Since I haven’t yet finished ranking prospects — a list that will change pretty constantly anyway — I wanted to give a brief update on just a few of the early-round prospects. I’ll try to stick to those that have fantasy relevance but forgive me if I stray from that path a bit. This year’s draft is lacking in elite talent particularly on the offensive side of the ball, so I’ll be highlighting some defensive players as well.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, Geno Smith is by no means worthy of a top-10 pick. In fact he may not be worthy of being picked in the first round. He’s a good athlete but he’s just not a great passer by any means; his decision making is questionable and he’s not terribly accurate, particularly to the intermediate field. And while yes, he’s obviously able to make plays with his feet, he’s not an elite runner like Robert Griffin or Russell Wilson. After the Alex Smith trade, it’s obviously highly unlikely he goes first overall, but the value given to the quarterback position will probably make him a top-10 pick. He’s pretty much the consensus best quarterback in the draft but I won’t be targeting him in my dynasty drafts. It is possible, however, that he holds some rookie year value a la Vince Young depending on where he ends up.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Luke Joeckel is getting all the hype at the tackle position (rightfully so) but Eric Fisher is no slouch either. He didn’t consistently face elite competition like Joeckel did at Texas A&M but he’s a well-rounded tackle that has the potential to control a football game. He consistently gets to the next level in the run game and holds his own in pass protection as well. Unless some unforeseen circumstances arise before the draft, I don’t see a scenario where he makes it out of the first half of round one, and he could easily be a top-10 pick. He’s the type of player that could contribute immediately, perhaps on the right side.
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Reports are coming out that Lattimore is progressing quite well in his recovery from knee surgery, some even speculating that he could be ready by the beginning of the season. That might be a somewhat lofty goal considering the severity of the injury but injuries like this aren’t as devastating as they used to be. We all saw what Adrian Peterson did this past year. We’ve seen both Demaryius Thomas and Mikel Leshoure come back from Achilles tears and despite a similarly gruesome injury years ago. Willis McGahee is still in the league and has had a relatively productive career. Prior to the injury, Lattimore was the undisputed first-ranked RB in this class and for good reason; he’s very explosive and possesses the size and skill level to be a three-down back in the NFL. If he comes back strong, he could be the steal of the draft.
Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
I don’t understand why all of a sudden people are down on Mingo. I’ll admit his size isn’t perfect but he’s still 6’4”, 241 pounds, is incredibly quick and has shown very impressive pass-rushing ability. I don’t believe he’s big enough to be a 4-3 OLB or DE either but I think he should be a prime target for teams looking for a 3-4 pass rusher. A lot of experts are jumping on the Dion Jordan bandwagon; Mike Mayock apparently even suggested he could be the next Aldon Smith. However, Jordan and Mingo aren’t wholly unlike (Jordan weighing in at 248 pounds) as far as their stature is considered. Mingo is also somewhat more polished than Jordan and technically he came in slightly faster at the combine. Both of these guys are going to have to put on a little weight to thrive at the next level but I think Mingo — well, both of them in fact — have the speed to burn, and I expect them to succeed at the next level.
DeMarcus “Dee” Milliner, CB, Alabama
I discussed Milliner in my recap of the BCS National Championship game yet I feel the need to emphasize how impressive he has been. Picking up where he left off almost two months ago, Milliner had a great showing at the combine. His size is ideal (6’0”, 201 pounds) and he ran an enormously fast forty at 4.37 seconds. He’s made a case to go in the top-five, and Detroit has become a popular landing spot among those of us that can’t seem to find anything better to do with ourselves than write about football in March. Nonetheless, Milliner looks like the type of corner you truly consider taking that early. He displayed impressive coverage skills at Alabama and has now shown that he has the speed to turn and run with receivers which will serve him well against the increasingly aerial NFL offenses.
Brett Koenig is a fantasy football enthusiast that has been involved in the game for almost a decade now. You can find him perusing the cafe as "Guru13".
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