But the Colts didn't spend a first-round pick on Phillip Dorsett for him to sit on the bench. If he proves ready for playing time, it's likely going to come quickly. And that will have a considerable impact on certain players' snap counts and their number of targets.
Hilton's snaps figure to be safe, but if the Colts bring Dorsett along quickly, the playing time of both Johnson and Moncrief will be affected. If he plays big snaps, it could have a ripple effect on Fleener and/or Allen, assuming Hamilton calls fewer two-TE sets to get his receivers on the field. The pick is certainly a boost for QB Andrew Luck, but it's hard to see how it helps any of the other Colts receivers.
The team selected Alabama receiver Amari Cooper with the No. 4 overall draft pick in last week’s draft.
The article didn't mention Andre Holmes, but he's also in the mix for snaps. Jones led the team in receptions and touchdowns, and was second to Holmes in receiving yards. The only receiver we would trust in Oakland is Cooper, since he's likely to be immediately thrust into a starting role. Crabtree, Streater and Holmes will battle for playing time.
Cardinals RB David Johnson has the makings of a player who can have an immediate impact out of a small school. He’ll enter offseason workouts with an opportunity to be a three-down running back if he can learn the Cardinals’ offensive scheme, coach Bruce Arians said.
It’s unlikely, however, that he’ll supplant Andre Ellington as the starting running back.
“I think Andre will continue his same role,” Arians said. “We’ll keep him healthy and let him continue to develop as a player, but the nice thing David can do is he can do everything Andre does, so you don’t have to change if there was an injury.”
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Ellington, but it sounds as if Arians feels Johnson is more of an Ellington clone. Arians confirmed that Ellington should continue in his current role with Johnson serving as his primary backup.
The St. Louis Rams traded Zac Stacy to the New York Jets in exchange for the 224th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Stacy requested a trade after the Rams drafted Georgia's Todd Gurley in the first round on Thursday night.
Stacy will vie for playing time in a crowded Jets backfield, which also features Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley and Bilal Powell. Similar in skill set as a downhill chain-mover, Stacy will provide insurance in case Ridley suffers a setback in his return from ACL surgery.
Joique Bell will open the season as the starter, but expect Ameer Abdullah to shoulder much of the rushing load early as well. Detroit would not have taken him that high if it planned on Theo Riddick being the No. 2. The powerful Bell and speedy Abdullah will complement each other, much as Bell and Reggie Bush did in previous years. Riddick probably will be used a lot like he was last year, as a receiver out of the backfield.
Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Riddick’s role as the Lions’ third-down back is in serious jeopardy. If things break his way and he sees significant time on passing downs, Abdullah could ultimately post top 25 numbers in PPR formats.
Starting running back Lamar Miller (1,099 yards rushing) is adept at what he does best, being a fast back who can make some breakaway runs. But the Dolphins need someone to grind out some tough yards, and that’s one thing Ajayi does well.
Ajayi will likely be the favorite to assume the role of power runner without much competition in training camp.
Miller's workload is under pressure now with Ajayi in the fold. He was expected to go much earlier, so don't read too much into the cost of the pick. The Dolphins were looking for a back to complement Miller and they found one in Ajayi.
“We felt like the tight end was someone we really wanted,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “This offense we’ll be running is very tight end friendly.”
The Ravens lost Owen Daniels to free agency and Dennis Pitta is very iffy for the season as he recovers from a bad hip injury, so Williams is a need pick. If his offseason goes well, he could start immediately in new OC Marc Trestman’s pass-happy offense. This means he could be fantasy relevant as a rookie, a rarity for a rookie tight end.
Coach Bruce Arians doesn't like the word "need", but the Cardinals were lacking a big, physical back. David Johnson will contend for the starting job, and at least should be a nice complement to Andre Ellington. Johnson is big and he ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.5 seconds, which is plenty fast for a man his size.
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Ellington, and Johnson fits the bill. It’s starting to look like a committee in Arizona, so keep an eye on this camp battle to see if Johnson’s able to unseat Ellington. For now, Ellington should be able to hold onto the job with Johnson serving in a change-of-pace role.
"From what I saw on tape, I think we got a guy that needs some work but is a great athlete. He has good speed and can take the top off of the coverage. He’s a guy who can track the ball down field very well. He has some problems straight ahead catching a football but that’s why we have drills. With a chance to coach him up, we feel like we can make that better. The thing that you can’t coach up is his athleticism."
“The really, really talented ones are going to get drafted high. A top back is going to touch the ball 15 to 20 times a game, at least, a top receiver maybe eight or nine. You’ve got to have one.
“And I’ve always prescribed to the theory that you’ve got to have more than one of them. Melvin gives us that dynamic -- he can make the big play (which Mathews, whose longest run from scrimmage was 51 yards, his second-longest 39, could not). We’ve been a long-drive offense.”
