Summa Cum Laude: Post-Draft Analysis

By John Laub
John Laub




           2017 Summa Cum Laude League:

                 Post-Draft Analysis

                        Draft Date: June 13, 2017



We assembled some of the finest CFB prognosticators in order to provide insight for college football diehards on the upcoming season after the fourth annual Summa Cum Laude Mock Draft. All of the participants are listed below along with their Twitter accounts:  


Mike Bainbridge, @MikeBainbridge2

Josh Chevalier, @CFFguys

Joe DiSalvo, @theCFFsite

JT Gasson, @Agvet06

Rob Manghnani, @robm0115

John Laub, @GridironSchol91

Andy Katz, @Andrewpkatz

Nathan Marchese, @CFFantasyNate

Thor Nystrom, @thorku

Mario Puig, @NFLDraft_RW 

Mike Salerno

Matt Caraccio, @Matty_OS & Paul Perdichizzi, @paulie23ny: Team Saturday2Sunday Football

After the Mock Draft, some of the CFB enthusiasts were kind enough to answer the following three questions: 


1. Other than your club, pinpoint the owner with the best draft.


Mike Bainbridge: Big fan of what Nate was able to do, comprising a very balanced lineup with high-end starters at each position. Running back is especially strong with arguably the top running back in Saquon Barkley, but plenty of depth behind him with Mike Weber, Nick Chubb and Ryan Nall. While dual-threat QBs are the name of the game in CFB, getting Mason Rudolph at your QB1 and pairing him with J’Mar Smith gives you two promising starters who will be even better in 2017. WRs are solid with Dante Pettis, Linell Bonner and Justin Hobbs. 


Joe DiSalvo: When I evaluate draft results, it's important to recognize rosters that accumulate the most high-ceiling players, as I like to call them. I think two GMs, Thor (Pick No. 1) and Andrew (Pick No. 2) had excellent drafts. I believe Thor got a steal with Miami RB Mark Walton in Round 4 and his selection of Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson in Round 8 is the perfect example of a high-ceiling player. I wanted Anderson, but could not draft him because I had reached my roster limit (5) for runners in Round 7. Andrew secured three incredible RBs with his first three selections, added the No. 1 rated TE and grabbed two solid QBs within the draft's first seven Rounds.


JT Gasson: I really like Thor’s draft. It doesn’t hurt to start with Lamar Jackson, but I like that he nabbed two top wide receivers and some nice running backs. He also drafted some of my favorite sleepers at the back end of the draft. The roster limits of five runners and five wideouts certainly made for some good talent left at the end of the draft. Thor got Rodney Anderson (Round 8), CJ Johnson (Round 14) and Shaq Vann (Round 15) that could all emerge as rock solid weekly starters. 


Gridiron Scholar: Whenever drafting against great fantasy fanatics, it is difficult to identify one owner who hits a home run. Nonetheless, I really liked the team assembled by Matt and Paul of Saturday2Sunday Football. In 2-QB leagues, I prefer launching my draft with two signal callers, and Quinton Flowers (USF) and Jalen Hurts (Alabama) are both dual-treat leaders who are ranked among my top 10 at the position. With the following two selections, Matt and Paul selected running backs Akrum Wadley (Iowa) and Kalen Ballage (Arizona State), and in the sixth Round, grabbed L.J. Scott (Michigan State) to complete a strong backfield. 


Andrew Katz: Mario gets my vote. His wide receiver heavy strategy proved super effective, as he didn’t end up lacking in quality at any of the other positions. I shouldn’t have passed on Richie James in Round 1, and he nabbed Michael Gallup right before my slot in Round 2. He cleaned up.


Nathan Marchese: Andrew's team has big upside with potential breakout stars like Demetris Robertson, Devwah Whaley, and Rashaad Penny, but I will give the edge to Thor. He is absolutely loaded at quarterback, quality wide receivers at the top, and while his runners don't have huge upside, a few of them are just about as solid of a lock for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as you will find. He found good value with Shaq Vann and Rodney Anderson, and Hayden Hurst should perform well in that budding South Carolina offense. It's smart to take a couple high risk/reward guys late when you have Jackson in your back pocket. 


Thor Nystrom: It is the CFF Site. In the first three rounds, they took my #5 (Moore), #4 (Freeman) and #11 (Mattison) ranked running backs, all solid values. Their WR corps is comprised of high-upside guys in high-volume passing offenses. They took a big risk with QBs, but got solid value with two of my favorite sleepers in Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush and Florida Atlantic’s De'Andre Johnson, concluding that group with late-rounder Zach Abey (Navy), who's a great backup (or low-end starter) in 2-QB leagues. One of Wimbush/Johnson will have to hit big for this to be a championship-contending roster. I'd take the odds that at least one will.


Mario Puig: Andrew's team might be a tad thin at receiver after Kalib Woods' arrest, but with a top-three running back rotation and Jaylen Samuels at tight end, I think that team would be a feared opponent most weeks. Plus, Shane Tucker is wide receiver eligible yet may end up the starting running back for a Middle Tennessee offense that scores many points. It wouldn't quite be like Devon Johnson at tight end a few years back, but it nonetheless could be a sneaky way to get top production at wideout if he wins that starting runner role.


