the 2019 rookie class, accumulate those late second and third round picks in trade downs that also feature a 2020 first round pick to take advantage of the strengths of both classes.