I can’t remember being as disappointed following a draft as I was this time around. The fantasy first round, and even the second round, seemed to be brimming with possibility and talent. As the draft unfolded, it spiraled into a swirling, sucking, eddy of despair. It seemed at nearly every turn that good players were going to poor situations. Not just poor teams, but to situations that had young talent at the position already or with a clear timeshare role in store for them. Of course, this doesn’t mean these players are no longer talented or don’t have significant upside, but choosing the players who will perform in due time is going to be a greater guessing game than it has been in the recent past.
The running backs got hit especially hard. The fall of Lamar Miller was of the epic variety and supposedly due to injury concerns and a miserable display of football IQ during chalkboard sessions at the combine. Players don’t often recover from situations like that and he could easily fall into third round of fantasy drafts. Chris Polk went entirely undrafted and ended up signing in Philadelphia shortly after the draft concluded, again due to injury concerns (shoulder and hip). Small wide receivers were all the rage in the middle rounds and few of them really ever turn into fantasy producers.
On the whole, it was a disappointing draft and that giant sucking sound you hear is the sound of all picks after 1.06 losing value. After 1.08, things get really bad pretty quickly unless you’re one of those eternal optimist types. However, once fantasy rookie drafts get underway, all will be forgotten and excitement will be in the air again. We’ll have plenty of content, cheat sheets, rankings and articles for you to help you through your drafts.
What follows isn’t a review of every offensive player selected, just a quick listing of notable selections I feel deserve particular mention. You’ll be able to see enough about these players, and those not listed as well, in our rankings and forthcoming profile updates.
April 28, 2012
ROUND 4 – Notes
1. Rams – Chris Givens, WR
The Rams are finally stepping up to add talent for Bradford, but I’m not that intrigued with Givens. He’s too raw and doesn’t have great hands. He’s a speedster and will likely fall to the third round in fantasy drafts.
2. Dolphins – Lamar Miller, RB
Well, it’s about time. Major concerns over his shoulder, combined with further concerns about his football IQ stemming from failed chalkboard sessions at the combine, have dropped Miller’s value significantly. He could be selected in the second round in many drafts, but given recent situations like that of Jonathan Dwyer, he’ll fall to the third round in many cases. I have him ranked in the third round as of now.
7. Redskins – Kirk Cousins, QB
So much for the value of Cousins. Ouch!
11. Seahawks – Robert Turbin, RB
I had hoped for a better landing spot for the rising Turbin. The Colts, Packers or Broncos all would have been better landing spots. Marshawn Lynch is still young and Turbin represents a handcuff selection in the third round for Lynch owners. For an owner with multiple second round picks and a gambler’s heart, he could be taken in the late second round of fantasy drafts.
12. Chiefs – Devon Wylie, WR
I like Wylie. He’s the closest thing to Wes Welker I’ve seen recently and certainly the Chiefs are thinking along the same lines. Taking a Wes Welker clone in fantasy, however, is a big risk.
15. Chargers – Ladarius Green, TE
Interesting sleeper selection here with the aging Antonio Gates. Caveat Emptor applies as Green carries with him significant injury concerns involving his knees, shoulder and ankle. Poor blocking will reduce his usage, but if he can stay healthy, he’s an interesting risk-reward selection.
21. Bengals – Orson Charles, TE
Many teams are rolling out more two tight end receiving sets. Charles provides an immediate opportunity for more athleticism from the position, although his numbers will be muted due to Jermaine Gresham’s youth and productivity.
27. Saints – Nick Toon, WR
Good landing spot for Toon. He’s not flashy, but with Drew Brees throwing the pig, you don’t have to be. I could see him sneaking into the late second round in fantasy drafts on occasion.
ROUND 5- Notes
17. Cowboys – Danny Coale, WR
An interesting prospect who could have value as a deep sleeper. He’s more polished than one would expect and flew under the radar. He’ll likely go undrafted in all but the deepest of rookie drafts, but he’s one to stick on a list for watching.
24. Steelers – Chris Rainey, RB
He’s a Dexter McCluster type of back. Not much to see here as he doesn’t really project to fantasy prominence in my mind. Some people are intrigued by Rainey, but I’m not one of them.
31. Bengals – Marvin Jones, WR
The Bengals put together a nice draft and the addition of both Mohamed Sanu and Jones make for intriguing young upside at receiver. Jones has been a DLF Forum favorite and his situation likely will find him often drafted in the second round of fantasy drafts. He’s got great size, big hands and ran a 4.46 40 – that’s enough to intrigue many fantasy coaches, especially in this draft.
33. Raiders – Juron Criner, WR
One of my favorite sleeper receivers goes to a decent situation. The Raiders needed to land receiver help and Criner possesses the size and hands to make an impact. He’s a bit of a “loper” and isn’t overly dynamic, but he has huge hands, catches everything remotely close to his frame and he’s tough across the middle. He reminds me a lot of A.J. Green in ball skills, but without the speed. Still, he’ll fall to the third round at best in rookie drafts.
35. Colts – Vick Ballard, RB
The Colts are obviously content with their running game with both Donald Brown and Delone Carter in the backfield. Brown was healthy and productive down the stretch and if he can stay healthy, he’ll see a lot of time. Ballard is an average runner without great speed (4.65) and would seemingly be a greater threat to Carter than Brown. It’s a situation to keep an eye on and if you have either Brown or Carter, perhaps risking a late round handcuff pick on Ballard isn’t out of the question.
ROUND 6 – Notes
12. Chiefs – Cyrus Gray, RB
Not a horrible landing spot for one of the more intriguing backs pre-draft. Still, with Charles and Hillis ahead of him, he won’t see the field for some time.
15. Cardinals – Ryan Lindley, QB
One of my favorite deep sleeper prospects. He throws a great ball at the intermediate and deep level, but he does have trouble with accuracy and his footwork is sloppy. It’s a good situation for Lindley and he could be pressed into duty sooner than most would think. Give him 2-3 years of development and he could surprise.
21. Bengals – Dan Herron, RB
An interesting selection given the lack of a workhorse back in Cincinnati. BJGE looks to be the featured back and Bernard Scott has teased owners for the last few years. Herron could steal carries with a good camp and preseason. He’s not a dynamic back, but he’s a downhill runner with a bit of wiggle to him.