Mike Salerno: The Gridiron Scholars drafted an explosive offensive lineup. He took two outstanding quarterbacks at the top of the draft in Luke Falk and Sam Darnold while also coming away with up-and-comer Daniel Jones (Duke) in the twelfth round. He came back in the Round 3 and selected Myles Gaskin and then added another back in the fourth with Kyle Hicks who had 10 or more fantasy points in all but three games last year for the Horned Frogs. The wide receiver tandem of Equanimeous St. Brown and J'Mon Moore combined for 17 touchdowns last year and both have the potential to be even better in 2017.


2. Identify the top sleeper(s) candidate this season.


Mike Bainbridge: Nate landed my top sleeper for this season in Louisiana Tech QB J’Mar Smith who started just one game last season in place of the suspended Ryan Higgins and performed well with over 200 yards passing and a touchdown vs. Arkansas. What makes Smith so promising despite just one career start is the offense he will be playing in under Skip Holtz who turned previous grad transfer quarterbacks into fantasy superstars. Smith is more talented than each of them and is in line to have a monster season, pending the Bulldogs find some capable receivers. 


Joe DiSalvo: My list of sleepers run deep, as you would expect in full FBS formats, but I'll offer three: 

QB Armani Rogers, UNLV: Solid group of receivers and has potential to rush for 800-plus yards. 

RB Jawon Hamilton, UCF: He's ready for a breakout year in HC Scott Frost's second season with the Knights.

WR Jamal Custis, Syracuse: Whether you play in a deep FBS or P5 league, Custis has fantasy value in Syracuse's pass-heavy offense.

JT Gasson: I’m still buying Ole Miss’s offense with Shea Patterson at quarterback this year. I was targeting him and Mike snagged him a few picks ahead of me. That said they have to replace their top two wide receivers from last year and one of their sophomore wideouts will emerge as the top option. I just wish I knew if it was going to be AJ Brown, DK Metcalf or Van Jefferson. The coach is talking up Metcalf, so I’ll go with him. 

Gridiron Scholar: By far, my top under-the-radar quarterback prospect is Duke’s Daniel Jones. After a slow start last season, the redshirt sophomore performed much better in the second half of the campaign. When the curtain closed, Jones completed over 62% of passes for 2,836 yards and tossed 16 touchdowns. He added 486 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. The 6’5”, 210-pounder led the Blue Devils to victories over Notre Dame and North Carolina, and opens the 2017 season as the ACC Coastal Division’s top returning signal caller. While directing coach David Cutcliffe’s offense, Jones becomes a weekly starter in CFB leagues by the end of the year.

Andrew Katz: Dru Brown is about to be a full-blown star. Year one in Nick Rolovich’s offense was surely largely an adoption year, and the only thing that I see potentially sapping Brown’s value is the team’s propensity to rely on running backs deep in the red zone. Even so, this is an offense that should be more reminiscent of the golden Hawaii years than the more recent, bland, era that has likely left a bad taste in your mouth—and Brown is the catalyst that you will want on your roster. As a bonus play, Shane Tucker is essentially free in all drafts, has wide receiver eligibility, and is positioned to be Middle Tennessee State’s starting running back. If you want insight as to what that position can produce, just look at I’Tavious Mathers’s stat line from last year. Tucker has never produced at that level of course, but he’s a great lottery ticket that I’ll buy at the immaterial requisite cost.


Nathan Marchese: Rashaad Penny isn't really a sleeper, but he was the eleventh ball carrier off the board. I feel he has top 3-5 potential this year and will certainly outperform his third-round spot in this draft. Andrew's selection of D.K. Metcalf is a nice sleeper pick. He has the physical tools of a Julio Jones, a quality QB throwing to him, and showed his potential briefly last season with 2 touchdowns before injury ended his season halfway through the second game.


Thor Nystrom: Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson, who I took in Round 8, has top-3-round upside if he stays healthy. But since he's my guy, I'll go with a runner taken just before him. Mario Puig grabbed Texas RB Chris Warren near the end of Round 7. Warren split carries with D'Onta Foreman two years ago before getting hurt in 2016. Now, he takes over for a guy who ran for over 2,000 yards last season (184 yards per game) despite not playing in a bowl game. Warren's position coach compares him to Jerome Bettis.

Mario Puig: I completely forgot about RB Shaq Vann during the draft, but I think he was a great pick for Thor in Round 15. Vann looked better than Darius Jackson while playing off the bench two years ago, yet missed all of what was supposed to be his first year as starter with a leg injury in 2016. If he can regain the form he showed prior to the injury, there is major fantasy upside for him in an improving Eastern Michigan offense that plays at a good tempo. Vann has standout pass-catching skills and could be one of the nation's top producers from scrimmage with a little luck.


