RB Sleepers Galore in Round 2 of Post-Combine Rookie Mock

We saw the athletic freaks rise and the disappointing plodders fall in Round 1 of our post-combine rookie mock. We also watched as a flurry of receivers came off the board after the two RB mega-prospects. As we move into Round 2, we discover the real depth of this draft is back at the RB position.

The goal here is also to provide an easy means to access much of the great work RotoViz writers have already done on the prospects and to provide the tools to go deeper with your own analysis. Age represents final college age and comes from Jon Moore’s excellent Rookie Age Project.

Round 2

2.01 Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

Age: 23.6             Size: 5-11, 219

Booker is the perfect RB prospect for fantasy leagues in that he’s a big receiving back who earned more than 30 touches per game last season. Unfortunately he ranks No. 6 in the RB Prospect Lab rankings because of his advanced age.

Matthew Freedman argues that this doesn’t matter since he was good in junior college, but there’s probably a good argument that being good in junior college is just the minimum requirement for getting a shot in real college. As our resident age expert Moore discusses, most elite NFL backs are in the league before Booker began his career in the Pac-12. I’m targeting Booker in early MFL10s, but I’ll want to see him land in a great situation in order to use a premium dynasty rookie pick.

2.02 Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas

Age:  21.3            Size: 5-10, 217                    Forty: 4.59           Vert: 28.5

It’s easy to hammer Collins for his terrible combine – and athletic measurables are definitely more important for RBs than for WRs – but it’s worth noting that the gap in 40 time between Collins and Derrick Henry was less than the gap between Henry and Ezekiel Elliott.1

The true junior scored 20 touchdowns at 217 pounds this season and is a dead ringer for Mark Ingram or Eddie Lacy. Put an Alabama jersey on him and we’re talking about a Top 5 rookie pick.

Player Weight 40 Vert Career TD Career Yards Career Rec
Alex Collins 217 4.59 28.5 36 3703 27
Mark Ingram 215 4.61 31.5 42 3261 60
Eddie Lacy 231 4.6 32.5 30 2402 35

2.03 Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

Age: 21.2             Size: 230               Vert: 34

Howard opted not to run at the combine, a decision which casts a shadow over his athleticism, but he looks much better than last year’s trendy Indiana back from an age-adjusted perspective.

From Jon Moore’s tremendous player preview:

Jordan Howard vs Tevin Coleman

Freedman also loves Howard, believing he might be the draft’s most undervalued player and a potential Top 5 rookie pick. Although I’m much more skeptical due to lack of information about agility or receiving prowess, Howard is another runner I’m targeting in Rounds 18 through 20 of early MFL10s.

2.04 Braxton Miller, OW, Ohio State

Age: 23.1          Size: 6-1, 201         Forty: 4.5      Vert: 35       3-cone: 6.65

Miller disappointed at the combine with a size/speed combination that failed to live up to the transcendent athlete talk coming out of the Senior Bowl. He would be much more intriguing as an NFL RB.

2.05 C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame

Age: 21.6             Size: 6-0, 220                      Forty: 4.48           Vert: 35.5

Prosise is less experienced as a runner, but Freedman nailed the David Johnson comp early. After creating the RB Prospect Lab Rankings, I came to the exact same conclusion.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
C.J. Prosise 21.6 220 4.48 7.1* 15.7 102.9 1.2 2.6 60
David Johnson 23 224 4.5 6.82 20 111 1.4 2.7 63
Karlos Williams 21.7 230 4.48 7.16 12.5 57.4 0.9 2.4 58

Prosise is my pick as this year’s rookie RB league-winner.

2.06 Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

Age: 21.9             Size: 5-11, 220

Yet another big, productive back for this class, Williams was more productive than Alex Collins when they shared the field together. The forgotten Arkansas runner could jump a number of players on the list if he proves himself healthy and goes early enough in the draft.

2.07 Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State

Age: 21.2             Size: 6-1, 196                      Forty: 4.64           Vert: 32

Higgins bombed the combine to the point where his tested athleticism reasonably falls into the range of players like Jarvis Landry and Keenan Allen. I mention those two players because Higgins sophomore season with 1750 yards and 17 touchdowns shouldn’t be dismissed. Because career market share yards and age/experience are among the biggest factors in WR projection, Higgins still has a better outlook than a player like Sterling Shepard.

