2016 NFL Mock Draft

24 March 2016


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Here’s the Lester’s Legends 2016 NFL Mock Draft.
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1. Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2. Cleveland Browns – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
3. San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
4. Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
6. Baltimore Ravens – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
7. San Francisco 49ers – Jared Goff, QB, Cal
8. Philadelphia Eagles- Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
10. New York Giants – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
11. Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
12. New Orleans Saints – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
13. Miami Dolphins – William Jackson, CB, Houston
14. Oakland Raiders – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
15. Los Angeles Rams – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
16. Detroit Lions – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
17. Atlanta Falcons – Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia
18. Indianapolis Colts – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
19. Buffalo Bills – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
20. New York Jets – Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky
21. Washington Redskins – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
22. Houston Texans – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
23. Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
26. Seattle Seahawks – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
27. Green Bay Packers – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
29. Arizona Cardinals – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
30. Carolina Panthers – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
31. Denver Broncos – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss


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Boser’s Tweetbeat –
Sifting through the hashtags to bring you the hottest trending Twitter topics in the Fantasy Football industry.
By Ryan Boser

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Before I’d even cracked my second beer last Thursday night, the speculation was already swirling—how would the NFL’s newest employees impact fantasy football? Wait, are they employees? A non-unionized workforce? Icons? Conversationalists? Slaves? Screw it, I can’t keep up.
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Now that fantasy geeks have had a week to let the fresh meat marinate, here’s what they’re saying:
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WINNERS
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Matt Ryan won big. His Falcons overpaid to acquire Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. Adding a 6’3″, 220-lb. specimen who runs a 4.39-second 40 (on a broken foot) opposite Roddy White is intriguing, to say the least.
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The 6’4-1/2″, 228-lb. Jonathan Baldwin gives Matt Cassel another legitimate target to pair with Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City.
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Peyton Manning also came out of the draft smiling. The Colts used their first two picks to put 628 pounds of beef between Manning and opposing defenses. Tackles Anthony Castonzo and second-round pick Ben Ijalana (who will likely slide inside) should give Manning even more time to dissect defenses.
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Here, Pro Football Focus’ Mike Clay takes a look at players who got a boost by teams neglecting to add competition.
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UNDETERMINED
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Roddy White and Dwayne Bowe are in similar situations, as each was their respective teams’ sole receiving threat last season. While it’s likely that rookie first rounders Julio Jones and Jonathan Baldwin will steal some targets, they’ll also force defenses to play a bit more honest. And so goes the debate—which way will the scale tip?
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White led all receivers with 179 targets and 115 catches (for an outstanding 64% catch rate) last season. It stands to reason that he has nowhere to go but down, and I’m a bit surprised that most experts haven’t downgraded him at all.
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While White was able to beat double and triple teams last season, Bowe struggled greatly down the stretch as defenses caught on. He managed just 14 receptions in his final five games of 2010, and wasn’t even targeted in the team’s playoff loss to Baltimore. Baldwin should open things up for Bowe, but he’s also a bigger red-zone target. Like White, nobody’s making any drastic adjustments to their rankings of Bowe.
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LOSERS
