By Matt Rudzik
I love previews. I love previews so much that normally when we go to the movies I tell my wife, aka the queen of lateness, it starts about 30 minutes earlier than it really does. This way when we walk in 10 minutes late, I still got twenty minutes to go to the bathroom and hit up the concession stand before the previews start. It’s all about the previews, baby.
Something about seeing something first or trying something for free it just resonates with me. It’s like that damn Triscuits sample lady at Wal-Mart. I never have any intentions of buying Triscuits when I go to the store, but all it takes is one sweet little old lady placing cheese on a Triscuit and I’m done for. “Which way to the damn Triscuits aisle please?”
Even though both are equally awesome, this preview isn’t about movies or Triscuits. It won’t have any awesome voice over guys. It won’t ruin all the funny parts of that comedy you’ve been dying to see. And no, it won’t have a sweet little old lady hocking whole grain wheat crackers. What it will preview is the 2016 NFL Draft, which mind you is only nine days away. Let me rephrase that. The NFL Draft is only nine days away!!
For fantasy players, the NFL Draft is a crucial part of our off-season prep work. We know these future rookies equal one thing when it comes to our fantasy squads and that’s value. It’s very rare a rookie is taken in the first two to three rounds of a fantasy draft. And while it’s not always the case, it’s very possible a rookie or two or three finishes as a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd round player by seasons end. It’s that type of upside that makes it crucial we know these incoming rookies strengths and weaknesses, so we can evaluate and target the ones that’ll make the greatest impacts on our fantasy squads.
Now I know its way to early to breakdown most of these guys fantasy values for next season. Hell they don’t even have teams yet. Which is why this is just a preview. It’s a preview of the upcoming draft, and some of the top names to keep an eye on. Before we get started, I must point out that I’m not the biggest college football guy. So when it comes to studying college players I tend to trust the experts, and in my opinion there’s no one better than the guys over at walterfootball.com. They have a huge mock draft database, extensive scouting reports, big boards, draft rumors, and so much more. With new posts daily, they’re seriously a one stop shop for everything NFL Draft. If you haven’t checked them out before, I strongly suggest you do. With that being said let the previews begin.
The two names you need to know this year are North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz and California’s Jared Goff. When the L.A. Rams sold the farm this off-season and traded up for the rights to pick first in this year’s draft, it was obvious it was to choose one of these two quarterbacks. According to walterfootball.com and their sources it appears Wentz is their guy. Here’s what we know about Wentz, he’s 6’5” 233lbs, he’s got a NFL size frame, big arm, good pocket presence, played in a pro-style offense, and called plays from the huddle. The biggest gripe about him was his competition. He didn’t face to much NFL caliber talent while playing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and some scouts fear the speed of the game will be to much for him. I’m no NFL scout, but this kid has all the measurables, and he’ll have plenty of time to adjust to the speed of the NFL while he hands the ball off to Todd Gurley 30 times a game. One luxury I’m sure he didn’t have while playing at NDSU.
Walterfootball’s Player Comparison for Carson Wentz: Blake Bortles; Mock Draft: Pick 1 – LA Rams
Walterfootball’s Player Comparison for Jared Goff: Matt Ryan; Mock Draft: Pick 2 – Cleveland Browns
Goff is a very polished passer. He can make all the NFL throws, is extremely accurate, and has great touch and vision which leads to a very catchable ball. He stands 6’4” tall, but needs to fill out more as he’s only around 215lbs. In addition to his thin frame, another concern of many pro scouts is his hand size. At nine inches, according to walterfootball.com, his hands are smaller than any of the quarterbacks who were drafted in the first round over the past couple of years (Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel). Goff seems like more of a developmental prospect to me. He shows good mobility and footwork within the pocket, but his mechanics tend to be affected by the pass rush.
With work horse backs becoming a rarity in the NFL, every year fantasy players salivate over RB rookie classes in hopes that a new star will emerge leading our teams to fantasy championships. This year is no different and this year the one player we’ll all be keeping our eye on is Ezekiel Elliot. The former Buckeye is 5’11” 225lbs. He ran a 4.47 40. He has quick feet, great vision, tremendous balance, and he burst through the hole quickly. He is NFL ready, and could be a three down contributor for the team that drafts him as he’s a good blocker and pass catcher too. He’s only issues, seem to be off the field concerns, as it was rumored he was quite the partier at Ohio State and it’s been reported he has a strong personality that could rub people the wrong way.
Walterfootball’s Player Comparison for Ezekiel Elliot: Le’Veon Bell; Mock Draft: Pick 8 – Philadelphia Eagles
Other notable RB’s to watch for: Derrick Henry, Alabama – Devontae Booker, Utah – C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame
This receiver class doesn’t compare with the last two years, and it doesn’t appear there’s going to be a true number one option that comes out of it. The two most notable guys here are Will Fuller out of Notre Dame and Laquon Treadwill of Ole Miss. Treadwill seems to be the consensus first receiver off the board, but he doesn’t have the speed to be a true number one threat, more of a possession/red zone threat, as he had trouble separately from NFL caliber cornerbacks in college. On the flip side, Fuller is all speed. A true down the field homerun hitting type of threat but with inconsistent hands.
Walterfootball’s Player Comparison for Laquon Treadwill: Kenny Britt; Mock Draft: Pick 23 – Minnesota Vikings
Walterfootball’s Player Comparison for Will Fuller: Tedd Ginn; Mock Draft: Pick 22 – Houston Texans
Other notable WR’s to watch for in the 2016 Draft: Corey Coleman, Baylor - Josh Doctson, TCU – Tyler Boyd, Pitt
For fantasy purposes, I strongly urge you never to invest in a rookie tight end, they’re far to busy learning blocking assignments and adjusting to NFL schemes and route trees to be valuable in fantasy. Most don’t become relevant for at least a year or two.
Bonus Player: Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
Tunsil is a franchise left tackle waiting to be drafted. He’s 6’5” 310lbs. He’s great in pass protection and the ground game. He’s a freak athlete, with exceptional footwork, knee bend, and quickness. He can fit into any offensive scheme, but he’s a perfect match for a zone blocking system. Whatever team he get’s drafted by take note of, because that quarterback will have more time in the pocket and their running back will have larger holes to run through, making each more valuable.
Walterfootball’s Player Comparison for Laremy Tunsil: Tyron Smith; Mock Draft: Pick 3 – San Diego Chargers
With that my friends I’m afraid the previews are over. On to the feature attraction, the 2016 NFL Draft. It’s just a mere nine days away, so grab your Triscuits, an adult beverage of your choosing and sit back and enjoy the show. Just remember to be on the lookout for my next write up, where I’ll be breaking down the draft and pointing out what players could be potential steals this upcoming fantasy season. You never know, that one player could be your key to winning the FFE National Championship and our $25,000 grand prize.
For more NFL Draft coverage be sure to visit our friends at: www.walterfootball.com