NFL draft fantasy live blog, Day 1
The wait is over. After months of speculation, mock drafts, rumors, smoke screens, and Tweets galore, the NFL Draft is finally upon us. It’s time for the rubber to meet the road.
Tonight we put a few more pieces in place in the puzzle that ultimately will be the 2016 NFL season. We’re going to be here every step of the way with draft coverage providing our awarding-winning fantasy insights and analysis along with live player projections from the PFF Fantasy team.
We’ll be updating as the action unfolds with the newest updates appearing at the top of the live blog below.
With the last pick of the first round, the Seattle Seahawks drafted offensive tackle Germain Ifedi. Ifedi has long arms and a ton of strength, so the physical tools are all there. However, his technique is lacking, he received just a sixth-round grade, and came in as our 12th-ranked tackle. It’s also possible he eventually moves to guard, depending on his development. Whatever position Ifedi ends up playing, it could be a awhile before he’s an impact player, if at all. His path to playing time is clear, however, as the Seahawks’ offensive line is bereft of talent.
The Panthers selected Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler with the 30th pick in the draft. He excels against the run and has improved his pass rushing skills over the past two years. He was our seventh-ranked interior defensive lineman coming into the draft, and while he only generated two sacks last season, he racked up 28 hurries. DTs often struggle to rack up the fantasy points, but in DT-required leagues, Butler is worth a look. He is also interesting in dynasty leagues, with Kawann Short a free agent after the 2016 season and Star Lotulelei in 2017. Kony Ealy will still be around — and he’s still more valuable than Butler — but the Panthers now feature a dominant front, and Butler could benefit on a matchup-by-matchup basis as soon as his rookie season.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 29, 2016
11:31 P.M. The Cardinals have never been afraid to draft a talented prospect with off field issues. They met with former third-rounder Tyrann Mathieu before the 2013 draft and now he’s one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. With their first-round pick in 2016, they selected a prospect with a similar profile in Robert Nkemdiche. The 6-foot- 3, 294-pound Nkemdiche projects as an edge defender on early downs and an interior pass rusher in sub-packages. His pass rush grade ranked sixth out of 356 interior defenders in 2015, while his run defense mark was 70th. He is our 12th-best draft-eligible interior defender and has a second-round grade. He joins a crowded front that includes Calais Campbell, Corey Peters, and Chandler Jones, and may be a sub package player early on.
11:27 P.M. Chip Kelly traded up to take offensive guard Joshua Garnett with the 28th pick. It is a bit of a head scratcher, with other highly-touted offensive linemen on the board. Still, Garnett earned the 50th spot on PFF’s big board as the top run-blocking guard in 2015. He was also designated the best in man blocking scheme and the best pulling guard. He graded less favorably in pass protection and shriveled a bit against big competition. For fantasy, the pick offers at least a little help to Carlos Hyde.
11:18 P.M The Packers selected UCLA’s Kenny Clark with the 27th pick. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Clark is our 14th-rated interior defender in this class and has a third-round grade. He graded ninth-best among 126 nose and defensive tackles, with equally strong grades both against the run and rushing the passer. Clark will give a boost to Green Bay’s run defense, which graded 16th-best in 2015 and lost BJ Raji to retirement. He is an option only in deep leagues, as playing in a 3-4 scheme limits his fantasy ceiling.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 29, 2016
11:06 P.M. After failing to land a veteran quarterback to compete with Mark Sanchez, the Broncos trade up five spots and draft quarterback Paxton Lynch of Memphis with the 26th overall pick. The 6-foot-7, 244-pound Lynch is our third-rated quarterback in this class and sports a late-second-round grade. He earned the 12th-highest overall grade in the nation and had only two negatively-graded passing performances in 2015. His 70.3 accuracy percentage while under pressure ranked second out of 133 qualifying passers, and his overall accuracy percentage was eighth-best. Lynch will have no shortage of weapons surrounding him with receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders at his disposal. He’ll have just as good a shot as fellow rookie Jared Goff to start Week 1.
