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Top IDP Rookies: Linebackers
Steve Gallo
May 2, 2013
Follow Follow @SteveGalloNFL
 

ARTHUR BROWN – LB

6'0" 241 Kansas St.
Pick 56, Round 2 (24) Ravens
Twitter: n/a
Due to retirement (Ray Lewis) and free agency (Paul Kruger, Bernard Pollard & Ed Reed) the Ravens defense had holes that they needed to fill – especially if they want to successfully defend their Super Bowl championship.  The addition of Elvis Dumervil in free agency was a move that helped to replace the departed Kruger.  Next up would be filling the voids left by Lewis, Pollard, and Reed.  With the final pick of the first round, Arthur Brown was there for the picking, but the Ravens did not select Brown with the 32nd pick of the draft.  Instead, they opted to select safety Matt Elam to fill Pollards void.  At the time, I did not think that was a wise selection, but when Brown was sitting there for the taking with the 24th pick of the second round it was easy to see that the Ravens played their cards exactly right.  While Brown gives the Ravens, a player with the physical skills and athletic ability to be a productive LB in the middle of their defense there is more to it than that when you are replacing a legend like Ray Lewis.  Make no mistake about it, the Ravens will miss Lewis’ leadership, but with Brown, they are not just getting a player that can play on the field, but also that presents some solid leadership qualities of his own. 
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  In redraft leagues Brown should easily be the first rookie LB drafted.  The Ravens did sign Rolando McClain but he cannot stay out of trouble and barring an unforeseen injury, I just cannot see McClain keeping Brown off the field.  As long as Brown secures a starting gig over McClain – which he should – I see him as LB2 with upside.
Dynasty:  Easily the LB1 target for dynasty rookie drafts this season.  Ray Lewis averaged 16.78 PPG over the past three seasons.  There is plenty of upside for the rookie.

Kiko alonso – LB

6'3" 238 Oregon
Pick 46, Round 2 (14) Bills
Twitter: @Kiko_Alonso
When drafted I was not thrilled with the prospects of Alonso because it looked like he would be backing up at either MLB and/or WLB.  A trade changed my point of view.  The Bills sent MLB Kelvin Sheppard to the Colts in exchange for Jerry Hughes.  That trade pushes Alonso into a starting ILB spot, and unlike Sheppard, Alonso will not be a liability in coverage and should be on the field more often than not.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  If you look at what Sheppard did last year while manning the MLB position – ranked 67th in fantasy scoring –you might think the prospects for Alonso are not very good for 2013.  However, Sheppard was a liability in coverage and that negatively affected his fantasy production.  Just a year prior Nick Barnett finished as the #10 ranked fantasy LB with the Bills.  I would not want to bank on a top-10 performance from Alonso but I will not be shocked at all if he puts up LB2 numbers. 
Dynasty:  Alonso makes for a great dynasty target because both his immediate and long-term future is bright.  At best, the Bills will be starting Kevin Kolb at QB, at worst they will be breaking in rookie QB, EJ Manuel.  Immediate production coupled with expected future production makes Alonso a safe bet as LB2 in rookie drafts.

Alec OgLETREE – LB

6'2" 242 Georgia
Pick 30, Round 1 (30) Rams
Twitter: @B_easy_uga9
Ogletree projects to play WLB for the Rams.  The Rams used the 30th pick in the first round to nab the Georgia LB.  If not for off-field, issues Ogletree would have been long gone by the 30th pick of the first round.  Lining up next to the LB – James Laurinaitis -- that led all LBs in fantasy scoring last year may not seem like a good landing spot but realize that Jo-Lonn Dunbar was just a ½ point from cracking the top-20 in LB scoring last year.  Dunbar was productive but do not look for him to keep the fleet footed Ogletree off the field.    
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  Ogletree looks to have good value in re-draft leagues this year, even if he will cede a fair amount of tackles to Laurinaitis.  Expectation is that Ogletree will play WLB but his speed and coverage ability could possibly land him at SLB.  If that happens then you have to avoid him, but if he locks down the WLB gig then he should be able to put up LB2 numbers like Dunbar did, and he even has some upside to break into the top-20.
Dynasty:  Ogletree, like Brown and Alonso is going to provide immediate production.  Something to keep in mind is that when Jeff Fisher was in Tennessee he had a WLB named Keith Bulluck.  Bulluck was a perennial top-5ish LB, I’m not saying that Ogletree is going to replicate what Bulluck did, but you cannot ignore that the upside is there.

