This article is part of our NFL Observations series.
There are a few players I want to have on my teams because they are great and at their career peaks. The circumstances around them might be more or less favorable, but sometimes you bet on the talent and let the chips fall. Here are a few:
Jonathan Taylor (ADP 1.10): Taylor is on a team with bad quarterbacks that lost its best offensive lineman for a few weeks. He has to contend with a former 1,000-yard rusher (Marlon Mack) and a third-down back (Nyheim Hines) in his own backfield. But that's mostly noise. The signal is a second-year back at 5-10, 226 who runs a 4.39 40, can catch passes and dominated in last year's second half. Don't overthink it.
DK Metcalf (ADP 2.7): Metcalf is a monster the likes of which the league has never seen. He's 6-4, 235 and runs a 4.33. But that 235 understates how strong he is because he's entirely muscle, i.e., he has the frame of a tight end or edge rusher at 250-plus. He also has Russell Wilson throwing him the ball, and apparently they're looking to feed him more on shorter routes. It's almost impossible to overdraft a healthy Metcalf.
A.J. Brown (2.12): I had Brown at WR3 before the Julio Jones trade, and now I've slowly moved him back up to WR4. Brown averaged 12.5 YPT as a rookie before getting 10.1 (4th) last year on two bad knees that required surgery after the season. At 6-1, 226, Brown's like a densely-built running back, but one with breakaway speed. Jones will get his targets, but this only means Brown will overwhelm the remaining coverage.
Travis Etienne (4.6): James Robinson is a good player, and he'll get some work, but Etienne was the team's first-round pick and is paired with his college QB who threw him 48 passes in 12 games last year. At 5-10, 215, he's got the same build as Alvin Kamara, except with more speed (4.44.) I don't know if the Jaguars will use Etienne like Kamara right away, but if you were setting odds on who the No. 1 pick for 2022 will be, Etienne would be in the top-12 choices.
Nick Chubb (2.1) – Chubb's ceiling is limited by his lack of pass catching, but this is a generational early-down back running in a good scheme behind a top offensive line.
Saquon Barkley (2.2) – Barkley's injury makes him a risk, but we saw what he did as a rookie with Eli Manning at quarterback.
Terry McLaurin (3.1) – Ryan Fitzpatrick is average at best, but that's a huge upgrade from what McLaurin's used to. McLaurin is 6-0, 208 and runs a 4.35 40, making him a borderline freakish athlete who's also an excellent receiver.
Justin Herbert (6.12) – Herbert had 31 TD passes and five rushing TDs in 15 games a rookie behind the league's worst offensive line. The team has since drafted Rashawn Slater with the 13th pick, signed Pro Bowl center Cory Linsley and gets right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who missed six games, back. Moreover, the team upgraded its coaching staff and still has Austin Ekeler, essentially another receiver, as its feature back, i..e, this offense will run entirely through Herbert.