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Jahvid Best is probably the biggest loser. The Lions traded up to select Illinois bruiser Mikel Leshoure in the second round. Leshoure is a lock for goal line duty, and though it’s not likely to happen immediately, he’s better suited for first and second down work than the 5’10″, 195-lb. Best.
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With the Bengals drafting A.J. Green, I guess I can forget about my Jerome Simpson man-crush.
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Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams likely go from “little” to “no” fantasy value after Miami moved up to select Kansas State’s 6’0″, 230-lb. Daniel Thomas. Of the two veterans, Brown’s the more likely to return, but Thomas is set to take over as the main man.
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Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, and Reggie Bush (if he returns) absorb crippling blows with the addition of former Heisman winner Mark Ingram.
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BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead got some unexpected competition when Bill Belichick made the puzzling decision to draft running backs in the second (Shane Vereen, California) and third (Stevan Ridley, LSU) rounds. Throw out last year—we’re back to fantasy headaches in the New England run game.
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Demarco Murray muddies the waters even more in the Dallas backfield.
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Ryan Torain‘s days as a fantasy RB2 are probably over. Washington selected two backs—fourth-rounder Roy Helu and sixth-rounder Evan Royster—to compete for his job. Helu may unseat Torain altogether.
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Arizona’s second round selection of Ryan Williams makes the Cardinals backfield (Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells) even less dependable than before. Avoid.
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THE ROOKIES
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The common perception is that none of the rookie quarterbacks are worthy of redraft consideration. However, there are some (myself included) who think Christian Ponder may be the one guy with the chance to sneak into QB2 territory. The fifth-year senior has a strong supporting cast in Minnesota, pro style experience, the intelligence to pick up a playbook quickly, and no real competition at the position. His mobility and accuracy in the short-to-intermediate passing game is a nice fit for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s version of the West Coast offense.
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Daniel Thomas has risen to the top of most rookie boards. He’s not the most talented back, but his situation in Miami is prime for immediate fantasy contributions.
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Mark Ingram is a very good all-around back entering one of the league’s best offenses. The expectation is that he’ll win the starting gig, but share a sizable chunk of the workload with Pierre Thomas. Reggie Bush is not expected to be back, and Chris Ivory is now nothing more than a depth guy.
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Mikel Leshoure excites me. He’ll begin as the power compliment to Jahvid Best, giving him nice early touchdown potential. However, if Best remains brittle this season, Leshoure could easily become the top rookie runner.
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Ryan Williams and Roy Helu are worth late-round looks. Both enter murky situations, but have the potential to emerge as feature backs. Williams has the game-breaking upside, and Mike Shanahan is already gushing over Helu.
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Most have A.J. Green a notch higher than Julio Jones, but I have them flip-flopped. Green is NFL-ready, and he’s a lock to get more targets than Jones as the Bengals’ best receiver. However, with that comes a No. 1 cornerback. He’ll also be catching passes from rookie Andy Dalton (I still don’t think there’s any chance Carson Palmer returns). Conversely, Jones inherits Matt Ryan as his quarterback. An explosive playmaker, Jones projects as a weekly boom-or-bust fantasy play opposite Roddy White.
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Wide receivers Jonathan Baldwin and St. Louis’ Leonard Hankerson are names worth stashing as well.
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Consider this a first take. With the labor negotiations holding up the free agency and trading periods, this is still a very fluid situation.
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Ryan Boser is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA), and regularly contributes writing and commentary to numerous media outlets. Ryan’s own website, Out of My League, covers both fantasy football and the Minnesota sports landscape.


