Every rookie pick is an investment in your dynasty team. Due to
supply (limited pool of starters) and demand (better scoring in
most leagues), offensive players are where you have to devote most
of your resources. So picking defensive players typically assumes
more risk, no matter where you draft them. No one wants to miss
out on the next supposedly undersized RB that rushes for 1,000 yards
or the too slow rookie WR that doesn't wait for his third year to
break out. So from that investment perspective, we’ll review
this year's crop of rookie defensive players. First, here is an
overall outlook, by position, of the rookies.
DE – not a good year
if you need immediate help at DE. Most of the best collegiate
DEs are tweeners and in situations where they will be converted
to OLBs. Erasmus James and Justin Tuck look to be the only two
with potential to be good sack producers and every down players,
with only James having the situation to do it as a rookie. I think
Matt Roth will be a productive every down player, but limited
in getting to the QB.
LB – overall, very good
depth and potential. The thing that stands out most in this class
in the number of guys with potential to be great sack artists,
particularly those tweeners converting from DE. Historically being
a OLB/DE tweener has been a stigma and hurt the value of player
with most teams. While the risk of changing positions still shouldn’t
be overlooked, more teams (particularly San Diego and Dallas)
see Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and others have in creating productive
edge rushers who can play with their hand off the ground. Aside
from the risk of changing position, the focus on pass rush responsibility
means these guys won’t be posting 100-tackle seasons. So
if they aren’t getting double-digit sacks, their fantasy
value will be average. There also aren’t many Mike or Will
tackle-machines without significant negatives in this class. Only
Derrick Johnson looks to have the talent and situation to be the
Jonathan Vilma or D.J. Williams of this class.
S – once again, there
is at least one player who looks like a lock to be an elite player,
Thomas Davis – assuming he doesn’t convert to LB.
There is also plenty of talent in very good situations. Lots of
sleepers to be found here.
DT – pretty poor class,
especially compared to the last few years. The player with the
most upside is probably changing positions. Houston wants Travis
Johnson to play end in their 3-4.
CB – this is an absolutely
outstanding class of CBs. However, even in leagues that segregate
DBs, they fall, so there isn’t much reason to reach for
Blue Chips | Most
Undervalued | Most Overrated | Market
Performers | Speculative | Penny
Stocks | DTs & CBs | Undrafted
Three players jump out as having the best combination of elite
talent, NFL measurables, and opportunity. They are as close as
you can get to locks to put up great fantasy numbers from Week
1 of 2004 through long, productive careers.
Thomas Davis (SS, CAR)
Announced as an OLB by the team, he then lined up in their first
post-draft OTA at SS. If he stays at SS, he’s behind Mike
Minter, but Minter could be cut. The news the Mark Fields will
be done for the year could also effect where he plays. Regardless,
he should find a way into the starting lineup and quickly become
an impact player.
Shawne Merriman (OLB, SD)
I would have liked to see him land on team that plays a 4-3, where
I believe his tremendous athleticism would have evolved him into
a complete right end like Jason Taylor or Simeon Rice after he
bulked up a bit. However, he has a great opportunity to make an
immediate impact with the Chargers, where they are in need of
some help rushing from the edges of their 3-4. He doesn’t
have the same pass rushing skills of a Terrell Suggs, but he has
a better understanding of playing in space. He is not just a workout
wonder who went higher than he should of due to measurables, he
is a very good football player and could be the top producing
Derrick O. Johnson (LB, KC)
News that he is slated to compete for a job on the strongside,
as opposed to the typically more productive Mike or Will slots
seems to being discouraging some owners who are too structured
in their perception of the impact of position. If I wasn’t
confident he’s going to be a stud at this level, I’d
consider him undervalued. His pass coverage skills are already
solid, which is usually the part that limits the time of rookie
LBs. His sideline-to-sideline speed will allow him to make tackles
all over the field. The bottom line is he’s a playmaker,
and the Chiefs lack that in the front seven, so the team will
find a way to fit him in and he’ll be productive regardless
of where he lines up.
