NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap (Rounds 1-7)
The NFL Draft was featured in Prime Time for the first time ever in 2010, and it did not disappoint. We had trades (Leon Washington, Lendale White, Jason Campbell) players Slipping (Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Dez Bryant), and big time reaches (Tim Tebow).
Below we recap all of the skill position selections rounds 1-7 and give a quick take on the roles they will play on their new teams. As the season draws closer and training camp battles shake out, we will have more in-depth rookie previews at 4for4.com, but for now enjoy a lengthy glimpse into the rookie class of 2010.
By now you all know the Rams selected Sam Bradford with the first pick in the 2010 draft. What you may not know is that Rams HC Steve Spagnuolo doesn't plan on rushing Bradford into the starting lineup - at least so he says. Spagnuolo contends that A.J. Feeley will likely be the week 1 starter, with Bradford being eased into the role later in the year. We certainly wouldn't be surprised to see Spagnuolo backtrack on those words and end up with Bradford under center by week one, but don't expect much fantasy production from him in 2010. The Rams do have a nice young core of receivers and a stud in Stephen Jackson to build around, but developing talent and a poor offensive line that has given up 40+ sacks in each of the last nine season will limit Bradford's fantasy potential in his rookie season even if he does get the nod as starter.
The Bills have used the 9th overall pick on RB Clemson C.J. Spiller. Spiller is considered the most explosive back in the draft, drawing comparisons to Chris Johnson . Expect this to signal the end of Marshawn Lynch 's time in Buffalo. Unfortunately for the Bills, they still lack a legitimate starting QB and #1 WR. Spiller should certainly show flashes of brilliance in 2010, but a general lack of talent around him, coupled with a shared workload could ultimately hurt his 2010 production.
The Chargers traded first-round picks with the Dolphins (in addition to sending a 2nd and 4th Miami's way), and selected RB Ryan Mathews with the 12th overall pick. While this may have been a reach on San Diego's part, they obviously felt the need to secure a #1 RB with the decline and then departure of LaDainian Tomlinson. Matthews is expected to start immediately and be the primary back to Darren Sprole's change-of-pace role. HC Norv Turner expects Ryan Matthews to get somewhere around 250 carries in his rookie season.
Scout Andy Rioux listed San Diego as the best fantasy situation for a rookie RB last week:
The LaDanian Tomlinson era is over in the city that stays classy, and while Darren Sproles will be back, the speedy Sproles isn’t capable of carrying a full load. He certainly isn’t a consistent short yardage touchdown threat. San Diego needs a workhorse who can diversify the offense the way LT used to, and fantasy owners need to strongly consider [Ryan Mathews] as he would potentially play an integral role on a great offense.
The Bengals fill a long-standing need at TE by drafting the top TE prospect in the draft, Jermaine Gresham out of Oklahoma with the 21st overall pick. Gresham missed the 2009 season with a knee injury, but assuming he is fully recovered will immediately give Carson Palmer a big target, at 6-5, 260lb.
The Broncos traded a 4th round pick to the Patriots and moved up two spots to select WR Demaryius Thomas . Not many people had Thomas going ahead of Dez Bryant , but after all the issues coach McDaniels had with Brandon Marshall last season, character was an obvious consideration.
That said, Demaryius Thomas is no slouch and should slot in quickly (if not immediately) as the Broncos #1 wideout. Thomas averaged over 25 yards per catch last year, recording 1154 receiving yards and 8 TDs for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The Cowboys traded up with New England to select WR Dez Bryant with the #24 overall pick. Most had Bryant as the top WR in the draft, and some had him as one of the top players overall, but character issues allowed him to slide to 24.
With the failed Roy Williams experiment, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys hope to slot Dez Bryant in as a 1a/1b receiver across from emerging star Miles Austin. Owner Jerry Jones insists that this DOES NOT spell the end of the road for Roy Williams in Dallas, but only time will tell.
Denver traded up with the Baltimore Ravens to select Florida QB Tim Tebow 25th overall in the biggest shock of the first round. No one had Tebow going ahead of Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, and very few had him going ahead of Texas QB Colt McCoy.
