2018 Rookie Mock Draft Series 9: John Laub from Football Diehards
For our 9th installment of the Dynasty ER #EDP project (which went live today, go check it out here), we are thrilled to be joined by John Laub (@GridironSchol91). He is a legend, simply put. It's not often that you run across someone with three decades worth of experience in an industry, let alone someone with that stature that is as down to earth as he. Starting in the 80's scouring the sports section box scores and pencil pushing through hand written graph paper rankings, John's seen it all at this point. As mentioned, he's played fantasy football for thirty years—and has provided FootballDiehards.com with weekly player rankings for over two decades. Kickstarting his clout early on, in 1993 he defeated over 15,000 other owners to win a national competition, and as an author published Audibles: Winning is Everything in the same decade. In recent years, he has won fantasy championships in multiple Expert Leagues: 2015 SiriusXM Mid-Season, 2016 DraftBook and the first annual CFB Joes vs. Pros competition. John’s 2018 Rookie Draft profiles can be found on FootballDiehards.com—Needless to say, it's no wonder he's been dubbed "The Gridiron Scholar."
Over the course of the off-season, we will be conducting over thirty mock drafts with various experts in the industry, which will translate to an expert based ADP to help guide you in your rookie drafts. As always:
Scoring Format: 12 Team .5 PPR with .075 Per Return Yard.
Starting Roster: 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 3Flex
Let's get started.
Eric - Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State - Must I really justify this pick?
Ronnie - Derrius Guice, RB, LSU - I know, I know. Nick Chubb had a wonderful combine. That doesn’t change anything for me regarding Guice—he backed up his straight line speed you saw on film with a sub 4.5 40 a few weeks ago, and he’s shifty enough in the lanes to break off any run. That said, what’s most impressive about Guice is his vision—you rarely see him make the wrong read or miss small gaps. On top of that, the guy just doesn’t go down. His physicality, finish at the end of runs and YAC ability are ridiculous. He’s not going to catch 50 balls his rookie season, that’s not his game. But he has a good chance to be the most productive rookie back this year.
John - Sony Michel, RB, Georgia - In 2018, there is no denying that running backs dominate the top of the board in Dynasty Drafts. I am very happy to land my number three prospect: Sony Michel. A three-down back, the former Bulldog recorded two thousand-yard crusades on campus and will immediately contribute in the NFL. Michel could be a star in the NFL if he lands in the right scheme that takes advantage of his receiving skills.
John - Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia - Back-to-back Bulldogs come off the board in this Dynasty Draft. Nick Chubb is a classic between the tackles grinder and can provide any team looking for a two-down stud with production as a professional. At Georgia, he eclipsed 1,000 yards in three seasons, surpassed 100 yards rushing 24 times and totaled 200 yards on the ground in three games.
Ronnie - Ronald Jones, RB, USC - I might as well just adopt Jones at this point as I’ve gotten him in 10/12 drafts so far. He’s a sneaky, sneaky player in the middle of the first round right now because of his complete lack of performance measurements. From an athletic standpoint he’s the closest comp to Jamal Charles I’ve seen in a minute, and while he does need to protect his body a little better at the end of runs, and lacks the balance of, say, Guice—you’ll be hard pressed to find more explosive tape than what Jones has in his portfolio. He’s a legitimate home run threat every time he touches the ball, and can easily develop into a true 3-down threat. Draft him, and ignore his 40 time.
Eric - Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State - In a solid running back class, I still feel Penny is the RB4. He has the desired size of an every down back, runs with an incredibly strong lower half that pushes through tackles and buys extra yards after initial contact, has incredibly maneuverability that allows defenders to whiff on tackles, is a natural pass catcher, and is one of the most patient runners in the entire class. His 28 total touchdowns last year (2nd in all of FBS) as well as his 2383 scrimmage yards, is just an appetizer for what’s to come in the NFL.
Eric - D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland -- One of the most solid route runners in the entire class, DJ Moore is just a fascinating player to watch. He played in an injury ravaged offense and was really the lone play-maker on the field for the Terrapins. His route tree was very diverse but he also knows how to improvise without the ball. If you are looking for a better player to find holes in a zone defense, it’s not going to happen. I expect Moore to be a reception machine in the NFL but his escapability and yards after catch are going to be a super added value to his dynasty stock.
Ronnie - Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU - The consensus says Sutton has the best chance to become a teams true WR1 of this class, and I agree. At 6’3” 218, Sutton surprised many (myself included) with his performance at the combine. He’s intriguingly explosive for a WR his size. Sutton repeatedly showed good focus and lack of fear between the hashes and underneath, and while he can hit the home run the reason I have him as my WR1 of this class is because he is a chess piece over the entire field. Red zone threat? Check. Short yardage/chain mover? Check. Mid level threat? Check. Deep threat? About the same as DeAndre Hopkins. Essentially as long as he goes to a team with an average QB, he will be startable in fantasy this year. If he lands on a team with a top tier passing offense? Sutton has a real chance to be the first WR since 2014 to blow the top off their rookie season.
John - Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon - It is early in the Dynasty Draft season, but I seem to be the conductor of the Royce Freeman train. An underrated runner, the former Oregon star concluded his campus tenure as the all-time rushing leader—and seventh in FBS history—with 5,261 yards. Freeman might have the best vision among the running back prospects and produced much better athletic scores at the Combine than observers expected.
John - Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama - Not elated about drafting Calvin Ridley here. However; he might have the highest floor among the receiver prospects in the Draft. At 23-years old, the former Crimson Tide product begins his professional career with all the essential skills. Unfortunately, his Combine athletic scores rank among the worst receiver prospects in the last decade, and his wiry 6-foot-0 and 189-pound frame does not emulate the physique of an alpha dog role in the aerial assault.
Ronnie - Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State - I’ve had a few experts over this series remark that Goedert going Round 1 is a bit of a hot take. You know what? Get used to it. He has incredible body control for a big man, is an animal at the point of attack, can threaten the defense at all three levels both from in-line and lined up out wide. His hands are ridiculous (go watch a highlight tape), he has fantastic top speed and dominated his competition in 2017. Unfortunately, that’s his biggest knock—who exactly are the SDSU Jackrabbit’s competition? Regardless, he’s not the best blocker and that’s fine. He’s the best receiving TE in this class and it’s not a question to me. Baby Kelce enters the league in one month. Who’s taking him?
Eric - Easy St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame - What’s not to like about Easy St? He’s big, he’s fast, he’s intelligent, he runs just about every route you can think of and he’s got great hands. Brown will have to prove that he loves this game and has the firey passion necessary to compete at WR in the NFL, but I feel he will be a far more productive pro receiver than college receiver. I really like that Brown can play either inside or outside and is unafraid to catch the ball in the middle of the field. I expect him to learn in the slot position but see WR2 potential, even in his rookie year depending on where he is drafted.
John - James Washington, WR Oklahoma State - Early in the Dynasty season it appeared that James Washington was a slam dunk first-round selection. Yet, in recent drafts (six) that I have partaken, the home run hitter has fallen into the second. At 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds, the Biletnikoff Award winner looks like a running back; nevertheless, plays much bigger with long arms and large catch radius. The former Cowboy game breaker averaged nearly 20 yards per catch on over 200 receptions. A no-brainer pick here.
Ronnie - Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State - Ballage is a mystery to me. He’s got all the physical tools you could want in a RB, and has had four years in college to sharpen up the kinks. The thing is, he hasn’t. He runs upright, his vision is fairly lacking and his feet constantly telegraph indecisiveness. That said, he has at least improved in all of those facets year after year, albeit minimally the past two seasons. Additionally, if he can manage to fine tune those weaknesses he could be a jackpot—he’s got the size, speed, hands and stature to eventually be a David Johnson-like RB at the next level. To me, that’s worth gambling on.
Eric - John Kelly, RB, Tennessee - Kelly was one of the most exciting players to watch in all of college football in 2017 and I expect him to continue the show at the next level. His quick feet and low shoulders allowed him to consistently escape tacklers and it generally would take multiple defenders to bring him down. His pass catching ability is right there at the top of this RB class, though his stats don’t reflect this as he played in arguably the worst passing offense in all of FBS. Kelly is also a fantastic pass blocker so he should have no problem being a third down back in his rookie season.
Eric - Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn - Fantastic athlete who has some of the best burst abilities through the line of anyone in the class, Johnson is a prototypical back for the NFL. He displays power runner characteristics and always fights for extra yards. He isn’t afraid to take a hit from a defender and sometimes even welcomes them, though he needs to work on running lower to the ground and avoiding the powerful blows. Johnson is another player who can find immediate snaps in third down opportunities as he is a good pass catcher and loves to block for his quarterback. Injuries have been the nagging issue and hopefully they will not continue keeping him off the field going forward.
Ronnie - Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State - I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you want to watch the best WR technician in this class, go watch Gallup's tape. He is a textbook example of how to use your hips, hand and feet for leverage and positioning. It’s unfortunate that he’s a bit lacking on the athleticism front, because he’s an A+ in all other aspects.
John - Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M - A dominant player in the SEC while an Aggie, Kirk was named First Team All-SEC All Purpose and Return Specialist last year and Second Team All-SEC Wide Receiver in 2016. He recorded over 900 receiving yards each season on campus and scored seven times on punt and kick returns. At 5-foot-10 and 201 pounds, he uses outstanding body control, good leaping ability and first-rate agility to beat opponents. In the second round, Kirk is a good price and very nice asset on Dynasty rosters.
John - Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State - Incredible Senior Bowl and Combine performances elevated Mike Gesicki’s draft stock. A former basketball and volleyball player, who earned Division I scholarships in both sports, his athletic scores at the Combine are freakish for a 6-foot-6 and 254-pound athlete. Gesicki is an elite pass catcher with loose hips, long legs, sure hands, large-catch radius and fluid athleticism. He could very well mirror the rookie season that Evan Engram recorded for the Giants last season.
