Draft’s First Round Features Surprises

As the first round is coming to a conclusion, the backfield committees in the NFL are getting worse.

I wrote yesterday about the guys currently in the league who could see their draft stock drop based on the players their teams took, and we’ve seen plenty. In fact, my top guy DeAngelo Williams has seen his stock fall pretty far. I had a sneaky suspicion the team was going to take a higher-end back, and Jonathan Stewart’s almost as high as it gets in this class. Clearly, the Panthers don’t trust Williams and they want to roll with a more smashmouth running game. This is a training camp battle, and it’s likely a committee situation all year with Stewart, if 100% the favorite to be the 1st and 2nd down back. The Panthers also aggressively traded back up into the 1st round and helped their unstable o-line and took T Jeff Otah.

We saw Felix Jones go to the Cowboys, as expected. Marion Barber’s value is pretty secure, since Jones will be a guy who’ll give them some speed to corner, and who’ll be more of a complementary player, albeit a deadly one. Dallas’ offense is pretty damn scary now.

In Pittsburgh, it’s a big shocker. It’s a shock that ReShard Mendenhall fell to the Steelers, and it’s a shock that the Steelers took him (although you can’t blame them). Mendenhall’s a better talent than Willie Parker. He may not be ready to start from day one, and he probably won’t, but Parker’s value for the short term and the long-term has taken a serious hit. I could argue that in 1-2 years, it will be Parker coming in as a change-of-pace to Mendenhall, not vice versa.

As we all thought could happen, the Falcons took Matt Ryan. I would imagine he’ll start some games for them later on. The Falcons also wisely traded back up and took T Sam Baker, who will be a workmanlike starter who will give the team rock solid fundamentals on the edge. Good move.

I was very glad to see the Broncos get LT Ryan Clady, probably the 2nd best T in the draft. That will help their depleted and shaky offensive line.

The Bears also had to go O-Line, and I’m glad they did with Chris Williams.

Interesting to see the Titans take the speedy Chris Johnson. No doubt they wanted him to help their poor return game, so don’t underestimate that element. Still, he’ll be a great complement to the bruising LenDale White. White does everything between the tackles, and Williams does everything outside the tackles. This is a potential RBBC, but I don’t see Williams consistently getting upwards to 10 carries. Of course, if he busts off big play after big play, he’ll get more and more touches. It’ll be White starting with Johnson a changeup and Chris Henry the true #2, most likely.

The Ravens took Joe Flacco. Good pick, but don’t expect him to play much in 2008. That said we’ll likely see Kyle Boller open the season as the starter with Troy Smith backing him up. Flacco’s a solid keeper league option, though.

As expected, the Raiders took Darren McFadden. It’s a pretty good situation, actually, since the Raider line did a solid job last year and since they ran the ball well. In addition, they also ran it a ton, so they could use 2-3 backs on their roster. I would imagine McFadden will come off the bench, so we’ll have to what his role is more specifically later on in the summer. But right now, I’m thinking a healthy Jonathan Stewart needs to be ranked as the #1 rookie RB this year. It’ll be interesting to see it McFadden is teamed eventually with Justin Fargas or Michael Bush. In theory, the pairing with Bush would make more sense, but Fargas has a lot of experience.

The Lions better be right with T Gosder Cherilus because he might have been a little bit of a reach as high as they took him. Still, you can never argue with a team taking a potential franchise offensive tackle.

Glad to see the Texans get an offensive linemen in T Duane Brown, yet he might have been a little bit of a reach in the first. Still, I’m glad to see them upgrade their line.

Category: Fantasy Football

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8 Responses

  1. Celsior says:

    I think Jonathan Stewart will eventually win the starting gig in Carolina, perhaps by week 5. The 5’8″ DeAngelo Williams is clearly not starting material. His window of opportunity has closed. I heard on the NFL Network that Stewart’s surgeon (regarding the player’s toe) is the Panthers’ doc, and has assured the team Stewart will be fine. I think Stewart ought to be the first rookie RB taken this year.

  2. NYBrewCrew says:

    I was pleased with how the draft went, I think most teams did very well to address needs but you won’t know until the season. My Giants did well in the draft. Thomas was a steal (although I would have liked Dan Conner in that spot) and Mario could be a very good steal if he keeps his head straight.

    John, With all these running backs how do you go about drafting in 2008?

  3. bjchapin1 says:

    John, you’re drinking the Mendenhall kool-aid way too much. These are the facts:

    1) He started 1 year, having gotten beat out his first 2 years by Pierre Thomas (who isn’t a NFL stud by any means) and EB Halsey (not in the NFL)

    2) Played in the gimmick spread option offense with wide splits with a prolific running QB in Juice Williams, ensuring that he was always running through wide lanes and that LB’s and DE’s had to always pause to respect the QB option.

    3) Put up the following numbers against Illinois’ top opposition last year during the 1 year he started:

    Missouri 11 carries/33 yards/3.0 avg/long 25
    Penn St 18/76/4.2/16
    Wisconsin 19/160/8.4/32
    Iowa 15/67/4.5/15
    Michigan 18/85/4.7/13
    Ohio St 26/88/3.4/25
    USC 17/155/9/1/79

    Compare that with his yardage totals against 5 doormats: Syracuse 150, Indiana 214, Ball St 189, Minnesota 201, Northwestern 124.

    To summarize, against tough opposition he was average outside of the Wisconsin game and the USC game. If you watched that USC game, he reeled off that 79 yarder when the game was a blowout.

    I’m surprised you are so high on him, you are usually a contrarian. My money is on Fast Willie being a much better fantasy pick than people will think, maybe this pushes him down to the 3rd or 4th round?

  4. NYBrewCrew says:

    bjchapin1, I’m counting on FWP to fall so I can scoup him up. He still produced well when Bettis was still on the team getting the short yardage stuff.

  5. jbeau says:

    BJChapin1, just broke John’s heart. I think Mendenhall will be an effective guy, but won’t have the biggest impact. Mewelde Moore and Davenport are seasoned guys, and Pitt wasn’t going into the draft looking for a RB. They got lucky and couldn’t pass up the value. If anything we will see the Bettis\Parker type of steelers. With Mendenhall getting goal line carries, since Willie stunk it up at the Goal line last year.

  6. John Hansen says:

    Good post, BJChapin1. If you’re comparing Mendenhall to Parker, I don’t think I’m overrating him. Physically and talent-wise, he’s better than Parker. Parker’s not a good goal line back, not a very good receiver, and while he’s tough and can take advantage of his great speed, he’s not a natural runner. Notice how he’s got one speed; he sprints to the hole, which can be problematic. He doesn’t really have good patience or vision. He’s still young, yet his team used a #1 pick on a player who also plays RB, which says a lot. And the Steelers rarely flub a high pick like that.

    Your points on Mendenhall are strong, especially being in a spread offense, but we’ve seen a lot of backs in a wide open system like that do very well the last few years. Sometimes you have to see the talent and project the success, and he’s a guy whose best football is ahead of him. So he hasn’t even come close to peaking yet.

  7. GregR210 says:

    While I agree that Mendenhall was a nice pick, why did he fall that far? Why did Arizona, Chicago, and Detroit all pass on him? Detroit got Kevin Smith, ok. Seriously, the word on the street is that Mendenhall, while a good runner, is basically a big p*ssy, or soft would be a nice way to say that. I hope he does well, and I’m not saying he won’t, but that’s one reason he fell. If that’s not a concern, he’ll go off when Parker gets hurt again.

  8. John Hansen says:

    We’ll have to see about that, but again: when was the last time the Steelers took a you-know-what? Can’t call Plax one, that’s for sure.

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