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IDP

Top 20 Rookie IDP Rankings with Commentary

Anthony

There’s still a lot of uncertainty with how many of these rookie IDPs will be utilized, but we have some indications from beat writers and the collective post-draft comments from coaching staffs. Now that the dust has begun to settle and we’re prepping for OTAs, here are my current rookie IDP rankings.

Note: Rankings are based on IDP scoring with a sack-to-tackle ratio of 3:1 or less (i.e., tackle heavy formats). Because of that, rush linebackers and sack specialists will be ranked lower in this list as compared to big-play leagues.

Take the target timing with a grain of salt as it’s highly dependent on the specific offensive / defensive scoring. These are to be used as a general guideline. I’ve assumed a 12-team league with 3:1 sack to tackle scoring.

  1. Stephone Anthony, ILB NO

In a vacuum, he’s not the most talented in the class, but he steps into a situation where he should start immediately and play every down. He’s the lone player in that situation. Situation is one thing, but his talent is highly underrated. Many cite his limitations in coverage, but during the Senior Bowl he excelled there. He’s a sideline to sideline player with blitzing ability. He should immediately be relevant in IDP leagues.

Target: Mid 2nd Round
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  1. Eric Kendricks, MLB MIN

Like Anthony, Kendricks will start immediately for the Vikings. Unfortunately, he may not see snaps in sub packages right away. With Chad Greenway and Anthony Barr playing in sub-packages, Kendricks is likely to come off the field on third downs in 2015. Long-term, he projects as an every down linebacker, but unless Greenway’s effectiveness continues to plunge like it did in 2014 or there’s an injury, Kendricks is likely to lose snaps in passing situations. He’s a top notch long-term play.

Target: Mid 2nd Round

  1. Shaq Thompson, WLB CAR

One of my favorite linebackers in the class, Thompson is a hybrid linebacker/strong safety. He’s a Thomas Davis clone – a fast linebacker who excels in coverage and sub package ready. While there were initial concerns his position eligibility being safety, linebacker is officially his home. The Panthers’ coaching staff is already oozing with excitement with the potential to have three speedy linebackers on the field at once. While Thompson may start out only playing two downs, he’ll play a high volume of snaps once Davis retires or moves along (which should be in the near term).

Target: Early 3rd Round

  1. Denzel Perryman, ILB SD

It’s unclear what role Perryman will play initially, but he’s a physical linebacker. That’s exactly what Chargers’ linebacker coach Mike Nolan covets. Perryman will immediately push both Donald Butler and Manti Te’o for snaps. Perryman is a better tackler than either of those players, but his shortcomings are in coverage. While he’s capable in zone coverage, he’ll need to improve in man coverage to be a top linebacker in this class.

Target: Early 3rd Round

  1. Randy Gregory, DE DAL

Gregory’s effort was questioned throughout the draft process and his other personal issues are concerning, but he’s a top ten talent. If he finds consistency, he can be elite. With Greg Hardy suspended for the first ten games of 2015, we’re expected to get an early glimpse of Gregory with a healthy helping of snaps. Demarcus Lawrence is likely to maintain the other starting spot throughout 2015, but it should be a full rotation once Hardy returns. Hardy is only on a one year deal with the Cowboys, so if all works out with Gregory, he and Lawrence could be the starters in 2016.

Target: Early 3rd Round

  1. Landon Collins, SS NYG

Collins walks into a blue chip IDP situation. With Antrelle Rolle in Chicago and no depth remaining, he will immediately start and see a boatload of snaps. He’s known to be an in-the-box safety, but his coverage skills are underrated. He should be among the top IDP safeties in 2015 with a S1 ceiling.

Target: Mid 3rd Round

  1. Dante Fowler, DE JAX

Until the rookie minicamp ACL tear, Fowler was a top five IDP rookie for me. He’s the most complete edge rusher in this class with the ability to defend the run and get to the quarterback. Pure talent wise, he’s the top pass rusher among the 2015 rookies. What concerns me is the impact of the ACL tear. An ACL tear is a mental struggle to begin with, but imagine it happening day one of rookie camp. He’ll now miss his rookie season and the development that typically ensues. While players routinely return from ACL tears these days, how quickly this happened post draft is concerning.

