Day 2 of this year's draft got started with plenty of future impact players at skill positions still on the board thanks to just five receivers and running backs coming off the board in Round 1.
Nick Chubb, RB, (Georgia), 5-foot-10, 225 pounds
Selected 35th overall by Cleveland
Chubb's path to being selected 35th overall after suffering a devastating knee injury in 2015 is one of the most remarkable storylines of this draft. He had a shaky first season back from injury in 2016 and opted to return to Georgia for his senior year --a risky move for a running back -- and it paid off tremendously. He showed that he's all the way back to his old form as a senior, rushing for 1,345 yards (6.0 YPC) and 15 touchdowns in 15 games. Chubb is an absolute load to bring down thanks to his immense lower body strength and he has enough burst and long speed to break off long runs.
As for his landing spot and value for this year and beyond, it's complicated. On the one hand, Cleveland did just sign Carlos Hyde and it already has Duke Johnson to handle passing down work. On the other hand, Cleveland just spent a second-round pick on Chubb, so it's hard to imagine him taking a back seat in the committee. In the end, Chubb should end up as the lead back for the Browns, and even though Hyde will frustrate Chubb owners by cutting into his workload a bit, he's still in a spot where he can be productive.
Ronald Jones II, RB (USC), 6-foot, 200 pounds
Selected 38th overall by Tampa Bay
One of my favorite combinations of value and fit, Jones instantly becomes one of the most desirable rookie running backs for this season. Tampa Bay had -- and I'm not exaggerating -- the worst running back situation in football by a wide margin before addressing it by adding Jones. He figures to immediately take over starting duties, and there's little reason to believe Peyton Barber and Charles Sims will cut into his snaps enough to hurt his value. Jones is a big play waiting to happen; he racked up 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns at USC in 2017 and had 16 runs of 20-or-more yards. He's also more physical than his frame would suggest. Just a look at his tape shows that Jones is not afraid to take on defenders in the open field and lower his shoulder.
The only limiting factor here is that Tampa Bay doesn't run the ball much. Maybe it's a chicken-or-the-egg situation where the Bucs only ran it 37.68 percent of the time last year (30th in NFL) because they didn't have any viable options. At the same time, Jones' arrival doesn't change the Buccaneers' offensive philosophy. They're still a pass-first offense. It's just that they now have a legitimate running back in Jones to take the pressure off Jameis Winston.
Courtland Sutton, WR (SMU) 6-foot-3, 218 pounds
Selected 40th overall by Denver
Sutton has the frame and skill set to become a No.1 receiver in an offense in the not too distant future. He was absolutely dominant at SMU with 2,331 yards and 22 touchdowns over his final two seasons. His numbers weren't just a function of playing in the AAC, either. A receiver that big with his level of athleticism and short-area agility would have dominated in any conference.
Going to Denver means he slots in as the No.3 receiver at best in an offense quarterbacked by Case Keenum. I expect Keenum to regress and the fact that Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders stand to see such a huge share of the targets means that there might just not be enough opportunity for Sutton to shine in Year 1. Sutton's long-term outlook makes him desirable for dynasty formats, but there will be other receivers drafted after him that will have better rookie seasons.
Mike Gesicki, TE (Penn State), 6-foot-6, 247 pounds
Selected 42nd overall by Miami
As a general principle, rookie tight ends aren't impact fantasy assets. Evan Engram changed that narrative a bit last year by recording 722 yards -- the most by a rookie tight end since 2005. Context is key here, though. Engram essentially plays a “big slot” role in the Giants offense and New York didn't have Odell Beckham
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that while I like what Gesicki brings to the table, it's difficult to project instant stardom here. He has all the traits of an effective tight end at this level and his combine numbers were better than O.J. Howard's, to give you an idea of Gesicki's athleticism. That said, he still has a ways to go in terms of becoming a passable blocker by NFL tight end standards, and that could cut into his snaps. What Gesicki does have in his favor is a lack of competition. There's no one close to Gesicki's talent at tight end on the Dolphins' roster. It may not be immediate, but Gesicki should be a consistent producer by the end of his rookie season.
Kerryon Johnson, RB (Auburn) 6-foot, 213 pounds
Selected 43rd overall by Detroit
I don't know what to make of Johnson as a running back prospect. And as a Lions running back, doubly so. It was surprising to see him go ahead of LSU's Derrius Guice at that stage of the draft, but he does fit a need in Detroit. Johnson runs with patience and has the lower body strength to create good burst once he finds a crease. He also has good hands out of the backfield, having caught 24 of 26 targets in his final season at Auburn. Unfortunately he slots into a crowded backfield that already has LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, and Ameer Abdullah. That the Lions spent a second rounder on Johnson suggests he'll have a role this fall, but opportunities will be capped.
