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2007 Rookie IDP Sleepers
Darin Tietgen
June 28, 2007

We all know that DeMeco Ryans was the ultimate IDP sleeper last year, but he WAS taken in the second round. What about some IDP sleepers that are drafted on the second day? Mark Anderson, a defensive end from Alabama, was selected by Chicago in the fifth round last year, and amassed 14 sacks and forced 5 fumbles for the Bears. And Anderson ended up second in the D-ROY voting. Elvis Dumervil was another second day draftee from last season that contributed in the sack department.  Dawan Landry was picked in the fifth round by the Ravens last year and is now their starting strong safety after picking five balls off, defending six passes, netting three sacks and making 69 tackles. The bottom line is, players drafted on the second day in the NFL draft will most likely end up on your developmental taxi squad (DTS), but in some instances, could become immediate impact players on your team. Here are eight linebackers, four defensive ends, four defensive tackles, five safeties and five cornerbacks (some that you may never heard of) that might be considered “steals” in your IDP dynasty drafts. Bear in mind, though, that some of these guys are true “projects”. Others, however, certainly may make shorter-term impacts.

Linebackers

Name: Clint Session
College: Pittsburgh
NFL Team/Pick: Indianapolis (4.37 / #136 overall)
Key stats: 101 tackles, including 12 for loss in 2006
Comments/Projection: A bit undersized but is physical and has terrific speed and he makes big hits. Joins a Colt squad with a couple solid WLB prospects in Freddie Keiaho and Tyjuan Hagler so Session is certainly a long-shot, but he’s a hard worker and is very versatile so he’s the kind of guy a defensive-minded coach like Tony Dungy will want to keep around. Draft him late and stash him on your DTS as he’ll have a chance to compete at some point, as the Colts will look to replace Cato June.

Name: H.B. Blades
College: Pittsburgh
NFL Team/Pick: Washington (6.05 / #179 overall)
Key stats: 147 tackles, including 10.5 for loss in his senior season
Comments/Projection: Playing alongside Clint Session, Blades was also very productive, with 100+ tackles in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Blades comes from a football family, with dad Bennie as an all-pro safety for the Lions and uncles Brian and Al also being NFL players. Blades’ measurable stats aren’t anywhere close to off-the-charts, but he obviously has the pedigree and seems to always be around the ball and making big plays. He’s a bit undersized, but London Fletcher, who Blades will back up at MLB, knows something about playing as an undersized LB. A solid mid-round dynasty selection, but will probably remain on DTS unless Fletcher gets injured and Blades is ready to step in.

Name: Dallas Sartz
College: USC
NFL Team/Pick: Washington (5.06 / #143 overall)
Key stats: 70 tackles, including 9.5 for loss, and 7 sacks in 2006
Comments/Projection: Another “high motor” guy that is versatile and hits hard. Unfortunately Sartz will be buried on the Redskins’ roster behind young studs Marcus Washington on the strong side (where Sartz could conceivably play) and Rocky McIntosh on the weak side. He has the pedigree to excel so he’s certainly worthy of a late-round selection; but stash on your DTS, as he has some injury concerns to work out before he’s a regular contributor.

Name: Rufus Alexander
College: Oklahoma
NFL Team/Pick: Minnesota (6.02 / #176 overall)
Key stats: 100+ tackles in both his junior and senior seasons
Comments/Projection: Doesn’t have blinding speed, but he has good quickness and can play sideline to sideline despite a slower 40 time. Aside from last year’s first-rounder, Chad Greenway, the Vikings are paper thin at LB. With some seasoning and bulking up, Alexander has the potential to compete for a position. He’s a true weakside linebacker who draws some comparisons to Derrick Brooks. A solid mid round pick in all IDP dynasty leagues and could easily be a #3 fantasy LB at some point this season.

Name: Desmond Bishop
College: Cal
NFL Team/Pick: Green Bay (6.18 / #192 overall)
Key stats: 126 tackles, including 15 for loss and 3 INTs in 2006
Comments/Projection: Bishop has been on my radar since last year and his potential was confirmed in the Bears’ drubbing of Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl. Unfortunately, the team that probably needs him the least, the Green Bay Packers, selected him in the 6th round. Green Bay is blessed with two of the best young LB talents in A.J. Hawk and Abdul Hodge. Bishop will give the Packers depth at MLB behind Hodge and incumbent starter Nick Barnett (who could move positions to allow Hodge to start). Bishop was the heart and soul of the Cal defense last year, and has terrific instincts. He’s a reliable tackler with toughness and a non-stop motor. Hodge, Hawk and even Barnett owners may wish to target Bishop as a later-round pick. But of course, injuries happen in the NFL and Bishop could get a chance down the road, so all dynasty owners should take notice.

