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Top Ten Rookie Running Backs for 2013

By: — April 29, 2013 @ 11:44 am

After a scan of the runners taken during the 2013 draft this past weekend, here are my early top ten rookie running backs for re-draft leagues. Keep in mind; a number of rookies had a fantasy impact last year – Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Trent Richardson, Vick Ballard and David Wilson. Martin, Morris and Richardson finished among the top ten fantasy running backs in 2012.

Le'Veon Bell

The new workhorse in Pittsburgh.

1. Le’Veon Bell, PIT – With Mendenhall moving on to Arizona the Steelers have a void at the RB position. Bell is projected to be an every-down back and rumors of Jonathan Dwyer being shopped in a potential trade have begun to surface.

2. Eddie Lacy, GB – Lacy was a shoe-in to be top on the list until the Packers selected Johnathan Franklin later in the draft. Lacy’s likely use around the goaline gives him the early leg up over the smaller Franklin.

3. Montee Ball, DEN – The Broncos have a crowded backfield at the moment but with one pick slip handed to Willis McGahee, Ball’s fantasy value will shoot up the charts. He has the potential to be the focus of the Broncos running game.

4. Giovani Bernard, CIN – Bernard is a much better receiver than the LawFirm but is a bit on the smallish side (5-foot-9) to be a workhorse. He’s got a chance to fill the role Bernard Scott has yet to fulfill.

5. Johnathan Franklin, GB – Franklin is a perfect compliment to Lacy and could become a fantasy force if Lacy’s injury concerns become a reality in 2013. He’ll likely compete with DuJuan Harris for carries.

6. Zac Stacy, STL – Stacy lands in St. Louis in a prime situation. Gone is Steven Jackson and left behind are second-year players Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead with Stacy the more likely to receive goaline carries.

7. Stepfan Taylor, ARI – Mendenahll will get his chance this year to be the workhorse in Arizona but he is on a one-year contract and prone to injury. Coaches are typically reluctant to put rookie running backs on the field due to their lack of prowess in pass-blocking but Taylor does have above-average ability in that department. At the very least, he should fill a complementary role to Mendy in 2013.

8. Knile Davis, KC – Davis is known as injury-prone and a fumbler but does have immense talent. He’ll have to shake the former if he wants a steady role as Jamaal Charles’ backup and with Shaun Draughn currently holding down the job, the opportunity is there.

9. Andre Ellington, ARI – Bruce Arians is definitely trying to revamp his running back group. Ellington will likely spend most of time on special teams this season but he’s someone to keep an eye on if the Mendenhall experiment fails.

10. Joseph Randle, DAL – DeMarco Murray is the unquestioned started in Big-D but behind him is a vacancy. Jerry Jones already projects him to be the backup behind Murray making him very fantasy relevant given Murray’s injury history.

NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Round 6 & 7

By: — April 28, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

NFL Draft 6.03 – Lions: WR Corey Fuller
Nothing wrong with taking a flyer on this speedy, athletic receiver. Fuller is raw and won’t threaten Nate Burleson this season, but could be the deep threat the Lions wanted Titus Young to be. Fuller is worth a third-round rookie pick in dynasty leagues.

6.04 – Raiders: TE Nick Kasa
Not much should be expected from the converted DE early on, but given the lack of talent at TE in Oakland, Kasa will likely play early due to his run-blocking ability. He does a fine job of getting down the field, which could help him land on the dynasty radar at some point down the road.

6.09 – Bills: K Dustin Hopkins
With Rian Lindell turning 36, his time in the NFL is likely coming to an end. Hopkins was one of the country’s top kickers in high school and became the NCAA FBS all-time kick scorer with 459 points. Hopkins will almost certainly be the kicker Week 1, but Buffalo’s offense might hold him back a bit in 2013.

6.14 – Panthers: RB Kenjon Barner
I understand the need to stock up at RB, but Carolina seems to always have a RB surplus while being short at so many other positions. Either way, they get their young speed back to complement the long-term duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Barner makes for an interesting chess piece on an offense that has used as much zone-read as it has with Cam Newton. No redraft value here, but he could work himself into the dynasty conversation once Williams moves on.

6.19 Cardinals: RB Andre Ellington
New HC Bruce Arians obviously did not like what he saw at RB when he arrived. A late second-round RB pick puts Ryan Williams on notice and suggests the team will have no problem moving on from Rashard Mendenhall after this year if he doesn’t perform well on his one-year deal. I think Ellington is a bit more exciting for fantasy purposes than Taylor, but both backs are among the best blockers at the position. Like Taylor, Ellington has a decent shot at dynasty league value in 2014, but a committee (w/o Mendy) is possible.

6.22 – Bengals: RB Rex Burkhead
It’s hard not to love Burkhead, who reminds me a lot of Jacob Hester. Burkhead probably isn’t going to push BJGE out of a job in 2013, but he has enough red-zone chops to allow Cincinnati to move on from the Law Firm at the end of the 2014 season and work in tandem with Gio Bernard.

6.29 Bengals: WR Cobi Hamilton
On a field that featured future pros Jarius Wright and Greg Childs (pre-injury), Hamilton stood out the most to me in the games I watched of his in 2011. As I’ve said before with Arkansas, I’m willing to write off a good part of 2012 for all Razorbacks in what was just a chaotic situation. Hamilton struck me as a second- or third-round prospect before 2012, so he should stick with Cincy. He’ll compete with Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu for outside duties. Unless injuries hit the WR corps like they did last season, Hamilton probably is off the redraft radar. However, I like his 2011 tape enough to believe he could be the WR2 in Cincy down the road.

