Filling Voids - Round 1 Solutions
Earlier this month, I drew up ‘Unfilled Voids’, which examined 15 fantasy-relevant roster holes. With the first round set to kick off in a few hours, it’s a great time to consider how those voids could be filled on Thursday night.
Be sure to check the site throughout the draft as myself and Jeff Ratcliffe will be updating a live fantasy blog and providing immediate player projections.
Buccaneers Quarterback – First Round Pick: 1
The Pick: Jameis Winston – Not much to be said here. Tampa Bay will take Winston first overall and he’s the heavy favorite to start Week 1. Winston will be the rare rookie quarterback with 4,000-yard upside and will be in the QB2 mix.
Titans Quarterback – First Round Pick: 2
The Pick: Marcus Mariota – The trade rumors will continue on throughout the day, but quarterback is a need spot for Tennessee, making this a no-brainer (barring a massive overpay). Like Winston, Mariota would immediately land on the QB2 radar. His passing upside won’t be nearly as high in an offense short on weapons, but his legs figure to put him up there with the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson in terms of rushing production. Mariota will have a higher rookie-season floor, but lower upside than his rookie counterpart.
Jaguars Lead Back – First Round Pick: 3
Jets Passing-down Back – First Round Pick: 6
The Pick: Todd Gurley – Remember, this is a potential first-round solution to a roster void, not necessarily a projection. The Jaguars won’t take Gurley here, but if they decide to trade down a few spots, it becomes more reasonable. The Jacksonville offense finished last in touchdowns last year, but will be much better if Blake Bortles improves and with Julius Thomas and a better tailback in the mix. The Jets, meanwhile, have Chris Ivory and Stevan Ridley, but a passing-down back will be key in Chan Gailey’s spread offense. Gurley isn’t a necessity for them here. Ameer Abdullah, David Johnson or Duke Johnson makes more sense later on in the draft. Gurley to Jacksonville or New York is unlikely, but hey, he’s the best back on the board.
Bears No. 2 Wide Receiver – First Round Pick: 7
The Pick: Kevin White – Assuming Amari Cooper is taken earlier, White is the likely pick at seventh overall. Of course, it’s really a matter of preference, as many, including our own Steve Palazzolo, have DeVante Parker higher. Assuming White is the pick, he’d immediately replace Brandon Marshall as the team’s No. 2 wideout opposite Alshon Jeffery. White has the ability to demand a heavy target workload and the size to warrant plenty of looks near the goal line right out of the gate.
Falcons Lead Back – First Round Pick: 8
The Pick: Todd Gurley – Unlike with Jacksonville and New York, 1.8 is a more reasonable spot for Gurley. The Top 10 feels like a reach for any back, but relative to the apparent market, it makes sense that they’d pounce here. After cutting Steven Jackson and allowing Jacquizz Rodgers to depart, Atlanta has a big need at the position. It’s a nice fit for both sides, as Atlanta will move to a more balanced offense with Kyle Shanahan calling the offense. Devonta Freeman was selected in the fourth round last year and, at 5’8/206, is an ideal change of pace option. A slow start (ACL recovery) seems inevitable for Gurley, but it wouldn’t take long for him to enter the RB1 discussion in this offense.
Browns Quarterback – First Round Picks: 12, 19
The Pick: Bryce Petty – Josh McCown was great for Chicago in 2013 and, upon some in-depth analysis, not as bad as it initially appeared with Tampa Bay last year. Still, he turns 36 this year and shouldn’t be counted on as anything more than a seat warmer. Cleveland isn’t getting Mariota without trading up, but could potentially trade down and grab Petty toward the end of the round. The first round is a reach for Petty, but the rumor mill suggests he could come off the board tonight. A Petty-Cleveland marriage is unlikely, but he’s their top-available option barring a surprise trade with Tennessee.
