2012 Dynasty Rookie Rankings: Consensus Top 21-40

Jeff Haverlack

It’s time to go a bit deeper.  As a follow up to our first top 20 consensus rookie rankings list, let’s dig a bit further and get you into the next set of draft prospects as we have them ranked.

21.  LaMichael James, RB SF

jamesThere’s no questioning the dynamic that James brings with him to the San Francisco.  I expected him to run a quicker forty (4.45), but all one has to do is put on any Oregon game tape and speed is the first thing that will jump out.  James has plenty of that, in addition to phenomenal lateral agility, acceleration and determination.  At 5’8″ and 194 lbs., the other thing that James possesses is a relatively maxed out frame that hasn’t been able to withstand constant punishment.  Heading into the NFL, injury concerns loom large and potential owners must balance certain risk vs. questionable reward.

The 49ers, leveraging their stingy defense, have further loaded the offense with playmakers, both young and old.  Already possessing Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario ManninghamKyle Williams and Frank Gore, they farmed the draft for further speed in the form of first round receiver A.J. Jenkins, followed by James in the second round.  It’s obvious that second year coach Jim Harbaugh is ready to pull out all the stops in creating a fast paced and lightning quick offense.  Where James fits at this point is anyone’s guess, but you have to believe they’ll work him around to get him the ball in space via bubble screens, swings and quick slants.  In the right system, and through reduced contact, James could pay big dividends in a PPR format.  Or, he could simply be another bench player that flirts with production, but never achieves starter status in fantasy.

22.  Marvin Jones, WR CIN

A DLF forum favorite, Jones lands in an intriguing situation and, as a fifth round selection, could overtake third round selection, Mohamed Sanu, in camp for the right to start across from second year pro A.J. Green.  Coach Marvin Lewis put together a nice draft for the Bengals, who are now clearly on the rise.  Gone is the uber-athletic Jerome Simpson (MIN), and taking his spot is almost certain to be one of those newly drafted rookies.  Jordan Shipley is returning from injury, but is in line to see more work from the slot while second year quarterback Andy Dalton hopes to build on a relatively successful rookie campaign.  It should be noted the Bengals had an easy schedule in 2011 and will be challenged to a greater degree in 2012.

As for Jones, he brings his good size and better than advertised speed to Cincinnati and could be in a dead heat race for a starting role.  He wasn’t a scoring machine at Cal, but had questionable quarterback play.  He’s got reliable hands, is tough enough to go across the middle and is physical at the line of scrimmage.  He’s got a chance to be productive in year one and makes for a true second or third round sleeper.

23.  Ryan Broyles, WR DET

There’s a lot to like with Broyles.

While his drafted situation may not be high on the list of positives, there will exist plenty of opportunity when the time comes for Broyles to see the field.  For anyone who saw Broyles’ season come to an end in the championship game, it’s impossible not to root for him.  Over the previous years, he’s established himself as a leader, plays with extreme heart and, on the field, has a game fitting a player many inches taller than his actual size (almost 5’11”).

Broyles is a natural slot receiver and is nearly as fearless in a blocking role as he is going across the middle.  He’s got good phone booth agility and runs crisp routes, excelling out of breaks and creating separation.  Straight line speed won’t surprise many, but he’s quick enough to make cushioned defenders pay and agile enough to get deep on occasion.  He could slip into the third round of fantasy drafts and his status will likely be determined by those that already know of him. He’s also a candidate to start 2012 on the PUP list as he continues to recover from ACL surgery.  Making field time more challenging will be the current receiver group of Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Titus Young.  Expect a selection in the 19-24 selection range.

24.  Nick Toon, WR NO

toonFourth round selection Nick Toon is a relatively average receiver across the board, but is said to remind the the Saints of a younger Marques Colston.  Colston has re-signed in the Big Easy, but gone is Robert Meachem, leaving an important starting job open and available to any receiver ready to step up.  Catching passes from Drew Brees is good for any rookie’s career and dynasty coaches are undoubtedly watching the situation closely.

