Last week I released my first rookie-only rankings for 2021 and one of the things that immediately stood out was the lack of running backs at the top. Sure, Najee Harris and Travis Etienne were both in my top three, but Javonte Williams was the only other back in my top 13. But, that was just one man's opinion. I was curious to see how it would play out in an actual mock, and this week we got the chance to find out.
Below you'll see the results from our first rookie-only mock of the year. This draft is based on a rookie-only draft for a PPR Dynasty league where you can start one quarterback.
We did mock this a little differently, keeping it in house with six of us drafting two teams each. I drafted first and seventh in each round, Jamey Eisenberg picked second and eighth, Dave Richard had the third pick and the ninth, Dan Schneier picked fourth and 10th, Chris Towers had the fifth pick and the 11th, while R.J. White handled six and 12. I'll give the results round-by-round, with short thoughts at the end of each round.
1.01 Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
1.02 Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
1.03 Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
1.04 Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
1.05 Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
1.06 DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
1.07 Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
1.08 Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
1.09 Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
1.10 Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
1.11 Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU
1.12 Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Just like with my rankings, just three running backs in the first round. In fact, there were a lot of similarities with the rankings I released last week. The first six picks weren't in the same order, but they all came from my Tier 1, solidifying the idea that these should be the first six players drafted. A team drafting based on needs could reasonably take Lawrence or Williams ahead of DeVonta Smith, but for me, there's a clear drop off after Pick 6 if you don't need a quarterback.
And that is maybe my biggest takeaway from this mock: If you have a pick in the seven-to-nine range I would be aggressive in trying to get into the top six. It may not take much at all to move up a couple of spots, but it could be a huge difference in the talent of prospect you land.
2.01 Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
2.02 Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
2.03 Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
2.04 Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech
2.05 Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
2.06 Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
2.07 Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
2.08 Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
2.09 Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
2.10 Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
2.11 Jarret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
2.12 Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
Toney was actually the last player left in my second tier and all 21 players in my first three tiers were gone by pick 23. We also saw the number of running backs double from Round 1 to Round 2. And while I don't necessarily love these running back prospects (I drafted a wide receiver and a quarterback), this is the perfect place to speculate on them. It's very possible Carter or Sermon (or any back in this range) gets drafted in the third round by a team with a clear opportunity. If that happens, they'll vault into the first rounds of rookie drafts for better or worse.
I was thrilled to get Fields with the 19th pick in the draft and like the running back prospects, I would say this is a perfect spot for both him and Wilson. Even though Wilson is projected to be drafted first, I prefer Fields because of his pinpoint accuracy, his athleticism and the level of competition he faced. But either of these quarterbacks could be top-12 Dynasty options by October.
One name drafted in Round 2 wasn't in my original top 36: Dyami Brown. I highlight that because, like me, you may need to learn a little bit more about the wideout. Brown has above-average speed and topped 2,000 receiving yards with 20 touchdowns in his final two seasons at North Carolina. The most remarkable thing about him is that he averaged 20 yards per catch in each of those seasons.
3.01 Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
3.02 Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
3.03 Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma
3.04 Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
3.05 Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
3.06 Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State
3.07 Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
3.08 Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
3.09 Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
3.10 D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
3.11 Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State
3.12 Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana
There's not too much to say about the third round of a pre-draft rookie-only mock. But one thing I'll say for sure is this is where you should take your shot at your guys, particularly on upside guys. I would expect one of Trey Lance or Mac Jones ends up in the second round of ADP once we get landing spots, but Lance may have as much upside as any quarterback in this class.
Want to see hear about even more rookie quarterbacks? Check in later in the week for the results of our Superflex rookie-only mock.