Meet the Freshmen (2/4) – The Next Best of the Rest

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By Jacob Bourgeois; Twitter: @FantasyBantasy

Check out the last article for The Consensus top tier guys in the 2021 rookie class.  This article is the next best of the rest (still assuming non-SuperFlex PPR scoring).  My only note is that in single QB leagues with non-Tight End premium scoring, I heavily favor early production where players will have a chance to see their stocks rise, and won’t be an early drop risk when a Kendrick Bourne type goes off for 11 catches on 14 targets in Week 2.  If you want to take Justin Fields ahead of this entire list, you won’t get an argument from me (I might do the same if he hits a nice landing spot).

All stats unless otherwise noted are from (or derived from) www.sports-reference.com.

  

Rondale Moore – WR – Purdue

Age:  20, Junior

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 181 lbs.

Pro Day 40 time: 4.29

Vertical jump: 42.5”!

Summary:  The Purdue sensation broke onto the scene at 18 years old as a freshman with 114! receptions / 1258 yards, good for a 29% target share.  That combined with his 40 time and vertical make him a bulletproof prospect… but the reason he falls to tier two is his injuries.  Missed much of 2019 with a hamstring injury (speed kills) and then a lot of 2020 with a leg injury stemming from an “awkward leg buckling” (likely knee).  He’s going to be hard to contain out of the slot and can take the top off for however long he’s out there.  It’s possible with the right training he puts the injuries behind him, but to me his body just doesn’t look natural/proportioned. 

Comparison:  Like a short DK Metcalf (ok fine, a slower version of Tyreek Hill)

Ideal Landing Spot: MIA, where I think he starts right away and offers a nice balance to Parker and Fuller.

Trevor Lawrence – QB – Clemson

Age: 21, Junior

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 220 lbs.

Guesstimated 40 time: 4.8

Summary:  Career 67% completion percentage, and an astonishing 90 Touchdowns in three years at Clemson.  He was the chosen child from the very beginning, a 5-star recruit, and considered one of the best high school prospects of all time.  He has touch, power, mechanics, and is decently athletic and agile.  After going undefeated as a freshman, his only two career losses came at the hands of LSU in the 2019 FBS championship, and to Ohio State in 2020 in the play-in semi-final.  Those losses are really the only blemish on his otherwise flawless record.  In SF he’s your 1.01.   

Comparison:  Aaron Rodgers

Ideal Landing Spot:  TBB (it’s a moot point, but he’d pair really well with Arian’s downfield passing attack)

Kenneth Gainwell – RB – Memphis

Age: 22, Junior (redshirt sophomore)

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 194 lbs.

Guesstimated 40 time: 4.45

Summary:  He opted out of 2020, and redshirted his freshman year, so has really only put one year of tape and stats together.  Memphis is starting to be a little bit of a RB U, with Tony Pollard having preceded him, and getting to work alongside Darrell Henderson as a true freshman and Antonio Gibson in 2019.  In Gainwell’s one year of work he averaged 16.5 carries and almost 4 receptions per game, while maintaining 6.3 yards per carry and delivering 17 total touchdowns.  Pairing well with his slight undersize are his impeccable hands and route running ability, similar to CEH from a year ago.       

Comparison: A lighter Cam Akers in the way he moves in space and shows off natural athleticism

Ideal Landing Spot: SEA

Chuba (like Tuba) Hubbard – RB – Oklahoma St.

Age:  21, junior

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 210 lbs.

Pro day 40 time: 4.36

Summary:  The sophomore sensation turned junior let down is this year’s Bryce Love – expected to be the 1.01/1.02 in this year’s draft after electing to return for another season with Oklahoma State – did exactly what the opt outs were afraid to do, regressed to the mean.  He dealt with a lower body injury which eventually shortened his final season and saw a dip in his monstrous production from the prior year.  But it’s easy to chalk that up to Covid-19.  He’s an electric north-south runner who leans on his first cut and go.  I think he’s going to see a bump up after his pro-day on April 1st.

Comparison:  Kenyan Drake

Ideal Landing Spot: NYJ or SFF zone blocking scheme

Terrace Marshall Jr. – WR – LSU

Age: 20

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 200 lbs.

Guesstimated 40 time: 4.5

Summary:  Terrace is the great-nephew of real-life hero and former All-Pro RB Joe Delaney who died only a year after being named an All Pro trying to save three boys from drowning (Joe Delaney Hero).  I had never heard the story or heard of Joe Delaney.  And it doesn’t have much to do with Terrace’s profile, but I came across it and think Mr. Delaney needs more cover — I’m sure they’ll make mention of it in this year’s NFL draft.  I’m personally partial to legacies with the thinking that some people just have the right genetic make-up for the NFL.  Marshall was a top recruit out of high school and chose to stay in-state at LSU.  It’s hard for him not to be overshadowed by Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson as he was the third wide-out in their historic season with Joe Burrow and put up modest 48 catches for 731 and 10 touchdowns in 2020 in an LSU hang-over season.  He has ok hands, good contested catch ability at 6’4”, and decent route running.  He exploited zone coverage leading to a number of highlight plays.        

Comparison:  Robby Anderson

Ideal Landing Spot:  CLE – giving Baker a bigger target

Elijah Moore – WR – Ole Miss

Age: 21, Junior

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 178 lbs.