Dante Pettis, WR, (Washington), 6-foot-1, 188 pounds
Selected 44th overall by San Francisco
Pettis coming off the board as the fourth receiver in the class was surprising to say the least, but it's tough to question what the 49ers brain trust is building on that side of the ball. The ex-Washington Huskie didn't work out at the combine due to an ankle injury, but his film and production show him to be a slithery and quick receiver with elite skills in the return game. He holds the NCAA record for punt return touchdowns (nine), so Pettis already has a clear-cut path to taking on that role. As for his fit in the offense, Pettis has his work cut out for him. He slots in as the No.4 receiver and his slight frame raises concerns about his ability to get off of press coverage and also his ability to work over the middle. Pettis' main impact will be on special teams -- at least to start his career.
Christian Kirk, WR (Texas A&M) 5-foot-11, 200 pounds
Selected 47th overall by Arizona
Everything about this pick makes sense. He's a great value as the fifth receiver off the board and he fills a major need in the receiving corps. What's more, the Kirk selection shows Arizona's dedication to getting more weapons at rookie quarterback Josh Rosen's disposal.
Like Pettis, Kirk is a handful in the return game with six punt returns for touchdowns in his three seasons at Texas A&M. Unlike Pettis, Kirk is well-built and more polished as a receiver. His height might keep him in the slot early in his career, but Kirk showed to be a problem for defenders in that spot during his time at A&M. His surprisingly sub-par agility drills at the combine belie how proficient Kirk is at creating separation off the line and in tight quarters. Kirk may have been the third receiver taken on Day 2, but he's the first one I'd consider in drafts this summer.
Dallas Goedert, TE (South Dakota State) 6-foot-4, 260 pounds
Selected 49th overall by Philadelphia
Philadelphia traded up in front of the suddenly tight end-less Cowboys to grab the top remaining player at the position in Goedert. Though he's a small-school product, Goedert's size and dominant tape show that he'll be able to hack it at the next level. He's a bit of a luxury pick considering the Eagles already have Zach Ertz, but coach Doug Pederson emphasized using tight ends in the passing game and Goedert can instantly absorb the snaps and targets that used to belong to Trey Burton. It'll be tough for Goedert to replicate Burton's touchdown production (five touchdowns on 23 receptions in 2017) however. Goedert's long-term outlook is promising even if his rookie season includes a steep learning curve and moderate role in the offense.
Anthony Miller, WR (Memphis) 5-foot-11, 190 pounds
Selected 51st overall by Chicago
This pick was universally praised and with good reason. Miller may come from a smaller program and he may lack ideal size, but he's not a receiver that should be doubted. He was unbelievably productive over his last two years at Memphis; he caught 95 passes for 1,434 yards and 14 scores in 2016 and followed it up with 96 grabs for 1,462 yards and a whopping 18 touchdowns in 2017. Miller has remarkably strong hands and play strength, which helps explain how he was able to bring in 11 red zone touchdowns last season despite being 5-foot-11.
He enters a great situation in Chicago with a promising young quarterback in a Matt Nagy offense that carries lofty expectations in Year 1. Depending on what the Bears can get out of Kevin White, Miller could find himself in a starting role right away. His ability to work the short and intermediate parts of the field give Mitchell Trubisky yet another sure-handed weapon to keep the offense humming. Aside from Kirk, this is my favorite Day 2 receiver selection and I'll be buying up plenty of Miller shares once draft season rolls around.
Derrius Guice, RB (LSU) 5-foot-10, 224 pounds
Selected 59th overall by Washington
Samaje Perine dynasty owners: don't read this.
Washington fans: Hello.
Guice's shockingly long fall finally ended at the tail end of the second round and he lands in a spot where he should immediately push for the starting job. On talent along, Guice was arguably a top-25 player in this class and it wouldn't have been surprising to see him be the second running back off the board. Off-field issues prevented that from happening, but Guice could end up being one of the biggest steals of this draft. He's well-built with great lower body strength and burst and he runs with a ferocity that's mostly unmatched by any other runner in this class. His 2017 production was up-and-down due to lingering injury issues, but a glance at his 2016 shows the kind of potential Guice brings to the table. Guice's 285-yard performance against Texas A&M that year gave him the LSU single-game rushing record and shows what a game wrecker he can be when at full strength. Keeping in mind that Chris Thompson will still see plenty of work in Washington's passing game, Guice is still an intriguing rookie running back that should fit into a role that makes him more valuable than Kerryon Johnson in redraft formats. And yes, that means I think Guice leapfrogs Perine on the depth chart right away.
James Washington, WR (Oklahoma State) 5-foot-11, 213 pounds
Selected 60th overall by Pittsburgh
Washington the player is an intriguing talent that is one of the best deep threats in this year's receiver class. Washington the fantasy asset is buried on Pittsburgh's depth chart for at least this season in all likelihood. In fairness, similar things were probably said about Juju Smith-Schuster last year. It's clear that if Washington gets well acclimated in the offense and develops chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin will give him a chance to produce on the field a la Smith-Schuster working his way up the pecking order last year. It's not out of the question that Washington surpasses Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter, although that's something that won't happen by Week 1. Also, there needs to be the obligatory disclaimer that Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and Smith-Schuster won't leave much in the way of leftover targets for the rest of the Pittsburgh pass-catchers, so adjust your Washington projections accordingly.
