2015 NFL Draft: Live Fantasy Recap (Rounds 2-3)
The second round of the 2015 NFL Draft begins at 7:00 p.m. ET, while the remainder of the draft will finish up on Saturday (12 p.m. ET). Coverage is on ESPN and the NFL Network.
Throughout the second and third rounds, I'll be updating this page with player evaluation from Brandon Niles and my own live analysis of the fantasy implications of each skill position pick. Brandon will be taking over tomorrow to summarize the mid- to late-round picks. Since opportunity is crucial for a rookie, I'll provide a grade for each early pick given the player's opportunity for playing time and overall situation.
To see our fantasy recap of the first round, click here.
2.04 - Jacksonville Jaguars - RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Yeldon is a large, upright runner with power and deceptive speed to make big plays. He was productive at Alabama. However, Yeldon may become a strictly two down or short yardage back, and he may find problems pushing the pile at the same rate he did in college. He’s not strictly a bull rusher, and he has quick feet that can help him make defenders miss, but generally speaking, he’ll get the amount of yards his linemen block for him, plus one as he falls forward. Yeldon’s pro comparison falls somewhere between LenDale White and Eddie Lacy.
Given the price of the pick, I’d assume that Yeldon will come in and have a role right away, though the size of the role is to be determined. Toby Gerhart struggled with injuries last season and may play more of a fullback/H-back position this season. Denard Robinson was solid in stretches, but apparently the Jaguars don’t view him as an every-down, feature-type back. Yeldon’s upside will depend heavily on the growth of QB Blake Bortles and the entire Jacksonville offense, which suddenly has a young and talented receiving corps (Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns) and a weapon at tight end in Julius Thomas.
2.05 - New York Jets - WR Devin Smith, Ohio State
Smith can get downfield in a hurry and has an uncanny ability to locate and go up and get the deep ball. He averaged 28.2 yards per catch last season and caught 12 touchdown passes for the NCAA Champions and will be counted on immediately to stretch the field for any team that drafts him. He’s not a great route runner, but flashes the ability to use his body appropriately to run post routes. He isn’t likely to be the type of player who makes his pay running across the middle.
The quarterback situation isn’t good and Smith joins a receiving corps that already features Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. Barring an injury, he’ll be a situational deep threat as the team’s WR3, though he’s going to have to outplay the savvy and experienced Jeremy Kerley to see WR3-type snaps. Long-term, the Jets are probably drafting him to eventually take over for the 31-year-old Marshall.
2.08 - Tennessee Titans - WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
Standing 6’5 and running a sub 4.5-second 40-yard dash will get you plenty of attention, and Green-Beckham’s athleticism has definitely turned heads. He’s a tall, talented prospect but is not really a known quantity on the field and comes with glaring character concerns. He had a solid season at Missouri in 2013, posting 12 touchdowns, but then was dismissed from the team and sat out the 2014 season due to an altercation where he allegedly assaulted a woman at an apartment. All the talent is there, but a year removed from a promising but not exactly dominant season makes him more of a raw development guy than a polished prospect.
The Titans added Green-Beckham to shore up the receiving corps for their new quarterback, Marcus Mariota. The pick certainly is a boost for Mariota, who now has a dangerous downfield threat with which to work. If he picks up things quickly and proves he’s not as raw as his detractors say, Green-Beckham could certainly start early in the season opposite Kendall Wright, since it seems that Justin Hunter is on the outs with the current coaching staff. If he sees starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant as a rookie. Long-term, he has a chance to flourish if both he and Mariota are the real deal.
2.09 - Carolina Panthers - WR/TE Devin Funchess, Michigan
Funchess was a productive receiver in college who has the size to go up and get it in the NFL and he plays with a level of toughness that should allow him to do a lot of damage across the middle. However, Funchess lacks enough speed to consistently separate and may even be in line for a position change at the next level, with some evaluators looking at him as a TE prospect. Funchess plays hard and will put the work in but may find it difficult to excel outside the hashmarks.
It’s not clear if the Panthers view Funchess as a tight end or a receiver, as he’s drawing comparisons to Jimmy Graham. If he plays receiver, there are plenty of snaps available opposite of Kelvin Benjamin. If they plan to play him at tight end, he may be buried behind Greg Olsen for a while. The Panthers are typically run-heavy, but the quarterback situation is settled, so Funchess has some upside in 2015 if he sees the field. Keep an eye on his progress this summer before investing a late-round pick in the rookie.
2.22 - Detroit Lions - RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Abdullah got a big boost from his excellent Senior Bowl outing. However, his tape shows he’s more of an explosive third down and situational back than he is a between the tackles runner. Abdullah has speed, though he’s more quick than fast, and he has excellent hands. He also sees the hole very well and can make defenders look silly in the open field. He’s undersized and will need to work on ball security and pass blocking if he’s going to carve a consistent role at the next level, but he’s a talented playmaker with enough bulk to be versatile in the right situation.
Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Joique Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for 2015. On the other hand, Theo 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.