24. Eagles – Marvin McNutt, WR
McNutt is a good all-around prospect with good size and hands. He’s not overly dynamic, but he’s the type of receiver who could stick on a roster and develop over time.
28. Ravens – Tommy Streeter, WR
Streeter reminds me of Leonard Hankerson and goes to a situation in which he could press for field time if he develops quickly enough. He’s got elite size and speed but isn’t as physical as I’d like to see. He has a lot of upside and will likely be a third round rookie draft selection.
ROUND 7 – Notes
5. Bucs – Michael Smith, RB
Not a player you have to own, but he’s got the bulk to be a multiple down player as he possesses nice agility. He’ll be playing behind Doug Martin and, therefore, has limited upside unless the injury bug bites.
31. Chiefs – Junior Hemingway, WR
Nice size, decent speed and adequate hands in a situation that bears watching. He’s certainly multiple years away from developing, but there’s something about him I like. He has a little bit of the “it” factor in him.
April 27, 2012
ROUND 2 – Fantasy Relevance
1. Rams – Brian Quick, WR
6’3″ and 220 lbs., Quick is a surprise choice from the Rams. That’s not to say it’s bad choice as Quick has been rising on draft boards and has prototypical big play receiver size. Running a 4.55 40 didn’t turn heads, he’s raw as a route runner and he hasn’t shown great physicality off the line but he catches the ball fluidly and naturally and has a good work ethic. I felt the Rams needed a bit more experience and savvy with their first receiver selection. Quick doesn’t represent that but he’s in a good situation to start early. In fantasy drafts, Quick could go in the bottom of the first round or fall until the mid second round. Hard to get overly excited about Quick’s prospects.
2. Colts – Coby Fleener, TE
It was a relatively easy prediction to make and I’m happy to see hit come to pass. Andrew Luck now has at least some immediate chemistry on his new team with the addition of his gifted tight end Fleener. He’s known as being relatively unimpressive as an in-line blocker but he wasn’t drafted to block. He’s great off-the-line, has very adept hands and should be productive from day one. Tight ends are difficult to draft and usually represent a risky proposition but Fleener will rate more highly than he would normally if not for the recent success of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in New England. Fleener may actually grace the bottom of the first round in some rookie drafts but is likely a higher second round selection. The Colts have also selected Dwayne Allen at TE and Fleener’s value takes a little hit. Fleener will obviously fill a receiving role.
11. Jets – Stephen Hill, WR
The combine phenom fell further than expected and the Jets get a bit of a value with the selection of Hill at pick 11 in the second round. A 4.34 40, almost 40″ in the vert. and showing incredible hands, Hill goes to a situation that I’m not excited about at all. The Jets have a questionable offense and won’t have an elite receiver from which to be taught the finer points of the position. I haven’t seen anything out of the Jets organization that leads me to believe that Hill can be developed into a productive pro, but he’s going to be on the field early and often in 2012. Upside is unlimited and his downside is limited to being a complete bust. Caveat Emptor most certainly applies here and he’s going to fall to the second round in many fantasy drafts.
13. Bears – Alshon Jeffery, WR
This draft is proving very clearly why fantasy rookie draft picks ALWAYS lose value during/after the draft. Much like Stephen Hill above, Jeffery ends up in a questionable situation. The Bears traded for the enigmatic Brandon Marshall prior to the draft, and still have Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox all crammed into the top of their depth chart. Jeffery will likely not be seeing a tremendous amount of field time in 2012. As a player, there are questions about Jeffery’s weight, physicality and route running ability but there’s no questioning his catch radius or leaping ability. In fantasy drafts, he’ll fall to the second round and may actually slide into the third in rare occasions with play makers still on the board at this point in the NFL draft.
18. Rams – Isaiah Pead, RB
Pead ahead of Lamar Miller is a shocker. The Rams are obviously looking for snaps now to keep Steven Jackson fresh. At 197 lbs., Pead doesn’t represent a prototypical every-down-back body so one must conclude that he’ll have spot duty in 2012 and be paired with a larger back later in this draft or in 2013. He has a lot of work to do in the finer points of the position and isn’t accomplished in pass protection. It’s a head-scratcher of a pick.
22. Lions – Ryan Broyles, WR
One of my favorite receivers in the 2012 draft, Broyles is surprisingly selected ahead of Rueben Randle. He’s still recovering from ACL surgery and it’s difficult to project how he’ll fit into an offense with Calvin Johnson, Titus Young and Nate Burleson. He’s not big, extremely fast or physical, but he’s got a great heart, is ultra competitive and oozes leadership ability. Fantasy draft wise, Broyles is going to fall to the late second, early third. His Detroit situation may even see him fall deeper in some drafts.
25. Broncos – Brock Osweiler, QB
A generous placement for Osweiler in my estimation. Playing behind Peyton Manning, Osweiler has to be pleased to share a team with both Manning and John Elway. He’s a huge project with a lot of rough edges but without any immediate pressure to start, he’ll have plenty of time to develop. Watching his quarterback session with Jon Gruden, he came off a bit creepy. Osweiler will likely be drafted in the bottom of the second round or early third, at best.
29. 49ers – LaMichael James, RB
James finds his way into the second round and into a situation that should provide him with immediate field time. The 49ers have upgraded their offense at nearly every position thus far and continue to add play-makers. Not an every down back, Sproles slides into third down and specialty situations to give the 49ers a threat at, now, every level. A thin build, very thin legs and a checkered injury history, James will break down under too heavy of a load. If limited to third down duty and slot work, he could be productive in PPR formats.
31. Giants – Rueben Randle, WR
Another poor situation for a receiver. I like Randle’s game and have him rated well above his selected position. Sliding into a receiver corps. that already has Hakeem Nicks and and Victor Cruz, Randle’s fantasy production will likely be extremely limited for the foreseeable future. Randle falls to the late-second or third round in most fantasy drafts in all likelihood.
ROUND 3 – Fantasy Relevance
1. Colts – Dwayne Allen, TE
Wow. With the needs the Colts have at other spots, this is a surprising pick. Obviously, he’s been drafted to anchor the line in running situations while Fleener becomes the receiving threat. Allen may go undrafted in fantasy drafts.