Toon isn’t likely to garner much attention until your draft’s third round, but his drafted situation bears watching.  If the Saints brass truly believe that Toon is Colston reincarnate, he’ll be on the field early and often and could see material targets.  Brees is known to spray it around, but he also understands the need to get the rookies involved towards establishing confidence and chemistry.

We don’t expect Toon to put up notable fantasy numbers in 2012, but his situation necessitates an addition in later rounds.

25.  Bernard Pierce, RB BAL

Pierce is an intriguing specimen that fell to a less-than-ideal situation with his selection by the Baltimore Ravens.  Highly coveted running back Ray Rice is as tough as they come and snaps for Pierce will likely be few and far between.  However, should the injury bug bite, he also has the size and ability to be a productive back behind an offensive line that is more than capable.  At  just over 6′ tall and 218 lbs., Pierce is built to take a hit, but does have enough speed to get to the sidelines.  He’s not the receiver that Rice is, nor is he as capable in pass protection, but he is willing and should pick up the nuances of this phase of the game without much difficulty.

Pierce is yet another back who won’t surprise you in any one area, but is capable in all of them.  Given his size and speed (4.49) combination, he’ll be an easy handcuff target for existing Rice owners, so be sure to know where they’re stacked in your draft if you covet him.

26.  Robert Turbin, RB SEA

Turbin was on the rise early heading into the draft, but the relatively one dimensional runner really never picked up enough steam to be over drafted come draft day.  Still, Turbin lands in as good a situation as he could have hoped for.  The ink on Marshawn Lynch’s contract isn’t yet dry and plenty of questions surround Beast Mode’s ability to play through his contract at a high level now that he’s been “paid.”  Turbin isn’t a dynamic back that’s going to take over a game.  He’s a bit stiff as a runner, but should exist well in a zone-blocking scheme which favors his one cut and go style.

Lynch owners would be wise to play the handcuff with a selection of Turbin in the third round of rookie drafts.

27.  Greg Childs, WR MIN

Childs fell further than expected on draft day and winds up in a favorable situation in Minnesota.  With a realistic shot to see the field in 2012, he makes for a sneaky third round rookie draft selection.  He has good enough size and bulk and does a nice job of tracking and catching in stride, letting few balls reach his frame.  I’d like to see slightly bigger hands (9 5/8″), but they have not shown to be a problem.  Not an ultra exciting selection here, but he does have upside.

28.  Cyrus Gray, RB KC

grayGood size, good leg drive and sufficient hands make Cyrus Gray a capable backup to Jamaal Charles in Kansas City.  Gray runs with more power than would be expected for a back of his size and he’s quicker (4.47) than I gave him credit for.

In the end, he is buried behind both Charles and Peyton Hillis, but neither will appear on any posters for durability.  Gray’s pass blocking will be a significant liability in the NFL, but he’ll have plenty of time to work on it while waiting for an opportunity to produce.

Some believe that Gray is highly undervalued and has a similar skill set to the aforementioned Charles or Demarco Murray.  He will likely find his way into the fourth round of rookie drafts.

 

29.  Ryan Lindley, RB ARI

Ron Jaworski believes that Lindley could be a starter in four years – that’s high praise for a rookie who has as more holes in his game than he has strengths.  Yet one only needs to see the ball leap from his hand to understand the arm that Lindley possesses.  There’s no question that he has the strongest arm in the 2012 draft class and he shows it on nearly every pass.  He doesn’t have the ability, seemingly, to dial back his arm strength and throw with touch.  However, he has the size and arm to hold down the pocket.  If he’s allowed to develop without being rushed into service, I agree with Jaworski in that he has a chance.  Arizona is a great landing spot for him.

30.  Juron Criner, WR OAK

crinerCriner has the size, athleticism and enormous (10 1/2″) hands to be a difference maker at the next level. Except for the slower than expected forty (4.68), Criner would have been drafted much, much higher.  He does carry an injury concern and tends to get lazy on occasion, but he has the physicality and catch radius to surprise  if given a chance.  Criner is as raw as they come, but falls to an intriguing receiver situation in Oakland.  Keep track of him and snag him in the middle of the fourth round if given the opportunity.  We love his upside but remember that the NFL is littered with receivers with the same “upside.”

