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Rising & Falling: Pre-draft Edition


Two weeks until the NFL draft and player values are rising and falling at a torrid pace.  The line between misinformation and genuine interest is far too fine for the casual fan to discern, but we’re here to try and make sense of it.  Below are those players that we feel comfortable listing based on the information available.

Rising

Cam  Newton, QB

At the top of the draft, one must always be mindful of the smokescreen effect.  Teams at the top of the draft have every desire to increase the value of the pick through misinformation, usually by releasing information that leads other teams to believe that a high profile player will be the choice.  Cam Newton is this year’s highest profile player.  As quarterbacks are highly sought after with the first pick, Newton will be linked with Blaine Gabbert as their careers unfold but Newton will be the first off the board.

Whether Carolina is performing a masterful smokescreen process or not, all appearances are that they are serious about selecting Newton with their first pick.  As I’ve mentioned previously, Newton’s dynamic and potential is clearly greater than that of Gabbert.  While I may disagree with the choice as it relates to eventual NFL success, selecting a player that has the ball in their hands with every offensive snap is the best opportunity for immediate impact.

I believe the Panthers would be most interested in trading the pick but with so many signal callers slated to be selected in the first two rounds and with each having disparate skills that suggest some level of success at the next level, there is little chance for a draft day deal.  Whether the Panthers have indeed soured on the prospects of Jimmy Clausen, or truly believe Newton can be the new face of the franchise, I now expect that Newton will be the pick.

Jake Locker, QB

Where there had been talk of Locker falling to the second round, there is now little belief that Locker will last.  Locker’s athleticism and character have become focal points and his value is rising.  Accuracy issues that Locker displayed at Washington are believed to be correctable at the NFL level and it’s likely that he’ll be over-drafted by a team such as the Redskins due to the run expected on signal callers expected at the back end of round 1.  Locker in a Washington uniform within a Shanahan system is an intriguing prospect.

Christian Ponder, QB

Ponder isn’t a dynamic passer, but he’s intelligent with satisfactory arm strength.  Players like Ponder are why deals at the top of the draft won’t be common in 2011.  However, look for a flurry of activity between 25 and 50 of which Ponder is likely hear his name called for a team running a west coast system.

Ryan Mallett, QB

2011 has been a disappointing year for Mallett.  Dogged by negative assessments of his character, personal commitment, drug use and decisionmaking, it seemed that Mallett could do no right.  Despite NFL-caliber size and arm strength, Mallett has been losing the war of public relations.  But make no mistake, the NFL is full of coaches and psychologists that believe they can return a player to the path of ultimate success.  Mallett’s tangibles are now drowning out character issues and he, too, will end up being a high 2nd round selection in all likelihood.   His arm strength is just too intriguing.

Ryan Williams, RB

The draft stock of Ryan Williams is on the rise.  While his 40 time was sufficient to hold his value, his 10-yard split time is the fastest of the group.   Showing the ability to hit the hole quickly and show great vision is key to a RB’s NFL success.  Most experts don’t seem overly concerned about Williams’ ability to stay healthy and have, instead, just roll tape of his phenomenal sophomore season.  Williams is likely to be picked in the first half of the second round.

Mario Fannin, RB

I’ve been hearing more and more buzz about Mario Fannin and the fact that NFL clubs believe he’s a real sleeper.  Never with a big role at Auburn, Fannin is a bigger back (5’10 1/2″ and 231 lbs.) but ran a blazing 4.38 40.  He’s going to be a last-day selection for a team that is looking for an eventual replacement. 

Julio Jones, WR

It’s been said that many teams now have Jones ahead of fellow WR phenom A.J. Green on their draft boards.  With a skill set described as resembling a young Terrell Owens and fresh off an extraordinary combine performance, it’s not hard to see why the stock of Jones is rising.  Watching tape of Jones doesn’t necessarily mirror many of his combine measurements but there’s no doubting the heart and ability of Jones.  He should be a very good NFL receiver in the right system and with the right system.  He’s now likely to be taken in the top 10 picks, perhaps as high as #6 (CLE).

Greg Salas, WR

The stock of Salas continues to rise.  A receiver with nice size and better than expected speed, Salas isn’t going to hear his name until the the last day of the draft in all likelihood, but is a player to keep track of.  Salas reminds me a lot of Greg Jennings.

