Now that you’ve heard from both Jaysports and Burgandy about their respective rookie draft analysis it’s my turn to spew my thoughts. Rookie drafts are always hard to pin down. Do you favor talent over situation, situation over talent, a mix of both? Do you go consensus or stray from the norm? The answer is different for everyone and no one answer is correct. I try to mix in a little of everything when I rank my rookies. I consider talent above all but factor in opportunity to a large extent as well. Here’s the way I see it:
1.01 Trent Richardson, RB – CLE: This is the no-brainer of this years draft. The perfect meld of opportunity and talent. T-Rich is a top tier talent and will no doubt be the focal point of the Browns offense on the level that Hillis was a couple years ago. The best part is Richardson has twice the talent that Hillis does and will be a stud. Of that I have little doubt.
1.02 Justin Blackmon, WR – JAX: There are a LOT of people panicking over Blackmon’s landing spot. For me this is where you focus more on talent than on situation. I agree with all the nay-sayers that his situation isn’t good. Gabbert is poor at best and the Jags organization is going nowhere fast. Still, Blackmon is the best WR in this draft and will get targets upon targets since he’ll be the best player on the team not named MJD.
1.03 Doug Martin, RB – TB: This is another great combo of talent and opportunity. Martin grabs the 3 spot because he should be the starter in TB and put up some nice stats. He has a lot of talent and is significantly better than Blount. Tampa’s offense also has a solid O-Line and decent enough players in the passing game to take the pressure off Martin when necessary. He’ll be a good one.
1.04 Michael Floyd, WR – ARI: Floyd is a great WR prospect. His combo of size and speed is rare and he should be a solid pro. Lining up next to and learning from Fitz certainly won’t hurt his chances. The question here is can Kolb support two productive WRs? Even if he can’t Floyd is good enough to take this early because while talent remains constant situation is bound to change. Even if it takes some patience I like Floyd to flourish in the NFL.
1.05 David Wilson, RB – NYG: Wilson put up monster stats in college and has what it takes to succeed at the next level. The NYG landing spot is a good one because while he may not be the focal point right away he’ll definitely get his chances with the oft-injured Ahmad Bradshaw ahead of him. The G-Men will find a way to use their newly acquired weapon in an already potent offense.
1.06 Kendall Wright, WR – TEN: I was hoping for Wright to land somewhere better but it also could have been worse. I believe in his talent regardless. He showed in college he has the speed and burst of a top tier WR prospect even if his combine numbers were a bit less than expected.
1.07 Andrew Luck, QB – IND: The best QB prospect in recent memory will have every chance to succeed at the next level. It’s clear that Indy has committed to him and will try their damnest to make him into the next Peyton. They have to prove that letting Manning go wasn’t a mistake and they’ve drafted some weapons around him already. Add in the fact that Luck is in the same tier in terms of talent and you have a winning combination.
1.08 Lamar Miller, RB – MIA: This is where talent trumps situation in a big way. Going into the draft I had Miller as my #2 rookie RB and felt he had the talent and big playmaking ability to make him a great pro. I still feel that way despite his fall in the draft. What I saw from him is enough to convince me he still deserves to be ranked here. He just joins a crowded backfield and may take a while to flourish. Keep in mind many won’t be as high on him as I am so you an potentially get Miller later than this if you’re willing to roll the dice a bit.
1.09 Robert Griffin III, QB – WAS: Griffin’s talent is off the charts and he’s another QB that will have every chance to succeed at the next level. He’s got great rushing ability but also has much more polished passing abilities than other similar QBs who have come before him. His receiving core still isn’t what I’d like but he’s a great value at this point in the draft.
1.10 Coby Fleener, TE – IND: Being drafted by the Colts and reuniting with Luck is great for Fleener’s value. He was already my top TE and is a ridiculously talented receiver. He’s sure to get a lot of targets from luck and his size/speed combo ensures he should be able to take advantage of him. I love this pick.
1.11 Reuben Randle, WR – NYG: I really like Randle’s talent and potential. I think he has yet to show his true colors and being in a great passing offense should help him to show it. While there’ll be plenty of competition for targets with Nicks and Cruz in town I think he eventually emerges and becomes a vey good WR.
