Rookie IDP Rankings with Commentary: 21-42

Steve Wyremski


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, from 21-42 (make sure you check out 1-20 as well):

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. James Sample, FS/SS JAX

There was some speculation the drafting of Sample was a nail in the Jonathan Cyprien coffin because of his tendency to miss tackles. However, it looks like the Jaguars want to be flexible defensively. They wanted to add someone who can play both free and strong safety. Sample will compete with Sergio Brown for the starting free safety spot, but brings a lot more physicality and toughness to the secondary. He isn’t likely to start immediately, but offers tremendous long-term potential with only one season of major playing time at the college level (2014).

Target: Mid 5th Round

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  1. Kwon Alexander, SLB/MLB TB

With Bruce Carter and Lavonte David in play, Alexander will likely being working on the strongside and competing with Danny Lansanah in 2015. However, if Carter struggles, Alexander has the ability to play in the middle long-term. He’s a nice sleeper.

Target: Mid 5th Round

  1. Frank Clark, DE SEA

He comes with off the field issues with allegations of domestic violence and a series of other incidents. There’s no doubt he’s a potential problem. On the field, though, there’s no questioning his talent. He’s one powerful dude. The question will be if he can keep himself out of trouble and focus on his career. If immaturity gets the best of him and/or the Seahawks end up folding to the pressure of drafting a guy with domestic violence issues and cut their losses, he could be a complete write-off.

Target: Mid 5th Round

  1. Ibraheim Campbell, SS CLE

Campbell is a physical nightmare known as one of the hardest hitting players in this year’s draft. He’s extremely physical and a turnover machine – perfect for a Mike Pettine defense. All of the things you hear Pettine praise former Brown Jim Leonhard for are qualities ascribed to Campbell – solid work ethic, high football IQ, team leader, physical. He’s the perfect successor to Donte Whitner. In fact, many also compare Campbell to Whitner.

Target: Mid 5th Round

  1. Jaquiski Tartt, SS SF

Tartt is a big hitter, as well. He’s big, aggressive and intimidating. The question will be his coverage ability. He played at Samford against a lower level of competition, so he’ll have to prove capable in coverage to be the successor to Antoine Bethea, but the potential is there.

Target: Late 5th Round

  1. Bud Dupree, OLB PIT

With Jason Worilds retired and Jarvis Jones slow to produce, there are plenty of opportunities on the edge. I’m generally not a fan of 3-4 outside linebackers in tackle heavy leagues, but Dupree appears situated for some early opportunities.

Target: Late 5th Round

  1. Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB NO

If nothing else, Kikaha is productive. He’s not the most athletic of the 2015 edge rushers, but he gets to the quarterback. The Saints need a pass rush, which is exactly what Kikaha will bring. Another 3-4 outside linebacker, Kikaha’s ceiling is limited.

Target: Late 5th Round

  1. Danny Shelton, NT CLE

Shelton should start immediately and plug the interior of the Browns’ defense. He should be around for years and makes a nice safe defensive tackle required selection because of it. Many compare him to Vince Wilfork if you’re looking for a frame of reference for expected production.

Target: Early 6th Round

  1. Geno Grissom, DE/LB NE

The Patriots added another versatile player who can play a ton of different spots on their multiple front scheme. At Oklahoma, Grissom played defensive end in a 3-4, 4-3 defensive end, 3-4 outside linebacker and even kicked inside in certain passing situations. This comparison is a stretch and his talent and athleticism aren’t on the same level, but his skill set is reminiscent of Chandler Jones. He creates havoc regardless of where he plays. Grissom is also raw out of college and so was Jones.

While many believe it to be Trey Flowers, I view Grissom as the ultimate replacement for Rob Ninkovich. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Bill Belichick compared Grissom to Ninkovich throughout his post-pick press conference. The struggle is that Grissom was recently classified as a linebacker over on MFL, so his value ends up capped. Like Ninkovich, though, it’s very possible he flips position designation at various points depending on how he’s utilized. He’s a favorite sleeper of mine who I expect to settle in as a defensive end eligible player at some point.

Target: Early 6th Round

  1. Shane Ray, OLB DEN

He and Eli Harold are in similar situations. They’re big play league options as 3-4 rush linebackers and offer limited value in tackle heavy leagues because of the lack of upside. He’ll initially play behind Demarcus Ware, but it will be a priceless experience to learn behind two of the best pass rushers in the last decade in Ware and Von Miller.

