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NFL Draft – Round 1: IDP Fantasy Analysis

By: — April 27, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

1.06 Cowboys – CB Morris Claiborne, Louisiana State
The first defender selected in the 2012 draft will quickly push Mike Jenkins for a starting job and likely kicks the quicker, faster Jenkins in on the slot when their top three corners are all on the field. Playing opposite an exceptional Brandon Carr and a sporadic playmaker in Jenkins should mean Claiborne is tested early and help his numbers. He has great ball skills, but eventually should see less his way as he develops in to a shutdown corner. Not a fundamentally strong tackler, but not afraid to stick his helmet in there. One of the top returners in the draft, but the Cowboys are loaded with outstanding returners and after getting burned with a broken ankle by Dez Bryant on a return two years ago, have been more reticent to use their stars in the role, so don’t expect him to add much more value in leagues that count return stats.

1.07 Buccaneers – S Mark Barron, Alabama
Barron should step right in as the starting SS and his primary responsibility will be to improve a run defense that was last in the league. He isn’t great in coverage, but makes great reads and has an outstanding great nose for the ball, contributing to his 12 career interceptions. He has the talent and opportunity to be a top fantasy producer at DB.

1.09 Panthers – LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Despite their need at DT, the selection of Kuechly by the Panthers isn’t a surprise. The team has their top two linebackers coming off major surgery after significant injuries last season in Jon Beason (Achilles) and Thomas Davis (ACL). Assuming all are healthy, Kuechly will have a challenge early for playing time, as James Anderson has really emerged the last two years after injuries gave him opportunity. However, that seems unlikely. It would be surprising if Davis, a converted safety, remains the outstanding athlete he was after three ACL surgeries in less than two years. The Achilles is also a scary injury, there is no guarantee Beason will remain the beast he was before the injury. If I had to bet now how the Panthers field their linebackers for most of the season, it would be Beason in the middle, Anderson at SLB and Kuechly at WLB, with Davis in a swing role. For dynasty purposes, the sky is the limit for Kuechly, a tackle machine who displayed Urlacheresque athleticism at the Combine. Sooner than later he will be one of the top Mike’s in the league.

1.10 Bills – CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
Similar to Morris, he immediately becomes one of the top 3 corners and should push for a starting job in camp. Nice size/speed guy with loads of potential who could also contribute as a returner with the departure of Roscoe Parrish.

1.11 Chiefs – DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
One of the picks I nailed in my final mock, while everyone else had him dropping. GM Scott Pioli and HC Romeo Crennel envisioning him as the next coming of Vince Wilfork. Not a fantasy factor himself, but the attention he draws should help the numbers of those around him.

1.12 Eagles – DL Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
The reported pre-draft love the team had for him was accurate as the Eagles joined the trade parade last night to move up to secure him. The versatile Cox is a great fit for the active rotation in Philly’s front four. An ideal penetrating three-technique, he should be the rare DT (in leagues that don’t segregate between DL positions) who offers consistent fantasy value, because of his ability to get to the QB.

1.14 Rams – DT Michael Brockers, Louisiana State
I think he would have been better off as a five-technique in a 3-4 defense, but 21 year-old is a just tapping his potential as he learns the tricks of the trade, coming out as a redshirt sophomore. New HC Jeff Fisher is hoping he landed another Albert Haynesworth in the equally super-sized Brockers to anchor his defense.

1.15 Seahawks – DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
GM John Schneider and HC Pete Carroll now rival Bill Belichick when it comes to taking the (pundit) path less traveled in their evaluations and decisions. Looking for help for their pass rush was no surprise, but tapping the undersized Irvin to do it with this pick was the biggest shock of the night. There is no doubt Irvin can get to the QB, with 22.5 sacks in 26 college games, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to do it against pro linemen. Irvin bulked up to 245 for the Combine and still ran a 4.45, but he has a very narrow and angular frame, I don’t think he can carry much more weight well. His ceiling is a situational pass rusher and was definitely better suited to do it as a 3-4 edge rusher where linemen can’t immediately get their hands on him.

1.16 Jets – OLB/DL Quinton Coples, North Carolina
Landing in a 3-4 as an OLB would not have been a great fantasy situation for the player who has the most potential as a 4-3 DE in this class, but it’s even worse for his fantasy value if he’s going to see work as a five-technique DE too. Expect Rex Ryan to move him around and the challenges of learning multiple positions in a new defense are even more of a concern for a player whose dedication and work ethic are already questioned.

1.17 Bengals – CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
The position choice was no surprise after an aging Nate Clements was a downgrade last season after being brought in to fill the hole left by the departure of Johnathan Joseph and having Leon Hall is coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon. Not surprisingly, the dismissed marijuana charge that might have been a red flag for some teams didn’t faze the Bengals, which I agree with. I’m more concerned that he lacks the foot speed to be the shutdown corner he was in college at this level on deep threats. He will have opportunity and be tested frequently, both translated well for his fantasy value.