7.24 Colts: RB Kerwynn Williams
Most people are going to write him off due to his size (5-8, 195), but Williams enters Indy as a very good bet to steal a few touches from Vick Ballard. Williams found his way into playing time in 2011 despite the fact that he was sharing time with Robert Turbin and Michael Smith (TB). Williams isn’t a threat to Ballard’s rushing workload in all likelihood, but he is a solid complement that has a great shot to be the third-down back for the next few years. I personally like him more than Donald Brown and wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being Ballard’s best handcuff.

7.30 Bears: WR Marquess Wilson
College fans with good memories might recall Wilson was the player unafraid to tell the world what he thought of coach Mike Leach. At 6-3 and 195 pounds, Wilson has more than enough length to play in the league, but he needs a bit more bulk. Wilson has drawn comparisons to Jonathan Baldwin, but ironically plays a bit like future teammate Alshon Jeffery in the sense that he uses his size (rather than speed) to beat defenses on jump balls. In reality, he shouldn’t push Jeffery anytime soon, but a WR3 in new HC Marc Trestman’s offense could easily have redraft fantasy value (and Wilson will have a shot to do that).

NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Rounds 4 & 5

By: — @ 8:24 pm

NFL Draft4.01 – Eagles: QB Matt Barkley
Hard to argue the value of the pick, although Barkley seems an odd fit in Chip Kelly’s high-speed, read-option offense. With that said, Kelly doesn’t get enough credit for adapting to his talent. Barkley makes sense, however, as a quick decision-maker in an offense that requires it and is as pro-ready as any QB in this draft. Redraft value is minimal, but he needs to be on the radar of dynasty league owners as the likely backup for injury-prone Michael Vick.

4.04 – Jaguars: WR Ace Sanders
Jacksonville is truly doing everything it can to help its QBs. Sanders should have a long career in the slot, but make an instant impact in the return game. Sanders doesn’t have great speed upside, but he is dependable. He’ll go undrafted in redraft leagues and likely warrants only a third-round selection in dynasty rookie drafts.

4.05 – Patriots: WR Josh Boyce
After grabbing their big WR last night, the Pats hope Boyce is the burner they hope will give them the vertical threat they have lacked since Randy Moss‘ departure. Injuries and an unknown training camp status pushed his stock down a bit, but any receiver in the NE offense with Tom Brady under center is on the fantasy radar. He’ll likely go undrafted in redraft leagues, but Boyce has a shot at more dynasty value than we typically expect from a fourth-rounder.

4.09 – Dolphins: TE Dion Sims
Sims rivals Travis Kelce in terms of being the draft’s most complete TE, but lacks Kelce’s upside. Initially, he should be a solid complement to Dustin Keller. He’ll start out as a player who helps the running game more than the passing game, but he has soft-enough hands to be a reliable option in the passing game. Very little redraft appeal here. Keller is on a one-year deal, so there is some dynasty value here down the road.

4.15 – Raiders: QB Tyler Wilson
Entered 2013 as a potential top 10 pick, but the Bobby Petrino fiasco led to a big fallout, which included Wilson getting treated like a punching bag. No one will likely question his toughness anymore. Ideally, Wilson will have a year to lick his wounds while Oakland adds more talent before he takes the field as the starter in 2014. No redraft value here, but Wilson could end up being this draft’s best QB if he returns to the QB he was in 2011.

4.28 – Packers: RB Johnathan Franklin
Eddie Lacy’s stock just took a huge hit. Franklin is perhaps the best all-purpose RB in this draft and fits the Packers’ current offense better than Lacy. With Franklin now on board, the GB backfield likely goes right back to a committee attack. I like Franklin to emerge as the best PPR back from this offense while Lacy get the honors in standard leagues. I believe that will hold up in redraft as well as in dynasty. Both players are still first-round rookie picks in dynasty and probably high-end RB3s in redraft due to the likelihood they will have inconsistent workloads.

4.31 – 49ers:WR Quinton Patton
Patton was insanely productive in the Bulldogs’ uptempo spread attack, but he’s not simply a product of the system. He has a good shot at giving AJ Jenkins a run for his playing time in 2013 and could be the next in line when Anquan Boldin can no longer hold up.

4.34 – 49ers: RB Marcus Lattimore
Lattimore is a luxury pick in the same way “Tank” Carradine and Patton were. The difference here is that despite his devastating knee injuries, Lattimore was the No. 1 talent at his position before he got hurt. SF will likely (hopefully) give him a “redshirt” year and groom him as Frank Gore‘s successor in 2014. No redraft value here barring a miraculous recovery this summer, but his long-term dynasty stock is very high given his supporting cast and talent.

5.07 – Cardinals: RB Stepfan Taylor
New HC Bruce Arians likely had his hand in Indy selecting Vick Ballard last season and Taylor is the same kind of pick. Mendenhall will almost certainly get his 300 touches, but Taylor is a reliable sustainer who could become the RB2 in Arizona if Ryan Williams continues to struggle with injuries. The Cards don’t figure to be a huge source of fantasy points for RBs in 2013 and Taylor won’t likely see enough time to be relevant in redraft. However, Mendy’s one-year contract gives Taylor an opportunity for 2014 production, meaning he could warrant a late-first/early-second pick in dynasty rookie drafts.