4. Broncos – Ronnie Hillman, RB
Wow. I think I’m going to be saying that a lot this round. Hillman in the third round is yet another head-scratcher. He’s smallish, but extremely dynamic and electric with the ball in his hands. He’s not going to carry the load but in a league that is moving to quick-twitch athletes in the backfield, he’ll have a role in 2012. What it will be is a complete guess and drafting him will be extremely risky. Due to his drafted round, he’ll be a second round fantasy selection.
5. Texans – Devier Posey, WR
The Texans have been looking for a complement to Andre Johnson for years and perhaps they have found it with Devier Posey out of Ohio St. I doubt it. I’ll be honest in that I haven’t watched tape on Posey and will be doing so shortly. Either way, I have a hard time seeing Posey being anything other than a third round fantasy selection.
6. Bills – T.J. Graham, WR
A surprising pick from the Bills in that while Graham is a speedster, he is extremely raw as a receiver and doesn’t pose much dynamic other than his speed. In an offense that needs multidimensional talent, Graham represents nothing close. The Bills may be looking to find their own version of Wes Welker and Graham certainly fits nowhere but the slot and doesn’t have the toughness to replicate Welker’s production.
7. Jaguars – Bryan Anger P
I just wanted to put a punter on my draft blog. Sorry.
12. Seahawks – Russell Wilson, QB
I love this pick. Not because I think Wilson represents any sort of near term production or even fantasy relevance, but because hard work, determination, leadership and hubris need to be celebrated, especially when they’re all present in a single player. If there’s a “next” Drew Brees, Wilson may just be it. Draft him for heart and determination alone. There’s something about him.
15. Dolphins – Michael Egnew, TE
Underrated in his receiving skills, Egnew was drafted obviously for his athletic ability. A respectable 4.62 40 at 6’5″ and 252 lbs., Egnew represents another very raw receiving prospect with upside in time. Probably a late third round draft selection in fantasy, at best. He’s largely an unknown.
20. Bengals – Mohamed Sanu, WR
Finally, a really nice pick. Sanu looks good on tape and I think he’s better than ‘experts’ believe. Good size, big hands but with sub-par speed, Sanu fills an immediate need for the Bengals and has a role along side the speed A.J. Green. He uses his body well, has good hands and is relatively fearless. He’ll be off the board in the middle second round in fantasy.
21. Ravens – Bernard Pierce, RB
One of my favorite sleeper backs in this year’s draft, Pierce doesn’t get a great early-starting situation but he’ll have time to develop behind Ray Rice. Pierce doesn’t stand out in any one area but has decent size, decent speed, has enough receiving ability to further develop in that area and has decent hips. He’s not overly strong but he’ll add weight in his first year. He’ll be a good late second round Ray Rice handcuff selection.
25. Eagles – Nick Foles, QB
Foles slid mightily following the combine and the slide continued leading up to days just prior to the draft. He should be happy with this selection and he goes to a good situation that will allow him to develop over the coming season or two. He’ll be third on the depth chart behind Mike Kafka and will be a late third round selection in fantasy drafts, maybe. Fantasy wise, I just don’t see upside.
29. TY Hilton, WR
Undersized slot/return specialist at best. Likley not fantasy relevant.
April 26, 2012
ROUND 1 – Fantasy Relevance
1. Colts – Andrew Luck, QB
Big surprise here, right? He’s been hailed as potentially the best quarterback prospect since John Elway back in 1983. I agree and if you’re looking for a quarterback for your fantasy team, I still believe he’s your hands-down choice. RGIII is sexier, but Luck is as good as you can get coming from the collegiate ranks. Give him a couple of years and he’ll likely be your starter for the next 10-12. Now we wait until tomorrow to see if Indianapolis follows through on my expectation that they’ll pair him with his Stanford teammate, TE Coby Fleener.
2. Redskins – Robert Griffin III, QB
Big surprise here, right? RGIII is engaging, talented and as sexy as you can get in fantasy (that doesn’t sound good). While I’d take Luck first overall in every draft in which I needed a quarterback, I won’t fault anyone who wants to roll the dice on RGIII for his speed dynamic. He’s got a powerful wrist-snap and is accurate on the move as well. He’ll likely put up more fantasy points that Luck in his first year or two, but that which makes him sexy, is also a cause for longer term concern. Mobile quarterbacks tend to lose value more quickly as time passes.
3. Browns – Trent Richardson, RB
Finally, a pick Cleveland fans can get excited about. I’ve watched as much tape on Richardson as I have any rookie in the past five years. I still don’t see the “elite” status that everyone is hanging on him. Is he NFL ready? Absolutely, and without a doubt. He’s great in every phase of the game, but I don’t believe he’s elite. In fact, in an interview today even Jim Brown said that he doesn’t see enough elite skill to put him in that category. But it doesn’t matter. Richardson is a talent and he’s going to go first overall in 90% of fantasy drafts, maybe more.
The Browns had to have a playmaker with their first pick and Richardson was the easy selection. Kudos to them for trading up a pick to ensure that they landed him. Draft him first overall without concern unless you have a dire need at quarterback.
5. Jaguars – Justin Blackmon, WR
Blackmon marked the fourth offensive skill position player off the board in the first five picks. Much like Cleveland in trading up to land Richardson, Jacksonville had a deep need for a young playmaker at receiver and knew they had to leapfrog St. Louis to take him. Blackmon isn’t elite either in my book, but he’s darn close. I do like him better than Dez Bryant, even if he doesn’t possess the prototypical height expected at the position for a receiver taken in the top five picks of the NFL draft. He’ll be an immediate starter and gives quarterback Blaine Gabbert another new weapon to help increase his productivity. It’s just impossible to be excited about Blackmon’s situation. Jacksonville is where receivers go to die, much like Detroit is where running backs go to do the same.
Blackmon could now easily fall to the fifth selection in your fantasy draft due to Tampa Bay’s selection of Doug Martin late in the first round. I’ll touch more upon that shortly.
8. Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB
In fantasy, Tannehill is likely to fall into the teens of your rookie draft, perhaps sneaking into the bottom of the first round to a quarterback needy team. It was likely the worst kept secret that the Dolphins would be laying in wait for Tannehill at number eight and wasted no time when on the clock. He provides immediate upside over Matt Moore and will likely be starting when the Dolphins are out of the playoff hunt shortly after mid-season. Miami will need to pair him with more weapons at receiver to give him a chance to develop early. Otherwise, he may suffer the same fate as Cleveland’s Colt McCoy. If you are an owner of Moore, consider an earlier pick to secure Tannehill or a trade of Moore to the Tannehill owner.
