Like the ghost of Christmas past, this is the first of three articles where I will rank the top 24 rookies. Following the college pro days (being held this year in lieu of the traditional NFL Combine due to COVID-19), I will rank them again with impressions of what their performances mean for their NFL prospects and their draft positions. Then, following the NFL draft, I will rank them again. It’s possible that some of the 24 you’ll read about today may get nudged out of future rankings by others with better pro-day measurables or landing spots after the draft. After the third ranking, if you’re not ready for your rookie draft, then like the ghost of Christmas future said, “Your fantasy team is going to suck.” Now let’s take our first look at the Top 24 rookie rankings.
- Trevor Lawrence, QB: With a starting spot in Jacksonville waiting for him and D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault catching passes, Lawrence could be a long term starter.
- Justin Fields, Q.B.: He’ll be chosen early to be somebody’s starting Q.B., and he’s got the tools to make a big impact in his rookie season.
- Mac Jones, QB: Because he’s ranked lower and will be picked later, he’ll land with a team that has a better supporting cast than where the other rookie Q.B.’s land. If he goes late first round and gets on the field, he could make some noise.
- Devonta Smith, WR: Devonta is head and shoulders above the other wide receivers in this class. I believe that he can be as good as Jerry Rice if he has quality Q.B. play to support him.
- Travis Etienne, RB: Travis has the talent to be an every-down back in the NFL. Hopefully he land somewhere with a good O-line.
- Kyle Pitts, TE: More NFL teams are moving towards making the tight end position a real offensive threat, and that’s what Kyle Pitts can be. At 6’6″ and almost 250 lbs., with great hands and straight-line speed, Pitts will be a nightmare for defenses.
- Michael Carter, RB: After a great week of practices before the Senior Bowl and a fantastic showing in the Bowl, Michael Carter is rising up draft boards.
- Zack Wilson, QB: How often do you see winning teams with bad quarterbacks? Bueller? Bueller? That’s why four of my top eight rookies are QB’s that can be difference makers.
- Jaylen Waddle, WR: Going into last season, Waddle was considered a better prospect than Devonta Smith. Coming out, he only lost the higher ranking because he didn’t play due to injury. If his combine is good, he might move up this list.
- Kenny Gainwell, RB: Others might have two other RBs ranked higher than Kenny, and I think they’re wrong. Kenny is a three-down back with talent to spare.
- Ja’Marr Chase, WR: To me, this is going out on a limb. Chase had one spectacular season. If his combine is outstanding, I’ll move him higher.
- Lance has Lamar Jackson type potential.
- Javonte Williams, RB: It seems a crime to rank Williams six spots than his teammate Michael Carter. He doesn’t catch passes as well as his teammate, but he’s got a real nose for the end-zone.
- Kadarius Toney, WR: I love this kid’s talent, and I’m hoping he gets drafted by a coach with an imaginative offensive mind.
- Najee Harris, RB: In a play-action, run-heavy offense Harris can be a heavy-duty battering ram, like Derrick Henry.
- Brevin Jordan, TE: He may be the most athletic tight end in this draft class.
- Elijah Moore, WR: If you need an NFL-ready slot receiver Moore is the pick.
- Rashod Bateman, WR: Looking for a fast, tall WR that can win contested catches? Say hello to a potential ten touchdowns in his rookie year.
- Pat Freiermuth, TE: Is this “Baby Gronk” the next big thing?
- Tony Poljan,TE: Now this 6’7” guy might not be a Baby Gronk. He might be a real Gronk.
- Shane Buechele, QB: He could surprise at the next level.
- Hunter Long, TE: He’s a player, but will he land with a coach that knows how to use the TE in the passing game?
- Jaret Patterson, RB: 2021’s James Robinson. You bet I’m snapping him up in every draft.
- Kenny Yeboah, TE: An NFL team or your fantasy team would be smart to grab this guy later in drafts. He’s got a nose for the end-zone.
As I said, this will be an evolving list during the offseason. Make sure to come back for updates.
Love my analysis? Hate my analysis? Or anything in between? Feel free to leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @ThePhil Factor.