Picking up where we left off with Part 1, here’s Part 2 of our first take on the upcoming NFL draft.
9. Cincinnati Bengals — Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
The Bengals really need a DT, but with Ellis gone, they should go with Gholston here. He seems to take plays off sometimes, but he is too talented to fall any farther. Gholston will have a good combine workout and could possibly go higher after that, but he is a good pick here for the Bengals. If he learns to play every down in the game, this could be a steal.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Oh man, the Bengals need a defensive star. ANY help to that defense might help them put the team back together in the offseason. The Bengals got by for awhile by winning scoring contests, but they couldn’t survive this season when their offense lost its swagger. Rudi Johnson could be healthier this season, and Chad Johnson should stick around to help put this offense back together.
Look for Gholston to help this defense stop something every now and then, but it still needs a lot of help before it will be anything worth writing home about. The good news for Bengals fantasy stars is that the Bengals might see their offense getting more opportunities and maintaining a high level of play while winning more games.
10. New Orleans Saints — Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
The Saints need help on defense, and they really need help at corner. Talib has the size and athleticism to be a great corner in the NFL. He could also play a little offense like he did at Kansas–a la Devin Hester–and have an impact on both sides of the ball.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: This is a simple call. Fantasy owners ALWAYS started their receivers when they faced the Saints in 2007. With a better corner, the defense could snag some more interceptions, and more take aways equals more scoring chances for the offense. With Deuce back and Stecker discovered as a gear to turn the Saints offense, 2007 should be a bounce back year for all the Saints’ offensive fantasy hopes, but the defense still needs a few more improvements and work in special teams play before I give them my full endorsement.
11. Buffalo Bills — DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal
The Bills have a young quarterback, Trent Edwards, and could use a homerun threat downfield. DeSean Jackson is still a little raw, but he is a deep field threat on every play. He would be a good compliment to Lee Evans on the other side of the field. Jackson’s ability to run after the catch turns short passes into long gains, and he could also help in the punt return game.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Lee Evans had a miserable 2007 after his breakout performance in 2006. In 2008, expect Buffalo to try and take some heat off of him. Marshawn Lynch will give Trent Edwards throwing space, and a WR opposite of Evans to draw coverage could balance out this offense. Evans and Jackson should have big play potential, and depending upon the development of Edwards into a pro QB, 2008 could be a much better fantasy year for Buffalo’s passing game. Plus, with less heat on the running game, Lynch might be able to get some really good drives (see video).
12. Denver Broncos — Ryan Clady, OL, Boise St.
Broncos need a linemen, and Clady is the next best available. Still a little raw and needs some footwork, he could still thrive in Denver’s offensive Scheme. Clady will be a great asset to the running backs in Denver.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Watching Houston demoralize Denver in that Thursday game late in the season, it occurred to me that they should really improve their offensive line. Defensive line could use some help too, but Clady can tighten up the blocking for Cutler in the pocket and allow him to prove that his sparks of greatness in 2007 were the start of his emergence in the NFL. Cutler should breakout in 2008, and Selvin Young/Travis Henry will have no complaints either.
13. Carolina Panthers — Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
The Panthers need a quarterback, and Brohm is still sitting on the board. It would be tough for them to pass on him since their quarterback situation is rather confusing. Testeverde is required to wear a leather helmet if he plays next year, David Carr just plain sucks at football, who knows about Delhomme and then there is Matt Moore. We don’t know much about Moore, but he is not as good as Brohm. Brohm could take over the reins in Carolina next year if they pick him.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The QB situation in Carolina is a little uncertain right now. Delhomme should return, but no one can guarantee he will play game 1 to game 17 in 2008. Matt Moore was a decent replacement near the end of the season, but someone like Brohm would give Carolina the courage to let Testaverde retire–again–and tell Carr he can clear his locker and take his little white gloves with him. He would be the good backup they sought out so desperately this season.
As a side note, if they don’t take Brohm or Woodson here, they could take another RB who has a good combine show or a top WR to compliment Steve Smith and replace Drew Carter.
14. Chicago Bears — Sam Baker, OT, USC
This would be a perfect fit for the Bears. They really need to address their QB situation, but with the 3 main QBs already off the board, they should look to the OL here. Baker is a great pass blocker and could improve whoever is behind the line. Some might see this spot as a little high, but OL is sorely needed by Chicago. I would take Baker here.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Chicago is unsure of what to do with their QBs. None showed great promise in 2007. Expect them to take a QB somewhere in this draft to develop into an eventual starter, but there is no need to spend this pick on one.
Baker will be a quality blocker for the Chicago offensive line. His game will bring up the QB and probably make Cedric Benson look better than he did in 2007.
15. Detroit Lions — Jeffery Otah, OL, Pitt
I know what you are thinking. Aren’t the Lions supposed to draft a WR in the first round? Isn’t that a rule? Well, because of the Lion’s hot start, they are now picking 15th which is pretty rare for them.
The Lions are one of those teams that sorely need an O-linemen, and Otah is the next best available. The Lions would be passing over some good talent at other positions, but this is my mock draft. This is who I would take. Otah will immediately upgrade a line that needs it.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Pretty simple. Better offensive line means less concussions for Kitna. At some point–maybe this season–you might even see Detroit begin developing another QB under Kitna’s tutelage, and he will need better protection.
Kevin Jones might look like a decent RB with Mike Martz gone and a better line, and Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson could have stellar seasons–even without Martz–as long as Kitna has time to throw. This pick raises the bar for fantasy potential out of the entire Lions offense.
16. Arizona Cardinals — Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
The Cardinals need an immediate impact on defense, and Campbell is that guy. He is a huge guy that can come off the end with some speed. Arizona could reach for home grown product Antoine Cason from Arizona, but Campbell would be more of an instant impact.
Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I like instant gratification, and Campbell is just that. Warner will keep the offense going strong if Matt Leinart doesn’t earn his spot back for the 2008 season or re-injure his pretty face. Campbell on defense will help prevent Arizona from constantly playing shootouts. This news may be bad for fantasy owners, but don’t expect the impact to be too drastic. Arizona’s offense will still produce well into 2008, and Campbell might just help them win some games in categories other than fantasy points.
For IDP leagues, I don’t think Campbell will be star right at the start, but without many bodies to stop people in Arizona, you might keep an eye on him throughout 2008.
Look for the next 8 picks in Part 3.