31.  Chris Polk, RB PHI

What a draft for Mr. Polk.

I can’t imagine sitting in front of the TV for three days waiting to hear your name called only to have the draft end with no ring of the phone.  In all likelihood, however, Polk’s phone was blowing up as they entered the sixth round.  Word has it that a combination of a shoulder injury combined with a “degenerative hip condition” caused Polk’s steep value slide.  Tell that to him though and he’ll be the first to deny that he has any hip condition. Furthermore, a letter from Dr. James Andrews clears Polk for football activities outside of minimal scarring in the affected shoulder. In the end, he ends up in a decent situation and isn’t far from the field.  He has youth on his side and he’s as NFL ready as any of this year’s rookies.

32. Russell Wilson, QB SEA

If not for being three inches less than the accepted minimum height for prototypical quarterbacks in the NFL, Wilson would have been a top ten pick.  He has elite athleticism, mobility and leadership and is truly impressive under center.  At Wisconsin, he was said to have the sixth biggest line in football, including the NFL.  I wouldn’t count out Wilson and in Seattle, his upside is even greater.  Take a chance on the diminutive signal caller as there’s something about him that screams “rare talent.”

33.  Brock Osweiler, QB DEN

Outside of being creepy, he’s tall, has a good enough arm and will be mentored by none other than Peyton Manning.  Who knows when he’ll see the field or whether he’ll be ready when he does, but he’s worth a shot in the late third or early fourth round of your rookie draft.

34.  Ladarius Green, TE SD

He’s a raw talent, but very athletic and in the mold of what the Chargers like at the position.  Antonio Gates is no sure bet to stay healthy and even if he does, look for Green to see the field.  He’s a great handcuff for owners of Gates.

streeter35.  Tommy Streeter, WR BAL

A receiver who stands at 6’5″, weights 219 lbs. and runs a 4.40 forty?  Yes, please!

Streeter only had a single year at Miami and enters the NFL as a raw talent needing significant refining in all phases of his game. Much like Stephen Hill, he’s a specimen who has natural size and hands to dominate should he develop.  He’s extremely young, has sloppy footwork and is a bit clumsy in and and out of his breaks, but I like him as a deep sleeper in this year’s class.  One surprising negative was his relatively disappointing vertical jump of 33″ at the combine.  He’ll need years of development, but I’m not betting against him just yet.

36.  Chris Givens, WR STL

We’re not really sure what to make of Givens in St. Louis.  He’s not overly physical, but is fluid, quick and has the speed to make secondaries pay.  He’s a raw talent and has small hands, but he’ll see the field early for the Rams.  Beat writers expect both Givens and fellow rookie Brian Quick to be starting in week one.

37.  Devon Wylie, WR KC

At every turn while watching the NFL Combine, I found myself saying “who is that?” And nearly every time, it was Devon Wylie.  His situation isn’t great, but he’s as good a Wes Welker clone as I’ve seen.  This doesn’t mean that he IS the next ultra productive slot receiver, but he’s got the suddenness, explosion and hands to be great if used properly.  I would have liked to have seen him in Washington with RGIII.

38.  Dan Herron, RB CIN

Herron has both BJGE and Bernard Scott in front of him.  That’s all you really need to know to take a shot.  Fast?  No.  Dynamic?  No.  A good downhill runner with decent vision and power?  Yes.  Just what the Bengals like.

39.  Nick Foles, QB PHI

folesFoles was in the midst of a consistent valuation slide leading up to the draft.  During the combine I was disappointed to see a different player than I saw on  tape.  However, in that thought is the truth of the situation.  The tape is far more important than the combine or, as Mike Mayock would say, the underwear olympics.

Foles is a complete mystery.  He’ll be groomed behind Michael Vick and seemingly has enough arm and football IQ to get an eventual shot.

What he does with it is anyone’s guess and, as such, he’ll be drafted near the bottom of your rookie draft. If you’re in need of a developmental quarterback prospect, you could do worse.

 

40.  DeVier Posey, WR HOU

Somebody eventually has to be worthy to start across Andre Johnson, right?   The one that eventually does will be a valuable asset.  Next up, DeVier Posey!

jeff haverlack