Others to Consider: Brandon Siler (Florida – SD), Tim Shaw (PSU – CAR), Zack DeOssie (Brown – NYG)

Defensive Ends

Name: Baraka Atkins
College: Miami
NFL Team/Pick: Seattle (4.21, #120 overall)
Key stats: 175 total tackles in four seasons
Comments/Projection: A versatile athlete with long arms and excellent speed (4.69 40). He started for the Hurricanes for all four of his years. Grant Wistrom has retired, but the Seahawks brought in Patrick Kerney as a replacement. Kerney’s stats have been on the decline over the past couple of years, so the Hawks could give their young ends (most likely Darryl Tapp, but conceivably Atkins as well) some playing time. Atkins is a perfect candidate for a mid-round selection for the purposes of stashing him on your DTS. Watch him develop into a solid pass-rushing DE for the Seahawks.

Name: Brian Robison
College: Texas
NFL Team/Pick: Minnesota (4.03, #102 overall)
Key stats: 8 pass deflections and 41 tackles for loss in 49 games for UT
Comments/Projection: Did not get the type of publicity that fellow DE Tim Crowder got for the Longhorns but was certainly very valuable. He’s a two-sport athlete (track and field) that has a good frame to add some bulk to. Some scouts compare Robison to veteran DE Bryce Fisher and could contribute if one of the Vikings’ young DEs goes down. He should be targeted by Kenechi Udeze and Erasmus James owners later in dynasty drafts.

Name: Jay Moore
College: Nebraska
NFL Team/Pick: San Francisco (4.05, #104 overall)
Key stats: 31 tackles for loss and 9 sacks in junior/senior seasons
Comments/Projection: Some mock drafts had the Niners selecting Cornhusker DE Adam Carriker with their first round pick. Instead, they took the uber-stud LB Patrick Willis and opted for Carriker’s DE mate, Jay Moore, in the fourth round. Moore, like a couple of their recent draft picks, is a solid DE-LB hybrid. But with the incumbent starters at DE getting up there in age, there will be opportunities for the young bucks to step in. Moore has good size, long arms and plays hard.  He has limited upside, but as a later-round selection in dynasty drafts, he could potentially be a starter or situational player with fantasy backup capability.

Other to Consider: Abraham Wright (Colorado – MIA)

Defensive Tackles

Name: Marcus Thomas
College: Florida
NFL Team/Pick: Denver (4.22, #121 overall)
Key stats: 10.5 tackles for loss in 2005, 5.5 tfl in 5 games in 2006
Comments/Projection: Rated the fourth-best defensive tackle in this draft by many scouts and was projected as a 2nd round selection. Many NFL teams subscribe to the “best players from the best teams” mantra, and in this case, Thomas played for the National Champs, and was a very productive and important player for the Gators during his junior season. However, during his senior season, he was dismissed from the team for “not meeting team obligations” and a failed drug test. Thomas has a “high motor” and is involved in stopping the running game and disrupting the passing game. Thomas represents a terrific “risk-reward” pick, as there are obviously questions as to his off-field issues. Draft him late and stash him on your DTS in hopes that he reverts to being the “team player” he was said to be before his dismissal from UF.

Name: Kareem Brown
College: Miami
NFL Team/Pick: New England (4.28, #127 overall)
Key stats: 60 tackles, including 12.5 for loss and 11 sacks in his senior season
Comments/Projection: Has three of the major qualities you look for in a defensive lineman: size, frame and long arms. He has good size but could add bulk. He’s effective against both the pass and run. While he has some veterans ahead of him, he’ll have value as a situational player for the Pats. Worthy of a later pick and stash him on your DTS.

Name: Antonio Johnson
College: Mississippi State
NFL Team/Pick: Washington (5.15 / #152 overall)
Key stats: 7 of his 36 career tackles were for loss
Comments/Projection: Where he lacks in experience, he makes up for in raw, emerging talent. He has size, quickness and with the right coaching, can be a solid defensive lineman in the NFL. He’ll come cheap, very late in your dynasty draft, and will probably need to be on your DTS for the maximum amount of years. But if he pans out, he could be a total steal in a rather thin position.

Other to Consider: Derek Landri (Notre Dame – JAC)

Safeties

Name: Brandon Harrison
College: Stanford
NFL Team/Pick: Houston (5.07 / #144 overall)
Key stats:
Comments/Projection: Perhaps underachieved a bit for a struggling Stanford team during his four years. But his measurable stats (minus timed speed, which is below average) are solid and he’s said to be a “workout warrior”. He’s a hard worker and extremely smart on and off the field, so with the proper tutelage, he could make some noise in a very average Texan secondary. Both Glenn Earl and C.C. Brown are young and have potential, but then again, so does Harrison. A late-round pick and DTS candidate.

Name: Josh Gattis
College: Wake Forest
NFL Team/Pick: Jacksonville (5.13 / #150 overall)
Key stats: 72 tackles and 5 INTs in 2005, 82 tackles and 5 INTs in 2006
Comments/Projection: Was rated as high as the #9 safety by some scouts in this draft. His skills may translate best into special team work in the NFL, but his combination of good size, build and hustle/aggression could translate into some real work in Jack Del Rio’s defense. Yes, Reggie Nelson was drafted in the first round by the Jags, but Gattis has the size to play strong safety, opposite Nelson. Gattis is worth a late-round pick; stash him on your DTS.