1.12 Stephen Hill, WR – CIN: This guy oozes raw talent and ability. His measurables at the combine were enough to impress everyone. He has the skills to be the biggest surprise among rookies this year. If he develops quickly then watch out.
1.13 Alshon Jeffery, WR – CHI: I really didn’t like Jeffery coming into the draft. His weight issue reek of laziness and while he seemed to slim down and ran great at his pro day I’m wary of how long it will last. Still, his talent, size, and hands are undeniable. Chicago has a very nice thing going there with Cutler, Marshall, and now Jeffery. He’ll have every chance to be good if he just stays focused.
1.14 Mohamed Sanu, WR – CIN: A solid prospect lands in an up and coming offense. Sanu has ups and grabs catches that are seemingly out of his reach. Should come in handy since his new teammate AJ Green is doing just that on a game-by-game basis. He’s not on par with Green’s talent but should develop into a solid starter on the other side.
1.15 Isaiah Pead, RB – STL: Pead has a shiftiness and explosiveness that should make him a dynamic playmaker. He’ll start out as a COP back to SJax but as recently stated by the coaching staff will be expected to develop into the starter at some point. He has the size and talent to do so. Keep an eye on him.
1.16 LaMichael James, RB – SF: Much like Pead before him James is a playmaker. He’s fast, explosive, and speedy. The only question is how he’ll be used. It’s already a really crowded backfield in SF with Gore, Hunter, and Jacobs all vying for carries. If used as a pass catcher out of the backfield and split out wide James could hold some nice value.
1.17 AJ Jenkins, WR – SF: A bit of a surprise when taken Jenkins is speedy WR who’s tough enough to go over the middle and should be a playmaker. He goes to a team in need of playmakers at the WR position. Sure they just signed Randy Moss and Mario Manningham but they don’t fit the bill. Jenkins can and probably will if Alex Smith continues to progress under Harbaugh.
1.18 Ryan Tannehill, QB – MIA: He’s a starting QB right away and will have the opportunity to prove himself in this league. He’s not the blue chip prospect the other two QBs are but he’ll have just as much opportunity. There aren’t a lot of top-notch QBs in this league so it’s worth the risk to see if you can nab one at this point.
1.19 Brian Quick, WR – STL: The rams need WR help and Quick could be what they’re looking for. They grabbed him before most thought they would so obviously they believe. He reportedly blew the coaching staff away in workouts for the team and there’ll be plenty of opportunity for him to make and impact. Bradford is a capable QB so maybe STL has finally found their answer.
1.20 Bernard Pierce, RB – BAL: The big bruiser becomes Ray Rice’s new handcuff. He’s a handcuff for now but should spell Rice at times and could steal some goal line looks. He can step in if Rice should get injured and should develop into a solid RB.
1.21 Ronnie Hillman, RB – DEN: Denver has a need for a viable RB. McGahee is aging and breaking down and Knowshon just never developed into the back many thought he’d be. Hillman could be just what the doctor ordered. But does he have the size to do so? He was super productive in college and should be a good COP back for McGahee. Could catch a lot of balls from Peyton if used right.
1.22 Dwayne Allen, TE – IND: The second best TE in the draft just happens to go to the same team as the first. This hurts his fantasy value a bit but certainly doesn’t kill it. A young QBs best friend are his TEs. They create mismatches on the field and are easy dumpoffs when pressure comes. Allen is talented and well rounded. He should find a place on this team.
1.23 Chris Givens, WR – STL: Again the Rams need WRs in the worst way. This is another pick based on solid opportunity. Givens is a good propect and given the opportunity should develop nicely in that system.
1.24 Cyrus Gray, RB – KC: While he’ll be stuck behind Charles and Hillis in the short term Gray has the attributes to emerge at some point. He plays like both a scat back and a short yardage specialist. He’s well rounded, has decent enough size, and I expect him to get playing time at some point. Just don’t expect it right away.
So that’s the way I see the top 24 going down. The picks may not fall that way because of the different player valuations I hinted at before. Still, this is the order I feel guys should go based on what I know. Like it? Hate it? Let me know. Either comment on this article or post in the forums. Feedback is welcome.