With the NFL draft hours away, Saquon Barkley appears to be in a tier alone at No. 1. But who will follow him in the second tier? Another stud running back from a deep class? Perhaps the fastest-rising wide receiver?
The NFL draft will provide the last key piece in our prospect puzzle before rookie drafts begin almost immediately in leagues like Ryan McDowell’s Kitchen Sink. And the draft does have a large influence. Blair Andrews recently demonstrated the difference in WR NFL breakout age for those drafted in the top 100 picks versus those drafted later.
My tiers are based on research from the terrific cast of writers who’ve been working on the draft project all spring.
Derrius Guice, D.J. Moore
Guice is likely the 1.02 in most leagues, but Moore edges him with the second-highest projection in Anthony Amico’s final update. Moore defeated James Washington 8-0 in the finals of our WR Tournament.
Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones, Sony Michel, Rashaad Penny, Royce Freeman, Christian Kirk
- Chubb, Jones, and Michel all landed on the red flags list, keeping them from joining Tier 2, but Chubb earned the earliest RB breakout (19.0) in that all-important category and Jones sports the top score in Backfield Dominator Rating among big-name prospects.
- Penny lapped the field in adjusted all-purpose yards per game (250) and made the finals of our RB tournament. Although it may be due to facing inferior competition, he authored the highest percentage of breakaway runs and by a sizable margin.
- Freeman is a David Johnson clone with better than expected on-field explosiveness.
- Kirk didn’t excel from a yards per reception perspective, but his early breakout, strong career market share, and special teams production position him to be a rookie value if he goes at the first/second round border.
Kerryon Johnson, D.J. Chark, Courtland Sutton, Calvin Ridley
- Johnson has the fourth-best Lab score and landed on the potential star list as a result, but a more limited track record and concerns about athleticism bump him into this WR-heavy tier.
- Chark’s 72 was the second-best Freak Score and Jon Moore noted his explosiveness as a receiver who “accounted for 26.7 percent of LSU’s receiving yards during his career on only 18.9 percent of the receptions.”
- Sutton and Ridley saw their values slide over the last year but still sit at No. 2 and 3 in Amico’s projections. They could quickly move into the undervalued category.
Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert, Equanimeous St. Brown, James Washington, Josh Adams, Sam Darnold
- Gesicki is a SPARQ star and one of the 6 Biggest Combine Winners. By contrast, Goedert is the producer at the position with two straight 1,000-yard seasons.1
- St. Brown rehabbed his value with a strong combine that led to a 71 Freak Score. Washington did the opposite, sliding out of elite status2 despite averaging 20.9 yards per reception.
Anthony Miller, Tre’Quan Smith, Deon Cain, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Allen Lazard, Justin Jackson
- Smith immediately produced as a redshirt freshman, leading to a career Dominator Rating of 0.32.3 A better-than-expected combine4 solidified him as a middle-round prospect instead of a late-round flier.
- Miller exploded over the last two seasons, recording almost 40 percent of his team’s receiving production during that time frame.
- Lazard’s career market share numbers are almost identical to those of Washington. After finishing with three straight seasons above a .30 Dominator Rating, he helped his cause with one of the best combines for a WR.
- Justin Jackson’s first-year workhorse score and four straight years of strong production reinforce an underrated athletic profile that includes an elite agility score.
John Kelly, Josh Allen, Mark Walton, Kalen Ballage, Michael Gallup, Deontay Burnett, Cedrick Wilson, Keke Coutee, Dante Pettis, Hayden Hurst
- Burnett is the draft’s youngest WR, a factor that could make him significantly undervalued if he’s selected on Day 2.
- Gallup and Wilson were such prolific small school receivers that they finished in the top 10 of the Phenom Index despite being older prospects.
- Coutee broke out in 2017 — only Moore has a better PI score among top prospects — and he’ll hope that elite special teams production helps his draft status. Pettis is another special teams standout who could be interesting if he goes on Day 2.
- Kelly and Ballage both earn Prospect Lab scores in the 40s and each had at least one season with 30-plus receptions.
Watching the draft over the next three days, we’ll all be rooting for our devy players to land on rosters with the best opportunity. Cort Smith and Blair Andrews have provided multiple methods for assessing opportunity.
These visualizations should only whet your appetite for the full articles. We’ll be addressing opportunity during our draft reaction series over the next three days, but these articles need to be read in their entirety.
Want to brush up on your advanced metrics but don’t want to read every article?
- The tight ends are comfortably in this tier in TE-premium leagues but may slip into the next group in more traditional formats. (back)
- A 51 Freak Score helps explain his tumble to No. 9 in Amico’s WR projections. (back)
- Anything above a .30 has historically led to significant outperforming of draft position. (back)
- 4.49 forty at 210 pounds (back)