9. Panthers – Luke Kuechly, ILB
He’s not overly dynamic or sexy, but in IDP leagues he represents the best chance for defensive production. IDP selections in the second round of fantasy drafts are fraught with risk as many don’t ultimately pan out, but Kuechly seems to have that Brian Urlacher feel to him. I liked Urlacher’s presence far more than Kuechly’s, but there’s no denying Kuechly’s ability to shed blocks and locate the ball carrier. He’s gritty, hard-nosed and is a prototypical three down backer with good coverage skills. He’ll likely be selected in the middle teens of IDP format drafts.
13. Cardinals – Michael Floyd, WR
Hard to know what this selection does for Floyd’s value and we likely won’t know until halfway into the season. Floyd is paired with perhaps the single best character influence in the game, Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona’s passing game should be dynamic and provide for more quality targets to Fitzgerald. Floyd’s numbers likely won’t leap off the page but there’s nothing standing in the way for both of them to be productive. For the remaining Arizona receivers, primarily Early Doucet, Andre Roberts and Stephen Williams, the outlook likely isn’t as bright. In fact, look for Doucet to perhaps now be on the trade block. Look for Floyd to come off the board in the 1.06 or 1.07 spot in your rookie draft, likely just before David Wilson.
14. Rams – Michael Brockers, DT
A fine defensive tackle, no doubt. Just the type of receiver that Sam Bradford needs. It’s ordained now that the Rams will select a receiver in the second round. They HAVE to be considering Stephen Hill or the less risky Rueben Randle with the first pick in the second round.
20. Titans – Kendall Wright, WR
Not shocking to me that Wright found his way into the first round. As the draft rolled on, and looking at the receiver needy teams below pick 15, I started expecting to hear names such as Wright, Stephen Hill and Rueben Randle. As it was, only Wright heard his name called day one. While not shocked that Wright was selected, I certainly was shocked to hear his name called to the Titans. With other such receivers as Kenny Britt, Damian Williams and Nate Washington young and relatively productive, a selection of Wright was a bit of a head-scratcher, especially when considering some of their needs in the defensive backfield and even along the offensive line.
With the young Jake Locker likely to be starting games for the Titans sooner rather than later, it’s hard to get overly excited about Wright’s prospects in fantasy. He has to be drafted in the top ten due to talent and dynamic, but it’s not a pick that fantasy coaches will be excited about making. Look for Wright to come off the board at the bottom of your first round, after the remaining second tier of running backs.
22. Browns – Brandon Weeden, QB
This was the first real shocker to me in the first round. After the dreaded vote of confidence given to Colt McCoy, I had believed that the Browns weren’t going to be looking to select a quarterback until the second round at the earliest. To see them use their second first round pick on Weeden speaks volumes about what they expect from him. While they may be saying all the right things about McCoy being set to make a huge jump in development in 2012, it’s obvious that they aren’t necessarily confident he will. The selection of the older Weeden signals a full-scale quarterback competition in camp.
Due to Weeden’s age and the relatively lackluster performance of all things Cleveland, at least offensively related, Weeden is likely going to be a middle-to-late second round selection in fantasy drafts. I, myself, am likely to remove Weeden from any selection in the first two rounds of my drafts. He represents a value only pick for me in the third.
25. Patriots – Dont’a Hightower, ILB
Hightower is a versatile inside backer and it remains to be seen how he’ll be used by Belichick. With the production of Ninkovich and the every-down ability of the healthy Mayo, it would seem that Hightower is mostly a threat to fellow slower inside backer, Brandon Spikes. Running an impressive 4.68 40, Hightower’s toughness and speed could bring immediate defensive toughness to a relatively soft New England defense. Hightower is a high-risk, high-reward IDP selection that probably won’t be selected until the late second, or early-third round of fantasy drafts.
28. Packers – Nick Perry, DE
This pick is notable for owners of James Starks. With all remaining backs still on the board when Green Bay went on the clock, this pick was going to say a lot about what the Packers feel about their running back situation. They elected to bolster their defense instead. Without another pick until #59 overall, owners of Starks can breathe a little easier. Watch the possible selection of Chris Polk, however.
30. 49ers – A.J. Jenkins, WR
Shocker #2. What does having a great defense do for you on draft day? It allows you to take risks and reaches on offense to provide much needed depth and dynamic. Dynamic explains Jenkins’ game well. He’s fast (4.39), is a good leaper and catches the ball well away from his body. He’s got good deep ball skill and can stretch the field, but don’t look for him to have much value over the next couple of years. He’s often injured and will take a lot of time to find a role in that offense, especially considering the number of existing veteran receivers. Because of these factors, it’s hard to project his fantasy selection. Depending on Friday’s selections, look for Jenkins to come off the board in the middle of the second round, perhaps even later in the second.
I’m still mystified, at least somewhat, by this pick given some of the other names on the board.
31. Buccaneers – Doug Martin, RB
Good draft so far for Tampa.
They did what I thought they needed to do with their first selection, addressing the defensive side of the ball and foregoing the running back selection until the second round or, as it turns out, a trade into the bottom of the first. A great selection in Doug Martin and he’ll be the odds on favorite for going off the board now in the top four in fantasy drafts, likely ahead of Justin Blackmon. In fact, I believe you’ll be hearing his name called at 1.02 quite often. I’m not as high on Martin as most are, but there’s no denying his situation and his running style. He’s not overly dynamic, doesn’t have the same hips or strength combo that Ray Rice possesses, but he’s perfect for the Tampa Bay offensive scheme.
Those running back needy teams not getting a shot at Richardson will be very pleased with the consolation prize of Martin.
32. Giants – David Wilson, RB
Ouch. Wilson’s rookie value drops significantly as he now shares a backfield with Ahmad Bradshaw, a similar enough runner whose value also takes a notable hit. I’m not overly high on Martin to begin with and am even less so now. Bradshaw does have a tendency to get nicked up and Wilson is young enough that he’ll still be drafted relatively highly, but those coveting Wilson can’t be happy with the situation.
Look for Wilson to go off the board at 1.07 or 1.08 depending on the selections to come on day two of the draft.
We’ll pick this up again following Friday’s action.
