NFL Draft season is officially over. However, the fantasy draft season has just begun. In preparation for the draft season, I joined a 12-team 1QB dynasty rookie mock draft with other members of the PlayerProfiler team & community. Rather than recap every pick, I will analyze my draft picks and provide my rationale behind them. The draft board can be seen below for reference.
Round 1: Pick 1.04 – Jordan Addison, WR | Minnesota Vikings
Entering the 1.04, I had an easy decision with Vikings first-round pick Jordan Addison. Heading into the NFL Draft, Addison was one of the best receivers in college football. He broke out as a freshman at an impressive 18.6 Breakout Age (95-percentile) with 60 receptions, 666 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns (10 games).
Addison transferred to USC before the 2022 season after winning the Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football with an incredible 100 receptions, 1,593 receiving yards, and 17 touchdowns at Pittsburgh (14 games). While he failed to come close to his 2021 campaign in regards to production, he still produced 59 receptions, 875 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns (11 games). This production led to a slightly above-average College Dominator of 29.9-percent (54-percentile).
An area Addison lacks is his athleticism. He finished with a subpar Athleticism Score of 91.2 (No. 65 in the 2023 receiver class) that featured below average Speed Score of 82.8 (19-percentile) and a Burst Score of 118.8 (37-percentile). Addison has a small frame at 5-11 and 173-pounds as well. However, Addison makes up for this with his elite route-running ability.
Addison landed in a perfect spot for fantasy managers. He fills an immediate role in Minnesota as their go-to slot receiver after Adam Thielen left in free agency. With Justin Jefferson commanding all the attention, Addison should get favorable single-man coverage looks that will allow him to put his skill set on full display. In an offense that finished in the top 5 for pass attempts, passing yards, and passing touchdowns in 2022, Addison should have immediate fantasy value in 2023.
Round 2: Pick 2.04 – Josh Downs, WR | Indianapolis Colts
Entering the 2.04, I had several players in mind at the spot but ultimately went with Colts WR Josh Downs. Similar to Addison, Downs was another productive collegiate receiver. In his final two seasons at North Carolina, Downs produced 195 receptions, 2,364 receiving yards, and 19 touchdowns. He finished with a 34.6-percent College Dominator (70-percentile) and an insane 34.1-percent College Target Share (97-percentile).
Downs is another smaller receiver at 5-9, 171-pounds that did most of his work from the slot. He recorded a similar Athleticism Score as Addison with a 92.5 (No. 37 in the receiver class). Besides a mediocre 80.2 Speed Score, Downs had impressive Workout Metrics overall, highlighted by a 131.0 Burst Score (89-percentile) and a 10.90 Agility Score (86-percentile). As Cody Carpentier mentions in his 2023 Rookie Guide, Downs puts his burst and agility on display with his route running and ability to be sharp in and out of his cuts. He saw plenty of looks on the screen and short-intermediate passing games.
For his outlook in the 2023 season, he should come into training camp competing for the starting slot receiver role with the Colts. The only threat to his spot as the top slot is free agent signee, Isaiah McKenzie. However, McKenzie signed only a one-year deal with the team, so I expect Downs to take over this role eventually. He should provide fellow rookie Anthony Richardson a short-intermediate option from the slot. Since Richardson is still a work in progress as a passer, Downs has a limited ceiling until Richardson develops into the quarterback the Colts imagine him to be.
Round 3: Pick 3.04 – Deuce Vaughn RB | Dallas Cowboys
After going receiver with the my first two picks of the mock, I decided to go a different route and selected Cowboys RB Deuce Vaughn with the 3.04. Heading into the draft, Vaughn was a unique prospect for his size. He measured in at 5-5 and 179-pounds with a BMI of 29.8. While Vaughn is smaller than most, it never got in the way of him finding success. Vaughn was an all-purpose workhorse during his career at Kansas State.
He broke out as a freshman in 2020 (84-percentile in Breakout Age) with 1,086 total yards on 123 carries, 25 receptions, and nine total touchdowns (10 games). Vaughn followed his impressive start with insane production in the next two years. In 27 games, Vaughn produced 2,962 rushing yards on 528 carries, 846 receiving yards on 91 receptions, and 34 total touchdowns. He was a top target for his quarterback, finishing with a 16.7-percent College Target Share (96-percentile). His massive production was good for a 35.9-percent College Dominator (84-percentile).
