2012 NFL Draft: Live Fantasy Recap (Rounds 1-7)

By John Paulsen (Director of Forecasting), last update Jun 1, 2012

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, and has finished in the Top 6 in seven of the last eight years. Cumulatively, John has been the most accurate expert from 2010-17 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

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The 2012 NFL Draft begins at 8 pm ET on Thursday, April 26th with the first round. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday (beginning at 7 pm ET), while the remainder of the draft will finish up on Saturday (12 pm ET). Coverage is on ESPN and the NFL Network.

Throughout the first two days, I'll be updating this page with live analysis of the fantasy implications of each skill position pick. I'll also be checking in on Saturday to summarize the mid- to late-round picks. Since opportunity is crucial for a rookie, I'll give a grade for each early pick given the player's opportunity for playing time. 



1.01 - Indianapolis Colts - QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
This pick was confirmed a few days ago, so no real surprise here. Luck is considered to be as close as a sure thing as there has been at his position in the last decade. He's tough, accurate and has a great grasp of the game. He finished 31-7 as a starter at Stanford. His arm strength is good, but not elite. He's not the athlete that RGIII is, but his 40-yard time (4.67) ranked 4th amongst the 14 QBs that ran at the combine, so he has the speed of a Sam Bradford (4.70) or Tim Tebow (4.72), and has proven capable of making plays outside the pocket. 
Fantasy-wise, Luck will be a factor immediately, especially if he picks up the pro game as quickly as expected. With the Colts, he'll have a receiving corps that will feature Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie, who are experienced but aging and fragile, respectively. Pierre Garcon, Jacob Tamme and Dallas Clark are gone, so the Colts still have some work to do in the receiving game.
That said, the Colts will trail a lot, so Luck should be throwing the ball plenty in 2012. Given his talent, he looks like a low-end QB2 with upside, but remember -- rookie QBs are generally risky fantasy picks. Luck should start from the get-go.
Opportunity: A+
1.02 - Washington Redskins - QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Again, no real surprise here. The Redskins traded four picks (this year's 1st and 2nd round picks, 2013's 1st rounder and 2014's 1st rounder) to acquire the 1.02 pick to take RGIII and that's exactly what they did.
The 2011 Heisman winner is capable of making throws from the pocket, but his athleticism and intangibles are what has him going #2 overall. He ran a 4.41 at the combine, which was the fastest time by a QB since ESPN has been keeping track. He went 17-9 as a starter over his last two seasons and rushed 12.6 times per game for an average of 51 yards, which includes sack yardage per NCAA policy. His arm strength is better than his accuracy, but he is a quality individual, a good student and has great leadership skills.
With the Redskins, he'll have Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis and perhaps Santana Moss to throw to. Griffin may be overrated by those heading into fantasy drafts looking for the next Cam Newton, but he's certainly should be worth a flier in the later rounds as a QB2 with upside. Keep in mind that he's three inches shorter and 17 lbs lighter than Newton, so he won't be the battering ram that the Carolina QB is around the goal line, but his terrific speed should allow him to make some Mike Vick-esque plays in the open field.
Like Luck, RGIII will likely start in Week 1.
Opportunity: A+
1.03 - Cleveland Browns - RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
The Browns traded their 4th, 5th and 7th round picks in this year's draft to move up one spot from 1.04 to 1.03 to take Richardson, the consensus top RB in the draft.
He's coming off a season where he rushed for 1,679 yards on 283 carries (for a 5.9 YPC) while scoring 21 TDs as a junior. He also caught 21 passes for 338 yards and three scores, so he can handle a big workload. He was coming off of minor knee surgery and didn't work out at the combine, but he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at his pro day (reportedly at less than 100%), which is about what Mark Ingram ran (4.62) at last year's combine. 
ESPN's Todd McShay said that Richardson is the most talented RB to come out since Adrian Peterson in 2007 and that there's "nothing that he can't do." He played behind a great offensive line at Alabama, so there are some who worry that he won't be able to get to the linebackers and safeties as easily.
With the Browns, he'll immediately see a big workload as he replaces Peyton Hillis as the team's primary ball carrier. As the Browns' RB1, he'll likely be a 3rd round pick in fantasy drafts and perhaps the top overall pick in dynasty formats.
Opportunity: A+


