1st Round Rookie Reactions

The first round of the 2017 NFL draft is over and the hype did not disappoint. Trading up, trading down, and the Browns somehow making the Bears look like the new Cleveland. Brandon (@bdepouw09) & Tony (@reimeras) have teamed up to give you their instant reactions of the landing spots for the first round rookies!

Tony: #2. Chicago Bears- Mitchell Trubisky QB
The Bears were the first in what would be many trades to move up and take a quarterback, but they were by far the most surprising. After only 13 starts at UNC, Trubisky flew up draft boards this offseason to become the virtual consensus number 1 QB. At 6’2 220 pounds, Mitchell looks like a starting NFL quarterback. Scouts praised his accuracy, arm strength and pocket awareness when under pressure. His inexperience is going to be a factor though, as Chicago will prefer for incoming free agent Mike Glennon to play the part of 2004 John Kitna, being the stopgap starter while Trubisky adjusts to the NFL. Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains is a good coach, one that was able to make Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley look competent in 2016, so a year of learning from him should help Trubisky advance as a player. Any fantasy impact is negligible, at least for the 2017 season, unless Mike Glennon gets injured. As for dynasty startups and rookie drafts, Trubisky could be a decent buy low if you are desperate for youth at quarterback. Personally, Trubisky is more Ryan Tannehil than Andrew Luck to me, but in deep dynasty and Superflex formats, pretty much any long term starter has value. The selection of the 2nd overall pick should give Trubisky a lot of rope, and I could be wrong in my evaluation of his talent.






…. And now back to your regularly scheduled article

Brandon: #4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette RB
Ideally, this is where everyone had Fournette going and this is where his fantasy potential would be maxed out. Day One, Fournette can come in and be the hard nosed power back they've been needing to open up the passing game. Of course, they tried this with Ivory but proved ineffective. Some may not value him as high because they don't see him as a three down running back. Which if he can slim down from his combine to his pro day because he believes that's what NFL teams want, then who says he can't work on his hands? Either way, even if he isn't a great pass catcher, what he can do on 1st and 2nd downs at his height and weight of 6' 240 lbs is more than worthy of high consideration in your fantasy leagues. For rookies drafts in dynasty, he is "still" for me the 1.01 & 1.02. I'd consider McCaffrey if he went to  a different offensive system but beggars can't be choosers. In redraft you are going to have to decide whether you want Fournette as your RB2 over the likes of Latavius Murray, Frank Gore, and possibly Spencer Ware. He is an RB2 in a premium opportunity spot with future RB1 potential.

Tony: #5. Tennessee Titans- Corey Davis WR
Well, it turns out that all the reports of Mike Williams usurping Corey Davis as the first receiver off the board were mistaken, as Tennessee used their first first round pick to take Davis at number 5 overall. If you happened to read my top player destinations article, you'll know that this was my ideal landing spot. The fact that Davis played a lower level of competition and couldn't work out due to an ankle injury didn't matter to the Titans, and it damn sure doesn't matter to me. According to Matt Harmon’s Perception Reception, Davis had a 76.9 percent success rate against Man Coverage putting him in the 94th percentile, which compares favorably to Alshon Jeffery and Allen Robinson both of whom have been top 10 fantasy receivers. While Davis should be more of a high upside flier in redraft leagues, this landing spot shoots him up the dynasty draft board for me. Being drafted by the Titans will allow Davis the necessary time to adjust to the level of competition as they have a run first offense right now, and Rishard Matthews playing opposite Davis who showed last season that he demands defenses respect in his own right. I'd look for Davis to break out in year two or three however and his pairing with up and coming Marcus Mariota will not only make the entire Titans offense more dangerous, but should put Davis in consideration as the number one pick in dynasty rookie drafts.

Brandon: #7. Los Angeles Chargers - Mike Williams WR
After spending time believing the Chargers would be going after one of my Buckeyes, Hooker or Lattimore, this pick caught my excitement. With the selection of 6'3" 218 lbs WR out of Clemson the Chargers just became an even more dangerous offense. Now they might have issues with Keenan Allen's health and staying on the field but now this pick kind of replaces the worry of his absence. This big bodied, great handed, body controlling, horrible Deshaun Watson pass go getting Wide Receiver is in for a solid rookie year where he isn't going to be expected to produce as a WR1 right away. I do believe he will be the WR3 on the depth chart behind Allen and Williams. Although his target share and rookie production for fantasy owners this year may be in the lowers, he still shows a good investment in rookie drafts for dynasty 1.04 - 1.06 is where i'd take him because once he develops and fine tunes his game, you could have a potential Top 10 WR in a few years. Redraft until further notice I'm looking as a flier / lotto ticket, there are plenty of established role WR's with less competition for targets out there.