5.11 – Saints: WR Kenny Stills
Stills has a bit of Lance Moore in him in the sense that he is a better receiver than what he initially appears. Fantasy receivers (beyond Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham) for the Saints can be a frustrating lot and don’t expect Stills to be any different. Stills will likely have a productive game or two in 2013 that will cause fantasy buzz – because of the offense he’ll be in – but his redraft and dynasty value figures to be a rollercoaster given the number of options in New Orleans.

5.18 – Cowboys: RB Joseph Randle
Randle is about everything you’d expect from a fifth-round RB. He’s a solid, steady producer who doesn’t have a second gear to consistently produce the big play. More importantly, however, is that Randle has shown something that Felix Jones (and DeMarco Murray) have yet to show – durability. There’s a good shot Randle comes across redraft value this year given Murray’s injury history, but he’s not a threat in any way to Murray. Good insurance for Murray in redraft and dynasty leagues, but he doesn’t figure to hold any sustained value.

5.27 – Rams: RB Zac Stacy
This isn’t a high-upside pick by any stretch of the imagination, but neither Daryl Richardson or Isaiah Pead have the kind of size teams like from their short-yardage backs nowadays. It would come as little surprise if Stacy finds himself scoring 4-5 short-yardage scores while Richardson/Pead do their work in between the 20s. Stacy has more value than you’d expect from a player drafted at this spot (No. 160 overall).

5.31 – Dolphins: RB Mike Gillislee
Time to watch some Gillislee game tape. While not a big back (5-11, 208), Gillislee lands in a favorable situation for his fantasy value. Daniel Thomas has failed to improve as a pro runner and Lamar Miller – while talented – is certainly far from proven. Gillislee has an outside shot at stealing about a third of the reps from Miller if comes along a bit more, but he’s more of a fantasy property to keep an eye on for 2014.

5.33 – Dolphins: K Caleb Sturgis
Kickers drafted in the fifth round or higher usually stick on the roster while their veteran counterparts typically do not. In Miami’s vastly improved offense, that will mean something. Sturgis stands a very good shot at being a top 12-15 kicker in redraft leagues this season, assuming he doesn’t fall on his face in training camp.

NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Round 3

By: — April 27, 2013 @ 10:19 am

NFL Draft 3.01 – Chiefs: TE Travis Kelce
Tony Moeaki is a very good talent, but his durability is almost always in question. Kelce is as good as all-around TE as there is in this draft. He is a nasty blocker, which ensures he will see the field right away. Off-field concerns dragged down his stock a bit, but Kelce is almost the Robert Woods of the TE position among the rookies in that he has a smooth path to playing time and should be consistently productive, even if he’s not an elite talent. There is low-end TE2 redraft upside here and second-round value in dynasty rookie drafts.

3.11 – Buccaneers: QB Mike Glennon
The Bucs do it right here by sending a message with a first-round arm talent with third-round consistency to “challenge” Josh Freeman. Glennon needs time to add muscle to even think about challenging Freeman, but is enough of an investment to make sure Freeman puts together a full season that is more like his first half of 2012 rather than his second half. Glennon has no redraft value, but any unexpected hiccup by Freeman means Glennon could have the keys to a pretty high-powered offense. In short, dynasty owners could do a lot worse than invest in Glennon for a year or two to see if Freeman fails or not.

3.12 – Cowboys: WR Terrance Williams
The Cowboys stay in-state and find another weapon on offense (while continuing to ignore the defense). Williams steps in to fill the void of the departed Kevin Ogletree and is a much more dangerous receiver that could potentially replace Miles Austin at some point down the line. His redraft fantasy value will likely be similar to that of Ogletree’s (an occasional big game followed by long bouts of 1-2 catch games), but his dynasty value is such that he could be worth a late second-rounder for an owner willing to wait for 2-3 years while Austin begins his decline.

3.14 – Chargers: WR Keenan Allen
Allen’s knee injury and subsequent slow 40-time did him no favors, but speed was never his game to begin with. The Cal product has been compared favorably to Anquan Boldin and rightfully so. Don’t expect Allen to catch passes at Boldin’s history-making pace, but he is a precise route runner and steady performer that can obviously create yards after the catch. He’ll start out behind three receivers on the depth chart (meaning his redraft stock is very low), but I’d be surprised if he isn’t starting and a fantasy WR4 at worst in 2014.

3.16 – Bills: WR Marquise Goodwin
Underutilized at Texas despite world-class speed, Goodwin immediately steps into the fray as a player who could be Buffalo’s WR3. This pick is likely an indictment of what the new staff thinks of TJ Graham, who was drafted by the previous regime as the speed WR. He’ll need some time to develop, but Graham is definitely on notice. Yet another player that will have minimal redraft value in 2013, but there is a potential for a poor man’s Mike Wallace here if he is able to pick up the system and his coaching quickly.

3.17 – Steelers: WR Markus Wheaton
The Steelers have hit on most of their recent WR picks and they do their best to replace Mike Wallace by grabbing a receiver that has a lot of the same qualities as Wallace and Antonio Brown. Wheaton was a big-time producer at Oregon State and certainly more developed than the player that went right before him (Marquise Goodwin). Given Emmanuel Sanders‘ durability issues and Jerricho Cotchery‘s age, Wheaton stands a great chance of being productive sooner than later. Sanders will likely be drafted higher in redrafts (and rightfully so), but Wheaton could bypass him by season’s end and should be a clear starter by 2014 if/when Sanders leaves as a free agent. He’s likely a WR5 in redraft, but worthy of a late first or early second round in dynasty rookie drafts.

