Written By Wesley Wood
After traveling across the country, watching games like the senior bowl, the shrine game, the scouting combine, and a whole lot of pro days, I realized something… I was dreaming. Instead of traveling and doing all those pro scouting activities, I have been instead watching all the tapes I can find on every rookie. This includes game cut ups, the senior bowl, shrine game, scouting combine, and pro days. After doing this extensive research and listening to Dynasty Pulse every week, I have finally concocted a complete pre-draft set of rankings along with a short abbreviated commentary on each player. Mind you, I have watched everyone at every position, but for the sake of length, I will focus on the top 5 QB’s, 10 RB’s, 10 WR’s, and 5 TE’s. Since we are almost a week away from the draft, this will not be my final rankings. They will be adjusted after the draft. We will have to look at post draft rankings in 2 weekends when the dust has settled from the NFL draft. From there we can get better clarity as to where the incoming rookies should be taken in dynasty rookie drafts. (To see complete rankings with no notes, scroll to the bottom)
1 – Geno Smith (WVU)
What else is there to say that hasn’t been over-analyzed already? I wrote an in- depth article about him a while ago (http://dynastyfootballwarehouse.com/geno-smith-1st-round-worthy/). Here’s to a second look: Geno Smith can do it all. Yes, I said it! He is a QB who (given a year of development with a good coach on a team that will surround him with talent) can become a QB1. He will need to learn how to play under center and However the issues, he has, are small and he is a hard worker who only gets better. If Geno ends up in a bad organization (like the Browns) and is thrown into the fire year 1, this could easily stunt his growth.
2 – EJ Manuel (Florida State)
EJ Manuel has a lot of potential and I could see him being a starter in 2 or 3 years, if he works hard. EJ can run and throw, despite his injury last year, and has remained relatively healthy. He is great with intermediate throws and can run and gun. However, he needs work on his overall accuracy for this holds him back. This may be because of his footwork, or something else. Whatever it is, if he can adjust and fix it, then he can thrive in this league for years to come.
3 – Matt Barkley (USC)
Matt Barkley is a polished QB who can be a fantasy QB2 if placed in the right system, with the right coach, and on the right team. That being said, he needs a lot of things to fall into place. If he ends up with the wrong organization, then say goodbye to him being viable. Barkley has plenty of experience in a pro-style system, which is a bonus since most college QB’s do not. He is smart and a well rounded QB who’s biggest weakness is simply, staying healthy. Barkley was injured in 2009 and 2010, missing a game each year. His 2011 year was phenomenal for him, as everything fell right into place. However, in 2012, he had a season ending shoulder injury which caused him to miss the combine.
4 – Landry Jones (Oklahoma)
I know I have him higher than most, but why not? He started 50 games in college, remained healthy, and has been overall successful. He can make all the throws and can play under center. Landry is a pocket passer who has fallen victim to a Tony-Romo-syndrome. Landry has a tendency to crack when the game is on the line. Is this something that can be fixed? Maybe, but he needs confidence instilled into him. His only other weaknesses were trying to throw it down the field to guys who weren’t open instead of taking the easy underneath passes and he also could work on speeding up his release a bit. Those can be fixed with good coaching. Can Landry be a starter? Yes but he will need time to develop just like most of the rookie QB’s. Just beware that he may be Tony Romo Jr.
5 – Ryan Nassib (Syracuse)
My #5 spot changed a lot during the scouting process. It started with Tyler Wilson, then went to Mike Glennon, and now Ryan Nassib has the honors. Ryan Nassib started for the Syracuse Orange for 3 years under coach Doug Marrone who turned around that school’s football program to make it respectable. It is natural to think Marrone (head coach of the Bills) may draft him. I can see why. Nassib is mature and a hard worker who can throw on the run and isn’t stuck in the pocket. He is mentally tough and never gives up. While his short to intermediate throws are perfect, the long ball is his weakness. EJ has the strength to throw them, he just isn’t consistent. Sometimes he has pinpoint accuracy while other times he just completely misses his intended target. His release is a tad slower than I would like to see as it makes it easier for defenses to react. Given a little time he can be a NFL starter.
Other notable QB’s
6 – Tyler Wilson (Arkansas) – Good overall QB who needs a stronger arm and better footwork.
7 – Mike Glennon (NC State) – Tall QB with a cannon arm who cannot seem to control it.
8 – Tyler Bray (Tennessee) – Has a lot of natural talent but a lot of scouts are questioning his want to play and be the best at QB.
1 – Eddie Lacy (Alabama)
Lacy is a good workhorse running back who can do it all. He is always falling forward for 2 or 3 extra yards and his spin move is deadly. He is a pretty good blocker and can play from any formation. Jarvis Jones who is a top prospect this year even had trouble tackling him. Lacy on the other hand always has little injuries that hamper him from being an elite prospect, on top of him just dropping some easy catchable balls. I do not buy into him largely benefiting from a good offensive line when even against SEC teams he was running and producing the same. He will easily be a week 1 starter for some team.
2 – Giovani Bernard (UNC)
Giovani is the most complete back of the bunch as he can do it all. He can catch, block, make defenders miss, and return kicks. He can break tackles on occasion and never gives up on a play. Even when he isn’t directly involved he is playing like he is. He has a few knocks on him though. He played out of the shotgun most of the time except for the occasional pistol or goal line formation. He also tore his ACL in 2010 and he missed 2 games in 2012. I can see him being a week 1 starter or maybe splitting carries 50-50 on a team in his first year.
3 – Johnathan Franklin (UCLA)
Johnathan Franklin can do it all and would be my #2 back if he did not have so much wear and tear on him. He has 865 career touches so far which makes him drop right below Bernard. He is a complete back and a workhorse for sure. He may be kind of small but this doesn’t hamper him like you might typically think. He is durable and I can see him being a starter in the NFL in no time.
4 – Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State)
The Bell is one back player many people are split on. Some find him to be too slow when he starts running that it sickens them. Others of us recognize how he breaks tackles like defenders are children trying to tackle an adult. He is back who can cut and run while breaking off the initial defender. He is a bigger back who is durable and has above average speed in the open field. Bell is a average at blocking which will hinder him starting soon in the NFL. He may need a year but after that I see a potential dynasty RB2 with RB1 upside.
5 – Montee Ball (Wisconsin)
Montee is a complete back and on tape seems like he should be the #2 or #3 back on my rankings. I really do like him. He can do everything a coach asks of him. While nothing he does is spectacular, he sure is solid all around. So why is he at #5? Well Ball has a few things against him. He has had over 900 career touches. This is negated a bit by the fact that he has missed no playing time at all. However… his speed score (explained here http://dynastyfootballwarehouse.com/on-drafting-rbs-knowing-your-limitations-and-using-fos-speed-score/) is 90.8. 100 is considered the average and I did the research by looking back at what running backs were successful with speed scores under 95 and it was few and far between. Frank Gore was the most notable one. Mark Ingram had a speed score under 95 (the only one under 95 and drafted in the first round since before 2004) and has done nothing fantasy wise. While the speed score does make me a little hesitant, I can say that Ball should still be an NFL starter and should not drop out of the 1st round of rookie drafts.
6 – Andre Ellington (Clemson)
Let us start off with two things. Ellington is fast and explosive like no other back in this class and also he is 24. Yes a rookie running back who will start his career at 24. Lamar Miller is 21 for comparison sake and is about to be the starter for the Dolphins. Andre would be a great back if he in a tandem. He is elusive with great balance and can catch and sprint. He gets separation easily while running and it just makes me say wow. However he cannot block and no way could he hold up for 16 games as the exclusive starter. I can see him being a Reggie Bush type of back. Also he is 24 in case you forgot.
7 – Joseph Randle (Oklahoma St.)
Randle is another back I could see being part of a tandem as he can catch, block, and find the holes easily. But the the problem was that the holes at Oklahoma State were big and this makes me wonder how effective he will be when they aren’t so big. As he does not break many tackles and does not have break away speed. He has real bust potential so while he is good, watch out.
8 – Mike Gillislee (Florida)
Mike is a good solid back. Nothing special but a good back. He takes what the blockers give him, can block, has the balance to tiptoe on the sidelines, is durable, and only has 412 career touches. He is the second SEC running back on my list and I think in a different division he would of put up bigger numbers than he did. That being said he isn’t perfect, he is not much of a receiving back, and he got a couple of minor injuries during his one year of starting. He isn’t a back to wow you but he cannot definitely be the next Cedric Benson when Benson was starting on the Bengals. In other words RB2 fantasy potential.
9 – Zac Stacy (Vanderbilt)
He is a good overall back but I will let Dan Heins do the talking on this one.
10 – Kerwynn Williams (Utah State)
I know I have him higher than most but he is a good back. He will more than likely be a compliment back in the league but he has real upside. He is a pass catching back who is much faster than it looks like on tape. He looks effortless while running but you watch guys trying to catch him and they come up short majority of the time. Williams is a small back who is only above average when handed the ball but when he catches it, he becomes something much better. A durable back with a lot of tread left on the tires makes me think he could be a viable ppr back in the future.
Other notable RB’s
11 – Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina) – Workhorse back with all the tools of an elite prospect but keeps having season ending injuries.
12 – Stepfan Taylor (Stanford) – Solid back with a lot of career touches, however he reminds me of Shonn Greene.
13 – Kenjon Barner (Oregon) – A back that would do well in a high octane offense like Green Bay but bad in an offense such as Pittsburgh.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends continued in part 2…
Here are my complete pre-draft rankings
1 – Geno Smith
2 – EJ Manuel
3 – Matt Barkley
4 – Landry Jones
5 – Ryan Nassib
6 – Tyler Wilson
7 – Mike Glennon
8 – Tyler Bray
9 – Matt Scott
10 – Zac Dysert
1 – Eddie Lacy
2 – Giovani Bernard
3 – Johnathan Franklin
4 – Le’Veon Bell
5 – Montee Ball
6 – Andre Ellington
7 – Joseph Randle
8 – Mike Gillislee
9 – Zac Stacy
10 – Kerwynn Williams
11 – Marcus Lattimore
12 – Stepfan Taylor
13 – Kenjon Barner
14 – Dennis Johnson
15 – Knile Davis
16 – Christine Michael
17 – Jawan Jamison
18 – Miguel Maysonet
19 – Latavius Murray
20 – DJ Harper
21 – Rex Burkhead
22 – Cierre Wood
23 – Stefphon Jefferson
24 – Theo Riddick
25 – Ray Graham
26 – George Winn
27 – Chris Thompson
28 – Robbie Rouse
29 – Mike James
30 – Michael Ford
Comments? Questions? Concerns? Let me know below.