Savvy, dynasty league owners as well as the more casual, re-draft owners will need to know the names of this draft class’ individual players, as many impact players were selected as well as some lesser-known names that could make immediate impacts. Let’s take a look at how the 32 teams drafted IDPs and how their rookies will make fantasy impacts in 2009 and beyond.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals grabbed a couple DEs in Cody Brown and Will Davis in this draft. Brown could project out as a LB and both players are regarded as athletic pass rushers, but will need some level of seasoning before making a major impact. They didn’t select any “true” LBs (a position of need going into this draft), but did land a solid sleeper in safety Rashad Johnson. At this point, the safety spot isn’t a concern, with Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson locked in, but Johnson is a big-time playmaker that could make an impact as a situational player. Should either of the Card starters go down, Johnson’s stock would skyrocket. The Cards also grabbed CB Greg Toler, who is a small-school wonder project.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons selected a few IDPs that may have an immediate impact. First, they drafted Peria Jerry, who should be the opening starter in the middle of the defensive line. He won’t be an impact most re-draft teams, but could be a solid backup DL in larger dynasty leagues. They also landed safety William Moore, who will challenge for playing time from day one. He’s a ballhawk that has battled some injuries, so temper your expectations. CB Christopher Owens is another aggressive defender that should fit the Falcons’ scheme well, but won’t have an immediate fantasy impact. The biggest impact could be from DE Lawrence Sidbury, who will challenge for playing time, especially if Jamaal Anderson flops. CB William Middleton is a small-school project that will likely play special teams, if he makes the squad. And finally, Spencer Adkins, an undersized LB who also projects out as a special teams player.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are not short on aggressive pass rushers, but still opted to grab DE Paul Kruger with their second round pick. At his size, he’ll likely transition to the OLB spot. CB Ladarius Webb comes from a small school, but appears to have big-time talent. Like many Raven defensive backs, he’s a ballhawk that can pull off the “pick-six” with relative ease. He’ll compete for time, but likely not enough to make an immediate fantasy impact. With their fifth-rounder, the Ravens grabbed ILB Jason Phillips, a high-motor guy that can play all three downs. Should there be a major injury on the Raven linebacking corps, Phillips could slide in.
Buffalo Bills: DE Aaron Maybin will contend for the starting spot opposite Aaron Schobel, and will likely make an early splash with his quick first step and penchant for getting to the QB. The Bills grabbed CB Jarius Byrd in the second, and his flexibility (ability to play corner or free safety) could make him a nice commodity in larger leagues or of course in dynasty formats. Oklahoma’s Nic Harris was selected by the Bills in the fifth, and will likely stay on special teams until they figure out whether he’s a safety or a linebacker. The Bills also selected a couple other DBs in Cary Harris and Ellis Lankster. Both will have to fight to make the team, let alone challenge for playing time.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers’ biggest need was at DL and they scored Florida State’s Everette Brown in the second round (a bit of a steal). He’s a bit undersized, but has a knack of getting to the opposing QB, and having Julius Peppers on the other side could make things a little easier for the rookie. Should challenge incumbents Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson for the starting role. They also grabbed the versatile defensive back Sherrod Martin from Troy. Martin can play the safety spot, but could also move over to corner. A definite sleeper for dynasty league owners and redrafters alike. The Panthers addressed their interior DL needs by drafting Corvey Irvin. Dynasty owners only need pay attention to this pick. In the seventh, they landed CB Captain Munnerlyn. If nothing else, his name sure is cool.
Chicago Bears: The Bears needed to add some youth and talent to their defensive line, and they surely did by drafting Jarron Gilbert (who can play inside or outside) and Henry Melton. Gilbert is a physical specimen, and could be a bit hit for dynasty owners looking for a DT with a DE skill set. Melton is another physical specimen and will challenge for serious playing time from the get-go. They also added a couple of defensive backs in D.J. Moore and Al Afalava. Moore will get a chance to back up the talented Bear corners, while Alafava will provide additional depth and play special teams. They also drafted ex-Buckeye LB Marcus Freeman, who underachieved under the shadow of James Laurinaitis. But his skills translate well to the Bear defensive scheme and could challenge for a starting spot in a couple years.
