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Impact Rookies - Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

1.3 Braylon Edwards - Wide Receiver - Cleveland Browns

Overview: Repeat after us: "He's not David Terrell." Really, he's not. Edwards is a much more polished receiver at this point then Terrell was (among other things) and it is hardly fair to compare a guy that helped a freshman QB make it to the Rose Bowl with a guy that had Tom Brady feeding him the ball. Edwards is fluid, fast, and makes spectacular grabs at opportune moments. Edwards doesn't cradle the ball or wait for it, he reaches out and plucks it out of the air. On more than one occasion, an opposing defensive back was poised to make an interception, only to have Edwards sneak in through some small seam and steal the ball away for a highlight-reel worthy reception. He has excellent size and he sells his routes as well as anyone who has been drafted in the last half decade. He's intelligent and carries himself with a quiet confidence, but also seems to understand the value of being part of the team rather then trying to be a one-man show.

So what's the problem? Well, Edwards sometimes suffers from concentration lapses, dropping easy catches from time to time. These lapses have shown themselves a bit in preseason action. Beyond that, there isn't much to pick on. Like all great college receivers, Braylon Edwards has the ability to simply take over games at a moment's notice. When Edwards is dialed in, he borders on unstoppable. Even when he's not catching the ball a great deal, he manages to contribute as a blocker and decoy, working hard on every play. Edwards should develop in to the playmaker the Browns desperately need in the passing game provided he continues to stay focused and eliminates the bouts of inconsistency that crept up from time to time in college.

Redraft: Edwards will be the #1 WR in Cleveland the moment he gets his jersey, so it's not inconceivable that he'll make an impact as a rookie. As such, Edwards should be selected as a late WR3 or WR4 in most redraft leagues. With the injury to Kellen Winslow Jr., the Browns only real threats in the receiving game are Edwards, the underrated Antonio Bryant, and Dennis Northcutt. Rookies rarely pan out as fantasy super stars in their first year, but we think Edwards will be given more than a few opportunities to make an impact.

Dynasty: Edwards was drafted with the intention of being the Browns' main threat in the passing game for the foreseeable future. He should be selected no later then 8th in dynasty/keeper leagues and even that is a bit low. He warrants consideration as high as 4th overall in most formats. Do not be swayed by baseless comparisons to other Michigan receivers and do not be apprehensive about selecting a receiver for the Browns. Edwards is his own man and there is a new regime in town, and as long as he shows the same work ethic he showed in college, there is no reason to think that Braylon Edwards won't develop in to a solid receiver in the NFL.

Our Comparison- Makes the tough catch like Larry Fitzgerald; quickly takes over games like Chad Johnson.

1.07 Troy Williamson - Wide Receiver - Minnesota Vikings

Overview: There was a buzzing for weeks prior to the draft that the Vikings preferred deep-threat Troy Williamson to Mike Williams in the event that they selected a receiver with the seventh overall selection. When it came time to pick, true to the rumor-mill, Williamson was the selection. While its tempting to immediately assume that Williamson was selected with replacing Randy Moss in mind, we feel that the motivation behind this choice isn't that simple.

Williamson is a lightening fast receiver who simply wasn't used much at South Carolina. One can only imagine how he would have looked had he stuck around to play in Steve Spurrier's Fun N' Gun offense. It is worth noting that his lack of experience in college could hinder his NFL development, as early camp reports have indicated. Speculation aside, Williamson seems to handle most facets of pass catching well. He is quick off the line, runs solid (but not spectacular routes), catches the ball away from his body, takes the reception in full-stride, and creates in the open field. What Williamson lacks so far - solid blocking technique, sharpness in cuts - can be taught.

As mentioned before, it's easy to presume that Williamson was selected to replace Randy Moss. We happen to feel that more likely, this Vikings team is hoping Williamson can replace PART of what Moss brought to the field. While Williamson may often be sent on deep routes to stretch the field, to assume that Nate Burleson, Travis Taylor, and the team's other receivers won't garner more looks is shortsighted. More likely, the team will feed many receivers in the near future while Williamson learns the nuances of the position.

Redraft: It is likely that Williamson will garner attention on draft day from someone willing to take the chance that he can step in quickly and produce. Drafters will say to themselves, "well, if he can be 75% of what Randy Moss was, he'll be worth the pick." We think that such a premise if faulty and should be ignored. While Williamson certainly might produce quickly, the more realistic scenario has the Vikings suddenly deep receiver group sharing the load, with the more-polished Nate Burleson taking the lead role. If you are interested in Williamson for your redraft roster, you should expect to draft him a round or two earlier then his value actually dictates.