1.18 Chargers – OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
Plenty of discussion on where the versatile Ingram, who started as a DT, was best suited to play, but this is a great fit in a good place. I think his fantasy production will surprise some people.

1.19 Bears – DE/LB Shea McClellin, Boise State
Are we sure Jerry Angelo was fired? This pick by new GM Phil Emery reeks of Angelo’s very own self-deluded “smartest guy in the room” aura. Commenting to the Chicago media that he was happy McClellin was used as an OLB in the Senior Bowl so other teams wouldn’t see him as a pass rusher ranges from insulting his own intelligence to that of his counterparts – someone needs to let Emery know other teams employ scouts and watch film too. McClellin was a late riser, rumored to be of interest to such teams with recently better track records like the Packers and Patriots, but that was as a 3-4 OLB. It remains to be seen if he can carry the weight to be effective with his hand on the ground full time. DC Rod Martinelli moves his linemen all around the front four, but doesn’t employ exotic schemes that could have the McClellin bouncing around from side-to-side with his hand off the ground, so I’m not sure his versatility is more valuable than if they had gone with a full-fledged edge rusher.

1.21 Patriots – DE/OLB Chandler Jones, Syracuse
Yesterday’s sign of the apocalypse – Bill Belichick trading UP in the first round, not once, but twice. Great athletic genes in the Jones’ family, his brother Arthur is a DT on Baltimore and brother Jon is a UFC fighter. Jones was off the first-round radar early in the process after a knee injury cost him almost half of last season, but was a late riser who some, including such respectable evaluators as NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, believe he may be the best pure pass rusher in this class. The pass rush has lost Mark Anderson and Andre Carter hasn’t been resigned, so there is opportunity in the Elephant role for him, but Jones needs to bulk up and add some strength. I expect them to resign Carter or bring in another vet and look at Jones as more of a long-term solution who will see spot duty and get after the QB next year.

1.25 Patriots – LB Don’ta Hightower
Love the player, love the fit. Fantasy gold, I don’t care if he and Jerod Mayo will cannibalize some of each other’s tackle numbers, he will also get to the QB a few times and make other big plays.

1.26 Texans – OLB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
After the loss of Mario Williams, despite the emergence of Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin last year, I was pretty confident DC Wade Phillips would want another elite pass rusher for his rotation – I had Nick Perry going here in my final mock. Instead Phillips got, statistically, the best pass rusher in college last year. Mercilus led FCS with 16 sacks and 9 forced fumble, also totaling 22.5 TFL. There’s concern Mercilus is a one-year wonder, but a solid Combine affirmed the athleticism is there, and elite collegiate sack production tends to translate well. His ceiling is Terrell Suggs to me.

1.28 Packers – OLB Nick Perry, Southern California
I was higher on Perry that most, consistently mocking him in the first, and like him even more landing in a great situation in Green Bay. The team has struggled to find a partner opposite Clay Matthews at OLB and Perry should have no problem winning the starting job as a rookie. He should be used as the primary for pass rusher, freeing Matthews up to freelance more. With DC Dom Capers and OLB coach Kevin Greene, as well as former collegiate teammate Matthews as a role model, Green Bay is right up there with Pittsburgh as the best environment to learn to how to play the edges in a 3-4.

1.29 Vikings – S Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
While most have Smith as the second-best safety in this class, most also had him after the first round. I snuck him in with the Patriots’ last pick in the first in my final mock because of need and he seems like a Belichick guy. The Vikings have even more need at the position, which is clearly the primary motivator with this pick. Smith succeeds with smarts and size over talent and speed. Great fantasy potential for next year, but I don’t believe he’s the next John Lynch.

NFL Draft – Instant Fantasy Analysis: David Wilson

By: — @ 1:21 am

1.32 Giants – RB David Wilson, Virginia Tech

GM Jerry Reese subscribes fully to the “best player available” theory and it is hard to fault him with this pick, in part because Wilson is the closest thing this draft has to Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw may have a bit more burst initially, but Wilson is more durable and has some sleeper fantasy potential in this situation considering the Giants want a back to split carries with Bradshaw. As a result, he should be in line for 8-10 touches/game on a regular basis right away, with the added benefit that he could easily carry the load should Bradshaw miss a game or two. Wilson should be one of the more sought-after handcuffs in fantasy for redraft purposes, but New York wasn’t his best landing spot for dynasty purposes since Bradshaw is under contract through 2014.

