Welcome to the third installment of my Rookie Mock series for 2021! This will be my last mock before the draft, but there will be a final “Rookie Mock 4.0” shortly after the draft when we finally see each player’s landing spot and draft capital.
If you have been following this series, I previously stated that my plan was for this installment to be in video form. I apologize that I was not able to make that happen. Life comes at you fast, and mine changed in a big way shortly after publishing my previous mock in January.
To spare the details, a lot of great non-football-related things have been happening for me since then, and the football YouTube channel I had planned fell on the backburner. For now, it is unclear when (or if) work will resume on that project, but I am still actively following the offseason draft coverage.
As usual, this will be a five-round mock for a superflex, PPR league, but this time I will be providing an additional round’s worth of “undrafted” players to keep an eye on. Also, as usual, the first two rounds will come with individual player analysis and the final ones will come with a summary highlighting a few players within that tier.
Let’s get it.
1.01 – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (QB1)
Am I the only one who feels that Lawrence has looked like the exact same QB since his freshman year? Like, as in little growth? The #1 QB drafted is rarely the best in class. I am also skeptical that Lawrence will be the level of magnificent that everyone expects him to be in the NFL. At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist otherwise, he remains QB1 for me.
1.02 – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU (QB2)
That said, my gut tells me Wilson will end up a better QB than Lawrence. Am I bored as hell with the “Lawrence is a generational talent” narrative? Damn right I am. Is that comment an act of rebellion against the status quo? That’s a “yes.” But ponder this: if you have 1.01, why not trade it for 1.02 (or 1.03) plus whatever else you can get on top of it? Just a thought.
1.03 – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (QB3)
I think Lance will land in San Francisco, where he, in two or three years time, will challenge Patrick Mahomes as the dynasty QB1. So, why isn’t he QB1? Same reason Mahomes wasn’t QB1 in his class. He had the most arm talent and upside, but had massive bust potential. Fingers crossed for the right landing spot. You’ll be able to get him later than 1.03 either way.
1.04 – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (QB4)
I caught some flack for ranking Fields QB4 in my last mock. Sorry (not sorry), that hasn’t changed. If you don’t like it, and you think Fields is better than Wilson and/or Lance, don’t take my advice. This is a mock written by a hobbyist scout, not some holy text written by some shadowy figure seeking to control your teams. It’s your squad, draft your guys.
1.05 – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama (RB1)
If you are set at QB but need help at RB, I have zero qualms about snagging Harris higher than this. Call me crazy to suggest this, but, out of this entire class, Harris could very well be the highest dynasty startup pick in 2022. For reference, think Jonathan Taylor (not a player comp, just a draft stock comp). This will be the cheapest you’ll ever get Harris.
1.06 – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (TE1)
This is not a mock for a TE-premium league. Pitts is a tight end in designation only, anyway. He’s a mismatch for virtually every defender who will be tasked with covering him and is a chess piece who will be moved all over the formation to take advantage of the most opportunistic mismatches. Think prime Jimmy Graham in those New Orleans days.
1.07 – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (RB2)
It feels like Etienne has been around for the last decade. There is not much to say about him that has not been said. His pro day confirmed what we already knew – he’s fast and has good size for the position. He’s, in my opinion, the best pure runner in this class, and in the right situation, will produce at a borderline RB1 level throughout his rookie contract.
1.08 – Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina (RB3)
I’ve been hearing some chatter that Williams is the top running back in this class. Let’s lay off the glue, people. Williams is a badass, undoubtedly one of the best runners coming out this year, but he’s no Harris, and he’s a tossup with Etienne. He runs pissed off, though, and is effective in all facets of the position. I like his fantasy upside; he feels like a perennial RB2.
1.09 – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (WR1a)
Before flipping your collective tops and vigorously scrolling to the comments section to “reeeeee” me into next season for ranking Smitty ahead of Ja’Marr Chase (again), take a glance at the 1a, 1b, 1c designation given to the next three guys on this list. Call me indecisive or lazy, I don’t care. It’s free content. Keep reading for some rookie draft strategy.
1.10 – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (WR1b)
Note that these receivers are ordered alphabetically by first name. In my opinion, the three guys in “Tier 1” are too close to make a definitive call as to who is actually the best, so take this idea for a spin: if you’re looking for a WR in this range, why not trade back a couple spots to collect another pick or player, then draft who is left? Sure you’ll miss out on Chase, but…
1.11 – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (WR1c)
You might end up with Waddle. This dude is what everyone who never watched a Bama game thought Henry Ruggs would be. Legit 4.2-something speed and a good football player. He has the talent to be the next Tyreek Hill, and I’m not exaggerating. But while everyone debates whether Smitty or Chase is better, Waddle is being relatively forgotten.