Broncos grab the No. 3 QB on PFF’s draft board; No. 55 overall player. pic.twitter.com/oH0CySbKUp
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 29, 2016
11:04 P.M. The Steelers drafted Artie Burns, cornerback from Miami, with the 25th pick. He’s an excellent man coverage cornerback and was PFF’s “best in press” corner in this year’s class. Quarterbacks had only a 39.8 NFL Rating when throwing to Burns last season. With that said, Burns is still a raw talent, and he’ll surely be tested often by quarterbacks his rookie season. That’s good from a fantasy standpoint. Additionally, the Steelers had three DBs finish among the top 24 in fantasy points last season, so Burns will certainly be worth a look in CB-required fantasy leagues this season.
10:59 P.M. The Bengals have never been shy about drafting cornerbacks in the first round, and they continued that trend in 2016 when they selected William Jackson at No. 24 overall. With Leon Hall potentially moving on in free agency, the loss of Reggie Nelson at safety, and Adam Jones getting up there in age, Jackson makes a lot of sense. He possesses good size (6-foot, 189-pounds) and arm length (31 3/4 inches), as well as excellent speed (4.37 40-yard dash). Jackson’s coverage grade ranked third among 426 cornerbacks in 2015, his 13 passes defensed tied for third-most, and his five interceptions tied for 13th-most. He is our second-rated cornerback in this year’s draft. With Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard ahead of him on the depth chart at cornerback, Jackson is unlikely to make a fantasy impact in year one.
10:54 P.M. Teddy Bridgewater will get to throw passes to the 6-foot-2, 221-pound Treadwell. PFF is down on Treadwell compared to many outlets, as he is our fifth-rated receiver in this class and earned the 16th-best passing game grade in the nation. His wide receiver rating (106.9) ranked 33rd out of 96 qualifiers and his yards-per-route-run (2.42) placed 39th. He hauled in all 10 of his catchable deep targets (20-plus yards downfield), including six touchdowns. Treadwell should be featured on this depth chart, but he will still have limited upside in 2015 in an offense that will revolve around Adrian Peterson for at least one more year.
10:43 P.M. Washington injected a dynamic playmaker into their offense by selecting TCU wideout Josh Doctson with the 22nd pick. Our second-rated draft-eligible wideout earned the best passing game grade in the nation, as well as the second-best wide receiver rating (149.2) and yards-per-route-run mark (4.07). He also led his class with 7.5 yards per route run when lined up in the slot. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Doctson has a relatively clear path to playing time, with only DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon ahead of him on the depth chart, and both having tenuous contract situations. Doctson has WR3 upside in year one and remains a top-half of the first round rookie pick.
10:38 P.M. The Texans give up a sixth round pick to move up on spot in the first round and select Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller 21st overall. Fuller is just our 12th-rated wideout in this class and sports only a third-round grade, although he does possess its best deep speed. His 2.88 yards-per-route-run placed 11th in his class and he piled up the third-most deep catches (17) and yards on deep passes (708). There’s no doubt the Texans needed a complimentary piece to draw secondaries aways from DeAndre Hopkins. However, Fuller’s catch rate on those deep targets was 58.6, as he dropped five of 22 catchable targets. His overall drop rate (13.9) ranked 285th in the nation. He shouldn’t be considered an impact fantasy player this year as the Texans figure to still run the ball quite a bit with Lamar Miller.
Texans move up to grab the No. 9 WR on PFF’s draft board, Will Fuller. pic.twitter.com/3FOKrQQKrZ
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 29, 2016
10:33 P.M. The Jets drafted Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee with the 20th pick in the draft. He is speedy — he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash — and saw some time as a safety as well. However, his hybrid role as an inside linebacker who specializes in rushing the passer/slot coverage limits his fantasy appeal; we haven’t seen him play in the box much, which is where linebackers typically rack up the fantasy points. With that said, coverage linebackers have emerged in recent years as strong fantasy options, so Lee has a high ceiling. In big-play leagues, he’s slightly more valuable given his pass-rushing skills. Lee is more of a fantasy prospect at the moment while is role is fleshed out.
