Monday, we discussed the best landing spots for rookies during the NFL Draft. Today, we have to highlight the landing spots that made us scratch our heads and facepalm. 

 

Zach Charbonnet to the Seattle Seahawks

Just like last season, head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider went with a running back in the second round of the draft. After selecting Kenneth Walker with the ninth pick of the second round last year, Seattle selected Zach Charbonnet 52nd overall this season. Seattle had zero depth in their running back room after losing both Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer in free agency, but it was still shocking to see the team draft a running back so early.

This obviously impacts Walker in both redraft and dynasty leagues, as he goes from an unquestioned top-10 running back to a mid-range RB2 at best. Walker himself walked into a similar situation last year as Charbonnet is now, being drafted 41st overall and joining Penny in Seattle’s backfield. Walker won a lot of fantasy titles down the stretch last year, ranking as the RB11 in fantasy from Week 9 on (14.3). He hit a lot of home runs for this offense, as 45% of his rushing yards came off explosive runs (15-plus yards), the third-highest rate in football. Walker didn’t see a huge role in the passing game at Michigan State and that carried over into the NFL. His 16% target per route run rate was the eighth-lowest mark among running backs with at least 20 targets last season. Charbonnet, meanwhile, is a very smooth pass-catching running back, hauling in 37-of-44 targets for UCLA last year. And with third-down running back Travis Homer in Chicago, Charbonnet likely plays on third downs early and often, which caps the upside of Walker. Per FTN Data, Walker played just 57 third downs during his rookie year, good for 28.4% of Seattle’s third downs. That rate ranked 45th among running backs. Charbonnet could immediately take third downs away from Walker, but Carroll also recently stated that he and Walker would compete for lead running back duties. 

Cedric Tillman to the Cleveland Browns

Cedric Tillman is one of my favorite prospects in this draft and my WR5, so I was hoping for a more advantageous landing spot than Cleveland. He’ll compete with Donovan Peoples-Jones and Elijah Moore right out of the gate, but we might have to see the Browns throw the ball more for Tillman to be worth starting in fantasy. Once Deshaun Watson made his debut in Week 13 of last season, Cleveland ended the season 24th in neutral script pass rate, and while I do believe the Browns throw the ball more in 2023, this offense will still be centered around Nick Chubb. I still believe in Tillman’s talent and think he can emerge as the WR2 in Cleveland, but he’ll be competing for targets with Amari Cooper, Peoples-Jones, Moore and David Njoku in an offense that isn’t projected to air the ball out. 

Israel Abanikanda to the New York Jets

With a tremendous combination of size and speed, I was surprised to see Israel Abanikanda fall to the fifth round of the draft. You do like the scheme fit, as he projects well in a zone-heavy rushing scheme. 171 of his 2022 carries came out of zone concepts, the 10th-most in college football. Meanwhile, Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett ran a zone scheme during his time with the Packers, as both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon ranked inside the top-14 in carries out of zone concepts back in 2021. However, if Breece Hall is healthy, he should dominate this backfield, while Michael Carter still projects as the change-of-pace/third down running back for this team. I think Abanikanda can be very productive in this offense if he gets the opportunity, but it seems unlikely he does with Hall and Carter healthy. 

Darnell Washington to the Pittsburgh Steelers

Darnell Washington fell in the draft due to medical reasons and will now play behind (and sometimes alongside) Pat Freiermuth in Pittsburgh. My dream landing spot for Washington was either Detroit, Washington or New Orleans, teams that run a lot of 12 personnel and utilize a lot of play-action. That is not the case with the Steelers, as just 17.1% of Kenny Pickett’s 2022 dropbacks came off play-action, the fourth-lowest rate in the league. In college, over half of Washington’s receiving yards came off play-action and while he will absolutely get on the field due to his incredible blocking, Washington is likely going to be extremely touchdown dependent. He already didn’t project as a player who will command a ton of targets but that especially holds true in Pittsburgh with Diontae Johnson, Freiermuth, George Pickens, Allen Robinson and Najee Harris