1.12 – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama (QB5)
There’s a good chance Jones ends up being a better real life QB than at least one of the guys drafted ahead of him on this list. But, this is fantasy, and Jones offers nothing as a runner, so he’s entirely dependent on passing stats to help you win. This lower ceiling diminishes his dynasty value, but a QB drafted to start cannot fall out of the 1st round of your rookie drafts.
2.01 – Kenny Gainwell, RB, Memphis (RB4)
As one of my personal favorite players in this class, I’m targeting Gainwell and his Austin Ekeler-like upside in the 2nd everywhere I can. Keep in mind this is the dude who kept Antonio Gibson on the sideline at Memphis.
2.02 – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (WR4)
With the Smitty-Chase debate raging on, don’t forget how good Bateman is. In any normal draft class, he would be a surefire 1st round selection in dynasty rookie drafts everywhere. This is a potential WR1 at a serious discount. Be sure to capitalize.
2.03 – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State (TE2)
This might seem a little high for a TE who isn’t Kyle Pitts, but “Baby Gronk” enters the NFL as a top 12 dynasty tight end with the upside to crack the top 5. That consistent TE1 is going to be worth more to your roster than the WRs coming up.
2.04 – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU (WR5)
We kick off a run on receivers with Marshall. I said in my previous installment of this series that he would be a top 3 receiver prospect in a normal draft class. If any of the receivers in the WR5-11 group have a chance of becoming a WR1, it’s Marshall.
2.05 – Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC (WR6)
St. Brown is quite a polarizing prospect. Some think he’s a top 5 receiver in this class, others think he’s well outside the top 10. Personally, I’m a huge fan, but his real life draft capital will largely dictate where you can expect to find him in rookie drafts. For now, mid-2nd feels safe.
2.06 – Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina (WR7)
The more I learn about Brown, the more I like him. He really pops on film and had a productive career as Sam Howell’s favorite target. The hype is heating up on Brown, but you’ll be able to get him at a relative discount to how good he’ll be. This will be a good value pick.
2.07 – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (WR8)
After putting up one of the most impressive freshman seasons of all time, Moore has dealt with some injuries and failed to replicate that level of production. He’s very undersized at 5-7 but is a superior athlete. If any 5-7 receiver can succeed, it’s Moore, but his stock is down.
2.08 – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss (WR9)
I’m starting to buy-in to the growing hype on this guy. In fact, I’m having a difficult time ranking him below a certain other Moore in this class. He will be strictly a slot guy in the NFL, but a good one. In PPR leagues, he will be a coveted asset.
2.09 – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida (WR10)
As a one-year wonder with negligible production before his senior season, I am a skeptic of Toney’s. His athleticism is undeniable and his potential is high, but where was he before 2020? It’s not like Florida has been a wide receiver factory in recent memory.
2.10 – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State (WR11)
There is nothing sexy about this pick. Wallace is a safe selection. His floor is high but it feels like that high floor puts him pretty much at his ceiling. He’s a solid WR3 type waiting to happen. You could do a lot worse at the end of the 2nd round though.
2.11 – Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina (RB5)
That was a long run on receivers. A real rookie draft will not play out that way, and if you’re in need of a running back in that range, you might want to consider Carter. He isn’t the biggest or most athletic back but the dude can flat-out play. He will be a quality NFL player.
2.12 – Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M (QB6)
I am putting Mond here at the end of the 2nd as a placeholder. If he gets 1st or 2nd round NFL draft capital, I’m grabbing him in this round. If he falls in the draft, his rookie draft stock will also fall. But Mond has the tools to start and just needs that opportunity.
3.01 – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida (QB7)
3.02 – Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State (RB6)
3.03 – Seth Williams, WR, Auburn (WR12)
3.04 – Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana (RB7)
3.05 – Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (TE3)
3.06 – Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State (RB8)
3.07 – Demetric Felton, RB, UCLA (RB9)
3.08 – Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas (WR13)
3.09 – Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson (WR14)
3.10 – Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State (RB10)
3.11 – Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma (RB11)
3.12 – Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State (WR15)
In summary: I took another look at Hill and came away impressed. This class of running backs isn’t that good but he has a shot to be something. Bullish on Mitchell, too. He’s a small school prospect and somewhat unknown but he’s got good tape and production, not to mention quality testing numbers. You will most likely be able get him significantly later than 3.04. I like his chances to make some kind of impact. Sermon is someone you will not be able to get at a value. If I need to spend a 2nd, I’m out on him. Also waking up to Darden, who is another well-kept secret in this class. He has gone from the mid-20s in my receiver rankings to lucky 13. Interested to see where he’s drafted and what his path to playing time looks like. I’m not a fan of Hubbard but it’s hard to rank a former 2000-yard rusher outside the top 10 in a weak running backs class. He will likely be gone before 3.10, which means I will have zero shares.