Cincinnati Bengals: Wow, the Bengals actually had a pretty solid draft. They got a steal in Rey Maualuga with the #38 overall pick. Maualuga will pair with fellow ex-Trojan Keith Rivers to form a solid 1-2 LB punch, possibly from the outset. The Bengals also got a steal in DE Michael Johnson. Johnson’s edge rushing skills will be a welcome addition to the anemic Bengal defense. Figure Johnson will challenge for a starting spot from day one. They also grabbed a bit of a project player in Clinton McDonald at DE. And finally, they took CB Morgan Trent, who will add defensive backfield depth to the Bengal defense.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns needed help everywhere, not just on defense. They finally drafted a defensive player with the #52 overall pick: LB/DE hybrid David Veikune from Hawaii. As with other “hybrids”, Veikune’s value will depend on his positional determination and playing time. He’ll likely be listed as a LB and his value will be limited in a pretty young and deep LB corps. The Browns landed another LB, but this one may have a bit more sleeper value down the road; USCs’ Kaluka Maiava. Maiava played a bit under the radar with all the talent along the Trojan line, but had a solid senior season and is an able tackler. The inside of the Brown line is deep, but Maiava could make a splash if he excels on special teams. The Browns also drafted a pair of project CBs in Don Carey and Coye Francies.
Dallas Cowboys: America’s Team had a bunch of needs on defense, and they appear to have addressed them in this draft. First, they selected OLB Jason Williams, who could challenge youngsters Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Spencer for playing time. They also grabbed DE Victor Butler, who will make noise on the special teams unit. In the fourth, they chose DE (and possible hybrid LB) Brandon Williams. His size and pass rushing skills may move him to the DE spot in the Cowboys’ 3-4 base D. The Cowboys landed a pair of solid defensive backs in Deangelo Smith and Michael Hamlin. Smith has the flexibility to play corner or FS, and Hamlin (like his namesake, Ken) can make the big hit and is regarded as a deep sleeper. SS Stephen Hodge and CB Mike Mickens add defensive backfield depth, and Mickens (after leading the nation in interceptions last year) was considered a solid steal in the seventh round.
Denver Broncos: The Broncos’ defense had holes all over the place, and needed a secondary pass rusher to pair with Elvis Dumervil. They got just that in LB-DE hybrid Robert Ayers. Ayers will likely start at DE for the Broncos, so he’ll be worth a look in late redraft rounds, and will be a solid dynasty pick. They also grabbed a pair of defensive backs in Alphonso Smith and Darcel McBath. Smith is the intriguing name here, as he’ll have an opportunity to challenge for playing time alongside super-stud shutdown corner Champ Bailey. McBath will provide depth, as well as fourth-rounder David Bruton.
Detroit Lions: The Lions obviously needed help all over the field, and they addressed their needs big-time in this draft. The landed one of the best defensive back prospects in Louis Delmas. Delmas should start from the outset, and will be a viable fantasy starter. LB Deandre Levy is an OLB prospect that could be given a shot at the MLB spot (sound familiar, Jordon Dizon owners?). Levy is a solid prospect, but if you’re looking for a deep sleeper here, it’s LB Zack Follett. He’s a poor man’s James Laurinaitis.
Green Bay Packers: After switching to the 3-4 defense, the Packers needed to fill the important middle of the defensive line. They grabbed the best interior lineman prospect in B.J. Raji. The middle of the 3-4 defense usually doesn’t translate into fantasy worth, but Raji is a monster, and could rack up enough tackles plugging up the middle to have some worth, especially in dynasty and very deep redraft leagues. They also grabbed USC’s Clay Matthews, who will excel in the 3-4; dynasty league owners make note. They also drafted a couple of project that suit the 3-4 in Jarius Wynn and Brad Jones.
