Hello and welcome to the third installment of my annual Top 100 Rookies series! If you’re new to the series, every year I put together 100 rookies entering the NFL Draft and rank them based on the impact I believe they’ll have for fantasy football purposes (of course). So no, this is not just another “big board” or “where they’ll go in the real NFL Draft” conversation. This is specifically designed for you to use as a data point in building your own rookie rankings for upcoming dynasty league rookie drafts. And of course, it’s here to help you learn a few fun things to make you sound smart among your friends as the NFL Combine and Draft are approaching.
And yes, the NFL Combine results will certainly change these rankings a bit. But the goal here is establish a baseline understanding of where these players should rank given what we know now and how they can help themselves in the coming weeks and months to help their draft and fantasy football stock.
I used to keep things limited to offensive players, but for those of you who are super nerds like me having some individual defensive players (IDPs) included definitely helps for your upcoming drafts too.
Some things to note as you read:
- The position listed is where I believe they will play most frequently
- “EDGE” players are typically 3-4 outside linebackers or pass rushing 4-3 defensive ends
- “DL” are typically DTs and DEs that will work exclusively between the 0 and 5 techniques on the defensive line
- “LB” are the playmaking off-the-ball linebackers
- Scoring format assumed is 1 QB, PPR and a balance between tackle heavy and big play (for the IDPs)
If you missed the other installments:
If you have any questions or comments on these ranks, find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM! But without further ado, here are the players currently ranked No. 41 to No. 60 in the 2020 Top 100 Rookies series!
60. Bradlee Anae, EDGE Utah
Alright, so here’s the part of the ranks where the edge rushers begin to have pretty dope production profiles. Although Anae was barely recruited (only four D-I offers), he didn’t let that hold him back. His freshman year was pretty quiet, but after that, he immediately dropped three straight years with at least seven sacks and ten tackles for loss. Plus, Anae’s 2019 sack total of 13 was good for seventh in the entire nation.
Anae plays with absurd strength and flexibility for his size. His raw measurables outside of the bench press may not wow at the combine, but don’t push Anae down your boards.
59. Curtis Weaver, EDGE Boise State
Weaver was just one of six players in the nation with more sacks than Anae this past season. And yes, he may have played lesser competition, but Weaver’s three-year production profile was insane. How insane? Since 2005, his 34 career sacks in three years is good for first among all college football players to declare early for the NFL Draft. If he sees the early draft capital, Weaver should probably move up rookie draft boards.
58. Thaddeus Moss, TE LSU
Yes, he is the son of the one and only Randy Moss. So, why in the world did we essentially have to wait until this year to hear about him? Moss injured his shoulder in his first collegiate season playing for NC State. He missed the entire 2017 season due to transfer rules on his way to LSU. And just when he was about to go off in 2018, he fractured his foot, missing the whole season again. But once he finally hit the field, he starred in some of the biggest moments imaginable. Moss grabbed nine receptions along with three touchdowns in the College Football Playoff and averaged four catches per game on the year. His height may be a concern (around 6 feet 2 inches), but with a good combine, Moss could still rise up rookie boards.
57. Gabriel Davis, WR UCF
If we wanted to crown a king of comps among later round rookie picks, it would be Gabriel Davis.
According to the Grinding the Mocks tool, Davis could sneak into Day 2 of the NFL Draft if things go well in the next couple of months. If so, his overall profile is looking good, checking boxes with a 67th-percentile Adjusted Production Index, draft capital, early declaration, and adequate breakout age.
56. James Proche, WR SMU
Proche has the SMU school records for both career receiving touchdowns and all-purpose yards. He posted a 20% Dominator Rating with Courtland Sutton still on his team. But after Sutton left, Proche went off, posting two consecutive seasons with at least a dozen scores and 1,200 yards. He really needs to impress at the combine though. If he doesn’t, Proche likely misses out on capital.
55. Jalen Hurts, QB Oklahoma
If Gabriel Davis was the king of comps for later round receivers, then Jalen Hurts is certainly that at quarterback.
|Dak Prescott||Mississippi State||49||135||191.35||8.33||51.45||3793||8.70||0.66|
|Tyrod Taylor||Virginia Tech||50||180||140.34||8.09||43.74||2743||9.52||0.60|
|Dan LeFevour||Central Michigan||53||181||243.49||7.56||55.62||3438||8.08||0.70|
Obviously, Hurts’ implied draft capital of 90 is a late Day 2 projection. But as I outlined last fall in my Devy Weekly series, Jalen Hurts has actually grown into a decent passer. Is he perfect? No. Did he look rough at times during Senior Bowl week? Yes. But don’t let that fool you. Hurts just had one of the most ridiculous seasons in college football history, and the best is perhaps still to come. He is not going to start right away in the pros, but if when and if he does, look out. His upside as a rusher alone could immediately make him a viable starter. And his best passing samples hint that he could develop beyond a Marcus Mariota, Andy Dalton, or Tyrod Taylor with more proven health and mobility.