Target: Early 6th Round

  1. Carl Davis, NT/DT BAL

Concerns surrounding his effort led to a free fall to the third round of the NFL draft. Once pegged as a potential late first rounder, Davis comes with a fresh chip on his shoulder. He’ll help the Ravens replace Haloti Ngata. Davis is a big body who is likely to be used at nose tackle who also excels against the run. The unfortunate thing for IDP’ers is he’s not known to be a pass-rushing force. His value will be limited outside of defensive tackle required leagues.

Target: Mid 6th Round

  1. Byron Jones, CB DAL

Jones is versatile enough to play both corner and free safety. The Cowboys are already talking about potentially using him in both roles. That means snaps. It also means a potential sneaky cornerback option in corner required leagues. If he’s getting snaps at free safety, he’ll see a bump in tackle opportunities. Jones is a long, physical corner, who’s not afraid to wrap up a defender. He’s a perfect option in cornerback required leagues.

Target: Mid 6th Round

  1. Marcus Peters, CB KC

Peters has a good shot at starting across from Sean Smith as a rookie. Smith is a solid cover corner, which means opposing quarterbacks will target the rookie on a frequent basis. Targets equal tackles. He’s another top rookie corner option who should see a high volume of tackle opportunities.

Target: Mid 6th Round

34. Damien Wilson, WLB/MLB DAL

Rolando McClain is on a one-year deal and Sean Lee can’t seem to stay healthy. With little other depth behind these two, Wilson is a viable dynasty sleeper. He’s not the most athletic guy, but he’s productive. He’s a great long-term option to keep an eye on.

Target: Mid 6th Round

35.  Clayton Geathers, SS IND

Geathers is a physical in the box safety with no nonsense attitude. He’s an enforcer, but he misses too many tackles. He comes with long-term potential with room to improve. With Dwight Lowery’s routine injury issues, he may get an opportunity sooner than expected.

Target: Mid 6th Round

36. Trae Waynes, CB MIN

This ranking is purely a short-term play. Rookie corners are always tested and it should be no different with Waynes. He ultimately projects as a shutdown corner, but he’ll be tested early and often in 2015 making him an ideal ‘rookie corner rule’ option in cornerback required leagues. Like Jones, Waynes should start immediately and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder. He just needs to cut down on his missed tackles. His tackle opportunities should be top notch in 2015.

Target: Late 6th Round

37. D’Joun Smith, CB IND

With Vontae Davis shutting down one side, the opposite side will see a lot of balls thrown their way. That means tackle opportunities. Currently, Greg Toler is projected to start across from Davis, but he’s always injured which could mean early snaps for Smith. He could improve in the tackling department, but having played safety at times in college, he’s accustomed to throwing his body around. Long-term, he should be a solid option in cornerback required leagues given the situation and high likelihood he’ll be consistently tested.

Target: Late 6th Round

38. Kevin Johnson, CB HOU

Unlike Waynes and Jones, Johnson may not start in his rookie year. This selection appears to be with a focus towards subpackages and 2016. Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are solid, so it’ll take a fantastic offseason for Johnson to steal a starting spot. However, Joseph is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2015 season, which should give Johnson a starting role.

Target: Late 6th Round

39. Trey Flowers, DE NE

My concern with Flowers is he’s a rotational player and not someone who’s going to stay on the field through the various defensive fronts the Patriots use. I’d prefer Geno Grissom to Flowers since he’s more versatile. Flowers is versatile in his own right, but Grissom can play all along the front seven.

Target: Late 6th Round

40. Michael Bennett, DT JAX

Bennett is a fantastic sleeper pick in defensive tackle required leagues with nice long-term potential. Between Grady Jarrett and Bennett, one of these two could easily be the steal of the 2015 draft. He comes with some medical concerns which many speculate led to his drop to the sixth round.

Target: Early 7th Round

41. Grady Jarrett, DT ATL

Size is coveted for defensive tackles and Jarrett doesn’t have it. So, he dropped all the way to the sixth round. Forget his size, this dude is strong. He’s nasty – and apparently underrated given his draft spot – with the potential to play three downs. As we’ve seen with guys like Geno Atkins, size isn’t the determining factor.

Target: Early 7th Round

42. Derron Smith, FS CIN

After a solid junior year, Smith struggled as a senior which impacted his draft stock. He possesses a high football IQ as a four year starter and is a willing tackler. George Iloka and Reggie Nelson are scheduled to be free agents in 2016, which mean an upcoming opportunity for Smith.

Target: Early 7th Round

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