3.23 – Redskins: TE Jordan Reed
For those fantasy owners that like to chances on rookie TEs, this is your draft. Reed profiles similarly to Dustin Keller (will get compared to Aaron Hernandez partly because they both came from Florida). Reed is likely to be used exclusively out of the slot as he is a liability as a blocker. HC Mike Shanahan has a long history of using his TEs, but will need to be used creatively because his snaps will be limited due to his poor blocking. His redraft value is minimal, but slightly higher in dynasty. Still, he’s got a chance at some dynasty value if Shanny is willing to think outside the box.

3.30 – Rams: WR Stedman Bailey
There’s going to be a day in the near future where fans will forget how bad the Rams’ WRs were two years ago. Bailey was more productive than his college (and now pro) teammate Tavon Austin and was Geno Smith’s preferred red-zone option. Bailey is a technically sound receiver that will stick in the league because he will be where he is supposed to be on every play and has reliable hands. He doesn’t have the upside of any Rams receiver that will be ahead of him on the depth chart (Austin, Chris Givens, Brian Quick), so his fantasy potential is negligible. He’ll go undrafted in redraft leagues and is probably a late-second/early-third dynasty rookie draft option at the moment.

3.34 – Chiefs: RB Knile Davis
Davis was actually one of my favorite backs in 2010 (although I saw only two games), but Davis has injuries and a coaching change conspired to make him a shell of himself in 2011 and 2012. Davis showed athleticism at the Combine to give his stock a boost, but he will likely be relegated to a 2012 Peyton Hillis-like role (at best) this season. He should go undrafted in redraft and it will take an owner willing to turn a blind eye on his long injury history and fumblitits to accept the risk he carries as a dynasty option. His talent warrants a selection in the third round of dynasty rookie drafts, but don’t expect any kind of durability.

NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Round 2

By: — @ 9:47 am

NFL Draft2.02 – Titans: WR Justin Hunter
Goodbye Nate Washington…or Kenny Britt? Hunter was the most productive receiver for the Vols this past season and should further help the Titans get more “chunk” plays. It really could be either one or both, but it cements the Titans’ philosophy as a big-play, deep-ball offense now. The amount of receiver talent Tennessee has now is scary, but given the fact that Washington’s status with the team was already in question and Britt’s status is almost always in question, the roadblocks aren’t’ what they appear to be at first look. His redraft stock is low at the moment, but could skyrocket at a moment’s notice. His dynasty value is much higher.

2.03 – Eagles: TE Zach Ertz
It’s becoming clear that Chip Kelly is looking for size mismatches in the passing game with James Casey‘s signing and this pick. Kelly loved to use his TEs down the seam at Oregon and it is safe to say those seams will get a workout in Philly. Kelly’s offense may very well be a two-TE offense in theory, but I’d be shocked if Casey/Ertz aren’t working out of the slot 60% of the time. I’m not thrilled about his redraft value with so many TEs on the roster, but the team will likely move on from Brent Celek in the next year or two, making him a very solid dynasty league option in Kelly’s warp-speed offense

2.05 – Bengals: RB Giovani Bernard
The Bengals grab Law Firm’s complement, not his eventual successor. The Bengals land a prospect that has drawn comparisons to LeSean McCoy and rightfully so. While not at that level, the Bengals are definitely sending a message they want to give Andy Dalton every opportunity to be successful. Whichever RB landed in Cincinnati was going to be a good bet to be the best redraft rookie available and Bernard has that honor (along with Tavon Austin). Bernard has a legit shot at becoming 1A/1B with BJGE in short order, making him a solid dynasty option as well.

2.08 – Jets: QB Geno Smith
This is going to be fun. Goodbye Tebow tomorrow and Sanchez next year? Smith is a smart pick from the perspective that the Jets now have an OC that can develop a quarterback, but his “fit” is questionable in the new offense. The Jets’ situation is dire right now with such a poor supporting cast, but there’s no doubt anymore that Sanchez MUST produce this season. Smith will have time to transition from the spread to the West Coast offense, but how long will it take the Jets to surround him with enough talent to allow him to succeed? He’s going to be among the lowest-ranked redraft QBs (for good reason) and his dynasty upside is also somewhat limited.

2.10 – Bills: WR Robert Woods
Woods should slot in immediately as the Bills’ solid, steady option opposite Steve Johnson right away. Woods isn’t exactly flashy, but he is very much pro-ready and will help move the chains in Buffalo. He is more than willing to go over the middle and will be a solid producer for years to come. The Bills have talked about moving Johnson into the slot more often and Woods’ presence should help them do just that. The USC standout is very likely to be a late-round option at best in redraft leagues given the uncertainty at QB in 2013, but he has a great shot at holding WR4 value at some point this season and should be a reliable WR3 in dynasty leagues (perhaps as soon as 2014).

2.17 – Cowboys: TE Gavin Escobar
One year after letting Martellus Bennett go to New York, the Cowboys take another shot at Jason Witten‘s successor. Escobar is a soft-handed, athletic TE with great ball skills. In many ways, the Cowboys have drafted a younger version of an older Witten. Escobar is not the blocker that Bennett was before he departed, but is landing in a solid situation where he can learn from one of the best. His redraft value figures to be minimal, but he has second-round upside in dynasty league rookie drafts.

2.18 – Steelers: RB Le’Veon Bell
I want so much to like Bell, who drew some comparisons to Steven Jackson earlier this season. However, I was less than impressed by the consistent power displayed by this power-running RB. This is going to require more tape-watching on my end b/c Eddie Lacy was a superior RB (especially for the Steelers). Bell is a better option than Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, but I have a bad feeling about it. By virtue of his draft status and likely standing on the depth chart with little competition, Bell lands in a great spot for his redraft value. For the Steelers’ sake, I hope I just watched Bell in the wrong games, but any recommendation I give him now would be based more on the situation he finds himself in and less on his overall skill level.

