The NFL Draft kicked off without a hitch, with plenty of intriguing landing spots for top offensive prospects and several surprises. As usual, NFL draft evaluators don’t care about our mock drafts and player rankings. The Raiders are going to pick who they want, value-based drafting be damned. Jerry Jones can’t help but select a potential star wide receiver. And the Packers are going to select a quarterback when the current star QB reaches 35 years old. Rounds two and three are sure to bring plenty of drama and storylines. Let’s look at some of the best skill position prospects still available and where they may come off the board.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma is the most intriguing quarterback prospect still available because he fits the style NFL offense is heading. Hurts is a dual-threat quarterback that has impressive accuracy on the move and has great arm strength. With four picks today, the Patriots could be a nice fit. Others include the Saints and Panthers.
Jacob Eason, QB, Washington is a prototypical drop-back passer that can slot into a pro-style offense. The problem is those styles of offenses are becoming harder to find. Eason possesses rare arm strength but has questions about decision making and athleticism. His suitors will be small but a team we may not expect will take him on day two.
Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia will make a great quarterback coach someday, but whether or not he will make a great quarterback remains to be seen. His strength is between his ears, he’s next level with his decision making and preparation. You watch him and he knows exactly how his offense works and who will be open. However, he does seem to make his decisions pre-snap and doesn’t give his routes time to develop. Add that to a deep ball that hangs and there are questions about his NFL longevity. He projects as a backup in the league but his interview skills are sure to have impressed teams in the pre-draft and someone will snatch him up quickly. Perhaps New England but the Colts and Steelers too.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia could come off the board early in day two because he is such an explosive talent. Swift shows excellent burst and can be a factor in the passing game, a role that is valuable in today’s NFL. However, he won’t truly be a factor as a blocker and that combo will scare some teams. Swift’s talent will be too enticing for teams to pass up though and he should come off the board early on day two. The Falcons are in love with athletes of his caliber and the Rams are said to be in the market for a running back.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin was a workhorse for the Badgers in his college career, lodging more than 900 carries. That volume worries some teams but his productivity is impossible to ignore. Taylor bounces off tackles and has the long speed to score on any carry. He can be a productive two-down back, one that can easily log 200+ carries per season but he will be limited in pass situations. Teams like the Bills, Bucs, and Chargers could be in the market for a back to match up to their more dynamic option in the backfield.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State will be a steal on day two, where ever he lands. In a draft deep at the position, Dobbins is built for the pro game with phenomenal elusiveness and cutback ability. He will thrive in any system because of his vision and balance. Dobbins will need to improve as a blocker, but he will at least be given the chance because he is also dynamic as a receiver. The Steelers would be a nice spot for him but I could also see him fitting in well with the Lions or Jags.
Zach Moss, RB, Utah is another back that projects more as a two-down back that needs a sidekick to thrive. He has quick feet and great vision but just average quicks and acceleration. The bests parts of his game are his patience and play recognition. He will make a team happy in his limited role and can be a productive player for fantasy owners. Just as with Taylor, teams that have an established pass game back would be well to pair them up with Moss.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor will be a high-upside prospect but questions remain on his route running. Players such as Mims who are not polished route runners often struggle at the next level. Slants and go routes will be his bread and butter as he develops but the physical traits are too enticing to pass. With so many teams having a need at receiver, his landing spots are plenty but I would most like to see what he can do paired with Aaron Rodgers.
Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado reminds me of former first-round picks Kevin White and Corey Davis. Big bodied, solid frame, and nice hands. However, whether it is a lack of speed or clunky route running he struggles to create separation. His second or third round price is nice though. He’s a project worth taking a chance on. If he can improve in his routes and stay healthy, he possesses great ability with the ball in his hands. The Chargers love their big receivers and could use a player that isn’t just a deep threat. The Jets make sense too.
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC is a strong sleeper in my eyes, and can immediately help any franchise move the chains. Pittman’s combination of height and strength is tough to deal with as a defender, and although he’s unrefined in his routes it may not matter. Teams can find ways to use him in the slot or as a short to intermediate possession receiver. Ideal landing spots for him would be teams with a veteran quarterback that don’t need ideal separation to make completions. New Orleans, Indianapolis, or Tampa Bay would be tremendous fits.
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson can be a playmaker at the next level, but whether can he become a high volume target remains to be seen. Higgins runs nice routes and posses incredible ball skills. While he needs to add size to his lanky frame, he still manages to make big plays. Higgins can immediately become a weapon for teams, while he develops on strength and dependability. He will make an excellent late-round two or round three prospect for a team that filled other needs earlier in the draft. The Bears could add a playmaker to the team or he would be a nice weapon on the young Miami team.
K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State is a nuanced route runner that reminds some of T.Y. Hilton. However, at just 5’8″ and 178 pounds he’s closer to a slot player than anything. While I don’t believe he will ever develop into an outside receiver, his explosive speed is hard for teams to pass up. We have seen teams draft players much higher than they should have simply because of speed and Hamler will be no exception. He will need a strong-armed QB to unlock his potential and the Jets are an interesting fit.
Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame is the most complete tight end available and can help teams as a blocker and a receiver that is hard to bring down in space. Kmet can be shut down with solid man coverage, really struggling getting off press coverage. However, he does have great hands and could immediately become a red-zone target while he develops. The Titans or Colts would be nice landing spots for the talented Irishman.
Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington will come off the board today and I am excited to see where he lands. Hunter posses rare athleticism at the position, in the mold of the best move tight ends like Jimmy Graham or Jordan Reed. Hunter shouldn’t be asked to block, he doesn’t want to. He’s best utilized in space where he can showcase his incredible catch radius and vacuum cleaner hands. Whether or not he can stay healthy will be the only questions NFL teams need to answer. He would be a nice fit with the Redskins, Cardinals, or Panthers.