Pre-Draft Top 50 IDP Rookies

Which defensive players from the 2015 Draft have the best shot at making an IDP impact? Jeff Ratcliffe unveils his pre-Draft Top 50 IDP rookies with insights and analysis into ...

| 2 years ago
Eric Kendricks

Pre-Draft Top 50 IDP Rookies

dawsonThe Draft is almost here. But before this weekend’s festivities we have one more stop in the pre-Draft fantasy evaluation process – IDP.

Fantasy production on the defensive side is always a mixture of talent and opportunity. Sometimes it’s more the latter than the former. However, for this set of pre-Draft IDP rankings, I assumed everyone was on equal footing.

Why conduct such an exercise when the entire landscape will be completely reshaped in less than a week? While we’ll see significant changes to these rankings following the Draft, it’s still important to evaluate the talent in this year’s crop for fantasy purposes. The following rankings along with my offensive pre-Draft rankings provide a strong baseline off which we can build our rookie draft boards.

A few quick words on my general ranking philosophy. This list assumes a balanced scoring system, like the one we use here at PFF Fantasy. You’ll notice several EDGE players in the top 50. These players are tricky to rank because their value ultimately depends on whether they land in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. We’re likely to see the most significant movement among the EDGE players in my post-Draft update.

You’ll also notice that only one defensive back cracks the top 25. For fantasy purposes, it isn’t a particularly strong year for defensive backs, but my general tendency is to not value the position very highly. We see more year-to-year scoring fluctuation at defensive back than at the other two IDP positions. The savvy IDP owner doesn’t waste early- to mid-round picks on defensive backs.

