With the NFL Combine underway in Indianpolis, draft season is about to kick it into even a higher gear. Next week, I’ll do my first run at the 2nd round after hopefully some more clarity comes to this year’s draft class through their workouts this weekend.
Depending on their opportunities and potential, rookies can have a huge impact both on their NFL teams and on fantasy leagues. It used to be smart to avoid rookie starters but Cam Newton, AJ Green, Julio Jones, and Andy Dalton have gone a long way to changing that perception.
Consider your fantasy football team as well as your real team as you watch the prospects and mock drafts leading up to draft day.
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 Peyton Manning saga continues, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Peyton’s place will be not Indy next year. Luck is an elite prospect and the accolades continue to pile up heading into the draft. I still think drafting Luck to be a #1 fantasy QB would be a risky move since he’s never played an NFL down, but I do see him as a solid #2 option. If you’re in a 1 QB league you might want to pair him with a low-end QB based on matchups. His biggest liability may be that his surrounding team won’t be that good (they did just have the worst record in the NFL)
2. St. Louis Rams
Justin Blackmon WR-Oklahoma State
Fantasy Impact: To truly evaluate Sam Bradford, the Rams need some talent at the receiver position. They also need to keep Bradford safe behind their porous O-line, but that is more of a need they can meet through later picks and/or free agency. Dynamic wide-outs with speed and ability to make people miss and pick up big YAC are hard to come by so I think their pick will be Blackmon. They may try and trade down and get him, but they’ll try and get Blackmon.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: Kalil shapes up to be an anchor for the Vikings line for years to come. Although it’s not a flashy skill-position pick, it’s the ideal scenario for Minnesota to pick up a piece they need to protect Christian Ponder going forward.
4. Cleveland Browns
Robert Griffin III-QB-Baylor
Fantasy Impact: Despite rumos that the Browns are still going with Colt McCoy long-term or pursuing Matt Flynn, I can’t see them passing on this year’s most dynamic player available. They may give McCoy another year while using RG3 situationally or just give the keys to the offense completely to the heisman winner. If Griffin does start, 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 lands in and whether he starts from day one.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Analysis: The Bucs have to choose whether to grab Trent Richardson from Alabama or go with Claiborne. I think they’ll go with the position of slightly more need since impending free-agent Ronde Barber is nearing the end of his career and Aqib Talib faces off-the field issues. New Head Coach Greg Schiano was a defensive-coordinator in the NFL before he went to the college ranks so I think he’ll prioritize the defensive backfield with this pick.
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. If they can, they’ll definitely try to land Peyton, but either way they’ll get a “bridge” set up 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. NFL.com’s Gil Brandt says he’ll be top 10, and Brandt’s track-record makes this seem almost certain.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Michael Floyd-WR-Notre Dame
Fantasy Impact: This would seem early to reach for Floyd, but Jacksonville hasnt been afraid to take who they want regardless of popular opinion. If they’re hoping Blaine Gabbert is still their francise QB, they’d better get him a weapon. Floyd is the best all-around receiver left although Baylor’s Kendall Wright can stretch the field more effectively. Gabbert needs a more possession-type receiver that can make catches at the goal line and Floyd has the skills to fill that roll. His character questions which had been his limitation are starting to fade as most NFL chatter says he’s been “humbled” and is headed the right direction. He would instantly be the #1 WR in Jacksonville and could rapidly rise to fantasy WR2 with the targets he’ll get.
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: Popular opinion says that Matt Flynn is most likely headed to Miami with the Packers former OC Joe Philbin becoming the Dolphins head coach. If that is the case, Flynn will be thrilled to have Reiff at RT to replace Marc Colombo or at LT to spell the injury prone Jake Long. He looks to be a franchise tackle only not at the very top of the draft because of the presence of Matt Kalil.
10. Buffalo Bills
Quinton Coples-DE-North Carolina
Analysis: Buffalo has no pass-rush and needs to adress that in this draft. This is a dream scenerio for Chan Gailey and the Bills as they get the best DE in the draft at the 10th pick as they convert to the 4-3.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Fantasy Impact: Martin 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
Melvin Ingram-DE/OLB-South Carolina
Analysis: Ingram fills the Seahawks need for a pass rusher to raise their defense to elite levels. He’s an athletic play-maker who had an interception, scored on a fumble recovery and a fake punt. He struggled mid-season due to injuries but finished strong and will be off the board early in this draft.
