Dynasty Watch: Rookie Top-40
Dynasty Watch: Rookie Top-40

This article is part of our Dynasty Watch series.

Apparently eager to work for free in dangerous conditions another year, Travis Etienne decided to return to Clemson. Chump move, cancel the draft.

Anyway here are the resulting ruins of my rankings, now extended to 40 overall.

1. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin* (5-foot-11, 221 pounds)

Ran for 6,174 yards (6.7 YPC) and 50 touchdowns in 41 games. Likely to run a sub-4.5 40 at over 220 pounds, and maybe even as low as 4.40 or so. Unlike Etienne, there are unfortunately legitimate concerns about Taylor's pass-catching ability. Still, he's an All-Pro talent who compares trait-wise to Jamal Lewis.

Round: 1

2. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State* (5-foot-10, 217 pounds)

Ran for 4,459 yards (6.2 YPC) and 38 touchdowns in 42 games. Convincing pass-catching production, turning 90 career targets into 71 receptions for 645 yards and five touchdowns (78.9 percent catch rate, 7.2 YPT). Probably not the kind of athlete that Etienne and Taylor might be, but Dobbins' skill set seems well beyond questioning.

Round: 1-2

3. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma* (6-foot-2, 189 pounds)

Immensely productive with a convincing playmaker skill set, Lamb projects as a high-upside WR1 prospect in the NFL. In 40 career games Lamb drew 251 targets, catching 173 for 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns (68.9 percent catch rate, 13.1 YPT). He looks like a bigger, faster Brandon Lloyd to me.

Round: 1

4. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama* (6-foot-1, 192 pounds)

A blur with fast feet and production beyond doubt, Jeudy is probably no worse than a 50-50 bet to go ahead of Lamb. Jeudy drew 234 targets in 36 games, catching 159 for 2,742 yards and 26 touchdowns (68.0 percent catch rate, 11.7 YPT). 

Round: 1

5. D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia* (5-foot-9, 215 pounds)

I would probably rank Swift third overall if I weren't worried about his durability. A shoulder issue led his college career to conclude with a whimper, but when on the field Swift's production and tape are convincing. He turned 440 carries into 2,885 yards (6.6 YPC) and 20 touchdowns in 43 games, adding 73 receptions for 666 yards and five touchdowns on 96 targets (76.0 percent catch rate, 6.9 YPT). Swift never averaged more than 14 carries per game in a college season and will face questions over what sort of NFL workload he could handle.

Round: 2-3

6. Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU* (5-foot-11, 195 pounds)

I think you'll see Reagor underrated generally, but he has his superfans and I'm one of them. Reagor is a uniquely explosive athlete, Bruce Feldman reported that Reagor boasts a 4.29-second 40 on a densely developed frame. Brutal quarterback play tanked his numbers a bit at TCU, but I think Reagor will generate hype with his combine presence and push for the first round.

Round: 1-2

7. Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama* (6-foot, 190 pounds)

Ruggs is a tough evaluation for me. He's incredibly fast, more likely to run a 4.20 than a 4.40, and his per-target production was shriekingly high at Alabama. On the other hand, he never drew consistent usage at Alabama and always played second fiddle at best behind Jerry Jeudy, but also DeVonta Smith. The question is whether Ruggs' modest target share was due to offensive design or due to simply not getting open as much as the other two. This is something I held against Terry McClaurin too much last year, and in hindsight it's safe to say that his meager target volume was simply due to Ohio State's excessive riches on offense. I'll need more time to go into his tape before I can offer any sort of verdict, but in the meantime there might be a valid concern that this is another James Jett case. I'm trying to err toward optimism, though. 

Round: 1

8. Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas (5-foot-10, 202 pounds)

A burner who seemingly underachieved in his first few years at Texas, Duvernay went nuts in 2019, largely because Texas moved him to the slot position previously played by Lil'Jordan Humphrey. He was almost impossibly efficient in the new role, catching 106 of 130 targets for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns (81.5 percent catch rate, 10.7 YPT). Even on a relatively dense frame, Duvernay should run something like a 4.35-second 40.

Round: 1-3

9. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson* (6-foot-4, 215 pounds)

Higgins is a guy who could surge up the board with a strong combine showing, but I can't tell from his tape what would be a reasonable expectation for his athletic testing. He looks plenty athletic, but it's less obvious whether he's a true standout in that regard. The skill set is convincing, in any case, and his uniquely big frame gives him an edge for teams looking to improve their red-zone presence. 

