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2009 NFL Draft Preview

A Dynasty Draft Preview of the 2009 NFL Rookie Draft

Every NFL team has the difficult task of evaluating collegiate talent that has yet to perform in the offensive schemes run in the NFL.  The goal is to find players with skill sets that will translate from the Saturday league to the NFL.  Most players will take a year or two before they provide reliable fantasy value.  The elite players in the right situation can contribute from day one.  Finding the right players, and having a little patience are key to to dynasty dominance.

The Dynasty Rookie Draft is a necessary component to building a fantasy franchise that will contend for multiple seasons.  In addition to hopefully landing an highly productive youthful talent, the rookie draft provides and opportunty to further strengthen your team by developing your fantasy roster depth chart.  In 2009 we're seeing an influx of underclassmen prospects, ultimately adding to uncertainty and speculation when grading talent.  When deciding which players to target in your upcoming Dynsaty Rookie Draft consider the following items:  1) Elite talent can produce immediately, however the wrong situation will force you to wait for a return on an early pick, 2) B graded talent can be productive in the right situation, sometimes immediately, however upside is generally limited, 3) Most of your draft picks will fail to contribute on your fantasy team, however even a hidden gem or two will be found within the latest rounds of your draft, 4) Lastly, pay very close attention to the situation each player lands.  Sometimes it is better to draft a player that will provide huge value in two seasons than one that will provide average production through his career.  Dynasty leagues are sweet.   This type of strategy doesn't exist in redraft leagues.

Below you will find our top ranked rookie prospects at each fantasy skill position.  You will find in depth analysis on each of these players at the following:

2009 Rookie Quarterback Profiles
2009 Rookie Running Back Profiles
2009 Rookie Wide Receiver Profiles
2009 Rookie Tight End Profiles

Also check out our 2009 Rookie Rankings List.

Quarterbacks:

College quarterbacks rarely play from under center.   Shotgun sets and short passing attacks common in the spread offense make it difficult to recognize a players ability to make the throws required at the next level.  Inflated completion percentage can also be a false indicator.  This years three top rated QB’s are underclassmen, each with immense talent and a almost guarenteed learning curve.

1) Matt Stafford (Georgia) - Bred to be an NFL QB.  Lacks protoype height/weight, but can make all the throws.  Started 32 games in 3 years at Georgia.  Smart player.

2) Mark Sanchez (USC) - USC loves to send QB’s to the NFL.  Lacks protoype height/weight, but is shows mature poise.  Biggest knock is his lack of starts, and limited game tape of him ever playing from behind in a football game.

3) Josh Freeman (Kansas State) - Quickly moving up draft boards with his ideal blend of size and athleticisim.  Most likely faces a steep learning curve, but has the greatest long term upside of the three.  Has worked exclusively with new Bucs coach Raheem Morris at K-State.

4) Rhett Bomar (Sam Houston State) - Can make all the throws at the NFL level.  Extremely competitive player who tends to straddle the fence with confidence and cockyness.

5) Hunter Cantwell (Louisville) - Prototypical height and weight.  Only started one season at Loisville where he sat behind Brian Brohm for most of his college career.
   
Taking a Quaterback early in your rookie draft this year is a major risk-reward decision.  Pay close attention to where these QB's fall.  A QB that will be forced to start in 2009 risks facing a learning curve that can severely delay their progress (See Jamarcus Russell).  On the other hand, should they land in a position that will allow them to grow for a season or two, their dynasty value is significantly higher (See Aaron Rogers).  If you have the appropriate depth on your roster to allow these players to sit for a couple seasons, you are building a solid dynasty depth chart.

Keep your eye on: Pat White (West Virginia), Steve McGee (Texas A&M), Brian Hoyer (Michigan State) and John Parker Wilson (Alabama), Tom Brandstater (Fresno State).  


Running Backs:

We love the decision for Running Backs to come out a year early.  RB’s have short careers and the less tread the better.  The primary limitation for most rookie RB's to get on the field is their run blocking ability.  This years group (for the most part) exhibits average blitz pickup.  This years  top rated RB’s are not expected to start coming off the board until mid to late first round.  Not a good sign for immediate dynasty value.  Most value will be found based on situation.  

