Draft day has come and gone. Draft season however, never ends. Time to get on board for next year. Before the season gets started, before lineups need to be set, before trades need to be made, before championships need to be won, it is time to do your homework on next year’s possible rookies. Oh, and while you’re there, why don’t you check out the 2020 eligible draftees? Sound like a lot of work? Well that’s what I’ve been up to and what I will continue to work on until (and let’s be honest, throughout) the season. Ladies and gentlemen, for your reading pleasure, a quick Devy player update. And as always, tell me what you think, tell me how wrong I am, or ask me to expound upon my below pontificates.
This class is fabled to be for wide receivers what these past 2 classes have been to running backs. At least 5 guys profile as possible WR1’s at the next level. This class of wide outs is dripping with size and athleticism which means the ceiling on these guys is sky high. If you don’t talk to me regularly, maybe you don’t know, but ceiling plays are basically how I play dynasty. High reward players are my targets whether risk is low or high. These guys fit that bill. So let’s get into this class in a rankings order with some brief thoughts.
1. N’Keal Harry – WR – Arizona State – Junior – 6’4” 216 lbs
2017 Stats – 82 receptions for 1142 yards and 8 touchdowns
You can’t overthink it at this point. N’Keal Harry is the one of the best players in college football and sits atop my board for the 2019 rookie class. Harry was dominate last year and looks to only improve on that performance this year. I expect another 1000 yards season with a bump in touchdowns to get him over 10. A phenomenal athlete who can play anywhere on the field (he even had 13 carries last year), Harry excels on the outside. He is out of this world along the sideline with body control and fantastic hands and feet that allow him to get the ball up top and find a way to stay in bounds. He also has a knack for playing with his size. He knows how to stay in front of defenders, go over the top of them, and he often just plays through contact and outmuscles the defenders. Harry will be drafted high next year and should be able to contribute right out of the gate, but the floor isn’t what you are drafting him at 1.01 for. He could be the next Julio Jones or Calvin Johnson. He is that good. A dream landing spot come draft time for Harry (and a lot of these other wideouts) would be Arizona. A young quarterback and a strong running game opening up the field. For right now, I don’t see anyone surpassing Harry for the top spot, but this next group is still pretty exciting.
2. AJ Brown – WR – Ole Miss – Junior – 6’1” 225 lbs
2017 Stats – 75 receptions for 1252 yards and 11 touchdowns
AJ Brown has lined up in the slot for most of his college career, but don’t let that fool you. I am #teambigreceiver all the way and I almost let that affect my opinion of AJ Brown. Brown is a very interesting player from many aspects. Like I said, he lines up in the slot mostly for Ole Miss, but he could play different positions at the next level. The thing that jumps out about Brown to me is his quickness and agility. That coupled with his strength makes him a nightmare in open space. The jury is still out on his long speed for me, but he should test well enough. He takes short, choppy strides and is eager to move side to side and make you miss and for good reason. He has left many defenders frozen in his wake, not to mention the ones he left on the ground. He will break your ankles or he will stiff arm your into the ground, you can choose how you want to be embarrassed. Brown is stout for his height at 225 lbs and I am making him an honorary member of my #teambigreceiver. I like how he plays the game and I hope whoever drafts him gives him the opportunity to move around the formation more than Ole Miss has. One thing I will look for this coming year is a more extensive route tree. It would help if they let him play outside more. He is great in the short and intermediate areas. They like to get him the ball quickly and let him work. I would like to see him work more downfield and over the top on the outside.
3. David Montgomery – RB – Iowa State – Junior – 5’11” 219 lbs
2017 Stats – 246 carries for 1146 yards and 11 touchdowns, 36 receptions for 296 yards
Montgomery is the number one back in this class for me, but the more I watch Rodney Anderson, the closer he gets to Montgomery. I like both of them for the performance they put on last season, but this is also what separates them. Montgomery put on a show last year on an Iowa State team that didn’t have much else going on. He was the center of attention for scouts and defenses alike and he still put up good numbers. The efficiency was a little on the lower side, but that is to be expected for the same reasons. Montgomery showed everything you want to see from a young back including quick feet, good vision and great hands. Montgomery showed out as a receiver out of the backfield which really sets him apart from guys like Bryce Love and Damien Harris who haven’t really been able to show the same ability. My favorite thing about Montgomery is his Shady McCoy-esque jump cut. He is super shifty and loves to make guys miss and the jump cut is his go to move.
4. Kelvin Harmon – WR – North Carolina State – Junior – 6’3” 213 lbs
2017 Stats – 69 receptions for 1017 yards and 4 touchdowns
There is a lot to like about Kelvin Harmon. The most important thing I see with him is his ability to play above the rim. He is great at the catch point and uses his hands very well in the air. He is also very good at tracking the ball on deeper routes. He is also very strong once he has the ball to the point where he carries defenders 10 or more yards to the end zone after winning up top. One issue Harmon has is catch percentage. He is not terribly efficient with his targets. This, to me, can be explained away with the depth of targets and the coverage the Harmon was dealing with as the top receiving option. Samuels and Hines were both great last year and Jakobi Meyers was solid as well, but the backs play a very different role and didn’t help draw coverage and Meyers played closer to the line of scrimmage than Harmon. It likely doesn’t help much that Harmon played exclusively on the right side of the field. He was the outside wide receiver on the right side for almost every single play I watched for him. This can be ok, but you need some talent on the other side to help spread the other team out or scheming against a top receiver is not that difficult. Harmon is a willing blocker which is likely due to team culture and scheme. Blocking for guys like Samuels and Hines can be difficult and bodes well for this area of his game. I have bumped him up to my 3rd wide receiver and 3rd overall player for 2019 after some good conversations and watching some more tape. I don’t foresee him climbing any higher than this, but a solid year should be all he needs to hang inside the top 5.