4.01 – Jonathan Adams, WR, Arkansas State (WR16)
4.02 – Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State (RB12)
4.03 – James Patterson, RB, Buffalo (RB13)
4.04 – Davis Mills, QB, Stanford (QB8)
4.05 – Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest (QB9)
4.06 – Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech (RB14)
4.07 – Chris Evans, RB, Michigan (RB15)
4.08 – Hunter Long, TE, Boston College (TE4)
4.09 – Marlon Williams, WR, UCF (WR17)
4.10 – Dax Milne, WR, BYU (WR18)
4.11 – Rakeem Boyd, RB, Arkansas (RB16)
4.12 – Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest (WR19)
In summary: I really like Adams in this range. He has that prototypical “X” receiver build and really stands out on film. Will the NFL agree? Real life draft capital will largely determine his rookie draft value. Low on Jefferson and Patterson from where I had them previously. They have solid tape but feel like committee backs at best and likely won’t be featured in a regular rotation. Patterson is undersized and not athletic enough to compensate for his lack of size. Feels like Devin Singletary all over again. Jefferson isn’t a very good athlete either and feels like a DeeJay Dallas or Joshua Kelley level prospect. Mills and Newman have as much of a chance to start as Jacob Eason. Don’t buy whatever hype is around them. Williams and Milne are nice dart throws at receiver in this range, too. They aren’t the best athletes but Williams is like a running back after the catch and Milne is good in contested situations. Worth a stash.
5.01 – Matt Bushman, TE, BYU (TE5)
5.02 – D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan (WR20)
5.03 – Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa (WR21)
5.04 – Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville (RB17)
5.05 – Jah-Maine Martin, RB, North Carolina A&T (RB18)
5.06 – Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri (RB19)
5.07 – Josh Johnson, Louisiana-Monroe (RB20)
5.08 – Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (QB10)
5.09 – Trevon Grimes, WR, Florida (WR22)
5.10 – Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn (WR23)
5.11 – Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina (WR24)
5.12 – Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss (TE6)
In summary: If he’s there in the 5th, I’m getting all the Bushman shares I can. He looks like a quality TE in the making. Eskridge and Smith-Marsette are alright but I’m not paying more than a 5th for them regardless of their real life draft capital. Hawkins, Martin, Rountree, and Johnson are some semi-interesting RB prospects that would be nice flyers if they are available here. No clue what to do with Ehlinger. He will get drafted but his fate is likely as an NFL backup. However, he is a guy who, if forced to start, will provide some rushing upside. That’s good for fantasy. Schwartz will be drafted pretty highly for his mid-4.2s speed. He’s scary fast but not really a good football player. Someone will waste a 3rd rounder on him, so good luck getting him in the 5th. I prefer Grimes in this range. He’s not quite the athlete Schwartz is but has great size at receiver and might have some value as a redzone target.
Notable “Undrafted” Guys
– Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame (QB11)
– Peyton Ramsey, QB, Northwestern (QB12)
– Brenden Knox, RB, Marshall (RB21)
– Trey Ragas, RB, Louisiana (RB22)
– Jhamon Ausbon, WR, Texas A&M (WR25)
– Nico Collins, WR, Michigan (WR26)
– Damonte Coxie, WR, Memphis (WR27)
– Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee (WR28)
– Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson (WR29)
– Racey McMath, WR, LSU (WR30)
– Kylen Granson, TE, SMU (TE7)
– Quintin Morris, TE, Bowling Green State (TE8)
In summary: There is a particular “big name” receiver prospect missing from this mock. That is intentional, not an oversight. I don’t care how much hype Tutu Atwell gets in NFL circles, he’s lower than WR30 in my rankings, thus, not listed. The rest of these guys are the definition of dart throws. Maybe one of these names will hold any fantasy relevance for more than a random “miniboom” week, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on it. For what it’s worth, I like Granson and Knox as stashes, and I’ve read that Ausbon might get surprisingly high NFL draft capital, and Collins is an impressive physical specimen, so those are some names to keep an eye on. Aside from that, these guys are “undrafted” for a reason.
If you want to compare this mock to the previous two editions, those can be found below:
Thanks for reading!