1) Knowshon Moreno (Georgia) – Versatile back who was a one year starter at Georgia.  Powerful inside runner and excellent recieving skills in the flat or the slot - a complete player.  If he can gain another 8-10 lbs. without losing speed, Watch Out!

2) Chris “Beanie” Wells (Ohio State) – Physical freak with durability concerns.  Not a good pass catcher.

3) Donald Brown (UCONN) – As high of an upside of any of this years backs.  A versatile player with lots of college carries.  Excellent skill set, however he tends to wastes too many steps in the open field, and considered too small for blitz pickup.  May not regularly hit the field right away.

4) LeSean McCoy (Pitt) – At only age 20, he has long term value as the drafts most protoypical tailback.  Slow 40 time at Pro Day hurt his stock.  Extremely elusive in the open field, if he can get there.

5) Andre Brown (South Carolina) – Quitely moving up draft boards with a great Combine performance.  Powerful one cut running style who also is a skilled pass catcher.  Durability a concern.

6) Rashad Jennings (Liberty) – A powerful back that will most likely vulture goal line carries while he moves into a starting role.  High character player that will be attractive to many teams. 

7) Cedric Peerman (Virginia) – Take a hard look at Cedric Peerman.  If he goes earlier than expected and it’s a good situation, make a move to get this guy.

8) Shonn Greene (Iowa) - A powerful runner that unfortunatley has not overly impressed for his size.  He will most likely fill the role of goal line vulture and fits well in a zone blocking scheme.  He must contiue to develop his skill set.

9) Jerimiah Johnson (Oregon) - Most likely will fill the mold of a Leon Washington, Darren Sproles, Jerome Harrison type.

10) Javon Ringer (Michigan State) - An all purpose back who's small size limits upside however during his time at Michigan State he proved he can carry the load.  He will most likely become a productive member of a running back committe.

There is talent in the Running Back draft class, however the teirs of talent are clearly distinguished.  Fantasy productivity from this class will be closely tied to situation.

Keep your eye on: Mike Goodson (Texas A&M), Ian Johnson (Boise State), Kory Sheets (Purdue), Glen Coffee (Alabama), Branden Ore (West Liberty State), Bernard Scott (Abilie Christine), James Davis (Clemson), Gartrell Johnson (Colorado State), Tyrell Sutton (Northwestern), Javarris Williams (Tennessee State).



Wide Receivers:

This years receiver class is considered the strongest in many years.  Although, most of the top rated WR’s are underclassmen, we expect to see approximately 5 WR’s taken in the first round.  The biggest concern for evaluators is the lack of true NFL route-tree patterns run at the college level.  Generally, the primary patterns at the college level are short leverage routes where speed and quickness benefit the receiver.  This also tends to inflate reception totals.

1) Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech) – Eventually could be a Pro Bowl receiver.  Toe injury and no 40 time hurt his stock...slightly.

2) Percy Harvin (Florida) – Probably the most explosive athlete in this years draft.  Concerns of an “I” attitude are concerning, but his toughness is unquestioned.

3) Jeremy Maclin (Missouri) – Hugely productive college career.  Skills and competitiveness to be a top talent however his downside is the time it will take to transition from the spread offense to NFL style route running.

4) Brian Robiskie (Ohio State) - Reports from NFL.com have stated Robiskie could be the most "sure player in the draft."  Good pedigree - son of a former NFL wide receiver who is currently the WR coach of the Atlanta Falcons.   

5) Kenny Britt (Rutgers) - The Big East's all time leader in receiving yards.  Drops too many passes, but could develop into an astounding player.

6) Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland) - Fastest man at the 2009 Combine (4.33 sec - 40).  Not hugely productive his senior season however didn't play in the most productive passing offense at Maryland. 

7) Hakeem Nicks (UNC)
 – Of the highest rated receivers, Nicks has the most experience running NFL style routes.  Great hands but lacks top end speed.

8) Ramses Barden (Cal Poly)
 - A 6' 6" 229 lb physical specimen.  He is smart player that dominated his collegiate competition.  Not the fastest player but his long stride reminds us of Randy Moss.

9) Mohamed Massaquoi (Georgia) - Quickly moving up draft boards with his impressive workouts and prototypical height-weight-speed ratio.

10) Derrick Williams (Penn State) - Has flown under the radar as he was never the go-to guy at Penn State.  An explosive player that can provide immediate value in the Wildcat offense.

