The NFL is only days away, and the anticipation is palpable, not least among the fantasy football community. The IDP obsessives among us have already identified our favorite players, and we’re eager to see how their value is affected by what transpires in the draft.
The DLF IDP team got together for a pre-draft IDP-only rookie mock to determine how we feel about these guys before we know where they land. Joining me were Adam Tzikas, Justin Taylor, Marcus Erickson, John DiBari, Jason King, Brandon Haye, and Eric Flynn.
Our two-round mock was based on a 12-team league, using five positions comprising DT, DE, LB, S, and CB. We assumed a tackle-heavy system and DT-premium scoring.
1.01 – Will Anderson Jr., DE Alabama
Tzikas: Anderson has been a dominant force on a great Alabama line and is one of the pure blue-chip prospects of this draft. He has an excellent get-off and top-tier closing speed, making him deadly in the pass rush. He needs some work around his pass rush plan and hand technique, but these are easily coachable downsides.
1.02 – Jalen Carter, DT Georgia
Taylor: If you are in a league that starts a DT and has premium scoring, Carter is worth the selection here. If he can turn into an Aaron Donald-type DT, you hit a home run here.
1.03 – Drew Sanders, LB Arkansas
Erickson: I really like the versatility that Sanders has. Before transferring to Arkansas, he was primarily an edge player at Alabama. He showed he can be more than just an edge player after his season with the Razorbacks.
1.04 – Jack Campbell, LB Iowa
DiBari: There’s a decent chance he’s the leading tackler among rookies. He has tons of upside and is also gaining steam in NFL circles. I don’t remember him being talked about as a first-round pick early in this process, but I’ve heard those rumblings recently.
1.05 – Tyree Wilson, DE Texas Tech
King: Wilson will grab your eye if you like your edges to look like Myles Garrett from a height-weight and arm-length perspective. He has the versatility to line up inside an offensive tackle but is agile enough to drop into coverage. Power translates from college to the pro level, and Wilson moves linemen backward.
1.06 – Isaiah Foskey, DE Notre Dame
Haye: With many of the main guys I like off the board, I went with a productive player in Isaiah Foskey. He had double-digit sacks in his last two years. While he sometimes can run himself out of the play, he has great speed off the edge and uses his hands well.
1.07 – Myles Murphy, DE Clemson
Abbey: Murphy needs to refine his technique as a pass rusher, adding additional moves to his pass rush arsenal. However, his size, power, and athleticism are incredible, and he’s been highly productive for Clemson. His performance at his pro day was phenomenal, further intensifying the hype surrounding the 21-year-old. His potential was too great to pass up with the seventh pick.
1.08 – Nolan Smith, DE Georgia
Flynn: Some are skeptical of Smith’s size, but the guy is a super athlete who has been strong in the run game, can change tack quickly to be a relentless pursuer of the ball carrier, and has the scope to improve his pass rush in an NFL system. Players who are on the field all three downs have more opportunities to get you those fantasy points, and Smith qualifies as one of those guys.
1.09 – Trenton Simpson, LB Clemson
Abbey: Simpson is not a complete prospect, but no rookie linebacker can claim that feat. His ability to see significant snaps early in his career may depend on his progression in pass coverage. Still, his range and explosiveness make him an appealing IDP prospect, and his proficiency as a pass rusher may make him valuable in best ball formats.
1.10 – Lukas Van Ness, DE Iowa
King: As I mentioned with Wilson, power translates, and “the Lukas Van Ness Monster” can convert speed to power off the edge. He’s another long-armed, big edge at 6’5”, 275 lbs, with inside-outside versatility. He has lots of growing to do as a pass rush technician, but he’ll get on the field early, a la George Karlaftis.
1.11 – Bryan Bresee, DT Clemson
Abbey: Bresee’s college production has been slightly underwhelming, but we must remember that he has overcome extreme adversity in recent years. His blend of power and athleticism is impressive, and his ability to line up in multiple positions on the defensive front will appeal to NFL GMs. His injury history is a concern, but if he can stay healthy and land with a team needing a penetrating three-technique, he could make waves. He was an easy choice with the 11th pick. I love his potential.
