We’re within a week of the NFL Combine where over 300 prospects have been invited to try and improve their draft stock. Indianapolis will once again be abuzz with NFL news and Peyton Manning’s future will surely continue to be the story of the offseason as teams try and fill their QB position.
In the right situation draftees can be instant fantasy contributors as well as contribute to their NFL team right away. Since this is a site dedicated to fantasy sports, we’ll keep an especially close eye on where the impact fantasy players land in the first few rounds of the draft while keeping our eyes open for late-round steals that may get opportunities sooner rather than later. Last year’s draft class (Cam Newton, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Andy Dalton, etc..) showed us how valuable getting the right rookie can be in fantasy drafts so consider your fantasy football team as well as your real team as you watch the prospects and mock drafts leading up to draft day. We’ll have a new mock next week after the combine and soon we’ll expand beyond just the first round.
Each FantasyCPR mock draft is featured in the mock draft databases at WalterFootball.com, DC Pro Sports Report, Sports Jabber, hailredskins.com and fftoolbox.com. Each site keeps track of a huge number mock drafts all over the web, so if you’re a draft junkie they’re great places to get your fix of info… Clicking the link for the team will take you to the site on the Fansided network dedicated to that particular team and to get daily draft-dedicated coverage visit Fansided brethren nflmocks.com and withthefirstpick.com
1. Indianapolis Colts
Fantasy Impact: The Luck-Manning drama continues but it appears more and more likely that Manning will be elsewhere to open the 2012 NFL season. Drafting Luck to be a #1 fantasy QB would be a risky move since he’s never played an NFL down, but I see him as a solid #2 option. His biggest liability may be that his surrounding team won’t be that good (they did just have the worst record in the NFL). One strategy I could see working if you’re sold on Luck would be to stock your team with RB/WR in the top rounds and grab Luck to platoon based on matchup with Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler, or another lower-end QB1.
2. St. Louis Rams
Fantasy Impact: Sam Bradford still appears to be the Rams guy at the QB position, but without a serious upgrade on the line it’s hard to see him finding consistent success. He was pounded last year behind an offensive line that allowed the most sacks in the league. Kalil projects to be a franchise tackle that could instantly solidify the line and make some St. Louis players actually fantasy-relevant once again.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Justin Blackmon WR-Oklahoma State
Fantasy Impact: Blackmon’s presence opposite Percy Harvin should instantly make Christian Ponder a mid-range QB2 since the Vikings tend to get into shootouts and Ponder showed flashes of having some solid skills in getting the ball down the field. Blackmon has big YAC potential and will quickly be a WR3 with some serious upside come draft day. Remember, this team will be without Adrian Peterson for part of the year and will probably need to rely on the passing game. Ponder needs weapons to be successful and this will be a big addition for Minnesota.
4. Cleveland Browns
Robert Griffin III-QB-Baylor
Fantasy Impact: It’s appearing less likely that the Browns will have to move up to get RG3 which is great for a team that has a later first round pick to further enhance it’s roster. Griffin is the answer for Cleveland but may not start right away. If he does, he could be a high-end QB2 due to his rushing potential. He’s an elite athlete who is the obvious choice if you’re looking for this year’s Cam Newton. His value on fantasy football draft day depends on the situation he land in and whether he starts from day one.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Analysis: The Bucs have multiple areas of need to be sure and this is one of the consistently-difficult high picks to predict. Trent Richardson the ‘Bama RB is definitely an option here too, but the need of the Bucs for a top level young CB is painfully obvious with impending free-agent Ronde Barber nearing the end of his career and Aqib Talib facing off-the field issues. Remember Greg Schiano was a defensive-coordinator so he’ll look to rebuild from the D-backfield forward.
6. Washington Redskins
Ryan Tannehill-QB-Texas A&M
Analysis: Short-term, I think the ‘Skins will either stick with Rexy or bring in a veteran via free-agency. I think Peyton will head elsewhere, but Washington will find a solution for at least this year so that Tannehill can be coached up by Mike Shanahan for a year before being thrown into the fire. Tannehill could be a franchise QB, and his tools and potential have him rising up draft boards in a hurry. He now looks to be a guaranteed first rounder and Washington seems like a very likely landing spot.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Quinton Coples-DE-North Carolina
Fantasy Impact: The Jags may trade down to try and get a WR later. They will love it if Blackmon somehow slides to them, but this would seem early to reach for a different wide-out. If they don’t trade this pick, they’ll most likely seek to improve a lax pass rush off the edge with Coples who, despite questions about his motivation, may be the most dominating defensive force in the draft. He had a great Sr. Bowl and projects to be a dynamic end in a 4-3 like Jacksonville’s. He and Tyson Alualu will anchor the Jags D-line for years to come.
8. Carolina Panthers
Analysis: Brockers is a run-clogging DT who will fit ideally in the middle of the Panthers line. They ranked 25 against the run last year and can become a run/stop-the-run team if they can refortify their line. Brockers can rush the passer up the middle as well and will be a huge asset to the Carolina D.