Pro-Day 40 time: 4.32

3-Cone Drill: 6.65!

Summary: From the school that brought you NWOs AJ Brown and DK Metcalf, comes Elijah Moore who achieved “breakout age” as soon as that tandem moved on to the NFL in 2019.  He averaged just under 10 targets per game in 2019, but for a measly 850 yards on a low 57% receiving.  He turned it around in his junior season with an 84% catch rate playing predominantly in the slot both seasons.  He’s tough, sure handed (2.3% drop rate) and has great athleticism in a small package.  

Comparison: Julien Edelman

Ideal Landing Spot: NY Jets if the team moves on from Crowder

Tylan Wallace – WR – Oklahoma State University

Age: 21, Senior

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 190 lbs.

Pro Day 40 time: 4.48

Summary: Broke-out as a 19 yo sophomore at Oklahoma State with 1,491 yards in 13 games.  Then kept the pace going in 2019 averaging over 100 yards and 1 TD in 8 games before a season ending ACL injury.  Electing to put some post-injury tape together, he returned to play in 2020 in a Covid shortened 9 game season – where he kept the average above 100/game finishing with 922 yards – showing that he was able to return to pre-injury form.  All in all, during his time at Oklahoma State he managed a 47% dominator rating, putting him in the 93rd percentile (per PlayerProfiler).  Does enough to reliably get open despite underwhelming traits.  

Comparison:  Less precise Calvin Ridley

Ideal Landing Spot:  KCC

Amon-Ra St. Brown – WR – USC

Age: 21, Junior

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 194 lbs.

Pro Day 40 time: 4.51

Summary:  Amon-Ra means supreme god of the universe.  And he used that power to steadily improve throughout college increasing his catches per game and touchdowns each season.  He’s another tough receiver with good hands who will make hay out of the gate, likely as a team’s number 2 or 3, with room to grow.

Comparison: Golden Tate

Ideal Landing Spot: Indianapolis Colts

Michael Carter – RB – North Carolina

Age: 21, Senior

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 201 lbs.

Pro Day 40 time: 4.50

Summary:  Finished with back to back 1000-yard rushing seasons while averaging 6.8 YPC.  He was a consistent contributor in the passing game as well, which is important given his size.  I like Carter more than most and see an Austin Ekeler ceiling for him – he’s more athletic than he is fast, but has fine top end speed (tho not if you adjust for size).  He always looks like he’s working hard, that’s both the thing I like most about him and my main criticism.  Doesn’t have the easy grace you see with some backs but isn’t afraid of contact and keeps searching for an opening to get North.   

Comparison:  Danny Woodhead

Ideal Landing Spot: Denver where I think he’d have a shot by mid-season to earn a 50/50 split with Gordon.

Trey Sermon – RB – Ohio State

Age:  22

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 220 lbs.

Guesstimated 40 time: 4.58

Summary: Sermon was highly productive in his freshman and sophomore years at Oklahoma before losing snaps in his junior season to Devy up-and-comer Kennedy Brooks, and eventually succumbing to a late season knee injury.  All this led to Sermon entering the transfer portal and making the jump to Ohio State where he took over starting duties vacated by prior year’s lead back J.K. Dobbins.  The move paid off as he racked up 7.5 YPC while averaging almost 15 carries per game (16 touches/gm).  He wins with long strides even in short spaces seemingly making up more ground than he should.  He finds a second gear in traffic and shoulders forward whenever needed.       

Comparison:  Chris Carson

Ideal Landing Spot: Buffalo giving them back the Frank Gore role.

Kadarius Toney – WR – Florida

Age: 22, Senior

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 194 lbs.

Guesstimated 40 time: 4.38

Summary: Twitter hates Kadarius Toney because he is a 21-year-old, senior year break out.  What’s hard to understand, is how his 2020 film didn’t lead to more production in his first three seasons. He was involved, earning snaps and targets all three years, but it’s literally a barren wasteland of production.  Then all of a sudden Trask, Pitts, Toney turned it on – the recipe was right and he posted 70 catches for 984 yards in an 11 game Covid-shortened season.  He was also mixed into the backfield picture with 66 total carries across 4 seasons at an 8.8 YPC clip.  What you see is Jerry Jeudy-esque zigs and zags without any of the elite production.  Daniel Jeremiah at NFL network is high on him, pushing him into this tier.   

Comparison:  Deebo Samuel (Daniel Jeremiah)

Ideal Landing Spot: Philadelphia (adding to their bevy of over-drafted under-producers… but could also push for a start here on a team starved for reliable playmakers)

Seth Williams – WR – Auburn

Age:  22, Junior

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 211 lbs.

Pro Day 40 time: 4.50

Summary:  Alpha-size and early break-out is what we’re all talking about, despite underwhelming production at Auburn.  Early break-outs and early declares have a much better hit rate than later producers and those entering the draft as seniors. The Williams argument is one for untapped potential.  He’s a jump baller with contested catch ability who needs to improve his routes, technique, and quickness to win at the next level. 

Comparison:  Zach Pascal (Player Profiler)

Ideal Landing Spot: Tampa Bay, where he’ll have a chance to study with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, while being pushed by Brady.