NFL Draft – Instant Fantasy Analysis: Doug Martin

By: — @ 1:20 am

1.31 Buccaneers – RB Doug Martin, Boise State

Despite the fact Cleveland likely stole the player they wanted the most at the top of the first round in Trent Richardson, the Bucs recover nicely by trading back into the first by selecting Martin, likely stealing him from the Giants. In the end, the draft’s top two RBs end up in two of the best fantasy situations they could have asked for. The Ray Rice comparison is apt in terms of size, although Rice wins the battle of explosiveness while Martin is slightly more powerful. Martin is a three-down back and should make LeGarrette Blount into nothing more than handcuff for fantasy purposes. Martin’s dynasty value is sky high. His redraft value is certainly on par with Richardson. Given his supporting cast and the division he plays in, one could easily argue Martin is the more desirable fantasy RB in 2012.

NFL Draft – Instant Fantasy Analysis: A.J. Jenkins

By: — @ 1:12 am

1.30 49ers – WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois

Although he was of my favorite “second-round” WR prospects, I’m having a hard time understand why the Niners used the No. 30 overall pick on him. What this picks suggests is that SF is not counting on much production from Randy Moss at all. Jenkins doesn’t stand out in one particular area, but his best football is probably ahead of him. With Mario Manningham, Moss and Michael Crabtree ahead of him, Jenkins will probably “enjoy” a redshirt year and contribute on a more regular basis in 2013. As a result, he should go undrafted in redraft leagues. His dynasty stock is also very low as the Niners do not figure to throw the ball around a lot anytime soon.

NFL Draft – Instant Fantasy Analysis: Brandon Weeden

By: — @ 1:10 am

1.22 Browns – QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

Weeden seemed like a lock to end up with the Browns, whether it was at 22 or early in the second round. Ultimately, team president Mike Holmgren played the draft game right and went with the last “pro-ready” QB in the first since the draft is so deep at WR. What the first-round selection on Weeden suggests is that he will have a significant upper hand on Colt McCoy in training camp this summer, especially considering Weeden’s “advanced” age. Weeden has a stronger arm than McCoy and should have significantly more weapons (Stephen Hill?) than McCoy ever did as a Brown. As of this moment, Weeden should probably go undrafted in most 12-team fantasy leagues. However, with Trent Richardson, Greg Little, Evan Moore, Ben Watson and a second-round addition in this draft, he’ll have a chance at being a bye-week fill-in.

NFL Draft – Instant Fantasy Analysis: Kendall Wright

By: — @ 1:07 am

1.20 Titans – WR Kendall Wright, Baylor

Due to his lack of ideal size (and his surprisingly slow times at the Combine), there was some thought Wright would fall into the second round. On the surface, the fit isn’t all that great in Tennessee initially because he will be hard-pressed to be anything more than a WR3 for the Titans right away. However, the team wants to give Jake Locker every chance to succeed and protect itself against another Kenny Britt injury. I don’t like Wright’s redraft prospects in redraft leagues, but he should have a long successful future in the NFL in the slot (initially) and as a solid deep-threat complement to Britt once Nate Washington moves on.

NFL Draft – Instant Fantasy Analysis: Michael Floyd

By: — @ 1:06 am

1.13 Cardinals – WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

It is hard to argue that Floyd isn’t in position to be the top-producing rookie WR in 2012 as he will operate opposite Larry Fitzgerald. It also should go w/o saying that he will likely be pushed harder than he ever has by one of the hardest-working players in league as well. It is also fairly obvious that Kevin Kolb will also benefit because he should not feel obligated to force throws to Fitzgerald. As it stands right now, Floyd – who was reportedly higher on some draft boards than Justin Blackmon – should also rate higher than his 2012 draft classmate on fantasy draft boards this summer as well. His dynasty value also receives a nice little boost as well from the #42 ranking I gave him a couple of weeks ago. I’ll optimistically project him right now as a high-end WR3 candidate in redraft leagues with 55 catch, 800-yard and six TD upside this season.

NFL Draft – Instant Fantasy Analysis: Ryan Tannehill

By: — @ 12:58 am

1.08 Dolphins – QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

Tannehill might as well be this year’s Jake Locker and Christian Ponder – a quarterback currently better outside the pocket than inside (Locker) that gets pushed up in the draft because of the position he plays (Ponder). Although some will say this is a reach (and I won’t disagree), Tannehill couldn’t ask for a better situation in terms of familiarity since new OC Mike Sherman was also his head coach at Texas A&M. People will lazily say he’ll need time to learn the offense, but Tannehill needs to be on the sidelines this season in order to be put in a position to succeed as Miami attempts to secure receiving talent over the next year. Significant fantasy production cannot really be expected from Tannehill until at least 2014 as the Dolphins attempt to find their own version of Greg Jennings’ in this Green Bay-like offensive scheme while also furthering the rookie quarterback’s education after just 19 college starts.

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