IDP Dynasty Rookie Sleepers
At the conclusion of the NFL draft, there were several players that were immediately at the top of the IDP dynasty rookie draft boards, including Ryan Shazier and C.J. Mosley. Both of those players were drafted in the first round and instantly penciled in as starters on their respective teams.
But what about players may you not have heard of who were taken later in the Draft? It’s those players who could make the difference for your team this year and beyond. Without further ado, let’s look at some deeper IDP rookies for you to keep in mind on draft day.
Christian Kirksey – LB – Cleveland Browns – A three-year starter at Iowa, Kirksey did one thing and one thing well — tackle. Kirksey used above average speed to get to the ball carrier, resulting in an average of 103 tackles per season his last three years. He’s a smart player who played more than one linebacker position effectively.
But while athletic, his lack of playmaking ability dropped Kirksey to the third round. He’ll need to fill out his tall, lean frame (6′ 2″, 233 pounds) to withstand the rigors of playing as an every-down NFL linebacker. His finish for second-to-last among linebackers in bench press at the combine is a case in point.
Speed is Kirksey’s strength, as evidenced by 4.5 40-time at the combine, and it’s the reason the Browns took him 71st overall. That speed should mean the Browns will use Kirksey on the inside where only Karlos Dansby’s spot is settled. Craig Robertson is the incumbent for the other inside ‘backer position but his play severely dropped off last year finishing fourth worst among inside linebackers according to Pro Football Focus’ own rankings. Needless to say, it shouldn’t be hard for Kirksey to pass Robertson and become a contributor early on a talented defense. New Browns coach Mike Pettine is known for elevating the play of his linebackers and Kirksey should be no different.
Telvin Smith – LB – Jacksonville Jaguars – Smith’s path to Jacksonville has certainly had its ups and downs. Smith finished his career at Florida State with 90 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and three interceptions in 2013, all while helping the Seminoles win the National Championship. Smith used his lightning speed and lean frame to get to the ball and rack up a ton of tackles.
Smith was projected to go as high as the second round after he finished with 40 times in the 4.4 and 4.5 range and showed good coverage skills at the combine. Until he failed a drug test, along with teammates Timmy Jernigan and Christian Jones. That incident, combined with unanswered questions on what position his 218-pound frame would best be suited for, resulted in Smith’s drop to the fifth round in this year’s draft.
He projects to play the weak side on a young defense and could contribute right way with his coverage skills after flashing some of that second round ability in rookie mini-camp this off-season. With very little competition among the Jaguar linebackers, Smith could see significant time sooner rather than later.
Chris Borland – LB – San Francisco 49ers – Any linebacker who earns playing time in San Francisco has to be good. For Chris Borland, that opportunity could happen very early.
The Wisconsin product racked up 420 tackles and 50 for a loss over the course of his career. He doesn’t do any one thing particularly well but has a great nose for the ball. Before the draft, there were concerns about his shoulder that has been operated on twice, leading some teams to leave him off their board altogether. This contributed to his fall to the third round before San Francisco took him with one of their 12 draft picks.
Immediately, the pick was viewed as a response to the NaVorro Bowman injury from the NFC Championship Game. Bowman probably won’t return until mid-season after ACL and MCL surgery, which should give whoever replaces him in the lineup a half-season worth of significant playing time. Borland has only veteran Michael Wilhoite ahead of him and will have plenty of chances in training camp and pre-season to show his worth.