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Rookie Mock Draft Recap - Round 1

Recently we gathered 12 dynasty league experts and RotoBaller writers to conduct a week-long, email draft for the 2017 incoming rookie class in order to evaluate rookie choices for dynasty leagues. This article will examine Round 1 from the recent draft, breaking down every pick.

Stay tuned for a breakdown from rounds 2-4 as we will be analyzing every round from the mock draft.

Ed. Note: For continual coverage of NFL free agency news and its fantasy impact, keep tuned to RotoBaller!


Round 1

As you can see there weren't too many surprises in the first round of the draft. The top six was in line with most of the mock drafts I've seen out there. This draft class is so deep that many players in the back half of the first round have been slipping into the second round in some rookie drafts. If you end up on the clock and are staring at a player you don't love, trading down is a fantastic option. This will allow you to pick up extra assets while still having a shot at a good rookie.


Pick 1.1 - Corey Davis (WR, TEN)

Davis was my rookie pick at 1.1 before the NFL Draft and that stance was solidified after his fantastic landing spot. Expect Davis to immediately slot in as Marcus Mariota's number one receiving option in what is an emerging offense in Tennessee. If I were the owner of a PPR dynasty team that was extremely loaded at wide receiver, I would also consider Christian McCaffrey in this spot, but I usually prefer to go with the best player available in these situations as you can always find a willing trade partner if you have a stud asset on your dynasty squad.


Pick 1.2 - Leonard Fournette (RB, JAX)

Fournette shapes up as a controversial running back prospect. On the plus side, expect him to slot in immediately as Jacksonville's bell-cow back as they didn't spend the fourth overall pick on him to not use him. His landing spot isn't ideal, however. There are some concerns about the makeup of Jacksonville's roster as they have some holes on the offensive line and their defense will need to prove that they can keep the team close enough in games to prevent the team from having to go pass-happy in the second half of games. He's my RB1 in standard leagues, but I'm taking him behind Christian McCaffrey in PPR formats.


Pick 1.3 - Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

There's been concern about McCaffrey's landing spot as the Panthers already employ Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton generally sees the majority of goal line rushes. I still like McCaffrey's upside because of his versatility and pass-catching prowess. The Panthers have to have a redesign on offense in mind of they wouldn't have spent two high picks on McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. In PPR leagues I'd be looking to grab McCaffrey before Leonard Fournette.


Pick 1.4 - Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Mixon landed on a Bengals team that appears to have a crowded backfield, but Jeremy Hill is in the last year of his rookie deal and hasn't been impressive since his rookie season. Giovani Bernard is still electric, but is working his way back from a torn ACL and may not be ready for Week 1. There are some who believe Mixon is the best all-around running back in the class. If that ends up being the case, Mixon will be a steal as the fourth pick in rookie drafts.


Pick 1.5 - Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

Count me among those concerned about Cook's potential. Before the scouting combine, Cook was generally seen as pick 1.1. Then he went on to display poor athleticism and agility, raising eyebrows along the way. His game tape still looks great, but the measurables are not adding up. Add in his shoulder injury and fumbling history and a Vikings offensive line that was one of the worst in the league at run blocking last season, and I'll let someone else take Cook. I would be looking to trade down in rookie drafts in this position unless one of the top four players falls.


Pick 1.6 - Mike Williams (WR, LAC)

Williams, similar to Cook, is not one of my favorite rookies. He was drafted by a Chargers team that already is loaded with pass catchers. Williams is a big-bodied receiver who succeeded in college by winning contested balls and jump balls, yet he only registered a 32 1/2 inch vertical at the combine. That isn't to knock this pick as Williams generally is coming off the board in this spot in most rookie drafts, but this is another spot I personally am looking to trade back from.


Pick 1.7 - O.J. Howard (TE, TB)

Howard is a fine consolation prize if your rookie pick falls outside of the top six. He is widely regarded as the best tight end prospect in a tight end rookie class that is the best one to come out in years. He slots into a Buccaneers offense that should be one of the most improved units in the NFL this season. Just make sure you keep expectations in check for Howard in year one as rookie tight ends tend to take a year or two to develop. This is a perfect pick if you already have a Rob Gronkowski or Greg Olsen on your roster.


Pick 1.8 - John Ross (WR, CIN)

Everyone knows Ross as the guy who ran a 4.22 40-yard dash, breaking the record at the combine. The speedy wideout is obviously extremely fast but he is also a good route runner who is more than just a field-stretching burner. It appears he's on a Bengals team with a crowded depth chart, but he should immediately slot in as the team's third option in the passing game after A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. Eifert, as we know, tends to get injured frequently. I like Ross better than Mike Williams, making this a great pick.


Pick 1.9 - Juju Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

In studying ADP data, Smith-Schuster is one of the hardest to predict rookies as far as draft spot goes. I've seen him go in the middle of the first round, but also he's slid to the middle of the second in some drafts. If Juju is your guy, the advice would be to take him in the later half of the first round to assure you get him. He lands on an elite Steelers offense, but he will also be part of a crowded depth chart. The fact that Ben Roethlisberger may not be around after the 2017 season makes his long-term value even harder to project.


Pick 1.10 - David Njoku (TE, CLE)

Go back to what I said about O.J. Howard and tight ends taking a while to develop before you continue on here. Njoku is an elite-level tight end prospect, but he is also extremely young at just 20 years old, and he is very raw. Njoku has the chance to be one of the top fantasy tight ends in a few years, but he's going to need a couple years to develop. The upside is immense and he should start playing heavy snaps right away as Cleveland cut Gary Barnidge a few days after snapping up Njoku at the end of the first round.


Pick 1.11 - Evan Engram (TE, NYG)

Can anyone remember the last time three tight ends went in the first round of a dynasty rookie draft? Me neither, but this class is so good that it is perfectly appropriate. Engram could make the earliest splash as a rookie tight end. He is on the smallish side and isn't expected to be a good blocker early in his career. That is great for fantasy because when he's on the field, he will be running routes and catching passes. You might be able to wait on Engram and get him in the second round, but there's nothing wrong with using a late first on him if he's your guy.


Pick 1.12 - Samaje Perine (RB, WAS)

Perine is one of my favorite picks in this round and, again, I've seen him drop into Round 2 in some drafts. The volatility of draft position just goes to show how deeply talented this class is. Perine has a chance to be Washington's bell cow back right from the start. The undrafted Rob Kelley was excellent for Washington last season, but he's not especially fast or athletic. Perine is a great pick, especially if your dynasty team needs running back help right away.


That's all for the first round, stay tuned for Round 2 of our rookie mock draft. Thanks for reading and go out and dominate those rookie drafts Rotoballers!

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