Higgins opted not to work out at the NFL Combine, but his pro
day reflected what many thought he was. He ran a 4.54, put up
mostly disappointing jump numbers (31-inch vertical, 10' 3"
broad) and a lackluster shuttle time (4.53). So how is he a second-round
prospect? Well, maybe this example of body control and field awareness
will help. In a nutshell, he has a number of positive qualities
that don't get numbers attached to them in Indianapolis. While
he was undoubtedly helped by having likely future No. 1 overall
pick Trevor Lawrence running the show over the last two seasons,
Higgins has the huge catch radius one might expect from someone
with his frame and takes advantage of it by consistently stacking
his defender and showing off some of the best ball skills in this
class. His aforementioned big frame and strong hands should make
him a quality red zone option right away, while his tracking skills
and ability to adjust to the ball should make him a dependable
Higgins' testing numbers suggest he isn't a great run-after-catch
player and the tape mostly confirms that. Although he did move
around the formation quite a bit, he also wasn't asked to run
a ton of different routes in college and tends to round off a
lot of them downfield. Even though his ball skills suggest he
could eventually become a team's primary receiver one day, Higgins
has the feel of a quality long-term complementary receiver in
the NFL. This pick may be a reflection on how the new regime feels
about counting on A.J.
Green and John
What does it mean in redraft? The presence of
Green and Tyler
Boyd figures to limit his immediate upside, and Auden
Tate showed well when given the chance last season. Ross is
also a consideration. With that said, Higgins figures to get every
chance to work opposite Green while Boyd moves inside. Higgins
could work his way up to WR4 territory if Green goes down again,
but asking him to be anything more than a WR5 with a rookie quarterback
- and if Green and Boyd stay healthy - might be asking too much.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts?
2.05. He's my 10th-ranked rookie receiver, although that's assuming
Green is healthy.
There's not an abundance of 6-4, 223-pound receivers with 4.52
speed available to be drafted every year, and certainly not a
lot of those with only five drops on 176 catchable passes in his
college career (per Pro Football Focus). The son of a long time
NFL running back by the same name, Pittman plays to his size in
terms of his ability to winning at the catch point and being difficult
to tackle after the catch. Much like Golladay, he is able to get
deep almost at will despite being a bigger receiver and tracks
the ball extraordinarily well. On the down side, he doesn't explode
off the line of scrimmage or create a ton of separation, but similar
things were also said about the other three receivers in the link
above. Pittman will almost certainly be one of those "even
when he's not open, he's open" players at the next level,
and his ability to block figures to keep him on the field in all
situations. At worst, he should a quality No. 2 receiver in the
league who will be a popular red zone target. More than likely,
however, he will compare favorably to Golladay and Courtland Sutton
once he gets acclimated to the NFL.
What does it mean in redraft?Zach
Pascal has been put on notice. In all seriousness, Pittman
should be a Week 1 starter opposite T.Y.
Hilton and allow Parris
Campbell to live in the slot - assuming the Colts plan on
using 11 personnel as their base formation. Pittman becomes the
immediate favorite in the red zone and can make a solid case to
be a consistent WR4 in 2020.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 1.08. He's
my fourth-ranked rookie receiver.
Running backs must have the trust of the coach in virtually all
facets of the passing game if they hope to see more than half
of the team's snaps. No worries here. Swift excels in space, typically
picking up huge chunks on draw plays and screens, but his best
attribute may be his receiving skills. He's also no slouch when
it comes to running with power. He's not elite in that regard,
but he has enough thump to run effectively between the tackles
and convert in short yardage.
Swift didn't pull away from many second- and third-level SEC defenders
and is also occasionally guilty of seeking out contact when he
probably could drop his patented "dead leg" on a defender and
pick up more yardage - something that might explain in part why
his long run was 47 yards on 196 carries last season. Despite
never playing more than 500 offensive snaps or logging 200 carries
in any of his three seasons in college, Swift has a high ceiling.
And while it's not always easy to tell from the film, it's obvious
his football intelligence is also very high, making it much more
likely he'll reach his upside.