It's hard to be a "sleeper" when you're taken early
in the NFL draft, but these players carry question marks or come
into situations that may have other owners skittish about their
outlook. However, they are talented players with great upside
that will leave you with bargains falling farther than they should
and outperforming their draft position. This doesn't mean reach
for them early, but keep an eye out for them as potential bargains
where they fall relative to your league.
Erasmus James (DE, MIN)
He was recognized as an elite prospect early in college, but a
hip injury cost him the 2003 season and other injuries limited
him to pedestrian numbers in 2004, resulting on mixed reviews
on his upside. In a replay of last year, a potential franchise
pass rusher slipped and became an excellent value pick for the
Vikings in the first round. Despite being picked 1.18, and one
of the few true hand-on-the-ground high upside ends in a draft
full of tweeners who will be converted to OLB, I’m seeing
James similarly slide in dynasty rookie drafts. The Vikings appear
set to move Kenechi Udeze to the left side, where his bulk makes
him a better fit at anchor end, leaving James a path to win starting
RDE. With the addition of Pat Williams to underrated superstar
Kevin Williams on the interior, if Udeze takes the next step,
James could benefit from playing the rushing end on one of the
best defense lines in the NFL. His immediate upside is limited
by the deep rotation the Vikings still have, with rush specialist
supreme Lance Johnstone still figuring into the equation and Kevin
Williams likely to see some work at end in some sets. He isn’t
in the class of a Julius Peppers or Simeon Rice, but he has the
best potential in this draft class to be the standout pass rushing
end, as opposed to a player with LB-only eligibility, as most
of the other top ends in this draft will.
Justin Tuck (DE, NYG)
The only DE other than James drafted on Day One who looks like
he will remain eligible at DE and has potential to post double-digit
sacks. The career sack leader at Notre Dame fell after battling
some injury problems and declining numbers as he faced constant
double-teams and had little supporting cast in 2004. He had the
potential to be a first round pick in 2006 if he stuck around.
As it stands, he has a ton of upside and enters a situation where
the team lacks depth and their best end is near the end. He could
be a force as soon as 2006.
Josh Bullocks (S, NO)
Most draftniks and pundits have a short memory when it comes to
projecting rookies. After the 2003 season, completing his redshirt
sophomore season, there was talk Bullocks could leave and be a
top prospect. He was coming off a record-breaking season with
national accolades. He returned to a new coaching staff and system
in 2004, and did not produce the same type of numbers (from a
Big 12 record ten interceptions in 2003 to just two in 2004),
hence he’s received relatively little publicity or recognition.
His talent was not overlooked by the Saints, though. They took
him early in the second round, near where former Cornhusker S
Mike Brown went 5 years ago. The comparisons to Brown don’t
end there. Bullocks has the same nose for the ball and big play
capability Brown has shown. He has potential to be a tremendous
playmaker in centerfield, the type they’ve missed in the
secondary since Sammy Knight left. The team just inked former
Buc Dwight Smith to play FS and Jay Bellamy remains the incumbent
at SS, but Bullocks will work his way in before long, the same
way Michael Boulware did in a crowded Seahawk secondary. He’s
better suited to play FS, where he can be a ballhawk, so he should
have opportunities in nickel and dime packages immediately.
Brodney Pool (S, CLE)
Brian Russell was never signed as anything more than a stop-gap
and Sean Jones returns from blowing out a knee, so the selection
of Pool was both best player available and need-based. While not
the oversized intimidating presence of Roy Williams or Sean Taylor,
Pool has excellent all-around skills with ideal measurables and
athleticism for the “old” prototype of a safety –
but has the frame to add some more bulk, too. If Jones returns
well from injury, he and Pool will quickly form one of the better
young safety tandems in the league.
Dan Cody (DE/OLB, BAL)
Cody is first round talent who fell because he needs to put on
some more weight and due to previous bouts with depression. He
is another tweener, but unlike the others, he played standing
up, at times, in Oklahoma and has room to fill out. This pick
was a steal, and the only thing I don’t like are his early
plans for him. As Rex Ryan switches them back to a base 4-3, they
apparently plan to work him in as an OLB, although he’ll
undoubtedly be moved around as he was at Oklahoma. However, it
would be wise to let Cody bulk up and look at him as pure DE.
He has the height and frame to have no problem carrying more weight.
