The Steelers selected Toledo WR Diontae Johnson in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The 5'10, 183-pounder tested as a 13th percentile athlete at the Combine. But he's 1 of the better route runners in this class and racked up 2,039 yards and 21 TDs over the past 2 years. Frankly, we didn't expect Johnson to come off the board this early -- but the Steelers have earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to drafting WRs. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein compares Johnson to former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders.
The Seahawks added Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf with the 64th pick of the draft. Metcalf is a freak of nature: 6’3, 228 pounds with 4.33 speed and a 40.5-inch vertical. He struggled in the agility drills at the Combine, but we didn’t think change-of-direction was an issue on tape. In fact, Metcalf has some of the best tape in this year’s WR class, showcasing high-end speed, ball skills and releases off the line of scrimmage. His production at Ole Miss never matched his ability, though. He missed 10 games with a broken foot in 2016 and 5 more this past season with a fracture of his C-3 vertebrae that required surgery. When he was on the field, Metcalf totaled just 67 catches in 21 games — although he did average a big 18.3 yards per catch with 14 TDs. Metcalf is a classic boom/bust prospect. Landing with QB Russell Wilson certainly helps his NFL odds, though.
The Chiefs spent their 2nd pick of Round 2 on S Juan Thornhill in the NFL Draft. Thornhill snared 13 INTs over the past 3 seasons, defensing 26 total passes. He tallied a career-high 98 total tackles in 2018. He then delivered terrific numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.42 seconds, 92nd percentile), very (44 inches, 99th) and broad jump (141 inches, 99th) at the Scouting Combine. He could step into Eric Berry's vacated role quickly in Kansas City.
The Cardinals selected UMass WR Andy Isabella with the 62nd pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Isabella was a stat-piling machine for the Minutemen, racking up 229 catches, 3,519 yards and 30 TDs over the past 3 seasons. That includes a huge 102-1,698-13 line this past season. Isabella led this year's WR class in yards per route run and received the nation's best receiving grade from Pro Football Focus last year. Then he blazed a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Isabella is undersized at 5'9 and 188 pounds, but his speed will play at the next level. He joins QB Kyler Murray in HC Kliff Kingsbury's new-look offense.
The Cardinals have traded QB Josh Rosen to the Dolphins in exchange for the 62nd pick of this year's draft and a 5th-rounder next year. Arizona had zero leverage here and did well to get this return. But it's also a nice move for the Fins, who get a young QB who's under control for 3 more years for cheap. Rosen's rookie year was ugly -- 55.2% completion rate, 5.8 yards per attempt, 11 TDs, 14 INTs -- but he was in a tough situation in stale offense behind a bad offensive line. He'll get at least 1 year in Miami to prove himself.
The Chargers selected Delaware S Nasir Adderley in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. L.A. chose Derwin James in the middle of Round 1 last year and got a strong rookie year from him. But Jahleel Addae, the last season's other starter, is no longer on the roster. That presents opportunity for Adderley to start right away. Adderley grabbed 4 INTs and defensed 7 passes in 2018.
The Colts grabbed Ohio State WR Parris Campbell with the 59th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. After a quiet first 2 seasons on campus, Campbell led Ohio State with 584 receiving yards as a junior. Then he set a school record with 90 catches this past season and became just the 5th Buckeye to top 1,000 receiving yards (1,063). His 12 TDs tied for 8th in the country. Campbell ranked 5th among all draft-eligible WRs in yards per route run (3.47), according to Pro Football Focus. He lined up primarily in the slot for Ohio State and did the vast majority of his work near the line of scrimmage. Only 21 of his 111 targets last year came 10+ yards downfield, and he made just 2 catches 20+ yards downfield. Campbell blew up the Combine with a 4.31-second 40 time and a 99th percentile SPARQ score at 6’0 and 205 pounds. So there’s a chance he becomes more of a deep-ball receiver at the next level. Joining Andrew Luck in Indianapolis is a nice long-term landing spot.