What does it mean in redraft? The Lions have
been hesitant to give Kerryon
Johnson a full workload, and they've ensured he won't have
to by adding Swift. Unfortunately for Johnson, Swift is a better
back in most facets of the game and an immediate threat to be
the lead back in Detroit. Despite the likelihood he'll begin a
season in a committee, owners should view Swift as a high-end
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 1.04. He's
my third-ranked dynasty running back.
Taylor owns several NCAA records, including most career 200-yard
rushing games (12), most rushing yards by a freshman (1,977),
most rushing yards through a sophomore season (4,171) and most
rushing yards through a junior season (6,171). Maybe just as impressively,
Taylor owns the second-, fifth- and sixth-best individual rushing
seasons in school history. (Perhaps none of his 2019 runs define
him better than this one.) He shows patience, steps through a
couple of arm tackles, makes a slight jump cut to dodge another
tackle in space and then carries a couple of defenders for about
10 yards.) It's almost ridiculous how often those four "abilities"
show up on his tape, and it's a good thing for him because all
four of those qualities tend to be effective in or carry over
to the pro game as well.
Taylor's heavy usage (968 college touches, including 926 carries)
in college isn't overly concerning by itself, but it is more of
an issue when considering his propensity for fumbling (18 fumbles
- 15 lost - in 41 career games). The Colts probably need to wrap
their mind around Taylor being an early-down workhorse that initially
needs to come off the field in critical passing-down situations.
The New Jersey native can catch the ball, but dedication to his
craft - not to mention his new position coach - will play a large
role as to whether his career moves along the Frank
Gore and Mark Ingram trajectory. How quickly it happens will
depend on how quickly he can correct/curb his weaknesses in the
passing game and with ball security.
What does it mean in redraft? While Marlon
Mack isn't an elite back by any stretch, the fit in Indianapolis
is curious for Taylor. Mack isn't going to be the third-down back
with Nyheim Hines
around, but he's too good to be a true backup. With that said,
the rookie is too good to sit behind Mack for very long, so he
probably needs to be viewed as an RB3 right away with high-end
RB2 upside if it is clear during the camp/preseason he is on his
way to grabbing the starting job.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 1.02. He's
my second-ranked dynasty running back.
Shenault has the same kind of physical dimensions now that Dez Bryant and Larry Fitzgerald had entered the league with, yet Colorado
regularly used him as a space player in between the 20s and as
a Wildcat quarterback in short yardage. Despite this, he was anything
but overmatched. Think about that for a second: a receiver powerful
enough to be a preferred goal-line option as a runner and a 230-pound
"space" player winning in contested-catch situations
much more often than he lost (14 of 22 over the last two seasons,
per Pro Football Focus). Perhaps the only thing that is clear
at the moment is that it is almost impossible to evaluate Shenault
as a typical receiver prospect.
The case can be made his production dropped in 2019 because he
was used more traditionally, but isn't it more likely his September
core muscle injury and a lack of refinement playing the receiver
position had a much bigger effect? If it wasn't already clear,
Shenault is in the odd position of needing a lot more time to
develop while also being such an obvious talent that it would
be a waste to treat him merely as a gadget player - he is so much
more than that - just so Jacksonville can get some kind of immediate
offensive contribution. The potential is there for Shenault to
become a poor man's Julio Jones down the road (or at least a reasonable
facsimile of Sammy Watkins) five years down the road. However,
if new Jaguars OC Jay Gruden doesn't think outside the box, he
could easily become the next Cordarrelle Patterson.
What does it mean in redraft? The emergence of D.J. Chark and
presence of Dede Westbrook ensures Shenault won't need to be "the
man" in Jacksonville in 2020. It would not be surprising
if the rookie does take on more of a Swiss-army knife role as
a result, but the odds are good he'll overtake Chris Conley before
long. Unfortunately, that role didn't bear much fantasy fruit
in 2019. Consider him a WR5 at best.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 1.11. He's
my sixth-ranked rookie receiver.
While it seemed as though Notre Dame was trying to force-feed
Chase Claypool against Georgia (especially near the goal line),
it was Kmet who was consistently running wide open over the middle
against the Bulldogs. Even in that contest (9-108-1), it was clear
very quickly he isn't a seam-stretcher at 6-6 and 262 pounds and
more of a sure-handed underneath option that will move the chains.