Dynasty: Williamson is worth consideration as the first wide-receiver selected, as high as 4th overall. He certainly has the tools to develop in to a gamebreaking #1 wide receiver for the Vikings, and all signs point to him being given that opportunity. While we do not recommend viewing him as "the next Randy Moss", it is prudent to consider that he may end up as the featured receiver in one of the league's most potent passing attacks.

Our Comparison - Donte Stallworth style pass catcher; a Javon Walker style deep-threat.

1.10 Mike Williams - Wide Receiver - Detroit Lions

Overview: Following last year's botched attempt to gain entry in to the draft, Mike Williams spent the offseason working on his conditioning to be ready for this year's draft. Ironically, he was selected higher this season then he had been projected in 2004 despite not playing a snap of football in 15 months. When the Lions selected Williams tenth overall, there was plenty of shock around the football watching world. However, in hindsight, the pick makes perfect sense.

The Lions signed Marcus Pollard to be their tight end, but that in no way means that the team's "west coast" style offense won't embrace Williams' size and great hands. More likely, he'll find a natural spot in the slot for the Lions if both Charles Rogers and Roy Williams are occupying the outside receiver positions. Williams isn't overly fast, but he has the size to shield defenders from the ball and catch the overthrown pass. Williams is one of the most sure-handed receiver prospects in recent memory and gains separation at the line of scrimmage rather easily.

While he may not ever be the featured receiver in Detroit, we expect Williams to be on the field as often as the team's other receivers. The Lions will likely rely on three wide sets regularly, and Williams' size makes him a better blocker offhand then Charles Rogers (although Roy Williams is likely a better blocker than both).

Redraft: Williams' great hands ensure that he should find a great deal of opportunity as a rookie. While it is far from a given that he'll produce in his first season, the team will likely call on him often to make tough possession catches and as a redzone target. You should be able to roster him safely as a 4th or 5th receiver in redraft leagues.

Dynasty: Williams is worth considering in the top half of the 1st round depending on your team needs. While his upside may be limited in Detroit with two other young, quality receivers around, he certainly will get an opportunity to make his mark and his sure-hands and size lead us to believe he will have a solid career.

Our Comparison - A Tony Gonzalez style wide-receiver.

1.22 Mark Clayton - Wide Receiver - Baltimore Ravens

Overview: Someone recently mentioned to us that the Ravens have the market cornered on tall receivers with mediocre hands, so it made sense for them to reverse course and select a shorter receiver with very good hands. Whether that's true or not, Mark Clayton is a nice fit for Baltimore. Kyle Boller has some serious accuracy issues, but it's a "chicken or the egg" problem: is it Boller? Or is it the pass-catchers? The answer likely will appear sooner than later as Clayton further upgrades the receiving core in Baltimore. Clayton is very adept at finding openings in the opposing team's defense and is a threat to go the distance after the catch. Some people have made comparisons to Peter Warrick or Lee Evans, but we happen to think he's a lot more like Chris Chambers (albeit not quite as fast). Regardless, Clayton should immediately offer an upgrade to the Ravens passing game and what's more, he's a solid character guy with 5 years of experience in a topnotch college program. As an added bonus, he will have Derrick Mason lining up opposite of him to help keep coverage reasonable.

Redraft: Clayton is stepping in to a situation ripe for success. While Todd Heap is currently the main option for Kyle Boller and Derrick Mason will likely be the Ravens WR1, Clayton will be called upon early and often to make critical, drive-extending catches. Consider selecting him as a 4th wide receiver in redraft leagues on the chance that he benefits from a high number of targets. Often, targets + solid hands = Fantasy Success.

Dynasty: Clayton should not immediately be discounted from being a top WR pick just because he went a little later in round one then Edwards, Williamson, and Mike Williams. Clayton is stepping in to as good a situation (if not better) than the other 1st round wide receivers. He will quickly be called upon to make plays alongside Derrick Mason as there are no other wide receivers on the roster (save Clarence Moore) that present themselves as top options for the long term. He should be considered as high as 1.05 in dynasty drafts and should not slip out of the first round under any circumstances.

