Monday, December 10, 2012

2013 NFL Rookie Rankings: Offensive Players

Besides for Army/Navy, there are no more significant college football games until Alabama and Notre Dame battle for the BCS Championship (even though Oregon vs. Alabama would have been the best game if you trust vegas point spreads, but that’s another argument for another day).  Seriously, look at how bad the bowl games are.  It’s atrocious.  The most interesting part of the bowl games to me is the SWAG the players get.  No wonder why the better teams don’t care about the game.  It would not surprise me if Northern Illinois wins the Orange Bowl simply because there is zero motivation for the Florida State players to play hard.  Just play good enough to maintain your NFL Draft stock heading into the senior bowl, combine, etc. where you really strut your stuff.  It is with this in mind that I am providing my initial Offensive Rookie Rankings for Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues.  Defensive prospects still to come.  Enjoy!

*=Draft-Eligible Underclassman
Quarterbacks: Overall, not even close to last year’s crop of QBs so if you’re looking for one, I’m sorry.

  1. Geno Smith, West Virginia:  He is not in the same class as Robert Griffin III (why is he not called ‘Bobby Three Sticks’?) or Cam Newton, but he is cut from similar molds.  He can really help himself if he runs well and if he demonstrates accuracy on deep passes at the combine.  Has to show teams with high draft picks that he will be a better option than likely free-agent-to-be Mike Vick.
  2. Matt Barkley, Southern Cal.: The Anakin Skywalker of the group.  Truly disappointing in terms of his physical development.  Cannot stretch the field with his arm strength, and his accuracy with deep balls is not at an NFL level.  His knowledge of the game is second-to-none, but any team that drafts him must know that he comes with physical limitations.
  3. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: On the shorter side (6’2 ish), but possesses good pocket mobility to find throwing lanes.  Natural born leader who has the ability to pick up an NFL offense quickly.  The loss of Bobby Petrino last offseason really hurt Wilson’s development, but his talent should shine with better coaching at the senior game and in the NFL.
  4. Mike Glennon, NC State: Simply put, he’s a giant (6’7+).  This could lead to an elongated delivery.  Will rarely have to worry about balls getting batted down at the line of scrimmage, if he’s protected.  When protected, shows good accuracy.  May be the best deep ball thrower of the bunch.  However, accuracy tends to slip when he’s forced out of the pocket, for he is not the greatest of athletes.
  5. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Remember me?  I used to be the best thing since sliced bread.  Now?  Not.  Average across the board.  Accuracy is overrated given system and lack of good defense played in the Big 12.  Looks like a mid-rounder at best in the NFL Draft and a fantasy football non-factor.

Running Backs: One word.  Ouch.  No Trent Richardson or Doug Martin in this year’s draft.

  1. Le’veon Bell, Michigan State*: At 6’2, he has tremendous size and strength, but his top-end speed will not allow him to break away from anyone.  Shows promise as a pass blocker and as a pass catcher, if need be.  Reminds me of a more agile version of Oakland’s Marcel Reece.
  2. Giovanni Bernard, North Carolina*: Considering that North Carolina is not eligible for a bowl game this year, Bernard is likely to return to the Tar Heels for another season for a chance to win a bowl game.  If he declares for the NFL, he has the talent to even be the #1 RB off the board (albeit likely in the second round).  Lacks in pass protection, but is an above average receiver for a RB.  Also served as UNC’s primary punt returner and has home run ability whenever he touches the ball.
  3. Montee Ball, Wisconsin: The one thing you can say about Ball is that he has made the most out of the average mix of height/weight/speed he was given.  The all-time NCAA leader in touchdowns is a nice title to have, but he simply is not an elite talent for the NFL.  Can maybe latch on somewhere that needs help running the ball at the goal line (Green Bay is the first team that comes to mind).
  4. Kenjon Barner, Oregon*: An absolute burner that has a lot of Darren Sproles in him.  Although he is undersized, he can be dangerous in the screen game.  Too small to be a reliable pass blocker, but his lateral agility and top-end speed are too much to ignore altogether.  Likely to return to Oregon, though, to make another run for a championship.
  5. Andre Ellington, Clemson: Another undersized guy with top-end speed.  However, unlike Barner, Ellington just cannot stay out of the medical staff’s office.  Constantly dealing with nicks and nagging injuries and, when combined with his body frame, adds up to being more of a risk than a reward.

Wide Receivers: Good, not great crop.  If you’re in need of WR help in your leagues, might be able to find a gem.  No Calvin Johnson’s though.

  1. Justin Hunter, Tennessee*: Depending on his 40-yard dash time at the combine, could draw lots of comparisons to A.J. Green.  Lots to like about his length, mobility, and ability to go up and get the ball at the highest point possible.  Needs to have a good workout to show that he is not too wiry for the NFL.
  2. Keenan Allen, California: Good size (6’3) for an NFL receiver and showed the ability to separate in the Pac 12.  One problem: NFL defenses are much better than Pac 12 defenses.  Will need a phenomenal combine to launch himself into top-10 consideration, but could find himself being drafted in the middle of the first round.
  3. Robert Woods, Southern Cal.*: Suffered greatly from Matt Barkley’s regression this season, but he might be the most gifted of the WR class.  Has decent size (6’1) and has showed the ability to make every catch an NFL receiver needs to make.  Has suffered an occasional spell of the dropsies, but has far too many skills to be overlooked.  Can jump Allen and possibly Hunter with a low 40 time at the combine.
  4. Tavon Austin, West Virginia: If he’s even, he’s leavin.  His quickness and top-end speed are, by a wide margin, the best among WR, and possibly every player in this draft class.  I have not seen a player get to top gear faster than Austin.  He’s fast.  He’s quick.  He’s short.  Very, Very, short (5’8 on a phone book).  Can also make plays on special teams.  Needs to be drafted to the right team for him to have fantasy significance (Houston comes to mind).
  5. Marquess Wilson, Washington State: Has good height (6’4), but needs to add some bulk to his frame in order to deal with the rigors of NFL life.  If he shows good running abilities at the combine, can skyrocket up draft boards given his abilities to get open and use his big hands and catching radius.  If he adds some bulk while maintaining speed, that should be more than enough to combat opposing pressing cornerbacks.

Tight Ends: There are a couple of elite TEs in this draft class and could be top-10 TEs in their first year of fantasy football.  But remember, they’re tight ends.  Don’t go crazy.
  1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame: Good all-around pass catching tight end.  Can line up in-line, in the slot, or out wide.  Fast enough in seem routes to get behind MLB in cover 2, but does not have elite top-end speed.  Can block, but should not be consistently kept in to pass protect.
  2. Zach Ertz, Stanford*: Life Eifert, is a significantly better pass catcher than pass protector or run blocker.  Gets off the ball well and shows the ability to separate.  Competes well in jump ball scenarios.
  3. Dion Sims, Michigan State: A better blocker than the two top TEs in the class, but does not run anything resembling as good of a route.  Might be a late riser if his top-end speed is as advertised as the best at the position, but he rounds off too many routes and can leave his quarterback out to dry with ball-hawking safeties in the NFL.
  4. Levine Toilolo, Stanford: Anyone who is 6’8 and can run is an automatic threat, especially in goal line situations.  Can easily think of him as an offensive lineman that can run and catch given his ability to block inline and in space.  Might have the longest career of all of the tight ends in this class due to his versatility as a blocker and receiver.
  5. Jordan Reed, Florida*: The former quarterback is still transitioning to his new position, but is an extremely talented athlete.  Likely to go back to school for one more year to continue learning how to play tight end.  Can also look to improve his blocking, but no other TE prospect is a better athlete.

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