Round: 1-3

10. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado* (6-foot-2, 220 pounds)

Shenault was incredibly productive as a true sophomore in 2018, catching 86 of 110 targets for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns (78.2 percent catch rate, 9.2 YPT) in only nine games. His production fell off drastically in 2019, seeing just 82 targets in 11 games and catching 56 for 764 yards and four touchdowns (68.3 percent catch rate, 9.3 YPT), but that's still strong production. He also ran for 276 yards and seven touchdowns over the last two years. I'll move Shenault way up in these rankings if he tests well at the combine, and he's absolutely a candidate to go in the first round, but in the meantime I don't see the obvious standout athleticism to place him higher in a really strong class. There are also durability concerns after missing time each of the last two years. His NFL application might resemble that of Deebo Samuel.

Round: 1-3

11. Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina (6-foot-3, 215 pounds)

Edwards is an interesting case because there's not much excitement around him in the mainstream, but he basically matched the productivity of Deebo Samuel in 2018 and was uniquely productive as a four-year starter at South Carolina. While there's no obvious star potential here, Edwards could make a push for the first round if he tests well enough at the combine.

Round: 2-3

12. K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State* (5-foot-9, 176 pounds)

Hamler is one of the burners of this class, probably not quite as fast as Ruggs (who is?) but likely matching strides with the likes of Jeudy, Duvernay, and Reagor. His frame and athletic traits resemble those of T.Y. Hilton, but I couldn't tell from tape whether Hamler is as skilled on short routes as Hilton was out of FIU. His ability to kill after the catch is well established, though

Round: 2-3

13. Zack Moss, RB, Utah (5-foot-10, 220 pounds)

I feel sick listing Moss this low, but this is a really strong class. He could still push for the top of the rankings depending on how his athletic workouts and medicals go. He overcame a knee issue from this spring and went nuts in his final season with Utah, running for 1,416 yards (6.0 YPC) and 15 touchdowns while posting highly encouraging pass-catching production (28 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns on 31 targets). On tape, Moss shows truly rare anchor talent, especially with regard to balance. His speed might be modest, but the functional athleticism is quite clear.

Round: 2-4

14. Cam Akers, RB, Florida State* (5-foot-11, 212 pounds)

The top running back recruit of his class, Akers didn't quite live up to the hype but still showed enough to qualify as a Day 2 prospect in the NFL draft. Early on it looked like he might go the way of Lorenzo Booker, another No. 1 running back recruit at Florida State, but Akers withstood brutally difficult playing conditions and made a good NFL case despite a horrible offensive line.

Round: 2-4

15. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU* (6-foot-3, 192 pounds)

Teammate J'Marr Chase is probably the bigger name, but Jefferson is convincing in his own right, and the only of the two currently draft eligible. Jefferson was impossibly productive in 2019, turning 122 targets into 102 catches for 1,434 yards and 18 touchdowns (83.6 percent catch rate, 11.8 YPT), and he was strong as a true sophomore in 2018 as well, catching 54 passes for 875 yards and six touchdowns on 93 targets (58.1 percent catch rate, 9.4 YPT). His athletic testing could prove important, as he's rather skinny at his listed height weight. Weighing in over 200 pounds would be a way for him to push higher in the rankings.

Round: 2-3

16. Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota (6-foot-2, 205 pounds)

The Senior Bowl, run by a clown car as it is, apparently didn't extend an invitation to Johnson. Ridiculous, borderline unforgivable negligence on their part. Johnson can play, even though he didn't play receiver until he got to Minnesota. The guy caught 86 of 121 targets this year for 1,318 yards and 13 touchdowns, that's a 71.7 percent catch rate at 10.9 YPT in an offense that completed 65.6 percent of its passes at 10.2 yards per attempt. To me, Johnson looks something like a faster Tyler Boyd.

Round: 2-3

17. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State (6-foot, 201 pounds)

Aiyuk only played two years at Arizona State as a JUCO transfer, but he was impressive in his brief stay. He caught 98 of his 152 targets at Arizona State, producing 1,666 yards and 11 touchdowns (64.5 percent catch rate, 11.0 YPT). Aiyuk's explosiveness is made more convincing yet by his production as a returner, where he averaged 31.9 yards per kick return and 16.1 yards per punt return in 2019.