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so we’d expect they’ll use him early and often in 2015. In fact, Telesco used the phrase "impact player" 11 times in Gordon's introductory press conference. Ryan Mathews is gone, so it’s Gordon’s job to lose. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so we'd expect that Danny Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down while Gordon establishes himself as a good weapon out of the backfield. Given Todd Gurley’s ACL recovery, we'd also expect that Gordon will be the first rookie running back off the board (in the 3rd round?).
Afterward, coach Sean Payton made it clear that Colorado State's Garrett Grayson was the only passer the team had eyes for.
"This was the one," Payton said, per The Times-Picayune. "If he wasn't available, we probably would have gone without drafting a quarterback."
He looms as a fit, with NFL Media's Mike Mayock comparing Grayson's game to Drew Brees. Payton, though, emphasized that New Orleans isn't contemplating the end of the veteran's NFL career, saying of the 36-year-old Brees: "We love our starter."
By the time Brees is ready to hang it up, Grayson should be ready to go. Payton is a good coach and Grayson should develop while he waits for playing time.
The move has the potential to be a game-changer for the Rams' offense, which took a player many consider the best running back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. Todd Gurley should step right in and form one of the fastest, dynamic tandems in the NFL with Tre Mason, who showed flashes in his rookie season.
One player not happy the Rams added a first-round stallion to their crowded backfield is Zac Stacy. The running back who rushed for 973 yards as a rookie in 2013 tweeted (and deleted) "yikes" after the Gurley pick.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported early Friday morning that Stacy has requested to be traded and the Rams are shopping him, per a sourced involved.
Stacy is clearly on the outs in St. Louis. He was a starter heading into the 2014 season, but lost his job to Mason and now finds himself third on the depth chart once Gurley returns from his ACL injury.
Carlos Hyde will have to move on from Frank Gore's mentorship and carve out a bigger role in 2015, a year that figures to showcase a new-look 49ers team. Besides the changing of the guard in the 49ers backfield, Hyde has undergone another major change this offseason.
His body is different. Hyde slimmed down 15 pounds since his rookie year.
General manager Trent Baalke touted Hyde as one of the most noticeably different players in the team's offseason program.
Hyde is expected to take over as the team's primary ball-carrier, with Reggie Bush assuming the passing down role. Given Bush's presence and Hyde's 4.0 YPC during in his rookie season, Hyde is probably being overdrafted as he's been going at the beginning of the 3rd round of early PPR drafts. Expect 250 or so carries and a somewhat limited role in the passing game, though there is upside here if the new offense falls into place.
The San Francisco 49ers may only be two days into minicamp and a few weeks into the offseason program, but Torrey Smith said Wednesday that the chemistry is already building between him and his new quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The two aren’t new acquaintances; Smith said that he and Kap had trained at the same facility in past offseasons. He referenced Kaepernick’s “cannon” and how it differs from the strong arm of his former Baltimore Ravens teammate Joe Flacco.
“Joe (Flacco) has a great arm, probably the strongest arm in the league, but Kap’s is something different with that velocity,” Smith said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s something different.”
“He’s doing a great job,” Smith said. “Ya’ll aren’t out there, but some of the throws he made yesterday were ridiculous.”
“It was cover two and I had a conversion,” Smith said. “It turned into a deep route and there was a small, a really small window for him to make the throw between (Antoine) Bethea and myself. If he put too much air on it, the ball is going to get tipped in a real game, and I’m going to get knocked out. But, he threw it where only I could get it and I didn’t break stride. And it was on a rope, 35 yards on a rope. It would have been a touchdown. It was ridiculous.”
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with QB coach Dennis Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value, and early reports describe a 'radically different' throwing motion.
The Broncos' third-year running back predicts — not smugly but almost sheepishly — that he'll surpass Hillman and unseat Anderson, whose spectacular second half of 2014 earned him a Pro Bowl berth and the Broncos' starting tailback job.
"C.J. deserves the No. 1 spot right now. I'm most definitely going to try to work to get it back. And I believe that I will," Ball told The Associated Press during a break at minicamp this week. "I like coming in and being the underdog, just keeping my head down, my mouth shut and just working."
The clear-cut starter a year ago at this time after rushing for a 4.7-yard average his rookie year, Ball never regained his explosiveness or his starting job after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in August.
Ball blames the three-week layoff for weakening his core, which he believes in turn led to the torn right groin that landed him on injured reserve, limiting him to a paltry 172 yards on 55 carries for a 3.1-yard average and a single TD in 2014.
"I went back out there and it was just all downhill from there because I believe by having a weak core from having the surgery and not being able to work out my core for a good three weeks everything just lost its balance and my groin went out," Ball said. "I'm not blaming anyone because I looked them in the face and said, 'I feel great. I feel 100 percent.'"
Anderson starts the offseason as the starter, and it's his job to lose, but he's one of the riskier running backs currently going in the first three rounds due to his "half-year wonder" status and the presence of Hillman and Ball.