Rk Player Pos College Comments
1 Eric Kendricks LB UCLA Posted CFF’s highest coverage grade among linebackers in the draft. Allowed just 0.92 yards per snap in coverage. Produced strong tackle numbers, but missed 17 tackles. Also, he’s Mychal’s brother.
2 Paul Dawson LB TCU Led all LBs with a 23.3% run stop percentage, though did miss 17 tackles. Strong in coverage. Opposing QBs posted a 50.7 QB rating when throwing into Dawson’s coverage. Also racked up 26 QB pressures on 96 pass rush snaps.
3 Leonard Williams DE USC Productive as a pass rusher with 51 QB pressures and three batted passes in 2014. Led all interior DLs with 55 defensive stops. Has a similar fantasy profile to Cameron Jordan.
4 Vic Beasley Edge Clemson Put on a show at the Combine, finishing as a top performer in every category including a fast 4.53 40 time. Nine of his 12 sacks came against Power Five schools last season.
5 Stephone Anthony LB Clemson Racked up three sacks and 20 QB pressures in 2014. Strong run defender who only missed five tackles last season. Good size at 6’3″ and 243lbs. Ran an impressive 4.56 40 time.
6 Shaq Thompson LB Washington Smaller LB at just 6’0″, 228lbs. In 2014, he posted 35 tackles and only two misses against the run (No. 16 most-efficient). Also yielded just 0.37 yards per coverage snaps (tied for 11th lowest among draft-eligible ILBs).
7 Denzel Perryman LB Miami Just 5’11”, but very productive in college. Posted a stop on 11.2% of his run snaps, and that number jumped to 11.8% against Power Five competition last season (No. 7 among draft-eligible ILBs).
8 Benardrick McKinney LB Mississippi St. Good size at 6’4″ and 246lbs, and posted strong Combine numbers including a 4.66 40 time. Solid run stop rate of 10.9% in 2014. Did not play every-down in 2014.
9 Dante Fowler Edge Florida Was the second most-productive draft-eligible edge players in 2014. Recorded a QB pressure on 16.4% of his pass rush snaps. Posted a tackle for a loss in all by one game in 2014.
10 Bud Dupree Edge Kentucky Big size (6’4″, 269lbs.), but very fast (4.56 40 time) and explosive (11’6″ broad jump). CFF game charters have Dupree with 55 total tackles and nine sacks last season.
11 Landon Collins S Alabama Average height at 6’0″, but much more built than typical safeties at 228lbs. Played in the box on 31.3% of his snaps last season, and only missed two tackles against the pass. Ran 4.53 40 time at the Combine.
12 Randy Gregory Edge Nebraska Led all draft-eligible Edge players with 50 QB pressures, and was the No. 3 most-productive edge players last season. Failed Combine drug test.
13 Arik Armstead DE Oregon Generated just 26 pressures in 338 pass rush attempts. That QB pressure rate of 7.7% was well below Leonard Williams’ 10.1% and less than half Henry Anderson’s position leading 15.3%.
14 Shane Ray Edge Missouri Converted a whopping 36.1% of his 47 pressures for sacks. The NFL average for edge rushers is 17.5%. Ranked No. 8 in pass rushing productivity among draft-eligible edge players againt the Power Five. Cited for marijuana possession the week of the Draft.
15 Ben Heeney LB Kansas Posted thrid-most solo tackles (89) against Power Five competition, behind only Kendricks and Dawson. Graded out poorly against the run.
16 Owa Odighizuwa Edge UCLA Recorded a pressure on 10.8% of his pass rush snaps, and converted eight of his 56 pressures for sacks last season. Fast (4.62 40 time) and explosive (39″ vertical).
17 Preston Smith Edge Mississippi State Big size at 6’5″ and 271lbs. Very productive pass rusher. Had 45 QB pressures on 339 pass rush snaps (13.3%). Only three defensive ends ran faster than Smith’s 4.74 40 time at the Combine.
18 Eli Harold Edge Virginia Posted 39 QB pressures on 385 pass rush snaps, converting seven for sacks last season. All pass rush snaps came from the right side. Ran a 4.60 40 at the Combine.
19 Henry Anderson DE Stanford Arguably the best pass rushing interior lineman in this year’s class, but he also fares well against the run. Was second amond 3-4 DEs in both run stop percentage and pass rush productivity. Generated the most QB pressures (57) out of draft-eligible 3-4DEs last season.
20 Danny Shelton DT Washington Strong run defender who produced 50 run stops in 2014 (second to only Leonard Williams among interior linemen.). Projects as more than just a NT, but IDP value will be limited if he plays nose.
21 Hau’oli Kikaha Edge Washington Racked up 32 sacks and 40 tackles for a loss over the last two seasons. Finished 2014 as the No. 3 draft-eligible 3-4 OLB in pass rush productivity. Ran 4.9 40 time at his pro day.
22 Kwon Alexander LB LSU Not the biggest player at 6’1″ and 227 lbs. Had 15 QB pressures, but also missed 15 tackles on the season. Finished 2014 as the No. 25 out of 32 qualifying 4-3 OLBs in tackling efficiency.
23 Jordan Hicks LB Texas Missed just two of 71 tackle opportunities against the Power Five. Also performed well in coverage, grading out No. 6 among draft-eligible ILBs. Tore his Achilles in 2013.
24 Danielle Hunter Edge LSU Great size at 6’5″ and 252lbs. Ran a blazing 4.57 at the Combine. Posted a disappointing 14 QB pressures in 342 pass rush snaps, but did managed 74 total tackles.
25 Nate Orchard Edge Utah Finished tied for the most sacks in the FBS (18.5) in 2014. Very productive pass rusher on a per snap basis. Only four draft-eligible 4-3 DEs had more QB pressures (55) last season.