2.08 Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State

Age: 22.2             Size: 5-10, 192                    Forty: 4.41           Vert: 39

As frequent readers know, one of the Zero RB corollaries is to sell plus-sized plodders and buy pass-catching backs. Ben Gretch’s adept visualizations demonstrate that the value of this approach in fantasy is accelerating. FD is on the war path against RBs in general, and his research pretty clearly shows that running backs are hurting their offenses, especially when they carry the ball.2 All of which is not to say that the NFL will instantly move to a more efficient model, but if you’re selling all small RBs in fantasy that’s a losing proposition.

This all relates to Ervin in that he fits the Sproles template and is a very good bet for future RB2 value. He also defeats many trendier backs in the RB Prospect Lab Rankings.

2.09 Daniel Lasco, RB, California

Age: 23.2        Size: 6-0, 209         Forty: 4.46      Vert: 41.5       3-cone: 7.22

Lasco does not have the timed agility that fits with pass-catching at the NFL level, but he balances that with 33 receptions in 2014. Justin Winn goes matchup-by-matchup and explains why the Cal product might be the draft’s third-best RB prospect.

His comps in the box score scout are more sobering.

Lasco SP 2

2.10 Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

Age: 21.1             Size: 5-10, 208                    Forty: 4.54           Vert: 32

With two consecutive 1,000-plus yard rushing seasons and three consecutive 20-plus reception seasons, Perkins could have been a potential first round rookie pick if he’d run a three-cone in the 6.8 range. Opting not to perform that drill after underwhelming on speed and explosion probably places him into the low-end committee back tier.

2.11 Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

Age: 23.0      Size: 6-5, 237       Forty: 4.77       Vert: 30.5        3-cone: 6.86

2016 isn’t a year where much will be spent at the QB position in rookie drafts, but there are some intriguing prospects due to their dual threat nature. In Confessions of a Carson Wentz Skeptic, Moore discovers that the North Dakota State passer looks pretty impressive next to similar players like Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton.

QB Draft Pick F Age Att Comp% AY/A TD% INT% RuYds
A Dalton 2011 35 23.2 1317 61.7 7.9 5.4 2.3 1611
J Flacco 2008 18 23 938 63.4 7.7 4.4 1.6 76
Carson Wentz 2016 20 23 612 64.1 8.8 7.4 2.3 1028

Considering Wentz’s size, his elite 3-cone, and his demonstrated propensity for running, you can see why he could become one of the cheat code QBs despite his lack of speed.

2.12 Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama

Age: 21.9         Size: 6-1, 210       Forty: 4.45           Vert: 34.5        3-cone: 7.04

Based on his size, receiving ability, and kick return prowess, Moore argues for Drake comparables like Brian Westbrook, Reggie Bush, Duke Johnson, Ameer Abdullah, and Cyrus Gray. He also points out the important caveat that Drake’s production is lacking, but he was faced with serious competition from Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, and Derrick Henry.

Final Thought

This exercise was to try to identify trends before they happen and nail down likely rookie ADP.3 As always, I’d be interested in hearing who you think is too high or too low, players you think should be targeted, and specific results you think you’ll see in your own drafts. If there are other prospects you’d like covered in Round 3, let me know.

 

From the sleepers, breakouts, and controversy series:
Josh Doctson, Michael Thomas, and the 5 Most Overvalued Prospects
This Combine Riser Could Be the 2016 David Johnson
The 5 Most Controversial Dynasty Startup Selections
Stars, Sleepers, and Busts: 13 RBs in the Prospect Lab

From the MFL10 series: 

Buy Niche Players, Sell Handcuffs: An Undervalued RB to Target
Buy Opportunity and Variance: A Shockingly Underappreciated Rookie Star

  1. Measurement error makes that statement dubious at best, but I have a hard time with the idea that Henry was a combine winner when you consider his pedestrian 40, unimpressive 10-yard split, and poor 3-cone.  (back)
  2. This may seem like a bizarre statement since carrying the ball is the basic function of a RB, but they’re not nearly as value-sapping when you throw it to them.  (back)
  3. With the idea that it will help in making dynasty trades before the reality draft that create serious excess value after.  (back)