Steve Braun weighs in on some potential hidden gems in this year's NFL draft. It's easy to predict Aaron Rodgers will have a good year, this deep analysis is where your leagues are won. ALL of the values of these players will depend on where they land, but the potential exists and in deep leagues sometimes prying out that nugget that gets polished into gold is the difference between middle of the pack and winning your league. We'll weigh in with more thoughts AFTER the draft, but keep your eye on the landing spots for some of these potential steals.
Early Fantasy Sleepers of the 2013 NFL Draft
After the first few rounds of any NFL draft, a teams chances of drafting an eventual starter decrease dramatically. For fantasy GM’s in re-draft leagues your chances of finding a productive player in year one are even less. But everyone remembers the Alfred Morris’ and Russell Wilsons, the guys who are drafted late and are a long shot to ever be productive fantasy players let alone as a rookie. But they get put in a position to contribute right away and perhaps the lack of pressure that comes from low expectations helps them excel. And dynasty GM’s are always hoping to find the next Tom Brady, a 5th rounder who after several years on the bench turn into hall of famers that can set up your fantasy team for years.
With that in mind, here are some players to watch for in the later rounds of the 2013 NFL draft.
Joseph Fauria(TE UCLA) – Fauria is huge, 6-7 255 lbs with long arms and big hands. In other words he’s the definition of a red zone threat. He played a lot of slot receiver in college so the receiving skills are there but his blocking skills are minimal at this point. I believe Fauria will learn fairly quickly and if he goes to a team in need could win a starting job in training camp, possibly even in a hybrid receiver/tight end role. If he goes to a pass-first offense he could definitely be a goal line favorite as soon as 2013.
Marquise Goodwin(WR Texas) – Goodwin has the kind of blazing speed that makes some scouts drool. If the late Al Davis were still running things in Oakland we’d be talking about a potential first round pick. But as it is most mocks are slotting Goodwin in the 4th round or later. He’s a raw talent who was used sparingly at Texas for some reason so his game tape is limited. But I haven’t seen anything to make me think that with some quality coaching Goodwin can’t become one of the most dangerous deep threats in the game. Besides lack of playing time, Goodwin is also on the small side but he’s solidly built and catches the ball well away from his body. If he gets drafted by a receiver needy team he should be at least a #3 wideout starting week one.
Dennis Johnson(RB Arkansas) – Johnson spent most of his college career behind Knile Davis in Arkansas, but performed very well as the lead back when the opportunity presented itself. I don’t think he’ll ever grow into an every down back at the NFL level but as a change of pace player Johnson could be lethal. He’s an excellent pass catcher and also blocks well so he should not be a liability in pass protection. Possibly one of the biggest reasons Johnson’s being mocked in the 5th round by many is his fumbling issues. If he can show in camp that he can hold onto the ball he may be given a chance as a third down back right away.
Matt Scott(QB Arizona) – Scott was getting talked up back in March to the point that he was looking like a possible third round selection. The chatter has subsided though and I think he’s likely fallen back to somewhere in the fifth round. He was great at the Combine and his Pro Day, he excels in the read option offense and is an overall impressive athlete. He does need work on his deep throws as well as his mechanics which can be worrisome. But if he gets drafted by a team who doesn’t need him to start this season he should develop nicely in a couple of years into a legitimate starting QB. As for this year, well Russell Wilson was drafted as a developmental QB and look how that turned out. Keep an eye on Scott in camp to see what happens.
Chance Warmack(G Alabama) – I know, Warmack will be a first round pick so why am I mentioning him in a draft sleeper column? Bear with me. Warmack is probably the best prospect at the guard position to come along in the last two decades. As a run blocker he’s a bulldozer and should have no problem creating huge holes for his running backs starting this season. So watch where Warmack gets drafted, if that team also takes a running back late – and especially if that team is not deep at running back – move that RB up your rankings because he should have no problem running behind Warmack.
Jelani Jenkins(OLB Florida) – For those of you in IDP leagues, keep an eye on Jenkins. His draft stock is down mostly due to various injuries in 2012, but this guy is stellar. Very athletic, fast and a hard hitter, Jenkins should open some eyes in training camp and if he goes to a team that’s a little thin at LB he could earn a starter’s job. I do think he’d be better served as a part time player this year though, he came out a year early and could use some work on his overall game.
The following are a few other names to keep an eye on later in the draft:
Jordan Reed(TE Florida) – I’ve seen plenty of comparison to Aaron Hernandez, if he goes to a team short on tight ends he could surprise.
Lavar Edwards(DE LSU) – Would be ranked higher in the draft if he saw more playing time in college. Edwards could be a pass rush specialist right away if not more.
Tavarres King(WR Georgia) – Seems to have all the qualities teams look for in a receiver so I’m not sure why he’s expected to go in the fifth round or later.
Miguel Maysonet(RB Stony Brook) – Maysonet is a little undersized but showed in college he has the skills to be a successful ball carrier at the NFL level.