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After possibly reaching on their first pick, and taking a talented player that wasn’t a big need with their second pick, the Vikings were off to a rough start in the 2011 NFL Draft. Especially when you consider the Patriots used the Vikings’ third round pick from the Randy Moss trade to take Ryan Mallett.
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Ballard gives the Vikings flexibility on the defensive line thanks to his ability to play both defensive end and defensive tackle. The former tight end has the quickness to play outside and the strength to move inside on passing downs.
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This doesn’t make the draft a home run by any means, but it does ease the concerns a bit of Vikings fans that were confused by the Kyle Rudolph selection.
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Also check out:

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This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the Vikings Fan Voice writer.


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Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona:  Looks like Beanie Wells has some competition. The Virginia Tech running back ran for 477 yards on 110 carries (4.3 ypc) with nine touchdowns. In 2009 he ran for 1655 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Cardinals will look to run more in 2011, and Williams will certainly be in the mix. With Beanie Wells and possibly restricted free agent Tim Hightower in the mix, the Cardinals’ backfield looks like one to avoid in 2011.
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Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore:  The Maryland receiver slid to the second round, but found a good home with Baltimore. The Ravens were desperate to get younger at the position and add a deep threat. Smith accomplishes both. He’ll have limited value in redraft leagues, but is an intriguing option in dynasty leagues.
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Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati:  Dalton is a nice fit for the Bengals’ West Coast Offense. Looks like the Bengals are taking Carson Palmer’s threat serious after all. With A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson, Dalton may be worth a look at the end of fantasy drafts.
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Greg Little, WR, Cleveland:  Little was forced to sit out last year due to an NCAA violation. He caught 62 passes for 724 yards in 2009. Remember the name, but he’s probably not somebody to worry about in redraft leagues.
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Demarco Murray, RB, Dallas:  He may get a chance down the road, but even if Marion Barber III doesn’t return, Murray won’t get enough touches to be a fantasy factor in 2011.
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Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions:  Young gives the Lions a deep threat to stretch the field. He won’t be a fantasy asset early on, but he gives Matthew Stafford and additional weapon.
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Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions:  Jahvid Best is an electric back that has durability issues. Leshoure is a physical back that compliments Best perfectly. The Illini back ran for 1697 yards and 17 touchdowns last year. The Lions are no longer a pushover.
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Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers:  Cobb will soften the blow if James Jones leaves and gives the Packers another wide receiver when Donald Driver has had enough. His fantasy value is limited, but he should help keep the Packers’ offense humming.
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Alexander Green, RB, Green Bay Packers:   Green gives the Packers more versatility. He won’t get enough touches for fantasy purposes, but he should be the third-down back. His presence hinders James Starks’ and Ryan Grant’s fantasy value.
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Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins:  Depending on what the Dolphins do with Ronnie Brown, Thomas has the potential to be the top of the rookie running back class next year, simply out of opportunity. He’s a big back that ran for 1585 yards and 19 touchdowns for Kansas State last year.
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Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings:  Rudolph will be Christian Ponder’s future safety valve. He’ll get plenty of work in two tight end sets, but will have minimal 2011 fantasy value.
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Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots:  Last year the Pats went with two rookie tight ends. This year they added two runnings backs. Vereen is a lot like Danny Woodhead. He’ll play on third downs and give the Patriots versatility. Ridley will share regular rushing duties with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. It looks like New England running backs won’t be fantasy friendly next year.
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Ryan Mallett, QB, New England Patriots:  He’s a guy to stash on your dynasty team, but doesn’t hold much fantasy value next year.
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Jerrel Jerningan, WR, New York Giants:   Look elsewhere for your fantasy team.
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Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego:  Look elsewhere for your fantasy team.
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Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers:  He’s very athletic, but he’s raw. He could have his moments if Alex Smith doesn’t return, but he’s probably not going to help your fantasy team in 2011.
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Lance Kendricks, TE, St. Louis Rams:  Kendricks probably won’t make much of an impact as a rookie, but he has the potential to develop a good rapport with Sam Bradford.
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Austin Pettis, TE, St. Louis Rams:  Pettis obviously isn’t Julio Jones, who the Rams were hoping for, but he does upgrade the position. I’ll probably look elsewhere for my fantasy teams though.
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Leonard Hankerson, WR, Washington:  Hankerson should get a chance to produce early as the Redskins don’t have much to offer at wide receiver. He caught 72 passes for 1156 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. He could be a decent WR4 or WR5 in 2011.
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Also check out:


