The NFL Draft is in the books! Several quarterbacks were taken in the first dozen picks, potentially securing the futures for several franchises. Green Bay secured an extra 1st round pick and Louisville CB Jaire Alexander and made several impactful draft picks to solidify the roster under first year GM Brian Gutekunst. But in terms of fantasy impact related to skill position players, let’s take a look here at the Day 1 players who were drafted!
All rankings refer to my PPR rankings which are frequently updated and can be accessed here!
QB Baker Mayfield – Pick #1 to Cleveland Browns (Rank: Unranked)
Baker Mayfield started to get some buzz for the #1 overall pick during free agency and that buzz came to fruition on Thursday night as he walked on the stage to meet Roger Goodell to accept the Browns jersey, signifying him as the #1 overall pick of the 2018 draft. Mayfield had height concerns (measured at 6’1”) but Cleveland was not deterred from selecting him. His passing statistics and efficiency are top notch, ranking at the top in QBR, YPA and completion percentage among quarterbacks invited to the combine. Current projected starting QB Tyrod Taylor now becomes the bridge to Mayfield, so Mayfield probably should stay undrafted in seasonal leagues, but there’s a solid chance Mayfield could get a handful of starts his rookie season. Stay tuned.
Saquon Barkley – Pick #2 to New York Giants (Rank: #9 RB)
Saquon Barkley to the New York Giants was certainly a trendy pick, but no running back had been selected in the top 2 picks in a draft since Reggie Bush went #2 in 2005. The Giants bucked that trend and Barkley will be heading to play for Big Blue in 2018. The Giants did improve their offensive line in the offseason, signing John Jerry and Nate Solder in free agency, as well as drafting Will Hernandez to shore up the interior. Their additions vastly improved the running game for 2018. Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger though, but this pick affirms the commitment to Manning as his career drifts to the end of the line. Barkley should help immensely in the running game certainly as well as the passing game, where his mere presence alone should take pressure off of the line and keep Manning upright for longer stretches. I’d be happy with selecting him in the beginning to middle of the 2nd round or as early as the end of the 1st round, but being a sought after rookie, he won’t last much longer than the conservative end of that range. In my rankings, I have him just outside my top 10 but still in back end RB1 range, certainly with gigantic upside as he gets familiar with the Giants offense. There’s no doubt he will get a ton of usage from day 1.
QB Sam Darnold – Pick #3 to New York Jets (Rank: Unranked)
With two quarterbacks (McCown and Bridgewater) ahead of him on the depth chart, Sam Darnold now becomes the long term solution for the New York Jets. Darnold needs to cut down on turning the ball over, as he racked up 13 last season while at USC. Even with the 2 veteran quarterbacks in the mix, there’s a decent chance Darnold could get a couple starts to close out the 2018 campaign, but he should remain undrafted for now in redraft leagues.
QB Josh Allen – Pick #7 to Buffalo Bills (Rank: Unranked)
Josh Allen may be a polarizing figure among the QB crop in 2018, but he has one of the most direct paths to playing time among those drafted. He would need to surpass AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman for starts in Buffalo. Allen’s big frame and unmatched arm strength (better than Favre’s? Rodgers? Both combined?) are still unable to mask his inefficiency and accuracy throwing the football. Still, if he can get those concerns taken care of, Buffalo may just have their first home grown quarterback since Jim Kelly. Yes, it’s been THAT long.
QB Josh Rosen – Pick #10 to Arizona Cardinals (Rank: Unranked)
Sam Bradford is slated to start Week 1 under center for the Cardinals, but as we all know, that can change in the blink of an eye, certainly with Bradford’s checkered injury history. Enter Josh Rosen, who comes into the fold from UCLA with turnover issues himself, but a more well-rounded profile in terms of passing, stature, and accuracy. It certainly is possible to see him with some starts in 2018, but I would certainly hold off on adding him in any season leagues for the time being.
WR D.J. Moore – Pick #24 to Carolina Panthers (Rank: #57 WR)
Carolina has drafted several skill position players in the last few season hoping they hit to give Cam Newton as many weapons as possible. Add in D.J. Moore to the mix, from U. of Maryland, who projects as somebody that can play both inside and outside, as well as returning kicks. He’s a raw as 21 years old but is a 6’ good sized (210 lbs.) versatile prospect and may take time to get integrated to the offense. Until Moore gets his feet wet and gets a consistent share of touches or snaps, he’s left as a late round dart throw.
TE Hayden Hurst – Pick #25 to Baltimore Ravens (Rank: #24 TE)
The former baseball prospect, Hayden Hurst is 25 years old, a rather advanced age for an NFL rookie, but one that could step in right away and make some contributions to the offense as a safety valve for Joe Flacco or possibly Lamar Jackson. A sure handed target, Hurst could start on day 1 for the offense. Temper expectations however, as Hurst would be a tertiary target at best in that offense. He’d be a TE2 if starting but monitor his target share and go from there. We do know how a healthy Dennis Pitta or Ben Watson was used in the offense, so there could be some sneaky upside.
WR Calvin Ridley – Pick #26 to Atlanta Falcons (Rank: #53 WR)
Calvin Ridley was drafted into a prime situation by the Falcons, and could see time starting opposite Julio Jones as early as this season. He should be able to supplant Mohamed Sanu as the secondary passing game option among wideouts. He has adequate size, speed, and showed excellent production for Nick Saban in his 3 years at Alabama. That production should translate nicely at the next level. Ridley certainly has the opportunity for snaps/targets and could be a sneaky pick with some upside depending on how quickly he gains a rapport with Matt Ryan. He slots in as a mid to late round lottery pick, closer toward the end of the middle rounds to fill out your bench.
RB Rashaad Penny – Pick #27 to Seattle Seahawks (Rank: #27 RB)
A Penny for your thoughts… Rashaad Penny was supposed to be a Day 2 prospect but snuck into the first round in one of the surprises of the first day. Seattle added some bodies up front and with the selection of Penny, could be dialing back on the pass heavy scheme to give Russell Wilson some breathers here and there. Penny is a thick, downhill runner that is an upgrade over everybody in the Seattle backfield. He could be a Week 1 starter or at the very least, a big contributor to the offense. I see him as having RB2 upside, and a mid round selection in redraft leagues.
RB Sony Michel – Pick #31 to New England Patriots (Rank: #29 RB)
Sony Michel adds another tough, hard-nosed back to their stable of backs that still includes James White, Rex Burkhead, and Mike Gillislee. Michel won’t really be used in the passing game too much, but will have a limited role to start out. As with all Patriots running backs, Bill Belichick could favor one each week, to fit specific game plans, so tread lightly with expectations regarding Michel. He is certainly worth a late round flier to see what his usage turns into for 2018.
QB Lamar Jackson – Pick #32 to Baltimore Ravens (Rank: Unranked)
The last pick of the 1st round may certainly be the most intriguing. Lamar Jackson was drafted by the Ravens and the writing could be on the wall here for Joe Flacco. Flacco does have a sizeable contract that wouldn’t be as difficult to jettison as it may seem; they can save $18.5 million as a post June 1st cut after this season. Knowing that, Jackson may sit for a season and learn the offense under Flacco and John Harbaugh and Marty Mornhinweg. Depending on injury, Jackson may not have much value this season but if pressed into action, the Jackson experience could be hitting the Beltway sooner rather than later. Keep tabs on his status but he shouldn’t be drafted in redraft leagues.