Falling

Mark Ingram, RB

In general, quarterbacks and running backs fall on draft day.  In 2011, quarterbacks are of great need but the running back position is being exposed further as a position that is much easier filled via the free agent market or later in the draft, rather than through a high draft selection.  In Ingram’s case, the fall could be a precipitous one should the Dolphins not select him with their 15th selection – there simply isn’t a great RB need with the teams that follow until the end of the round.  Some have predicted Ingram falling to the 2nd round, a view I don’t share.

Further affecting Ingram’s stock is the increasing discussion of an early arthritic condition that supposedly has caused multiple teams to remove him from their draft boards altogether.  Already fighting concerns about being able to carry a NFL workload, rising concerns about the knee could lead to a fall to the late first round.

Jonathan Baldwin, WR

Baldwin’s stock continues to slide.  Recent events in the NFL have displayed the difficulty of drafting any player with maturity issues.  But maturity issues aside, Baldwin is now seeing his value slide due to concerns about his explosiveness and quickness in routes and with the ball in his hands.  In review of his tape, while he does have good in-air ball skills, he has a lot of room for improvement in the crispness and quickness of his breaks and after-the-catch dynamic.  He simply isn’t explosive off the line or within his route running.

 


 


Jeff Haverlack
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Cyrus
11 years ago

Thanks for the article. I am extremely curious where the RB’s end up being drafted– until now I thought the consensus was Ingram, then LeShoure, then Ryan Williams. I think LeShoure is #1 and Ryan Williams might even end up being #2. Depends on where they end up.

The other RB’s are also a giant question mark… having picks #6-10 really are a crapshoot in dynasties.

Bigcsr67
11 years ago

This is a huge debate for me drafting at 1.3, and my team is in need for another RB. I have always loved Ingram, but all this nonsense about his health has been disheartening. Should I be pleased that Ingram falls to me at the 1.3, or should I seriously look to another young RB to fill my void??

Chad
Reply to  Bigcsr67
11 years ago

Take Ingram at 1.3 if you can.

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Bigcsr67
11 years ago

You still take Ingram if he’s on the board. Before the draft like this, you never know what’s going to come out. Frank Gore was said to have a body so broken down that many teams wouldn’t even consider him. You just never know and I don’t think there’s a way you could take the other backs over Ingram.

Sensei John Kreese
11 years ago

i have pick 6 in my dynasty league, and ive decided to choose whichever reciever the colts select, regardless of round. Theres just something to be said about being the right system. Im surprised Randall Cobb wasnt on your “rising” list…

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Sensei John Kreese
11 years ago

I’ve just heard too many conflicting things about Cobb and fringe receivers don’t usually end up being great picks. Cobb does have something about him though.

Tim
11 years ago

More so from an NFL perspective, but I’m very curious to see where Mallet and Locker end up. To me, they are the most interesting players in this draft. If Mallet had no character issues, where would he be projected!?! And how can Locker really go from being the number one prospect to potentially the fourth QB. Both seem like value picks for whoever gets them. Going out on a limb, but I bet both are first rounders.

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Tim
11 years ago

Without character issues, Mallett very well could have been the first QB off the board. His arm is the best in the draft and he’s a pure pocket passer with the size teams look for.

As far as Locker, QBs that elect to stay for their senior year often make that drop. Brian Brohm was the easy choice as first QB off the board and he decided to return for his senior year even after his head coach left and he had a horrible year and is now about out of the NFL. It’s always a risk to stay when your stock is so high. Locker just didn’t show any improvement statistically but luckily he’s still intriguing enough that coaches believe his mechanics and accuracy issues can be worked with.

In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of these QBs go at the end of the first round and I believe we’re going to see 6 off the board by pick 40-45 or so.

Tim
Reply to  DLF_Jeff
11 years ago

Jeff – That’s an interesting point about Locker and Brohm. How does that make you feel about Luck? Tim

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Tim
11 years ago

I was EXTREMELY surprised by Luck going back to school. I was with Locker too because I just didn’t see Locker’s value getting that much higher. With Luck, all indications were that Harbaugh would be leaving and he was the easy #1 choice in the NFL draft. I’ve never been more surprised.

That said, Luck will be the first QB off the board regardless of how he does in 2011, at least in my mind. Unless he completely melts down or falls to a bad injury, he’ll be the top pick. But he’s risking it all when there’s really only one way for his stock to go.