Sio moore – LB

6'1" 245 Connecticut
Pick 66, Round 3 (4) Raiders
Twitter: @MrUconn3
Moore is a LB that can do it all.  He has the speed to go sideline to sideline, the strength to take on blockers and still shed and make the tackle, will not be a liability in coverage, and he can even put his hand in the dirt and rush the QB – versatile is a word that sums up Moore.  The only holdover from the Raiders starting LB corps last year is second year LB Miles Burris.  Moore will join former Dolphins and Chargers LB, Kevin Burnett along with Burris to form Raiders LB corps for 2013.  Last year Phillip Wheeler was the leading fantasy LB for the Raiders – ranking 19th with 210.50 fantasy points. Wheeler played SLB so even if Moore ends up in the least desirable LB position he could prove to be a solid fantasy LB.  NFL wise, he will replace Wheeler at a much better cost than what Wheeler cost the Dolphins to sign.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  The Raiders defense should be on the field plenty in 2013, but his value will be closely tied to if he lands the starting SLB or WLB position.  If he starts at WLB I feel better about his prospects to put up LB2/LB3 numbers.  At SLB I’d be more apt to say LB3/LB4. 
Dynasty:  I would not invest heavily in Moore for dynasty leagues.  He can be a productive fantasy LB but I do not see him being a fantasy stud.  Instead, I see a nice complement that can be used as a LB3/LB4.  The LB that you want to own for dynasty purposes on the Raiders is Miles Burris.

Manti Te’o – LB

6'1" 241 Notre Dame
Pick 38, Round 2 (6) Chargers
Twitter: n/a
Hawaii Five-O -- yes evidently his jersey number is going to be 50 and that is the nickname that we can expect to hear going forward -- finds himself playing for the Chargers after they selected him early in the second round.  As far as the pick goes I did not like it and think the Chargers over-drafted Te’o – do not make the same mistake in your fantasy leagues.  It is no secret the Chargers depth at LB needed to be addressed, and Te’o should start inside next to Donald Butler.  However, there are enough red flags – National Championship game, poor 40 yard dash time, getting catfished --  that I do not feel confident that he will be productive enough to warrant the high second round pick that he cost the Chargers.  Oh, and one other thing, when Te’o saw the San Diego area code on his phone during the draft he thought his friends were pranking him – you cannot make this stuff up – but they were not, it really was the Chargers calling.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:   Te’o holds LB3 value with a very small bit of upside of LB2 status in redraft leagues.  If he gets off to a hot start due to a big play or two, I would quickly look to cash in with an owner that over-values Te’o.
Dynasty:  Manti Tebow, I mean Te’o.  I make that dig based on the hype surrounding both players.  If Te’o plays like he did in the National Championship game then another comparison will be made – the one where neither are successful NFL players.  Like Tebow, there seems to be two Te’o camps, the one that thinks he is all that and a bag of chips and then there are the ones that do not buy the hype – I’m in the second camp. Fantasy wise I do not see an elite LB, at best I see a LB3 that may flash at times.  Unfortunately, if you want to draft him you will probably have to invest a higher pick than what I feel his eventual value will be.  

kevin minter – LB

6'0" 246 LSU
Pick 45, Round 2 (13) Cardinals
Twitter: @Kmint_46
At 6’0”, 246 pounds Minter is a prototypical ILB in a 3-4 defense.  The Cardinals have an underrated defense in my opinion and adding a LB like Miner into the fold just helps to make them even better.  With that said, he is not the most fleet footed LB but he will not have any issues at all helping to stop the run, and do not get me wrong while he is not fast he plays fast and aggressive.  New Cardinals head coach, Bruce Arians has already said that Minter will challenge for a starting job.  With Daryl Washington suspended for the first four games of the season I fully expect Minter to lock-down a starting position, but the key will be if he can keep it once Washington returns to the lineup.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  Minter will get an early season bump because he will not be competing for tackles with Daryl Washington sitting out the first four games to suspension. For him to keep his redraft value he will need to play well enough that he does not end up having Jasper Brinkley start in front of him once Washington returns to the lineup.
Dynasty:  Minter might not lock down a starting ILB gig this year -- I think he will -- however, the future is bright for Minter.  Look no further than the fact that Paris Lenon finished as a mid-level LB3 last year while playing next to Washington.  Lenon is a nice player, but Minter possesses more upside.

