2018 Superflex Rookie Mock Draft
Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Russell Clay. Follow him on Twitter @RussellJClay and check out more of his work in the 2018 Dynasty Command Center NFL Draft Rookie Guide.
As draft season heats up, one of the more exciting topics is how the upcoming crop of rookies will impact the landscape of the future. A few days ago the list of NFL combine invites became official, and thus, my yearly ritual of projecting what rookie drafts will look like ensued.
There’s three major factors I look into when creating an initial rookie draft board:
- What does my board look like. What are my rankings without comparison to anyone else.
- What will the NFL draft look like, and what order will the players be drafted in.
- What will the average draft position (ADP) of rookie drafts look like.
Ultimately these things are mostly tied together. But upon closer look, there are differences that inevitably change draft plans.
The fun thing about superflex dynasty leagues is it throws a huge wrench into the first round of rookie drafts. Instead of going back and forth between running back and wide receiver, there’s arguably the most important position (quarterback) in the format coming out of left field to take a chunk of the top picks.
Despite a bunch of debate over who the top quarterback is in the 2018 class, there’s little-to-no debate that there will be multiple drafted very high. This position will shift a bunch of things early on in rookie drafts, and needs to be taken very seriously when evaluating what rookie draft slots are worth.
With that considered, let’s embark on an epic journey… down the first draft of a superflex rookie draft board.
Below are my personal rankings, set up in order of how I’d draft a superflex dynasty rookie draft. For the sake of time, I’m going to be brief on the WHY of where I have these players ranked.
If you’re curious to learn more about my process and get full breakdowns of all these players, I highly suggest checking out the Dynasty Command Center Draft Guide that has complete write-ups and full positional breakdowns of all 36 players listed here, along with a lot more others.
Let’s start off with an easy one. Tier 1 is fairly set, barring one of them tumbling down the actual NFL draft board. It’s tough to see either Saquon Barkley or Josh Rosen falling out of the top five of the NFL Draft for a multitude of factors, including college pedigree, solid production from an early age, and projected athleticism (for Barkley). Derrius Guice is another I feel strongly about regardless of where he goes, much like Dalvin Cook in 2017. Even a fall to the early second round wouldn’t shift this rank, nor will it likely shift consensus ADP. Barring a travesty at the combine, Guice is very likely to go in the mid-to-late first round of the NFL Draft with his prospect profile.
In a superflex league, things get weird early on. The idea that there will be four 2018 quarterbacks with a reasonable chance at starting in Year One makes the late first round extremely enticing. Instead of looking at players like Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk at 1.04 or 1.05, they’re sitting there at 1.09 or 1.10. As discussed, Tier 1 isn’t up for much debate, the same can’t be said here.
Based on early ADP data, initial rankings, and general talk of this class, it’s very clear I’m going to be higher on Royce Freeman and Christian Kirk, and lower on Ronald Jones. While Freeman was a four-year player at Oregon, that isn’t for lack of early-career success. Freeman broke out in a big way in his true freshman season, and sustained fantastic production in each of his four seasons. A 230-plus pound running back who was prolific at rushing and receiving? Sign me up. There’s a lot of things to like about Christian Kirk’s profile, and the concerns of him being a limited receiver are largely over-blown. Ronald Jones has a lot of redeeming qualities as a player, and if he can shape-up (literally) before the combine, there’s movement that could be had here.
It’s tough to know where Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson are going to land in the NFL draft, but barring the unlikely occurrence either fall out of the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, I can guarantee neither will make it out of the first round of superflex rookie drafts. With that considered, there needs to be an understanding that 1.12 in a superflex draft is much more like 1.08 or 1.09 in a rookie draft where only one quarterback is required in the starting lineup.
This is where things really ramp up in terms of differences. This is likely a round lower than you’ll see players like Courtland Sutton or Sony Michel go. While there’s redeeming qualities to both players and solid odds both will make impacts at the NFL level, my confidence levels in their college resumes isn’t nearly as high as the consensus. If Michel can test out in an elite way at the combine I’d be willing to move him up over this entire group of wide receivers, but there’s little-to-zero chance I’ll own him at his going rate.
Mark Andrews is a player at a position who doesn’t get a ton of love in rookie drafts. Just last year, players like Adam Shaheen, Jonnu Smith, and Gerald Everett dropped like rocks in rookie ADP despite being selected in the top three rounds of the NFL Draft. Andrews’ impressive profile will have me targeting him in the early second round, but If he slips to the second round of the NFL draft, he could be a screaming value.
Jordan Lasley is currently the most underrated player in this entire 2018 class. With the wide speculation that Rosen had no weapons to throw to at UCLA, Lasley has largely gone under-the-radar despite having 1,264 receiving yards in nine games in 2017. Lasley should test out well and has an underrated size and bulk combination. If Lasley isn’t the most underrated player, then that designation would certainly go to Josh Adams. Adams just put together one of the most prolific running back seasons of the last decade and is viewed as a late-round prospect. Based on his on-field big-play ability, athletic testing will force folks to take him seriously.
Tier 4 isn’t as exciting as last year, but there are players to get excited about. Auden Tate is likely to go higher than this, even if he falls a bit in the draft. Despite having an imposing presence and incredible splash plays, Tate has a very spotty production profile that could see him fall if he doesn’t test out well at the combine.
Kerryon Johnson, Jaylen Samuels, and Equanimeous St. Brown are the three most volatile players in the 2018 class. I could see any of them going as high as the second round in the NFL Draft, but there’s also tons of scenarios where these players could drop into the fourth or fifth round range. St. Brown was very impressive in 2016, and that should be valued much more than what happened in 2017.
John Kelly is a player I’m going to be lower on than most. The fear would be that a year after Alvin Kamara blowing up the NFL, there will be a a propping up of a less productive and less athletic Tennessee running back prospect (which he is). This group of third-round wide receivers is a really fun one, and will be a range I’ll try to target. D.J. Chark and Tre’Quan Smith have nice boom potential, and Anthony Miller and Richie James both could find themselves in target-heavy roles as early as Year One.
The combine will determine a lot about this group, most likely in bad ways. While this group has been largely productive at major schools, they have a lot to prove athletically, and have red flags on their profile. Mark Walton has received a lot of hype of late, and he has an NFL future, however, there are a lot of questionable traits to his profile that don’t scream undervalued prospect. Darren Carrington and Dante Pettis are two players from this tier I could see making a jump for me after the NFL Combine. Pettis has really nice peripheral production and Carrington has some very interesting patches of production at a high level.
Kamryn Pettway burst onto the scene in 2016, and was a player I was very excited about heading into 2017. If he hadn’t got hurt multiple times this year, it’s fair to ponder if he and Kerryon Johnson would be in vastly different positions.
Well there it is. The initial superflex rookie draft board. Again, I kept things light to preserve some of the draft guide. If you want the nuts and bolts, check out.