The NFL draft season is officially upon us, but we’ve been in serious information-gathering mode for months now. Our Joe Dolan and Tom Brolley watch tons of college football each fall, and they've studied plenty of tape – we’ve included plenty of links for you to watch these prospects too. But we also lean heavily on our friends and sources around the league who not only watch more college football than we do, but they also closely scrutinize these pending rookies’ college tape.

While we’re a fantasy site and these players’ worth in our world won’t be clear until after the draft, we still like to stack these guys against each other based almost entirely on talent and their potential as they transition to the pros. We also break the players up into tiers in an effort to offer more insight into how they project to the NFL and the fantasy world.

Once the draft takes place on April 27-29, then it will be a lot easier to rank the rookies for the 2017 season – and we will in early May. We’ll also reset our long-term outlooks and re-rank the players for keeper and dynasty leagues.

Note: We plan on tweaking our write-ups and rankings prior to the draft after our Greg Cosell is done studying the coach’s tapes of this year’s class.
Note: These players are ranked more so for their long-term value and potential, so these rankings aren’t for just 2017. Once the draft takes place, we’ll rank all rookies for both this year and the long-term.

 

Franchise Players

1. O.J. Howard

School: Alabama | Ht: 6’6” | Wt: 251 | 40: 4.51 | Year: 4SR

The Crimson Tide criminally underused Howard as a receiver the last two years, but we’ve still seen enough of him to believe he can be cornerstone in a good passing game. He blew away most scouts away at the Senior Bowl by looking like a man among boys, which likely solidified his status as a first-round pick. He also shined the brightest in the last two national championship games. When they needed him the most in two shootouts against Clemson, Howard posted 5/208/2 receiving in 2015 and 4/106/1 in 2016. Those were the only two games in which he eclipsed 100+ receiving yards, and he ended his career with just 114/1726/7 in four seasons. He came to Alabama as a five-star recruit, and he played and started right away as a freshman for the best and deepest program in the NCAA. Top RB prospect Leonard Fournette ran an impressive 4.51 40-time at 6’1...