barkevious mingo – LB

6'4" 241 LSU
Pick 6, Round 1 (6) Browns
Twitter: @keke_mingo
I had the Browns taking CB Dee Milliner with their 6th pick but the Browns saw things differently and selecting Mingo instead.  With the Browns move to a 3-4 Mingo will play a rush OLB position instead of the more valuable DE position for fantasy purposes.  Yes, we lost another one to the dark side.  Nevertheless, the Browns have a very athletic player that should positively affect their defense.  There is more to Mingo then just pass rushing as evidenced him playing man coverage on slot WRs in college.  With Jabaal Sheard moving to OLB and the acquisition of Paul Kruger in free agency, Mingo will not be an every down player.  Instead, look for him to be used situationally…not great for fantasy purposes but NFL wise it makes complete sense.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  I think that Mingo will develop into a very nice pass rushing OLB for the Browns.  However, fantasy wise when you have Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger I do not think that Mingo will see enough snaps to have consistent production.  In tackle neutral/heavy leagues he is not a viable option, and in big play leagues the best you get this year is production like Bruce Irvin had last year – even that is a stretch.
Dynasty:  In big play leagues, Mingo presents solid value, but from a dynasty perspective, his value will be depressed as long as Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger are also rushing the QB for the Browns.  If you thought RBBC was bad, now we have to contend with PRBC (pass rushers by committee) too.

Jarvis Jones – LB

6'2" 245 Georgia
Pick 17, Round 1 (17) Steelers
Twitter: @SacManJones_29
No one was shocked to see the Steelers take Jones with the 17th pick in the NFL draft.  The Steelers had holes to fill but when Jones was still there for them there was no way they were passing on a replacement for the departed James Harrison by going after Tyler Eifert or any other player.  When you play in the SEC and log 28 sacks, 44 tackles for a loss and force 9 fumbles you have to ask yourself how does Jones fall to the Steelers at 17.  One reason is due to a condition called spinal stenosis – a condition that kept him from getting medical clearance to play at USC.  Jones has been medically cleared to play in the NFL but his condition and the unknowns that come with it, along with issues that indicate a lack of power to shed at the point of attack are the reasons he was selected in the middle of round one instead of at the top of the round.  One thing is for sure, the hard working, blue-collar people of Pittsburgh will love Jones’ hustle.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  James Harrison is no longer rushing the QB for the Steelers, so Jones is in line to see plenty of playing time this year.  In tackle heavy leagues, I would not touch him as much more than a LB4/LB5 but in big play leagues, he should present LB3 value that comes with a small side of upside.  Do not expect him to replicate numbers like Harrison used to put up.
Dynasty:  Jones value for dynasty leagues looks to be pretty much the same as it does for redraft leagues this year.  In tackle heavy leagues, I really think he is a fringe rosterable LB, but in big play leagues, he could develop into a solid LB2 at best.  Add in the injury concerns revolving around his back and you have a player that makes me take pause with regards to investing much of a pick to secure his services.

Michael Mauti – LB

6'2" 243 Penn St.
Pick 213, Round 7 (7) Vikings
Twitter: n/a
There have been rumors of Brian Urlacher to the Vikings almost as soon as he was released by the Bears.  When Urlacher still had yet to be signed by the time the draft started there were many that anticipated the Vikings addressing their hole at MLB a few rounds earlier than the 7th round when they selected Michael Mauti.  I saw Mauti with as high as a 5th round grade so the Vikings did get good value, but what they did not get was a player that will start for them in 2013 or possibly ever.  If he can stay healthy – 3 ACL tears already – he very well could develop into a nice depth LB but I do not see much beyond that.  Mauti is not fast and does not possess great range – two things that do not bode well for him carving out anything more than a special teams/depth role player at best.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  Banking on a 7th round pick to put up viable fantasy numbers, as the starting MLB for an NFL team is not a good thing to bank on.  Erin Henderson told Tom Pelissero that he expects to play MLB for the Vikings.  Good for Henderson’s redraft value, not so much for Mauti’s. 
Dynasty:  The Vikings MLB position has been productive in the past so Mauti is a draft and stash prospect. 

