This post was made after the NFL Draft in April and includes positional analysis for all rookies. For the updated overall rookie rankings, click here. For the ultimate approach to a dynasty league and best fantasy football value on the planet, check out the 200 page Dynasty Essentials Guide, available for just $6.99.
It’s been a long couple of days and the DLF “widows” will attest to just that. While there are few days that bring as much excitement as the NFL draft, there are also few days that incorporate the same amount of work. Toss in our new Dynasty Essentials guide (due to be released within the next week) and it’s double the “fun” … and work.
It would be all too easy to hold back these rankings and ask you to purchase the guide, but that’s not how we at DLF roll around here. We’re about getting the needed information in the hands of our members, guests and readers as quickly as possible so that you can leverage the data at the earliest possible time. We know that many of you have drafts that are starting this weekend and we want to make sure that you have our information to help with that process. Of course, there is much more information and data in the guide, but these initial rankings should get you started. We still hope that you’ll purchase the guide when it becomes available within the next week.
Please note that the draft has only recently finished and there is still research to be done. While it’s very possible that the following rankings will be our final rankings within the guide, it’s also very possible that changes are still on the horizon. After all, even with as much work and research that we do to unearth and demystify the rookies ahead of the draft, there are always a few surprises. The 2011 NFL draft was no exception.
Let’s get to the analysis and rankings.
What a weekend! I can’t remember a draft like it ever, at least as it relates to the quarterbacks. If you have any depth concerns at the position, 2011 is the draft for you With seven viable quarterbacks going within the top three rounds, this is the year to be needing a quarterback. Better yet, just try and pick the quarterback that is going to have the best career from the seven that were selected. Even greater yet is the fact that due to some of the big names at the top of the first round and the intriguing names in the middle of the first round, it’s likely that you’ll be able to address your quarterback need starting at pick 1.07 all the way until the middle of the second round. Ryan Mallett, perhaps the truest quarterback in the draft, was the last of those taken in the first three rounds, at pick 3.10 (#74 overall). You could make a strong argument that Mallett will be far superior to the first overall quarterback taken at 1.01, Cam Newton, when looking back in twenty years. This draft has it all when it comes to quarterback talent, regardless of what it is that you are looking for in your field general.
Here are the top seven:
1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
2. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
3. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
4. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
5. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49’ers
6. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
7. Ryan Mallett, New England Patriots
Just a few quick notes. I believe Gabbert is the truest quarterback in the bunch. I love his mobility and his heart. He has work to do, but I like his potential. That said, Cam Newton can be as good as he wants to be. There’s the rub, I fear that in his mind, he’s “made it” and the work ethic won’t match his contract. I smelled the Tennessee pick when they professed their love for Andy Dalton, but it was still a shock. Kaepernick has an extremely high ceiling and while he’s likely a mid first round selection, what a great risk reward. Christian Ponder has an amazing opportunity but we really fear his arm strength and so-so intangibles. He’s a good kid no doubt, but I hope they give him a year behind a veteran to allow the game to slow down for him. As far as Mallett goes, I hope he has a chip on his shoulder because he’s a beast in the pocket and if he can get his head on straight, he has God given talents that could take him a long, long way.
Not wild about this group overall as I’ve been saying for many months now. Much like the quarterbacks, there’s quality in the group but foretelling who will be the true ‘class of the class’ is a fool’s folly. Looking back in ten years, I would not be surprised at all to see the second half of this group match or outplay the first half. As far as the situations go for this year’s crop of runners, it was a relatively ugly draft and hopefully you need a quarterback after pick 1.06.
1. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
2. Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals
3. Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins
4. Mike Leshoure, Detroit Lions
5. Shane Vereeen, New England Patriots
6. Roy Helu Jr., Washington Redskins
7. Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49’ers
8. Johnny White, Buffalo Bills
9. Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
10. Alex Green – Green Bay Packers
We go deeper in the guide and beyond ten. For purposes of your draft, this should be plenty to get you through three rounds. Ingram went to an interesting situation and I think it’s a good one for him. Have patience as we think it will be a couple of years before his real role is known. Ryan Williams was a bit of a shock but if you joined us for our draft chat, I mentioned that I had a sneaky suspicion that Arizona was going to take a back in the second round, although I figured Mikel Leshoure. Close enough. Beanie Wells owners aren’t happy – neither is Beanie Wells or Tim Hightower. For the record, Williams doesn’t fumble. Welcome to the rankings Mr. Thomas, who came from nowhere to rank third within the position. We’re pretty sure that Miami will add a veteran back, but either way, Thomas is a nice addition. Let me say that we usually fall to the side of talent over situation for fantasy drafts, but when that talent (Leshoure) falls in Detroit, it’s easier to take the better situation of Daniel Thomas. I still think Leshoure is a superior runner in almost every regard, but unless you’re a Jahvid Best owner, Thomas is likely to get more quality touches.
Roy Helu Jr. in Washington is very intriguing, we all know what Shanahan does with mid round running backs. Kendall Hunter should have gone earlier and his drafted situation is just ‘okay’, but I still like the way he runs. Johnny White lands in Buffalo, usually where running backs go to die (much like Detroit), but playing behind C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, he may see the field early. He’s the best back in the draft you haven’t heard of. Alex Green ran through some mammoth sized holes in Hawaii, but we all know about Hawaii’s passing offense; holes like that won’t be there for Green at the next level, but I still like his hard-nosed down-hill style.
Outside of the obvious choices, this group has heartbreak written all over it. There are certain to be a few quality receivers that come out of this draft, but finding them ahead of time isn’t likely. More than any time in the recent past, I have ranked these receivers based on their NFL potential from what I have seen on tape. Drafted situation is important for receivers in seeing the field early, but the third-year rule still holds true in most cases. If your name is not A.J. Green or Julio Jones, you have your work cut out for you in 2011 and beyond. It’s likely that 75% of these receivers are busts waiting to happen.
1. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
3. Jonathan Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs
4. Greg Little, Cleveland Browns
5. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
6. Leonard Hankerson, Washington Redskins
7. Titus Young, Detroit Lions
8. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
9. Tandon Doss, Baltimore Ravens
10. Edmond Gates, Miami Dolphins.
Like the running backs, you’ll find more rankings in the guide, no need to bore you here. Go ahead and choose the receiver that will have the best NFL career after Green and Jones. I’ll admit, I love Greg Little’s game and NFL skill-set. Big, relatively fast, good leaper, great hands and strong. If Little’s head is on straight, I think he could push Jones for the second best receiver in this draft. A.J. Green is in another league and that could be his problem. I don’t see that “fire” that I see in Jones. But Green has such pure talent and dynamic, he may not need fire. Beyond that, watch Torrey Smith. The speedster has my gut screaming at me and my gut isn’t usually wrong. I want to love Hankerson but I keep going back to Smith in that Raven offense with Flacco at the helm. Something tells me that Smith is going to be a keeper.
He’s not overly dynamic or interesting, but I think Austin Pettis has a good possession receiver game and could be a strong receiver for Sam Bradford going forward. Salas isn’t far behind.
Honestly, don’t bother. This is a terrible year for tight ends and I can’t even get excited about Kyle Rudolph, who went to Minnesota. But here are my top three if you have some fascination or need.
1. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
2. Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams
3. Luke Stocker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yawn. Stocker has a chance in Tampa as Winslow is probably nearing the end. Shiancoe in Minnesota still likely has a couple of years left and Rudolph will be forgotten by then. I’m not sure what St. Louis is so high on Kendricks or what they saw. With Josh McDaniel as the offensive coordinator, this doesn’t really add up. But then again, another outlet for Bradford isn’t a bad think. Kendricks does remind me of Dustin Keller.
So there you have it, our quick and dirty post draft rookie rankings that should get you through the first three rounds of your rookie draft. Look for the guide coming out in the next week for even more essential information and chat sheets, I think you’ll like what you see.
Happy drafting and let us know how it goes!
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