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IDP Rookie Preview

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, here's how this year's crop of rookie defensive players can be viewed.

Blue Chips | Overvalued | Undervalued | Market Performers | Speculative | Underperformers | Penny Stocks | Undrafted Free Agents

Blue Chips
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 2006 through long careers.

Mario Williams (DE, Texans)
Absurd measurables and ability to dominate a game. Inconsistency and propensity to take plays off. The next Bruce Smith or Aundray Bruce? From a fantasy perspective, I see it like this. A potential elite DE is usually the only IDP position worth reaching for in a dynasty rookie draft. At every other defensive position in the early rounds it is usually a better to take a harder look at offense. At LB and S, especially SS, you are counting on most of the value coming from tackles. At other positions, you are looking for playmakers because tackle numbers won't typically be as high or as consistent. So that means sacks and turnovers. Interceptions are a crapshoot to project, too many other variables, and pretty much the same for fumble recoveries. That leaves sacks and forced fumbles, which generally your elite DE’s are going to be leaders in. So that is the one position on defense it is worth gambling on to land a stud. This brings us back to Williams. The scarce potential he offers insulates the risk in taking him in the second round of rookie drafts.

A.J. Hawk (LB, Packers)
Prototype MIKE size with RB speed and terrific instincts, Hawk can play any LB position and should start at WLB on Week One. The only thing not to like about Hawk is some of the physical characteristics common to steroid users.

Jimmy Williams (DB, Atlanta)
His arrogance and flamboyance may have cost him a first round pick as much as any other character concerns, but that swagger is part of the reason he seems a lock to be a success. In most leagues, I would rarely recommend drafting a CB, you can usually find a serviceable starter on the waiver wire, but I expect Williams to be a real and fantasy star. He can play anywhere in the secondary and has the combination of size, speed, and tackling to succeed at all of them. I also like the fact he’ll play opposite former teammate DeAngelo Hall. Not only should there be an instant rapport there, but Hall is proving to be a capable ball hawk, which will lead teams to test the rookie, giving him an opportunity to produce immediately.

There's no greater buyer's remorse than remembering the defensive player you selected early to pass on a Domanick Davis or Antuan Boldin. The following players may go higher than they should in dynasty rookie drafts due to name recognition or their real NFL draft position. They may be talented players and be productive fantasy 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 further.

Michael Huff (DB, Raiders)
My outlook on his is relative to how he is used, as well as based on much better value available in the secondary if you wait. Talent-wise, he is already the best DB on the roster. However, if the Raiders plan to use him as a SS, where they probably have the biggest need, I have concerns about his tackling ability. He tackles high and that won’t fly at the next level. He has to develop fundamentally as a tackler to be a standout SS. If they use him as a CB, it is probably where he can have the most immediate impact. As a rookie, he’ll be tested, and he has the speed and playmaking ability to put up good fantasy numbers there immediately, even if he still has to improve in real NFL terms. Of course, if he does become an elite corner as the years go on, the fantasy numbers will be sporadic as teams will throw away from him and he’s unlike to develop as fast as a tackler focusing on coverage. FS would probably be the best fantasy position for him, at least the first year or two. His tackling deficiencies won’t be as important, while his closing speed should contribute to a decent number of big plays. With all the picks recently invested at CB, it makes sense for the team to try Huff at S until a more pressing need develops.

Ernie Sims (LB, Lions)
Every year I strike out badly on one of my predictions for overvalued, and this easily could be this year’s. I’m not as concerned as much about his size (although under 6’ and used to a playing weight under 230 are noteworthy) or character questions as I am with his injury history and situation. The Lions have a roster full of WILL LB’s, but someone needs to play MIKE and SAM. It shouldn’t be Sims at either of the latter two, but if it is, I am even more conservative on his outlook. Then there are all the concussions, not a good thing when the primary function of your job is to run as fast as you can, head first, in to other big men running as fast as they can.

Tamba Hali (DE, Chiefs)
Likely to be the second true DE taken in most rookie drafts, Hali has a decent short term outlook, but the Chiefs appear to have reached to fill a need. He doesn’t appear to be a guy who will put up huge sack totals and his athleticism was not impressive across the board in physical test. The Chiefs have struggled to make their front four work, so he immediately could push Jared Allen to a pass rush specialist role or will make Hicks expendable on the left side. However, I don’t think he has great fantasy potential even if he quickly lands a starting role.