10:24 P.M. The Bills needed to find a replacement for edge rusher Mario Williams, so they made Clemson edge rusher Shaq Lawson the No. 19 pick. The powerful 6-foot-3, 269-pound Lawson profiles best as a 4-3 defensive end and should kick inside to rush on third downs. He could also play outside linebacker in 3-4 scheme, if the Bills decided to go back in that direction. Lawson’s 13 sacks ranked third and he graded second-best against the run among 288 qualifying 4-3 ends in 2015 after placing 29th in 2014. Lawson slots behind only Joey Bosa among PFF’s top draft-eligible edge defenders. Head coach Rex Ryan has vowed to use his edge rushers to attack more in 2016, and Lawson has a clear path to a starting job at defensive end. Lawson could emerge as a DL2 option.
Last season Shaq Lawson played every snap on the right side of the defense and was our 3rd highest graded edge defender in this class — PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 29, 2016
10:21 P.M. Maybe centers aren’t often drafted early, but Andrew Luck earned this pick after an injury-riddled 2015. Kelly’s pass block efficiency (98.4) ranks ninth-best among draft-eligible centers and he didn’t allow a single pressure in 2015 on three-step drops. The pick is also good news for Colts’ running backs (Frank Gore for now). Kelly is PFF’s top rated center and will go a long way toward shoring up what has been a gaping hole in this offense.
10:11 P.M. The Falcons added some pop to their secondary by selecting Keanu Neal with the 17th pick. The hard-hitting 6-foot-1, 203-pound Neal is our ninth-ranked safety in this class, and he has a sixth-round grade. Neal’s overall grade in 2015 ranked 93rd out of 120 draft-eligible safeties, and he graded negatively in both run and pass defense. Yet, head coach and former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn may have visions of Kam Chancellor in his head, which puts Neal on IDP radars as a potential DB1.
10:06 P.M. With the 16th overall pick, the Detroit Lions pick offensive tackle Taylor Decker from Ohio State. The 6-foot-7, 310-pound Decker is our sixth-rated draft-eligible offensive tackle but only sports a mid-second-round grade. He performed well as a run blocker and should help the running game including Ameer Abdullah. But Decker graded as just the 66th-best pass-blocking tackle in the country, and produced a 96.8 pass block efficiency (79th out of 269 qualifiers). For a team that passed it 69 percent of the time last year, Decker, at least initially, doesn’t look like the answer in Detroit.
10:05 P.M. The Cleveland Browns broke the seal on wide receivers by selecting Baylor’s Corey Coleman with the 15th pick. An athletic masterpiece, Coleman will the Browns No. 1 wideout, assuming Josh Gordon doesn’t play. Coleman averaged 3.97 yards per route run last season — third-best among all wideouts in this year’s class — but he did have a high drop rate (11.9 percent). If Gordon doesn’t play, Coleman should lead the Browns in targets. While the Browns obviously have questions at quarterback, that didn’t stop Gordon from being the highest-scoring fantasy wideout just a few years ago. Coleman won’t reach those heights during his rookie season, but he should put up WR3 numbers.
9:56 P.M. The Raiders continued their offseason rebuild in the secondary by adding West Virginia safety Karl Joseph. Joseph is our top-rated safety in this class despite tearing his ACL after four games, and he is the only one who sports a first-round grade. He also rates as the most versatile safety in coverage. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound hammer posted a 7.4 run stop percentage in 2014 – which would rank fourth-best this season. Joseph led the nation with five interceptions before he got injured, and some say that he would be a top-10 pick if not for the injury. Joseph has indicated that he expects to be ready for the start of training camp, and he is likely to earn a starting safety spot next to Reggie Nelson right away. Joseph has S1 upside playing behind an emerging front seven.
9:49 P.M. The Dolphins got a gift when Laremy Tunsil tumbled to the 13th pick after a scandalous Tweet surfaced right before the draft. Tunsil has the prototypical size (6-foot-5, 310-pounds) and build to excel as an NFL tackle, and is our top-rated offensive lineman in the draft (fifth overall). He only allowed five quarterback pressures in 185 pass blocking snaps, for a 98.3 pass block efficiency mark (fifth-best). Tunsil is our top run blocker, as well as the best fit in a zone scheme, among draft-eligible tackles. Miami’s 27th-ranked pass blocking and league-worst run blocking get a huge boost, as does Jay Ajayi – who temporarily dodges competition for his job. Ryan Tannehill is smiling wide as well.
