Jay Cutler. Denver Broncos.
New blocker in Ryan Clady and a new receiver in Eddie Royal. If you count that Cutler will also be in better health after learning he has type 1 diabetes and getting informed on how to manage it during the season, Cutler should improve in 2008 with Clady protecting him. Royal could be a factor later in the season, but the receivers are already strong as long as Brandon Marshall recovers well from his TV punching.
Jason Campbell. Washington Redskins.
Even though his two starting receivers may now be in danger of losing their fantasy value, it’s only because Campbell got a whole new tribe of offensive weapons. With Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Fred Davis coming in, Jim Zorn, a former QB coach, taking the helm, the powerhouse of Chris Cooley and the addition of Brandon Albert for protection, Campbell will be able to spread the ball more effectively and could be a fantasy sleeper at QB for 2008.
Marion Barber. Dallas Cowboys.
Barber’s a winner because he got a great running mate in Felix Jones. As he is currently working out a long-term deal, Rashard Mendenhall might have been seen as a sign the Cowboys could do without Barber. With Felix Jones and Tashard Choice added to the mix, Barber can feel secure in his role as the starting RB while also getting some relief. The good for fantasy owners is that these rookies will still make an impact and make a threatening backfield in Dallas. Choice will eventually push and spell Barber while Jones is a perfect compliment who will compete for time. Barber can’t rest easy just yet, but these are the picks that he would want to run with if he had the choice.
Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh Steelers.
There’s no way to know how the Steelers will choose to put the ball in the end zone this season. Big Ben got his big, tall end zone target in Limas Sweed and now has a powerful runner in Rashard Mendenhall. Needless to say, the offense will be firing on all cylinders this year, and Big Ben won’t hesitate to throw TDs with Sweed and Heath Miller making some big targets.
Lee Evans. Buffalo Bills.
In James Hardy, Evans might finally find the perfect partner to create a dangerous dual threat in Buffalo. While Lee Evans is a deep threat, Hardy can develop into a big, possession receiver that will pull coverage from Evans. If Trent Edwards learns to get Evans the ball this season, Evans could return to form as an elite fantasy WR.
Rex Grossman. Chicago Bears.
He gets better protection with Chris Williams, a receiver in Earl Bennett and new talent at RB with Matt Forte. The offense is restocked enough that Grossman might have a legitimate shot to redeem himself in 2008.
Ronnie Brown (and Ricky Williams). Miami Dolphins.
Jake Long will move some people around in front of Brown this year, and he didn’t need the help last year to put up big numbers. With Bill Parcells revamping the offense and surrounding Brown with improved talent, Brown should bounce back from his injury better than expected. Ricky Williams could also be big depending upon how much size he can get back before the season starts and whether or not he keeps “grounded” — if you catch my drift.
With just 24 hours to go until the draft happens, I present my final mock draft. This draft presumes that we get some great fantasy football value out of the first round, but it’s likely that many owners will play it safe or take big risks on some talent in the first. Here’s how I see tomorrow going down:
The Fantasy Football Fools 2008 NFL Mock Draft with Fantasy Impact
Parcells got his man. No real fantasy impact, but Long might allow John Beck to get a throw off and give Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams more room to run.
St. Louis Rams
Doesn’t help Marc Bulger or Steven Jackson, but Dorsey will make a scary addition to the defensive line for St. Louis next year. Maybe the offensive line won’t have to do much.
The original projected first pick — besides Dorsey — will get stuck in the position of becoming a face of the new Vick-less Falcons franchise. The defense gets a bump, but there is no chance you want to take them in a fantasy draft in 2008. Chris Redman will be QB — at least through round 1 — and he’s not completely horrible.
Do I think Al Davis is this smart? No. Does Oakland need a Darren McFadden? No. Michael Bush and Justin Fargas are enough. Take the tackle, Davis. Just do it. His value will be seen in fantasy defense and IDP when Oakland actually stops the run.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chief’s line needs to significantly improve if they keep Brodie Croyle healthy and give Larry Johnson a decent chance at yardage. His impact helps both these guys’ fantasy value next year.
New York Jets
Mangini will be shocked that he dropped to them, but he won’t question taking the most talked about player in this year’s draft. McFadden kills Leon Washington’s value, but he can do things with the newly-improved O-line that will give him huge potential for fantasy. He will probably end up somewhere between Adrian Peterson’s 2007 season and Reggie Bush’s rookie year.
New England Patriots (from San Francisco)
I know you thought they would take Matt Ryan, but if McKelvin was guarding Plax in that fateful game, Tom Brady might have another ring. The Patriot defense still isn’t a safe bet in 2008 since they will inevitably run up the score and play loose on opponents.
I’m just solving everyone’s problems. With Steve McNair out, they gotta go Ryan here. Kyle Boller immediately hates him, but Matt Ryan and Troy Smith are the only two who have any shot of being the next franchise QB in Baltimore. He might have value late in the season but isn’t draft-worthy except as a value pick late in the draft.
A monster of a DT to finally make the Bengals stop something on defense. No fantasy value change because you still don’t want the Bengals, but Ellis could be IDP worthy.
New Orleans Saints
Saints re-work their defense to compete and not play from behind. May be bad for fantasy, but maybe their linebackers will be getting some sacks next season.
No WR here worth taking to take heat of Lee Evans — can’t solve everyone’s fantasy problems in one draft. Rodgers-Cromartie adds some talent to the Buffalo defense with just one kidney, but they still have to play the Patriots.
With Clady gone, they take Williams, and they love this guy. Williams will better protect Jay Cutler and give Selvin Young and Travis Henry some big play ability.
His big back form will go nicely with DeAngelo Williams in Carolina, but Williams is the guy to watch there. Stewart should have little impact until late in the season so he’s probably waiver wire material.