It would be a shock if Tebow were starting NFL games this season, as most view him as a project QB, but Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn are obviously not the answer in Denver. Look for Tebow to get involved immediately in some packages, but don't expect him in a starting role any time soon. Coach Josh McDaniels has put to rest speculation that Tebow could be used at other positions, saying "He’s a quarterback" and that he will be competing for a starting job just like everybody else.
The Lions traded up a few spots with the Vikings to select RB Jahvid Best out of California at #30 overall. Best is similar in size and skill set to C.J. Spiller who went to the Bills at #9, but Best has some injury concerns after missing the end of last season with a concussion. Best ran a 4.35 40 at the combine and can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Kevin Smith's status for the start of the season is in doubt after a torn ACL shortened his 2009 season, and the Lions don't see Maurice Morris as an answer. Expect Jahvid Best to get in the mix immediately as a kick returner and running back. Best has huge upside if he can stay on the field, and it is notable that Best laughed off the injury concerns, "There's no truth to that article. I honestly laughed."
The Chiefs drafted RB Dexter McCluster out of Mississippi with the 5th pick of the 2nd round (37th overall). McCluster is a small back (5-9, 170) with good speed and hands. With Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones already in place in KC, McCluster is expected to convert to a slot receiver which he played earlier in his collegiate career. McCluster could likely become an immediate starter in the middle between Dwayne Bowe and the revitalized Chris Chambers.
The Bucs traded up with the Raiders to select WR Arrelious Benn, a 6-1 220 pounder out of Illinois. Benn should immediately slot in as the Bucs #1 WR and provide a big target for developing QB Josh Freeman. The Bucs like his versatility, his ability to play in the slot or outside.
The Patriots traded up to select TE Rob Gronkowski out of Arizona with the 42nd overall pick. TE is a position of need for the Patriots after losing Ben Watson and Chris Baker in the offseason. Gronkowski's main concern is his ability to stay healthy, missing 16 games over the last two season. But the Patriots see Gronkowski as their TE of the future and a probable #1 on the depth chart come week 1.
The Panthers didn't have a pick on day one, but they still had their pick of QBs Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy . The Panthers selected Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame with the 48th overall pick and have to feel lucky that he lasted so long. Clausen was projected as the #2 QB in the draft and most thought he would be a top 10 draft pick.
Jimmy Clausen steps into a great situation in Carolina, with a top running game and a skilled receiver in Steve L Smith. Clausen will likely open up camp as the #2 QB on the depth chart, but expect him to battle Matt Moore for the starting gig in Carolina with fellow rookie Tony Pike also in the mix.
The Vikings traded up in the second round to select Toby Gerhart, winner of the Doak Walker Award for the top collegiate running back. Gerhart is a big back, but Vikings HC Brad Childress says Gerhart will not be a fullback. Childress said he saw Gerhart playing backup RB to Adrian Peterson and could see them both on the field in some two-back sets.
The Texans originally traded down with the Vikings, and then traded back up in the 2nd round to grab RB Ben Tate with the 58th overall pick in the draft. In Tate the Texans find a power back with good speed who should slot into the starting lineup immediately and share the load with Steve Slaton. Slaton is coming off neck surgury, and if he faces any setbacks or has a recurrence of his fumbling problems, Tate's stock will continue to rise.
Browns GM Tom Heckert said he considered Montario Hardesty, who the Browns traded up to draftlate in the 2nd round, to be a potential feature back. For whatever reason the Browns have never seemed impressed with Jerome Harrison's solid production. Expect Hardesty to get in the mix immediately, and be given every opportunity to land the starting job - which we can only assume is Harrison's to lose going into camp.
The Seahawks selected WR Golden Tate out of Notre Dame late in the 2nd round. This could likely signal the end of Deion Branch's time in Seattle as Tate figures to move across from T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the starting lineup. Tate lacks top-level speed, but has a knack for getting open and is a solid route runner. HC Pete Carroll said that Tate will likely be used on special teams as both a punt and kick returner.