2.25 – 49ers: TE Vance McDonald
Much like former Rice prospect James Casey, this Owl was used all over the formation in college. McDonald has little in-line experience as a blocker, which might suggest that SF will be another two-TE team in theory, but pull the Patriots’ TE trick of lining up Vernon Davis up in Rob Gronkowski‘s role while McDonald works out in space in the same fashion Aaron Hernandez does. There is considerable upside here in all fantasy formats. In redraft, he should be considered a low-end TE2 right now with his arrow pointing up. In dynasty, he is probably the most attractive TE in rookie drafts.

2.28 – Broncos: RB Montee Ball
This pick is likely to be seen as an indictment on Willis McGahee or Knowshon Moreno, both of which are likely correct. McGahee is probably only going to play one more year in Denver. Moreno – despite a strong finish in 2012 – has yet to capture the imagination of the Broncos’ brass. As long as Manning is around, every RB on his team has a great shot at value as soon as he learns to block and shows he can catch the ball. Ball has limited experience at both, but certainly has the capacity to do both. At this moment, Ball appears to have the best combination of skill and situation of any drafted RB in redraft leagues. I think he is a league-average talent, so I am less optimistic about his dynasty upside.

2.29 – Patriots: WR Aaron Dobson
Assuming he can build trust with Tom Brady (always an unknown), Dobson gives NE its first big receiver since Randy Moss. He’s not Moss in size, speed or skill, but he is an able and trustworthy pass catcher. Dobson probably will not start in front of Donald Jones in year 1, but he’s a better overall talent. There is minimal redraft value here, but he has second-round value in dynasty league rookie drafts.

2.31 – Packers: RB Eddie Lacy
It’s about time. Lacy slide due to medical concerns, but he finds the best fantasy situation of any RB drafted so far. The Packers have played around with undersized committee back lately, but Lacy could bring that to an end in short order. Lacy is a power back with nimble feet and helps make up for Green Bay opting not to trade for Marshawn Lynch a few years ago. Lacy has low-end fantasy RB2 upside in redraft leagues and should be the top pick in dynasty league rookie drafts.

2.32 – Seahawks: RB Christine Michael
Michael is easily a second-(if not a first) round talent, but character concerns and the fact he landed in coach Kevin Sumlin’s doghouse this past college season did him no favors during the draft process. In Seattle, he’ll have a difficult time seeing the field anytime soon due to the presence of Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Second-round picks shouldn’t be resigned to third-string status, but the Hawks were simply taking the best player available. Michael can be ignored in redraft, but his talent is such that he warrants a pick in dynasty league rookie drafts because he could overtake Turbin at some point. (With Lynch likely to wear down soon, that’s a potential fantasy goldmine.)

NFL Draft: Fantasy Recap – Round 1

By: — April 26, 2013 @ 9:12 am

1.08 – St. Louis: WR Tavon Austin
Austin essentially fills the void left behind by Danny Amendola. It also suggests the team has plenty of confidence in Brian Quick. Austin’s incredible speed and sharp cuts should play incredibly well indoors in the Edward Jones Dome. I recognize he is of slight build and most of us that own him in fantasy at some point will cringe whenever he takes a hit. But the fact of the matter is that he rarely ever takes a big-enough hit to jar him. It was eye-opening to watch Austin and Patterson throughout this process; I have a hard time remembering the last time I saw two WRs in the same draft so elusive. Austin should contend for the team lead in receptions, receiving yards and TDs in his rookie season while also giving the Rams a big boost in the return game. Fantasy-wise, Austin’s floor should be a WR4 in all leagues, with definite WR3 upside (in 12-team leagues).

EJ Manuel

EJ Manuel: A raw talent, but could see action as a rookie.

1.16 – Buffalo: QB EJ Manuel
I’m very surprised the Bills ignored “conventional” wisdom, but I think they made the right QB choice in the end. Putting Spiller and Manuel in the same backfield gives Buffalo a shot to do some read-option and the Bills their first strong-armed QB in recent memory. Given his draft status, Manuel is almost certain to be starting no later than the bye week (Wk 12). The Bills were smart to give themselves a “buffer” in Kevin Kolb. I doubt Manuel has significant fantasy impact in 2013 with the Bills’ current WR corps, but his running ability will make him a passable QB2 option in 2013. I do like Manuel from a dynasty perspective so long as they surround him with more receiving talent than Steve Johnson.

1.21 – Cincinnati: TE Tyler Eifert
Mike Brown‘s fascination with big-school players continues. The Bengals drafted Jermaine Gresham a few years ago thinking he was a vertical threat, but he has since evolved into a short to intermediate threat. From that perspective, this pick makes sense as Cincinnati continues to try to emulate the Patriots’ dynamic TE duo. And the value is very good as well, but the Bengals are not one TE away from winning football games. This is also an indictment on Orson Charles, who is likely on the roster bubble (already) with Gresham, Eifert and Alex Smith in front of him. Fantasy-wise, this is a terrible landing spot initially as Gresham isn’t a free agent until 2015 and his arrival certainly doesn’t figure to help Mohamed Sanu or Marvin Jones become more fantasy relevant. Add in the fact that Cincinnati wants to remain a running team and I hope for Eifert’s sake he doesn’t remain in the Queen City.