Our Comparison - A skilled, quick route runner in the mold of Marvin Harrison; finds the open spot and hauls in the ball like Chris Chambers.

1.21 - Matt Jones - Wide Receiver - Jacksonville Jaguars

Overview: Wow! Who knew that a quarterback with such a questionable arm would be drafted ahead of Aaron Rodgers? What's that you say? He's not a quarterback? Oh. That's a bit puzzling, since this is the First Round of the NFL Draft and all. Can you enlighten me on how Matt Jones came to be drafted so highly, considering he apparently won't be playing quarterback…?

And thus beings the discussion of how Matt Jones, "2nd Day Quarterback Prospect," morphed in to Matt Jones, "1st Round Receiver prospect."

Jones has insane metrics. A 40+ inch vertical jump…sub 4.4 speed in the forty….great size. From a measurables perspective, he's a tier and a half above most everyone around him and perhaps one of the finest athletes to ever enter the draft. Problem is, he hasn't played a whole lot of receiver in the last 4 years. Despite reports that he was catching everything thrown his way in predraft activities and reports that he seems to do everything needed to be a successful wideout, he still hasn't proven it on the field. We were saying just the other day that fans won't know how Jones will adapt to being a receiver in the NFL until someone like Rodney Harrison nails him on a crossing route in the Fourth Quarter. Jones clearly has the physical skills as an athlete to succeed on the field. However, the list of physical freaks that didn't quite pan out is long.

Jones is going in to a situation in Jacksonville where if he develops quickly, he could find himself on the field very soon. He's already practicing as the third receiver with the first team. With any luck, Jones could have a chance to be an every down receiver based more on his own development than anything else, which is really the best thing possible for him.

Redraft: Jones is an interesting redraft prospect because he could provide an instant redzone threat for Byron Leftwich due to his outstanding size and jumping ability. It would hardly be a shock to see the Jaguars install Jones in goalline packages first and then work their way back. As such, despite his being a rookie, keep an eye on Jones development in preseason. He could be a late selection in deeper leagues that ends up contributing as a rookie if the Jaguars call his number inside the 20.

Dynasty: Jones should be considered in the latter part of Round 1 and should certainly go within the first twelve to fourteen picks on draft day. Young wide receivers are as much about upside as they are about situation. Almost all of them take a little time to develop and if they do, their team finds a way to get them the ball. If you believe Jones' physical skills will translate in to NFL production, do not be afraid to select him as high as you would like among receivers.

Our Comparison - Jones has not played enough Wide Receiver for us to accurately gauge his play at that position. He is a fantastic athlete who displayed good open-field running ability while in college.

1.30 - Heath Miller - Tight End - Pittsburgh Steelers

Overview: Miller was a bit of a predraft enigma since a hernia kept him from working out for teams. If he had been in ship-shape, he likely would have been drafted higher. As it turned out, the Steelers, a team in need of a tight end, were able to draft the best in this year's class at the end of the 1st round. Hopefully, he can provide both protection and a midfield outlet for Ben Roethlisberger for the foreseeable future.

Most young tight ends don't make it on to the field in their first season or two for one key reason: they can not block. They have a hard time standing up bigger defensive ends and redirecting speed-rushing linebackers. As such, it takes a couple years for them to learn these skills. Miller, however is a bit different. He spent a great deal of his final college season refining his blocking skills and technique. While he isn't the equal of Kellen Winslow from last season or Jeremy Shockey before him, Miller is a better blocker than most of the tight ends to enter the league in recent memory. Miller's considerable pass-catching skills will get him on the field. Developing as a successful blocker will keep him on the field.

Miller is quick off the line and runs routes rather well. He has the size and strength to get separation in the open field and while he isn't necessarily fast by most accounts, he does have the gear necessary to stretch the field at times. Miller's skill as a pass-receiver is well developed and should lead him to a reasonable amount of Fantasy success.

Redraft: Miller is worth rostering as a second tight end in leagues requiring a starter at the position. While he has come a long way as a blocker, we can not stress enough that his blocking ability will ultimately determine how much time he spends on the field, and how many passes he catches this year. With very few exceptions (Shockey, McMichael), rookie tight ends rarely offer consistent Fantasy production, particularly at the start of the season.

Dynasty: Miller is essentially in a tier by himself at the tight end position this season. Once the top tier running backs, wide receivers, and Alex Smith have been drafted, Heath Miller is worth consideration in leagues that start tight ends. We have seen him drafted most often at the turn between the 1st and 2nd rounds.