The typical learning curve for a rookie Wide Receiver is two seasons.  There is plenty of fantasy talent in this years class, while many teams will commit to a first day pick on a wide out.  Look for more rookie WR's than usual to make fantasy impact in 2009 although don't get too caught up in the immediate value hype.

Keep your eye on:  Juaquin Iglesias (Oklahoma), Louis Murphy (Florida), Brandon Tate (UNC), Mike Wallace (Mississippi), Patrick Turner (USC),  Kenny McKinley (South Carolina), Johnny Knox (Abiline Christian), Austin Collie (BYU)

 
Tight Ends:

The Collegiate Spread Offenses typically require TE’s to line up in the slot and act as a “big receiver.”  While this bodes well for a pass catching TE at the college level, getting on the field in the NFL can be difiicult.  NFL offensive schemes as TE’s to show they can run block before they get on the field.  Those rookie TE’s that possess both run blocking and pass catching ability will be the first to make a fantasy impact.

1) Chase Coffman (Missouri) - Our top rated pass catching Tight End.  Probably picked up a thing or two from his father who played as a Tight End in the NFL for 10 years.

2) James Casey (Rice) - A dominant athlete who is worth giving early draft pick consideration.  Was the countrys second leading receiver in 2008 with 111 receptions for 1,375 yards and 13 TD's

3) Jared Cook (South Carolina) - Cook is the most elite athlete of this years Tight Ends.  He lacks the blocking skills to be an NFL tight end, but will be drafted for upside.  This guy has the potential to be a beast if he can transition to the Sunday game.

4) Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State) - This years top rated reality Tight End.  Possesses the top run blocking ability of all TE's in this years class.  Problem is, his skill set is not geared toward pass catching and therefore doesn't have much dynasty value.

5) Shawn Nelson (Southern Miss) - Will not have immediate value at the NFL level.  He is a work in progress with tremendous upside.

This is not a good year to spend early draft picks on Tight Ends.  Most of these players will disappear from relevancy while they transition to the NFL.  Keep tabs on each of these players development.  Should they make their way onto a starting lineup, we could be looking at the new breed of NFL (fantasy productive) Tight Ends.

Keep your eye on: Cornelius Ingram (Florida), Travis Beckum (Wisconsin) 


Random Thoughts:  


Of the skill positions, Running Backs have the most potential to provide immediate fantasy value.  Gil Brandt of NFL.com has used years of player analysis to determine Running Back Target Numbers for combine workouts.  These numbers obviously will not predict who will succeed, but definitly provide insight.  

Workout and Target # Top Performers
40 yd Dash - (4.55 sec) C Peerman, I. JohnsonK. Sheets, A. Brown, D. Brown, J. Williams, M. Goodson
*Note - 10 yard and 20 yard split times  (1.60 second target, and 2.65 taget) are important indicators of "1st and 2nd gear" evaluations of speed.  Unfortuantely we do not have an accurate list of player split times.  Notably though,  C. Peerman posted a 10 yd split time of 1.40 sec, which was .10 seconds faster than the second place finisher C. Wells (1.50 sec).
Bench Press - (20 at 225lbs) R. JenningsC. PeermanI. Johnson, K. Moreno, C. Wells, C. Glenn, J. Williams, A. Brown, G. Coffee, A. Foster, J. Ringer, L. McCoy, M. Mailei, B. OreB. Scott, J. Cook, J. Johnson, G. Johnson
*Note - The following highly rated players did not get 20 Reps: S. Greene, J. Davis, A. Kimble, K. Sheets, M. Goodson
Vertical Jump - (36 inches)  D. BrownC. PeermanM. Goodson, A. Brown, S. Greene, K. SheetsG. Coffee, A. Kimble, B. OreB. Scott
Broad Jump - (9 feet 9 inch)  C. Wells, B. OreD. BrownB. Scott, A. Kimble, G. Coffee, S. Greene, K. SheetsR. JenningsM. GoodsonC. Peerman, J. Williams
20 yd Shuttle - (4.20 sec)  B. OreB. ScottG. CoffeeD. Brown, J. Ringer, I. Johnson, K. Bell, R.  Jennings
60 yd Shuttle - (11.7 sec)  D. BrownR. Jennings, K. Bell, I. Johnson, K. Moreno, K. Sheets
3 Cone Drill - (7.25 sec)  B. Scott, K. Moreno, B. Ore, C. Ogbonnaya, R. Jennings, K. Bell, J. Ringer, M. GoodsonD. Brown, I Johnson, T. Sutton, A. Kimble, S. Greene, M. Lucky, J. Davis, K. Sheets


