A four-star recruit from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Braelon Allen burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2021. Arguably the best two-way player in the state of Wisconsin coming out, Allen dominated the high school gridiron as both an All-Area Safety and All-Area RB. In his senior season, he averaged 14.6 yards per carry. Entering college, there was some doubt about whether Allen would play offense or defense at the next level. It was believed he could convert to MIKE LB, as his 6’2” 232 lbs. frame would suggest. Alas, RB would be Braelon’s calling and it was the right decision.
A day after sitting out the Commanders’ final preseason game, Brian Robinson Jr. was shot twice in the legs during an attempted carjacking. Robinson had been one of the biggest stories of the preseason thus far, ascending the Washington depth chart from perceived RB3 to potential RB1. He sat out the preseason finale, as many anticipate, as a safety precaution, which suggests a large role in the offense could have been possible for Robinson this season. However, this unfortunate turn of events will alter things.
Josh Downs was a four-star prospect out of Suwanee, Georgia who put together 187 receptions for 3,019 yards and 32 TDs over his final three high school football seasons. He starred both on the football field and the track, as he finished third in the state in triple jump and fourth in the state in long jump before giving up track to focus on football. Downs comes from a pedigree as well. His father was an RB in the NFL after playing at North Carolina State. Furthermore, his younger brother Caleb is ranked as the number one Safety in the nation and just committed to Alabama for the 2023 season.
Jameson Williams was a four-star prospect out of St. Louis, MO who broke Ezekiel Elliott’s 300-meter hurdle state record in high school. He starred both on the football field and the track and after a difficult decision between Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State, eventually committed to the Buckeyes. Williams played sparingly as a reserve and special-teamer during his true freshman season. Williams started six games in 2020 but caught just nine passes for 154 yards and two scores as the fourth option in a loaded wide receiver depth chart that included Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson at the time.
Zamir White was the number one RB in his class coming out of high school and a top-ten national recruit before signing with the Georgia Bulldogs. “Zeus,” as he was called, unfortunately, tore his ACL late in his senior season, however, and then tore his other ACL in August 2018, which caused him to redshirt the fall. He worked hard and overcame these injuries, rushing for 408 yards and three TDs on 78 carries in 2019, playing behind D’Andre Swift.
A four-star high school recruit who was born in Taiwan, moved to Ghana, and later emigrated to Canada, John Metchie III played his high school ball in the state of Maryland. He logged some game time as a freshman at Alabama, but behind so many NFL talents at WR he didn’t log enough snaps to impress statistically. In 2020 he filled in for an injured Jaylen Waddle and recorded his breakout season. This past season, he earned second-team All-SEC honors with a team-high 96 receptions before suffering a torn ACL in the conference title game and missing the team’s playoff run.
Jeremy Ruckert was a New York State Gatorade Player of the Year and USA Today first-team High School All-American coming out of high school. He was rated the number one TE prospect in the nation before signing with Ohio State. As a true freshman, Ruckert played in 12 games as a reserve. In 2019, he started three contests for the Big Ten Champs and brought in 14 passes for 142 yards and four TDs. Ruckert was an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection in 2020 (13 – 151, five TDs) when they played the Covid-shortened season. He was an honorable mention selection again this past season, setting career bests with 26 receptions for 309 yards and scoring three times.
A talented back who boasts NFL-ready size, strength, and speed, Jerome Ford landed in a decent spot with Cleveland. Though his fifth-round draft capital is lower than desired, he will have an opportunity to learn behind a talented stable of RBs in Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and D’Ernest Johnson. Ford does have more than adequate hands, so he could potentially be used in a change of pace, two-minute, or third down role this season if there is an injury or two ahead of him. He will most likely never serve as a lead back in the NFL, but pass-catching backs who garner 10-15 touches a game (which could be in his future as early as 2023) carry fantasy value. Expect to see him selected in the middle of the third round of your dynasty rookie drafts.
As a prospect, Corral is decisive and operates with an excellent release to challenge tight window throws, and possesses the touch to drop in challenging throws in the short to intermediate. His biggest knock as a passer is on his deep ball, which sometimes hits brilliantly but can be inconsistent. He creates run-after-catch opportunities with his pinpoint short-to-intermediate accuracy. Corral is an above-average runner but is currently too cavalier, and he is not built to take the pounding at the next level. Durability and concerns about off-the-field reliability forced his slide in the draft. The Panthers are about the best possible landing spot for Corral, as they have struggled to get consistent play from Sam Darnold. Additionally, Matt Rhule is known as a “players’ coach” who can relate and help get the most out of Corral, and hopefully, keep him on track. The draft capital will force Corral down into the mid-second round of dynasty rookie drafts.
Brian Robinson Jr. comes to the NFL as a highly-ranked national recruit out of high school and with relatively low tread on the tire, with only one season of extreme usage and production. The major knock on him is that he is a 23-year-old rookie. As a player, what you see is what you get: he is an imposing physical presence at 6’2” and 225 lbs. who will most likely add even more weight and strength at the NFL level. He is limited laterally, but is an effective interior runner and offers added bonus as a competent receiver. In Washington, he will most likely have a short-yardage and goal-line role behind stand-out Antonio Gibson. Gibson has shown he is capable of being an every-down back but battled usage injuries throughout his young career. Robinson Jr. looks to be a late-second to early-third round pick in dynasty rookie drafts.