D’Qwell Jackson (ILB, Browns)
A better football player than physical specimen, Jackson has a chance to start immediately next to Andra Davis in the Browns revamped 3-4. Although he has good quickness, great instincts and should be a steady source of tackles, his potential for big plays is limited by his position and speed. I believe Jackson will be a very good football player, but I would like him a lot more next to a lesser player than Davis or in the middle of a 4-3. As it stands, he is being drafted earlier than he should for a guy who will be the second most productive ILB for the foreseeable future.

Roman Harper (S, Saints)
A completely confounding pick on a number of levels. Safety is one of the few deep positions on the team, yet they burn a second rounder on Harper where it was considered a bit of a reach. Unless Dwight Smith is traded or released and if Jay Bellamy isn’t expected to regain his form, the middle is very crowded in New Orleans. Even if those two are out of the picture, Josh Bullocks seems to have more upside than Harper and the team traded for Bryan Scott, a talented player who fell out of favor in Atlanta. There is no way I see Harper starting any time soon and even once he does, he is a solid player but doesn’t give any indication of being one who could develop in to a top fantasy performer.

Haloti Ngata (DT, Ravens)
As the first DT drafted, someone will likely grab him in leagues that segregated DL positions. However, he is a space-eater and his purpose in the defense isn’t conducive to fantasy production.

Antonio Cromartie (CB, Chargers)
His draft status was based purely on upside, as he started only one career game and was a workout wonder at the Combine. Success at CB is very instinctual and he simply needs time to develop. Not worth a roster spot in a rookie draft, but his high actual draft status seem to have people taking him in rookie drafts.

Kelly Jennings (CB, Seahawks)
Fluid and fundamentally sound with top speed, lack of size and bulk is the only concern. A true cover corner, he may be a liability in run support, so his fantasy value will be tied to picks, which makes him a risky fantasy proposition.

It's hard to be a "sleeper" when you're taken early in the NFL draft, but even some Day One picks 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. Others are players who fell in the draft and provide excellent upside despite where they went.

Mathias Kiwanuka (DE, Giants)
One of the highest rated defensive players coming in to 2005, a knee injury contributed to a relatively disappointing final collegiate season. His status took another hit at the Senior Bowl, largely due to having to face D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who made plenty of college DE’s look bad. The result was he was falling out of the first round until the Giants traded up to grab him. Now he enters one of the worst short-term situations for a DE. Michael Strahan is yet to slow down, while Osi Umenyiora has emerged as one of the elite ends in the league, and Justin Tuck impressed as a rookie last year. However, this will benefit Kiwanuka for the long-term. He needs to add some weight, strength, and improve his technical skills. Now he has the time to do it and you couldn’t ask for better mentors. Situations like this often resolve themselves faster than expected. Injuries, free agency/cap issues, and the fact Strahan can’t play forever, even if it seems he can, will sort this situation within two seasons. At that time, people will regret passing on him and the fantasy owner who had the patience to sit on him will be rewarded.

Manny Lawson (OLB, 49ers)
I’m not sure why Lawson is undervalued, or that I should really be including him here, but there seems to be apprehensiveness about him when I read fantasy opinions of him or see where he is going in early rookie drafts. Perhaps it is because not everyone in the stacked front four he played in at NC State (Mario Williams and John McCargo were fellow first round picks, while Stephen Tulloch went in the fourth) is likely to be great or that he is on a 49er defense lacking in talent. However, the fact is he has great measurables and fell in to the perfect situation. He doesn’t have the weight or play with the leverage to succeed as an every down DE at this level, but his speed makes him perfect for a 3-4 OLB. He’ll be moved around a bit, but should be over the LT with his hand on the ground and ears pinned back on third down. He presents the athleticism to be used in a variety of ways similar to the departed Julian Peterson. He should start at WLB and line up as RDE on third downs.

Thomas Howard (LB, Raiders)
Forcing a square peg in to a round hole is a good analogy for the failed attempt by Oakland to employ a 3-4. The defensive ends they converted to OLB were not accomplished pass rushers and proved completely inept in pass coverage. Danny Clark and Kirk Morrison were the only two true LB’s on their roster heading in to the draft. The addition of Howard gave them not just a true third LB, but one with the speed and playmaking ability Clark and Morrison lack. He should quickly win the weak-side job, pushing Morrison to the SLB (and eventually likely to replace Clark in the middle).