April 25, 2012
Firstly, congrats to Calvin Johnson as being the 2013 Madden cover player. I think. We’re all now holding our breath.
I always marvel at the information that starts flying the day before the draft, it gets really deep.
The pick at 1.03 is still very much in play and it’s obvious that the Vikings are hip deep in discussions. I believe a deal will get done as it just makes too much sense. The Vikings are now said to not covet Kalil as much as they might CB Morris Claiborne or even WR Justin Blackmon. The Rams sitting at #6, to me, have to be considering moving up to the #3 to select Trent Richardson. I still very much believe that it’s going to get done. That allows the Vikings to still take one of Claiborne, Kalil or Blackmon, in all likelihood. I don’t believe any team is going to move up to select Ryan Tannehill or Blackmon – it’s too high for both of them.
I’m also thinking that this year the Patriots will be selecting players with both of their first round selections. I know, crazy talk, right? Look for the Pats to take a receiver with their second pick. It’s starting to look like that Baylor’s Kendall Wright may be the target, but put me down for Stephen Hill.
As if beleaguered Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict didn’t have enough trouble trying to restore his image, now word emerges that he tested positive for marijuana while at the combine. That may just seal his fate for going undrafted.
Boston College MLB Luke Kuechly seems to be moving up and now has been mentioned as a possible #5 selection to Tampa Bay. I don’t see Kuechly moving up that far, but I could see a move into the top ten.
Michael Floyd has been popularly mocked to the Jets at #16. Mark my words, Floyd will not last that long. In fact, I have Jacksonville slightly overdrafting him at #7. They need more help outside on the defensive line, but they MUST get Blaine Gabbert a big receiver and after Floyd, things get very sketchy there. While he is being drafted sooner than he should, when you have a need, you draft the player to fill it.
Cincinnati hasn’t been mocked a RB in any higher profile mock that I’ve seen. I think they’ll take the plunge at #21 and I expect a selection of Lamar Miller or Doug Martin. Martin is quickly rising on boards as an every down, pro-ready back who is a safer selection than either David Wilson or Lamar Miller. I have all three backs ranked VERY closely and any of them could be the selection. I could also see the Bengals foregoing a running back selection and, instead, looking to Chris Polk on day two.
I believe the second of Cleveland’s picks at #22 will come down to what the Bengals do just ahead of them. If the Bengals do, indeed, select a running back, I believe Cleveland will step up and select their next highest rated wide receiver. They could go running back, but it’s too high for most and they have a high second round pick to use in this area. Look for an offensive draft from the Browns.
Going to cut it off short tonight because we have a big day tomorrow. I hope you all will join us in the chat room tomorrow for live discussion as the draft unfolds on both Thursday and Friday.
Get a good night’s sleep all, it’s going to be fun!
April 23, 2012
I love this time of year. How can you not? The anticipation, the rookies, the rookie drafts. It’s just a great time of year. Can I get a Huzzah!!!??
There isn’t really that much to be updated tonight. We remain in a rather boring holding pattern.
I just saw that Mark Brunell retired. Being that he’s 57 years old, I think that’s a good thing.
As expected, the recent rumor of Kendall Wright continuing to slip, perhaps even into the 3rd round, has had a wet blanket thrown on it. It’s now said that St. Louis likely wouldn’t allow Wright to slip beyond their second round selection, overall pick #33. I still believe that’s too high for Wright, whom I don’t believe is as polished a player as Torrey Smith was coming out last year. I see a lot of similarities although I will give Wright the nod in dynamic, which does rate relatively highly on my grading sheet, but the speed goes to Smith. I still have Wright as a mid-second round selection in talent but due to many needs of NFL teams this year in the receiver area, a high second round selection won’t surprise me in the least.
Not surprising, teams have started to come out with concern about Brandon Weeden’s age. Not a surprise here for either fantasy or the NFL. It most certainly IS a concern and teams looking for their potential face of the franchise would prefer to have a bit less gray in the beard. I wouldn’t be looking to rebuild a franchise with a selection of Weeden.
Seems like Tannehill remains the mystery man, at least as to how coveted he really is. I don’t see how he makes it past Miami at #8. The Dolphins can fight with the media back and forth for the remaining three days for all I care about whether or not they truly want him. In my mind, they do … how can they not? And there is now at least one club claiming that they have Tannehill as the best quarterback in the 2012 class. I’m feeling cynical tonight. No they don’t. The gap between Luck and RGIII is relatively cavernous. The gap between Luck and Tannehill is celestial. It’s that simple and it’s that clear.
The real intrigue of the draft continues to be the plight of the Vikings at pick #3. As I said before, I now believe that the Vikings will strongly entertain moving down to #6 overall in a swap with the Rams, which would still possibly provide the Vikings with their choice of Blackmon or OT Matt Kalil. Even if it happens to be reduced compensation, the Vikes have little to lose in that deal. Even if Blackmon were to go to the Browns at #4 or Tampa (which he won’t) at #5, they could still select Michael Floyd, who continues to garner favorable press. That said, negative comments about Floyd’s interviews have begun to emerge. Three days before the draft? Really??!?!? /sarcasm off
The Rams, if they truly covet Richardson, should be able to make the trade to #3.
All IDP’ers have their eyes on Luke Kuechly for Thursday’s draft. He’s likely not to fall past pick #12. I’d like to see him end up in Seattle (#12), but I have a sneaky suspicion that he’ll be selected by either BUF (#10) or KC (#11). All signs point to KC as Buffalo could really use OT help and Riley Reiff fits the Bill … so to speak. Many are comparing Kuechly to Brain Urlacher. It’s a great compliment but for myself, I don’t see the same impact or physicality that I saw with Urlacher. Still, Kuechly is a talent and he projects nicely. Don’t forget about Dont’a Hightower. He’s versatile and I expect we’ll see him in a 3-4 scheme. Not the best for IDP, but it could provide Hightower with more opportunity.
Jacksonville is an interesting case. Do they take Melvin Ingram, who is said to be slipping? Or do they address the offensive side of the ball with a selection of Michael Floyd. I believe it’s the latter. Not many have Floyd mocked to JAX, but Ingram carries a fair amount of risk and the Jaguars don’t need risk, they need play-makers. Floyd will look good in a Jaguar uniform. Note that they need a cornerback badly as well.