The Ravens used the 6th pick in the 3rd round to select pass-catching TE Ed Dickson from Oregon. With Todd Heap getting up there in age and last year's 5th round pick Devon Drew failing to make the squad, the Ravens selectEd Dickson in hopes of finding their TE of the future. Ed Dickson will be given every chance to crack the starting lineup his rookie year. The Ravens could consider releasing Heap if they are confident in what they have in Dickson and Dennis Pitta (their 4th round selection and also a TE).
The Titans selected Damian Williams in the 3rd round to immediately step in and fill a role as kick returner. General manager Mike Reinfeldt also said he believes Williams has a chance to become the Titans #1 WR. That may be little more than wishful thinking, as we see that job belonging to Kenny Britt for the foreseeable future.
After drafting their potential QB of the future in Jimmy Clausen, the Panthers turned to another position of need in the 3rd round drafting WR Brandon LaFell out of LSU. LaFell should get the chance to compete for a starting job this season, and considering how bad Dwayne Jarrett has been as a Panther, we wouldn't be surprized to see LaFell giving the coaching staff a though decision to start the season.
With the 18th pick in the 3rd round, the Steelers draft Emmanuel Sanders out of SMU. Sanders has speed and quickness, running a 4.4 40. Sanders will start out deep on the Steelers depth chart, but could contribute in the return game immediately and the Steelers hope he will eventually develop into a playmaking WR at the NFL level.
The Bengals passing game struggled through 2009 with Chad Ochocinco as the only legitimate target for QB Carson Palmer. The Bengals signed Antonio Bryant in the offseason, and now look to address the slot by drafting Jordon Shipley in the 3rd round. Shipley has a good burst off the line, is a solid route runner, and has good hands, making him a candidate to press an uninspiring Andre Caldwell for the starting slot receiver gig in 2010.
The Cleveland Browns used the 85th overall pick to select Texas QB Colt McCoy. The Browns passed on McCoy several times, but eventually drafted him in the 3rd round. Though the winningest QB in college history, McCoy's size and arm strength kept him from going earlier in the draft.
The Browns seem content to start Jake Delhomme, and even if/when Delhomme struggles, Seneca Wallace may get the nod before McCoy. Consider McCoy a project QB on a less than stacked team. He will likely compete with Brett Ratliff for third-string duty. We don't see Ratliff having much of a chance in the competition.
With the 23rd pick in the 3rd round the Broncos draft their 2nd WR of the draft in Eric Decker. Decker has good hands and speed and should press Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney for playing time once he fully recovers from a foot injury that sidelined him for the end of the 2009 season. The Broncos have used the front end of the 2010 draft to build a core of skill position players in Decker, Tim Tebow, and Demaryius Thomas. Only time will tell if this combo will prove more impressive than Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Tony Scheffler - but it seems like a long shot at this point.
The Cardinals selected WR Andre Roberts in the 3rd round to immediately take over kick return duties for Steve Breaston. Also, with the departure of Anquan Boldin to the Ravens, Roberts will likely compete for the 4th wideout spot after Early Doucet on the depth chart.
The Panthers traded up to draft Appalachain State QB Armanti Edwards with the 25th pick in the 3rd round. Armanti led App State to two national championships as a QB, but will be converted to a return specialist and WR in Carolina. The Panthers plan to develop and train Armanti this year, but are confident that he will eventually develop into an NFL receiver, likely out of the slot. He could get in the mix for kick return duty immediately, but has never returned kicks to this point in his career.
With the 26th pick in the 3rd round, the Patriots addressed the receiver position by selecting Taylor Price out of Ohio. Price has 4.4 speed and has potential to become a play-making NFL receiver. With Wes Welker likely missing up to half the season to injury and the recently signed Torry Holt apparently on the decline, Price could be a candidate for playing time early in 2010.
The Chiefs traded up to select TE Tony Moeaki at the back end of the third round. Moeaki is a solid blocking tight end, and while he should be on the field as a rookie, we don't expect much fantasy production out of him.
With their late 3rd round pick the Saints selected TE Jimmy Graham out of Miami. Graham was a basketball player at Miami, converting to football for only his senior season, but he has tremendous size (6-6, 260) and speed (4.54 40). Graham will develop behind Jeremy Shockey and Dave Thomas and could eventually become another red zone target for Drew Brees.