It will decrease his speed, but I think he has potential to be
a standout every down DE, as opposed to just filling a situational
edge rusher niche.
There's no greater buyer's remorse than remembering the defensive
player you selected early to pass on a Michael Clayton. These
players may go higher than they should in dynasty rookie drafts
due to name recognition or their real NFL draft position. Don’t
get me wrong, these are (mostly) talented players, but relative
to their potential and/or the situation they landed in, you might
be better taking a flyer on another offensive player and seeing
if they fall another round.
Demarcus Ware (OLB/DE, DAL)
OK, I brutally struck out with my projection of Vilma as one of
the most overrated defensive players last year, so I’m right
back to sticking my neck out again on the first non-CB defensive
player drafted by a guy who identified the talent of Lawrence
Taylor. No question he’s an incredible athlete, I just question
all the challenges he has. Another of the many undersized DEs
in this draft who will be, for the most part, converting to OLB,
which is more complex than it seems. Compounding learning a new
position, he generally faced a lower level of competition with
a Sun Belt schedule than players in top programs. It’s always
a big step up for any rookie, but he needs to jump several rungs
on the ladder. Finally, he’s saddled with huge expectations.
Dallas’s defense was a disappointment last year and the
Big Tuna should be more demanding than usual as he tries to stop
his career as a Cowboy’s coach from continuing to head in
the wrong direction and tarnish his legacy. He’s instituting
a new defense with several new players, and the heat will be coming
from teammates, as well as coaches, as they try to mesh quickly.
No question this guy has tremendous potential, but too much risk
to reach at the deepest position in fantasy football. Completely
different story if he retains DE eligibility. This is such a thin
DE class, it won’t take as much to have more value at a
Lofa Tatupu (LB, SEA)
While I think the Seattle front office and scouts are the only
ones overrating Tatupu, I’ll include him here for anyone
tempted to take a chance on him early based on where he went in
the real draft (13th pick of the second round, 45th overall).
While he has a great motor, I can’t see it overcoming his
lack of size and athleticism. While he could be the next Dat Nyguen,
it’s more likely he’s the next Robert Thomas. I don’t
see him beating out Niko Koutouvides for this season, much less
finding long-term success as a MLB.
Marcus Spears (DE, DAL)
Textbook example of player who has more real value than fantasy
value. I think he has a bright future as a double-team drawing
3-4 DE, but it’s rare those players have much fantasy value.
Look no further than his former college teammate, Marquise Hill,
who was a very similar, albeit less talented, player.
Matt McCoy (LB, PHI)
It’s hard to bet against Andy Reid, but this pick was a
surprise. A classic overachiever who benefitted from playing next
to Kirk Morrison, little looked exceptional about him to warrant
being drafted so high. Mark Simoneau isn’t working out great,
so they add a less talented version of him? Pass.
Talented players likely to be drafted in most dynasty leagues,
whose value should be commensurate with where they are drafted.
They have a strong outlook, but some question marks, like a situation
that immediately falls short of ideal and/or need time to develop.
Darryl Blackstock (LB, AZ)
Brings immediate help in adding a pass rush from the edge, but
needs to develop to be a complete LB. Denny Green has blown up
the defense since he arrived, so don’t be surprised to see
him beat out James Darling for a starting job.
Odell Thurman (LB, CIN)
With injuries clouding Nate Webster’s return and Kevin Hardy
cut, the Bengal’s LB situation is not as crowded as it seems.
Thurman should eventually be the starting MLB, with Landon Johnson
pushed outside or demoted to a back-up role. His upside is great
and his disposition is perfect to see him being a tremendous force,
but he carries a lot of baggage.
David Pollack (OLB/DE, CIN)
Another tweener who looks like he’s converting to OLB. He
was given uniform number 99 at the team’s first post-draft
OTA, but he’s talked about learning OLB and changing his
number before the season. I think Pollack is too good a football
player, with too good a coach, to not eventually find a niche.
The release of Kevin Hardy gives him an inside track. It will
take him a while to learn LB, learning to rush with his hand off
the ground or drop in coverage. However, I think he could eventually
be successful as a pass rush specialist who, once he learns to
play standing up, can move up and down the line and disguise where
he’s coming from. I think they also work in looks at DE,
where Justin Smith has never consistently lived up to his potential
and they don’t have many options to generate a pass rush
in the front four.