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It’s not that I dislike Kyle Rudolph. He has good size (6’5″, 253), decent speed (4.7 forty time), and had some solid performances this past year (16 catches, 244 yards, 2 TDs vs. Michigan and Michigan State), but he didn’t fill a need for the Purple.
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Even if you look past the fact that, like Christian Ponder,  he has dealt with injuries the past two years, there were areas that were bigger concerns than tight end.
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The Vikings have a bigger need in their defensive backfield. Two picks later the Broncos took UCLA safety Rahim Moore. University of Miami cornerback Brandon Harris, who went  to the Texans with the 60th pick of the draft, could have also solidified their pass coverage.
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If Pat Williams does not return, which is a strong likelihood, they will have a void at defensive tackle. Oregon State’s Stephen Paea, who went to the Bears with the 53rd pick, would have at least addressed that need. The Lions added Nick Fairley. The Bears added Paea. The Vikings added a tight end.
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The Vikings have issues at guard and center. The Colts snagged Villanova guard Benjamin Ijalana with the 49th pick. I would have even been OK if they paired Ponder with his college center Rodney Hudson, who went to the Chiefs with the 55th pick.
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I would have even preferred adding Maryland receiver Torrey Smith, who went to Baltimore with the 58th pick, in case they aren’t able to bring back Sidney Rice.
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Without a third round pick the Vikings should have addressed one of these areas of need. I don’t know about you, but the combination of Nick Fairley, Prince Amukamara, or Mike Pouncey and Ryan Mallett is a lot more attractive than the Ponder/Rudolph combination the Vikings came away with.
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Also check out:

 

This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the Vikings Fan Voice writer.

 


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By Andy Boyum
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I wasn’t there in person, but I could hear the booing echo loudly through my Facebook for Android app. Winter Park had a collective flattening the likes of which hadn’t been seen since that fateful December morning.
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After a few failed attempts to trade down with St. Louis and Miami, the Minnesota Vikings selected Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 Draft, marking only the third time in history the franchise would pull the trigger on a signal-caller with their first round pick. Tommy, Daunte…meet Christian.
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Only time will tell whether or not Ponder will develop into the type of quarterback the Vikings have been so desperately in search of ever since the day Sir Fran rode off into the sunset. But I give Frazier, Spielman and Scott Studwell & Company credit for having the intestinal fortitude to identify a need and the conviction to stick to their guns.
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A lot of draft-wonks will have you believe the Vikings got fleeced – that they could have easily traded down and amassed later picks. They will also tell you that in the ongoing debate of drafting for “Need” vs “Best Player Available” that Minnesota had more glaring needs and didn’t even draft the best player available for said need.
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Then again there are other experts who think the Vikings absolutely nailed it. A certain CBSSports.com expert graded Minnesota with an A for taking Ponder at 12. Any of you who know who I’m talking about almost certainly realizes that having such a ringing endorsement from this writer is like being selected to be on the cover of Madden…sorry Mr. Hillis.
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Yet, I will take a tall glass of the Purple Ponder Kool-Aid. Regardless of expert analysis, Senior Bowl or Scouting Combine performances, and YouTube highlight reels, there remains an intangible that no other quarterback who will be drafted in 2011 possesses which can be summed up in two words: Bill Musgrave.
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The newly acquired Offensive Coordinator for the Vikings has made a career out of coaching and developing quarterbacks. He tutored Matt Schaub at the University of Virginia that subsequently led to new school records. And more recently with the Altanta Falcons, working with only one of the better rookie quarterbacks to start year one in the last five years, Matt Ryan…maybe you’ve heard of him.
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Now, that’s not to say that Christian Ponder is the next Matt Ryan/Joe Flacco/Sam Bradford re-incarnate. Nor is it to say that our selection of the Florida State Seminole will solve all of our problems. Far from the contrary, in fact, a lot will depend on how well we shore up the remaining areas of need within our 12-man (okay some old jokes are just too good to let die) our 11-man roster, defense notwithstanding.
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In my opinion though, it was a pick well worth the risk, and frankly long overdue. Had the Vikings traded down and missed on a quarterback in the first round, and missed again for whatever reason at pick 43, the collective mass of “rubes” huddled at Winter Park would have made the boos heard after the Ponder pick sound like a faint whisper in the distance.
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And let’s be honest with each other for a moment. If Ponder leads the Vikings under center in Week 1 and into October looking at a 3-1 record, we will all be there on Sunday afternoon screaming his name. Dare I say, he may even rival a certain other number 7, who resides approximately twelve blocks to the west, for the most jersey sale revenue in Minneapolis/St. Paul for 2011?
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Time will tell…I for one can not wait!
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Andy Boyum
Farmington, MN
Fantasy Football enthusiast since 1999
Commissioner: Purple Pride Fantasy League 2002-present: 1 Championship (2004)
RT Sports Commissioner Money League Champion: 2003 & 2005
Keeper League Champion 2006, 07 & 09
Yahoo PPR Champion: 2010


