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The NFL draft is always a revealing event that either confirms or destroys preconceived notions about front offices. For instance, just when I thought Bill O’Brien had claimed the title of the worst GM in recent history, I discovered that Gutekunst means “hold my beer.” Time will tell if Jordan Love continues the grand tradition of elite quarterback play in Green Bay, but the timing and placement of his first three picks were unlike anything I’ve seen.
Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones are glaring examples of players that may see a profound negative effect on their perceived value due to this draft, but if you have them on any of your rosters, you may actually want to hold onto them. I think the shock wave from this draft will cause an overreaction to their value, and you will have a difficult time finding a fair offer for either. Also, they are both still very talented players that may end up playing well on another team (possibly as soon as next season). I do have some players I recommend trying to sell before the season begins, though, so let’s dive in.
Deshaun Watson (HOU)
I’m a big fan of this player, but I’m worried about the direction of his team. DeAndre Hopkins was such a playmaker for Watson, and the two had developed intense chemistry that most QB/WR pairings never reach. Watson now has to rely on two talented and fast receivers in Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks, but they’re also both injury risks. The Cooks’ concussion history is especially troubling, and there were whispers last year that he may walk away from the game. I actually think Kenny Stills is underrated, but I don’t feel the same way about Randall Cobb. Also, David Johnson is another question mark. Watson should still command a good return, but there are too many question marks on this team.
Chris Carson (SEA)
Remember Thomas Rawls? I think of Carson as a larger, more productive version of that underdog running back that catches the attention of Pete Carroll in practice one day. They both ran hard for the Seahawks and have suffered injuries as a result of that running style. A fractured hip is not a great prognosis for Carson’s future — another member of the Seahawks (Delano Hill) had a similar injury and was noticeably affected the following year according to team insiders. Carson still has some street cred and is thought to be on track for whatever version of training camp the NFL has this year. That means you could expect a decent return in a trade, but the injury and drafting of fourth-round rookie DeeJay Dallas are enough to convince me it’s time to move on.
Austin Ekeler (LAC)
Ekeler enjoyed a perfect storm last year with Melvin Gordon’s holdout, a quarterback who excelled at utilizing running backs in the passing game, and his own growth in the Chargers’ offensive scheme. His value is at an all-time high, and that’s when you want to sell. Rivers is gone, and it’s hard to envision any combination of Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert working nearly as well with Ekeler. He only gained three more yards on the ground last year than the previous season, so his meteoric rise (993 receiving yards on 92 receptions) was primarily due to his chemistry with Rivers. The Chargers also drafted Joshua Kelley in the fourth round, and he has an excellent chance to soak up a number of reps that Ekeler took last year.
Davante Adams (GB)
With the potential turmoil and scheme shifting in Green Bay, Adams is a difficult read. Many reports tied to the draft indicate a strong desire in the organization to put a much larger emphasis on the running game going forward. Combine that with the failure to add (with apologies to Devin Funchess) a legitimate target opposite of Adams, and I can imagine a somewhat disappointing season for the talented wideout. He’s another asset you should be able to move for a handsome return, and I recommend getting ahead of this curve.
Keenan Allen (LAC)
He’s another stud that could be affected by the Chargers’ quarterback change. He was still a top-10 receiver in half-PPR last year, and he’s only 28 years of age, so Allen should be an attractive trade offer to many. He may well develop instant chemistry with either Taylor or Herbert, but typically, that takes time. An additional factor is the lack of time he can work with his new quarterbacks due to COVID-19, and there’s always a chance he never clicks with Herbert. He also has a pretty extensive injury history, although he’s been durable the last three years. Maybe he’s kicked the injury bug, or maybe he’s kicked the injury-prone label, but I see too many land mines in this field.
Jared Cook (NO)
Jared Cook has quietly had a productive career with 6,169 receiving yards to date. He’s currently ranked in the top-10 tight ends for this season on many sites, but I think some young bucks such as Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, T.J. Hockenson, and Jonnu Smith may surge ahead of him this year. At 33 years of age, he isn’t ancient by tight end standards, but he looks to be on the back nine, and he’ll have a rookie to fend off as well. Adam Trautman brings much more upside than the pedestrian group behind Cook did last year, and he could steal significant snaps as the season progresses.