While he definitely has the size and shows enough determination
to be a good blocker, he is still a work in progress there. Perhaps
like a young Rudolph, Kmet could eventually emerge as Mitchel
Trubisky's (or Nick Foles'?) favorite red zone weapon down the
road because he is such a big target. He's unlikely to become
much more than that in the NFL.
What does it mean in redraft? Kmet is one of 10 tight ends currently
on the Bears' roster. And while an aging Jimmy Graham isn't a
huge detriment, this Golden Domer isn't such a unique talent that
he is going to send him to the bench. It's highly unlikely he'll
come off the wire in most leagues in 2020.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 3.11. He's
my second-ranked rookie tight end.
2.14 - WR KJ Hamler, Broncos
Height/Weight: 5' 9"/178
College: Penn State
NFL Comp: Tavon Austin
Hamler was yet another receiver who wasn't able to take part in
the NFL Scouting Combine due to injury (hamstring), but it's a
reasonable bet he would have performed exceedingly well in the
"triangle numbers" (40 time, vertical jump and broad
jump) that most evaluators look at to gauge explosiveness. Pro
Football Focus credited him with a step or more of separation
on 64 percent of his routes in 2019 and 41 plays of at least 15
yards in the slot over the last two seasons - both of which rank
fourth in the country. The Michigan native is exceptionally quick
off the line of scrimmage and can stop and start with the best
of them - a pair of qualities that further help explain how he
creates the separation he does.
While all of this should mean he projects as a high-level slot
receiver at the next level, his hands have betrayed him too often.
(PFF charted him with 12 drops on 70 catchable targets last season
and 16 drops on 114 catchable targets in his career.) Along with
his lack of ideal size and maybe his inability to play through
much contact, it's his biggest concern. Hamler has caught only
80.7 percent of his catchable targets in the slot over the last
two seasons, per PFF. Fortunately, at least some of those drops
can be attributed to poor catching technique. While Hamler is
not necessarily restricted to slot duty, he will almost certainly
spend the majority of his time there in Denver with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy set to start.
What does it mean in redraft? As noted above, Hamler's path is
going to be blocked by Sutton and Jeudy. Even Tim Patrick looms
should either one of those players gets hurt. As such, Hamler
figures to be more important to the Broncos as a rookie than any
fantasy owner. He will almost certainly go undrafted in most 12-team
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 3.05. He's
my 17th-ranked dynasty WR.
Claypool's otherworldly combination of speed (4.42), vertical
(40.5") and size (6-4, 238) might suggest he is positioned
well to be the next Vincent Jackson, but his tape did not reflect
his combine measurables (outside of his size) very often. Despite
his athletic testing numbers, he is not particularly quick or
light on his feet. His speed is more of the build-up variety,
but his size figures to make him a favorite of Ben Roethlisberger's
in the red zone and on shot plays. His performance against Navy
(7-117-4) in 2019 is very much indicative of what is possible
if he ends up getting used as a movable chess piece in the NFL.
On the downside, the Navy game was the only one of the four games
in which he looked worthy of a Day 2 selection. He is considered
a receiver at the moment and was announced as such during the
draft, suggesting Pittsburgh views him as Martavis Bryant 2.0.
A move to tight end cannot be ruled out, however. Considering
the Steelers have JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and James
Washington locked in as the top three receivers on the roster,
Claypool will almost certainly be a situational deep threat/red
zone option as a rookie - assuming he remains at receiver.
What does it mean in redraft? Much like Bryant a few years back,
it's possible - albeit unlikely - Claypool scores on enough big
plays to find his way on the fantasy radar at some point. Owners
should keep an eye for reports of a Bryant-like role, but it's
doubtful he'll be a consistently useful fantasy option.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 2.10. He's
my 13th-ranked rookie receiver.
The similarity to Le'Veon Bell in terms of his running style
is almost uncanny. Akers runs a bit high in between the tackles
and begins most of his runs with a bit of skip or hop behind the
line of scrimmage before plowing through and doing a good job
of picking up yards after contact. He never seems to get too much
ahead of himself on many of his outside runs, making a spin move
or juke to elude a potential tackle in the open field without
losing much momentum.