Tony- #8. Carolina Panthers- Christian McCaffrey RB
For the most part, mock drafts are a waste of time, serving solely as content to help quell the addiction that is the NFL. Every now and then they get it right, as they did in the case of McCaffrey who has been slotted to the Panthers in a lot of recent mock drafts, mostly as a result of Jacksonville being a virtual lock to select Leonard Fournette. Some people might look at the pairing of McCaffrey with a young quarterback one year removed from a MVP season and think this is the ideal landing spot for McCaffrey, but I'm not one of those people. He is a unique talent, one built almost ideally for today's NFL, that can be used in a variety of ways in an offense, be it out of the backfield or in the slot as a receiver. Cam Newton however isn't exactly Tom Brady when it comes to targeting running backs and slot receivers. Cam has never excelled at timing routes, which will be the best utilization of McCaffrey’s skills, instead being at his best when the play breaks down into schoolyard football. In the past couple drafts the Panthers have selected the 6’5 inch Kelvin Benjamin and the 6’4 inch Devin Funchess because they realize that when Cam misses throws he generally throws high so they need receivers that can high point the ball effectively. At 5’11 inches, McCaffrey isn't going to win a lot of jump balls and if he try's to there's a good chance he'll get hurt when linebackers take shots at him in mid air. One positive however is McCaffrey is very effective at running out of the shotgun, a formation in which Carolina ran 48% of the time in 2016. I'm a believer in McCaffrey’s talent though and hope that the offense will be able to evolve enough to utilize him effectively. In redraft leagues,

McCaffrey runs the risk of being overhyped, leading to inflated value his rookie season. I view him more as a decent RB3/FLEX in PPR formats in 2017. In dynasty leagues, he's still in the top tier as talent tends to trump destination eventually, though this does move him past some rookies on my big board.

Brandon: #9. Cincinnatti Bengals - John Ross WR
Boy did this pick keep the excitement going..... well for non-Bengals fans! So when Ross was selected here I instantly started offering my Tyler Boyd Dynasty shares because that's what it screams to me. Then I took and deep breathe and realized that, can't be much worse the Brandon LaFell and I could easily see this offense running with AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Eifert, and John Ross in the future. The fastest guy in the draft is going to a team that needs a quick and shifty slot wr presence. Now I do agree that they had much greater needs but as far as fantasy is concerned, Ross could easily jump in the first day and produce in his role.  Now personally I'm not high on him, because of his size he could get injured very quickly, but as far as dynasty is concerned I wouldn't pick him in the first round because I don't see the longevity and high production in his future. Redraft could be interesting in the later rounds as a flier.

Tony: #10. Kansas City Chiefs- Pat Mahomes QB
Kansas City decided to trade up to pick number ten and put the final nail in the coffin of the Alex Smith era by drafting his polar opposite. Alex Smith should be Kansas City’s transitional starter in 2017 however as Mahomes is a raw prospect who came from a college system that has yet to translate to NFL success. Mahomes has a big time arm, nice mobility and isn't afraid to take chances downfield. The major question mark with Mahomes is his ability to learn to make plays from the pocket, as he has ran a shotgun system for essentially his entire football life. It seems Andy Reid finally tired of having to run an extremely conservative offense, and if anyone can coach a quarterback into a quality starter it's Andy Reid. In redraft formats Mahomes should be ignored, but in dynasty he's another guy that could be a decent buy low if you own one of these aging quarterbacks. Hearing that Kansas City drafted a quarterback with Brett Farve level arm strength should be a welcome thought to any Tyreek Hill dynasty owners as well. Mahomes has all the tools you need to be a good starter in this league, he just needs help utilizing them the right way.