Target: Mid 3rd Round

  1. Paul Dawson, MLB CIN

He exhibited atrocious athleticism at the Combine, but his instincts are undeniable. There was another linebacker a few years back who received similar criticism – Vontaze Burfict. Dawson steps into an ideal situation with the constant underperforming Rey Maualuga as his primary competition in the middle. It shouldn’t be long before he grabs the starting job. He’ll struggle to see subpackage snaps with Burfict and Emmanuel Lamur around, though.

Target: Mid 3rd Round

  1. Leonard Williams, DE NYJ

It’s a fantasy cluster in New York with three stellar former first round defensive ends in Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. The Jets want to reduce both Wilkerson’s and Richardson’s snaps to keep them fresh through the final weeks of the season. The result should bring a more productive and consistent defense through week 17, but it is also likely to bring a reduction in individual production. Long-term, though, he possesses top 10 defensive end potential in tackle heavy leagues. If you’re okay with being patient, he’s an ideal selection.

Target: Late 3rd Round

  1. Jake Ryan, ILB GB

Ryan landed in an ideal IDP situation. The Packers played Clay Matthews inside quite a bit towards the end of 2014 with inconsistent play from their other inside linebackers. They want to move Matthews back outside and the addition of Ryan will allow them to do just that. With AJ Hawk, Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore out of the picture, Ryan should have an opportunity to start immediately. As a high effort player with the ability to ultimately play every down, Ryan will be a hot IDP rookie draft commodity despite his day three draft position. His main competition should come from Carl Bradford who will push hard for a starting spot. I like Ryan to come out on top.

Target: Late 3rd Round

  1. Mario Edwards, DE OAK

Coach Jack Del Rio already stated he expects Edwards to start immediately, which makes sense considering there isn’t anyone on the depth chart outside of Justin Tuck worth talking about. There are questions about Edwards’ football character and, notably, his effort – he often disappears. However, he’s versatile enough to be moved along the front four, which bodes well for his snap count potential. The beauty with Edwards is his ceiling. Because of the inconsistent play, we’ve yet to see what he’s capable of. He’s a compelling prospect.

Target: Early 4th Round

  1. Arik Armstead, DE SF

Armstead is a boom/bust player with open path to a starting gig. With Justin Smith’s retirement, Darnell Dockett is the only defensive end fixture in the starting lineup. Armstead’s skill set will fit nicely as a five technique end in place of Smith, but Tank Carradine will also be in the mix. Armstead claims he’s not raw, but he’s just about the only one saying it. He’s large, long, athletic and quick. You’ll need patience with Armstead, but the potential is tremendous.

Target: Early 4th Round

  1. Jordan Hicks, ILB PHI

It’s no secret Chip Kelly wants Mychal Kendricks out of Philly. Hicks is known to be solid in coverage and Kelly already termed him a three-down linebacker. On the current depth chart, there are plenty of bodies to compete with in Kiko Alonso, Kendricks and Demeco Ryans, but he has the coach’s eye and the talent to compete. The flag to consider is he does have an injury history. He’ll need Kendricks (2016 free agent) to move along to have legitimate IDP value, but the potential is there.

Target: Mid 4th Round

  1. Vic Beasley, SLB ATL

There’s been a lot of noise surrounding Beasley. He’s likely to play the LEO role* in the Falcons defense. Unfortunately, the defensive end designation won’t come with it. Like Bruce Irvin in 2014, who also, at times, played Quinn’s LEO* for the Seahawks, the IDP linebacker designation is carrying over to Beasley. While many compare Beasley to Von Miller, Irvin is actually a nice proxy for Beasley. From my perspective, Miller is a lot more explosive than Beasley. Regardless of the player comparisons, though, Beasley’s linebacker designation will cap his fantasy value.

*Edited to add: I don’t think I’m entirely clear in my initial thoughts above regarding the role I expect Beasley to play. I believe he’ll play the LEO situationally, but also play the SAM (called the “OTTO” in Quinn’s scheme) – similar to what Irvin did in Seattle. Irvin’s and Beasley’s measurables are disgustingly similar and I think the Falcons will look for Beasley to play a similar role. Hopefully that clears up why I believe he’ll stick at at linebacker at not get the favorable defensive end tag despite some time at LEO.