Jason Allen (S, Dolphins)
Up the middle, Miami’s secondary is full of journeymen and career back-ups. Allen’s path to a starting job looks as easy as any rookie, IDP or otherwise. While still an injury concern, he seems to be overlooked in dynasty drafts, going well after Huff and Whitner, and in some cases Bullocks, despite being the third DB drafted and having a ton of upside.

Mark Anderson (DE, Bears)
With Michael Haynes a bust, one weakness in the Bears strong defense is lack of third end in the rotation that can pressure the QB. Anderson’s stock appeared to be rising after a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and Combine, but he managed to slip to the fifth round. Lacking the bulk to play every down if there was an opportunity, he has a frame that can support more weight, but his speed and technical strength make give him the upside to immediately be a third down specialist. However, that is likely the limit of his upside.

Daniel Bullocks (S, Lions)
DC Donnie Henderson already has him penciled in as the starting FS. Despite top speed, his coverage skills need some work, so he might ultimately be best suited for SS. Either way, he is an elite athlete with good footballs skills who projects as a long term starter on a team with huge needs in the secondary. One of the safest IDP picks for a dynasty league in this class who will be there at least a round or two after Huff and probably Whitner.

Bernard Pollard (S, Chiefs)
A devastating hitter, he is the kind of boom or bust safety that can make the highlight reel on Sportscenter, but be graded poorly in the same game by coaches for missed assignments. If he can focus his talent, he will be an exciting player and solid fantasy performer. It might take a year for him to push Sammy Knight out, but Herm Edwards, a former DB, has never been shy about starting rookie safeties either.

Richard Marshall (CB, Panthers)
Graded as first round talent by some, Marshall enters a great situation with tremendous upside. With the loss of two corners to free agency, the nickel spot is wide open for him to win. This would enable solid performance immediately, as he’ll be asked to guard the third or fourth receiver and will have the chance to make plays on desperation throws thanks to the pressure Carolina should bring up front. Eventually he should be a full-time starter opposite Chris Gamble, which should benefit Marshall again as Gamble is one of the up-and-coming corners in the league. His ranking as undervalued is relative to leagues that segregate DB between CB and S. For leagues that don’t, I’d play it safe with some of the nice potential at safety in this draft class.

Brodrick Bunkley (DT, Eagles)
The most appealing DT from a fantasy perspective heading in to the draft fell in to the ideal situation. Philadelphia, with all DC Jim Johnson’s stunts and complex blitz schemes, has been unusually successful at producing interior linemen capable of contributing decent fantasy numbers. With the team moving Hollis Thomas in a trade and Paul Grasmanis retiring, there is an immediate opening in the primary three-man rotation for Bunkley. His ranking as undervalued is relative to leagues that segregate DL between DT and S. For all but the deepest of those dynasty leagues, he is the only DT worth taking in rookie drafts this year.

David Pittman (CB, Ravens)
Small school prospect who is raw and needs to add bulk, but has the frame to do so. Otherwise, he has good measurables and the right attitude for the Ravens defense, in that he can be aggressive to a fault. He has impressed early and in a thin Baltimore secondary, should already be penciled in as the nickel corner, which could be very productive if the front seven can get back to menacing the QB. Excellent upside, sleeper who could be the next breakout small school star.

Market Performers
Talented players whose value should be commensurate with where they are drafted. They have a strong outlook, even those whose situation immediately falls short of ideal and/or who need time to develop.

Chad Greenway (LB, Vikings)
He is too smart and instinctive to be devalued based on some disappointing physical tests. Obviously the Vikings agree, and the group of LB’s the new staff inherited have disappointed, so Greenway should be able to assume a starting job. There is not much to dislike about him on film, but he does not have top speed and needs to get stronger. Players like Zach Thomas and Lofa Tatupu have more than answered similar questions once on the field. Dynasty owners don’t appear concerned either, which is why I don’t consider him undervalued, as he is on the LB short list after Hawk in most rookie drafts I’ve observed.