Barrett Ruud (LB, TB)
While I don’t expect Ruud to displace Shelton Quarles in
the middle this year, he could win the strongside job with an
outstanding pre-season. Long term, he has solid measurables and
talent to at least be a very good two-down, run-stuffing MLB.
Kevin Burnett (LB, DAL)
Parcells cleaned house on the defensive side of the ball. Burnett
could challenge for either outside LB spot or an inside one when
they line up in a 3-4. He has the size Parcells likes at LB and
should contribute as a rookie and grow into a consistent starter.
Matt Roth (DE, MIA)
Good situation as he’s an early pick of the new regime and
the Dolphins struggled to replace Ogunleye last year. Should see
at least situation work this year, more if Vonnie Holliday doesn’t
bounce back from his disasterous run in KC. Roth could be the
long term answer to bookend the front four with Taylor. He doesn’t
have the athletic gifts to ever be an outstanding pass rusher,
but I think he can be a competent anchor end, providing good tackle
numbers and, as long as he’s opposite a stud like Taylor,
occasionally get to the QB.
Due to the limited starting lineup requirements and lack of scarcity
at IDP positions (in most leagues), taking a flyer on defensive
players in a dynasty rookie draft is uncommon. These guys will
be, and should be, late round picks or, in most cases, waiver
wire material. However, they have nice upside, or are in a situation
to have value as rookie, or both. Some of the first few mentioned
may be drafted, but dropped if they don't get off to a fast start,
and could become valuable FA pick-ups in the future.
Kirk Morrison (LB, OAK)
The leader of San Diego State’s ‘Darkside Defense’
ending up a Raider seems fitting. The Raiders typically reach
for workout wonders over football players (once again evidenced
by their first two picks), but did the opposite in the third round
this year. Morrison is an excellent fit as an inside LB in a 3-4
scheme where he can make a quick read on a gap assignment and
doesn’t have to work in as much space. He has the instincts
to be a very good player, with versatility to play inside or out,
and should develop into the leader this defense has been lacking.
Lance Mitchell (LB, AZ)
After looking like a top prospect as a sophomore in 2002, he never
returned to form last year from a torn ACL that cut short his
junior year and appears to have lost a step. However, he ended
up in a great situation, where neither Orlando Huff or Gerald
Hayes are talented enough to prohibit a near future job for Mitchell
in the middle. He has the ability, but the athleticism has to
catch back up and confidence to return for him to be able to demonstrate
Alfred Fincher (LB, NO)
Late bloomer exploded on the scene in 2004 and ended up a Day
One pick. One of the few true MLBs in this draft, he has the upside
to be a tackle machine as a two-down run-stuffer a la Earl Holmes.
The situation is a bit crowded again in the Big Easy, but keep
an eye on him. Courtney Watson might be better on the outside
and Fincher is a better version of Orlando Ruff. If healthy, Cie
Grant may be his biggest opposition in camp. One or more of Ruff,
Sedrick Hodge, and Derrick Rodgers could be cap casualties, which
would bring the picture into better focus for 2005.
Donte Nicholson (S, TB)
Declined from junior to senior year, which saw him freefall on
draft day. An explosive hitter, he may be a more exciting player
than solid fantasy producer. Good situation in Tampa Bay, where
most of the currrent safeties on the roster are more suited to
centerfield. Nicholson can become the intimidating presence they’ve
lacked back there since John Lynch left.
Adam Seward (LB, CAR)
Despite his ridiculous propensity to injury, the Panthers have
inexplicably failed to properly back-up Dan Morgan. Now, they
will no longer have to juggle Will Witherspoon between the weakside
and middle or try to squeeze more talent than there is out of
Vinny Ciurciu. To finally address the situation, they brought
in Chris Draft as a free agent, but he was a bust at the position
in Atlanta. The answer should be the blue collar overachiever
they added in Seward, who makes up for his measurables with effort
and football acumen. His upside is limited as a full-time starter,
but he should fill in nicely for the handful of games Morgan is
bound to miss.