Albert + lighting a fire under Cedric Benson = Chicago might have a run game in 2008.
The Lions can’t pass on a RB with Tatum Bell currently starting. Mendenhall mixes it up with Bell and might be worth a early waiver if he shows to be a big part of the offense — the scoring part. Might try to snag him as a value pick late.
This big CB will help the Cardinals start to lock down opposing passing games and replaces Rolle as Rolle moves to safety. Defense is better but not one of the top to snag in fantasy. Could be game-to-game depending on the match up.
Kansas City Chiefs (from Minnesota)
The Chiefs got the offensive line covered earlier so here they look to fill the hole that Jared Allen left. Harvey fills it, but the Chiefs D is likely to be game-to-game.
Last elite corner goes to the Texans to fortify a pretty decent defense. I’ll classify them as “one to watch” for 2008 if the offseason goes well.
Andy Reid hates taking WRs in the first round, and he won’t. Otah helps Westbrook and McNabb out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
First WR off the board could be a star by mid-season. As the rest of the Tampa Bay WRs get older, he will stay the same age.
Merling brings backbone to a decent defense to stop the run. Possible low-end defense for 2008.
Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland)
The other Arkansas boy goes to Dallas to compliment Marion Barber. His fantasy value is slight, but his presence is felt nonetheless. He’ll mix it up but not take much from Barber. Could be a waiver late if he finds a role.
Cherilus improves a line that already worked well together last year. Maybe less rushing yards for Big Ben? He’ll have plenty of time to throw and the run game will stay good.
Vince Young gets his guy, and the Titans may just discover offense in 2008. If Sweed goes here, he is definitely worth catching as a late round value and could emerge as the No. 1 in Tennessee if VY and Sweed reconnect.
Seahawks get a safety that can finally hang and improve the secondary. Seahawks D is always worth a play when home in the loudest stadium in the NFL and sometimes even when away.
Balmer locks up the run defense of Jacksonville even more than last year. Already great defense gets better — very draftable for fantasy.
San Diego Chargers
A San Diego defense gets scarier, and once again, a very draft-worthy defense finds its guy. San Diego will have a top defense in 2008.
Pacman Jones is no lock to be reinstated and depth at CB would be nice. The Cowboys defense gets a significant upgrade if both Flowers and Pacman join the fold with Terrance Newmann already there. This defense is already draftable without Pacman. More fantasy value if Cowboys get crazy and take DeSean Jackson or James Hardy here.
San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis)
Mike Martz will want another playmaker to toy with in this 2008 debut in San Francisco, but there’s lots of toys there already for a Frank Gore centered offense. Jackson is likely not to show up this year but could emerge late if Bryant Johnson or Isaac Bruce doesn’t work out.
Green Bay Packers
Mayo improves the already good linebacking core of Green Bay in coverage. No way Green Bay wants the Giants to get this guy. Fantasy-wise Green Bay should be one of the tops next year as they will likely draft depth at cornerback in later rounds.
New England Patriots (from San Francisco)
Cheaters never win — at least, not their fourth Super Bowl.
New York Giants
Loudmouth still makes the first round and battles with Steve Smith to take over the No. 2 spot. Watch for a mid-season emergence…depending on what kind of turf he has on game day. Kelly could be worth a waiver pick late in 2008.
I compiled a list of mock drafts when only the cool kids were doing it before the Combine, but now it’s blowing up like Pokemon. I guess we should pump out another big long list of info for you. Would that make you happy?
Those other mocks were long before all the info leaks, late pro days and insider info we have gathered since the Combine. I guess they’re sort of like that third-grade teacher that you had a crush on decades ago. Why was she so hot back then? Now she’s just old news.
Here’s what football sites around the Web are projecting for next weekend’s festivities now.
Sports Data Hub’s breaking down each team’s needs throughout the draft starting with Miami and working their way down. [SDH Links no longer available.] The team needs are also being exposed over at The Football Expert and Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown.
Massive Link Dump of Mock Drafts
Mike Mayock is always a pro at these draft things. It’s like he’s an expert that specializes in just this time of year.
What’s that you say? He lives in a cave for the other 9 months of the year? I don’t believe that, but it would explain why he has such a big grin in all his mugshots.
Football Jabber had to go and make everything sound so permanent with his “Final” Football Jabber Mock Draft. He does provide three rounds and two rounds of very satisfying commentary–or “jabber” I guess might be more appropriate.
NFL GridIron Gab serves up their latest with Matt Ryan going to the Jets. Wait, the Jets? That’s crazy talk. They already have Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington–oh wait, maybe they should take Matt Ryan.
Each of The Football Expert’s experts–did the world just explode when I said that?–is featured in the database, but Michael Abromowitz leads them all off with a frequently updated four-round draft. [Link to Abromowitz’s draft no longer available.]
The Sports Outlaw Forums’ Miller_time puts his mock draft to the boards. [Link no longer available]
The local boys — at least my local boys — have weighed in too with Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News) and Lance Zierlein (Houston Chronicle) posting their mock drafts. Is it blasphemy if Gosselin didn’t push a better receiver pick than James Hardy to the Cowboys at 28? [Unfortunately, link to Gosselin’s mock draft is no longer available.]
Consensus offers enough drafts to keep you reading them until the first pick on Saturday. No, really.
I know you still looked, Matt. Now your confidence is shot.
Well, War Room Report won’t give you much more confidence, Matty boy. Baltimore gets you in this one at eighth overall.
Pro Football Weekly doesn’t need your silly teams or reality. They just rank players based upon their grades from scouting reports. (Note: Matt Ryan, you can look at this one. It will make you feel better.)
Draft Stock lists them all out minus the frills. Although they do have little helmet cuts to signify each NFL team. That’s classy. [Link no longer available]
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.