Saints No. 1 Tight End – First Round Picks: 13, 31
Ravens No. 1 Tight End – First Round Pick: 26
The Pick: Maxx Williams – There aren’t many strong, two-way tight ends in this draft, but Williams is clearly the top option available. He’ll be in play at 1.26 (Ravens) and 1.31 (Saints). Both teams have a major need at the position. Dennis Pitta’s (hip) career is in jeopardy and New Orleans shipped Jimmy Graham to Seattle earlier in the offseason. Either way, Williams is unlikely to provide anything more than TE2 numbers a rookie. First-year tight ends almost always struggle to make a quick impact.
Dolphins No. 3 Wide Receiver – First Round Pick: 14
The Pick: DeVante Parker – Since I published this as a need two weeks ago, Miami has “filled” the void by signing veteran Greg Jennings. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll pass on a wideout here, as Miami likes three-wide packages on passing downs. Jarvis Landry is primarily a slot/underneath target, Jennings is nearing age 32, Kenny Stills is excellent, but unproven as an every-down player and Jordan Cameron has serious health concerns. At 6’2”, Parker would immediately be the team’s tallest wide receiver by two inches, which would allow plenty of targets near the goal line. Like Odell Beckham last year, he’d appear buried on the depth chart, but is good enough to quickly emerge into a WR3 (if not more).
Chargers Lead Back – First Round Pick: 17
Cardinals Lead Back – First Round Pick: 24
Cowboys Lead Back – First Round Pick: 27
The Pick: Melvin Gordon – I don’t anticipate more than two running backs coming off the board in the first round tonight, which is the correct strategy for teams (there are a ton of values to be had on Day 2). That said, it’s a good bet that one of these three teams pounces on Gordon in the mid-to-late stages of the first round. Gordon really stands out as a runner, but isn’t much of a receiver and needs work as a blocker. That being the case, San Diego and Arizona make a ton of sense. The Chargers (Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead) and Cardinals (Andre Ellington) have competent passing-down options, which would allow Gordon to do his damage on early downs. Dallas, meanwhile, figures to target a value player like Jay Ajayi, Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson or TJ Yeldon on Day 2.
Eagles No. 2 Wide Receiver – First Round Pick: 20
The Pick: Tyler Lockett – The Eagles have the slot (Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz) and goal line targets (6’3” Matthews, 6’4” Riley Cooper, 6’5” Ertz, 6’4” Brent Celek) covered, but without DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, an explosive offensive playmaker is missing. Enter Lockett, who was nothing short of exceptional at Kansas State last year. Lockett is 5’11/182 (Maclin is 5’10”/198), which raises concerns about his durability, but also allows tremendous speed (4.4 40) and dominance in the return game. For what it’s worth, Lockett didn’t visit Philadelphia during the offseason, which probably makes Breshad Perriman and Nelson Agholor better bets here. 6’5”/237 Dorial Green-Beckham is an intriguing Round 2 target, but off-the-field issues (kicked off Missouri’s team after 2013 and sat out all of 2014) makes him an unlikely fit in Chip’s “culture-first” locker room. Regardless, a wide receiver picked on Day 1 or 2 would immediately slot in as a near every-down player and thus would enter the WR3 discussion.
Ravens No. 2 Wide Receiver – First Round Pick: 26
The Pick: Devin Smith – Baltimore has a serious need at wide receiver after Torrey Smith signed with San Francisco during the offseason and with 36-year-old Steve Smith atop the depth chart. Not only does Devin Smith share a last name, he plays a similar game to Torrey, which makes him a logical possibility late in the first round. Devin stands 6’1”/196 (Torrey is 6’0”/205) and his game revolves around the deep ball. Often labeled an elite “ball tracker”, Devin averaged a nation-high 28.2 yards per reception at Ohio State last year. He scored 12 times on 33 receptions. Smith’s blocking is a concern, however, which could make Sammie Coates a better option here. Perriman, Jaelen Strong and Dorial Green-Beckham are other names to watch.
Others Voids: Falcons WR, Ravens RB, Panthers RB, Cowboys WR, Lions RB, Chiefs WR, Saints WR, Jets QB, Raiders WR, Steelers RB, Buccaneers WR, Titans WR, Redskins RB
Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL