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Do Rookie Drafts Make Sense Prior to the NFL Draft?

@CoachStevenP takes us inside his first rookie draft of 2023. That's right, rookie draft before the NFL Draft.

In most dynasty leagues, the rookie draft happens sometime in May after the NFL draft. Most leagues do it this way to know which rookies are drafted to which teams and what round they were drafted. In the league that I am in, we do the rookie draft before the NFL draft. We started our March 31st, 2023, and finished on April 1st, 2023. No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke, either. Why would you do a rookie draft before the NFL draft takes place? Well, there is no easy answer; mostly, we were draft addicts this time last year, and we wanted to draft rookies as soon as we finished our start-up draft. The rule is in our bylaws to draft this league’s rookie draft before the NFL draft.

Good? Bad? Or just plain fun?

Are there benefits to doing this? Yes. of course. If you watch college football or research rookies to understand the players coming into this league, then it does benefit you. You draft players more based on talent than the NFL draft spots and team landing spots. You may avoid situations like Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a late first/second-round pick before the NFL draft. Once the Chiefs drafted him, he jumped to a top-two pick.

Also, there could be a situation where a player jumps up from later rounds because he landed in a good situation, but right now, he is considered a third-round pick due to his talent. In last year’s draft, Malik Willis was selected at the 1.02 with the mixed hype he was getting in the offseason. That now looks like a terrible pick. A guy like Dameon Pierce went at 3.07, and you saw solid production in 2023. It’s slightly riskier since there are unknown landing spots, but talent can outshine draft capital. Let’s dive into this league’s rookie draft now.


This league had plenty of trades over the last year that involved many of the 2023 draft picks. Of 48 draft picks, 26 of them were traded at some point before this draft. The trades you see below were made during our rookie draft.

  • 2023 1.01 & 2023 2.04 for 2023 1.03 & 2023 1.05
  • Justyn Ross and John Metchie for 2023 2.11, 3,11, 4.09 & 4.11
  • Najee Harris for Arron Rodgers, Rasheed Penny & 2023 3.04

Round One
Bijan RobinsonCJ StroudAnthony RichardsonBryce YoungJaxon Smith-NjigbaJahmyr GibbsWill LevisQuentin JohnstonJordan AddisonZach CharbonnetZay FlowersMichael Mayer
*** No 1st Rounders for Myself – Used in a Trade to Acquire Mark Andrews, DeVonta Smith, Christian Watson, Joe Mixon, Courtland Sutton & Mac Jones

If you look at many of the Dynasty Nerds rookie mock drafts we’ve been producing, you’ll see similar draft placements in round one. The clear top choice is Bijan Robinson, even for an owner that doesn’t have two solid quarterback options. So don’t assume that need will outweigh talent. I think we’ll see many situations in that Anthony Richardson ends up being the second quarterback off the board for your rookie drafts. His potential upside will win over many owners.

The rest of the quarterbacks went in their project spots, and Levis could be higher depending on his draft capital. In round one, Gibbs and Charbonnet are the only two other running backs off the board outside of Robinson. The top three receivers are likely to go in that five to nine range, but it seems more likely that Smith-Nijgba will be the first receiver off the board. Zay Flowers is a solid back end round one pick and could change depending landing spot. A contending team did grab one of the star tight ends in this class. The best value pick is Gibbs at 1.06, and the worst value is Mayer at the 1.12.

Round Two
Dalton KincaidJosh DownsDevan AchaneJalin HyattKenneth McIntoshZach EvansSean TuckerTyjae SpearsKendre MillerHendon HookerKayshon BoutteMarvin Mims
*** No 2nd Rounders for Myself – Used to help a Trade to Acquire Mark Andrews, DeVonta Smith, Christian Watson, Joe Mixon, Courtland Sutton & Mac Jones

Downs and Hyatt could be steals for the receivers in round two, as they have been projected as possible first-round picks. Round two is the big swing at the mid-tier running backs, and draft capital could impact whether these were good picks. Kenneth McIntosh has not had a good offseason, so seeing him go at 2.05 seems slightly early. Tyjae Spears is a steal at the 2.08, but his value has been everywhere. I tried to trade up to get him but couldn’t work out a deal. Hendon Hooker will likely be a round-two pick unless he gets terrible draft capital. The round ends with Mims, a solid selection as he has some deep-threat value and an NFL draft third-round projection to his name. The best value is Spears, and the worst value is McIntosh.

Round Three
Tank BigsbyCedric TillmanRoschon JohnsonChase BrownDarnell WashingtonSeam LaPortaLuke MusgraveRashee RiceDeuce VaughnDeWayne McBrideIsrael AbanikandaEric Gray
*** The Players in red were drafted by me

Round three showed this running back class’s depth: seven of the 12 picks were running backs. Bigsby and Johnson could be absolute steals in his draft. They are both in my top five rookie running backs, as they have shown three-down skill sets. The remaining running backs are make-or-break players, as their draft capital will be necessary. As I could see, a few of these guys be sixth and seventh-round picks which would bring their value down. Abanikanda has risen for me recently, so I did like that pick in the late third round.

Cedric Tillman and Rashee Rice were both solid receiver selections, but it shows how not deep the elite talent of this class is. The run of the second-tier tight ends are off the board in the middle rounds, and they could end up higher in tight-end premium leagues. The best value is Rashee Rice, and the worst value is Duece Vaughn.

Round Four
Tucker KraftJayden ReedParker WashingtonEvan HullStetson BennettKeaton MitchellTyler ScottMohammed IbrahimTanner McKeeXavier HutchinsonAT PerryChris Rodriquez
*** The Players in red were drafted by me

This round could be 100% different based on how the draft capital goes. Of the remaining good tight ends, Kraft starts the round, and I don’t see many more tight ends drafted in most rookie drafts. We see a few more quarterbacks fly off the board with Bennett and Mckee. Both are likely low picks and could be cut off your dynasty early on. The running backs here are limited types of backs in Ibrahim, Rodriqeuz, and Mitchell. Hull has the potential to be a later-in-career three-down back. The receivers are solid picks in the last round; all have upside as the next tier of receivers. The best value pick is Hull, and the worst value is Bennett.

While this draft was fun, it’s not for everyone. If you like to test your skills, doing the rookie draft before the NFL Draft is the way to go. While risky, it could majorly impact your league and bring only serious dynasty owners to play.

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