Welcome to the DLF IDP rookie tracker. This year we are going to try something new. I’m going to track 10 specific IDP rookies throughout the season. We’ll still provide profiles on them as we go through the season, but you invested probably either a second or third-round pick on these players and you want to make sure that your capital gets the ROI you expect.
What we’re going to do in this article is lay out who we are going to follow and the reasons why they were selected. Then starting next week we’ll break down each player’s performance. Of course if someone jumps out early on in the season, we might make a switch. For now though, here are the 10.
Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland — He’s the No. 1 overall draft pick and many pundits think he has the potential to join J.J. Watt at the top of the DL rankings. He solidifies a Cleveland front seven that all of a sudden could be pretty good.
And as I type this I see that he’s been hurt and could miss significant time. While unfortunate, the good part is we play dynasty football, which means we’re looking at the long term. Stick him on IR if you have to, but I would not cut bait anytime soon.
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Reuben Foster, LB, San Francisco — For my money, he’s the best rookie linebacker. People got all wrapped in the whole Combine fiasco. Then there was news circulating that he was hurt, which was false. All he’s done in the preseason is come out and look like the prototypical inside linebacker everyone thought he was 12 months ago.
Jarrad Davis, LB, Detroit — If Foster isn’t the No. 1 LB, Davis almost certainly will be. Now, I say that with one small condition, I’m kind of not a fan. Yes, he landed into a great situation, and yes, he closes well, but that’s because he’s slow to diagnose the play. That’s already been on display in the preseason. If he can figure out what’s going on quicker, the Lions could have a serious player on their hands.
Haason Reddick, LB, Arizona — Of these first four candidates, Reddick is the one that has both the most intrigue and the most uncertainty to him. He went to Temple as a safety, was asked to play defensive end, then when he went to the Reese’s Senior Bowl they transitioned him to linebacker. He has the speed and athleticism to make that move, there’s no doubt. But like Davis above, can he process what he sees fast enough? On top of that, how much will the Cardinals ask him to play at linebacker vs. playing with his hand in the dirt in pass-rushing situations?
Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets — Defensive backs are always dicey to pick up, but Adams is widely regarded as one of the best safety prospects to come along in a long time. The Jets are in full rebuild and Adams should be a key piece. After the dealing Sheldon Richardson in the past couple of weeks, Adams should get some more tackle opportunities. If he leans more toward the free safety position, his value will decline.
Jabrill Peppers, S, Cleveland — You can pretty much take what I wrote for Adams above and apply it to Peppers as well. That said I have more faith in the Browns defensive coaches than I do the Jets. (Did I really just type that?) Where you do get some bonus with Peppers is in the return game as he is an excellent kick and punt returner.
Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia — I thought Barnett might need some time to get up to NFL speed. Nah. He wrecked shop all preseason and looks to be a fixture in that rotation all season. I wouldn’t expect huge tackle numbers, but I don’t think 8 sacks on the year is crazy talk.
Solomon Thomas, DE, San Francisco — Thomas will most likely end up as a DE, but he might see some snaps at DT too. The 49ers aren’t a great team, so the defense will spend a lot of time on the field. Like Barnett, I don’t think the tackle numbers will be extraordinary, but I think 5 sacks isn’t out of the question.
Duke Riley, OLB, Atlanta — I’ve been thinking about doing this article series since the NFL Draft. In the early versions though, Riley wasn’t on the list. Then he went out and won the weakside linebacker job for the Falcons, pushing De’Vondre Campbell to the strong side. Some scouts said he was Kwon Alexander-lite, which is a lot to put on a rookie. If he becomes that, you’ve gotten a major steal.
Jonathan Allen, DE, Washington — I really like Allen. I wanted my Bears to select him at No. 3 overall, but Chicago had other plans. He plays with power and speed and can play the run as well as the pass. He had some medical issues that scared off some teams, but I like him landing in Washington and think he’ll post decent numbers.
Charles Harris, DE, Miami — I am not Harris’ biggest fan and thought outside linebacker was his best position. If he can manage to improve his run defense and maintain his pass rush the Dolphins might have a serious player.
Taco Charlton, DE, Dallas — Charlton is more of a pass rusher than a run defender. The Cowboys keep throwing draft capital at the pass rush position and keep busting. Maybe Charlton is the one that breaks that string.
Zach Cunningham, LB, Houston — I love Cunningham. I think he’s a rangy player with the speed to play coverage. Now, as Bee pointed out in one of our Twitter conversations, a veteran team that thinks it is knocking on the door of a Super Bowl will be reluctant to start a rookie at inside linebacker. I’ll tell you that he’s the best inside linebacker on that team and I don’t think it’s particularly close.
Budda Baker, S, Arizona — What? It’s my series and I’ll write about who I want even if he’s probably not a tremendous IDP asset. Baker can play corner or safety and while that versatility is great for the Cardinals, it actually hurts his IDP worth.
That’s who we will follow throughout this 2017 season. I hope everyone enjoys the ride.