Kamerion Wimbley (OLB, Browns)
Escapes the aversion to tweeners as there appears to be no question about his role. Willie McGinest was reunited with Romeo Crennel to be a disruptive rusher from the edges, like he was for him in New England. Wimbley will be his protégée and eventual replacement. Like McGinest, Wimbley is undersized to play with his hand on the ground every down, but is a natural fit as pass rush specialist and has the athleticism to become a fine all-around OLB. He will likely start out as weak-side OLB on rushing downs and be a fourth down lineman on the right edge on passing downs. Even if he struggles with the transition to LB in the run game, he’ll see plenty of time as a rookie in pass packages and on special teams, where he was terrific as a youngster at FSU.

DeMeco Ryans (LB, Texans)
A major part of a reconstructed Houston defense, Ryans is likely to start from Week One. While his measurables are a bit lacking, he makes up for it with football intelligence and strong fundamentals, especially as a tackler and in coverage. He has the intangibles and make-up to quickly become the leader on defense the team is lacking.

Donte Whitner (S, Bills)
Although considered a reach by some pundits in the actual draft, he is should be available in a decent middle round spot in rookie drafts, making him a better value than reaching for Huff. He is likely to win the starting SS spot and looks to be the next fixture at DB in the NFL from a fine legacy of recent Ohio State players in the secondary.

Bobby Carpenter (OLB, Cowboys)
While he’ll have a lot of competition and faces the short leash Parcells has for all young players, there is no doubt he is expected to be the final missing piece of the Cowboys 3-4. A natural LB, he comes in with more instincts for the position than Ware, so Carpenter is likely to work the strong-side and assume coverage responsibilities. This will limit his overall productivity, but he’ll get chances to get after the QB and just how fast he becomes a relevant pass rush threat will dictate his fantasy value.

Darryl Tapp (DE, Seahawks)
Measurables could be better, but skills and intangibles are strong, while situation is perfect. Tapp should immediately see action as a situational pass rusher and eventually replace Grant Wistrom, who has struggled with injuries recently and is aging.

Clint Ingram (OLB, Jaguars)
A late riser who built on a strong Combine with a good Pro Day, he could end up being one of the steals of the draft. He brings good size and better than average speed, as well as an unusually strong, for a collegiate LB, capability in pass coverage. This means he’s likely to play SAM, which tempers expectations of his fantasy production, otherwise I’d consider him undervalued. Daryl Smith likely moves to MIKE leaving an unspectacular Pat Thomas and the injury-prone Jorge Cordova the only things standing in Ingram’s way of a starting job.

Abdul Hodge (LB, Packers)
The future appears distant as he starts off his career backing up Pro Bowl MLB Nick Barnett. However, things change fast and the team seems committed to getting their best ‘backers on the field. Despite lacking in measurables, he presents a comprehensive package of skills and could be the strong-side starter before the end of the season, although free agent addition Ben Taylor is likely to begin there on Week One.

Roger “Rocky” McIntosh (OLB, Redskins)
Washington paid a steep price to trade up 18 spots to acquire McIntosh. A bit of a reach, but McIntosh brings solid measurables, impressive athleticism, and comes from a fine lineage of recent ‘backers from the U. With the loss of Arrington, the only thing standing in the way of a starting job is unimpressive journeymen Chris Clemons and Warrick Holdman.

Tye Hill (CB, Rams)
I’m not sure what to make of Hill from a fantasy perspective. While he can stick a receiver like glue and has great pure and recovery speed, his hands aren’t the greatest and size is a liability. While he isn’t afraid to stick his nose in, he is more of a cover corner, so I don’t project him to be tremendous in run support. He will be great in coverage, but that frequently doesn’t translate to good fantasy numbers. I definitely see him be a starter sooner rather than later, hence my ranking that he should at least be relatively productive, but until he shows he can be a ball hawk or contribute significantly with tackles, I don’t see him as being an elite fantasy corner.

Johnathan Joseph (CB, Bengals)
The corners in Cinci have been extremely productive in HC Marvin Lewis’ system. Joseph brings decent size, elite speed, and top athleticism to the position, however he is still very raw. A JUCO transfer, he missed all of 2004 with a foot injury, so 2005 was his first full season against top competition. With the rotation of the Bengals top three corners set, he shouldn’t see much action this season, but can develop and be ready for a starting job as soon as 2007.