Houston Texans: The Texan D has taken on a pretty nice shape over the past few years. They found a pair of gems in LBs Xavier Adibi and Zac Diles, who were more than solid as bookends to MLB DeMeco Ryans. They also added the vet Cato June in the offseason. Still, they grabbed USC LB Brian Cushing in the first round. Cushing is supposedly going to start on the strong side ahead of Zac Diles, so redraft owners should pay as much attention as the dynasty owners. We saw what Diles did last year; no surprise that Cushing could do the same. They also grabbed DE-LB hybrid Connor Barwin. Barwin is an interesting prospect that could excel on the other side of Mario Williams. They also drafted three defensive back prospects in Glover Quin, Brice McCain and Troy Nolan. All three are solid talents, so pay attention to training camp to see if one emerges.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts desperately needed to get younger on their DL, and added a pair of DTs in Fili Moala and Terrence Taylor. Neither one will make an impact in redraft leagues, although Moala could be an interesting late dynasty pick. CB Jerraud Powers will give the Colts some backfield depth.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags, like the Colts, needed to add some beef to the interior of their line. They addressed this need by drafting Terrance Knighton from Temple. He won’t have much of a fantasy impact, however. They did land an impact player with a ton of upside in Derek Cox. To say Cox has good speed is a major understatement. The Jag corners have been average at best for a few years, so expect Cox to challenge for playing time.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs, in a mild surprise, opted to take DE Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick. Jackson will man the edge rusher position opposite former LSU teammate Glenn Dorsey, who moves to end in the Chiefs’ new 3-4 scheme. Jackson is a stud-in-the-making who could make an immediate fantasy impact in all leagues. They also drafted CB Donald Washington, who joins a crowded, young and talented secondary. He’s a project, at best.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins’ current set of corners doesn’t wow you, so you must expect Vontae Davis to challenge for a starting role from day one. He’s got the physical tools to make an immediate fantasy impact, too. Safety Chris Clemons is an interesting prospect and makes for a nice late dynasty choice. And finally, LB J.D. Folsom, who will challenge for playing time, initially on special teams.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikes only had five selections in this draft, but landed a nice LB talent in Jasper Brinkley. They have a wealth of young LB talent, but Brinkley definitely has the talent to challenge for playing time as a rookie. They also took safety Jamarca Sanford, who could provide depth in the defensive secondary.
New England Patriots: The Pats have a knack of finding defensive gems in the draft, and they likely landed another in safety Patrick Chung. He’ll man the strong safety spot along Brandon Meriweather for years to come. Chung may need some seasoning, so might not have an immediate impact, but dynasty owners need to know this name. They also added another talented defensive back in Darius Butler. Butler could contend for a starting spot in a year or two. They drafted LB Tyrone McKenzie, who is an athletic, high-motor guy that will provide depth on the edge of the linebacking corps. They also chose a pair of massive DTs in Darryl Richard and Myron Pryor, who will provide depth behind Ron Brace, who will likely succeed Vince Wilfork in the middle of the Pat line.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints only had four selections in this draft, but made the most of them. They grabbed quite possibly the best defensive back in Malcolm Jenkins, who should start – and make a fantasy impact – from day one. They took a pair of ex-Demon Deacons in safety Chip Vaughn and LB Stanley Arnoux. Vaughn will challenge for immediate playing time, while Arnoux will provide depth.
New York Giants: The Giants selected LB Clint Sintim, despite having a wealth of young talent in their linebacking unit. They got a good one, though, and Sintim will be a hot dynasty pick. They also selected a pair of DB projects in DeAndre Wright and Stoney Woodson. Both have the size and physical prowess to make the team and challenge for playing time, so pay careful attention to the training camp battle.
New York Jets: The Jets only picked three players in this draft, and none play defense. So unless they are planning on moving Mark Sanchez to safety, there’s nothing to talk about here.
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders’ selections made many scratch their heads in confusion, but you can’t argue with the end result. They landed a big time sleeper in Mike Mitchell, who will likely be the starter at strong safety. Redrafters as well as dynasty owners will be all over this guy. They drafted DE Matt Shaughnessy, who is a project at best. They also grabbed a couple DE-LB hybrids with speed to burn in Slade Norris and Stryker Sulak. If nothing else, they provide for some good name value.
