Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Well, it sure has been a while since I put one of these out. I’ve been watching film pretty consistently for the last two months which has allowed me to iron out some of my projections for the 2020 rookie class. There has been a ton of variance from the 2.0 (which can be found here), so stay with me as I explain why. Let’s do it.
(Image from NFL.com)
Joe Burrow, LSU – this hasn’t and will not change in the near future. Joe Burrow’s historic season was remarkable, but his arm talent and ability to make difficult throws into tight windows is what really separates him. He is incredibly accurate, and while I have my reservations about his long-term success (I mean, he was quite frankly only good for one year), I think Cincinnati has enough weapons around him to be fantasy relevant in 2020.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama – without injury and the lost opportunity to compete against Burrow as college football’s best, Tua would very likely be the consensus #1 overall pick in the draft in a few weeks. Tua’s sustained success and gradual improvement indicate that he will only continue to improve. Can he stay healthy? I’m not sure. But for now, his hip and ankle look great, and if he’s able to play in 2020, he will be fun to watch.
Jordan Love, Utah State – numbers 3 through 5 are very dependent on situation and opportunity. A guy like Nate Stanley may see the field before Jordan Love and thus, be more fantasy relevant. But in terms of talent and where you should draft them in rookie drafts, Jordan Love has to land here. His arm talent, ability to improvise, and 2018 film screams “QB3.” His 2019 film, decision-making, and putting too much trust in his arm screams “Don’t play this man in 2020.” I love Love and think he will be successful in the right situation. Maybe that truly is in 2020.
Justin Herbert, Oregon – it’s actually pretty crazy how close 4 and 5 are for me. I think of all the QBs, Justin Herbert has the most boom-or-bust nature. Right now, I have issues with his mechanics, his decision-making, and just his overall inaccuracy. I also think he has a cannon attached to his torso, he’s athletic, and he could very well turn into a poor man’s Josh Allen as soon as 2020. Unfortunately, that isn’t a great endorsement. I hope the best for Herbert, but definitely have some pause around drafting him in fantasy.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma – well, this is new. Jalen Hurts has been my biggest riser throughout this process. The issues I had surrounded accuracy, mechanics, and his processing ability. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any more regarding the latter of the three. However, he has clearly tweaked his mechanics in a positive way, as he looked sharp at the NFL Combine. I have made the comparison between Hurts and Russell Wilson, and while that is probably unfair to Hurts, I definitely think that’s in the realm of possibility.
First Four Out: Jacob Eason, Washington; Jake Fromm, Georgia; Cole McDonald, Hawai’i; Anthony Gordon, Washington State.
(Image from Broncos Wire)
JK Dobbins, Ohio State – I know how unpopular this is. I understand that JK has his limitations. But so did Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke didn’t catch passes during his college career, and he was drafted in the top-five. I think JK actually has the better receiving profile, as well. And while him and Zeke Elliott are slightly different, the one-cut ability of JK and elite vision put him atop my rankings. Sue me.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin – this feels a little weird to me. A running back without good hands is typically something I’d shy away from in fantasy. Maybe it’s my newfound love for Derrick Henry or maybe it’s simply the fact that Taylor did improve his receiving ability in 2019, but I do think Taylor is going to be great. He’s already been a workhorse in one of the best college football conferences in the world. Why can’t he go be a three-down back in the NFL? Spoiler: I think he can.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia – what’s crazy is Swift didn’t really do anything wrong. Sure, he 40-yard dash was a bit disappointing, in my opinion. But I think the thing that drops him to RB3 is my concern about his ability to stay on the field. Not necessarily due to injury, but due to a likely RBBC. If I’m being honest, I think if Swift and Taylor went to the same team, they’d immediately be the best RB duo in the league. Swift could eat up all the targets and Taylor could be the goal line back. Win-win. But this won’t happen, and I’m concerned that Swift will be limited in 2020, in a way that Miles Sanders was prior to Jordan Howard’s injury.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU – this bowling ball of a man is also incredibly refined as a receiver. In the right situation, he is RB1 in fantasy. And once the NFL Draft concludes, these rankings may reflect that. But for now, I have to assume he gets an Austin Ekeler type of role, but not the 2019 version. I don’t think he will disappoint, but I’d rather be cautious for now, despite my belief in his workhorse-ability.
Cam Akers, FSU – Akers has his issues. People tend to give him a pass because his offensive line was bad, but fail to acknowledge his flaws – poor vision, speed without quickness, and less than ideal hands. What I do know is that I’d like to at least invest in the potential that Akers will correct those flaws, because his sheer athleticism is exciting.
First Four Out: Josh Kelley, UCLA; Antonio Gibson, Memphis; Zack Moss, Utah; Eno Benjamin, Arizona State.
(Image from Fox News)
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma – here’s where I’ve changed since late-January. I think the comps of OBJ for Jeudy and Hopkins for Lamb are pretty spot on. I also think that I’d rather have DeAndre Hopkins than Odell (though, apparently Bill O’Brien would disagree). Lamb’s route running is not as refined as Jeudy’s, but his patience to create space and RAC-ability put him here. I think Lamb is an immediate WR2 in 2020.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama – there’s nothing wrong with Jerry Jeudy. In fact, I think he will also be a WR2 in 2020. The video of him putting a corner in the spin cycle is simply spectacular. His blind spot working is elite. There are plenty of great NFL WRs who could not run that route. Draft him high in your rookie drafts, folks.
Henry Ruggs, Alabama – speed kills – Ruggs will probably be drafted ahead of one or both of the aforementioned guys. I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion, either. I think Ruggs is more Tyreek Hill than John Ross, and if that’s the case, more power to the NFL team that decides they want him. I think Ruggs has good hands and his speed will give him the diversity he needs to stay on the field and contribute to your fantasy team.
Justin Jefferson, LSU – there’s a world in which Justin Jefferson is my WR3 in this draft. What’s crazy is I could very well see him finishing as the top rookie receiver in fantasy. The diverse way in which he wins mixed with his pretty shocking 40-yard dash time at the Combine makes me think I could be too low on him. But when there are four great receivers in the same draft, not much separates them. I truly don’t believe you can go wrong with any of these guys.
Denzel Mims, Baylor – I hadn’t concluded my film watching for Mims prior to my last rankings article. I may not have even started, because what I saw was spectacular. I believe heading into the Combine, Mims was my WR8. And then he just dominated, reinforcing some of the traits I saw on tape. I think Mims could have DK Metcalf/Deebo Samuel level relevance in 2020, and I wish I had a late first/early second to snag him to my dynasty team.
First Four Out: Jalen Reagor, TCU; Devin Duvernay, Texas; Laviska Shenault, Colorado; Tee Higgins, Clemson.
(Image from Daily Herald)
Cole Kmet, Notre Dame – have I cooled on Kmet lately? Sure. Do I still think he’s the best tight end in this class? Sure. I don’t feel like any of these tight ends will be terribly useful in 2020 for fantasy football, so I’m just cutting my list down to three.
Adam Trautman, Dayton – if anyone will contribute in 2020, it may be Trautman. The concerns include: level of competition, strength (which impacts playing time), and hands. The upside is George Kittle, though. I’d take George Kittle.
Brycen Hopkins, Purdue – Hopkins reminds me a lot of Evan Engram. But his hands remind me a lot of David Njoku, and that scares me. Would I take a flier on him late in a rookie draft? Yeah, sure. Would I draft him higher than the fifth? No. Definitely not.
First Four Out: Hunter Bryant, Washington; Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri; Harrison Bryant, FAU; Thad Moss, LSU.
Do you agree? Disagree? Who am I sleeping on? Let me know. If you’re wanting to keep it anonymous, shoot us an email at email@example.com. If not, DM us @TheCutFFL on Twitter. And, as always, check out the latest episode of the podcast (it’s a mock draft and quite a fun one).
Until next time.