Ashton Youboty (CB, Bills)
Rated as a first round talent by some, Youboty fell in a deep class. Possibly could win the nickel role this year, but won’t have a chance to start for a year or two. Then he should join the legion of stellar corners out of OSU.

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 could 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.

Ahmad Brooks (LB, undrafted as of yet)
It appears increasingly likely Brooks will be declaring for the supplemental draft on July 13th. He is currently out of the program at Virginia, working with a trainer, and has scheduled an individual workout for scouts on June 22nd. At his peak, potential first round talent with freakish athleticism, but he has had both off-field problems (drug allegations) and on-field problems (out of shape) recently that led to his dismissal from the team. Projections vary widely for where he will go, but he is a player to keep an eye on. Check your league rules regarding if he is eligible. Leagues in existence for a few years probably established treating the supplemental draft after the Tony Hollings incident a few years ago.

Victor Adeyanju (DE, Rams)
If nothing else, the lineage of recent Nigerian DE’s gives us a reason to keep an eye on him. Among his countrymen are Osi Umenyiora and fellow Indiana alum Adewale Ogunleye. Furthermore, he steps in to a tremendous situation. Tony Hargrove has failed to impress and Leonard Little appears to be on the decline, as age and personal problems have taken their toll on the former elite pass rusher. Little is also an UFA after 2006, so Adeyanju’s road to a starting job could be short if he can develop over the next year. He started playing football late, so he still has a lot to learn, but he is definitely one of the deep sleepers in this class that could emerge as a mid-round stud.

Chris Gocong (OLB/DE, Eagles)
Philly reached for a small school pass rushing threat over an assortment of established DE prospects from big name programs. Gocong led the nation in sacks with 23.5 for I-AA Cal Poly last season and looks to be a third down specialist at the next level. The departure of N.D. Kalu leaves a spot in the rotation, but Trent Cole looks to be the primary situational pass rusher at end. Early indications were he would move to LB and back up Dhani Jones on the strong-side, likely to replace him in passing situations. However, he has impressed early with his hand on the ground, giving him potential to be used in more situations.

Elvis Dumervil (DE/OLB, Broncos)
Despite leading I-A in sacks (20) and setting a single-season record in forced fumbles (11), Dumervil slid due to his measurables. Just shy of both 6 feet and 260 pounds, he won’t be an every down player. Far from elite speed to compensate, there is no reason to project him with Dwight Freeney potential either. However, he has nice explosion, very good strength, and his short term outlook in Denver is promising. An impotent pass rush is a glaring weakness in the Bronco defense that they did little in the off season to address. While Dumervil doesn’t have the measurables to project as securing a regular role, he has the skills to find success in a situational role. A surprise of the 2006 season and potentially beyond.

James Anderson (LB, Panthers)
Third round pick is a player who made significant strides from his junior to senior year. He needs to add some bulk, but with Thomas Davis likely locked in at WLB for a long time and a slew of vets competing for SLB, Anderson has time to excel on special teams before getting his shot. Good speed and nice athleticism, he needs to improve as a tackler, but has the upside to eventually be a starter.

Gerris Wilkinson (OLB, Giants)
The Giants are looking to win now, and brought in a few veterans, notably LaVar Arrington, to shore up a LB group that was a problem the last few years. That being the case, the immediate outlook is special teams for Wilkinson, but he can play any LB position (he played all three in college). Although he is probably best suited for the middle after he bulks up, he’ll begin at WLB. GM Ernie Accorsi has been effusive in his praise of Wilkinson. Nice long term outlook, but shouldn’t have any value the next year or two.

Ko Simpson (S, Bills)
Another bad decision to declare early, Simpson fell, but has plenty of talent and nice measurables. Should make Troy Vincent expendable next season.

Darnell Bing (OLB, Raiders)
An explosive hitter and playmaker, his lack of timed speed and coverage deficiencies are erased by the planned move to OLB. I was still surprised he fell to Day Two and think the Raiders got a bargain. He needs to find a position, though, and Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard look to be the better immediate options at OLB.

Anthony Smith (S, Steelers)
The assumption was Ryan Clark was brought in to replace Chris Hope at FS, but undersized journeyman Tyrone Carter and Smith are in the running, as well. Smith has the most long term potential, so while he might not win the job immediately, he could be a starter by next year. He doesn’t project to be an outstanding individual player, but the Steelers always have a strong defense and if a starter, his numbers would benefit by default.