The Eagles added Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with the 57th pick of the draft. Arcega-Whiteside turned in an impressive career for the Cardinal. He led the team with 5 receiving scores and finished 2nd with 379 receiving yards as a sophomore. Then he posted a 48-781-9 line as a junior, leading Stanford in all 3 categories. He boosted his numbers across the board this past season, racking up 63 catches for 1,059 yards and 14 scores. His market shares — 25.6% of the catches, 33.1% of the yards and a whopping 56.0% of the TDs — rank 20th, 15th and 2nd among the 48 WRs who were invited to the Combine. He ranked 12th among all draft-eligible WRs in yards per route run (3.03), according to Pro Football Focus. An all-state basketball player in high school, Arcega-Whiteside plays WR like he’s rebounding, displaying some of the best contested-catch ability in this draft class. He’s also quicker in his routes than you might expect from a 6’2, 225-pounder. He didn’t work out at the Combine but clocked a 4.49-second 40 time at his Pro Day. Arcega-Whiteside joins a currently crowded Eagles WR corps with Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor. But Agholor has been the subject of trade rumors and D-Jax is 32. We like this landing spot from a dynasty perspective.
The Chiefs selected Georgia WR Mecole Hardman with the 56th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. The high school QB moved to WR for the Bulldogs, totaling 60 catches for 961 yards (16.0 YPC) and 11 TDs over the past 2 seasons. He added 13 carries for 97 yards and 2 scores, averaged 15.2 yards per punt return and 25.0 yards per kick return. Hardman goes just 5’10 and 183 pounds but blazed a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. He'll undoubtedly draw Tyreek Hill comparisons now that he’s in Kansas City. This pick feels like a reach to us, but it’s definitely a strong landing spot for Hardman’s fantasy value. He’ll be a riser in the post-draft dynasty rankings.
The Eagles selected Penn State RB Miles Sanders with the 53rd pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. The #1 RB in the 2016 recruiting class spent his first 2 years on campus playing behind Saquon Barkley but flashed with 6.7 yards per carry on 56 attempts. He finally got his shot at lead duties in 2018 and impressed. Sanders took 220 carries for 1,274 yards (5.8 YPC) and 9 TDs, adding 139 more yards on 24 receptions. Then he crushed the Combine, registering a 73rd percentile SPARQ score at 5’11 and 211 pounds. Sanders is relatively inexperienced, dances behind the line of scrimmage too often and has ball-security concerns after fumbling 5 times last year. But he has the size, athleticism and pass-catching ability to develop into a lead back as a pro. He joins a crowded backfield in Philly alongside Jordan Howard, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement and Josh Adams. Sanders might already be the most talented of the bunch, though. And Howard is set to hit free agency next offseason.
The Titans added Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown with the 51st pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Brown consistently out-produced D.K. Metcalf throughout their time in Oxford, finishing with more catches and yards per game both in 2018 and for their careers. Brown broke out with a 75-1,252-11 line as a true sophomore in 2017. He set new personal bests with 85 grabs and 1,320 yards this past season. Brown brings positional versatility, spending most of his college career in the slot before successfully moving to the outside for the 2nd half of 2018. And while he's not quite as big and athletic as Metcalf, Brown checked into the Combine at 6’1, 226 pounds and registered a 76th percentile SPARQ score. He joins a Titans WR corps alongside Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. This pick doesn’t bode well for Taywan Taylor’s future in Tennessee.
The Vikings nabbed Alabama TE Irv Smith with the 50th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. After totaling just 14 catches across his first 2 years on campus, Smith broke out for a 44-710-7 line this past season. All 3 marks ranked among the top 4 on a stacked Alabama squad. Smith averaged a big 16.1 yards per catch and led this TE class in yards per route run. He disappointed with a 22nd percentile SPARQ score at the Combine but plays with good speed and fluidity. Turning just 21 in August, Smith still has lots of room for growth. He’ll start his NFL career behind Kyle Rudolph, but Rudolph’s contract is up after this season. Smith should take over as Minnesota’s top pass-catching TE in 2020.
The Lions spent a 2nd-round pick on LB Jahlani Tavai. The Hawaii product posted just an 89.6 speed score even with the generally favorable conditions of running his 40-yard dash at his pro day. Tavai fared better in production, though, tallying 13% of Hawaii's solo tackles in 2018 and 17.6% of the total tackles. The latter number ranked 2nd in the class. We'll see whether Detroit likes Tavai in the middle or on the outside. Either way, he faces opportunity in a weak LB corps that has seen 1st-round pick Jarrad Davis disappoint.