Round: 2-3

18. AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College* (6-foot, 250 pounds)

Dillon is an insanely well-built athlete, pushing 250 pounds but boasting rare speed, quickness, and balance for a player that size. Dillon would be a compelling athlete even by 220-pound standards. Dillon carried the Boston College offense the past three years, running for 4,382 yards (5.2 YPC) and 38 touchdowns in 35 games. Unfortunately, his pass-catching ability is at best untested, as he caught just 21 passes on 31 targets in three years.

Round: 2-4

19. Anthony McFarland, RB, Maryland* (5-foot-9, 198 pounds)

McFarland was an omission from my initial rankings, but upon turning on the tape I was quickly impressed. McFarland should prove one of the top athletes at RB in this class, and I like that he showed a lot of anchor ability while channeling that athleticism.

Round: 2-4

20. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU* (5-foot-8, 209 pounds)

Another initial omission. Edwards-Helaire was way off my NFL radar going into this year and I was initially worried that he might be a one-year wonder, but after watching the tape I have no such concerns. Edwards-Helaire is uniquely stocky but moves well, including laterally, and seems a natural pass catcher.

Round: 2-4

21. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (6-foot-4, 216 pounds)

Burrow seems awfully good, his 2019 production quite easily the best I've ever seen. To complete 77.6 percent of your passes at 10.9 YPA just doesn't make sense. It shouldn't be possible. With that said, he was a one-year wonder who clearly played in favorable conditions, both in terms of pass rush pressure and pass-catching talent.

Round: 1

22. Lynn Bowden, WR, Kentucky* (6-foot-1, 199 pounds)

Forced to play quarterback much of this year, it's almost impossible to avoid the Randall Cobb comparisons for Bowden. Bowden was a worse passer than Cobb but an even better runner, eclipsing 200 rushing yards in his final two games with Kentucky and finishing 2019 with 1,468 yards on 185 carries (7.9 YPC). His exact fit and skill set development are up to some question, but Bowden is a menace with the football.

Round: 2-4

23. Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State* (6-foot-4, 209 pounds)

Hodgins struggled as a true freshman in 2017, but in the two subsequent years he went on to establish himself as one of the nation's top wideouts, drawing 216 targets and securing 145 of them for 2,047 yards and 18 touchdowns (67.1 percent catch rate, 9.5 YPT). His athletic testing could really put him on the map if he does well enough, because he'd have a sterling profile if the athleticism variable grades as plus.

Round: 2-4

24. Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty (6-foot-4, 220 pounds)

I might be a little higher on Gandy-Golden than some, but he seems like a quick study to me, at least pending workout metrics. He has an ideal frame to play outside receiver, and he posted three consecutive 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown seasons to close out his career. He caught 79 of 142 targets for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns this year, good for a 55.6 percent catch rate at 9.8 YPT in an offense that completed 56.9 percent of its passes at 8.3 yards per attempt. If he tanks at the combine then he might fall off the map, but I'm optimistic for now.

Round: 2-4

25. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC (6-foot-4, 219 pounds)

I have Pittman just behind AGG because Pittman didn't take control of the USC receiving game until his senior season, but it's splitting hairs. Pittman's 2019 numbers were dominant, turning 136 targets into 101 catches for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns (74.3 percent catch rate, 9.4 YPT).

Round: 2-4

26. James Proche, WR, SMU (5-foot-11, 196 pounds)

The fact that he was a redshirt senior cheapened it a bit, but Proche was very productive as a four-year starter at SMU, surpassing 700 in each year and going over 1,100 yards in each of the last two. If he tests well at the combine then his advanced age would be less of a concern.

Round: 2-4

27. Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin* (6-foot-1, 207 pounds)

Carries an asterisk for potential character reasons, but it's also possible that NFL teams will be completely comfortable with him given the one-off nature of his troubles and the dubious circumstances around them. Cephus doesn't jump out as an obviously elite athlete, but his production in 2017 and 2019 was spectacular, turning 133 targets into 89 receptions for 1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns (66.9 percent, 10.5 YPT).