Ryan Claridge (LB, NE)
Versatile player with size to play inside and has displayed nice
pass rush skills from the outside. A football “gym rat”
whose motor and acumen exceed his physical skills. Does this sound
like a Belichick guy or what? Age and injury are big concerns
to the Patriots LB group. I expect Chad Brown (who brings problems
with both, as well) or another vet LB to be added before the season,
but there is opportunity for Claridge to get worked into the rotation
and a possible starting inside job in his future.
Vincent Burns (DE/OLB, IND)
The fact he was a bit of a reach in the third round almost makes
him overrated, but I think he’s completely off the board
in most dynasty leagues. Sweet Pea doesn’t have the measurables
to play every down, or the skills to convert to LB, but he is
a tremendous pass rusher and you need look no further than what
the Colts were able to do with Robert Mathis to like the possibility
of Burns becoming a regular contributor. Don’t reach, this
is simply a guy to remember when you peruse the waiver wire in
the next year or two.
Brady Poppinga (LB, GB)
The early evaluations from fans on Ted Thompson’s first
draft as Green Bay GM hasn’t been too positive. Poppinga
might have an early chance to change that, but I don’t expect
him to. The thing I like best is that he steps into a decent situation,
with depth at LB a problem. The addition of Ray Thompson probably
precludes Poppinga from having a chance to start, but he might
be their best talent at back-up for all three positions –
which isn’t as much a compliment to Poppinga as disparagement
of their current situation. He’s another tweener, having
played some DE earlier in college, but his best pro position might
be MLB, where he has the size and would have decent speed for
Guys with little to no value right now, but with the chance to
surprise down the road.
Michael Boley (LB, ATL)
One of the more shocking freefalls of the day on the defensive
side. Boley was an outstanding playmaker and well-decorated player
in college. He needs to bulk up and add strength, but he has the
frame to support it, so I’m not sure what made him fall
to the middle of Day Two. Falcons GM Rich McKay, the guy who drafted
him, did mentioned he was a bit of an underachiever, so I guess
there were some notions about him, but I think this was a huge
steal. Ike Reese will probably be the first back-up outside LB,
but with a season to learn and get bigger, Boley should be a significant
contributor in 2006.
Rian Wallace (LB, PIT)
Underrated prospect had little incentive to not declare early
with Temple’s program in shambles. Goo has more talent than
you expect from a fifth rounder and slides into a nice opportunity
on a team that plugs and plays LBs that turn out productive in
their scheme. He can play either inside or out, and it sounds
like the Steelers will work him inside, at first. With the departure
of Kendrell Bell, Larry Foote officially moves into the starting
role he filled on an interim basis while Bell went through another
injury-plagued season last year. Foote was solid, but unspectacular,
so he doesn’t have a stone cold lock on a job. Similarly,
Clark Haggans was disappointing on the outside as a full-time
player after standing out as a back-up. There is more opportunity
than usual for a rookie LB in Pittsburgh’s defense, and
while I don’t expect Wallace to win a starting job, he could
get a shot at one sooner than later and has the talent and temperment
to hang onto it.
Oshiomogho Atogwe (S, STL)
Makes up for lack of speed with positioning and instincts. The
Rams secondary is in transition and he may be the only “natural”
free safety they have on their roster right now. If Archuleta
isn’t a good fit for centerfield or Tinoisamoa can’t
convert, O.J. could get a shot quickly.
Bill Swancutt (DE, DET)
Overachiever that lacks measurables to project well, but stood
out at Senior Bowl and showed ability to dominate a high-level
of peer competition. Situation is appealing, if he can cut it
at the next level, don’t be surprised to see it as soon
as this season.
Leroy Hill (LB, SEA)
One of my favorite college players last year, I was surprised
he went Day One. He has the attitude and motor, but not the measurables.
Too slow to convert to SS, as the Seahawks successfully did with
Michael Boulware, and too small to project well as a full-time
player. Regardless, he packs a ton of ability and effort, so if
he gets a chance, he could defy the odds.