Name: John Wendling
College: Wyoming
NFL Team/Pick: Buffalo (6.10 / #184 overall)
Key stats: 89 tackles, including 6 for loss and 3 INTs as a sophomore
Comments/Projection: This guy has sleeper written all over him. He will require some seasoning at the pro level, but he has all the tools: good speed, solid pass coverage skills and he’s tough and aggressive. He was a consistent tackler at Wyoming as a three-year starter. With only youngster Ko Simpson ahead of Wendling, you must thing that the ex-Cowboy will get plenty of opportunities right from the outset. Add to it that Wendling is a terrific student-athlete. A solid mid-round pick and he may not spend much time on your DTS.

Others to Consider: Eric Frampton (WSU – OAK), Marvin White (TCU – CIN)

Cornerbacks

Name: Tanard Jackson
College: Syracuse
NFL Team/Pick: Tampa Bay (4.07, #106 overall)
Key stats: 62 tackles in 12 games during his senior season
Comments/Projection: Rated the seventh-best CB by many scouts in this year’s draft. He has terrific instincts and has plenty of burst, but doesn’t really make any “big” plays. He has some very minor off-field issues that may have caused him to slip from being a sure-fire first-day pick, but probably will not translate into issues in the NFL. Tampa Bay has a solid corps of DBs, but Jackson fits the cover-2 scheme well and will learn from one of the best (Ronde Barber). Draft and stash him, as he could very well be a solid pro, especially in Tampa Bay’s system.

Name: David Jones
College: Wingate
NFL Team/Pick:  New Orleans (5.08 / #145 overall)
Key stats: Averaged 5 INTs in 2004-2006
Comments/Projection: A prototypical “small school sleeper” who was on many teams’ radars during the second day of drafting. Jones is a playmaker with great anticipation. He’s a long-term project, but hey, that’s what your DTS is for. It’s not like the Saints have any game-changers at CB.  

Name: Tarell Brown
College: University of Texas
NFL Team/Pick: San Francisco (5.10 / #147 overall)
Key stats: 178 tackles and 5 INTs in 3 seasons
Comments/Projection: His stock dropped a bit in the days leading up to the draft, but why? Product of system? Off-field problems? He played opposite Aaron Ross and made the most of it. He’s productive in stopping both the passing and running game.  He played with a broken bone in his foot during his senior season and had some off-field issues, but with the right people looking over him, Brown could be a major steal in the NFL draft and could be a great complement to Nate Clements (who opposing QBs could certainly be avoiding) down the road, as Walt Harris is certainly no game-changer. I would be tempted to take him in the middle rounds of dynasty drafts as his all-around talent is impossible to ignore. He will need at least a year on your squad’s DTS, though.

Others to Consider: Brandon McDonald (Memphis – CLE), Ryan Smith (Florida – TEN)

Other Sleepers

Also, here are a couple guys that were drafted on the first day that may have slipped and I believe to be solid IDP sleepers:

Name: Quentin Moses
Position/College: DE / Georgia
NFL Team/Pick: Oakland Raiders / (3.01, #65 overall)
Key stats: 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2005; 4.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 2006
Comments/Projection: Was as good if not better than Gaines Adams two seasons ago. In fact, by all intents and purposes, Moses was the highest-rated senior – regardless of position – coming into last season. He’s a natural pass-rusher, a hard worker and very smart. He’ll need to bulk up a bit and perhaps get a bit more physical, but he has all the tools. Some think that if he fails to bulk up, he could be a solid hybrid DE/rush LB. Either way, he joins an Oakland squad that saw the emergence of Derrick Burgess two seasons ago so the need for a pass rusher is not imminent. Moreover, Moses is not going to replace Burgess, but he certainly could spell the very average Tyler Brayton on the other end. Moses joins a young but talented front seven anchored by LBs Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard and the aforementioned Burgess. If given the chance and he rediscovers his passion for the game, Moses could be this year’s Mark Anderson/Trent Cole. For those dynasty owners with aging DEs, Moses will make a terrific mid-round selection that might not spend much time on your DTS.

Name: Quinn Pitcock
Position/College: DT/Ohio State
NFL Team/Pick: Indianapolis / (3.35 / #98 overall)
Key stats: 39 tackles, including 12 for loss and 8 sacks in his senior campaign
Comments/Projection: A very strong, hustling player with great work ethic. Perfect for the Tony Dungy system in Indianapolis. He showed incredible improvement during his senior season and appears to have plenty of upside.  Booger McFarland could be the best pure DT the Colts have (Raheem Brock is listed at DT but does play some at DE), so the Colts needed a run-stopper and Pitcock has the pedigree and desire to make plays on the line. Draft him late, stash him on your DTS, and pray that his stats were not inflated due to the talent around him and piling up of stats against sometimes inferior competition.

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