2.23 - Baltimore Ravens - TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota
In a run-heavy offense at Minnesota, Williams didn’t get a chance to show the kind of pass catcher he can be, but he finished his first two seasons as a starter with 13 touchdowns and 61 receptions. Even though those numbers don’t pop out at you, he led Minnesota in receiving yards and touchdowns in each year. Williams has excellent hands and looks like a matchup problem running seam routes. He has big play potential for the position and fights well for position. Williams isn’t a burner and he’s not an exceptional athlete, so he may struggle getting in and out of his cuts at the next level, but his toughness draws comparisons to Jeremy Shockey on the field.
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. It's also another bump for Joe Flacco.
3.04 - Oakland Raiders - TE Clive Walford, Miami
Walford had inconsistent production in Miami, but may have been hurt by a struggling offense. At times, he shows soft hands and an ability to find the soft spot in the defense. Walford has the skills to stretch the seam at the next level, and the strength to develop into a good blocker, but he ran slow at the combine and didn’t demonstrate consistent enough hand technique on film to show that these are strengths in his game. Walford needs to prove he can separate at the next level, but his hands should make him at least a marginal receiving threat in the NFL, even if he’s doing it on flat release routes.
As a rookie, I don’t expect Walford to beat out Mychal Rivera, who caught 58 passes for 534 yards and four touchdowns, and averaged 4.5 catches over the final 10 games. He was the #6 PPR TE in that span.
3.05 - Seattle Seahawks - WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Lockett tracks the ball well and can go up and get it, despite being only 5’11. He plays above his size and runs tough routes across the middle. He played well at the Senior Bowl, showed he can track the ball and could be a valuable weapon after the catch. His smaller stature could be a problem if he ultimately ends up with slot receiver duties, but his skill set compares favorably to a guy like Santonio Holmes and his ability to adjust to the ball and run decisive routes could help him at the next level.
The Seahawks are typically run-heavy, and the newly-acquired TE Jimmy Graham is likely to soak up targets in the passing game. The team doesn’t have a ton of talent at receiver, however, so Lockett has a chance to work his way into a starting role if he has a great offseason.
3.06 - Houston Texans - WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
A Junior College transfer, Strong lit it up at Arizona State the last two years with over 1,100 yards in each season as the Sun Devils’ primary target. He ran fast at the combine and has good size for the position. He has shown the ability to catch the ball in traffic and makes hard catches look easy, and easy catches look routine. He’s a stellar prospect who has WR1 upside. However, even though he ran well at the combine, the tape shows a lack of suddenness that might make it a little hard for him to change direction fast enough, or get off the line quickly in the NFL, particularly against some of the league’s more physical corners, and he’ll have to adjust to press coverage at the next level.
The Texans still have quarterback issues, but Strong could play a lot right away if he can beat out Cecil Shorts. DeAndre Hopkins is entrenched as the team’s WR1, so at this point Strong’s upside is capped from a target- and quarterback-standpoint.
3.09 - Atlanta Falcons - RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana
Coleman is a versatile player and was highly productive at Indiana. He eclipsed 2,000 yards on the ground last season while carrying kickoff return duties as well. Coleman has good size and has a reputation for being very coachable, and his production in college is hard to dispute. He may have some ball security issues on the next level, and he runs upright which is always a durability concern. He has suffered ankle injuries in the past and is coming off toe surgery in December which kept him from running at the combine. Coleman is a good all-around prospect who could carve a niche as a playmaker in a tandem backfield, and he already flashes ability running routes out of the backfield, even if his hands need a little work.
So much for Devonta Freeman seeing feature back touches for the Falcons. Coleman will likely get first crack at early down carries with Freeman getting a lot of work in the passing game (30 catches as a rookie), with Antone Smith also in the mix. This is shaping up to be a committee.
3.11 - New Orleans Saints - QB Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
Grayson is an accurate thrower who demonstrated a laudable amount of moxy and leadership at Colorado State last season. He flashes an “it” factor in the pocket and seems to excel when the play breaks down around him. On the other hand, he has a little “gunner” in him, causing him to try to force throws when sometimes he should just throw the ball away. It’s likely that’s who he is at the next level, which may make him a similar player to Tony Romo if all goes right. He has a quirky release that will need to be shortened at the next level, and his eye discipline is shaky at best. Additionally, he has a thin frame, but that should be helped by an NFL strength program.
Grayson is a developmental pick who will have a chance to play once Drew Brees has retired or moved on.
3.12 - Kansas City Chiefs - WR Chris Conley, Georgia
Conley is the definition of an “upside” prospect. He’s flashed excellent athleticism, the ability to make acrobatic catches, and exceptional speed. He has a good frame and looks the part of a legit WR1 at the next level. However, his production was low in college, his route running is unrefined, and his hands weren’t consistent enough to bank on him as a long term starter. Conley has the physical tools but is a very raw prospect at the WR position.
The opportunity is there for major playing time, but Conley is considered a project, so the pick may be an endorsement for Albert Wilson as the team’s WR2 in the short term. (Wilson had 12 catches for 209 yards on 20 targets from Week 14 to Week 16.) This will be a camp battle to watch, though whoever wins the job has a ceiling due to Jeremy Maclin being entrenched as the team’s WR1, the emergence of TE Travis Kelce and the limitations of QB Alex Smith.
