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Andy Richardson

Rookie Draft Recap

From Marvin to a 49er Mr. Irrelevant

My main dynasty league held its annual rookie draft over the weekend. Always one of the best parts of the season, as those of us who have hung onto our picks unwrap our shiny new presents for the upcoming season. There were picks both predictable, and surprising.

This is a 12-team league, PPR scoring, which starts 1 quarterback, and it's TE-premium (tight ends get a point and a half per reception). We started this league (gasp) 17 years ago: the top 3 picks in the rookie draft back in 2007 were Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. That was a good year.

We go three rounds, choosing 36 rookies, and then after a week to let the dust settle, we continue to add players from free agency (as 26-player rosters allow). Here's how it went down.

1.01 Marvin Harrison, Ariz.
1.02 Malik Nabers, NYG
1.03 Brock Bowers, L.V.
1.04 Rome Odunze, Chi.

Not much to say that we haven't been saying in recent weeks about these guys. The TE-premium nature, and the team that picked him conceding that he really liked the player, resulted in Bowers being selected ahead of Odunze, which probably won't happen very often. Especially given Bowers' less than ideal landing spot. As I've said, I think it's fine; he should be the main receiving threat over Michael Mayer. But imagine if Bowers had been selected by, I don't know, the Rams? That would have been even better. Anyway, the three wideouts will be the top 3 picks in most non-Superflex leagues, with Bowers probably going around here too.

1.05 Caleb Williams, Chi.
1.06 Brian Thomas, Jac.
1.07 Xavier Worthy, K.C.
1.08 Jonathon Brooks, Car.

Williams was the first surprise. In Superflex, he's generally the No. 2 overall pick, but in 1-QB, I think he'll probably go closer to the end of the first round more often than not. Most dynasty teams have at least one good or great NFL starter (some have two), and you're just not going to pass up elite-seeming options at RB and WR for a QB in this league. That said, the team that selected him had only Justin Fields and Sam Howell at quarterback, which seemed fine a year ago but not so much today. Drafting the top quarterback is entirely reasonable given that roster situation.

Thomas and Worthy going in the next two picks was expected. Both are fast and talented and hugely productive in college and got sweet landing spots where they should be the 1 or 2 wide receiver pretty quickly. To my mind, they're not so much better than the other wide receivers that went in the next dozen picks of the draft I had to have either, so I was happy to sit at 1.08 and take my No. 1 rookie running back (dynasty, not redraft) in Brooks. Maybe redraft too, but let's see how his knee (tore his ACL last November) is doing in August. Most likely, it will be 2025 before he gets a full workload, and that's OK; he's 20 years old. I can wait, and just hope Carolina is able to maximize his talent and feature him.

1.09 Keon Coleman, Buf.
1.10 Ladd McConkey, LAC
1.11 Xavier Legette, Car.
1.12 Trey Benson, Ariz.

We've entered the late-first, early-second round wide receiver point of the draft. I think everyone has their favorites, perhaps just like the NFL teams did. I picked Legette at 1.11, despite not being overly confident in his quarterback. I tried to trade back a couple of spots for an extra pick, figuring I'd still get him, but wasn't successful. His only one year of college production doesn't bother me; I watched him play a ton at South Carolina last year (my son goes there) and he was Mossing people all season long. If Bryce Young can't play, they'll get someone else in who can. Coleman and McConkey both possible No. 1s in Buffalo and LA. Benson is the other running back, with Brooks, I would have considered this early. Both guys have three-down, workhorse potential, by 2025 if not this season.

2.01 Ricky Pearsall, S.F.
2.02 Jayden Daniels, Was.
2.03 Blake Corum, LAR
2.04 MarShawn Lloyd, G.B.
2.05 Adonai Mitchell, Ind.
2.06 Ray Davis, Buf.
2.07 Jaylen Wright, Mia.
2.08 Audric Estime, Den.

Pearsall the last of the first-round wideouts and will probably go around here most drafts. Daniels went about where quarterbacks usually go in these 1-QB leagues. I like Corum fine but think some of the hype is too much. Last night I got Kyren at 2.10 in a draft which I can only assume is because people are worried about the rookie. Not me. Lloyd makes sense as the 3rd running back, even more when you consider he went to the team that has Josh Jacobs. Mitchell has a lot of competition in Indy but it's an ascending offense, I think. Davis should be a bigger complement to James Cook in Buffalo right away. Wright has a lot of competition in Miami but Mostert (old) and Achane (small and might get hurt) are the only guys really in his way.

