Breakdown of Top 24 Offensive Rookies in 2011 NFL Draft

Guest Post by Andrew Miley, Edited by Susan Shan

We’ve now entered the offseason of fantasy football. The Super Bowl extravaganza is over, the college all-star games have been completed, and the NFL combine is a few weeks away. Speculation on future rookies begins. Where will this rookie be drafted? How high should I rank this rookie over that one? Should I trade a rookie pick away in a dynasty league or should I try to move up or down in the rookie draft?

Here is a breakdown of my top 24 rookies and the team/round that each will be selected:

1) WR A.J. Green, Georgia – Green is tall, lanky, and tracks the ball well in the air. To sum him up, he is a game-changer. Think Randy Moss without the diva complex. (Carolina/Cincinnati, 1st Round)

2) RB Mark Ingram, Alabama – Ingram does everything well, but nothing outstanding. He was outplayed by his younger counterpart, Trent Richardson, partly because of injury. Ingram essentially reminds me of Curtis Martin. (Miami/New England, 1st Round)

3) WR Julio Jones, Alabama – When he is on, Jones is a beast; he’s strong and hard to cover. However, he also has a tendency to get lost on plays and to take plays off. (Arizona/Washington/St. Louis, 1st Round)

4) RB Mikel Leshoure, Illinois – Leshoure runs with power and can slash through the line. He could be Rashard Mendenhall with a bit more wiggle. (New England/New Orleans, late 1st Round)

5) WR Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh – Baldwin is very athletic with long strides. His inconsistent hands, though, are more a product of his concentration than ability. Regardless, he would greatly upgrade any team’s receiving corps. (St. Louis/Jacksonville/Kansas City, 1st Round)

6) RB Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State – Hunter is quick, works well in space, is very agile, can make people miss, and can already pass block. Although he may begin his career as a third-down back, he has the talent to become a starting NFL back in his first year. (Denver/Washington, 2nd Round)

7) RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech – Williams was plagued with injuries in his senior season. The question remains on whether he can return to his early college form. Williams is very quick with breakaway speed. (NY Giants/NY Jets, 2nd/3rd Round)

8 ) RB Daniel Thomas, Kansas State – Thomas is a smooth runner who seems to glide through the line – impressive for a bigger back at 6’2”, 228 lbs. However, the knock on Thomas is that he is too much finesse and not enough power. (Baltimore/NY Giants, 3rd/4th Round)

9) WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami, FL – Hankerson is very quick but not speedy. He has issues with catching the ball with his body instead of his hands. Still, I believe he can evolve into a No. 1 playmaker, much like how Reggie Wayne emerged from Marvin Harrison’s shadow. The best situation for Hankerson would be to have him start opposite a true No. 1 WR for a few years, like Wayne did. (Houston/Kansas City/Atlanta, 1st/2nd Round)

10) QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri – Gabbert is very athletic and has plenty of room to improve his game. However, his college numbers are not overwhelming with 16 TDs and 9 INTs in 2010. He would be best served if he held the clipboard for the first six games in order to adjust to the speed of the NFL. (Arizona/Tennessee/Washington, 1st Round)

11) TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame – Rudolph had his senior season at Notre Dame cut short due to injury. The talented TE has the rare ability to block and catch equally well. (Carolina/Denver/Cleveland, 3rd/4th Round)

12) WR Torrey Smith, Maryland – Smith is very similar to Leonard Hankerson in the sense that he isn’t the most explosive receiver, but is quick in his cuts and always finds a way to get open. Most people want to compare Smith to Darrius Heyward-Bey, his Maryland predecessor, but Smith is more athletic. (Detroit/Kansas City/Atlanta, Late 1st/Early 2nd Round)


13) WR Titus Young, Boise State – Young is quick and fast. He is similar in stature to DeSean Jackson, but doesn’t fight for the ball as well as Jackson does. Young tends to get outmuscled, and will need to be used in the slot or in motion in order to avoid getting jammed at the line. (Tampa Bay/Oakland/Atlanta, 2nd/3rd Round)

14) RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma – Murray is fantastic in space, but he might have problems running between the tackles in the NFL. Murray reminds me of a less talented Reggie Bush; however, just like Bush, Murray could be very effective in an offense tailored to his abilities. (Tampa Bay/Green Bay/Houston, 3rd/4th Round)

15) RB Jordan Todman, Connecticut – Todman is everything that his old college teammate, Donald Brown, is not. Todman is a physical, between-the-tackles runner with a second gear to get to the outside. He was not asked to catch a lot in college, but showed nice pass-catching abilities when he did. Physically, he reminds me of Warrick Dunn. (Chicago/Seattle, 4th/5th Round)

16) WR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy – Jernigan does everything well, but nothing outstanding. At 5’9”, 190 lbs., he struggles against physical cornerbacks. But, he sees the field well; he’s an electric returner who can also find holes in the defense. (Dallas/Jacksonville 3rd/4th Round)

17) QB Cam Newton, Auburn – Newton has a big arm and is quite athletic for a man his size. However, he has never played in a pro-style offense and will need to sit out a year in order to get acclimated to the NFL. (Tennessee/Washington/Jacksonville, 1st Round)

18) RB Delone Carter, Syracuse – Carter is a fire hydrant, built low to the ground with a wide, strong base. At 5’10”, 215 lbs., he is compact and delivers hits. Carter shows good field vision and falls forward on his runs. He would be a nice complementary back whose role could change over time as he transitions into a more complete RB. (NY Giants/Baltimore/Green Bay, 4th/5th Round)

19) WR Greg Little, North Carolina – Little was suspended for the 2010 season for accepting money from an agent. The former RB stands at 6’3”, 220 lbs., and is a very physical player both before and after the catch. The combine and pro day results will affect his stock the most. (Washington/Jacksonville/Chicago, 3rd-5th Round)

20) RB Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh – Lewis is a very athletic runner who can make defenders miss. He has good hands and wiggle, and reminds me most of former Panther teammate LeSean McCoy, though with less power and poorer vision. I am not convinced that Lewis can take the pounding that the NFL pours on running backs. (Washington/Tampa Bay/Indianapolis, 4th/5th Round)

21) RB Bilal Powell, Louisville – Powell is a straight-ahead runner with soft hands. At the Senior Bowl, he demonstrated his ability to run behind his pads, delivering blows to the defense. Powell may start as a short-yardage back, but he will showcase his all-around ability in time. (Baltimore/Philadelphia, 4th-6th Round)

22) WR Austin Pettis, Boise State – Pettis can make the circus catches that take your breath away. Unfortunately, he can’t sink his hips in order to generate more power and speed; thus, he struggles to get away from tight, press coverage. If Pettis is used in the slot, he could be a productive NFL receiver. (Washington/Tennessee, 4th/5th Round)

23) TE D.J. Williams, Arkansas – Williams is similar to Dustin Keller and Aaron Hernandez in the sense that Williams is willing to play FB/HB/TE whenever he is needed. He also has good hands and can find open spots in a defense, especially in zone coverage. (Denver/Arizona/Tampa Bay, 4th/5th Round)

24) QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas – Mallett, the much maligned signal-caller from Arkansas, has been moving all around draft boards. He has a strong arm and is very statuesque in the pocket. Although his leadership and maturity have been questioned, he found a way to increase his completion percentage and TDs each year in college. His reliance on his offensive line may keep him from playing much in 2011. (San Francisco/Tennessee/Miami, 1st/2nd Round)

Let’s revisit this rookie list once the combine and individual pro days have been completed. Hopefully, the CBA will be signed by then, and we’ll have a clearer picture of what each NFL team needs after free agent signings fall into place.

You can find me on Twitter @AndrewMiley. For more of my dynasty football thoughts, visit www.dynastyblitz.com.

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