Cedric Griffin (CB, Vikings)
I think he is a solid player, but I really love his situation. He doesn’t have much competition in front of him to be the nickel corner as a rookie and he will play between two solid starters. Both mean he should get opportunities to see some balls and make some plays as opposing teams test the rookie. His solid tackling skills and versatility to play safety, with aging and recently injury-prone Darren Sharper currently in centerfield for Minny, add to his appeal.

Danieal Manning (DB, Bears)
GM Jerry Angelo struggles overall with the first round, but has done a great job of finding defensive talent after that. Manning seems to have the physical tools and opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Charles Tillman as another small school secondary standout. His versatility give him the opportunity to immediately unseat FS Chris Harris, step in for an increasingly fragile Mike Brown at SS if he is injured again, or contribute at their thin CB position. It looks like he’ll start as a back-up S, but things can change quickly, so be ready to swoop him off the waiver wire.

Ray Edwards (DE, Vikings)
After looking like a star in 2004, Edwards struggled through a 2005 season that saw him lose his starting job and make a decision to declare early that he was unprepared for. Minnesota stopped his freefall early on Day Two, but he has a lot to prove to show he can be an every down player. While not promising on the surface, his situation is intriguing. The Vikings have spent first round picks on a DE the last two seasons, but Kenechi Udeze did not dominate as rookie and missed most of last year. He returns from risky microfracture surgery on his knee and will get another shot to anchor the left side. Erasmus James was lost in the shuffle as the Minnesota defense didn’t find an identity until mid-season, but sporadically flashed talent in the second half of the season. Darrion Scott, a 2004 third round choice, was their most steady performer throughout the year at DE. Gone is pass rush specialist Lance Johnstone, who led the team in sacks last year. While Edwards is not a speed rusher, Johnstone’s absence opens a spot in the rotation and if Udeze and James can’t get to the QB regularly, Edwards will get a chance sooner than later.

Dawan Landry (S, Ravens)
After failing to install the 46 defense last year, the Ravens appear likely to still pursue a hybrid base scheme along the lines of a 4-4-3 to hide their weakness at SS. Unless they convert a corner, Ed Reed is currently the only thing resembling talent at S on the roster, so Landry could get a change to start as a rookie.

Marcus Maxey (CB, Chiefs)
Could end up being a steal for a team that ignored their weakness at corner on Day One and so far in free agency. Opportunity is there, but Maxey is raw and at least a year away from having the mental and Limited starting experience, just last season after beating out Devin Hester at the U. However, he brings great size and decent speed, physically he is ideal. A player whose development is still in progress and could be a big surprise in the future.

Devin Hester (CB, Bears)
Only if your league counts return stats, where he could be an instant top performer. HC Lovie Smith says he will start as a CB and just learn that position, where he should be buried on the depth chart for the foreseeable future. Eventually he could get some work on offense, which would make him a more intriguing.

Claude Wroten (DT, Rams)
Graded as a first round talent, a January drug arrest (possession of marijuana, later dropped) and reports of a failed drug test (accuracy unknown, the NFL does not publicize the status of a player in their substance abuse program) dropped him to the third round. He brings potential as a pass rusher, a rare commodity for a DT, which makes him appealing. DC Jim Haslett will have a short leash on Jimmy Kennedy, the chronic disappointment he inherited, while FA La’Roi Glover is nearing the end of his great career. Potential is there to be the next Warren Sapp, if he keeps his nose clean.

Some middle round picks that were solid collegiate performers, generally where you find quality sleepers, but due to situation and/or potential, don't have promising long term outlooks.

Parys Haralson (OLB, 49ers)
Undersized college DE will get a shot playing standing up in San Francisco’s 3-4. He has some appeal because, thanks to all the holes in the 49er defense, he could start immediately, but he doesn’t have the speed or athleticism to be very promising as an every down player.

A.J. Nicholson (LB, Bengals)
Serious character issues and behind one of the brightest young MLB’s in the league. Pass.

Jon Alston (OLB, Rams)
Off the Day One radar until becoming a workout wonder at the Combine, he is more of an athlete than football player. Undersized with elite speed, he could be better off following the path of the recently departed Adam Archuleta. The competition ahead of him for WLB is unimpressive (again Dexter Coakley, who could be a cap casualty, and Brandon Chillar, who failed to hold a starting role last season), but I don’t see him as more of a special teams ace and part-time player.