Jordan Beck (LB, ATL)
D-IAA Defensive Player of the Year needs to bulk up and hasn’t
faced top competition, but he has excellent speed and has displayed
tremendous playmaking skills in the middle against both the run
and pass. A poor man’s Brian Urlacher, Beck may need to
play outside at this level, depending on how he plays with more
weight. Nice upside, but no room for him now, and the Falcons
drafted another great prospect two rounds later in Michael Boley.
Sean Considine (S, PHI)
Hernia surgery in January may have dropped him a bit, but the
Eagles offset the reach for McCoy in the second with a steal of
Considine in the fourth. Could eventually replace Brian Dawkins,
when he leaves or retires.
Trent Cole (DE, PHI)
Left off the A-list of this year’s tweeners, Cole is a talented
player who was an extremely consistent producer at DE in college.
Explosive and technically sound as a pass rusher, he lacks the
size and speed to project succeeding there as an every down player.
However, he could put up some good sack numbers as a specialist,
and Jim Johnson says he will stick at DE. Possibly the sequel
to N.D. Kalu.
Chris Canty (DE, DAL)
Many expected this super-sized DE to be one of the top DLine prospects
heading into this draft. However, a dislocated knee cut short
his 2004 season and his a beer bottle to the head in a nightclub
cause some serious eye problems, including a detached retina.
While the retina was reattached and doctors are confident about
his long term prognosis, it’s not a situation that should
be taken lightly. He has the ideal size and skills for a 3-4 DE,
which is why Parcells took a chance on him. He’s also big
enough to work at tackle too. Either way, his fantasy upside is
limited once he’s fully healthy and playing regularly. He
has more potential value if he moves to DT in a 4-3 and is eligible
there in leagues that segregate the positions.
Jonathan Goddard (OLB, DET)
One of the top pass rushing DEs in the MAC, he’s too undersized
to be considered at the position at this level. Has the skills
to develop into a nice situational player, and the Lions need
help from somewhere with the pass rush.
Nick Collins (S, GB)
Versatile, nice measurables, and successful at a lower level of
competition, but is a developmental prospect at this point. One
of the biggest reaches of the draft. I’d list him as ‘overrated’,
but I don’t see anyone touching him early in fantasy drafts.
Has a shot to start due to lack of quality and depth.
Marviel Underwood (S, GB)
They reach for Collins and then spend an early Day Two pick on
a guy who is nearly as much of a project. Still, whoever is more
impressive between the two could be a significant part of the
rotation in the middle of the secondary.
Jerome Carter (S, STL)
Big hitter enters a situation lacking depth.
Jonathan Welsh (DE/OLB, IND)
Another DE likely to convert, he was drafted after Sweet Pea Burns,
but seems to project better as an OLB. Production dropped from
2003 to 2004, but the overload of talented tweeners were more
responsible for him falling to the middle of Day Two, as he grades
Robert McCune (LB, WAS)
Impressive physical specimen who looks the part of a MLB, with
excellent speed and strength, but a better athlete than football
player. Doesn’t create or recover turnovers and his overall
reaction time is slow from lack of instinct. Also a bit stiff,
not fluid in making “football movements”. Upside is
probably limited to special teams and back-up, but he falls into
a situation in disarray. Plenty of short-term opportunity in the
Redskins LB group, especially with the return of an old and injured
Michael Barrow uncertain.
Tyjuan Hagler (OLB, IND)
Just a little more size and a bigger name program would have had
off the board earlier. I suppose you could say that about a lot
of guys, but Hagler has a ferocious temperament and flies around
the field. The Colts are an excellent place for him to land, where
an undersized but quick and aggressive defender can earn work.
The situation is a little crowded now, but keep his name in mind.
Jared Newberry (LB, WAS)
Draft value dropped after disappointing senior year. Measurables
give no reason to be more excited about him. Only thing to really
like is the situation, where injuries leave a depleted core and
he has been mentioned in the running for the MLB job if Barrow
doesn’t return, along with just about every other LB on
Jovan Haye (DE, CAR)
Panthers don’t often miss on DLinemen. Developmental prospect
to remember a few years down the road.