Again, combine workouts, although a good evaluation tool for NFL scouts, can sometimes only predict athleticisim and not necessarily indicate who can produce at the NFL level.  The following players were most commonly found in the table above:

Donald Brown: 6 categories
Cedric Peerman: 5 categories
Ian Johnson: 5 categories
Rashad Jennings: 5 categories
Kory Sheets: 5 categories
Branden Ore: 5 categories
Bernard Scott: 5 categories
Mike Goodson: 4 categories
Glen Coffee: 4 categories

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Underclassmen QB's are a major draft risk.  A little insight is provided by looking at the underclassmen QB's drafted in the last 10 years.  Each of these QB's were highly regarded as high upside collegiate prospects, and each earned an early 1st round draft pick within their respective draft class.

Draft Class  Player Overall Pick Comments
1999 Tim Couch #1 overall Non existent
2001 Michael Vick #1 overall Prefers dog fighting to playing football
2003 Rex Grossman #22 overall A backup QB
2004 Ben Roethlesberger #11 overall 2 Superbowl rings
2005 Alex Smith #1 overall A backup QB with durability issues
2005 Aaron Rogers #24 overall Sat for 3 seasons.  Top fantasy QB
2006 Vince Young #3 overall On the verge of becoming non-existent
2007 Jamarcus Russell #1 overall Huge upside with tremendous learning curve

  
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Of the skill positions, Underclassmen Running Backs have the highest rate of immediate success.  While we do not see any early 1st round picks in 2009 at the RB position, typically a pick within the 1st round is a good indicator that RB will serve an immediate role (ie. immediate fantasy value).  Since 1999, 15 underclassmen RB's have been selected in the first round.  They include:  Edgerrin James, Jamal Lewis, Michael Bennett, William Green, Willis McGahee, Kevin Jones, Steven Jackson, Laurence Maroney, Reggie Bush, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Felix Jones, Jonathan Stewart and Darren McFadden.  Pretty good company overall.

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Most mock drafts are projecting approximately 6 Underclassmen Wide Receivers to be selected in the first round of the 2009 draft.  For a position that typically requires a learning curve of about 2-3 seasons, the immediate value of some of these players may have been overhyped.  While some of the NFL's most productive WR's were selected in the first round as underclassmen, for example : Anthony Gonzalez, Calvin Johnson, Santionio Holmes, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson, there is a much larger list of bust prospects: Robert Meacham, Troy Williamson, Mike Williams, Reggie Williams, Michael Clayton, Charles Rogers, Ashlie Lelie, David Tyrell, Koren Robinson, Donte Stallworth and Feddie Mitchell.

Pat Kirwan of NFL.com and former GM of the NY Jets, suggests that a 50% success rate of underclassmen WR's is likely.  "If six players go in the 1st round, it will be a split, three and three."

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Head Coaching changes are becoming common in this win now league.  We will see 12 new Head Coaches in the 2009 season, each of will bring a new style of offense to their respective teams.  A brief overview of these changes is outlined below.  See Needs not Wants for additional detail.
    

Team 2009 Head Coach  Comments - Expect to See
Broncos Josh McDaniels Lots of throwing. Gap Scheme running style similar to NE.
Browns Eric Mangini  Still a major question mark.  This team currently has no identity.
Bucs Raheem Morris Zone Blocking Scheme rushing attack.
Chiefs Todd Haley Similar to the Cardinals of 2008.  Lots of Passing.
Colts Jim Caldwell Classic Colts style football.  Peyton is the field general.
Jets Rex Ryan Hard nosed, low scoring football.  Power running, Defense. 
Lions Jim Schwartz Power run game.  Throw to Calvin Johnson.
Raiders Tom Cable Lots of Running.  Let J. Russell evolve.
Rams Steve Spagnuolo West Coast Offense – Short intermediate passing, versatile running backs.
Seahawks Jim Mora  West Coast Offense - One cut zone blocking schemes.
49ers Mike Singletary Power running football. Game management at the QB position - bootlegging and on the run passing.