As a true freshman, Christian Harris was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, starting 12 of 13 appearances (63 tackles, 7.5 for loss). Harris played through a shoulder injury during the Crimson Tide’s run to the 2020 national championship, making 79 tackles, seven TFLs, 4.5 sacks, and one INT. He started all 15 games of the 2021 season, again making 79 stops, 12.5 TFLs, and 5.5 sacks. He also recorded three pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Harris has shown reliability and toughness throughout his collegiate career.
Nakobe Dean came in and produced as a true freshman at Georgia, earning the team’s Co-Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award (25 tackles, 1.5 for loss, two pass breakups). He led the Bulldogs with 71 tackles (1.5 sacks) in his first season as a full-time starter as a sophomore. Dean played through a torn labrum in his shoulder that season. In 2021, Dean was a first-team Associated Press All-American and All-SEC selection after recording 72 tackles, a team-high 10.5 for loss with six sacks, two interceptions (one returned for a TD), six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles in 15 starts for the national champions.
Zamir White was the number one RB in his class coming out of high school and a top-ten national recruit. “Zeus” had torn an ACL late in his senior season, however, and then tore his other ACL in August 2018, which caused him to redshirt the fall. White returned for the 2019 season and earned the school’s David Jacobs Award for overcoming injury by playing in 13 games and rushing 78 times for 408 yards and three TDs. White started all 10 games in 2020, leading the Bulldogs with 779 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 144 carries. He also caught six passes for 37 yards. In 2021, White led the national champions with 856 rushing yards and 11 scores on 160 carries while catching nine passes for 75 yards in 15 games (12 starts).
In his true freshman season, Tyrion Davis-Price contributed for the 2019 national champion Tigers, scoring six touchdowns on the ground on 64 carries for 295 yards in a reserve role. The former top-10 running back recruit led LSU with 446 rushing yards on 104 carries (8 for 47 receiving in nine games, four starts). TDP again led the Tigers with 1,003 yards and six scores rushing on 211 carries in 2021. He caught 10 passes for 64 yards as well over his 12 starts.
Jeremy Ruckert was a New York State Gatorade Player of the Year and USA Today first-team High School All-American coming out of high school. He was rated the number one tight end prospect in the nation before signing with Ohio State. As a true freshman, Ruckert played in 12 games as a reserve. In 2019, he started three games for the Buckeyes. He was an All-Conference selection in 2020 (13 – 151, five TDs). He was an honorable mention selection again this past season, setting career bests with 26 receptions for 309 yards and scoring three times. It is important to note that Ruckert played with two first-round picks in former teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, as well as Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who should be selected in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft.
Rachaad White had to go the long, difficult route to get to the pros, but he earned every bit of it along the way. After committing to D2 Nebraska Kearney, he left for community college. White played two years at Mt. San Antonio College, becoming a first-team junior college All-American in 2019 (1,264 yards, 10 TDs rushing). In his first year with ASU, White led the FBS with a 10.0 YPC (42-420 in four games, three starts) average and five TDs. He also led the Sun Devils’ RBs in receiving yards that season. This past season White was a phenom and garnered second-team All-Pac-12 honors, leading the Sun Devils with 1,006 rushing yards and 15 scores on the ground and 43-456 receiving, despite missing time with a right leg injury (eight starts in 11 games played).
John Metchie III is an early-declare WR that just dominated the SEC and is coming off of injury. Metchie III was good enough to start alongside fellow Alabama alumni and first-round picks Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith in 2020. This past season, Metchie was relied upon to be Bryce Young’s go-to receiver, a role he was effective in until teammate Jameson Williams began to blossom and he shared the load. Like Williams, Metchie also went down with an unfortunate ACL injury at the end of the season, just two games before Jameson did.
After making the mistake of signing with Wake Forest, Kenneth Walker III was relegated to a committee backfield his first two collegiate seasons. Though he produced well, the coaching and supporting cast held him back. However, he chose to transfer to the BIG10 and joined Mel Tucker’s Spartans before this past season. As a junior this past season, he exploded for 1636 yards on 263 carries for a 6.2 YPC average. He averaged a reception per game and scored 19 TDs and proceeded to win the Walter Camp Player of the Year and Doak Walker (nation’s top running back) awards, in addition to receiving first-team Associated Press All-American and Big Ten Running Back of the Year honors.
While at first, you may wonder about the landing spot, since Jacksonville just signed Foye Oluokun to a big deal, let us consider the entire picture. Foye is an undersized weakside LB, where he excelled in Atlanta the past two years. Devin Lloyd fills the prototypical three-down middle Linebacker role. Also, remember that Jacksonville traded up to make this selection, which tells how highly they think of Lloyd. The Jaguars project to play a lot of snaps on defense in the coming seasons, so Lloyd can really pay dividends as an IDP investment. Expect to see him drafted in the early-to-mid second round of IDP dynasty rookie drafts.
While he didn’t crush the athletic testing at the NFL Scouting Combine, Hamilton still performed fine. He recorded a 4.59 40-yard dash time and a 38-inch vertical jump. His broad jump was 132 inches and his three-cone time was a respectable 6.90. He chose not to participate in the bench press. Hamilton has a unique blend of size, athletic ability, and experience which make him capable of playing literally anywhere on the field.