As most leagues play with DL (either DE or DT) and DB (either
S or CB), I excluded DT and CB up to this point. As experienced
IDP'ers know, overall, DE and S are typically the more valuable
positions in each group (depending on your scoring system). However,
some leagues segregate the positions, so some, for positive or
negative reasons, are worth spending some time discussing. This
was actually an outstanding class of CBs, with better potential
for fantasy scoring that most of the safeties in this class. However,
I still chose to group them separately and will expound on the
upside I think they have here. By the way, it was an extremely
poor DT class, so not much to discuss on that front this year.
Antrel Rolle (CB, AZ)
If the value of CBs wasn’t so dependent on picks, and if
the top real players weren’t frequently lesser fantasy players
because QBs steer away from them, I’d group Rolle as a fantasy
blue chipper. I think he will end up the best real football player
of the top three corners, which doesn’t necessarily mean
the fantasy player.
Adam Jones (CB, TEN)
Pac Man is could be the next Antoine Winfield, or he could be
the next elite college corner whose size limits him to a third
DB. The flashiest and perhaps the biggest playmaker of the three,
bump him up significantly if your league counts return stats.
The Titans should be returning a lot of kick-offs this season.
Carlos Rogers (CB, WAS)
If Shawn Springs can again play at the high level he returned
to last year for the first time in a while, Rogers has a much
better situation than the two previous guys. If QBs steer away
from Springs, Rogers could have a windfall of INT opportunities,
until he gives QBs a reason to think twice about throwing his
way. Similarly rated to the other two, he is less flashy, but
could be the most consistent player.
Marlin Jackson (CB, IND)
This could be the best value at CB. He coasted last year, and
there is concern he’ll remain an underachiever, but he has
tremendous skills, perhaps the best in the class. The cover two
system will help disguise his lack of elite speed and boost his
Ron Bartell (CB, STL)
Small school prospect is nice size/speed package with a lot of
potential. Could be the next Charles Tillman in a secondary in
Bryant McFadden (CB, PIT)
Upside to go earlier in a draft with less depth. Corners are usually
pretty productive fantasy producers in Steeltown, and McFadden
can pick it and isn’t afraid to put his helmet on a runner.
Justin Miller (CB, NYJ)
His fall was a great example of overreaction to a minor incident
by teams. First round talent, but a bit undersized. Bump him up
if your league counts return stats.
Eric Green (CB, AZ)
The thing I like best about him in the near future is he’ll
be playing opposite future stud Antrel Rolle, which means he should
see a lot of balls his way. He lacks elite speed, but continues
the string of playmakers out of Virginia Tech the last few years.
Nice sleeper to nab off the waiver wire in a year or two.
Fabian Washington (CB, OAK)
Speed got him paid. Shorter than ideal and not even among the
top ten as far as being a complete package of skills at the position.
Can pick it, but gambles too much. They let Phillip Buchanon go
and rush to replace him with a similar guy who has proved nothing.
No wonder this organization is going in reverse.
Travis Daniels (CB, Miami)
Some think he has more potential than former teammate Corey Webster
and his former HC spent a mid-round pick on him. Good size, might
be better suited to safety. Either way, there’s opportunity
in the Dolphins secondary.
Corey Webster (CB, NYG)
Not the same player in 2004 he was in 2003, when he looked like
one of the best corners in the country. Underachiever, lost confidence,
or did he benefit too much from his supporting cast? Whatever
the answer is, it leaves him with a big question mark, and one
that lacks elite speed. Might be a better safety at this level.
Darrent Williams (CB, DEN)
Ballhawk, but too small. Upside to be this year’s Nathan
Vasher, which still makes him an erratic fantasy play. Bump him
up if your league counts return stats.
Antonio Perkins (CB, CLE)
Stanley Wilson (CB, DET)
Situation could be the most appealing thing about him. The Detroit
secondary has been devastated by injuries the last couple of years.
He needs to pack on some pounds, but opportunity could be there
early if guys in front can’t stay healthy.
Kelvin Hayden (CB, IND)
Converted WR is a great athlete, but still learning the position,
and a big reach in the second round.
Ellis Hobbs (CB, NE)
Too small, too short, nothing spectacular about his collegiate
performance. So what happens? Bill Belichick drafts him in the
second round. Go figure. He appears to know something about talent
evaluation, though, so let’s keep an eye on him. Still,
at best looks like a guy who will be part of a rotation, so even
if he finds success, he’ll never be a great fantasy player.