1.27 – Houston: WR DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins doesn’t bring the “wow” factor of a Cordarrelle Patterson, but the risk-reward is much more manageable with Hopkins. The Clemson standout should step in as an instant starter in Houston and give the Texans 40-50 receptions in his rookie year, but should be much more productive than Kevin Walter. Hopkins’ feistiness (as a blocker and after the catch) should also endear him to the Texans. He fills the one gaping hole in Houston’s offense and should be considered a WR4 in redraft leagues. He has been compared to Roddy White and the comparison is appropriate, although he isn’t the burner White was coming out of UAB. Considering his solid long-term job security and talent, he should be the second rookie WR to come off the board in dynasty league rookie drafts.

1.29 – Minnesota: WR Cordarrelle Patterson
Whereas the Texans likely guaranteed themselves a steady, solid WR in Hopkins, the Vikings complete their first-round haul with arguably the best big-receiver playmaker to come out in recent drafts. At the very least, it’s a risk worth taking when the draft allows a team to pick up three first-rounders. Patterson’s upside – real and fantasy – will most likely hinge on the quality of coaching he receives from his position coach. He isn’t getting the greatest QB to work with, but Minnesota has quickly rounded out its receiving corps after dealing Harvin last month. Patterson isn’t likely to be the PPR goldmine Tavon Austin is, but he’ll deserve the same kind of WR4 respect in fantasy that Austin does.

NFL Mock Draft – Version 3.0

By: — April 25, 2013 @ 8:47 am
Filed under: NFL Draft

NFL DraftRound 1
Listed by pick, team, player, position, college

Mock – Version 2.0
Mock – Version 1.0

1. Kansas City Chiefs – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
I can’t remember a draft where the first pick was not certain by the night before the draft. The pick appears almost certainly to down to Fisher or Luke Joeckel. Pundits and draftniks seem to be oscillating between which will be the pick every hour. For reasons I covered in my last mock, I’ll remain with Fisher. The main draft day intrigue with the Chiefs remains if they will trade incumbent LT Branden Albert, with Miami being a heavily-rumored destination.

Previous pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
I disagree with the late momentum behind predicting the other top tackle to go second. Although LT Eric Monroe is in a contract year, he is one of the few talents on their roster and taking another one here is a luxury pick for a team that can’t afford them. I expect the talk of tackle here is a smokescreen by the Jaguars to create a market for the pick. I really struggle not to keep Geno Smith as the pick and think it comes down to him or their highest-rated pass rusher. My opinion is the latter and KeKe Mingo, but a lot of reports are linking Jordan to Jacksonville. The point of this exercise is to predict what I think will happen, not what I’d do.

Previous pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Oakland Raiders3. Oakland Raiders – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
This pick appears to be heavily in play, as the Lions seem desperate to land one of the top two OTs. If the Raiders keep the pick, I expect it will be Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd. With concerns about Lotulelei’s heart issue from the Combine seemingly over, he rises back up draft boards. The addition of Matt Flynn doesn’t preclude them from being a possibility for Geno Smith. However, similar to Jacksonville, with so many other holes to fill, having a remotely functional QB makes addressing other gaps this early in a year without an elite QB prospect the more likely choice.

Previous pick: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Philadelphia Eagles4. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Lots of great options will be available, all fitting significant needs, and it should be another coveted trade position when the top player at one of the key positions falls. With so many options, I’m much less confident in Joeckel going here than I was a month ago, but he continues to make a lot of sense with all the injury and depth concerns on the Eagles’ OLine.

Previous pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Detroit Lions5. Detroit Lions – DeMarcus “Dee” Milliner, CB, Alabama
The line needed help before the retirement of Jeff Backus and loss of Gosder Cherilus. With reports that the team might consider last year’s first-round pick Riley Reiff a better fit at guard, I think the Lions trade up, even if it is one spot, to ensure landing one of the safer top two tackle prospects instead of gambling on Lane Johnson here. If this team doesn’t do something to protect Stafford, they are headed back to the Matt Millen days. However, I don’t like to predict trades in a mock. While defensive end is another consideration, the only reason I see for the popular connection to Ziggy Ansah here was a positive review out of the Senior Bowl by HC Jim Schwartz. If a tackle doesn’t fall to them and they don’t trade up, I love Milliner here. Corner has been a lingering issue for the Lions for a while, from their stretch as the worst team in football through their rise to mediocrity. I expect the recent additional injury concerns about Milliner are a misinformation campaign by someone and the Lions will be happy to land Milliner if trading up for a tackle doesn’t work.

Previous pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Cleveland Browns6. Cleveland Browns – Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Louisiana State
If the Browns stay at this pick, I think one of the locks of this draft is this pick being a pass rusher. Mingo, Dion Jordan and possibly even Ziggy Ansah all have great potential as edge rushers in a 3-4 defense desperate for one and a team converting to that scheme.

Previous pick: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon

Arizona Cardinals7. Arizona Cardinals – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
All the local reporters strongly feel the team is satisfied with their offensive tackles, but I don’t understand it. Levi Brown is terrible and the line was somehow worse without him last year. Bobby Massie was a pleasant surprise, but doesn’t have the potential at LT or upside of Johnson.

Previous pick: Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California

Buffalo Bills8. Buffalo Bills – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
No team in the league is more desperate at the position than the Bills. The Ryan Nassib hype machine has gotten out of control. I think people are trying too hard to link him to new HC Doug Marrone, Nassib’s college coach at Syracuse. I’ll be shocked if Nassib is the pick and it will ensure a short tenure as an NFL head coach for Marrone. Smith is the best QB prospect in the draft, will be the first one selected and I think this is as far as he falls.