1.12 – Calijah Kancey, DT Pittsburgh
Abbey: Kancey is only 281 lbs and at 6’1”, and I’m concerned he may not have the frame to add additional weight. Therefore, he may not be a good fit for every defensive scheme. However, he has the first step, quickness, and college production to suggest he can make an impact on passing downs.
2.01 – Brian Branch, S Alabama
Abbey: Branch is my favorite safety in the class. He has experience playing in multiple positions in the secondary and has proven to be adept at defending both the run and pass. That’s rare. He’s a sure tackler, and his ability to diagnose plays should help him get on the field early in his career. I’m not put off by the lack of big plays for Alabama.
2.02 – BJ Ojulari, DE LSU
Abbey: I regretted this pick because I assumed Daiyon Henley would be there for me at 2.04. Lesson learned! Fortunately, Ojulari is a good consolation prize. He’s an explosive pass rusher with great athleticism, bend, and balance. I have questions about his ability to be an asset in run defense, but I have reservations about every player remaining on the draft board.
2.03 – Daiyan Henley, LB Washington
King: Henley has a fan club, and I like him, but he has limitations as a lateral mover, and it was no surprise he passed on running the short shuttle and three-cone drills at both the combine and Washington State’s pro day. He’s fast, though, and might carve out an early role if his pass coverage ability translates from college to the NFL.
2.04 – Keion White, DE Georgia
Abbey: At 6’5” and 286 lb, White often looks like a man among boys. He has the power you expect for his size, and while he didn’t line up inside the offensive tackles often for Georgia, his stature suggests he could do so if required. He needs some refinement as a pass rusher, as you would expect from a guy who has only been playing the position since 2019, but I’m encouraged by his progress.
2.05 – Derick Hall, DE Auburn
Flynn: A productive pass rusher in the SEC, Hall will offer immediate pass rush depth but is also a strong run defender and tested well at the NFL Scouting Combine. I’m happy to take a chance on this day two project.
2.06 – Will McDonald IV, DE Iowa
Abbey: McDonald is close in my rankings to my earlier pick, B.J. Ojulari, and they share many of the same strengths and weaknesses. The Iowa product displays a sudden burst off the line and is relentless in pursuit. His ability to play all three downs may depend on his ability to improve in run defense, but at 6’4”, he has the frame to add additional weight, which would help in that sense.
2.07 – Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE Kansas
Haye: At 2.07, I took another player that is a pure pass rusher. Felix Anudike-Uzomah had 19.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles in his last two years. At this point in the draft, I will gladly take the sacks and tackles for losses he can produce. He has a non-stop motor and is talented in performing a variety of pass-rushing moves.
2.08 – Nick Herbig, LB Wisconsin
King: Herbig is an off-ball projection as he’s converting from college edge rusher. From a size perspective (6 feet-2 inches, 240 pounds), he should hold up well as a tackler. His explosion and agility testing numbers are just OK, though, so this is just a swing that he lands with a team that needs size at linebacker.
2.09 – Antonio Johnson, S Texas A&M
DiBari: Johnson should be a strong safety at the NFL level. He could see lofty tackle totals right out of the gate, depending on his landing spot. Hopefully, he lands with a team that wants to use him in the box more than in coverage.
2.10 – Dorian Williams, LB Tulane
Erickson: Sitting at the back end of round two, this is good value for Williams. He is another versatile player who showed he can do a little of everything in college. He is a hard hitter and solid in coverage. He is built more like a safety, so where he gets drafted will be intriguing.
2.11 – Sydney Brown, S Illinois
Taylor: Brown is a playmaking safety who I think is overlooked in this draft. It is not a deep position this year, and I think Brown is one of the best in the draft. He could drop to the third round, but depending on his landing spot, he could be an immediate starter and impact IDP player.
2.12 – Andre Carter II, DE Army
Tzikas: Carter is a project but has incredible size for an edge defender. He needs a lot of work but has the perfect frame to become something great. It’s all about the upside with the last pick of the draft.
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