1.27 Sharod "Roddy" White - Wide Receiver - Atlanta Falcons

Overview: White catches the longball. We'll say it again: White REALLY catches the longball, averaging over 20 yards per catch the last two seasons of college ball. White's strength is in his hands and hand-eye-coordination. He also has the size, strength, and speed to develop in to an every-route receiver in the NFL. While White hasn't had much trouble getting separation in college, it will be interesting to see if he has the ability (or can learn the ability) to get space against the NFL's more physical corners, particularly in bump'n'run situations. White should also be a great help to Michael Vick as he has the ability to track errant throws and adjust his routes accordingly.
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Redraft: White deserves consideration as a WR4 or WR5 in redraft leagues with large rosters. Like most rookies who shouldn't be counted on to produce in year 1, White isn't a sure thing. However, he does have solid hands and is going to a situation where a large receiver with good route ability is needed. Even if he doesn't catch a great number of balls, White is enough of an athlete to be a home run threat whenever he catches the ball, making it likely that he'll have at least a couple useful Fantasy games.

Dynasty: White should be selected in the latter part of round one in most dynasty/keeper leagues even though we've seen him slipping to the mid-to-late 2nd round in many drafts.. Despite the fact that Michael Vick hasn't shown himself as the most accurate passer, White is capable of generating yardage after the catch and can adjust to off target throws. Whether he is a fantasy superstar or simply a decent WR is yet to be determined, but it won't be long until White shows himself as the most talented pass catcher on Atlanta's roster.

2.03 Reggie Brown - Wide Receiver - Philadelphia Eagles

Overview: As much as some receivers found themselves in better situations then Brown, lining up opposite Terrell Owens certainly has its advantages. While Owens is in a contract dispute, we think it's unlikely that he'll actually miss playing time this season. Considering Freddie Mitchell is no longer employed by the Eagles, it is a real possibility that Brown could end up as the starting third, or even second, wide receiver for the Eagles. However, while it would be easy to suggest that facing lighter coverage (due to defenses double-teaming Owens) should produce opportunities, the other Eagles wideouts weren't exactly fantasy gold last season.

As for his on the field production, Brown is able to make tough catches in tough spots. He adjusts to bad throws and is able to get separation in tight spaces. Brown appears to have the body control and awareness to make tough sideline catches and come down with the jump-ball when needed. On the flip side, he is not physical enough to overpower stronger defensive backs and his actual statistics from the last two seasons are hardly awe-inspiring.

Redraft: In the event that Brown wins the #2 receiver's job in Philadelphia, he could be worth a late round flyer in redraft leagues. More likely, he will make it on to the field in only select packages and produce meager statistics in this, his rookie, year.

Dynasty: Brown has a great deal of upside, particularly if he learns to play more physical both as a blocker and route-runner. The Eagles are a strong offense with a strong quarterback and an attention getting #1 wide receiver. However, Brown won't simply stumble in to good fantasy numbers. He still has some parts of the game to learn and refine and even then, he will have competition for the receptions that don't go to Owens or Brian Westbrook. He is worth selecting in the mid to latter part of the 2nd round in most dynasty/keeper leagues, with an eye towards him developing in to a second wide receiver in Philadelphia

3.19 Chris Henry - Wide Receiver - Cincinnati Bengals

Overview: A year ago, there were high draft expectations for Chris Henry. Truthfully, slipping to round 3 probably wasn't in the front of his mind. Regardless, this is a nice pickup for the Bengals, who could need some depth at WR if Peter Warrick isn't in stripes next season. Henry has all the ability in the world to go along with his fantastic size and speed. The problem is between his ears, where he seems to think he's already better than he really is and often forgets to put the team first. Chris Henry has displayed the kind of attitude problem that turns first round talents in to third round picks, and it will be interesting to see if Marvin Lewis can rein him in. Henry has the skills to develop in to a gamebreaking wideout in the NFL. However, if his attitude continues to get the best of him, he may simply add to the chorus of Bengal receiver's who talk a lot. If he can back it up on the field he could be a steal for the Bengals, and a great value play for Fantasy owners.

Redraft: Henry has very little value in redraft leagues as he is a rookie and will likely struggle finding playing time among the Bengals suddenly deep pool of receivers except as a fourth receiver. Even if he does make it on to the field regularly, he will likely be too inconsistent to start on a regular basis.