3.13 - Cleveland Browns - RB Duke Johnson, Miami
Johnson should be able to carve a role in the NFL, even if it’s never more than as a situational player. Johnson is a speed demon who lacks the bulk to make an impact running the ball in between the tackles. He finds the sideline and turns the corner as well as any playmaker though, and he uses an excellent cutback move and an elite burst to carve up opposing defenses. Johnson is also an accomplished kick returner and his NFL floor seems to be as an explosive change-of-pace option.
He’s landing in a good spot from a philosophical standpoint, as HC Mike Pettine loves to run the ball, but he joins a backfield that already features Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. Last year Pettine was handing out playing time based on practice performance each week, so this is shaping up to be a giant headache for fantasy owners.
3.21 - Cincinnati Bengals - TE Tyler Kroft, Rutgers
Kroft is a player with the size and ability to make an impact at the next level, but his lack of production last year is concerning for talent evaluators. While not super fast, Kroft is a 6’6 target with a wide target range and the ability to be a downfield threat. Kroft hasn’t shown the ability to be a good blocker yet, but his frame suggests he has the strength to develop in that area. He’s coming off a nagging ankle injury that kept him out of the combine, and needs work on route discipline, but he has the physical tools to develop into a high level player at the next level.
3.22 - Arizona Cardinals - RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa
Johnson is a runner who is quick to decide on the open hole, for better or worse. He has shown versatility and doesn’t shy away from contact. He finishes runs, and pushes to get that extra yard. Johnson will take on more hits than necessary though, and his diagnosis behind his blocks doesn’t always show NFL-caliber vision. He also will struggle to wait out blocks in the wrong system. Johnson has the strength to turn a loss into a short gain, and in the right system he has the ability to develop into a starter.
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Andre Ellington, and Johnson is more of an Ellington clone. Bruce Arians confirmed that Ellington should continue in his current role with Johnson serving as his primary backup.
3.23 - Pittsburgh Steelers - WR Sammie Coates, Auburn
Coates is a good locker room guy who works hard and has a nice, strong frame to withstand punishment on crossing routes. He accelerates well out of his breaks and his measurable put him right in line with NFL-caliber, physical receivers. He can get downfield in a hurry, but he struggles to make the right adjustments when tracking the ball and his hands are inconsistent. He also uses his physical strength to get open rather than his route running ability, which may be more difficult at the next level. Coates needs some coaching, but has the ability to develop, especially in a West Coast Style offense that can take advantage of his toughness.
With Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton already established in the Pittsburgh receiving corps, Coates has a steep hill to climb to earn significant playing time as a rookie.
3.25 - St. Louis Rams - QB Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Mannion is a smart and accurate quarterback with a tall frame and a lot of experience, starting 45 games as a Beaver. Has good timing on his throws and has excellent touch. He may be an excellent fit in a West Coast offense or similar system that will allow him to hit intermediate playmakers rather than airing it out. Mannion has good enough arm strength, but lacks zip on the ball. Additionally, his record as a starter was 21-22, and was helped greatly by a fantastic junior season in 2013 when he threw for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns. Overall, the potential as a long-term starter is there with Mannion, but he’ll need to show dramatic improvement in his decision making and find a way to shorten his wind up delivery in order to develop into anything more than a backup.
The team traded for Nick Foles this offseason, but if he disappoints, Mannion could find himself starting sooner rather than later.
3.28 - Denver Broncos - TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
Heuerman is big, physical player who flashes excellent ability to locate the ball, fight off defenders and make the catch at its highest point. However, he has had foot issues that makes it hard to get a feel for his speed or separation skills, as he was limited most of last season. Heuerman doesn’t offer much as a blocker at this point, but he has a large frame to work with and has the raw talent to become a long term starter in the NFL if he can stay healthy and become a little more explosive in and out of his breaks.
Heuerman will likely have a year or two to bulk up and learn the position while playing behind Owen Daniels, Virgil Green and James Casey, though he could surprise in a receiving role if he picks up things quickly.
3.30 - Green Bay Packers - WR Ty Montgomery, Stanford
The 5’11 Montgomery has elite separation skills and is always one of the hardest working players on the field. The big concern with him is how inconsistent he was catching the ball at Stanford, particularly in bad conditions. He appears to be a versatile playmaker though, and he flashes ability running routes, which makes him an intriguing prospect for NFL scouts. Montgomery adds value as a return specialist and translates as a slot receiver if he can cure his case of the dropsies.
Montgomery will be hard pressed to find any snaps given the strong state of the Green Bay receiving corps. He’ll likely have to make his mark as a returner in his rookie season.
3.31 - Washington Redskins - Matt Jones, Florida
Jones is a tall, upright runner with excellent bulk and has the ability to lower his shoulder to punish opposing defenders. He does an excellent job keeping his balance considering his high running style and has just enough speed to get downfield once he breaks into the secondary. Jones showed limited decisiveness in picking the right holes to run through at the college level however, and he lacked the patience necessary to take advantage of the blocking in Florida. He’s also had knee issues in both high school and college, which doesn’t bode well for his running style and long term durability.