D.J. Chark, WR (LSU) 6-foot-3, 199 pounds
Selected 61st overall by Jacksonville
Jacksonville has a crowded receiving corps that'll make it challenging for Chark to see early playing time, but most of the Jaguars' receivers aren't exactly established, either. Chark joins a group that includes Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief, and Dede Westbrook vying for targets behind Marqise Lee.
Looking at Chark's college numbers alone can be misleading without context. He didn't catch a pass until his junior year and topped out at 40 receptions for 874 yards and three scores this past season. That said, LSU is notorious for having a run-heavy approach that under-utilizes talented receivers. He enters another run-heavy situation in Jacksonville, but Chark's potential is worth betting on. Chark checks in just under 6-foot-3 and yet he still managed to run the fastest 40-yard dash (4.34) of any receiver at the combine. That blend of size and speed make Chark a potential No.1 wideout in the future. Chark is a valuable asset in dynasty formats even if his role as a rookie is inconsistent.
Royce Freeman, RB (Oregon) 6-foot, 234 pounds
Selected 71st overall by Denver
Even if I'm a bigger believer in other running backs in this class, this is an undeniably great landing spot for Freeman. The loss of C.J. Anderson opens up 245 carries in the Denver backfield, and while Freeman won't absorb all of those, he's a rookie that'll easily push for triple-digit carries. Freeman, the PAC-12's all-time touchdown leader (60), enters the league with 947 carries, which hurts his long-term outlook to an extent. Still, he's a better talent than Devontae Booker and Freeman should be able to garner a fairly even carry split with him right off the bat. Even if Freeman enters the season as the No.2 back, he's as good a candidate as any of the Day 2 picks to take the starting job before the end of his rookie year.
Mason Rudolph, QB (Oklahoma State) 6-foot-4, 229 pounds
Selected 76th overall by the Steelers
Pittsburgh going after a quarterback in the early rounds was a popular storyline this draft season and there were some who thought Rudolph would've been an option for the Steelers as early as Round 1. With that, getting Rudolph here in the third round is a nice value pick for Pittsburgh. Rudolph had an accomplished career and has incredible chemistry with Pittsburgh's second-round pick, James Washington as the two of them were one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems in all of college football over the last two seasons. Rudolph's long-term outlook is rosier than that of Josh Dobbs, but it's not out of the question that Pittsburgh would go after a Round 1 quarterback when it really is time to find Ben Roethlisberger's replacement. Rudolph won't see the field as a rookie barring injuries to the two quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart.
Michael Gallup, WR (Colorado State) 6-foot-1, 205
Selected 81st overall by Dallas
Gallup walks into an interesting situation in Dallas that has plenty of room for upward mobility on the depth chart. The offseason acquisitions of Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson cut into available targets for Gallup, as does the presence of Terrence Williams and slot specialist Cole Beasley. Still, none of those wideouts are overly intimidating when it comes to keeping Gallup on the bench.
Gallup was absolutely dominant during his time at Colorado State, racking up 2,685 yards and 21 touchdowns in two seasons. He stands to challenge for an outside receiver role but will be blocked by Williams and Hurns for at least the start of his rookie season.
Mark Andrews, TE (Oklahoma) 6-foot-5, 256 pounds
Selected 86th overall by Baltimore
Andrews was an interesting selection here given that Baltimore already spent a first-round selection on tight end Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina. While both are tight ends, they have distinctly different games. Hurst is more along the lines of a classic in-line tight end that also brings solid pass-catching ability and athleticism to the table.
Andrews, on the other hand comes from a wide-open system at Oklahoma where he was able to operate in space as a total mismatch in the slot. He comes to the NFL with next to no blocking ability, which complicates his role if Baltimore wants to use him as a regular NFL tight end. However, if Baltimore uses him in a similar way to how New York used Evan Engram last season as a matchup nightmare who is too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties to properly cover. For context, Andrews caught 62 of 91 targets for 958 yards and eight scores as a junior at Oklahoma and never scored less than seven touchdown in any of his three collegiate seasons. It's clear that Baltimore has plans to move on from its current tight end group and give this new class of Hurst and Andrews a chance. Andrews' role should come into focus in the coming months, and if he's ticketed for an Engram-esque role, he could be a contributor right away. His value is entirely tied to how creative (or unimaginative) Baltimore is with his placement within the offense.
Tre'Quan Smith, WR (Central Florida) 6-foot-2, 210 Pounds
Selected 91st overall by New Orleans
Smith is an interesting long-term option here, joining one of the best-designed offenses in the NFL with Drew Brees at the helm. His size and athleticism -- which is highlighted by a 38-inch vertical leap and a 130-inch broad jump -- give him an excellent catch radius. He was a major big-play threat in Central Florida's offense, averaging 19.8 yards per reception on his way to racking up 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. He's blocked by the likes of Ted Ginn, Cameron Meredith, and Brandon Coleman behind Michael Thomas, but Sean Payton is innovative enough to find ways to get the ball in his playmakers' hands. Smith's best shot at early playing time is to beat out the recently acquired Meredith. Otherwise, it may take until Year 2 for Smith to truly find his niche.