Ronnie - Allen Lazard, WR, ISU - One of my absolute favorite players in this class, Lazard has the makeup to eventually take over the WR1 role at the next level. A tremendously physical presence at the point of attack, and a player with terrific body control, Lazard is an animal once he hits stage 2 of his routes. At 6’4 225+ he is surprisingly elusive. NCAA Record Holder for consecutive games with a catch, he should at worse be an incredible possession receiver at the next level. NFL.com says “very little threat with the ball in his hands” which I found to be one of the dumbest takes I’ve seen this off-season. No, Lazard is not Odell Beckham in the open field, but that’s not his game?
Eric - Auden Tate, WR, Florida State - Tate was a massive disappointment at the combine with one of the slowest 40 times of the entire group. This doesn’t concern me all that much though as I expect him to use his large frame and strength to make catches rather than speed. I expect Tate to primarily be a red zone threat in his first few years but if he can take the ankle weights off and progress as a route runner, I can easily see his ceiling go higher. In a class lacking a true WR1, Tate is someone I would take a late second round chance on due to his physical prowess.
Eric - Simmie Cobbs Jr. - WR, Indiana - Cobbs is a very gifted receiver who makes some of the most dramatic catches you have ever seen. His great hands and body control are going to make him productive at the next level, regardless of a sub par combine. His ball tracking ability I argue is the best of anyone in the class as he always finds a way to bully opposing corners and go up to make the catch. I also like his route running abilities and his improvisation to beat zone coverage. I think there is a lot of WR2 potential with Cobbs at the next level.
Ronnie - Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis - This is exactly the type of player I want falling to me at the end of second rounds. To put it in perspective, Miller accounted for 33.8% of his teams TOTAL yardage. In a situation with press coverage and help over top, Miller has the first step and hand fighting savvy, as well as the footwork, to stack press regularly and then leverage through defenders to the 2nd and 3rd level even with tight coverage. In my opinion his biggest weakness is his hands, which isn’t what you want to hear about a receiver—but they’re not 2014 Ted Ginn Jr bad by any stretch. Miller is a sneaky, sneaky player and it wouldn’t shock me to see him go at the end of the 1st/top of the 2nd come draft day.
John - Tre’Quan Smith, WR, UCF - One of my favorite under-the-radar prospects: The former UCF star earned Second Team All-AAC after catching 59 passes for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Smith is a long strider who gains separation at the top of the stem on vertical routes. A versatile play-maker, he lined up on the outside, in the slot and backfield for the Knights. At the conclusion of the second round, I have no hesitation to take Smith off the board.
Eric - Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
Ronnie - Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
John - Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
John - D.J. Chark, WR, LSU
Ronnie - Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
Eric - Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
Eric - DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
Ronnie - Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
John - Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
John - Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa
Ronnie - Trey Quinn, WR, SMU
Eric - Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
John - Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Ronnie - Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Eric - Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State
Eric - Ito Smith, RB, Southern Miss
Ronnie - Mark Walton, RB, Miami
John - Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham
John - Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Ronnie - Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
Eric - Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Eric - Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State
Ronnie - Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State
John - Marcel Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State
Eric - Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech
Ronnie - Jaylen Samuels, RB, NC State
John - Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame
John - J’Mon Moore, WR, Missouri
Ronnie - Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, USF
Eric - Justin Watson, WR, Pennsylvania
Eric - Ralph Webb, RB, Vanderbilt
Ronnie - Roc Thomas, RB, Jacksonville State
John - Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
John - Josh Allen, QB. Wyoming
Ronnie - Korey Robertson, WR, USM
Eric - Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
John - Jordan Wilkins, RB, Mississippi
Ronnie - Darren Carrington II, WR, Utah
Eric - Tyler Conklin, TE, Western Michigan
Eric - Jordan Thomas, TE, Mississippi State
Ronnie - Darrel Williams, RB, LSU
John - Richie James, WR, MTSU
John - Javon Wims, WR, Georgia
Ronnie - Justin Crawford, RB, West Virginia
Eric - Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
Eric - Mike Boone, RB, Cincinnati
Ronnie - Cam Phillips, WR, Virginia Tech
John - Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
John - Bryon Pringle, WR, Kansas State
Ronnie - Chris Herndon, TE, Miami
Eric - Steve Ishmael, WR, Syracuse
Eric - Lavon Coleman, RB, Washington
Ronnie - Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado
John - Jordan Chunn, RB, Troy
John - Quadree Henderson, WR, Pittsburgh
Eric - Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida State
Eric - Dalyn Dawkins, RB, Colorado
Ronnie - Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame
John - Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
Eric - Jeffery Wilson, RB, North Texas
Over the next few months, we will be conducting over 30 mock drafts with various experts from all over the dynasty football community. Don't forget to check out Football Diehards and the Gridiron Scholar! If you are interested in participating in one of these mocks, head over to our home page and use the "All Other Inquiries" form at the bottom of the Contact Us section!
See you next time,
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