26 Damarious Randall S Arizona St. Ran 4.46 at the Combine. Productive tackler. CFF game charters have him with 91 total tackles last season. Also made a play on 14.7% of balls thrown into his coverage.
27 Trey Flowers  Edge Arkansas Managed an impressive 61 QB pressures in 365 pass rush snaps, making him 2014’s most productive pass rusher among draft-eligible 4-3 DEs. Just 6’2″, but weighs in at 266lbs. Slow 40 time at 4.93.
28 Ramik Wilsom LB Georgia Graded out as the 118th-ranked LB in FBS play, but posted an impressive Combined Tackling Efficiency Rating of 18.0, which would rank among the top 10 scores among NFL ILBs.
29 Jake Ryan LB Michigan His 14.5% run stop percentage ranked top 5 among LBs, and he had five or more stops in nine games last season. Ran 4.65 at the Combine.
30 James Sample S Louisville One of the better cover safeties in the Draft, Sample posted four picks and had eight passes defensed last season. Was also among the Top 10 safeties producing a run stop on 6.4% of his run snaps.
31 Malcolm Brown DT Texas Productive pass rusher who posted 33 QB pressures, but really excelled against the run. Led FBS DTs with a run stop on 11.1% of snaps against the run.
32 Eric Rowe CB Utah Huge performances at the Combine, where he finished as a top performer in all seven categories in which he participated. Not huge tackle numbers (CFF has him with 49 solo, 6 assist), but did post seven PDs and an INT.
33 Michael Bennett DT Ohio State Disruptive pass rusher who recorded 43 QB pressures on 436 pass rush snaps last season. Also graded out as the No. 5 draft-eligible DT against the run.
34 Hayes Pullard LB USC CFF graded him out as a top 15 LB against the run, but struggled in coverage. Only four draft-eligible players gave up catches more frequently than Pullard’s catch every 9.3 snaps in coverage.
35 Quentin Rollins CB Miami (OH) Excelled in 2014 after playing four years of college basketball. Not a burner at 4.57, but could potentially get designated as safety on fantasy commissioner sites.
36 Grady Jarrett DT Clemson Graded out as CFF’s No. 1 draft-eligible DT. Led the position with a run stop on 13.8% of snaps against the run. Played primarily a 1-technique last season.
37 Bryce Hager LB Baylor Led all draft-eligible 4-3 OLBs in run stop percentage (13.0%), and only missed four out of 78 tackle opportunities against the run. His 4.60 40 time was among the top LB times at the Combine
38 Marcus Peters CB Washington Ran 4.53 at the Combine. Inefficient tackler. Missed seven tackles on 24 opportunities against the pass last season. Was suspended for one game last season and later was dimissed from the team after a confrontation with an assistant coach.
39 Mario Edwards Edge Florida State Managed to convert just two of his 31 QB pressures for sacks, and recorded a pressure on a lackluster 8.1% of his pass rush snaps. Ran 4.84 at the Combine.
40 Taiwan Jones LB Michigan State Graded out as the No. 5 draft-eligible ILB against Power Five competition among 45 qualifiers. Had the highest coverage snaps per reception (26.7) among draft-eligible ILBs in 2014.
41 Steve Nelson CB Oregon St. Only 5’10”, 197lbs, but plays very physical and is a strong tackler. Was the only corner in this year’s draft to not miss a tackle last season. Posted a 4.49 40 time at the Combine.
42 Derron Smith S Fresno St. Had 15 interceptions during his college career. Played just 29.5% of his snaps in the box last season, but posted 58 total tackles against the run. On the smaller side at 5’10”, 200lbs.
43 Jaquiski Tartt S Samford Small schooler with good size (6’1″ and 221lbs.) and speed (4.53 40 time). A three-year starter, Tartt put up 277 total tackles, six interceptions, and 20 passes defensed in his college career.
44 Cody Prewitt S Ole Miss Despite having size (6’2″, 208lbs.), he played just 33.1% of his snaps within 8 yards of the LoS. Strong in coverage. Made a play on 25.9% of balls thrown into his coverage. Struggled against the run, missing 11 tackles on 49 opportunities.
45 P.J. Williams CB Florida State Struggled in coverage, yielding six TDs in 2014, but also racked up 83 total tackles. Posted a 4.57 40 time at the Combine, though he did show explosion with a 40″ vertical.
46 Eddie Goldman DT Florida State Massive size at 6’4″ and 336lbs. Graded out well against the run, but only managed 25 QB pressures in 2014. Finished No. 20 out of 27 qualifying draft-eligible 3-4 DEs in pass rush productivity.
47 Za’Darius Smith Edge Kentucky Productive as a pass rusher (41 QB pressures and six sacks), but struggled against the run. Managed just 16 stops against the run, which was 30 fewer than Leonard Williams’ position-leading 46.
48 Kyshoen Jarrett S Virginia Tech Strong tackler who played over 80% of his 2014 snaps in the box. Ranked No. 6 among draft-eligible safeties in run stop percentage last season. Not a burner, but decent speed at 4.57.
49 Trae Waynes CB Michigan State Ran a blazing 4.31 40 time. Allowed a reception on just 50.8% of targets thrown into his coverage and just one touchdown last season. Low tackle production suggests a limited fantasy profile.
50 Jalen Collins CB LSU Good size at 6’1″, 203lbs. Opposing receivers caught just 40.9% of passes thrown into Collins’ coverage. Like Waynes, produced minimal tackles in 2014 on a per snap basis.


Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven and DFS junkie of PFF Fantasy.  

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Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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