Previous pick: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

N.Y. Jets9. New York Jets – Johnathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Cooper crashes through the glass ceiling for interior lineman with a Jets team whose early focus in this draft should be on reloading their OLine and rebuilding their pass rush. Looking at the needs between this pick and their next one, and the best players available, it makes a lot of sense for them to take the OLineman they want here and then look for a pass rusher.

Previous pick: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Louisiana State

Tennessee Titans10. Tennessee Titans – D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Fluker’s stock continues to rise and I buy it after he showed up looking great for the Combine. The team needs to keep Jake Locker upright and make holes for CJ2K, so I think they focus on OLine. Fluker can step in as a starting guard and then replace RT David Stewart next year.

Previous pick: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young

San Diego Chargers11. San Diego Chargers – Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
If Lane Johnson doesn’t fall, OLine remains their biggest need and one of the top two guards should fall here.

Previous pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

Miami Dolphins12. Miami Dolphins – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The addition of Mike Wallace shifts their focus from WR and makes CB their biggest need.

Previous pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

N.Y. Jets13. New York Jets (via TB) – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
This pick comes to injury and athleticism concerns around Jones v. the raw Ansah. I think Jones has a higher floor and just as much of a ceiling. Clearly CB is in the mix with this pick obtained for Darrelle Revis.

Previous pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State (for Tampa Bay)

Carolina Panthers14. Carolina Panthers – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Another pick that looks like a lock is the Panthers taking a DT. With a strong group at the position this year and seemingly other directions most will take between here and the third pick, they should have a few good options.

Previous pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

New Orleans Saints15. New Orleans Saints – Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
I’m not as high on Ziggy as most, but it seems likely he’ll be a first-round pick on his potential and the Giants at pick 19 is probably his floor. The Saints are switching to a 3-4 defense and a pass rush specialist is the team’s number one need right now. The raw and angular Ansah, with some good athleticism, is probably a better fit in space for a 3-4.

Previous pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

St. Louis Rams16. St. Louis Rams – Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
I’m not confident undersized speedster should be the first WR off the board, but it seems everyone is sure he’s the next Steve L. Smith.

Previous pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Pittsburgh Steelers17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Concerns about Ogletree’s baggage seem to be growing louder, moving me off him at this pick with an option like Vaccaro available. Time to reload at safety for the Steelers with a new playmaker up the middle.

Previous pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

Dallas Cowboys18. Dallas Cowboys – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
An explosive three technique tackle is a top priority as they convert to a 4-3 under new DC Monte Kiffin.

Previous pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

N.Y. Giants19. New York Giants – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The departure of Martellus Bennett makes the need and value a great match if Eifert falls this far. He has work to do to become a serviceable blocker, but he is a fantastic receiver who gives QB Eli Manning a great weapon in the passing game, especially around the end zone, where their running game is under transition.

Previous pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Chicago Bears20. Chicago Bears – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The early run on OLine will be a disappointment to the Bears, who have more work to do up front despite strengthening the group in free agency. The team plugged holes at linebacker with risk/reward veteran bets on one-year contracts, but needs to look to the future at the position. Lance Briggs is getting up in age too.

Previous pick: Johnathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

Cincinnati Bengals21. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
A late riser, Cyprien has buzz around him associated with many teams, including Cincinnati where DC Mike Zimmer is reportedly interested. A position most were surprised they didn’t address better last year.

Previous pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

St. Louis Rams22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS) – Eric Reid, S, Louisiana State
I feel like I’m forcing a need here over best player available, but Reid was the top safety prospect before a quiet post-season where all the buzz was about Kenny Vaccaro. However, Reid has been popping in enough stories lately to indicate he’s still high on the draft boards of enough teams to be in play for the first round.

Previous pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

Minnesota Vikings23. Minnesota Vikings – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings are in a great position to address wide receiver in this draft. Tavon Austin, who I previously had going here, appears to be looking like the first player at the position, but Patterson is the top-rated prospect at WR for me.

Previous pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

Indianapolis Colts24. Indianapolis Colts – Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
I still love the fit for Datone Jones as a five-technique end, but wondering if cornerback isn’t a more pressing need after getting lit up by Joe Flacco in the playoffs. D.J. Hayden is the fastest rising name at the position, but I’ll stick with Trufant. They traded for Vontae Davis last year, so the Colts will likely be looking to pair the veteran with a rookie instead of bringing in another veteran and allocating too much cap money at the position.

Previous pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

Minnesota Vikings25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA) – Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Vikings seem like one of the teams not worried about the distractions Te’o brings. Reloading the DLine might be a bigger need, but HC Leslie Frazier knows from his playing days the value of a playmaker and leader in the middle of the defense.

Previous pick (Seattle): Datone Jones, DL, UCLA

Green Bay Packers26. Green Bay Packers – Datone Jones, DL, UCLA
The versatile Jones can add value in multiple spots for a front seven that has struggled with injuries and stability. Cornerback will be a strong consideration as well.

Previous pick: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

Houston Texans27. Houston Texans – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
I continue to switch back and forth between Hopkins and Justin Hunter. Regardless, one of the locks of the draft seems to be the Texans addressing WR with this pick.

Previous pick: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

Denver Broncos28. Denver Broncos – Cornellius ”Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State
An impressive recent workout has Carradine making an Adrian Peterson-esque return from a torn ACL and shooting up draft boards. The loss of Elvis Dumervil in Faxgate has created a bigger need at end, but the pick looks to be somewhere on the DLine.