Target: Mid 4th Round

  1. Bernardrick McKinney, ILB HOU

If two down thumpers are you’re thing, you’ll love McKinney. Unfortunately for prospective IDP owners, he struggles mightily in coverage. Of course, there’s a possibility he develops and works himself into a three down role, but right now his upside is significantly limited. He’s talented, but I expect him to be a better NFL player than IDP option given his lack of coverage skills. The Texans do plan to work on his coverage ability and, hopefully, develop him into a subpackage player. If you believe they’ll be successful, he’s worth a top five pick. I’m skeptical.

Target: Mid 4th Round

  1. Malcom Brown, DT NE

The self-proclaimed ‘best Patriot draft pick ever’, Brown is a super versatile player. In other words, he’s a perfect fit in Bill Belichick’s system and an ideal replacement for Vince Wilfork. He’ll play various positions across the front four assuring him snaps. The difficulty with Brown assessing how he and all the other bodies fit in. On the inside, Dominique Easley (a 2013 first rounder) and Chris Jones are still in the mix. So, there will be a rotation, at least initially. Regardless of the situation, Brown possesses the tools to excel. He’s big, strong, athletic and, most importantly, a workhorse. Unlike some of these other players who have questions surrounding effort, Brown doesn’t. He’s non-stop. In defensive tackle required leagues, he’s a top tackle selection despite the crowded depth chart.

Target: Late 4th Round

  1. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE NYG

Robert Ayers and Jason-Pierre Paul will be free agents in 2015, which should leave Odighizuwa with a runway to a 2016 starting position. This should work perfectly. He gets a year to continue to work on his craft, especially rushing the passer, followed by a starting position. Unlike many of the other edge rushers in this class, there is no question about Odighizuwa’s motor. He’s consistently disruptive.

Target: Late 4th Round

  1. Henry Anderson, DE IND

Like Brown, Anderson is creates pressure. He’s 3-4 defensive end who excels both defending the run and rushing the passer. Coach Chuck Pagano tabbed him as a “tremendous asset moving forward”. Maybe not immediately, but he has the potential to start at some point in his rookie year. He’s a poor man’s JJ Watt or Justin Smith. Watt and Smith were better prospects coming into the league, but their motors and style of play are very similar to Anderson’s.

Target: Early 5th Round

  1. Ramik Wilson, ILB KC

Derrick Johnson is aging and coming off of a major injury. Absent Johnson, there isn’t much talent at inside linebacker, which means there’s plenty of opportunity for Wilson. He has the potential to be a three down linebacker as highlighted by the Chiefs AD of college scouting in his post-draft press conference.

Target: Early 5th Round

  1. Danielle Hunter, DE MIN

He’s an athletic freak with tremendous upside. Need to know more? He’s gotten by on athleticism alone throughout his career, but will need to refine his technique. Mike Zimmer is the perfect guy to tap his potential. If he can bottle the potential, he could be a DL1. The problem is, he’ll compete with 2014 third round pick Scott Crichton for snaps.

Target: Early 5th Round

I’ll be back tomorrow with the next twenty on the list!

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6 Comments
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Paul Merkel
7 years ago

any thoughts on Eli Harold in SF?

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Paul Merkel
7 years ago

Yes sir…. He’ll be in tomorrow’s version!!

Nathan Kline
7 years ago

How Shane Ray doesn’t make top 20 is mind boggling. Talent alone should push him up despite his off field issues.
That being said, glad to see some Anthony love. Most instinctual LB in this class.
Looking forward to the next 20.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Nathan Kline
7 years ago

In tackle heavy leagues, I generally don’t have a 3-4 outside linebacker in that range. There’s no denying his talent level and the NFL impact he’s likely to have, but he has very limited IDP upside and high variance week to week. I’d prefer many other prospects to a guy like that. You’ll find this philosophy carry through to my rankings as well.

growskey23
7 years ago

Thank you for the IDP work that you do! The more I learn, the more I’m loving it!

M Bogie
6 years ago

Can you update the Rookie IDP’s?

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