Folks, we are a little over 1 month away from the 2021 Draft, and the hype train is slowly building up. Like you, I’m looking ahead with great anticipation to the Draft and a summer of freedom after I get my vaccines.
Before the 2020 season started, I did a mildly popular Rookie Stock Watch with weekly updates throughout the entire season and a final report last month. The 2020 class was truly special but our work continues. We’re now looking ahead to the 2021 class. This first post will be to attempt to establish a bit of a baseline for where I feel the players stand while their draft capital is speculative and their landing spot is completely unknown (except for Trevor Lawrence, who we can assume is 1.01 and a Jaguar).
Because this list doesn’t have a prior rankings, I won’t have “risers and fallers” but merely guys I am “higher than consensus” on and “lower than consensus” on. I want to establish a few things here on how I’m doing this:
My ratings are based on a 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, and 1 flex (RB/WR/TE). Naturally slide the QB way up in SF/2QB leagues. Slide TE up in value if your league is TE premium or 2 TE. Slide TE and QB down if your league uses extra flex positions while still having only 1 mandatory QB and 1 mandatory TE.
When I try to determine my rankings while landing spot and draft capital agnostic, its going to be heavily based on gut, grades, and guys I trust. The 3 Gs for me. I am **not** a film guy, so I trust scouting grades a lot more than my own eyes.
I **do** try to make general guesses where a player will be drafted, because this initial list is based on if I had to do a rookie draft before the NFL draft. By the way, I definitely don’t recommend that, but I sort of wish I was in ONE league that did it that way – it would make the NFL draft **so much more nerve-wracking!**
This list will have a MAJOR overhaul as soon as the draft happens. Because draft cap and landing spots matter (the former far more than the latter, but both matter) and they should absolutely be part of your process as well.
Like Matthew Berry has said – just because a guy is on my low list doesn’t mean I like them less than a guy on my high list. This is just my evaluation of their value relative to where the consensus appears to rate the players. These rankings are an attempt to really lock in where I draft the player if I had to pick as part of a draft **today**.
With that out of the way, let’s dive in!
Brevin Jordan. The Miami TE is a young guy with a ton of potential. I think he’s presently falling into the 3rd round of drafts and I’m all in on this guy as a mid-2nd pick. This of course assumes he’s one of the first 3 TE off the board. It’s possible that doesn’t happen, but at his price, Jordan has a lot of upside potential. I strongly advocate either getting him in the mid/late 2nd and holding, or watching for a buy low window if someone else snags him there.
Javonte Williams. Much younger than the 2 guys who will be taken above him, Javonte is a guy who might be available for you at 1.05 or 1.06. Considering his age and profile, I really love that value. Count me in! He’ll need to have 2nd round cap or better for me to stay THIS in on him, preferably as a top 50 pick guy.
Trevor Lawrence. Because we know he’s going to be the 1.01, he’s a much safer pick than some of the WRs you’d be taking ahead of him in 1QB. If I’m picking between the league’s 1.01 and a WR that might not go until the 2nd round, I’m going to be tempted to take the safe move here.
Rashod Bateman. Following this guy as a prospect, he’s been one of the big 3-4 WRs to watch for this class for years. We haven’t been able to see as much of him as I’d like, but I really think he’s going to go in the 1st, and as long as that happens, he’s probably my WR3 of the class, with the 2nd best upside behind Chase.
Rondale Moore. This one is really a “depending on who you ask, I’m high on him”. I’ve seen a lot of people projecting Moore as a mid-2nd in 1QB drafts. I’m all in on him at that price. I think his profile is a high-skill boom-or-bust candidate. I’ve heard Tyreek Hill comps, and I fully agree. Why? Because Tyreek Hill comps = boom or bust WR. If its even early 2nd, I’ll gladly gamble on a complete bust candidate if the upside is a WR1.
Najee Harris. Listen – he’s still my 1.01 in 1QB right now. But the age, waiting until his Senior year, and the context in which he blew up are all significant concerns for me. It’s why I traded out of my 1.01 and packaged it with a 2nd and OBJ for Davante Adams. No regrets. I think Najee can be really great for your team, but his chances of having value after his rookie deal are much lower than most consensus 1.01 RB types.
Jaylen Waddle. I’m sorry Tide fans – but I’m **not** a buyer on Alabama WR hype. After both Jeudy and Ruggs disappointed in 2020, I’m going to have a hard time being in on a WR coming off an injury – especially if I’m not fully certain if his overall hype and success is impacted by the sheer amount of weapons ‘Bama was spoiled with over the last few years. Let someone else spend a top 8 pick on him.
Trey Lance. Planting my flag on my first reactions here: This is a 3 QB draft. Not 4, not 5. It’s a big 3. Beyond that, since it’s 1QB, I don’t want to be spending what Lance is likely costing. If you’re going to throw a 2nd round pick (in 1QB of course) at a QB, you’ve got other options. Otherwise try to wait until the 3rd for the “next best” QBs.
Devonta Smith. Yes, both ‘Bama WRs make my low list. But he’s still a top 4-6 range pick for me. The thing is – he’s just a guy who I’ve got some reservations about. I think he’s an incredibly safe prospect, but I have significant doubts about how high his upside really is. If your league starts more than the standard positions (be it an extra WR slot or an extra flex spot or both) I would have absolutely ZERO reservations taking a safe prospect like Smith. Just don’t like “safe” for the current price tag.
Kenneth Gainwell/Michael Carter. At present, I’ve seen lots of 1QB mocks where one or both of these guys squeeze into the end of the 1st round. I just don’t like that at all. I think it’s unlikely these guys are 2nd round draft picks – and I do NOT spend 1st round capital on 3rd round running backs.
How I rank them right now (remember, 1QB, normal TE scoring, standard starters per above)
Tier 1, all 3 pretty similar in value for me
01 Najee Harris
02 Travis Etienne
03 Ja’Marr Chase
04 Javonte Williams
05 Devonta Smith
06 Kyle Pitts
07 Trevor Lawrence
08 Rashod Bateman
09 Jaylen Waddle
10 Terrace Marshall
11 Rondale Moore
12 Tylan Wallace
13 Elijah Moore
14 Amon-Ra St Brown
15 Dyami Brown
16 Kadarius Toney
17 Brevin Jordan
18 Pat Freiermuth
19 Zach Wilson
20 Justin Fields
21 Kenneth Gainwell
22 Michael Carter
23 Chuba Hubbard
24 Jermar Jefferson
25 Trey Sermon
26 Seth Williams
27 Nico Collins
28 Trey Lance
29 Mac Jones
30 D’Wayne Eskridge
31 Tamorrion Terry
32 Sage Surratt
33 Tutu Atwell
34 Amari Rodgers
35 Demetric Felton
36 Rhamondre Stevenson
This list is by definition “way too early”. I don’t plan to actually draft before the NFL, and don’t plan to be in any league that does – but I like to chart out where I am on guys before I know where they’re going (with the exception of Lawrence, again) – so I can adjust from there based on what the NFL shows via draft cap.
Let me know what you think! Looking forward to major revisions after the NFL draft. 🙂
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