54. Collin Johnson, WR Texas
It seems like Collin Johnson has been a devy fantasy league favorite 20 years now. When a 6-foot-6-inch, 225-pound receiver moves as fluidly as Johnson does, it’s hard not to get excited. However, Johnson’s profile has some holes. He’s only barely had one “breakout” season (2018). His overall Adjusted Production Index comes in at 30th percentile, which means he’s in the “near lock to miss” category if he misses on draft capital thresholds. But Johnson is one of a few receivers that could have one of the best size-adjusted speed, burst, and agility scores of the bunch at the combine. If he fails to impress there, we may have to move Johnson down the board on implied lack of capital alone.
53. Marlon Davidson, DL Auburn
Davidson is “the other guy” on the Auburn defensive line, but doesn’t get enough love. He’s had to sit in the shadow of Derrick Brown’s dominance for the past few years now. But the truth is, Davidson has been one of the most consistent and disruptive forces in the SEC. Davidson’s racked up at least 38 tackles four seasons in a row and 28 tackles for loss. And his sack totals aren’t great, but his pressure percentage is incredibly high. As a day two defensive lineman, he’s going to start early and provide a nice safe production floor.
52. Troy Dye, LB Oregon
Speaking of consistency, Troy Dye has wrangled at least 84 tackles, and six for loss in each of his four collegiate seasons. He’s snagged a pick ever year and has defended at least four passes per year for three years. Dye is an all round linebacker reminiscent of Rashaan Evans of Alabama. He can get after the passer, stop the run, and play virtually any linebacker position. If he’s drafted early, expect a high Season 1 snap total.
51. Malik Harrison, LB Ohio State
Harrison is the first player in this series that I believe could or should be a prototypical 4-3 middle linebacker (super tackle heavy role). Evan Weaver from California might fit in that role, but Malik Harrison has the size, strength, gap discipline, and intelligence to be the quarterback of an NFL defense. Harrison had one of the highest snap to tackle for loss ratios in the nation this year, logging 16.5 behind the line of scrimmage. His only concern may be pass coverage, but if Harrison shows well at the combine, he will rise up most boards quickly given his implied future role.
50. Cole Kmet, TE Notre Dame
Kmet is another one-year wonder tight end like Thaddeus Moss, but don’t let that deter you. Like I mentioned last fall in my Devy Weekly series, Kmet had to compete with a number of future NFL tight ends in college. Yes, they weren’t elite talents, but the way the Notre Dame offense functions, it’s tough for tight ends to earn high snap totals early in their careers. But when Kmet finally did, the results were promising. He logged solid final season market share numbers around 23%. And some of his best comps given likely Day 2 draft capital include Travis Kelce, Jared Cook, and Kyle Rudolph. Not bad.
49. Raekwon Davis, DL Alabama
In a way, Raekwon Davis is living off three-year-old hype. He totaled 8.5 sacks way back in 2017, which for an interior defensive lineman is insane. But if you go back and watch how most of those happened it was a lot of clean up work thanks to one of the most dominant defensive lines in college football history. Davis only totaled two sacks in the two full seasons that followed. However, that doesn’t mean Davis’ impact wasn’t felt on most downs. At 6 feet 7 inches and 310 pounds or so, Davis should be able to plug the middle for an NFL defense right away. He won’t be a high volume tackler in the pros given his position, but should still dominate at the line.
48. K.J. Hill, WR Ohio State
If you don’t know already, K.J. Hill has the record for most receptions in Ohio State history. And that’s great. There have been some really good Ohio State receivers over the years. But from an analytical standpoint, his profile doesn’t check many boxes. He never “broke out” at any point. His Adjusted Production Index score is in the bottom quartile. He doesn’t have great size, and unless something surprises us at the combine, he doesn’t have elite speed either. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t stick and produce in the NFL. If he hangs out around the late-Round-3 to Round-4 range in the draft, here are some of his comps via the RotoViz Box Score Scout tool:
If you have watched Hill play, his style is very reminiscent of Jeremy Kerley and DaeSean Hamilton. Unless his Senior Bowl hype holds up, Hill is going to drop down boards quickly.
47. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB Vanderbilt
Yes, Vaughn is an old rookie, but that’s really his only clear negative. Vaughn actually produced as a true freshman way back in 2015 for Illinois. Then after transferring to Vanderbilt he somehow managed two consecutive 1,300-yard seasons with at least 10 touchdowns. Vanderbilt has consistently been one of the worst (if not the worst) offenses in the SEC, but Vaughn always found a way to produce. And it’s not just volume-based production either. He averaged 18.7 yards per carry in his 243-yard thrashing of Baylor in 2018. He averaged 6.4 yards per touch against the National Champion LSU defense this past fall. Vaughn has produced efficiently both on the ground and the air for two straight years. All he needs is a decent showing in his forty and agility drills to likely solidify decent draft stock now.
46. Lynn Bowden Jr, WR Kentucky
Bowden has got to be one of the most exciting and confusing prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. Like I talked about last summer in my College Football Watch List, Bowden looked primed for a huge year at receiver last fall. No other returning Kentucky receiver had more than 10 career receptions for the Wildcats. But then thanks to injuries, Bowden was thrust into the starting quarterback role before the midway point of the year, which explains why Bowden’s production profile is one of the strangest we’ve ever seen for a receiver:
And that’s not even including his passing stats. The good news is that Bowden still gave us a breakout season (37% dominator) and a decent yards-per-team-pass-attempt clip before the position switch. The bad news is that we don’t know how the NFL will value Bowden’s jack-of-all-trades skill set. Bowden is likely more reliant on landing spot and capital than perhaps any skill position player in this class, but he’s fun to watch.
45. Neville Gallimore, DL Oklahoma
You’re going to hear a number of scouts talk about Gallimore’s “motor” and his “finish quite a bit throughout draft season. And that’s simply because for a big man at 300 pounds, he is relentless. When plays extend, he tracks the ball carrier down no matter what. If he’s double-teamed he will swim and swipe his way through it more ferociously than if he was only facing one defender. Gallimore is both a lot of fun and a decent producer for his position. He nabbed three and four sacks in the last two seasons, respectively, as well as some tackles for loss. If Gallimore tests at the 90th percentile in burst score like many believe he can, expect him to rise up draft boards.
44. Ross Blacklock, DL TCU
Blacklock, just like a few other TCU players this year, hasn’t been talked about enough. After tearing his Achilles in 2018, Blacklock came back even stronger and better last fall. His nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks give him some of the best production among all defensive tackles in the country last fall. Don’t be surprised to hear Blacklock’s name called on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. And if that happens, you can bank on his stock rising.
43. A.J. Dillon, RB Boston College
A.J. Dillon has a great shot at the best size-adjusted speed score among all running backs at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.54-second forty in high school weighing in at 239 pounds! He’s run other unofficial forty times around 4.5 since then as well. If he could even get near 4.5 at 240 or more pounds that would put him in Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Henry territory. However, just like Derrick Henry, there are going to be questions about his receiving ability.
How in the world does a running back run the ball 300 times and have zero receptions in a season? I didn’t think that was possible until Dillon did it as a true freshman. Dillon did finally post a decent 9% receiving market share in his final season for Boston College, but he has his work cut out for him in that department. Given his size, speed, and ferocious running style, he’s going to be drafted. If he earns any role early on in his career, he should score some touchdowns too. Let’s hope he’s given that chance.
42. Albert Okwuegbunam, TE Missouri
Say it with me. Oak. Woo. Aye. Boo. Nom. Oak-woo-aye-boo-nom. There, you got it.
Albert O is a legit 6 feet 5 inches and 258 pounds but moves like he’s much leaner. And no tight end in this class has a higher touchdown percentage on receptions anywhere near the sample size that Okwuegbunam has posted. He caught 23 touchdowns on his 98 collegiate receptions. And on top of that his peak dominator is 30% as a Division I tight end. That’s absurdly good. If he’s drafted Day 2, his comps are solid producers like Travis Kelce and Martellus Bennett.
41. Hunter Bryant, TE Washington
And last, but not least, Hunter Bryant has been in the TE1 conversation for this class for three years. But he’s also struggled to stay healthy at times. Let’s hope that isn’t a trend.
The main difference between Bryant and Okwuegbunam is the archetype of tight end that they compare to. Okwuegbunam is the big tight end of old. Bryant profiles more like the modern move tight ends like Jordan Reed, Mark Andrews, and even perhaps Hunter Henry. If Bryant can eclipse the always important 4.7-second barrier for tight ends in the forty, expect him to be a lock for top-50 draft capital.
And that’s all for now! If you missed them, check out players ranked No 61. to 80 here, and players No. 81 to 100 here! And look for the next installment of the Top 100 Rookies Series here soon! Find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM if you have any questions. And keep living that Dynasty Life!