Draft Strategy

What’s Wrong With Every First Round Rookie Pick: Picks 7 to 12

Once the NFL draft ends, there is one thing we can be certain of: Rookie Derangement Syndrome is going to set in. That means the hype and excitement over rookie picks are about to peak. Everyone wants to move up in the draft, acquire more picks, or simply get “their guy”.

Having already discussed the flaws with rookie picks one through six, it is time to move on to the back half of the first round.

O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers
ADP: 8.64

Howard could end up being a stud one day, but it is highly unlikely that he does anything in his first season. Here is the complete list of rookie TEs to go over 600 receiving yards since 2000.

  • Jeremy Shockey (2002)
  • John Carlson (2008)

A rookie TE breakout is more than rare; we haven’t had one since George Bush was president. This means that you most likely aren’t getting anything useful from Howard until at least year two. Now factor in that the Buccaneers are strapped with weapons like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin. It doesn’t seem as if Howard will receive the requisite targets to become an elite TE.

MeasurereTRG/G16 TB MS
25th Percentile6.90.19
Mean7.50.21
Median7.60.21
75th Percentile8.10.22

The table shows different measures of targets per game for all TEs to reach 12 PPG since 2000.1 I then related the target total to the number of passes per game the Buccaneers threw in 2016 (36.125) to see the data in terms of market share.

Last season, Cameron Brate only saw 14 percent of team targets. Even if Jameis Winston throws more in 2017, and Evans receives less than his 30 percent share in 2016, the additions of Jackson and Godwin combined with the continued presence of Brate should keep Howard well under seven targets per game. It is unlikely we see Howard capture the necessary target share to be a top-half TE1 for at least a couple of seasons.

John Ross, WR, Bengals
ADP: 10.93

While Ross’ draft capital is impressive, his situation on the Bengals is anything but. He will probably be behind an alpha WR in A.J. Green for most of his rookie contract, a position that limits his target share and ceiling significantly. On top of that, he has to compete with Tyler Eifert, Tyler Boyd, Brandon LaFell, and the Bengals’ slew of RBs for targets. Ross seems like someone who will be a much more valuable real-life asset than fantasy asset.

Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins
ADP: 13.82

When the Redskins selected Perine in the fourth round, it was difficult for me to hold back my enthusiasm.

While Perine should absolutely push Rob Kelley for touches in a productive offense, it shouldn’t surprise us if he is unable to beat out America’s Favorite Plodder.

PlayerWTFortyAgilityExplosion
Samaje Perine2334.6511.63149
Rob Kelley2264.6811.82139.5

It would be accurate to say that Perine is a better athlete than Kelley, but that’s sort of like saying that Natalie Imbruglia is a better singer than Alanis Morissette. Perine blows Kelley away in raw and age-adjusted production, but we shouldn’t consider it a lock that he sees 200+ carries and multiple TDs in 2017.

Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints
ADP: 13.83

If there is one thing fantasy owners love, it’s comparing RBs to Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush in New Orleans.2

Here’s a simple graphic that shows why that comparison makes no sense.

Kamara Sproles Bush

Kamara is explosive like Bush but much slower. He’s bigger and more explosive than Sproles, but probably not as agile. Kamara also received by far the least amount of rushing work in college and was nowhere near as accomplished as the other two in the return game. Pretty much the only thing Kamara shares with these players is his pass-catching experience.

While receiving ability obviously matters in New Orleans, the Bush/Sproles archetype was also active in the run game, particularly in terms of TDs. With both Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson in tow, production as a runner seems unlikely for Kamara, especially given his rushing profile. It should also be noted that Ingram and Travaris Cadet each caught 40 passes in 2016. Kamara seems more like an upgraded version of Cadet, RB68 in PPR PPG in 2016, than an instant top 24 RB.

Evan Engram, TE, Giants
ADP: 14.67

As I noted before the draft, the Engram profile has not produced many any success stories over the past decade or so of football.

Engram comps

Now Engram goes to a team that already has proven pass-catchers such as Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall, as well as 2016 second round pick Sterling Shepard. It also doesn’t help that the Giants want the 234 pound Engram to be a traditional TE, which may prolong his development. Production seems a long way away for the first rounder.3

David Njoku, TE, Browns
ADP: 14.83

Njoku is probably the player on this list most difficult to make an argument against. Phil Watkins’ TE model gives him a better chance to be a long-term starter at the position than Howard, and he costs less. Cody Kessler has been better than advertised, and the team continues to plug away at the position with DeShone Kizer.

However, I’m still concerned about Njoku’s target outlook. Kenny Britt could be an upgrade on Terrelle Pryor, first round pick Corey Coleman is entering his second season, and Duke Johnson has caught 114 passes in two years. Cleveland also ranked just 19th in pass attempts in 2016 despite winning one game. That number could go down if the team improves.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs
ADP: 14.96

Although Hunt is technically the 13th player being drafted, his ADP is so close to Njoku’s that I thought he was worth including. As a reference, the 14th player being drafted is JuJu Smith-Schuster at 16.69.

I get that the Chiefs traded up to take Hunt in the third round, so I’m not suggesting that he won’t have some kind of role this year in Kansas City. However, I’ve seen the idea perpetuated that he will completely usurp Spencer Ware, which doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. For starters, Ware is a better athlete.

Ware vs Hunt

Ware is basically Hunt with 12 extra pounds from an athletic standpoint, which is significant.4 Ware was also effective for the Chiefs last season.

Chiefs RBs 2016

It simply doesn’t make much sense for Hunt to beat out a proven player in this offense who is a better athlete. And for all of you “Andy Reid RB” fanboys, it should be noted that a big reason Reid RBs have been so great is that their names have been Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, and Jamaal Charles, with whom Hunt shares about zero traits.

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  1. As a reference point, 12 PPG would have finished TE10, TE8, TE7, TE11, and TE7 the last five seasons respectively.  (back)
  2. One of the biggest forms of lazy analysis we are guilty of every year.  (back)
  3. I have not stopped tilting this pick since the Giants made it. Thanks, Jerry.  (back)
  4. Hunt’s agility score was also 11.75 at his pro-day according to NFL Draft Scout.  (back)
By Anthony Amico | @amicsta | Archive

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