Jason Hatcher (DE, Cowboys)
Considered a reach when he went on Day One, the Grambling State product has reportedly impressed in rookie camp and OTAs. He has the size for a 3-4 end and the flexibility to see some time at DT when the Cowboys show a different front. His fantasy value is limited even if he lives up to the promise he has shown early.

Frostee Rucker (DE, Bengals)
Former first round pick Justin Smith has never established himself as a premier pass rusher and Robert Geathers was unimpressive in his debut as a starter last year. Both are free agents after 2006 and Rucker should see work as a situational pass rusher this year. In other words, he enters an ideal situation. Unfortunately, that is where his appeal ends. He lacks ideal size to be an every down end and doesn’t have the quickness or speed to compensate. He also brings some character questions that make this even more of a baffling pick for Marvin Lewis.

Stephen Tulloch (LB, Titans)
An excellent collegiate performer, he benefited tremendously playing behind three future first round picks at NC State. At the next level, he is a slow and undersized prospect who has short term opportunity, but won’t have staying power. Even if he wins the starting MLB job, the Titans run a lot of nickel and Keith Bullucks is traditionally the only LB in on almost every package.

Freddie Keiaho (LB, Colts)
Another undersized defender joins a non-descript group of ‘backers in Indianapolis. He doesn’t have the speed to compensate for his lack of size and bulk, so he appears more likely to be a third round special teams player than a future starter.

Anthony Schlegel (ILB, Jets)
Lack of quickness and speed limits his range, making his upside a two-down run-stopper. As a MIKE in a 4-3 you can do that and still produce fantasy-wise, but it is more rare in a 3-4. Unless the Jets change their base scheme or until he moves to another team, I’m bearish on his outlook.

Tim Jennings (CB, Colts)
I’d include him as overvalued, being a second round pick, but I correctly don’t see teams paying any attention to him in rookie drafts. Extremely undersized, it is hard to see how his speed and skills can compensate at this level as anything other than a nickel back. Another questionable project for a Colts defense taken by president Bill Polian instead of finding a more proven and safer option.

John McCargo (DT, Bills)
Productive collegiate player helped at NC State by the attention paid to fellow first round picks Manny Lawson and Mario Williams. Has not shown, and doesn’t have the quickness, to project as being much of a pass rush threat, so not much reason to think he’ll be a productive fantasy player.

Penny Stocks
Guys with no draft value right now, but with the chance to surprise down the road.

Leon Williams (LB, Browns)
One of the more impressive physical packages at LB in the draft, but he hasn’t shown the football intelligence or dedication to be promising. Having started only six games in his collegiate career at Miami, he is very raw. Likely to be primarily a special teams player and reserve LB.

Omar Gaither (LB, Eagles)
Received notice when he replaced an injury-prone Kevin Simon (see below) and excelled at Tennessee. Measurables are a concern across the board, but he is a smart player with a non-stop motor. Philadelphia has a track record of success in developing defenders regardless of where a player was drafted (or if they were at all), so he is worth keeping an eye on. They appear to be moving him to MIKE where depth is thinnest and Jeremiah Trotter was seen as dispensable by the team last time he wanted too much money.

Stanley McClover (DE, Panthers)
Another bad decision to leave early, McClover is an undersized end with potential as a pass rush specialist who could have gone earlier than the seventh round if he stayed in school. He will battle former high school teammate Jovan Haye for the fourth DE spot. He has already impressed in OTAs with his quickness and explosiveness.

Derrick Martin (CB, Ravens)
Surprisingly declared early after his level of play slipped in 2005 from the previous season. A potential top prospect if he waited another year, the Ravens stopped his freefall late Day Two. An outstanding cover corner, he’ll need to bulk up and be more physical to contribute sufficiently in run support, but he has future potential on a team thin in the secondary.

Demetrice (Dee) Webb (CB, Jaguars)
Possesses top physical skills and speed, but plummeted in a top-heavy CB class. A recent legal incident and being a bit short hurt the value of this underclassman who unwisely declared early. He is a project who will now have to develop in practice instead of another year of college, but the talent is there if he puts in the work and stays out of trouble.

