TJ Yeldon – Running Back, Alabama
Selected: pick 4, Round 2 – Jacksonville Jaguars
I love this pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team in desperate need of a bell cow running back. Don’t get me wrong, Denard Robinson performed admirably when he took the reins last season but his frame simply isn’t built to handle a full season in the NFL. TJ Yeldon outplayed Eddie Lacy his freshman year at Alabama and we’ve all seen Lacy’s success. He is a complete back as is today but has room to add some bulk to aid with the weekly pounding he will take in the NFL. He did not impress in the speed department at the NFL combine posting a 4.61 - 40 yard dash. His shuttle times were nothing impressive either but his 22 reps on the bench press showed the kind of power potential he has within him. His landing spot is ideal given Jacksonville’s current roster. I’d expect him to get the lion’s share of the carries right away with Denard Robinson spelling him on 3rd downs. I prefer him in redraft leagues but he should drafted with confidence in all formats, TJ Yeldon is tough as nails and legit in every way.
Devin Smith – Wide Receiver, Ohio State
Selected: pick 5, Round 2 – New York Jets
One pick away from landing TJ Yeldon! That would have been a nice fit in the NYJ backfield! Devin Smith on the other hand is an excellent fit for this receiving corps. The Jets have a good formula in place right now with Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall and now Devin Smith to add a true deep threat to 3 wide sets. I like the move a lot in that it gives Geno Smith another weapon: they can really see if he is worth anything in 2015 and determine if they need to take a quarterback in next year’s draft. What Smith lacks in size he makes up for in speed and quickness – he can really take the top off a defense. His hands aren’t perfect but he is an absolute playmaker when he does catch the ball. Smith has been likened to Desean Jackson in many circles and I tend to agree. He ran a 4.42 – 40 yard dash at the combine but he plays much faster than that. He is not strong at all but he won’t need to be, expect a few home runs from him in 2015. He’ll be 3rd fiddle at best in a historically anemic passing attack so don’t over-draft him but if you are looking for a cheap Hail Mary in weekly fantasy football leagues he could prove useful in potential shootouts. Keep an eye on him during the preseason to see how the Jets plan to use him. I'd spend a second round dynasty pick on him but I'm not touching him in redraft leagues in 2015.
Dorial Green-Beckham – Wide Receiver, Missouri / Oklahoma
Selected: pick 8, Round 2 – Tennessee Titans
A real enigma in this year’s draft. Strapped with off the field concerns Green-Beckham slipped down into the 2nd round. He didn’t actually play any football at the university of Oklahoma so he is a year removed from the game, I’ll be curious to see how he performs in pre-season action this August. Considering the investment The Titans have made with the second overall pick Marcus Mariota it only made sense to surround him with weapons. No better place to start with a young quarterback than adding 6’5” 237 pound specimen with 32.5 inch reach. He ran a sub 4.5 – 40 yard dash at the combine but displayed zero strength. On film he reminds me a lot of his counterpart on the other side of the field - Justin Hunter. One of these guys is going to draw a ton of targets from Mariota. We’ve seen what Hunter has to offer so I’d give the slight edge to DGB right now. A risky dynasty target but one you’ll have to draft early if you want to own him. I’ll be nabbing him late in redraft leagues just in case he shows up in 2015. His lack of strength concerns me but they can’t all be Calvin Johnson.
Devin Funchess – Wide Receiver/ Tight end, Michigan
Selected: Pick 9, Round 2 – Carolina Panthers
The Panthers traded up a good bit to land Funchess. The celebration in their war room tells me they plan to pepper Funchess with targets from the get go. At 6’4” 236, Funchess is a matchup nightmare all over the field. The pairing with Kelvin Benjamin couldn’t be better. He was a tight end at Michigan initially before switching to wide receiver roughly the same time Jimmy Graham was fighting to be labeled a wide receiver (hmm) he was pretty much all Michigan had at times single handedly winning games for the maize and blue but some of those situations were man against boys situations – Funchess won through sheer size. That said, I do think he needs to play more like a man, he goes down way to easily and needs to win more 50/50 jump balls. He lacks speed but the strength is there. Besides, speed really isn’t his game as an ex- tight end. He’ll need some coaching and fine tuning but the trio of Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess is going to give defenses fits! A bit of a reach by the Panthers in my opinion but a nice fit in a weapon starved offense. You shouldn’t have to pay a ton for him in a dynasty league or redraft and should be targeted in both as a potential WR3. There is the off chance he gets labeled as a tight end which would send his value through the roof as a tight end lining up a wide out. Keep an eye on the Carolina roster this off season.
Ameer Abdullah – Running Back, Nebraska
Selected: pick 22, round 2 – Detroit Lions
Nice pick by the Lions here as they needed to add a running back after parting ways with Reggie Bush. I’ll spare all the talk of his outstanding Character and IQ (both of which are some of the best scouts have ever seen) and get straight to football skills. A strong decisive runner with great vision and respectable speed. He has the ability to bang it between the tackles but can also turn the corner keeping defenders honest. Rarely dances up to the line and makes his touches count. He’s not an ideal pass catching back but should be a good pairing with Joique Bell and Theo Riddick. I’d like to see him in there as a 2 down back for the sake of his career – he lacks ideal size as a feature back and really doesn’t have any more room for growth on his frame. However I won’t be surprised to see a full blown committee in his rookie season. He has had ball security issues, fumbling 13 times in his 4 years at Nebraska, but that can be fixed. Abdullah ran a 4.6 - 40 yard dash at the combine, obviously failing to impress in that department. He did however impress with 24 reps on the bench, a 42.5 inch vertical leap (tops among running backs) as well as a 10’10” broad jump (also tops among running backs) His 6.79 - 3 cone drill was again, tops among all running backs as was is 3.95 - 20 yard shuttle. He was 3rd in the 60 yard shuttle and 7th on the bench press (some of those guys really are full backs though) the bottom line is the Lions got a steal in Abdullah. The situation isn’t perfect from fantasy perspective in 2015 so I do prefer him in a dynasty league. If he was the 3rd rookie running back off the board in any format I wouldn’t be surprised or fault the person doing it. I do prefer Yeldon in redraft due to his size and situation but lest we forget, undersized running backs with crazy athleticism have succeeded in Detroit before (let’s not get ahead of ourselves) At any rate, draft with confidence in all formats for his skillset but temper expectations until we see how that Detroit backfield shakes out.
Maxx Williams – Tight End, Minnesota
Selected: Pick 23, Round 2 – Baltimore Ravens
Interesting Pick as the Ravens look to bolster their new Marc Trestman offense with targets for Joe Flacco. Maxx Williams should prove to a good developmental tight end. He has good speed (ran a 4.78 – 40 yard dash at the combine) and playmaking ability. Possesses a strong vertical leap at 34.5 inches – tack that onto his 6’4” frame and you’ve got one tall target! He’ll need to improve his route running a bit to succeed at the next level but that shouldn’t be a problem with the coaching staff in Baltimore. Maxx is a good target in dynasty drafts especially if Trestman manages to hang around for a few years – we all saw how useful he made Martellus Bennett. His redraft value really all depends on Dennis Pitta’s health. This selection tells me the Ravens are planning for the worst. Expect a learning curve if Maxx Williams starts week 1 but he could turn into a nice sleeper with Trestman's penchant for tight end usage in the red-zone. As the first tight end off the board he’ll be on a few fantasy manager’s radars but not all of them. Maxx’s price tag should be low enough to speculate.
More 2015 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Analysis to come! Stay tuned!
David – The Trade Expert