Stanford Routt (CB, OAK)
Wow. What a reach. Nothing more than a track guy playing football.
You can get by as that in college, but it will get you abused
by practice squad WRs at this level.
Shaun Cody (DT, DET)
Similar, but significantly less talented version, of Kevin Williams
(MIN). He can be an anchor end vs. the run or be a disruptive
force in the middle. If his eligibility is at DT, he could be
a nice fantasy player for leagues that segregate the position.
Travis Johnson (DE/DT, HOU)
Top tackle in the class looks like he’s converting to 3-4
DE in Houston. Lose-lose for his fantasy potential.
Mike Patterson (DT, PHI)
Late riser, the Eagles do a great job of identifying and utilizing
interior DLine talent. Depending on Corey Simon’s future,
he’s in a bit of deep rotation now, but if he ever plays
consistently, could be productive.
Atiyyah Ellison (DT, CAR)
If your league segregates DL and is so deep it’s worth it
stashing away a DT, this is your guy. He’s still developing
and he’s on the perfect team to do it. Panther announcers
will have to learn to pronounce “Atiyyah” in the next
Luis Castillo (DT, SD)
Already a strike against him for substance abuse, even if his
proactive explanation/apology saved his draft value. He’s
unlike to have much value in a 3-4. However, his speed gives him
plenty of upside to produce as a DT if he ever ends up as a pure
Anttaj Hawthorne (DT, OAK)
Another guy gets busted for Andro and slides, he smoke a little
pot and plummets. Ridiculous. Anyway, this guy is a space-eater
with tremendous real football potential who could be a huge steal,
but will have live fantasy value even if he is.
Top Undrafted Free
Teams like the Colts, Eagles, Ravens, and Cowboys are good at
finding good low/no round guys. For individuals, Ernest Shazor
not getting selected surprised most. He falls into a good situation
where he already looks to have landed at SS2 behind Adrian Wilson,
although he has the size to play OLB, as well. Andre Fraizer is
a tweener who should convert to OLB and is with the perfect team
to give him a shot at doing it in Pittsburgh. He is a similar
player and was rated closely to, as well, former Bearcat teammate
Trent Cole, but Cole got drafted. Lionel Turner lacks speed, but
gets a look with his college coach in Miami, who knows his leadership
and run-stuffing ability. Walter Curry was the top D-IAA end and
landed in a great situation. Fraser was a solid player in an elite
program and impressed in his first camp. He has the versatility
Romeo Crennel likes and could be a good fit at end in a 3-4. Marquis
Weeks was converted from RB to DB in college and he is already
impressing with his return abilities in Seattle. They have a trio
of solid FA safeties, as Junior Rosegreen seemed to help himself
enough in workouts to get drafted and Jamaal Brimmer was a fantastic
collegiate performer, but fell due to lack of speed. Players are
over hyped all the time, but Brandon Browner was being pimped
as a potential first rounder, until he ran some horrible 40 times,
and ended up not drafted. Shannahan got a productive UDFA for
the secondary in Roc Alexander last year, he might have done it
again, as Browner still has good upside.
DL: Simon Fraser, CLE; Walter
Curry, BAL; Jonathan Jackson, CHI; Adell Duckett, SD; George Gause,
BUF; Jim Davis, JAX; Tyler King, AZ; Lorenzo Alexander, CAR; Lynn
LB: Andre Fraizer, PIT; Marcus
Lawrence, CAR; Lionel Turner, MIA; James Enzor, JAX; Liam Ezekiel,
BUF; Mike Goolsby, DAL; Ronald Stanley, PIT; Derek Wake, NYG;
Jonathan Pollard, SD; Roger Cooper, DAL; Zach Woodfin, GB; Wendell
Hunter, BUF; James Kinney, JAX
DB: Ernest Shazor, AZ; Jamaal
Brimmer, SEA; Marquis Weeks, SEA; Brandon Browner, DEN; Jim Leohnard,
BUF; Junior Rosegreen, SEA; James Butler, NYG; Jason Leach, SD;
Diamond Ferri, NYG; Matt Grootegoed, TB; Mitch Meeuwsen, MIA