Jamar Williams (LB, Bears)
Undersized and not considered a top prospect, but a productive long term starter in college. Same background that produced success for GM Jerry Angelo with defensive players like Lance Briggs. The tenuous situation with an extension for Briggs and the lack of an impressive player at SAM make the situation Williams is in very appealing. Probably not a long term solution as a starter, but could see opportunity sooner rather than later and be a surprise source of fantasy production for part of a year.

Jeremy Mincey (OLB/DE, Patriots)
A tweener whose stock value plummeted with disappointing Combine workouts, but he allegedly looked much better in an individual workout for the Patriots. Despite having just 3.5 sacks, he will be looked at as a pass rush specialist at an OLB position where the depth is full of rookies or players with no starting experience.

Gabe Watson (DT, Cardinals)
Potential to be a disruptive force, his inconsistency and questions about his commitment led to a fall on draft day. He looked completely dominant at times against elite competition at the Senior Bowl, but on film occasionally disappeared in games. Boom or bust player with upside to be the next Shaun Rogers, downside to be out of the league in a few years.

Tim Dobbins (ILB, Chargers)
A deep sleeper to definitely keep track of. More of an athlete than football player at this time, he was a JUCO transfer who still needs a lot of development, as he got by on physical skills at Iowa State. In addition to being an impressive specimen, he is a big hitter and hard worker. Even if the instincts aren’t there, he could put up some tackles as a two-down player in a 3-4. Rumors of Donnie Edwards possibly departure and an aging Randall Godfrey could create opportunity as early as 2007.

Kevin Simon (LB, Redskins)
Tremendous football player with great instincts for the position, but undersized, slow, and has had major durability issues. Could surprise if he ever gets a chance and is healthy at the same time.

Dusty Dvoracek (DT, Bears)
Character issues dropped him, but this is a guy who can be a disruptive force. The attacking scheme and complimentary talent in the Bears front four offer fantasy potential for interior lineman that is rare.

Rodrique Wright (DT, Dolphins)
After looking like an potential elite prospect early in his career, questions about his dedication and durability, including a torn rotator cuff that could cost him this season, led to him plummeting in the draft. Still, the talent is there and for leagues that segregate DL, a name to remember in a year or two.

Tim McGarigle (MLB, Rams)
All-time NCAA leading tackler has more instincts and determination than physical talent. Still, a grinder who could catch the eye of blue collar DC Jim Haslett.

Top Undrafted Free Agents
Keep an eye on teams like the Colts, Eagles, Ravens, Steelers, and Cowboys who are good at finding and using low/no round guys. For individuals, Kai Parham was highly regarded until poor workouts. Charles Gordon is versatile and an excellent collegiate returner, but undersized and slow for the next level. Freddie Roach is physically limited to being a two-down player, but he can stuff the middle. Mike Kudla drew attention with 45 reps on the bench at the Combine, but is undersized for DE and slow for OLB. Anwar Phillips had been considered a comparable pro prospect to former teammate Alan Zemaitis (TB fourth round pick), but his timed speed was slow. Dion Byrum is raw, but has speed and upside. Eric Henderson has shown flashes of being a force, but is short for the position and has been injury-prone.

DE: Eric Henderson, Bengals; Mike Kudla, Steelers; Devan Long, Panthers; Ryan Neill, Bills; Charlton Keith, Browns; Copeland Bryan, Titans

DT: T.J. Jackson, Falcons; Tony McDaniel, Jaguars

LB: Freddie Roach, Patriots; Dale Robinson, Colts; Sam McGrew, Dolphins; Corey Mays, Patriots; Spencer Havner, Redskins; Brian Iwuh, Jaguars; Travis Williams, Falcons; Kai Parham, Cowboys; Nick Reid, Chiefs; Pierre Woods (DE), Patriots; Robert Iwuchukwu, Saints; Brandon Guillory (DE), Chiefs; Cameron Vaughn, Broncos

S: Jahmile Addae, Buccaneers; Donnie McCleskey, Bears; Dwayne Slay, Bears; Greg Threat, Falcons; Darrell Brooks, unsigned

CB: Charles Gordon, Vikings; Anwar Phillips, Saints; Dion Byrum, Bears; Darrell Hunter, Cardinals; Chijioke Onyenegecha, Redskins