Dolphins grab the top OT on PFF’s draft board. pic.twitter.com/sULs6zKRwK
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 29, 2016
9:47 P.M. With the 12th overall pick the Saints select defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins. Our second-ranked draft-eligible interior defensive lineman, Rankins lacks ideal size (6-foot-1, 299 pounds) but more than makes up for it with versatility, explosion, and quickness. His 9.3 pass rush productivity mark was ninth-best out of 101 qualifying 3-4 defensive ends, and his 9.0 run stop percentage ranked 14th out of 118. When lined up as a defensive tackle, his pass rush productivity ranked 11th. He’ll shore up a perpetually poor Saints defense under new coordinator Dennis Allen, and, for IDP leagues, he’ll be one of the better tackles in DT-required leagues, but otherwise a late round pick.
9:39 P.M. Vernon Hargreaves spent his high school days in Tampa and will return to play in Mike Smith’s 4-3 defense. The 5-foot-10, 204-pound Hargreaves projects as either a perimeter cornerback or in the slot, and can play multiple coverages. In 2014, he earned the second-best coverage grade among 407 qualifying cornerbacks, and possesses the ball skills to be a playmaker at the NFL level. His intelligence and scheme versatility should contribute to him earning playing time early in his rookie year. He’ll likely be needed early in Tampa, where Alterraun Verner was benched during the year in 2015. Like all most of the corners we’ll talk about here tonight, he has little appeal outside of CB-required leagues, but has as more upside than most thanks to his heads up play and ball skills.
9:31 P.M. The Giants’ interest in Leonard Floyd was leaked several weeks ago, and the Bears took advantage. They traded up two slots to take Floyd and the Giants were forced to go with plan B — Eli Apple. Apple is a pure man-coverage perimeter player. The 6-foot-1, 199-pound Apple is our fifth-ranked cornerback in this class. He graded well against the run in each of his last two seasons, and his pass coverage grade took a leap forward in 2015. He struggles in zone-coverage and his ball skills are a question, but Apple can lock down opponents when playing man and has the size/speed profile to continue improving. The Giants signed Janoris Jenkins this offseason and have Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie under contract, so Apple will likely begin his career in nickel packages. The Giants’ most used defensive personnel package in 2015 was nickel, featuring five defensive backs, but Apple won’t be on the field often enough to be worth rostering in IDP leagues.
Giants take the fifth CB on PFF’s draft board. pic.twitter.com/3OEyUHsomu
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 29, 2016
9:20 P.M. The Bears addressed their mediocre-at-best pass rush by picking Leonard Floyd with the ninth overall selection. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Floyd graded as the top overall 3-4 outside linebacker in the country, in addition to posting the top pass rush grade out of 102 qualifiers. He had the third-best pass rush productivity mark (17.7) and we rank him third overall among draft-eligible edge defenders. He is mildly attractive for IDP leagues with sack-heavy scoring, but his overall value takes a hit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
9:12 P.M. After trading down from the first overall pick to the 15th, the Titans now move back up to eight after a trade with the Browns and select offensive tackle Jack Conklin from Michigan State. The powerful Conklin will protect franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota and is our second-rated draft-eligible offensive tackle. He graded as the third-best overall tackle in the country out of 312 qualifiers, and earned the fourth-best run blocking mark. The 6-foot-6, 308-pounder anchors well and can play on either side of the line at the NFL level. Conklin also has less baggage than top-ranked tackle Laremy Tunsil who is now officially slipping.
9:10 P.M. The 49ers selected Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner with the seventh pick. He was the overall second-ranked player on PFF’s draft board and is a perfect fit in a 3-4 scheme. He was our highest-graded interior defensive lineman in 2015. He forced pressure a whopping 67 times last season, and racked up 16 hits and 12 sacks. He also stopped 36 runs, with a stop percentage of 9.8 — one of the best in the class. San Francisco defensive lineman have not put up big fantasy numbers since the decline of Justin Smith, but it’s realistic to expect middling DL2 numbers from Buckner by the end of the 2016 season, and mid-to-low DL1 numbers within three years. He’s worth a look in fantasy during his rookie season, but you should grab a backup as well.
