It’s almost time for the NFL draft, which means that there is some excitement for Fantasy owners four months before their Fantasy drafts are scheduled. While no one knows for sure what will happen, there are plenty of predictions. Let’s look at the top prospects at QB and RB and speculate on where they might go. Teams always surprise on draft day, trading up for picks, so stay tuned for the post-draft recap as well.
Geno Smith, West Virginia
While there is some debate about who the best quarterback in the draft is, the common consensus is that there this isn’t a QB-rich draft. Smith will likely be the first QB off the board (unless Buffalo grabs Ryan Nassib first). His accuracy has improved and he stays in the pocket to try to make the throw. He does, according to reports, need to work on his footwork, but that is something that can come with time.
Projection: late first round, possibly the New York Jets or the Philadelphia Eagles
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Most Big Boards are projecting Wilson to fall into the third round, but many experts also think that Wilson has the potential to be a starting QB in the NFL. He’s tough and he’s used to taking hits, however, that doesn’t translate into being a successful QB. His accuracy isn’t quite there and reports say his footwork is the problem. While this is something that can be fixed, it’s a gamble that a team may have to take.
Projection: Dallas Cowboys, third round.
Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Likely a first round pick, Nassib is projected to go to Buffalo, where he’d be reunited with his coach from Syracuse, Doug Marrone. Buffalo currently has the No. 8 overall pick. It’s a little early to take Nassib, who doesn’t have the accuracy or the velocity as other QBs in the draft, but it will work for Buffalo. He just may end up backing up Kevin Kolb this year.
Projection: Buffalo. First round pick.
Matt Barkley, Southern California
Barkley doesn’t have the arm strength of many of the others in the draft, but he still will likely be drafted on the first day. He has awareness on the field, which can translate into success in the NFL as long as the other elements come along as well. He is accurate, as long as he has the time needed to get the pass off. He’ll be a project for a team that is willing to take a chance on someone that may end up being their starter.
Projection: Jacksonville Jaguars, second round pick.
E.J. Manuel, Florida State
One of the most mobile quarterbacks in the draft, Manuel can run. However, he struggles under pressure. His throws from the shotgun are good, but he is turnover prone. A team will have to work with him to improve his decision-making.
Projection: Cleveland Browns, second round pick.
Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio)
He has a good arm and he can throw the ball accurately. However, the knock on Dysert is that he usually goes with his first read. He struggles in the pocket and even though he does have quick feet, he doesn’t use check-downs as often as he can for success. This sounds like the type of quarterback the Bears typically work with, and it seems like this might be the best fit for them.
Projection: Chicago Bears, second round pick
Mike Glennon, N.C. State
Glennon can throw the ball well as long as he isn’t pressured. When the pocket collapses, Glennon falters. While there was talk of Chicago looking at Glennon, it’s a hard sell. Just ask Jay Cutler about pressure. This would be a poor fit knowing Glennon’s shortcomings. Sure, he can work with a team and improve, but Chicago would be a tough spot.
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals, second round pick.
Matt Scott, Arizona
Most ranks have the first seven QBs listed in a variation of that order. After those seven, the quarterbacks aren’t as desirable. Scott has an arm that is strong enough for the NFL, but accuracy is an issue. While that is something that can be worked on, he’s not starter material just yet.
Projection: Jacksonville Jaguars. The QBs coach worked with Scott at Arizona.
Tyler Bray, Tennessee
He reportedly has a great arm, but bad feet. The combination may work at the college level, but not so much at the pro level. He won’t be drafted on the first day, but a team may take a chance on him on the second day.
Projection: Pittsburgh Steelers. They know all about big, physical quarterbacks who don’t move well out of the pocket.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma
All the scouting reports say the same thing: once the pocket breaks down, Jones struggles. Unfortunately, that’s not going to work well at the pro level. It’s hard to see Jones as a starting quarterback in the NFL without a lot of work.
Projection: Denver Broncos. They like to take on projects.
Eddie Lacy, Alabama
A tough back who will muscle his way to extra yards, Lacy is arguably the top back in this year’s draft. However, it is unlikely that any running back will be drafted in the first round. Look for Lacy to go in the second round to a team that is looking for a big back to complement a smaller, pass-catching back.
Projection: St. Louis Rams
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Franklin is known as a quick back who uses his speed to succeed. However, he isn’t big and there are concerns with his pass-catching ability and his ability to block. He will find his way onto an NFL team, but he likely will never become a RB1 for that team.
Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Bernard is a running back who has shown that he does have pass-catching abilities. He also returns punts and the scouting reports show that he runs and cuts well. He’ll be a good fit for a team that has a power running back or goal line back. He can add speed and catches as a change-of-pace back.
Projection: Cincinnati Bengals
Andre Ellington, Clemson
Ellington is a fast runner who may end up being too small for the NFL. He is a patient runner, but lacking the power and toughness may be his downfall. Ellington will likely find his way onto a team as a kick returner, as his skill set is more designed for special teams than for a running back job.
Projection: could be anywhere… maybe the Philadelphia Eagles
Christine Michael, Texas A&M
Michael is a powerful runner who is an injury concern. He can cut and block, but he also has fumbling issues. He can fill a role on a team that is looking for a goal line back and can take some time to develop him.
Projection: could be anywhere…. Possibly the Detroit Lions
Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Ball is one of the better RB blockers in this draft. He will run with power, but not with the speed that some teams desire. He can make a cut and gain yards, but he’s not going to be racing downfield.
Projection: could go to the Green Bay Packers
Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt
Another tough runner who is also another injury concern. The problem with this draft is that there are too many of the same type of runner available and most teams don’t need another power back who can muscle his way through the defense, but doesn’t have the speed ability to make big plays.
Projection: another gamble… possibly the New York Jets
Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State
Bell is a pass-catching back more than a running back. While that is a good quality, most teams want the whole package at this point. He isn’t a power runner, but he will be able to help a team as a change-of-pace back. It’s just a gamble to see if he’ll develop into more than a third-down type of player.
Projection: possibly the Denver Broncos
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Lattimore had shown that he can be a great runner, however, he is now going to be labeled an injury concern. He has now torn his left ACL (2011) and shredded his right knee (torn ligaments including the ACL and a dislocated kneecap) (2012). It’s hard to say how he’ll come back from those injuries. A team will likely take a chance on him, but he won’t see the field in 2013.
Projection: another gamble, maybe the Arizona Cardinals
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
Taylor is seen as a strong runner and blocker. He also is involved in the passing game, which makes him more of an all-around back than some of the others in the draft. He isn’t a speedy back, but with time and training, could develop into a power back.
Projection: a late round pick, maybe the San Diego Chargers