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There was only one running back selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was selected by the Saints with the 28th pick in the draft. This is a good spot for Ingram. He won’t have to worry about being driven into the ground from overuse, which is the perfect recipe for a running back with knee concerns.
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For starters the Saints are a pass-first team. They aren’t your prototypical grind it out offense. The Saints rely first and foremost on Drew Brees’ arm. Sure, they need a running game to balance the attack, but the Saints are probably the last team that is going to overuse a running back.
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Besides, they have Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory to share running back duties. Even Reggie Bush feels his days with the Saints are likely over. Three good running backs and only one football. This is a great problem for the Saints to have, but it’s not ideal for fantasy owners. Ingram’s value is seriously diminished in redraft leagues because he will be a part of a committee. He takes a lesser hit in dynasty leagues, but still a hit nonetheless.
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There were three wide receiver taken in the first round. As expected A.J. Green was the first off the board. He should easily step into the starting role opposite of  Jerome Simpson, which should make people hit the brakes on proclaiming Simpson as a big-time sleeper in this year’s fantasy drafts.
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Now we just need to find out who is going to throw the ball in Cincinnati. Carson Palmer and Mike Brown are engaged in a high stakes game of chicken. If they can settle their differences, both Green and Simpson will be solid fantasy options. If they have to settle for Carson’s brother Jordan, their values take a hit.
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Julio Jones found a good home. He gets to catch passes from Matt Ryan in a high-powered Falcons offense that also features Roddy White, Michael Turner, and Tony Gonzalez. Washington and St. Louis were likely destinations for Jones, which would have made him the primary receiver. With Atlanta he is able to play opposite of Roddy White and ease into the league. He won’t see as many targets as he would as the number one receiver, but he also won’t draw the number one cornerback either. Though Green has more question marks at quarterback, I still rate him one and Jones two in both redraft and dynasty leagues.
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Jonathan Baldwin finds himself in a similar scenario as Jones. He gets to play opposite of Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City’s up-and-coming offense. They’ll miss Charlie Weis, but with Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel, and now Baldwin, the Chiefs should have no problem putting points on the board.
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Baldwin is a player to take in the later rounds of your fantasy drafts. He’s going to take some time to develop, but is a solid add for dynasty leagues. He’s nearly 6’5″ with good speed and leaping ability.
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This has the makings of a good rookie wide receiver class. Knowing that receivers have a longer shelf life than running backs, I would take Green and Jones before Ingram in keeper leagues.
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Also check out:


