Zay Jones, WR BUF
The Buffalo Bills trade up to get their wide receiver in the second round, having missed out on the top three receiving prospects despite sitting at tenth overall. Jones will come in immediately as the WR2 – presumably replacing the targets of Robert Woods in the offense and playing second fiddle to Sammy Watkins. Watkins’ injury difficulties are well documented, and Jones could see himself thrust into the role of WR1 earlier rather than later. There is also then the question of what the Bills do with Watkins after 2017. If Jones shows in 2017 and Watkins leaves, Jones could be in line for an even increased role. Oh, and not sure if you’ve heard, but the new Bills receiver coach was also the receiver coach of Jones while at ECU.
Curtis Samuel, RB/WR CAR
The Panthers have added speed in their first two draft picks of 2017. Mike Mayock expects Samuel to line up mostly as a wide receiver with the versatility to move around. The combination of Samuel and Christian McCaffrey will inject a dynamic edge to what was an underwhelming offense in 2016 which lacked playmakers. The run/pass options which can be run with both will also suit the style of Cam Newton, who is a winner from the first two days of the draft.
Dalvin Cook, RB MIN
Prior to a disappointing combine, Cook was being discussed in the same breath as first round selections McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette as the top running back prospect in this year’s class. Gifted with incredible speed, elusiveness, and tackle-breaking ability, Cook also has the pass-catching chops to be a viable three-down back at the NFL level. His weaknesses include fumbling issues and concerns with his injury history, having undergone three shoulder surgeries over his college career. Still, he projects to have an immediate NFL impact after the Vikings traded up to select him 41st overall. The selection puts into question the role recently signed Latavius Murray will have on the team’s suddenly crowded backfield, though Cook’s superior talent should have him emerge as the lead back by the time Week 1 rolls around. Cook should be a top-5 pick in all dynasty rookie drafts and will return high-end RB2 or even low-end RB1 numbers in his first full NFL season.
Gerald Everett, TE LAR
After losing Lance Kendricks to Green Bay in free agency, the Rams seem poised to turn the starting tight end role over to second-year player Tyler Higbee. Playing a limited role as a rookie, Higbee only managed 11 catches on 25 targets in 2016 for 85 yards and one touchdown. With this limited sample size in mind, the Rams selected South Alabama tight end Everett with the 44th overall pick. Everett has the all-too-common career path of a former basketball player turned tight end prospect. He has limited size by NFL standards but has shown steady hands and excellent athleticism in the passing game. His blocking and route running abilities will need to be improved at the professional level if he is expected to carve out a viable role on offense, though on a Rams team in desperate need of playmakers, he could have an impact if the coaching staff shows patience with his development. Don’t expect immediate value, but rather keep Everett on your radar in deeper or tight end premium leagues with an eye towards future production.
Adam Shaheen, TE CHI
The Bears continue to reshape their team this offseason, drafting athletic tight end Shaheen with the 45th overall selection. Like many of the current tight end prospects, Shaheen is a former basketball player who changed his focus to pursuing a football career early in his collegiate career. Standing 6’7″ and tipping the scales at 278 lb., Shaheen is a monster of an athlete who was able to take advantage of size mismatches at Ashland to constantly get open and make plays. Scouts question whether his style of play will translate well against higher level competition, though his athletic abilities for a player of his size is hard to ignore. His excellent pass-blocking ability should help him see the field as a rookie, though he is still considered raw and will need to refine his game to make a consistent impact at the NFL level. Consider him a dynasty stash with potential to develop into a serious NFL contributor with proper coaching and patience.
Joe Mixon, RB CIN
Mixon’s well documented off-the-field issues have led to many teams taking him completely off their draft boards, as well as causing him to miss the Combine in Indianapolis. Never a team to let off-field issues dissuade them from adding talent to their team, the Cincinnati Bengals took the plunge and selected Mixon with the 48th overall pick. Mixon projects as a three-down back who is already a polished pass protector and pass catcher out of the backfield. Incumbent starter Jeremy Hill is coming off yet another disappointing campaign and may have lost his position on the team with the addition of Mixon to the running backs group, while Giovanni Bernard is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last season. Rex Burkhead has left the Bengals via free agency, leaving opportunity for Mixon to produce immediately and see a significant role in Cincinnati’s offense. Now in the conversation to be selected with the 1.01 in rookie drafts, expect Mixon to deliver elite-level production from a running back position lacking top-end options after the Johnson-Bell-Elliot group. Mixon could very well be the next big thing in the dynasty running back landscape.
Deshone Kizer, QB CLE
With the 52nd overall pick, the Cleveland Browns finally landed their quarterback of the future by selecting Notre Dame signal caller Kizer. Though Cody Kessler is expected to retain the starting job through training camp and into the season, it should not be surprising to see the 6’4″, 233 lb. Kizer makes starts as a rookie. The Browns have been making serious improvements to all aspects of their team over the past few seasons and are being regarded positively for their work in this year’s draft. Kizer will require coaching and training to take the next step at the NFL level but has the intangibles to be a true franchise quarterback for a team in desperate need of one. Boasting an impressive arsenal of pass-catching weapons in Corey Coleman, Kenny Britt, (possibly) Josh Gordon, as well as incoming rookie tight end David Njoku, Kizer should have every opportunity to be a dynasty contributor early in his career. Kizer is also regarded as a viable dual-threat prospect, as he has shown a dangerous scrambling ability that will give opposing defenses another aspect to consider when game planning. Though likely not to produce in year one, Kizer has the tools and ability to become a starting fantasy quarterback for dynasty owners in the near future and improve the outlook of players like Njoku and Coleman.
Juju Smith-Schuster, WR PIT
With Martavis Bryant reinstated by the NFL after his season-long suspension, the Steelers appeared set to ignore wide receiver early in the draft. It was then a bit of a surprise to see them select USC standout Smith-Schuster 62nd overall. A talented playmaker over his collegiate career, Smith-Schuster is an intriguing prospect due in small part to the fact that he is still only 20 years old. The Steelers coaching staff will be able to develop him behind Bryant and perennial fantasy all-star Antonio Brown, while putting pressure on and taking away from production from the returning Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers. Smith-Schuster has sure hands and ability to win contested catches in traffic, making him an ideal possession receiver out of the slot. His athleticism combined with his age -as well as his favorable landing spot – makes Smith-Schuster an intriguing player to target at the tail end of the first round in rookie drafts. He may not generate immediate success but will surely develop into a reliable dynasty option in future seasons.