Previous pick: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

New England Patriots29. New England Patriots – D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
After being cleared of injury concerns, another late riser who some even think is the best prospect in the draft. Also bucks conventional wisdom enough to be a Belichick pick.

Previous pick: David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State

Atlanta Falcons30. Atlanta Falcons – Björn Werner, DE, Florida State
Werner didn’t display the expected athleticism at the Combine, but his fall may be too steep, even though I thought he was overrated. Lots of buzz for the Falcons to move up for a cornerback, but DE is another area of need if they don’t execute that.

Previous pick: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

San Francisco31. San Francisco 49ers – Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
I made the case for a NT in my first mock, but a player I rate more highly has fallen each subsequent one.

Previous pick: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Baltimore Ravens32. Baltimore Ravens – Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
I think the draft lines up nicely for a WR to fall here and replace Boldin. Safety and linebacker will be considerations too.

Previous pick: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

WR Cordarrelle Patterson – Draft Profile

By: — @ 7:49 am
Filed under: NFL Draft
Cordarrelle Patterson

A perfect blend of size and speed.

Height/Weight: 6’2”/216
Hands: 9”

Important NFL Combine Numbers
40-Yard Dash: 4.42
Vertical Jump: 37”
Broad Jump: 10’ 8”
20-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Background (College Stats)
After a strong 2008 high school season put him on college teams’ radars, Patterson did not play the following season at North Carolina Tech. He moved to Kansas the next year, became a two-time NFCAA All-American at Hutchinson Community College and was considered the top ranked JUCO product in the nation. Patterson entered 2012 expecting to be Tennessee’s No. 3 receiver (behind fellow draft classmates Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers), but the latter was dismissed from the team. The South Carolina native seamlessly transitioned to the Division I level in his first game with the Volunteers, posting a 6-93-1 line against North Carolina State’s David Amerson, who led FBS with 13 interceptions the previous year. Patterson continued to make plays thereafter, becoming the first NCAA player in four years to score a touchdown four different ways. As the season progressed, Tennessee began to get him snaps at running back, where he tallied 208 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. But he did his most damage as a returner, setting a SEC single-season record with a combined kickoff and punt return average of 27.6 yards, and a school record of 1,858 all-purpose yards.

NFL Player Comp(s): Dez Bryant

Patterson arguably has the best size-speed-skill combination of any receiver in this draft and is something special in the open field; he may be the best bigger-bodied receiver in that regard to come out in recent drafts. As noted NFL Films guru Greg Cosell recently pointed out, he has “open field instincts and movement that you cannot teach”. Former Tennessee recruiting coordinator (and current Cincinnati Bearcats QB coach) Darin Hinshaw suggested Patterson “was the best I’ve ever seen with the ball in his hands”. To those points, Patterson repeatedly flashed exceptional stop-and-start ability as a ball-carrier. As cliché as it sounds, every play he has the ball in his hands is one that can actually be a big play. He also separates rather easily on vertical routes and could emerge as the player who “takes the top off” the defense early in his career. It comes as no surprise then that he was asked to – and excelled in – many different facets of the game, including receiver, runner and return specialist. As agile and nimble as he is in the open field, he is also not averse to getting a bit physical and will fight through weak tackles. For the lack of respect he gets for his “limited” mental acuity, Patterson does seem to comprehend hot routes and has a more expansive route tree than Bryant had in his first two seasons.

As his background and one year in major-college football will attest, Patterson is raw. In his case, “raw” means he has a lot of work learning to use his hands to separate initially from coverage against the higher-quality cornerbacks he will face in the NFL. It also means he’ll be a work in progress becoming a better route runner to take more advantage of his natural physical gifts. Opponents will almost certainly use press coverage on him early on – assuming they have a cornerback capable of playing it well – until he stops trying to avoid the jam and learns to take it head on from time to time (something that he can be coached to do). As wonderful as he is with the ball in his hands, one of the bigger knocks on Patterson is that he doesn’t bring it on every play, as a receiver or blocker. Although his drop rate (4.2%) was lower than other high-profile receivers in this draft like Keenan Allen and Hunter, Patterson has a tendency to body catch, even when it isn’t necessary to do so. Patterson’s overall intelligence has also come into question, which may have something to do with the number of teams (reportedly) that he has not interviewed well throughout the draft process.

Bottom Line
If football was played simply from the shoulders down, the evaluation would be simple and the Pro Bowls would likely be aplenty. Patterson is about as talented as they come, but needs a lot of polish. For those reasons, he is one of the most difficult players to project in this class. One of the factors he has going for him is that he is not a character red flag, so the questions he raises with his academic struggles and supposed inability to retain information will be less of a burden on a coaching staff. (Based on some of his play, I get the distinct feeling that he’s a bit more football-savvy than he is getting credit for during the draft process.) Former University of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley told’s Gil Brandt that Patterson “can be a head coach’s delight” and it isn’t hard to see why when he can make the big play at receiver, returner and even running back. Patterson should (and probably needs to) be brought along slowly, with his new team focusing on his abilities as a returner and the routes he excelled at with the Volunteers as a receiver (crossing routes, hitches and go routes). Will he shore up the mental/psychological part of his game? That’s the (several) million-dollar question, because he oozes physical talent. Assuming Patterson lands with a team willing to build a package of plays around his strengths in his rookie season – much like San Francisco did with OLB Aldon Smith a couple of years ago – and finds a very good (and patient) position coach to work with him, he could very well be one of the most dynamic receivers in the league in 3-4 years.

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