But while Akers is certainly capable of becoming a feature back
given the combination of his talent, size and elusiveness, it
is going to take some time. It's fair to wonder if the Willie
Taggart-led Florida State coaching staff was in over their head
because while Akers doesn't have a long list of concerns, it is
disappointing he is as lacking as he is in some of the most critical
areas for a prospect at his position. He desperately needs his
new position coach to work some magic if he is going to become
a Bell clone.
What does it mean in redraft? Akers would have well-served to
begin his career as the 1B option in the NFL. It should happen
in LA, but the combination of Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson
is not exactly daunting (even though Brown is a bit underrated
and Henderson is highly explosive). As a result, Akers could easily
emerge as the lead back before midseason. Owners should draft
him as a high-upside RB4 - one capable of ascending to RB2 territory
if he can take over as the featured back.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 1.07 (although
he'll likely go earlier in most drafts with most people discounting
Brown and Henderson). He's my fourth-ranked rookie running back.
It may not seem as though Hurts has led a blessed life in college
football, but it's quite possible that he will have played with
roughly 10 first- or second-round pass-catchers during his time
at Alabama and Oklahoma when the dust settles on future draft
classes. Hurts possesses a number of characteristics the league
likes at the quarterback position nowadays, including above-average
arm strength, above-average mobility and a compact build that
should help him absorb punishment better than the typical college
quarterback entering the league.
Perhaps the biggest concern regarding Hurts is that he is often
at his best outside the design of the play, which tends to work
a lot better on the playground than it does on the field. He is
not a quarterback that will consistently throw quickly. The best
part about Hurts, however, is that he is athletic enough that
he could give his new team some Taysom Hill-like versatility while
getting full-time instruction on how to manipulate coverage, learning
the importance of speeding up his internal clock in the pocket,
etc. It seems almost certain that will be the case in Philly with
locked into the starting job for years to come.
What does it mean in redraft? Outside of being
the potential handcuff to Wentz, virtually nothing. He will almost
certainly go undrafted in most 12-team leagues.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 4.03. He's
my fifth-ranked rookie quarterback.
Dobbins is a bit of a walking contrast. He is a big play waiting
to happen on just about every touch, but there are too many times
where he doesn't pull away from defenders. He runs with power
and flashes the ability to break tackles consistently, but he
also gets stopped dead in his tracks too often on inside runs.
He is a capable receiver, but it was hard to watch him in pass
protection until the final few games of 2019. There's no question
he has the goods to be a three-down back in the NFL, but being
drafted by the Ravens should provide him a chance to get the necessary
time to address the aforementioned dichotomies, as he will be
an explosive change-of-pace back initially in Baltimore.
What does it mean in redraft? There's no chance
he'll overtake Mark
Ingram in 2020, but it's a pretty solid bet he'll play ahead
of Gus Edwards
and Justice Hill.
That's a big deal in run-heavy Baltimore, as any handcuff - especially
one with Dobbins' explosiveness - would likely be catapulted into
RB2 territory if Ingram got hurt. As such, Dobbins is shaping
up to be considered one of the more valuable handcuffs in fantasy.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 1.09. He's
my fifth-ranked rookie running back.
2.25 - WR Van Jefferson, Rams
Height/Weight: 6' 1"/200
It only takes a few plays before it becomes obvious Jefferson
is the son of a longtime NFL receiver and current NFL receivers
coach (Shawn). Van is polished as a route-runner and has already
learned so many tricks of the trade in terms of how to get open,
such as reading leverage and changing up his releases off the
line of scrimmage. There's also little wasted motion in his overall
game. In short, he creates separation and a smooth operator even
though his most distinguishing physical characteristic might be
quick feet. Jefferson proved to be a handful in two of the three
games above despite average quarterbacking and proved his ability
to get open against SEC defenses was no fluke when he shined in
Senior Bowl practices. It's probably just as well he didn't test
at the NFL Combine - he was diagnosed with a Jones fracture in
his right foot during a medical evaluation prior to running -
because it's unlikely he would have stacked up well athletically
against what is a loaded class at his position.
