Impact Rookies - Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Posted 9/5 by Colin Dowling, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
1.3 Braylon Edwards - Wide Receiver - Cleveland
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
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
1.10 Mike Williams - Wide Receiver - Detroit
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
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
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
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
.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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.