At WR, keep an eye on A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois. I’m still doing research on him but what I’ve seen is impressive – at least for a receiver that didn’t rate highly on my list initially.
Going to leave it there for now.
April 20, 2012
Excitement is building and stop the presses, Robert Griffin III is “selfish”. You know a player is really good when the best that anonymous scouts can come up with is “selfish”. To me, “anonymous scout” equates to Washington Redskins as a last minute mini smear campaign to ensure that Mike Shanahan and Daniel Snyder get the player they really want.
A lot more draft history statistics are starting to make their way to fantasy this year. It’s about time. If you’ve followed me to any degree over the past few years, you know I like to do “Inside the Numbers” pieces on occasion where I break down draft history of particular positions, or even historical fantasy drafts in an attempt to gain insight to production levels from certain rounds of the NFL draft. Through this effort, it’s easy to keep one’s expectations in check when it comes to fantasy rookie drafts.
Those of you that recall my most recent wide receiver analysis will recall that fantasy productivity from first round wide receivers is a crap shoot at best, especially if the receiver is taken outside the top five picks of the first round in the NFL draft. Today, I read an article that broke down recent draft history showing that 60% of first round wide receivers bust in the NFL. In fantasy, that bust percentage will be even higher due to the differences of NFL productivity vs. fantasy productivity. Outside of the first round, in total, the bust rate is close to 80%. Remember that when drafting receivers.
For the record, I also suggest that you read both of the earlier linked articles (above) prior to your rookie draft(s), if for no other reason than to gain a little perspective before you start looking to acquire every pick in your draft’s first round.
In player news….
It’s been said that Kendall Wright is firmly entrenched as a third round selection on many teams’ boards. Sure he is. I don’t believe Wright is a first-round talent, but I don’t think he’ll fall to the third round either.
Player evaluator for NFL Films, Greg Cosell, who does great work, believes wide receiver Chris Givens is as “explosive” as the aforementioned Kendall Wright. We’ll be watching Givens’ draft situation closely but he’s not on our list as a special player. Great receivers can come out of your fantasy draft’s third round. Greg Jennings, who is about the size of Givens, was a late third round fantasy selection.
Ryan Tannehill’s draft stock is all over the board. Many believe he’s a second round talent that will be taken in the middle of the first round while others, myself included, still have him mocked much higher. In my case, I still don’t believe the Dolphins can risk passing on him with their 8th pick. The drop from Tannehill to Weeden is too steep in my opinion.
Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon. Which player does Cleveland select? The easy choice is Richardson in my book as they have much greater need at the position. He’s still the third best talent in this draft in my mind, after both Luck and RGIII. Shorter careers, lower leg injuries and diminishing NFL focus on the position forces me to drop TRich’s status.
Speaking of Blackmon, it’s not out of the question that the Vikings pull a surprise and select him. Actually, to me it is out of the question. They’ll either trade that pick to the Rams for the rights to Richardson, or select Matt Kalil.
According to Mike Mayock, only 8.5% of quarterbacks selected outside the first round have gone on to be NFL starters. Kirk Cousins, while he’s a decent l00king player, still looks to be in the 91.5% group. I don’t see any fantasy standouts in this year’s rounds outside of the first. If you press me on the issue, put me down for Ryan Lindley out of San Diego State. Lindley also scored a 35 on his Wonderlic.
Stephen Hill is rumored to be the target of the 49′ers in the bottom part of the first round (pick #30), or the top part of round two. I don’t think he makes it out of the first round and a selection by the Patriots would be intriguing, although they really need to draft defensively. Does anyone really think that the Patriots won’t be trading out of the first round?
I’m going out on a limb here. Put me down for Coby Fleener as the first pick in the second round, to the Colts. It’s higher than Fleener should go, but the Colts need that immediate chemistry that he’ll have with Luck. I still remember when I was a kid playing baseball and finding out that one of my best baseball friends was also selected by the same baseball team that I was playing for and the excitement that followed knowing that I had immediate chemistry on the team with him. I’m sure it would be just like that for Luck and Fleener, but at the NFL level … and with millions of dollars. Other than that, same thing.
In my latest rookie rankings, a few players are making moves. Dwight Jones continues to get passed by and is dropping. That also makes for a good draft-low possibility in the third round of your draft. He’s got Mike Williams (TB) talent and, unfortunately, some of the same maturity issues it seems.
Tauren Poole is slowly rising. The more I watch of him on tape, the more I’m impressed with his natural “feel” and “flow” in the backfield. His ypca. in 2011 was less than 4.0, but I think he’s a much better runner than that.
Ryan Broyles is steadily rising as previously mentioned. It could be that I just have a soft spot in my heart for great leadership and competitiveness and how his senior season ended.
Too many are sleeping on RB Chris Polk. I think he’s going to be a steal in what could be the second round of your fantasy draft.
I have been receiving a few emails asking about a rookie IDP review. Yes, I will be doing one, but it will be following the draft. In most cases, rookie IDP previews don’t make much sense ahead of the draft. Situation and defensive scheme both play significant roles in the growth and production of a rookie defensive player. Rather than throw out complete guesses as to the situations of the top IDP names in this year’s draft, I’m going to wait until the days that follow to do a relatively quick write-up. Trust me when I say, in the end, you’ll be much happier with the assessment.
Things have remained relatively quiet in the last few days, but players are rising and falling nonetheless. We’re now in the danger zone of what I consider to be nearly criminal displays of misinformation. This is the time where you will start hearing about the multiple drug infractions, character concerns, players fathering multiple children and the ever-popular mental/football-IQ assassinations. At this point, it’s safe to believe nearly nothing that you hear. The only thing that matters is player talent into their respective drafted situation.
Andrew Luck looks to now be THE pick by the Colts, as if there really was any doubt. No change in RGIII’s status as the second overall selection. The real in-play pick now seems to be in Minnesota although I still believe this is due to Minnesota brass now fully understanding that they hold a powerful selection. This year’s third pick is the pick to have if you want the rights to Justin Blackmon or Trent Richardson. Even Michael Floyd has been mentioned as a possibility for the Vikings here, but I don’t see that happening. The Vikings could, however, trade down to 1.06, switching spots with the Rams, who would then select Richardson. It’s been rumored that if the Rams were to select Richardson, they would at least entertain the idea of trading Steven Jackson. I think both sides would be amenable to a trade and that would allow the Rams to realize some value for the aging Jackson. That would also be a fine landing spot for Richardson. Personally, I think this possibility has legs.