He will also turn 24 years old before he takes his first NFL snap,
which suggests he is probably close to being maxed out as a prospect
(especially when we consider his father's influence). Jefferson
will probably be underrated for most of his time in the pros because
he doesn't do anything particularly highlight-worthy and figures
to live within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage, but he should
enjoy a long career in the slot because he is so dependable, savvy
What does it mean in redraft? This is an interesting
landing spot for Jefferson, as Josh
Reynolds is the only viable alternative to replace Brandin
Cooks with Robert
Woods and Cooper
Kupp occupying the other two receiving spots. Jefferson is
refined enough to overtake Reynolds in 2020, but a more likely
outcome will be the two players sharing snaps. Unless he is clearly
ahead of Reynolds on the depth chart before the start of the season,
he will probably go undrafted in most leagues.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 3.06. He's
my 18th-ranked rookie receiver.
Mims is already plenty rangy, but once his near 34-inch arms,
4.38 speed, 6.66 three-cone and 10' 11" broad jump are factored
in, he becomes a scary dude for teams to pass on. (Since 2000,
there have only been 17 receivers at the NFL Combine who stand
at least 6-3 and run a sub-4.4. Of that group, Mims' three-cone
is tied for first with Julio Jones'.) As his measurables suggest,
it almost takes a spectacularly poor throw from a quarterback
to put a target on him that isn't within his catch radius. Mims
finished in a tie for second in contested catches (20) in this
draft class per Pro Football Focus last season. A few of which
came on back-shoulder fades, which are easily some of his best
routes along with a go. He's also sure to endear himself to pro
coaches with his tenacity as a blocker and overall physicality
- cornerbacks figures to get a three-hour, full-body workout against
Mims' biggest shortcomings at the moment are his drops (seven
in 2019 and 18 over the last two seasons), a tendency to pop up
as he's about to change direction on his route and the overall
number of routes he runs well at the moment. With all that said,
it's not hard to see shades of Vincent Jackson or Britt in his
prime when he's at his best. Given how much he seems to enjoy
the physical aspect of football and his overall unselfishness,
he figures to be a matchup problem and very good second receiver
in the league for years to come.
What does it mean in redraft?Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder
will almost certainly start Week 1, but Mims is in play to be
a dynamic deep-ball/red zone threat right away. It's more likely
than not Mims will be more than an inconsistent WR5 this year,
but it's also possible he becomes the top option in this offense
if he shows he can handle a full NFL route tree in short order.
He is definitely worth a grab in the late rounds.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 1.12. He's
my seventh-ranked rookie receiver.
2.30 - RB AJ Dillon, Packers
Height/Weight: 6' 0"/247
College: Boston College
NFL Comp: LeGarrette Blount
NFL fans may remember the last bruising Boston College runner
to enter the league with less than fond memories, but Dillon brings
a little bit more to the table than Andre Williams. Dillon isn't
a lost cause as a receiver (he can contribute in the screen game
but his pass pro needs a ton of work), is almost 30 pounds heavier
(247) than the weight Williams played at, a hair faster (4.53)
and more explosive (41-inch vertical, 10' 11" broad). The
Eagles' all-time leading rusher also has a bit of wiggle to his
game - admittedly not much - and isn't quite the straight-line
runner his dimensions suggest he should be either, much like a
young Blount or maybe even Leonard Fournette.
Like many big college backs transitioning to the pros, however,
he has been overworked (845 carries), has much work to do as a
receiver and is at his best between the tackles. Dillon's bulldozing
running style and ability to handle 30 carries could have easily
made him a top 40-50 pick as recently as 10 years ago, but he
will almost certainly be viewed as a committee back in today's
NFL - one who should get the bulk of his work on early downs,
four-minute situations and near the goal line.
What does it mean in redraft? Despite already having Aaron Jones
and Jamaal Williams on the roster and capably sharing the load,
the Packers add a two-down thumper to the mix. Dillon isn't going
to overtake Jones, but he stands a pretty good chance of stealing
most of the goal-line work in Green Bay. Although he could push
for a handful of touchdowns in that role with the Pack, it's hard
to see him being much more than an RB4 barring a rash of injuries
in front of him.
Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? 3.02. He's
my ninth-ranked rookie running back.
Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today's hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive". Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.