2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Minicamp Notes 2.0

May 16, 2017
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R.C. Fischer provides early minicamp notes on some of this year’s potentially fantasy relevant rookies. This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from R.C. head to Fantasy Football Metrics.

Welcome to the most delusional part of the NFL calendar year: the rookie minicamp notes for the 2017 season, version 2.0. See last week’s notes here. The cycle of hysteria for media coverage of the incoming rookies is always the same the first half of the calendar year we spend months beating up and hyping up the NFL Draft prospects. They are then drafted onto NFL teams in a process (the NFL Draft) where everyone calls prospect choices a ’50-50 gamble.’ Every NFL team is given an overly optimistic draft grade by the media – between ‘A’ and ‘C.’

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Then the real rose-colored glasses go on after we grade their draft. The rookies hit their first NFL minicamps, and local reporters in attendance write glowingly of every rookie there. Breathless excitement over what jersey numbers these new heroes of renown will be gracing the stage with. Top pick weapons catching passes in shorts against off-the-streets tryout DBs. Such hope, such promise, such wonder. The NFL loves its shiny new toys. In fantasy football land it is of no profit to hear that every one of the 400+ rookies attending camps is doing wonderful and ‘learning fast’ plus ‘working hard.’ We need more actionable and/or unorthodox information to consider – especially those who are prepping for their upcoming 2017 dynasty rookie drafts. With that in mind, I am going to share some of the more interesting observations and things people attending certain camps are discussing with me. It’s some of the better tidbits of information I have been sorting through to continually update my 2017 dynasty rookie draft top 200 (+IDP) rankings at CollegeFootballMetrics.com. Some NFL teams had their rookie camps a week+ ago and the rest wrapped theirs up over the last few days. Here are a few rookie minicamp notes on them from the past week (in no particular order).

Mitchell Trubisky (QB – CHI)
From all reports, Trubisky made a nice splash with his teammates and impressed the onlookers at Bears’ minicamp. It started with Mitchell’s highly publicized drive into camp in his grandmother’s Toyota Camry with 100K+ miles on it. On the field, Trubisky dazzled observers I trust with his arm strength and accuracy. I scouted Trubisky in depth pre-NFL Draft, and I’ve been studying QBs for several years now. Trubisky has one of the most natural abilities to place the football I’ve ever seen from a college QB. There’s a reason, despite all the football media crying about his lack of games played in college, that multiple teams were trying to get into the #2 spot for Trubisky. When we look back, the 2017 draft may be defined by Chicago’s one-spot move to jump in ahead of any other team and land Trubisky for a bunch of throwaway mid-draft picks.

Curtis Samuel (WR/RB – CAR)
I had some people asking me about a supposed video going around of Carolina WR/RB Samuel ‘body catching’ (catching the ball to his chest/stomach versus snatching passes with his hands) too much at minicamp. Apparently, this set off some panic among Carolina fans. For what it is worth, people I trust did not report seeing any real issue. When I scouted Samuel pre-draft, I didn’t notice any issue like that on his college tape. I believe Samuel had 70+ catches last year without an official drop for Ohio State in 2016. Additionally, my sources tell me they were more impressed with Samuel at minicamp than Christian McCaffrey and that wasn’t taking anything away from McCaffrey.

Malik McDowell (DT – SEA)
I’m not a huge McDowell fan from my scouting of him pre-NFL Draft. He flashes at times and is obviously, physically gifted. He’s also a very lazy player and had disappointing numbers in college. But there are moments. As a defensive end, McDowell has the size (6′6″/295) but is a little big/slow for a true rush edge. He’d be a nice profile for a 3-4 DE prospect, but Seattle typically runs a 4-3 scheme. However, as a 4-3 defensive tackle prospect – now, you’re talking. McDowell has some Aaron Donald athleticism but is actually bigger than Donald. For all his disappointment from college, McDowell profiles as a potential star 4-3 DT. That’s why I was surprised when people told me Seattle had him working as a defensive end. Perhaps, they’ll have him cut weight and try to become a true 4-3 defensive end. It’s an interesting twist and not the way I would play it. He played DT/NT in college and seemed destined for defensive tackle in the pros, but Seattle is bent (for now) on working him at D-end according to reports.

Samaje Perine (RB – WAS)
Perine falls into a great situation with a very thin Redskins’ RB depth chart. He profiled with draft analysts as a power runner and not as multifaceted as Oklahoma teammate Joe Mixon but I heard from a couple of sources that the thing that caught everyone’s attention at Redskins rookie minicamp was how well Perine caught the ball.

Ryan Switzer (WR – DAL)
Two players received glowing praise from Dallas rookie camp: Switzer blew everyone away with his smooth Cole Beasley-like ways. Something that always blows my mind about Switzer are the 5 punt return TDs he had as a freshman for North Carolina. That’s insane (7 return TDs for his career). Chidobe Awuzie’s presence and leadership stood out to observers I trust as well as his play. He’s dedicated and tough, a safety/linebacker mindset working as a cornerback right now.

Elijah Hood (RB – OAK)
Many Raiders minicamp observers were left wondering if they didn’t just see young Marshawn Lynch in the seventh-round pick out of UNC, running back Elijah Hood. Hood’s numbers fell in 2016 when Mitchell Trubisky took over because the passing game flourished. In 2015, however, Hood ran for 1,463 yards and 17 TDs for the Tar Heels.

Extra Notes

  • Tennessee WR Taywan Taylor was reportedly nervous/rattled and dropping passes early in camp, but then kicked into gear and started to impress as camp went on.
  • Most of the Arizona rookie camp buzz was about safety Budda Baker, not Haason Reddick.
  • The Giants’ staff is thrilled with Davis Webb, as were general observers of minicamp. He looks the part. He speaks the part. He worked a lot with Evan Engram, who he had developed a relationship with at the Senior Bowl week. Speaking of Engram, the Giants did have him lining up all over the place (as they said they would) but are talking up really working on trying to make him into more of a traditional tight end.
  • I’m not a fan of hearing about any players unable to practice because they come into camp out of shape, and I’m especially worried if a rookie trying to make an impression is deemed out of shape and that’s what happened to D’Onta Foreman at camp with Houston. For fantasy, it makes you pause and this will probably drop Foreman’s rookie draft ADP lower in days to come, but let’s not forget, Ezekiel Elliott came into camp overweight last year for Dallas. That seemed to work out OK.
  • Former Virginia Tech QB prospect Jarod Evans left school early to enter the NFL after a pretty solid college debut season in 2016. He is now a ‘former Philadelphia Eagle’. Evans went undrafted, got a look with Philly, hurt his foot, and was released with an injury settlement. That decision to leave early looks like a disaster right now.
  • All I’ve heard from Buffalo camp is how impressed the Bills’ staff is with the professionalism of WR Zay Jones. He and Tre’Davious White battled each other in camp and Jones was the reported winner. Both showed well.

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Look for more of my team’s NFL Draft scouting reports, measurables, mock drafts, and dynasty rookie rankings before and after the NFL Draft, right up to the beginning of the new NFL season at CollegeFootballMetrics.com. See our NFL/fantasy analysis all year round at FantasyFootballMetrics.com.

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