Speaking of Justin Blackmon, his stock is sliding a bit IF you believe reports that his speed and explosion aren’t great enough to be a dynamic threat. I don’t discount this possibility as it’s evident to me that Blackmon is fluid, but not explosive. I just don’t know how his game really will translate to the NFL with more physically gifted corners that also have elite trailing ability. Without the size of Dez Bryant, Blackmon doesn’t have the height advantage that I like to see in a top five receiver selection.
Michael Floyd continues to gain ground and he’s neck and neck with Blackmon. Crisper routes and greater explosion out of his breaks are just two areas that Floyd is being credited with as being greater than Blackmon. Blackmon still is first off-the-board within his position.
Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler is gaining momentum and is said to now be a possibility in the bottom of the second round. I don’t buy it.
I’ve been getting multiple emails and notes on Kirk Cousins as well, wondering where he should be drafted in fantasy. Cousins, unless he goes to someplace like Kansas City, Buffalo or Miami, will likely be a late-second or early-third round fantasy selection. He’s a classic BPA selection and I wouldn’t work overly hard to move him up in the rankings. If he does go to a good situation, I still see him no higher than a mid-to-late second round selection. Just not enough reason to draft another Drew Stanton/Matt Moore type.
Doug Martin is climbing and many now have him as the second best back in the class. I don’t think the separation between him, Lamar Miller or David Wilson is great enough to be down on any such ranking. Martin is a little bit of a mystery to me over the displayed skills of both Miller and Wilson, but he’s definitely got that three-down back look to him. I just don’t see that “special” ability that I need to see from a player coming from Boise State. This isn’t Marshall Faulk coming out of San Diego State in my mind.
Seeing a lot of quiet mentions of Rueben Randle and Stephen Hill and it’s obvious their stock is rising. It looks like one of them could slip into the bottom of the first round. I believe Hill will be a day one pick and Randle will be an early second day selection.
Keep an eye on Juron Criner and his drafted situation. The more I see of him, the more I like. If you like Alshon Jeffery, I think you should like Criner just as much. Criner has a bit of an injury history and his speed was said to be questionable but both are inflated if you ask me. Criner plays bigger than his size (6’2″) and running in the low 4.5s in the forty has elevated his stock a bit. He will likely be a great third round (fantasy) receiver selection – which is the round I usually do my best work as a fantasy coach.
Ryan Broyles wasn’t ridiculously fast in his forty (4.57), but it was a remarkable showing coming off an ACL injury just a short five months ago. Seemingly possessing shaky character early in his collegiate career, Broyles blossomed into a physical and emotional leader in his senior year. Don’t count him out.
Outside of Coby Fleener, this tight end class is not good. Even Fleener doesn’t receive high grades from many experts. I’m higher on Fleener than most because he’s polished from the line of scrimmage and I love his physicality in his routes and with the ball in the air. I’d love to see him taken with the first pick in the second round, and play again with Andrew Luck.
Brandon Weeden seems to be a topic of conversation on an ongoing basis. Don’t kid yourself in thinking that his age isn’t an issue in fantasy, it most certainly is. I’ll likely be staying far away from him come draft day unless he goes to a great situation and it’s a BPA situation in the third round.
April 14, 2012
The 2012 draft is shaping up to be more fun for fantasy fans than previous drafts. Being that it is turning out to be a relatively deep class of rookies with plenty of offensive upside, the first day is going to have quite a bit of intrigue and movement I believe.
It’s no secret where Andrew Luck and RGIII are going NFL-wise. In fantasy, it’s a completely different story. You won’t find many experts believing that Luck won’t be the best quarterback from 2012 over the long haul, but most also believe that Griffin will be not far behind. In fantasy, it’s not hard to project RGIII as the better scorer in the near-term. But sorry Washington fans, I’m just not a fan of that offense or the ownership/coaching situation. RGIII is such an engaging young player with a great skill set, perhaps Shanahan won’t be overly meddling. That all said, Shanahan is more of a meddler when it comes to his other skill positions and has done a fair job of letting his quarterbacks play their game. I would have preferred to have seen a stronger play for Vincent Jackson.
The fun really starts at pick 1.03 when Minnesota is on the clock. OT Matt Kalil is the easy choice but Minnesota has been anything but easy to predict in previous years. This year’s first round has three wild-card players that are going to shape the first eight picks: Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson and Ryan Tannehill. At this juncture, I’m now expecting these players to go at picks 4, 6 and 8, with a very good possibility of 3, 4 and 6. Folks, I’m not against Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback prospect as a couple of you think. But I’ve watched a fair amount of tape on him and while I believe he does represent your typical young quarterback with great upside entering the NFL, he’s not a top eight selection in my estimation. He’ll be very over-drafted due to team needs and could be off-the-board by pick six in my estimation. I’d be much more comfortable with selecting Tannehill at picks 15-20, but when you have a need and an earlier pick, you use it on the player that fills that need.
At this point, I won’t be shocked if the Rams or the Dolphins trade up to Minnesota’s third pick for the rights to take either Trent Richardson or Ryan Tannehill, respectively. The Rams are smitten with the rocked up rusher and see him as the perfect fit behind Steven Jackson. It’s not the best near-term fantasy situation for TRich, but he’s your top running back selection either way … and it’s not close. If Minnesota does not trade down they’ll likely either stick with a selection of Matt Kalil, who appears to be just the sort of left tackle that they need on the end of their line, or Justin Blackmon to boost their shaky receiver corps. Personally, I don’t expect them to consider Blackmon here. They’d be wise to address their receiver needs after a pick of Kalil or a trade down for the rights to select either Floyd, or a bigger receiver such as Stephen Hill on day two.
Talking about Justin Blackmon, it seems that many experts are souring on his status as an “elite” player. I don’t believe Blackmon has the speed to be elite, but he’s got the tangibles to be a gritty possession receiver with deep-intermediate ball skills, much like Anquan Boldin in his prime. His physicality is such that he’ll be most dangerous in deep slants and routes that allow him to use his body to shield and his strength to withstand first contact.
