The consensus on the rookie class – as far as offensive players – is that it’s been lukewarm at best, and superlatives used to describe it has ranged from lackluster to blah. Many offensive players landed in spots where they will be entrenched behind solid starters or in offenses which won’t feature the players’ strengths well.
In the early rookie drafts and mock drafts I have participated in, it gets ugly pretty quickly. Dart throw picks are starting in the middle of the second round. The early DLF Rookie ADP helps paint the picture of how rookies offensive players are being drafted thus far.
What does this mean in rookie drafts which include IDP players? The IDP class this year was strong, one of the strongest in years. Many players will make an impact from their first snap on Sundays. Do you start drafting IDP players earlier to compensate for the lackluster offensive class?
Let’s look closer at where you should draft IDPs.
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Among my peers, the strategy varies. Everyone seems to have a different strategy but the consensus is to wait, typically. For how long you wait depends on team needs and this draft has some strong options if you are needy defensively. Taking one of the top flight defensive linemen or linebackers in the early to mid-second round is a strong strategy, especially with how quickly the offensive draft class gets thin beyond the top 12-15 players. Needs dictate everything obviously and if you have a need, then reach on these players – all of those mentioned are going to be impact IDP assets early.
Nick Bosa should be the first IDP player off the board. He’s a defensive prospect who will make an instant impact and should be a top ten DE from day one in the NFL. I have seen the younger Bosa drafted at the end of the first round in a few drafts I am privy to.
Brian Burns, Clelin Ferrell, and Ed Oliver are a few other names to consider in the mid-second to the early third round. Burns has the upside of contributing more than ten sacks a year and is on a defense in Carolina which uses defenders to their full potential. Ferrell is a high character player with a safe floor – being a solid run stopper – but also has the same eight-ten sacks per year potential.
Oliver and Quinnen Williams are defensive tackles and in leagues which require them or have balanced scoring, are players I really love this season and going forward. Oliver has the game to be an Aaron Donald type of force – he is disruptive with a relentless motor. Williams is my personal favorite defensive player this class – his floor is high, he is a strong run defender and if he continues to develop, his ceiling is astronomical. Both should be taken in the second round in those formats.
A pair of linebackers to target are Devin White and Devin Bush – White has the highest upside and should be the first to be drafted. I would target him in the mid-second or later. If you have a need at linebacker though, target him sooner. White will be on the field for all three downs and will quickly be a solid and consistent contributing linebacker. Bush is rangy and great in coverage, I see him being on the field all the time but not providing quite the safe tackle gathering floor White has. Hence, Bush should be targeted late second round to the early third round.
Josh Allen, Jahlani Tavai, and Germaine Pratt are a few later targets I like and would grab beyond the third round. Allen comes with a caveat – if your league rewards big plays like sacks (a ‘big-play’ scoring format), Allen should be targeted earlier. He won’t score like a traditional linebacker as he won’t contribute the safe tackle floor but he will be a double-digit sack wrangler for a long time in the league. Tavai and Pratt landed in situations where they could excel and both saw a bump in value because of landing spots specifically.
Johnathan Abram is the only safety or defensive back I am confident drafting before the third round but even so, the sweet spot for him is the early third round of your mixed drafts. He is a thumping box safety and will be on the field a lot for the Raiders and tackle numbers will follow.
Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill, and Darnell Savage Jr. are a few others I like but they should be targeted later in your rookie drafts. Rapp is a complete safety. I see him being a strong asset and he will provide a safe floor – but not the loftiest ceiling. Thornhill might end up playing more of a free safety role but his ball skills are top notch and he has the ability to be the player who puts up occasional big games forcing turnovers a la Kevin Byard. Savage is an attacking safety: he could fill a hybrid role leading to a tackle producing floor and would make him an attractive late target.
Check back in frequently to the DLF IDP page. Our staff will be churning out more detailed profiles about many of the players above, IDP mock drafts, and players you should be targeting in deeper leagues, rookie drafts beyond four rounds.