Robertbobson
11 years ago

I think luck staying is more akin to Peyton Manning staying for his senior season. Peyton would have been the number 1 QB off the board after his junior year, but elected to stay because in part he loved playing college football ( and money wasn’t really a concern for him coming out of the Manning family). I think Luck actually could be about more than loving college tho. I think the lockout will hurt the development of any rookie taken in the draft, and QB’s more than anyone. They won’t be able to work out with the team, they won’t be able to meet with coaches, learn techniques, learn the playbook. WHo knows when (or even if) the players and teams will settle this year, so who knows when rookies will get to come to camp. If he went pro now, he could potentially take a year off of football, and who knows how damaging something like that can be to a young QB. By staying in school, he ensures that he’ll have another year of development as a player. There is obviously risk involved, but when you’re talking about a QB that talented, I don’t think there’s much risk of his stock value dropping, and there is risk that his long term value could be stunted if he came out this year. A player like Luck I think is better served focusing on what’s best for his long term career.

Tosnsprx
11 years ago

This is my first year in a dynasty league here’s my starting lineup my bench is weak we start qb 2 WR 2 RB 2 WR/RB te k def. Vick. Megatron. Dewayne bowe. McCoy. Best. Blount. Brandon Marshall. Finley. Kicker and jets D. I have picks 1.2 and 1.5 the guy picking first has to take a WR. Any suggestion on my picks wether to pick WR then what ever back is left or both backs?

Cyrus
Reply to  Tosnsprx
11 years ago

Not sure the size of the league, or how the scoring works out. In all of my leagues, RB’s outscore WR’s and are more valuable due to the limited number of top RB’s compared to startable WR’s.

Going by that, I would recommend getting the #1 RB in the draft at 1.2 and then settling for whoever falls to #5, even if it is another RB. You already have your two WR spots filled with Megatron, Bowe and Marshall, so you just need “top scorers” to put in the flex. If RB’s are equally or more valuable than WR’s, go this path and get a LeShoure/Ryan Williams type of draft.

However, if you can easily start a WR in the flex and like the long term upside of Julio Jones, he would be a fine pick at #2, and you can still take Ryan Williams/Ingram at #5. Jones will be better longer than the RB’s, and he might be more “elite” in terms of numbers… but I also think of possible trade value–RB’s net more in trades.

I’d be aware of both possibilities and eventually make the decision based on where they are drafted. If only two RB’s end up in good positions, go RB/RB. If all three end up in good locations, you can go Jones and still land a top RB.

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Tosnsprx
11 years ago

Is that starting 2 QBs or does that first “2” go with WRs and so on?

That’s actually a good looking lineup and your bench is the only thing that may need work, that’s a good thing.

PPR league, that may make a difference. Even still, if it is PPR and Jones goes first, Green is your choice. If it isn’t PPR, Ingram is likely your choice almost regardless … unless he goes to a horrible situation. The first RB off the board in drafts over the last 10 years have been fantasy producers 90% of the time. If it is PPR, you have a choice between Jones and Ingram, I still take Ingram in all likelihood but if you wanted to get deeper in WR, I wouldn’t argue with a Jones pick. The 2nd WR off the board doesn’t have a good hit rate though.

At #5, you go best player available which would likely be Ryan Williams, Jones (if you get really lucky) or the first QB off the board.

Tosnsprx
Reply to  DLF_Jeff
11 years ago

Thanks for the advice guys. By the way it’s a 10 team non ppr league. I am also looking at trading away pick1.5 Brandon Marshall and dewayne bowe for fizgerald and Hakeem nicks

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Tosnsprx
11 years ago

Yep, I’d make that trade any day of the week. And being non-PPR, I don’t risk the 1.2 pick on a WR, I go with Ingram.

Paradis
11 years ago

I think T. Jones from E. Washington has to be the hottest riser at the moment. He’s fringing on the bottom of rnd 1.

And ppl be hating on Ryan “sweet jeff george” Mallet, but give that guy a stiff O-line and he’ll shred any defense in the NFL.

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Paradis
11 years ago

His value is increasing for sure. No way he’ll end up in the first round though. I think he’ll be a 3rd round or 4th round selection. RBs always fall. He could be a Chris Henry and shock everyone, but I think he’ll still be a 3rd rounder at best.

Mallett is a real wildcard. Best NFL prototypical pocket passer type but if the rumors are true about him, what a risk.

Paradis
Reply to  DLF_Jeff
11 years ago

I’m sure of it now – Jones rnd 2. Injury history will keep him out of rnd 1. he’s too quick at 196 lbs

Other dudes i like to pop early in rnds 2-3; R. Cobb, E. Gates, C. Shorts, and TEs Cameron & Housler

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Paradis
11 years ago

I’ll go 3rd round on him.