9. Miami Dolphins
Analysis: Miami can use Reiff at RT to replace Marc Colombo or at LT to spell the injury prone Jake Long. Whoever ends up at QB (Matt Flynn, Matt Moore, Peyton Manning, or another option) they’ll need solid protection from their O-line which Reiff immediately upgrades.
10. Buffalo Bills
Analysis: Buffalo has no pass-rush and needs to adress that in this draft. Upshaw was one of if not the best pass-rusher in the country.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Mike Adams-OT-Ohio State
Fantasy Impact: Adams will solidify the line and hopefully help Matt Cassel stay healthy and Jamaal Charles continue to develop into an every down back.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Luke Kuechly-LB-Boston College
Analysis: Kuechly would be a huge addition for the Seahawks quickly developing defense. They could join divisional rival San Francisco in the realm of elite defenses if they can continue to build with picks like this one after the improvement they showed last year on this side of the ball.
13. Arizona Cardinals
14. Dallas Cowboys
Analysis: Kirkpatrick’s stock is questionable due to his recent drug arrest, bug the ‘Boys would love it if he’s still around for them at 14. He
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Analysis: You’ll hear this name plenty at the combine where he elite athleticism is sure to turn more than a few heads. It may seem a bit early for an OLB especially for Andy Reid, but I think Brown’s playmaking ability and the need to fill in between their good pass rush and expensive defensive backfield are too much to ignore.
16. New York Jets
Analysis: Barron is the only safety with a first-round grade according to most scouts, and the Jets need help especially covering the Pats TE’s. Barron is a unique talent in that he excels in coverage and can make plays on passes as well as being able to be a physical rush defender.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)
Fantasy Impact: This is the dream-scenario for the Bengals as they get an instant replacement for Cedric Benson and the top rusher in the draft. Richardson would join the Dalton/Green combo to give the Bengals one of the youngest and most dynamic offenses in the league. If Richardson is the feature back from day one, expect a big season for the ‘Bama back both rushing and receiving out of the backfield.
18. San Diego Chargers
19. Chicago Bears
Michael Floyd-WR-Notre Dame
Fantasy Impact: The Bears have avoided taking a wide-out in the first round since 2001 and David Terrell. If they have the choice between Floyd and Kendall Wright, I think they’ll go Floyd due to his versatility, run after the catch ability, and better size to allow him to be a primary red-zone target. If Jay Cutler is healthy Floyd could be a high-WR2 this year and quickly merit #1 consideration much like Brandon Marshall did in Cutler’s Denver days.
20. Tennessee Titans
Analysis: Poe is a physical specimen who will shine at the combine and fill in the middle of the Titans line. He’s got huge upside if he gets under the right coaching.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)
Fantasy Analysis: Normally teams stay away from QB/WR combos, but this one may be too good to pass up for the Browns. Wright and RG3 are both elite NFL talents and have a history together from Baylor. Depending on how the offense runs, Wright could be WR2 level this year with room to grow moving forward. Wright’s speed and quickness will test out well at the combine this week, so you’ll hear plenty about him.
23. Detroit Lions
Janoris Jenkins-CB-Alabama State
Analysis: The Lions need help on D and Jenkins is a very nice value at this point in the draft. He would’ve been a top ten pick if it weren’t for all his previous off-the-field struggles.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Denver Broncos
Devon Still-DT-Penn State
Analysis: If he’s on the board, Still would be a steal based on his upside, although he periodically struggles with consistency. He’ll bring pressure up the middle making Denver’s pass rush even more effective.
26. Houston Texans
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)
Analysis: The Pats would love this scenario to play out with CB’s falling down the board. Dennard or Stephon Gilmore (S. Carolina) would both be a huge upgrade for the Pats whether they decide to move Devin McCourty to safety or not. New England’s always a candidate to move back down the draft and get more picks next year as they seem to each year.
28. Green Bay Packers
29. Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Hightower could eventually be Ray Lewis’s replacement, but will be a instant contributor.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Alshon Jeffery-WR-South Carolina
Analysis: Jeffery is one of the more NFL-ready receivers due to his size and hands. He doesn’t have elite speed but should be a good possession receiver in an offense sorely in need of weapons. He’ll probably be a #3 receiver but could be a nice red zone target to complement Vernon Davis if he develops a connection with Alex Smith.
31. New England Patriots
Analysis: The Patriots need someone who can pressure the passer. Jones is a freak of an athlete and has the length and speed that the Pats like in their outside pass rushers. (When they have them, which most of this year they did not).
32. New York Giants
Stephon Gilmore-CB-South Carolina
Analysis: The Giants would be thrilled to get a players with this much talent with the last pick in the first round at a big position of need for them.
The NFL combine will lend quite a bit of clarity to many of these picks and also start to clear up the 2nd and third rounds. In the weeks to come continue to check back here at CPR for the latest on what could go down on draft day and what it could mean for your fantasy team for next year. We’ll try to expand to the first 2 rounds in the next few mocks to include other players who can impact the NFL this coming year.
Let me know your feedback in the comments and check back next week to see what adjustments are made as the draft approaches.