Dynasty: Henry warrants consideration in the 2nd tier of wide receivers in dynasty/keeper drafts. He's every bit as talented as the top-tier receivers, but his attitude makes it difficult to get too excited about his immediate future. Being surrounded by Kelley Washington and Chad Johnson will either be a huge help, or send his career in to a nose-dive before it begins. Regardless, Henry is uber-talented and if he ever "gets it", he could be every bit as productive as the other wide receivers in the 2005 draft class.

2.26 Terrence Murphy - Wide Receiver - Green Bay Packers

Overview: Terrence Murphy was a bit of a curious pick for the Green Bay Packers in the second round. The team could have upgraded at other positions of more need, but Murphy certainly presented some value for them and thus he was the selection.

What the team got in Murphy is a fast receiver with good size and better than average route-running ability. However, for all these positives, Murphy has never stood out nor produced like a top-tier receiver. In his last two college seasons, Murphy posted a mere 95 receptions for 1400 yards and a mere 3 touchdowns. The Packers clearly believe that Murphy's production had as much to do with the Texas A&M offense as his ability as they appear sold on him as a viable NFL receiver. If Murphy's on-field play ever catches up to his measurable assets, he could offer solid production for the Packers for the foreseeable future.

Redraft: Murphy offers little value in redraft leagues. Aside from being a rookie, he is likely to be stuck behind Javon Walker, Donald Driver, and Robert Ferguson on the depth chart, meaning playing time may be hard to come by. In the short term, however, Murphy may be used to return kickoffs.

Dynasty: Murphy is a bit of an enigma because, based on appearances, one would think he had caught a lot more balls and scored a lot more touchdowns in college than he actually did. Is he simply a "workout warrior", or is there a big-time wide receiver bursting to get out? We tend to think that his development will ultimately be decided by how much or how little he is able to factor in to the Packers passing game with so many talented receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. Murphy is certainly worth a 3rd or 4th round selection in most dynasty/keeper leagues. However, his growth is likely to be more of a long term project then some other receivers, so you should be willing to be patient waiting for him to develop.

2.7 Mark Bradley - Wide Receiver - Chicago Bears

Overview: While everyone was busy talking about Mark Clayton and Adrian Peterson, Sooner receiver Mark Clayton quietly put together a season worthy of a being selected early in the 2nd round. Bradley has nice size (6'1, 210) and speed (4.5) and catches the ball fairly well. He's not all that strong in press situations where he has to take on a physical corner, but he runs routes well and finds daylight almost as well as former teammate Clayton. As an added bonus, Bradley is a good kick returner who should be able to help the Bears' special teams as soon as he gets his jersey. So far in the preseason Bradley has looked solid, including a very nice week 1 performance.

Redraft: Unless Bradley beats out a couple veterans for significant time opposite Muhsin Muhammad, he's unlikely to be of much value in redraft leagues. Even then, he might not hold much value. However, keep an eye on the Chicago depth chart throughout the season on the chance that he moves to the starting lineup.

Dynasty: Bradley should be drafted in the 3rd tier of Wide Receivers among other guys with the physical tools to succeed but the need to smooth some rough edges. He is a nice sleeper with a real chance to develop and should be targeted in the mid-rounds of dynasty/keeper drafts.

2.23 Roscoe Parrish - Wide Receiver - Buffalo Bills

Overview: Right now, Roscoe Parrish is a fantastic return man and a marginal receiver. Before getting hurt in preseason, he had actually started taking reps as the third receiver on the team. However, he is now hurt and likely to miss a fair amount of time, which is always tough on a rookie

Parrish's strength is in his return ability. Similarly, his strength as a receiver is when he has the ball in his hands and a chance to try and create something on the run. While Parrish could someday develop in to a quality receiver as well, he still has plenty to work on, not the least of which being his route-running and ability to gain separation from defensive backs. Nonetheless, when healthy, he should immediately improve the Bills return game, which in itself is a good idea.

Redraft: Parrish likely won't have much worth in redrafts unless your league fields a kick returner. Furthermore he is currently injured, which could make playing time in 2005 tough to come by all together.

Dynasty: Parrish is worth considering in the mid to late rounds of dynasty drafts, higher than receivers who lack polish, but not as high as receivers expected to contribute in the receiving game right away. Expect him to be selected in the 3rd or 4th round of most keeper and dynasty drafts.

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