Projected Post-Draft IDP Camp Battles, Pt. 2
It’s early in the process, but it’s never too early to take a look at the IDPs taken in the 2014 NFL Draft who seem to have a chance to be fantasy-relevant at some point this season. It’s also important to examine what impact the rookie could have on any other player on his team’s roster – specifically those players who were probably used at some point in deeper leagues last season. The first article in this series concentrated on linebackers, while this second installment will deal with the other defensive positions.
Cleveland traded up with Minnesota to select Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft to play opposite Joe Haden. PFF rated Haden 21st of qualified cornerbacks (+4.2) in terms of coverage, which means that if Gilbert does win the job, he should see plenty of targets. That could lead to him having a solid number of passes defended and tackles. Gilbert is also considered an exceptional return man, so if your league gives additional points for that and Gilbert is able to win that job, he could be even more valuable to you. And don’t forget, Cleveland signed SS Donte Whitner in the offseason. If Gilbert can play anything like the shutdown corner that Cleveland envisions, Whitner would be free to spend most of his time in the box accumulating tackles.
The potential top rookie defensive tackle for IDP ended up in a great situation when Pittsburgh’s DT Aaron Donald was passed over by the Giants at 12 and selected instead by St. Louis with the No. 13 overall pick of the draft. He now joins a line with Robert Quinn (+77.2) and Chris Long (+2.2) on the ends and NT Michael Brockers (+0.2) playing next to him on the inside. Donald is being set up for success and should be the first rookie defensive tackle taken in your draft.
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller was selected No. 14 overall by Chicago. In college, he played at corner, at the slot, and occasionally at linebacker, so this is a defensive back who should record a lot of tackles for you. He is expected to begin the season as the slot corner with the potential to eventually play some free safety in the base. But even if he starts off only manning the slot, Tyrann Mathieu has proven that a defensive back can put up decent fantasy numbers from that position. Right now, Chicago plans on keeping Charles Tillman at corner, but if Fuller ends up a better option there, Tillman could move to free safety. This may finally be the season where you don’t want to take a chance on “Peanut” Tillman.
The Jets selected Louisville S Calvin Pryor with the No. 18 overall pick of the draft. He is considered a big hitter with limited coverage skills, so he has strong safety written all over him. If Pryor is able to handle the position, Dawan Landry could be moved to free safety or even become a salary cap casualty.
Green Bay selected Alabama FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with the No. 21 overall pick in the draft. This is notable because, if he can indeed man centerfield, SS Morgan Burnett will be able to focus on staying in the box and accumulating tackles. This could make Burnett a top 10 tackling safety.
Cincinnati selected Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard with the No. 24 overall pick. While he may be thrown at quite a bit, it remains to be seen if he can accumulate enough fantasy points to be worth rostering in most leagues.
San Diego selected CB Jason Verrett with the No. 25 pick of the draft. Even if he is able to win the starting job, he would only be a player to watch for now.
Arizona selected Washington State S Deone Bucannon with the No. 27 pick. Still working on his coverage skills, Bucannon led the Pac-12 in tackles and should be ready to accumulate tackles in the box if he can take the strong safety job from Rashad Johnson (+3.0) as expected. If Bucannon were able to win the job, there may not be enough tackles to go around for both he and free safety/slot cornerback Tyrann Mathieu to be relevant.
Our own Jeff Ratcliffe predicted that Florida DT Dominique Easley could make an impact if he were to land on the right roster. Many believe that he did end up in the right spot when he was selected No. 29 overall by New England, which will allow him to play next to NT Vince Wilfork.
San Francisco selected Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward with the 30th pick of the draft. Jim Harbaugh said that the rookie will compete for nickel duties this season, so he will probably not be worth rostering unless something changes.
Denver took Ohio State CB Bradley Roby with the No. 31 pick. Roby has plenty of speed and can tackle, so he should have a good opportunity to win the job. With Denver often putting opposing offenses in catch-up mode, and since their other starting cornerback is Aqib Talib, Roby would be in a position to have lots of passes thrown his way.
Dallas traded up with Washington to select Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence with the 34th pick. The other “name” defensive end on the roster is Anthony Spencer, who only played one game last season due to a knee injury. Reports out of Dallas say that Spencer may not even be ready for training camp. So while this should help Lawrence get onto the field, which is often the main obstacle for rookies, the situation in Dallas doesn’t seem that conducive for his immediate fantasy success.
Ashe started his writing career at the now-defunct CNNSI in Atlanta. He moved on to CNN Domestic where he joined his first fantasy football league. He writes about sports and politics when he isn’t checking the waiver wire.