If you press me on the issue as to what order these players will be coming off the board, I’ll guess Richardson-Blackmon-Tannehill, in that order. My belief is that Minnesota will come to their senses and anchor the left side of their line with Kalil, giving Christian Ponder (Joe Webb anyone?) more comfort in the pocket to upgrade their passing offense. It really appears that the Browns will be selecting Richardson if they don’t trade out to St. Louis for the right to take him. Either way, my guess is that Richardson goes fourth. I’m on record as going against the grain in that I don’t see elite ability in Richardson. I do see elite strength and character, but not enough phone booth agility or hip swivel to create an elite runner. I’m sticking with that assessment. Blackmon is also a possibility here but they have greater need at running back. Remember that Cleveland also now owns pick #22 in the first round, as well as #37 on day two.
That leaves Tampa Bay with the possible choice to trade out of the fifth pick to either Philadelphia or Miami for the rights to Ryan Tannehill. Instead, I believe that Tampa Bay will stick at five and select who they should be targeting all along, Morris Claiborne, the standout cornerback from L.S.U. Tampa Bay’s defense was pathetic in 2011 and they’ve upgraded their receiver corps. with the addition of Vincent Jackson. They’d be foolish to look offense with the fifth pick. I’d much rather see a selection of Claiborne in the first, followed by either Lamar Miller, David Wilson or Doug Martin with their first pick in the second. There’s plenty of young depth at the running back position in 2012, but few elite defensive talents.
If the Rams fail to trade up for the rights to Richardson, all signs point to a selection of Justin Blackmon. At this point, a trade back to Philly could be in the cards as the Eagles make a last ditch effort to land Tannehill before the Dolphins go on the clock two picks later. In the end, I believe Blackmon is the choice here.
At pick seven, Jacksonville could be looking at taking the second receiver off the board, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd. Some now believe that Floyd could go ahead of Blackmon but there’s too much game tape available that shows Blackmon as being the better prospect in my opinion. The Jags badly need to upgrade at receiver and need quality size at the position. Without this, Blaine Gabbert has little chance of making fantasy strides in 2012. The Jags select Floyd.
Miami, through all of their efforts to move up for the rights to Tannehill, now have him drop into their laps at pick eight. War room video of high-fives all around.
So where do we end up after the first eight picks? Let me summarize:
1.01 Colts – Luck, Andrew QB
1.02 Redskins – Griffin III, Robert QB
1.03 Vikings – Kalil, Matt OT
1.04 Browns – Richardson, Trent RB
1.05 Bucs – Claiborne, Morris CB
1.06 Rams – Blackmon, Justin WR
1.07 Jaguars – Floyd, Michael WR
1.08 Dolphins – Tannehill, Ryan QB
That’s quite an offensive first eight picks (pun intended).
As should be expected, much more information will be coming out in the next two weeks and I’m actually expecting another pre-draft trade to take place.
April 8, 2012
Going to start off with just a quick update of some of the rookies who are rising and falling with two and half weeks go until the draft. As would be expected, everything is going to blow up after the draft, but the player reviews and evaluations won’t change after they are assigned to their drafted teams. Their individual fantasy and production prospects will be affected dramatically in many cases, but such attributes as character, leadership, work ethic and skill-set still deserve a lot of research time so that when the draft has concluded, the only thing left to evaluate is their drafted situation into what you already know about them on the field.
Michael Floyd is the biggest name rising currently. Some have even have him recently overtaking Justin Blackmon as the best receiver in the draft. Based on film study, I don’t see a case for making that change. Floyd doesn’t play as fast or as dominant on tape as many believe he does. Either way, he helped himself immensely during the combine and Notre Dame pro day and continues his ascent. He’s still clearly the WR2 on my board.
Doug Martin continues to climb as well on the back of continuing hype from the talking heads on ESPN and NFL Network. And I don’t disagree with much of what they are saying. He’s being compared to Ray Rice, which will add value to any running back’s value. Having watched a lot of tape on Martin, I do see some of the Rice comparison, but not enough to make me believe he’s the second coming. He’s more of a zone scheme runner with enough wiggle to make things interesting and provide flexibility. He doesn’t have Rice’s lateral agility nor his strength, but he’s still young. He’s primarily a one-cut runner and I like the way he gets down-field as well. He’s quite adept in the passing game which adds value. He’s still a notch below David Wilson on my list, but he’s close.
Chris Polk is finally getting some play. After assassination after assassination on Polk’s running skills prior to the combine, he’s finally being credited with being a decent back, which he most certainly is. He’s great out of the backfield and I believe he has elite vision – the best in this year’s class, in fact. He’s a great name to stash if you have a low first round pick and he falls, which he likely will.
Coby Fleener is opening up space on Dwayne Allen as the top tight end of the group. He’s not great as an in-line blocker, but tight ends are gaining value in the area of fantasy production and Fleener is a good prospect in that regard. The fact that he’ll be going late in the first round in all likelihood increases his value as he’ll be going to a better team. He could fall to the second day, but I don’t believe that will happen.
Ryan Broyles‘ name is popping up time and again and if his recovery from ACL surgery continues going well, he’ll rise up NFL boards quickly as a very capable slot receiver.
Marvin Jones is a name to watch. Not ultra productive coming out of college, he has great size, ran a good forty and has capable hands. He’s tough to project because there is no shortage of similarly sized receivers who are never heard from again following the draft, but keep an eye on his situation.
Ryan Lindley is a name to track for your final round of drafting. He’s got the size, arm and mentality to make it in the NFL. He doesn’t have a lot of touch on his throws, but he has the best arm in the class and could get his chance in two to three years.
Alshon Jeffery continues to slide due to work ethic and weight concerns, but this is the time of year that smear campaigns reign supreme and you can never truly believe everything you hear. In fact, believe nothing. That being said, Jeffery is a receiver who looks like he’ll break your heart. Given his size and ability to catch the ball away from his frame, he should have been more productive than he was. Very rarely do players like that really take the next step in the NFL.
Dwight Jones went from being a fast rising prospect to utterly destroying his draft stock. A horrible combine, mentally, followed by continued rumors and talks of immaturity and attitude issues have caused some teams to simply remove him from their boards. This may make for a great buy-low situation, but caveat emptor applies here. It reminds me a bit of the Mike Williams (TB) situation of a couple years ago.
Nick Foles disappointed me at every step since the combine. He didn’t throw well, his mechanics were terrible and his pro day was shaky. He’s fallen behind Ryan Lindley on my board.