Jon bostic – LB

6'1" 245 Florida
Pick 50, Round 2 (18) Bears
Twitter: n/a
A Bears team, not just defense, without Brian Urlacher just does not seem right.  Like the Ravens, the Bears will be without their future HOF LB this year.  Unlike Ray Lewis, it is not because Urlacher is retiring – at least not yet.  The signing of former Broncos LB, DJ Williams, filled the void left with the release of Urlacher.  Williams is not a slouch and can play all three LBs positions…well.  Even with the acquisition of Williams, the Bears saw fit to pluck their future starting MLB in the second round.  Just realize that future is not in 2013 but with words like smart, athletic, and aggressive in his scouting report, Bears fans will like him when he does take the reins at MLB.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  Bostic might be the heir to the Bears starting MLB job but the acquisition of DJ Williams earlier this year tells me that he will not see the field very much this year. 
Dynasty:  DJ Williams is who my money is on to lock down the departed Brian Urlacher’s MLB spot this year, and at 30 years old I would not be shocked to see him keep that position for a couple of years.  What that means is that you may have to wait 2-3 years before you can see significant fantasy production from Bostic.

khaseem greene – LB

6'1" 241 Rutgers
Pick 117, Round 4 (20) Bears
Twitter: @Khas_Greene20
When 2012 ended the combined age of the Bears starting LBs (Urlacher: 34, Briggs: 32 and Roach 27) was a hefty 93 years old.  This year, with the release of Brian Urlacher and the additions of DJ Williams and James Anderson the combined age of their starters at the start of the season will still be 93.  The additions of both Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene shows that the Bears know they are going to need to get younger sooner rather than later at LB.  Greene is the heir apparent to Briggs’ WLB spot – a spot that has been productive for IDP owners.  It should also be noted that Greene is a converted FS, and it shows because he comes off as confident playing in space.  His knack for the big play – 6 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles – makes him a perfect fit for a Bears team that is about as good a big play team as the NFL has ever seen. 
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  Greene very well could be the future WLB for the Bears but in redraft leagues future production is not what you are looking for.  The only way that Greene sees substantial snaps this year is if Lance Briggs gets hurt.
Dynasty:  If you draft Greene in a dynasty league, you are doing so knowing he will not be a factor until Lance Briggs retires or gets the Brian Urlacher treatment.  Briggs, who will be 33 at season’s end, is not getting any younger so Greene’s opportunity does not look to be too far off.

bjoern werner – LB

6'3" 266 Florida St.
Pick 24, Round 1 (24) Colts
Twitter: @BjoernWernerBTM
Werner, another DE that IDP owners have lost to the dark side known as the 3-4 defense.  Prior to the draft, I saw Werner ranked as high as the #1 DE by a draft analyst.  That analyst used the words, “impact DE”, in describing Werner.  The Colts clearly are looking to replace Dwight Freeney – who, in my opinion, was not a good fit in their 3-4 as it was – and like Freeney, Werner will get after the QB, but questions abound on how he will do playing in a rush OLB role.  It should be noted that it is not a given that Werner will play OLB, but even as 3-4 DE he will not have near the value he would have had as a 4-3 DE. 
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  Not much fantasy value for Werner in the Colts 3-4 defense.  Oh, what could have been if a 4-3 team drafted him, but no need to dwell on that.  Unless you are in a very deep big-play league, there is nothing to see with Werner for fantasy purposes.
Dynasty:  If you have a taxi squad that you can stash Werner on then that is what you should do.  Not because I expect him to develop into a great fantasy rush OLB, but on the off chance the Colts revert to the 4-3 in the next few years.  While doubtful, you never know. 

zaviar gooden – LB

6'1" 234 Missouri
Pick 97, Round 3 (35) Titans
Twitter: n/a
Last year the Titans used their second round pick (56th overall) to select North Carolina OLB, Zach Brown.  When drafted, Mike Mayock said the fleet footed LB was allergic to contact.  Still Brown was able to work his way into the Titans starting lineup -- a starting position that I do not foresee him giving up.  That makes the Titans pick of the fleet footed Zaviar Gooden with their third round pick (97th overall) a bit perplexing (Alex Okafor would have been a better selection).  At best, Gooden is a backup that will mainly see the field only if Brown is injured or if his allergy acts up.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft:  Gooden, like starting WLB Zach Brown, has plenty of speed to spare.  What keeps Gooden from having fantasy value is that he is not going to unseat Brown, Colin McCarthy, or Akeem Dent to crack the Titans starting lineup.  His best chance for meaningful snaps will come from injury.  While the Titans LBs have struggled to stay healthy you do not draft Gooden in a redraft league based on past injury concerns.
Dynasty:  Dynasty value, I just do not see much if any in Gooden’s future. 


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