Mike Salerno: Benjamin Snell (Kentucky) rushed for 1,091 yards and 13 touchdowns as a true freshman and didn't play in the Wildcats first two games. Although Snell earned his share of accolades a year ago, and was selected in the fourth Round of our draft, he'll catch even more eyes on the national stage with the departure of Stanley Williams as Kentucky continues to improve under Mark Stoops.


3. Select one player who will become a weekly CFB starter drafted in the tenth round or later.


Mike Bainbridge: Thor may have found an under-the-radar gem in the fourteenth round with Wyoming receiver C.J. Johnson. Multiple sources on Twitter, including team beat writers consider Johnson the clear No. 1 WR already for the Cowboys and have said he has 1,000-yard potential this season. With future first-Round pick Josh Allen throwing him the football, surpassing 1,000 yards this season is the expectation for Johnson.  

JT Gasson: As I mentioned above, the roster limits let some nice talent drop in the draft. I think I got one of those players in Tennessee RB John Kelly. He had 600+ yards and five touchdowns last year while backing up for Hurd (when healthy and not quitting the team) and Kamara. He also won’t have to worry about Joshua Dobbs taking yards and touchdowns. I also really like CJ Johnson from Wyoming this year. I think Wyoming is going to air it out this year, having lost RB Brian Hill early to the draft. The Cowboys top three pass catchers—Gentry, Maulhardt and Hollister—jettisoned, and NFL QB prospect Josh Allen is getting a lot of buzz already.


Gridiron Scholar: One of my preferred late-round targets is Central Florida’s WR Tre'Quan Smith. In 2015, the redshirt junior was named the All-AAC rookie of the year and led the Knights in receiving the past two seasons, totaling 109 catches for 1,577 yards and nine touchdowns. Last year, he eclipsed the 100-yard barrier four times and recorded twelve plays over 20 yards. The Knights offense returns nearly every key performer and should be more productive in coach Scott Frost’s second season at the helm.


Joe DiSalvo: Due to roster restrictions, I don't think there were many guys drafted that won't start at least a handful of times throughout the 2017 season. However, three players drafted in the tenth round or later jump out at me. I have high hopes for the FAU offense under OC Kendal Briles, so QB De'Andre Johnson (Round 11) and WR Kalib Woods (Round 10) could become regulars in starting lineups this year. Also, I cannot ignore Oklahoma WR Jeffery Mead (Round 16) because I'm shocked he almost went undrafted. I probably should have drafted him because he has a chance to emerge as QB Baker Mayfield's go-to receiver given his combination of size and speed.

Andrew Katz: The entire draft room somehow forgot about John Kelly—and then I think we all immediately acknowledged that it was a great pick when JT popped him in Round 14. His path to fantasy relevance has minimal resistance, as Tennessee’s backfield depth is very limited. It would have been completely fair if he’d been picked in the fifth or sixth round.


Nathan Marchese: I think JT Gasson got a steal in the fourteenth round with the John Kelly selection. He is a prime breakout candidate with the attrition Tennessee suffered in the backfield and the skill set Kelly possesses. He will face tough defenses, but coach Jones will rely heavily on the run game while breaking in a new field general. Rocky Top also has a very experienced O-line with a nation-leading 111 starts returning this year from this unit. 


Thor Nystrom: As far as deep sleepers go, I was thrilled to get Wyoming WR C.J. Johnson in Round 14. The Cowboys have to replace the vast majority of their 2016 receiving production, and Johnson looks like he'll be QB Josh Allen's No. 1 option. With RB Brian Hill gone, the rapidly-improving Allen figures to be given clearance to throw even more in 2017. It wouldn't be surprising if Johnson ends up as a top-15 or even top-10 fantasy receiver this fall (I currently rank him as the No. 28 fantasy WR).


Mario Puig: Chris James was a great pick for Andrew in the fifteenth round, and a big reason why his running back rotation is so solid. The Wisconsin running game is automatic big numbers for whoever is starting, and James should be able to hold off Bradrick Shaw for that role after following Paul Chryst by transferring from Pittsburgh. Shaw is a former high recruit with a good combination of strength and speed, but his running instincts probably trail behind James. James is the quickest Wisconsin back since James White and should prove significantly more explosive than Corey Clement. 


Mike Salerno: Running back Josh Adams of Notre Dame had 60 fantasy points in the last three games of the season. Despite an already crowded backfield, new offensive coordinator Chip Long will look to utilize the Irish's ground attack more this season, which will mean even more opportunities for Adams in 2017. 


The Summa Cum Laude All non-Drafted Squad

Pos. Player Team Pos. Player Team
QB Mike White Western Kentucky WR Shay Fields Colorado
QB Brett Rypien Boise State WR Thomas Owens Florida International
QB  Jesse Ertz Kansas State WR Keesean Johnson Fresno State
RB Dedrick Mills Georgia Tech WR Taj Williams TCU
RB Terence Williams Baylor TE Tyler Conklin Central Michigan
RB Tyrone Owens New Mexico State K Joey Slye Virginia Tech
RB Tre Watson California Def. Houston Cougars