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
Luke Kuechly-LB-Boston College
Analysis: Kuchly has been mocked here so often it’s almost too obvious to be accurate. He’s a great talent/value at this point and a great fit. It makes too much sense not to pick him here. If he does go to Philly, he’ll immediately fill in the middle of the D where the Eagles were a little thin.
16. New York Jets
Analysis: Upshaw is a great value at this point and would bring instant pass rush to Rex Ryan’s defense. They may look WR here, but I don’t think they’ll be able to pass on one of the best pass rushers in the draft.
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. I’d feel comfortable with him as an RB2 if Benson does move on.
18. San Diego Chargers
Analysis: Perry is all over the 10-30 range in mock drafts. I think he’ll have a great combine and could go much higher than this, but the Chargers will be glad to add his pass rushing ability and his motor to get into the backfield on any given play. They need playmakers on D, and Perry shapes up to be a good one.
19. Chicago Bears
Analysis: The Bears have avoided taking a wide-out in the first round since 2001 when the grabbed the ever-popular David Terrell. They’ll doubtless take tons of heat from their fans if they pass on receivers again in round 1, but they need help along the line as well and DeCastro will be a big help along their front line as they try to protect Cutler and create running lanes for Matt Forte. They’ll try and add a receiver, but I think they’ll do it through free agency.
20. Tennessee Titans
Analysis: Brown is a physical specimen who will shine at the combine due to his speed and athleticism. He’ll fill in the middle of a solid Titans defense..
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 very successful 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, but he’ll further add to the Detroit D’s rep and their execution. They got torched by the Saints through the air, and playing in the NFC North they get Aaron Rodgers twice a year.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Vontaze Burfict-LB-Arizona State
Analysis: Linebackers who get penalties while plastering people seem to be the Steelers specialty. Burfict’s talent and athleticism could pay off huge here if he gets into the right system which Pittsburgh’s probably will be.
25. Denver Broncos
Devon Still-DT-Penn State
Analysis: Still is tricky to project. He could be a steal at this point although he periodically struggles with consistency. His upside is huge and he could be just what Denver needs to bring pressure up the middle making their edge rush even more lethal.
26. Houston Texans
Analysis: Poe is a huge physical specimen who will shine at the combine and fill in the middle of the Texans young, dynamic line. Houston’s D will be among the best in the league if Mario Williams returns and they draft Poe.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)
Analysis: The Pats need to get a young edge-rusher and Mercilus would be too good to pass up even with CB’s still on the board. Mercilus led the nation in sacks (16) and forced fumbles (9) to go with 57 tackles of which 22.5 came for a loss. He may go much higher since his freakish athleticism will most likely test well at the combine
28. Green Bay Packers
29. Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Konz will be able to replace Matt Birk and stabilize the Ravens center position.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Alshon Jeffery-WR-South Carolina
Analysis: Perhaps no one can improve their draft stock more this weekend than Jeffery. If his speed is good, he could go way earlier since he is one of the more NFL-ready receivers due to his size and hands. The knock on him is that doesn’t have elite speed, so running well will be critical. Either way he could be a good possession receiver in an offense sorely in need of weapons. He’ll probably be a WR3 for fantasy football 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 Pats have drafted the same teams quite regularly and Rutgers is one of their favorites. Sanu would fill a huge need for them as a versatile WR to pair with Wes Welker. You know, because that #12 guy needs more targets, or maybe targets who can catch (just ask his wife :). Seriously though, with Gronk, Hernandez, and Welker already in place, Sanu could be schemed in and end up with single coverage which he could torch for some big games. Brady spreads the ball around so exactly how valuable he’d be for fantasy is hard to guess, but he’d be at least an interesting flier if he heads to the Pats
32. New York Giants
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.
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. Let me know your feedback in the comments and check back next week to see what adjustments are made as the draft approaches.