Estime was the biggest reach of the draft and I can say that without hurting anyone's feelings because I'm the one who took him. Again, I tried to trade back unsuccessfully for an extra pick before just taking him. I was looking at him or one of a trio of wideouts I had graded similarly, and decided one of them would definitely be available at my next pick (he was). I love Estime's tape, I like his story, and I like the potential for him to be Sean Payton's big back ala Chris Ivory, Tim Hightower, Latavius Murray. (I also have Javonte Williams, though that was a minor factor.) In retrospect, I should have just taken the WR I wanted and Estime in the third, but it worked out so whatever.

2.09 Ben Sinnott, Was.
2.10 Jermaine Burton, Cin.
2.11 Ja'Lynn Polk, N.E.
2.12 Drake Maye, N.E.

Sinnott makes sense as the 2nd tight end drafted (as he was in the NFL) in this TE-premium league. I'm a little leery of Washington in general, but not sure who I am to talk having dipped into Carolina with my top 2 picks. Cincinnati doesn't tend to give wide receivers second contracts so Burton could be Joe Burrow's No. 2 fairly quickly. Polk was really productive at Washington but the crowded nature of New England's receiver depth chart and the possibility New England's fourth-rounder is better scared some people away I suspect. And their rookie quarterback, who was selected next (and who I'm kind of lukewarm on).

3.01 Troy Franklin, Den.
3.02 Tyrone Tracy, NYG
3.03 Ja'Tavion Sanders, Car.
3.04 Malachi Corley, NYJ
3.05 Roman Wilson, Pit.

Franklin, Coley and Wilson were the three wideouts I was considering with my last pick, so I was happy to get Wilson at 3.5. Franklin was popularly mocked as at least a second-rounder, he's on the thin side and no one gets excited about having a deep threat in Sean Payton's offense. I drafted Marvin Mims last year, so I definitely wasn't going there. Corley has the running back build that I'm a sucker for, though I've chased a lot of Percy Harvin types without success in recent years. Sanders could be an immediate starter at tight end and friend to Bryce Young (I'm a little invested in Carolina's offense already). As for Wilson, I like his situation as the potential No. 2 in Pittsburgh, and I like what he did for Michigan last year (his 12 TDs were half the team's total). Purdue 5th-rounder Tracy has some potential behind one of the league's least compelling starting running backs, Devin Singletary (I have the other candidate, Eric Gray, rostered).

3.06 Javon Baker, N.E.
3.07 Bucky Irving, T.B.
3.08 Jalen McMillan, T.B.
3.09 J.J. McCarthy, Min.

Baker has some attitude and a chip on his shoulder, gotta love that in a receiver room with no clear alpha. Irving is smaller than I'm ever gonna draft at running back, but should be Tampa's No. 2 and was really productive at Oregon, maybe I'm underestimating him. McMillan could be Tampa Bay's No. 3 right away, and the top 2 are either old or injury-inclined. I think I like McCarthy more than Maye, mostly because of the superior offensive talent around him.

3.10 Kimani Vidal, LAC
3.11 Braelon Allen, NYJ
3.12 Isaac Guerendo, S.F.

Tried to trade back into the bottom of the third round, and if I succeeded I might have taken Vidal. We talked about him some here last week, though the hype is a little crazy. The Chargers drafted six players before him including a pair of 5th-round defensive backs, they couldn't have been that enamored of him. Potential as an eventual starter, but he's got some veterans to get past. Allen is a decent flier, could be the No. 2 for the Jets. Guerendo I like a lot more as a prospect, and love the potential in San Francisco's offense. But just a hold for a couple of years behind Christian McCaffrey, and no guarantee Guerendo (see what I did there) is even the No. 2 this season. San Francisco plucked a pretty nice Mr. Irrelevant in Brock Purdy, so maybe this team will too in Guerendo.

So that's the draft; feel free to praise or rip or question as you wish, and I'll try to provide answers. A final note is that this is a friendly league with no money involved, yes they still exist. That factors into some selections, like a Bears fan taking a quarterback or me taking a South Carolina player. But (aside from maybe my Estime pick) I think this is pretty representative of how a lot of 1-QB rookie drafts will go.

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