Eric Dickens
Reply to  Paradis
11 years ago

I think you may be over-estimating the talent of some of the guys you mentioned, other than Cobb.

I can’t see Jones going before the late 2nd/early 3rd & could easily see him falling to the late 3rd. Cobb will probably be a solid 2nd rounder, but none of the other guys you mentioned have a shot to go in the 2nd IMO. Shorts is a guy I see as a late round (6/7) prospect as well as Housler. Gates’ speed could help him go 3rd/4th & Cameron probably somewhere in the 4th/5th.

BCDC
11 years ago

I love this site!!! So I just need a thought or two. I’m in a 12 team PPR league. I have orton, campell, and stafford at qb. MJD, forte, spiller, torain, and lynch at rb. Miles Austin, Wes welker, kenny britt, Michael crabtree, and Sydney rice at wr. Vernon Davis and rob gronkowski at TE. Se here is the question. I have the 1.05 and 1.06 in our rookie draft. I could trade into the 1.03 if I give up both first round picks. I could also try to give up those picks and a few wideouts to get Arian foster or jonathan Stewart. Are any of these ideas good. Long story short if I keep the picks who should I target? I think a rb and a qb. Thank you so much for the help.

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  BCDC
11 years ago

We’re glad you love it. Make sure you join the forum and get involved … and call us home.

I wouldn’t keep those picks in this draft, unless you are also targeting a QB. Those picks, in THIS draft, are too far down to project well. RBs are very thin this year and WRs after Green and Jones don’t inspire me.

So, you either need to move up to 1.03 and take the best WR or Ingram, or you trade those picks for a productive younger player. I’d recommend the latter. If you can find a coach willing to give you young productive players for picks in this draft, that’s a great way to bolster your team.

Just make sure that you are getting back fantasy points per game. It doesn’t do any good to you to trade away picks or or players and not get point production back. If you didn’t get that back, you might as well just draft and hope with your two picks.

BCDC
Reply to  DLF_Jeff
11 years ago

I have had someone offer me Mike Wallace for the 1.06 and Crabree. Wallace is ranked really high this year, is that worth taking?

Cyrus
Reply to  BCDC
11 years ago

Not to me. I love Wallace, but I wouldn’t give up someone with Crabtree’s upside AND a pick to get him. Crabtree just needs a QB, wait for it to happen. The 1.06 isn’t great because we don’t know how good the prospects will be, but I still like having the upside of one of those guys (Hunter or Jones are my picks at RB for that spot, pre-draft) than the slight upgrade from Crabtree to Wallace.

As for your original question, I would hate to give up the 1.05 and 1.06 to get the 1.03. I don’t care how talented the top guys are, I would rather diversify and take two guys. If it was something like 1.06 and 1.10, then of course I would consider it.

I think that the top 5 guys have elite potential– I include Ryan Williams with Ingram/LeShoure. So that pick is good– you just have to worry about the #6 guy. I’ve heard different things, but I personally think Hunter or T. Jones will be in the best position. We’ll see how the draft unfolds.

I do agree with the advice above that if you can trade the picks for playmakers, do it. I always prefer players to rookies; I traded the 1.01 for Mendenhall this offseason. The rookie picks lure people in for some reason.

BCDC
Reply to  BCDC
11 years ago

With your help I just traded the 1.06 and lynch for Wallace. I think this will work well, and I’m very glad I kept crabtree. Thanks a ton!

Robert Bobson
11 years ago

So one scouting site I read ( a non fantasy one) has Clemson’s Jamie Harper listed as their RB5 in the draft. This is the absolutely only site I have seen him listed this high, usually he’s only mentioned in passing by other websites. Have you heard anything about Harper or have any particular opinion on him?

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  Robert Bobson
11 years ago

That’s a pretty high standing for Harper. To me that’s more of a ranking that is trying to get press and discussion more than it is about the potential of Harper. There is little way that Harper can be ranked over other such backs as Helu, Jr. and Vereen. At least in my opinion.

Harper has good size, he’s built a little like Beanie Wells but he reminds me a lot of a back similar to Kolby Smith. A back that isn’t overly dynamic. He does many things relatively well, but I don’t see him being a feature back unless he gets just the right set of variables, which is possible.

He does have better hands than advertised and that alone will get him drafted and give him an opportunity to see the field. But RB5 this year? Nowhere close on my board.

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