Philadelphia Eagles: With Sheldon Brown whining about his contract, and Ellis Hobbs being – at best – a decent fill-in, Victor Harris could have an opportunity in a year or two. He’s a well-coached, athletic corner who could add some bulk and play safety at some point. That said, he’s an interesting dynasty project. They also took LB Moise Fokou, who will provide some depth to the linebacking corps.
Pittaburgh Steelers: The Steelers used their first round pick on a solid upfront lineman in Evander Hood. Hood may challenge for playing time – even the starting spot – in his rookie season, making him an interesting dynasty prospect and possible redraft flier. For depth at the position, they also took Ra’Shon Harris. They also took a pair of CB prospects in Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett. Lewis has the best shot at early playing time.
San Diego Chargers: The Bolts, like their AFC West counterpart Raiders, raised some eyebrows with their picks, but ended up with a pretty decent set of rookies. They drafted pass rushing hybrid DE-LB Larry English, who will provide depth, especially if Shawne Merriman suffers a setback in his rehab. They also selected Canadian Vaughn Martin, who can play the edge as well as the nose tackle in the 3-4. And finally, they selected a couple of solid defensive back prospects in Brandon Hughes and Kevin Ellison; Hughes could contend for time as a nickel back, while Ellison will provide depth at safety.
San Francisco 49ers: The Niners added a guy with high football IQ in LB Scott McKillop, who could challenge Takeo Spikes and Jeff Ulbrich for playing time in the middle alongside Patrick Willis. Dynasty owners should definitely reach for McKillop if their need is at LB. The Niners also nabbed safety Curtis Taylor and DT Ricky Jean-Francois, both from LSU. Taylor will challenge for playing time at free safety, while Jean-Francois will be a project lineman.
Seattle Seahawks: With the Chiefs taking Tyson Jackson, the Seahawks made their pick of LB Aaron Curry. Curry joins a talented young LB corps, replacing the departed Julian Peterson. Curry’s projections will be juicier if he mans the WLB spot, so pay attention in training camp before spending a high pick on him in redraft leagues. Dynasty owners will need a very high first rounder if they want his services, as he’s the elite rookie LB. The Hawks also added Courtney Greene, a talented safety prospect and Nick Reed, the Pac-10 defensive player of the year. With some added bulk, he could challenge a few other youngsters once Patrick Kerney calls it quits.
St. Louis Rams: The Rams only took two defensive players in this draft, but they were a pair of good ones. They got a bit of a steal by taking James Laurinaitis with the #35 overall pick, and he’ll likely man the middle of the Ram linebacker unit for years to come. Dorrell Scott has the motor and quickness to make a future impact for the interior of the Ram line.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs had a dire need for youth and flexibility up front on their defensive line. They achieved this by drafting Roy Miller from Texas and Kyle Moore from USC. Both are physical specimens with the athleticism to move around on the line. They also grabbed a CB prospect in E.J. Biggers, who will struggle to make the team.
Tennessee Titans: With the departure of Albert Haynesworth, the Titans selected Sen’Derrick Marks, who has some talent, but will need to work hard and improve to fill that role. They also landed a very underrated CB talent in Ryan Mouton, who will provide depth at the position and could start in a couple years. And look at LB Gerald McRath, dynasty owners, as a potential starter in the middle for the Titans. He’s a three-down player with plenty of talent. Redrafters should take note if he’s given the starting gig. They also grabbed a couple DBs with size and speed in Jason McCourty and Nick Schommer. Both could struggle to even play special teams if they make the squad.
Washington Redskins: The Skins had a pretty solid draft, stealing Texas’ Brian Orakpo with the #13 overall selection. Orakpo will likely perform as a hybrid DE-LB, as he has solid cover skills as well as outstanding pass rush capabilities. His value will rise if listed as a DE, both dynasty-wise as well as in redrafts. They also landed a LB prospect who should excel on special teams in Cody Glenn, and another LB prospect in Robert Henson.