9:08 P.M. The Ravens decided to go with Ronnie Stanley over projected top tackle Laremy Tunsil, and one has to wonder if Tunsil’s off field issues played a role. Stanley’s forte is pass protection, and he is arguably the best pass-blocking tackle in the draft. He has struggles to move defenders in the run game. Stanley’s full potential will be reached in a predominantly zone blocking scheme, and the Ravens ran outside zone on 64 percent of all run plays in 2015. Stanley’s path to playing time is a little cloudy with incumbent left tackle Eugene Monroe and right tackle Ricky Wager on the roster. The Ravens offense could be explosive in 2016 with the added depth on the line, a healthy Breshad Perriman, free agent acquisition Mike Wallace and another year in Marc Trestman’s scheme.
8:53 P.M. The Jaguars needed secondary help after all but one of their DBs finished 2015 with negative grades. They’ll get it from the sure-tackling and well-sized Jalen Ramsey. He is our highest-rated defensive back in the draft, best-graded run-stopping cornerback of 2015, and allowed only 8.6 yards per completion. He’s capable of playing all over the backfield, but the Jags need the most help at CB. It’s good news for the Jags, but lessens his fantasy value outside of CB-required leagues. Still, his physical run-stopping nature will make him an interesting late-round rookie pick until we see exactly what he is.
8:42 P.M. The Cowboys drafted Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, as they try to recreate the rushing dominance displayed during the 2014 season. The 6-foot, 225-pound Elliott boasts the top overall grade of all draft-eligible running backs, rolled up over 1,000 yards after contact in 2015, and dropped only one catchable target all year. He is the only running back PFF has a first-round grade on. Elliott’s three-down projection is enhanced by outstanding blocking that earned him the highest grade out of 245 qualifying running backs. He is a locked-in fantasy RB1, the no-doubt 1.01 pick in rookie drafts, and arguably a first round pick in redraft leagues.
8:34 P.M. The Chargers take the first non-quarterback off the board with edge rusher Joey Bosa from Ohio State. The 6-foot-5, 269-pound Bosa is our highest-rated player in the draft and easily graded first in both run-stopping and as a pass rusher among fellow edge defenders. He ranked second among 4-3 defensive ends (out of 144 qualifiers) in pass rush productivity, and fifth in run stop percentage. He projects to be a dominant run defender and quality pass rusher at the NFL level but that may not translate to IDP leagues. The Chargers defensive scheme is not the best landing spot for Bosa’s 2016 fantasy outlook, as he will likely be designated a LB — but he is worth stashing with a late rookie pick in dynasty leagues.
8:22 P.M. The Eagles gave the Browns a truckload to move up, but they got their man (or at least Jeffrey Lurie’s man) in Carson Wentz. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound specimen is toolsy, if unrefined — with questions about the level of competition he faced, his accuracy on non-“stick throws” (curls and comeback routes), and how quickly he processes in the pocket. He theoretically should have time to develop while watching Sam Bradford and/or Chase Daniel, but we’ve heard that song before (Blake Bortles, etc.). When he does take the field, he will be in a Doug Peterson offense that’s a far cry from Chip Kelly’s high-volume attack. Still, his ceiling is at least as high as Goff’s, even if the likelihood of him hitting it is lower.
As expected, the Rams kicked things off by selecting Jared Goff, two weeks after trading up from the 15th slot. The cerebral Goff is our top-rated quarterback despite lacking a top-end arm or good hand size. His accuracy percentage while under pressure (64.7 percent) ranked second out of 70 qualifiers in 2015, as did his 12 touchdown passes while feeling a pass rush. Playing behind the 26th-graded Rams pass blocking unit will test his highly-rated pocket presence. He will throw to mostly uninspiring pass-catchers in a low-volume, run-heavy offense. Goff makes Tavon Austin and company marginally more intriguing for fantasy, as opposed to the rookie being worth more than a 2QB-league or third-round dynasty rookie pick.