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NFL Draft: Breaking Down the Day 2 Skill Players

With only eight skill position players coming off the board in Round 1, there was plenty of fantasy-relevant talent available in Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday. While 14 total skill position players came off the board Friday night, several of the names called surprised fans and draft analysts alike, such as the Jets selecting Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg with the 51st overall selection.

Wentz at One: A Draft Day Mock

Nothing like last minute, huh?

In the spirit of Draft Day – my favorite religious holiday – I couldn’t resist taking a quick dip in the mock draft pool. After all, it’s been far too long since my last one following Seattle’s Super Bowl beatdown of Denver. That’s right, I somehow skipped an entire year. And lucky for the NFL that all-too-early February mock in 2014 wasn’t the work of Nostradamus  – I had Odell Beckham going to the Seahawks to cap the first round. Boy would that have been disheartening as a Packers fan for the bulk of the next decade.

Cowboys 2016 Mock Draft 5.0, Final Version

No sooner had I done what I thought was going to be my final mock draft of the offseason for the Cowboys last week, two things happened. One, the Eagles traded up with the Browns to grab the second overall pick, thus basically ensuring that Jared Goff and Carson Wentz would be the first two picks off the board. Two, DeMarcus Lawrence went and got suspended for four games, joining Randy Gregory on the sidelines for the first month of 2016 and leaving Dallas comically thin at DE.

So, on the eve of the draft itself, I figure I’d better crank out one more mock using Fanspeak’s On the Clock simulator. Doing mock drafts may be an exercise in futility when it comes to actually predicting who will go in any particular draft slot, but it’s a great way to force yourself to become familiar with the draft class beyond the obvious big names.

The Cowboys are one of the teams who lean heavily on SPARQ scores to differentiate prospects, an approach pioneered by the Seahawks, so the players likely to be on the team’s radar are not necessarily the ones the pundits expect, and later-round surprises are almost a certainty.

I’m using Fanspeak’s own default big board again, after sticking with it on the first two mocks, the Drafttek board for mock 3.0 and CBS for 4.0, as it was updated yesterday. Version 1.0 saw Dallas pop for Carson Wentz with the fourth overall pick, while in version 2.0 they traded down with the Rams and nabbed Andrew Billings. Version 3.0 led with Jalen Ramsey, the player most likely to be at the top of the Cowboys’ actual draft board, while in version 4.0 they missed on Ramsey and settled for Vernon Hargreaves instead.

Pre-Draft News/Rumor Roundup

With Jared Goff and Carson Wentz all but assured of going 1-2 to the Rams and Eagles, we’ve already lost a significant portion of the drama that usually comes along with the NFL Draft.

Fortunately, there are still some interesting storylines to track, as the draft hasn’t really taken shape beyond the top two picks. What’s more, there are still a few teams with unsettled quarterback situations, which could lead to some high-impact trades in the coming days.

Cowboys 2016 Mock Draft 4.0, Post-Rams Madness

With the NFL draft so close you can almost taste it, it’s time to mosey on over to Fanspeak’s On the Clock simulator and crank out one final (or maybe penultimate) mock draft for the team on my beat, the Cowboys. Doing mock drafts may be an exercise in futility when it comes to actually predicting who will go in any particular draft slot, but it’s a great way to force yourself to become familiar with the draft class beyond the obvious big names.

The Cowboys are one of the teams who lean heavily on SPARQ scores to differentiate prospects, an approach pioneered by the Seahawks, so the players likely to be on the team’s radar are not necessarily the ones the pundits expect, and later-round surprises are almost a certainty.

Note that while I used Fanspeak’s own default big board on the first two mocks and the Drafttek board for mock 3.0, I’m using CBS here for two reasons. One, it’s been fairly recently updated and two, Fanspeak doesn’t even list one of my mid-round targets, Akron LB/human missile Jatavis Brown. Missing a potential fourth round pick is just sloppy. Version 1.0 saw Dallas pop for Carson Wentz with the fourth overall pick, while in version 2.0 they traded down with the Rams (who wanted a QB… what are the odds?) and nabbed Andrew Billings. Version 3.0 led with Jalen Ramsey, the player most likely to be at the top of the Cowboys’ actual draft board. Now on to mock 4.0!

Ideal NFL Draft Landing Spots (For Fantasy Purposes)

Despite all the talk about drafting “for talent over need”, it’s actually quite rare for any team to use a first-round selection to further add to a position of strength. The wiser franchises will de-emphasize positional need as the draft moves to the middle rounds, yet even teams like the Patriots and Packers generally expect their first-rounders to make significant contributions as rookies.