The Broncos traded up to select Missouri QB Drew Lock with the 42nd pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Lock was commonly mocked to Denver with the 10th pick but ends up dropping into Round 2. Lock looks the part: 6’4, 228 pounds with a big arm. But he was inconsistent throughout his 4 years at Missouri, completing just 56.9% of his passes. Lock did post a career-best 62.9% completion rate this past season, to go along with 28 TDs vs. 8 INTs. But he ranked just 13th in this draft class in both adjusted completion rate and adjusted completion rate vs. the blitz. Lock’s best asset is his deep ball. Only 3 QBs in this class finished with a better adjusted completion rate on throws 20+ yards downfield. He’s also a plus athlete, earning a 76th percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. So Lock might tally more rushing production as a pro than he did at Missouri. He figures to sit behind Joe Flacco for most or all of 2019 but should get a shot at the starting gig in 2020.
The 49ers added South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel with the 36th pick of the draft. Samuel had trouble staying healthy for the Gamecocks, missing 7 games in 2015 with a hamstring injury, 3 games in 2016 with more hamstring trouble and 10 games in 2017 with a broken leg. When he was on the field, though, Samuel contributed in multiple facets. He tallied 148 catches for 2,076 yards and 16 TDs across 30 career games, ran 25 times for 154 yards and 7 scores and averaged 29.0 yards with 4 TDs on kick returns. Samuel shows promise as a route runner and is tenacious after the catch. He reminds us of former ‘Niner Pierre Garcon. The 5’11, 214-pounder earned a 76th percentile SPARQ score at the Combine with a 4.48-second 40-yard dash and a 39-inch vertical. Samuel joins a fairly wide open 49ers WR corps and has a shot to carve out a significant rookie-year role.
Chiefs GM Brian Veach said Thursday night that WR Tyreek Hill won't be allowed to participate in team activities for the "foreseeable future." That came after damning audio emerged in relation to the child abuse case Hill was under investigation for. It's unclear if that legal investigation will be re-opened, but Hill is almost certainly looking at discipline from the league -- potentially a lengthy suspension. The Chiefs, of course, released RB Kareem Hunt in November after video surfaced of him pushing and kicking a woman. Hill could face a similar fate.
The Patriots selected Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry with the 32nd pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. The #1 WR in the 2016 recruiting class led the Sun Devils in catches and receiving TDs as a true freshman. Then he busted out for 82 grabs, 1,142 yards and 8 scores as a sophomore. The catches and yards both ranked top 14 in the country. Harry posted a 73-1,088-9 line this past season, accounting for 32.0% of Arizona State’s receptions, 37.6% of the receiving yards and 47.4% of the receiving TDs. Those market shares rank 4th, 6th and 5th among the 48 WRs invited to this year’s Combine. The 6’3, 225-pounder ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash with a 38.5-inch vertical in Indianapolis to earn a 75th percentile SPARQ score. The tape shows a guy who’s dominant in contested situations and dangerous after the catch. Harry was the #1 player in our Pre-Draft Dynasty Rookie Rankings and will very likely stay there in the post-draft list. He has a clear path to 2019 fantasy value in a WR corps consisting of Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas and Phillip Dorsett.
The Seahawks picked DE L.J. Collier at #30 in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Collier is 1 of the bigger EDGE players in this class, checking in at 282 pounds at the Combine. He also delivered an above-average speed score (102.3). He joins a thin edge group in Seattle and could compete for time quickly.
The Chargers grabbed Notre Dame DT Jerry Tillery late in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Tillery put together some nice tape with the Irish, but he topped out at just 9 tackles for loss in 2017. Don't expect big fantasy numbers from Tillery, but there is upside.
The Raiders spent their 3rd pick of the NFL Draft's 1st round on S Johnathan Abram. The DB tallied 99 tackles (53 solo), 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 2 INTs in his final season at Mississippi State. Abram brings a versatile skill set to an Oakland secondary in need of help. Abram's ability plus the opportunity gives him a nice fantasy outlook -- both immediately and long term.
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