The RotoViz Scouting Index (RSI) tracks NFL draft prospect rankings from a variety of traditional scouting sites, giving you quick insight into how incoming rookies are currently being valued over in “real football” land.
This serves as a counterpoint to our usual stats-and-metrics based analysis. Discovering where the stats and film crowds agree and disagree is not only fun but often illuminating. We’ll track the rise and fall of player values throughout the draft season and assess the impact on player fantasy valuations. We’ll be aggregating rankings from a half-dozen popular and well-respected sites.
NFL DRAFT RUNNING BACK PROSPECT RANKINGS
Make sure to read the introductory article to this series so you understand where the data comes from and how the scores are calculated.
THE TOP RUNNING BACK PROSPECTS
A number of sources made major updates this week and Ronald Jones was the big winner. His RSI score sky-rocketed 20 points from 55 to 75! He’s now firmly positioned in the top-tier of the 2018 RB class. This gigantic leap moved him well ahead of Nick Chubb who now sits in fifth place in the rankings. Jones improved upon his injury-hampered Combine 40 time of 4.65 by turning in a 4.48 at his Pro Day. While not as fast as he may have hoped for, it certainly helped his draft stock. Mark Walton has gained some buzz as of late and moves into ninth ahead of Nyheim Hines.
While the RSI is useful for determining the perceived value of a prospect, their fantasy values will change dramatically after the draft. Let’s take a look at some potential landing spots and get a feel for which teams are interested in which backs.
Despite holding the first and fourth picks in the NFL Draft, the Browns have yet to schedule a visit with Saquon Barkley. It’s possible that the team views him as such a slam-dunk prospect that they don’t need the visit to pull the trigger, but it is surprising. The Browns signed Carlos Hyde earlier this offseason so it’s possible that they’re not in the market for a younger RB. However, it’s hard to imagine that there isn’t any interest.
It’s also possible that Cleveland plans on taking a quarterback with the first pick and is certain that Barkley will be taken before they pick again at four. Barkley met with the Giants, who own the second pick, over the weekend. The team is in need of an RB and also hosted Mark Walton. New York figures to be a solid landing spot for any back. Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman, and Paul Perkins sit atop the team’s depth chart.
The Eagles aren’t in dire need of a back as Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement were serviceable in 2017. Nonetheless, the team has scheduled visits with Derrius Guice and Rashaad Penny. Ajayi will be a free agent in 2019, so there is some impetus to add another back in the Draft. Guice visited the Patriots and Ravens earlier in the month and there’s definitely potential for him to be selected in the first 32 picks. Despite his small school profile, Penny has drummed up significant interest and has/will visit with the Bills, Broncos, Buccanneers, Giants, Panthers, and Rams.
In addition to meeting with Penny, Denver visited with Jones on Thursday. It’s clear that the team is ready to move on from C.J. Anderson and both backs could do well as Broncos. Jones also met with the Redskins.
Sony Michel visited the Dolphins last week after meeting with the Patriots at the combine. Given his pass-catching ability, Michel would be an exciting replacement for Dion Lewis.
Chubb met with the RB needy Buccanneers as well as the Falcons and Panthers. Tevin Coleman’s contract expires at the end of the 2018 season and Chubb would be a solid replacement playing alongside Devonta Freeman. Perhaps a better fit would be Carolina. Naturally, Christian McCaffrey would handle the receiving duties while Chubb plays the role of the traditional down-field grinder. Given the questions surrounding his receiving ability, Carolina seems like a realistic landing spot.