Round: 3-5

28. Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU* (6-foot-3, 249 pounds)

Son of Randy, Thaddeus transferred to LSU after passing up bigger schools to initially commit to North Carolina State. He had a one-off showing at LSU in 2019, his fourth at the collegiate level, and enjoyed a breakout season with 47 receptions for 570 yards and four touchdowns on 59 targets (79.7 percent catch rate, 9.7 YPT). That's elite production, though his limited frame might cap his draft upside.

Round: 2-3

29. Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington* (6-foot-2, 239 pounds)

Smallish and injury prone, there's a way for it to go badly with Bryant in the draft. But I'm trying to remain optimistic and defer to his explosive production. Bryant led Washington in receiving yardage last year, turning 82 targets into 52 receptions for 825 yards and three touchdowns (63.4 percent catch rate, 10.1 YPT).

Round: 2-4

30. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama* (6-foot-1, 215 pounds)

I don't know what to make of the hip, but it sounds like Tagovailoa will in any case remain a top-15 sort of pick.

Round: 1

31. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (6-foot-6, 227 pounds)

Herbert is a bit skinny at that height, but if he runs well at the combine he could pose an interesting rushing threat at the NFL level.

Round: 1-2

32. Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Vanderbilt (6-foot, 202 pounds)

Maybe I'm too high on Lipscomb, who had a legitimately bad senior season in 2019. He caught just 47 of 82 targets for 511 yards and three touchdowns (57.3 percent catch rate, 6.2 YPT), but it's excusable since Vanderbilt completed only 53.0 percent of its passes at 5.4 YPA. You'll notice that even in this dreadful sample Lipscomb still produced over his team's baseline. Lipscomb would more fairly be thought of as the player he was in 2017 and 2018, when he combined for 124 catches on 190 targets for 1,526 yards and 17 touchdowns (65.3 percent catch rate, 8.0 YPT).

Round: 3-5

33. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan* (6-foot-2, 207 pounds)

Perhaps this is too low for DPJ, who I think is ranked higher by most. Maybe he'll test well at the combine, but the production was only middling at Michigan, where Nico Collins strikes me as the better player. DPJ won't turn 21 until February, though, so he has that on his side.

Round: 3-5

34. Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee (6-foot-3, 206 pounds)

Turning 23 in July, Jennings offsets his age concerns with strong production. Tennessee completed only 55.6 percent of its passes at 8.0 YPA in 2019, a season in which Jennings caught 59 of 92 targets for 969 yards and eight touchdowns (64.1 percent catch rate, 10.5 YPT).

Round: 3-5

35. Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame (6-foot-4, 229 pounds)

One of the few truly big wideouts in this class, Claypool could surge up the board if his athleticism stands out at the combine. He only caught 55.5 percent of his targets in 2019, though, so his 8.7 YPT figure from 2019 looks less impressive in that light.

Round: 3-5

36. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor (6-foot-3, 206 pounds)

Mims is a tough one for me because he posted strong volume at Baylor, including a 1,000-yard season as a true sophomore, but he never produced above the baseline of the Baylor passing game. A strong showing at the combine would reassure me.

Round: 3-5

37. Van Jefferson, WR, Florida (6-foot-2, 197 pounds)

Jefferson pretty much looks like Keelan Cole to me. He'll be a 24-year-old rookie, which is bad, but he was productive as a redshirt freshman at Mississippi.

Round: 4-6

38. Lamical Perine, RB, Florida (5-foot-11, 211 pounds)

Perine weighed in a bit light at the Senior Bowl, but it's at the combine that he'll confirm whether his size-adjusted athleticism checks out. He'll need to test reasonably well there to grade as a potential starter, as his college production was only middling (2,485 yards at 5.0 YPC).

Round: 4-6

39. DeeJay Dallas, RB, Miami (FL)* (5-foot-10, 220 pounds)

Dallas looks a little awkward to me in some way I can't quite pin down, but his speed/weight combo is probably well above average and his production was good enough at Miami. Limited to a rotational role, Dallas ran for 1,527 yards and 17 touchdowns on 265 carries (5.8 YPC)

Round: 4-7

40. Antonio Gibson, RB/WR, Memphis (6-foot-1, 223 pounds)

An interesting JUCO player who only contributed one season at Memphis, Gibson was in the background for 2018 before breaking out in 2019, catching 38 of 56 targets for 735 yards and eight touchdowns while running for 369 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries. Listed at running back for the Senior Bowl, it's not clear where Gibson will play in the NFL.

Round: 4-7

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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