1.05 - Jacksonville Jaguars - WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma St.
The Jaguars moved up from 1.07 to 1.05, giving the Buccaneers a 4th round pick, in addition to 1.07.
Blackmon followed up his terrific sophomore season -- 111 receptions for 1,782 yards and 20 TDs -- with 121 catches for 1,522 yards and 18 TDs in his junior season to earn his second straight Biletnikoff Award (given to the country's top WR). He has prototypical height and weight for a wideout to go along with excellent ball skills (strong hands, attacks the ball, great adjustment, etc.). He didn't run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but ran it in 4.46 seconds at the OSU pro day. That would have ranked 12th out of the 41 WRs who ran at the combine and is comparable to the times of previous draftees A.J. Green (4.48), Demaryius Thomas (4.50) and Jeremy Maclin (4.43). The main knocks are his lack of explosion off the line of scrimmage and his route running, which is not sharp due to his long stride. 
In Jacksonville, he joins newcomer Laurent Robinson and veteran Mike Thomas to form a talented yet unproven receiving corps. The key to Blackmon's upside is the play of QB Blaine Gabbert, who had a rough rookie year. If Gabbert can take a step forward in his sophomore season, Blackmon should be a fantasy factor. Look for him to be a mid- to late-round pick (8th-11th) in fantasy drafts. 
Opportunity: B+
1.08 - Miami Dolphins - QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Tannehill seems to be the consensus third-best QB in the draft. The Aggies finished 7-6 in 2011, but he led Texas A&M to six straight wins after taking over the starter in the middle of 2010. He has good speed, but broke his foot after the season, so he was unable to show off his athletic ability at the combine. He did run the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at his pro day in March. He's more accurate with the short and intermediate stuff at this point, and has good touch despite small hands for the position. He comes from a pro style system and shouldn't have a tough time picking up an NFL offense quickly. 
He'll join the Dolphins as their QB of the future, but he'll likely have to compete with Matt Moore and David Garrard for the starting job. Moore wasn't bad in 2012, so it's no sure thing that the rookie will start right away. Regardless, the Miami WR corps is currently a mess, so whoever is starting isn't a great fantasy option at this point.
Opportunity: B-
1.13 - Arizona Cardinals - WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
Floyd caught 100 passes for 1,147 yards and nine TDs in his senior season in South Bend. He is bigger than Blackmon and possesses similar speed, running a 4.47 40-yard dash at the combine. Physically, he has a great combination of size, weight and speed. He has good body control and ball skills, though his route running is a little sloppy at times, so he may need time to improve in that area to become productive at the next level. He has had several alcohol-related incidents that led to a suspension from the team, but he has apparently matured during his senior year. 
He lands with the Cardinals, who already have a bona fide WR1 in Larry Fitzgerald. Quarterback play (i.e. Kevin Kolb) is not ideal, but there is some opportunity for Floyd to work his way into the WR2 role, though Andre Roberts and Early Doucet will have something to say about that. Floyd is a player to watch, but unless he can win the WR2 job early, his fantasy value will be limited in 2012.
Opportunity: B+