Brandon: #12. Houston Texans - Deshaun Watson QB
It is clear the Texans and Bill O'Brian don't believe Tom Savage can get the job done, but should they be the real judge on what Quarterbacks are good or not? Brock "Asswasher" as we like to say in FLAFFL is a clear indication that they have no clue how to evaluate. Deshaun Watson will come in, compete and most likely win the start job with the Texans. With his pedigree and success in his college career the veterans on the team can easily respect what he's done. Hes a leader and a winner, sometimes that can be enough to make a difference. Watson doesn't have to be the one to make big plays anymore, for him to be successful and produce he needs to protect the ball and let the offense run through Lamar Miller and Deandre Hopkins. Fantasy Value in Rookie drafts have risen because QB's that come right in and start can help a super flex team with a QB need real quickly, personally I wouldn't touch him ahead of any of the running backs and tight ends in this class but, in redraft he could have great fantasy upside because of the amount of weapons on that offense.

Tony: #19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- OJ Howard
SSSHHH! If you listen closely you can hear Cameron Brate dynasty owners crying right now. Cameron Brate had 89 targets last season, including 19 red zone targets which ranked 17th of all the qualified receivers. This target share made Brate a top 10 tight end, and led many to think the Buccaneers wouldn't need to draft one even though this year's crop of talent was one of the best we’d seen in recent memory. This was a false notion however as the Bucs used their first round pick in OJ Howard out of Alabama. One mistake people make is if a middling talent has a good year, they generally give more credit to the player than the offensive system. While Brate is a decent enough NFL player, he isn't OJ Howard. Howard’s overall numbers in college won't wow anyone, mostly due to a conservative Alabama passing game, but all you need to do is watch the 2015 National Championship game to see Howard's potential. Catching 5 passes for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns, Howard was an absolute force, earning MVP honors for the game. Howard is also an advanced blocker for his age, something that will allow him to be on the football field no matter the situation. Tight end is usually one of the slowest developing positions so while I love Howard as a player, I view him as a TE2 in redraft leagues until I see that he's acclimated to the speed and nuance of the NFL game and gains trust from Jamies Winston in the redzone. Since tight end is usually an ugly position, I'm sure Howard will have weeks he's worth starting as the season progresses. In dynasty formats however, Howard could be a difference maker. He immediately jumps into at least my top 10 Dynasty tight ends, perhaps even higher. In rookie drafts, I would consider him at pick 8, after the top 4 running backs and top 3 receivers are off the board, and he might be one of the safest picks in the draft.

Brandon: #23. New York Giants - Evan Engram TE
The Giants just keep getting more and more offensive weapons. I actually love this pick for them because it completely opens up the passing game and will keep the defense guessing. Not being able to double cover OBJ, IS A PROBLEM. Engram has been said to be more of a wide receiver than a blocking tight end, which is fine, that's why you have more than one tight end. This kid instantly reminds me of Vernon Davis coming out, except he's 10 lbs heavier, and yet he is just as quick.
                                  40 Time                           20 Shuttle                     3 Cone Drill
Vernon Davis:                4.38s                                  4.17s                          7s
Evan Engram:                4.42s                                  4.23s                               6.92s

Engram instantly jumps Njoku on my rookie TE draft board. At this landing spot i'd be taking him ahead of John Ross and Mike Williams. In redraft leagues he may not be taken until the third or fourth tier of TE's but I could easily see him jump into that second tier in the next two years.

Tony: #29. Cleveland Browns- David Njoku TE
David Njoku entered the draft considered by some to be the top tight end in the class. Even though he was taken as the third tight end, Njoku may have more upside than any of them. At 6’4 And 246 pounds, Njoku ran a 4.5 40 and has drawn comparisons to Travis Kelce, last year's number one overall tight end. His height adjusted speed score puts him in the 98th percentile and his agility score is in the 98th percentile. So, in layman's terms, the kid is a hell of an athlete. The only problem with Njoku is that he is still a raw talent, lacking experience at the position and needs to work on the nuances of the game. If there's one thing the Browns have though it's time. Due to this fact and the Browns quarterback situation, I am going to largely ignore Njoku in 2017 redraft leagues as he might make a couple plays but will be very inconsistent. In dynasty, however Njoku is a great bet if you can afford to stash him and wait for him to become a more consistent player. He should be a back of the first round pick in all rookie drafts, and I wouldn't be shocked if we're talking about him in 3 years as the best tight end in this class.