Another sign of concern for Vaughn is his overall athleticism. He finished with a 77.6 Athleticism Score, the worst of all time for RBs and second last overall at any position. While his Athleticism Score is not ideal, his size negatively affects it the most. His overall workout metrics mostly fell around average. The two exceptions are his Speed Score (which is impacted by his size) and Bench Press, which fell into the 5-percentile and 28-percentile respectively.
While Vaughn lacks size and elite athleticism, they’re not enough to fade him for me. Cody Carpentier mentions in the 2023 Rookie Guide how Vaughn’s elite burst/acceleration covers for his lack of speed. Carpentier also praises Vaughn for his ability as a route runner. Vaughn landed in a great spot in Dallas during the 2023 NFL Draft, where there is a good shot for him to land as the No. 2 RB behind Tony Pollard after the team released Ezekiel Elliott.
Round 4: Pick 4.04, Darnell Washington – TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
With the 4.04, I decided to take Steelers TE Darnell Washington. Washington is another unique prospect heading into the 2023 Draft because of his size and athleticism. Washington is massive: standing in at 6-7 and weighing 264-pounds. Along with his size, he is an elite athlete. Washington recorded a 117.4 Athleticism Score, which ranked No. 2 of the 2023 TE class and No. 5 of all positions. He has decent speed for his size: recording a 4.64 40-yard dash (84-percentile) and a 117.8 Speed Score (96-percentile).
However, there’s a reason why Washington was the No. 8 TE off the board in the NFL Draft. Washington lacked any meaningful production as a receiver in college. He only recorded 45 receptions, 774 receiving yards, and three touchdowns in his career (25 games), most of which came in 2022. That led to a low 8.3-percent College Dominator (16-percentile).
While it may take time for Washington to develop into a receiving threat, he should still have an impact in 2023. Washington is a great run blocker, posting an 81.3 Run Block Grade from PFF in 2022. On paper, his run blocking does nothing for his fantasy numbers, but it should give him opportunities to be a threat in play action. I still wouldn’t expect much in the passing game with Pat Freiermuth ahead of him on the depth chart.
Round 5: Pick 5.04 Chris Rodriguez, RB | Washington Commanders
My plan on the final pick was to take a chance on another RB or WR, so I decided to go with Commanders’ RB Chris Rodriguez with the 5.04. For the most part, Rodriguez was a productive running back in college. He broke out in 2019 (54-percentile in Breakout Age) with 533 rushing yards on 71 attempts and six touchdowns (nine games). He was most productive in his final two years at Kentucky, where he recorded 2,282 rushing yards on 400 attempts and 19 total touchdowns (21 games). His production was good enough for a 32.8-percent College Dominator (77-percentile).
While his rushing production was good in college, he didn’t offer much else. Rodriguez only had 20 receptions in his career, with only one year going above a 5-percent target share. Cody Carpentier describes him as your “classic two down grinder” in his 2023 Rookie Guide. He has decent size and athleticism at 6-0, 217-pounds and a 99.4 Athleticism Score (No. 17 in the 2023 RB class). He has a slightly above-average 40-yard dash time of 4.57 (56-percentile) and a decent Speed Score (64-percentile). His Burst Score was below average at 113.1 (24-percentile).
The goal for Rodriguez is to secure the No. 3 RB role in Washington behind Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson. If the report from Washington Post reporter Nicki Jhabvala is true that the Commanders had a third-round grade on him, he should have an opportunity to secure a role on the team. The problem is that he lacks versatility at the position, so he will never be of use on third down. With Robinson serving that grinder RB role for the team, don’t expect Rodriguez to have meaningful snaps unless injuries occur.
While I failed to draft some of my favorite rookies in the class, I’m satisfied with the players I got. Addison and Downs should have the opportunity to earn meaningful snaps from the slot early on. While Vaughn lacks the size to have the touches he had in college, he fell to a good spot in Dallas where there isn’t a clear No. 2 RB. Washington should see immediate playing time as a blocker. But he has room to improve as a receiver. Lastly, Rodriguez should have a shot to earn his way on the Commanders’ 52-man roster, but playing time will be an issue.