1.20 - Tennessee Titans - WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
Wright had a terrific senior season, racking up 108 catches for 1,663 yards and 14 TDs. He did not run well at the combine (4.61) but his pro day time of 4.44 seconds is more reflective of his football speed, which enabled him to catch the deep ball frequently while at Baylor. He's on the small side, but is quick off the line and is able to create separation in the secondary. Lack of overall strength is common for a receiver of his size, but he has the speed and quickness to contribute immediately. 
Wright joins a Tennessee receiving corps that includes Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Damian Williams. He probably won't start immediately, but is a player to monitor throughout the summer.
Opportunity: C+
1.22 - Cleveland Browns - QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma St.
Weeden played four years of minor league baseball before starting his football career at Oklahoma State, so he's an unusually old prospect who will turn 29 in October. He's a proven winner with a 23-3 record as a starter at OSU. He also has a big arm, but it's a three-quarter release, so there are concerns that he'll have problems with batted balls. He is very accurate in a clean pocket, but has trouble putting the ball on a spot when he's under pressure. His pocket presence isn't bad, and he has decent mobility, but he is by no means quick. He played in a spread offense, so he will have to adjust to playing under center. That, coupled with his age, may cause teams to question his upside. It should be noted that Kurt Warner didn't start in the NFL until age 29, so Weeden's situation is not unprecedented. 
With the Browns, he'll compete with incumbent Colt McCoy for the starting gig. Obviously, this selection is not a vote of confidence for McCoy, who struggled as a starter in 2011. It appears that Cleveland is going to feature Trent Richardson and the running game, while allowing Weeden and McCoy to battle it out to be the team's QB of the future. Update: Browns GM Tom Heckert said that the team plans to start Weeden from the get-go and that he is looking to trade McCoy in the near future.
Opportunity: B
1.30 - San Francisco 49ers - WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois
Jenkins was very productive in his senior season at Illinois, racking up 90 catches for 1,276 yards and eight TDs, including a 12-catch, 268-yards, three-TD performance against Northwestern (which he followed up with a 6-182-2 outing against Indiana). He has outstanding speed (4.39 40-yard dash) and good ball skills. Durability seems to be the biggest concern. He's slight of frame and was nicked up a lot in college. 
Given his actual production and his blistering speed, this is a player that I thought was flying under the radar this week. The 49ers are run-oriented, so there aren't a ton of targets to go around, especially with Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and now Randy Moss and Mario Manningham gobbling most of them up. Jenkins isn't draftable in standard redraft leagues, but he's a guy to consider as San Francisco's future WR2 in dynasty formats.
Opportunity: C-
1.31 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - RB Doug Martin, Boise St.
The Buccaneers made a trade with the Broncos, moving down 25 spots in the 4th round to move from 2.04 to 1.31 to snag Martin, probably because they were worried about the Giants taking him with the final pick in the first round.
Martin is physically similar to Trent Richardson in height, weight and speed -- he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash -- and like Richardson, is considered to be a good all-around back that has good (but not elite) speed, though he was above average in the cone and shuttle drills at the combine. He rushed for 1,299 yards and 16 TDs on 263 carries (for a 4.9 YPC) and was a threat in the passing game (28-255-2). Mike Mayock just said that he has "surprising burst" on tape.
He joins LeGarrette Blount in the Buccaneers' backfield and given Blount's performance in 2011, Martin has to be the favorite to win the RB1 job by the end of the season. Depending on how the Bucs handle the competition, Martin could be a sneaky mid- to late-round pick (6th-8th) in fantasy drafts. If he wins the job early, he could go as early as the 3rd or 4th round.
Opportunity: A-
1.32 - New York Giants - RB David Wilson, Virginia Tech
Wilson gained 1,709 yards on 290 carries (for a 5.9 YPC) and scored nine TDs in his junior season at Virginia Tech. For a smallish RB, he wasn't a natural fit in the passing game, catching just 22 passes for a 5.9 YPC average. He did, however, demonstrate durability as the Hokies' workhorse back, rushing for at least 123 yards in 10 of his team's 13 games in 2011. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, so he possesses very good speed, but he also runs with tremendous leg drive. He doesn't take what the defense gives him, which may get him into trouble at the next level if he doesn't learn to have more patience as a runner. 
With the departure of Brandon Jacobs, the G-Men needed a RB and Wilson fits the bill. The Giants didn't burn a first rounder on a RB to let him stand on the sidelines, so the pick hurts Ahmad Bradshaw's stock a bit. However, Bradshaw should remain the team's RB1 as long as he's healthy.
Look for Wilson to become the change-of-pace back, and he'll be a nice handcuff for Bradshaw owners. His upside is limited as long as Bradshaw stays upright.
Opportunity: B-


2.01 - St. Louis Rams - WR Brian Quick, Appalachian St.
Quick caught 71 passes for 1,096 yards and 11 TDs during his senior year at Appalachian St. Despite quick feet and good agility, he ran an average 4.55 40-yard dash at the combine. He has very good size for the position which translates to a superior catch radius. The biggest knock is his lack of experience. Scouts seem to think he can be a star if he responds to coaching. Since he's raw, he's unlikely to make a big fantasy impact right away, though there is a lot of opportunity for targets in St. Louis.
We'll have to watch his progress with the Rams this summer. If he can climb the depth chart quickly, he'll be a mid-round pick in fantasy drafts. It's good news for Sam Bradford that the team used an early pick on a WR.
Opportunity: A

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