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Obviously quarterbacks were big early, with none bigger than Cam Newton. He should have no trouble beating out Jimmy Clausen as long as he’s able to get the reps to learn the playbook. The labor situation comes into play once again. He’s a bit of a risk as a dynasty quarterback. You just don’t know how he’ll fair at the next level. He is an amazing athlete though that has major upside.
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With the Steve Smith era likely over, Newton will be working with David Gettis and Brandon LaFell. Not exactly the who’s who of NFL receivers, but they showed some flashes last year. Given the quarterback issues in Carolina last year, it’s not really fair to give them a grade.
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The loser is this draft pick, aside from the obvious choice of Jimmy Clausen, is Jonathan Stewart. Newton is a gifted runner that will vulture some of his would be rushing touchdowns.
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Jake Locker found a good landing place. Who wouldn’t want to have Chris Johnson in the backfield and Kenny Britt (assuming he doesn’t get himself arrested or suspended) to throw to? Accuracy has been an issue for Locker, but Britt has the ability to erase mistakes. While he doesn’t have the upside of Newton, he could turn into a solid NFL (and fantasy) quarterback.
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I would take Blaine Gabbert over Locker in dynasty leagues, but Locker is probably the second quarterback (behind Newton) that I would take in redraft leagues. We’ll have to see how the rest of the draft and free agency period plays out before I make a firm assessment.
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Blaine Gabbert landed in a good place for him. He will be afforded the time to develop playing behind David Garrard. Garrard, who learned under Byron Leftwich, is a good team player and will be suitable teacher for Gabbert. The pick doesn’t affect the skill position players as he won’t likely take the field unless things go sour of the Jags.
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One long-term concern is the hot seat the Jack Del Rio seems to continually be on. If he loses his job, will a new coach want to make his mark with his own guy? Especially if he does play and stink it up, a la Jimmy Clausen. That is back-of-the-mind concern though and shouldn’t have too much weight in your decision to take him in dynasty drafts.
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Finally we come to Christian Ponder, a pick that did not go over well with Vikings fans. He’s smart, with enough athleticism and accuracy to make him a quality NFL quarterback. Injuries have dogged him the past couple of years, but the jury is certainly still out on him in that regard. I think he’ll be a solid pro, I just don’t know that the Vikings wouldn’t have been better served taking Nick Fairley, Mike Pouncey, or Prince Amukamara with the 12th pick and went after a quarterback in the second round.
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Ponder has one of the best running backs in the game (Adrian Peterson) to hand off to and a gifted receiver in Percy Harvin. Sidney Rice may have leave via free agency, but the Vikings have been committed to addressing needs under Zygi Wilf. The Vikings will add a veteran quarterback, but we’ll have to wait and see if it is to be a mentor or a stopgap.


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Only  time will tell if the first pick of the Leslie Frazier era pans out, but it reeks of desperation. Maybe not as bad as Brad Childress trading up to get Tarvaris Jackson, but then again, maybe it was. We are talking about the 12th pick in the draft.
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The Vikings had to address the quarterback situation in this draft, but with Andy Dalton and Ryan Mallett still on the board, do the Vikings wish they had a mulligan? I’m sure they are convinced that they got their guy, but the majority of Vikings fans don’t seem to think so.
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The Vikings could have addressed a major need at defensive tackle with Nick Fairley, a player once considered worthy of the number one pick. The Williams Wall has cracked. There is a strong possibility that Pat Williams never wears purple again. Fairley could have been his heir. Instead the Lions grabbed him, and playing alongside Ndamukong Suh gives the Lions one of the best defensive fronts in the game.
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The Vikings have major deficiencies at offensive guard. The 12th pick may be a little high for Mike Pouncey, but if we were to do the 2010 draft over, his brother Maurkice (the 18th pick) would likely be a top ten selection. Shoring up their offensive line is nearly as important as solidifying the quarterback position.
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Prince Amukamara was considered a top ten talent, slightly behind top-five pick Patrick Peterson at cornerback. He slid to the Giants at the 19th pick. Given the condition of the Vikings’ defensive secondary, Prince would be an ideal addition on the eve of the Royal Wedding.
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Even if they had their heart set on Ponder, trading down would have made sense. The Vikings either drafted for need rather than best available or they miscalculated the number of quarterbacks that would go in the first round. Perhaps when Jake Locker went to the Titans and the Jaguars traded up for Blaine Gabbert, they started to feel the pressure. All the talk of teams trading up into the bottom of the draft to take a quarterback never materialized. In fact, no quarterback went off the board after the Vikings took Ponder, some might say prematurely.
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You can’t change the past though. Ponder was the pick. Of all the quarterbacks, nobody did better to improve their stock after the season than Ponder. He played well at the Senior Bowl. He was great at the Combine. He nailed the Wonderlic test. Sometimes we put too much stock in the numbers, but Ponder threw for 6767 yards and just 48 touchdowns in  his three years as a starter. He battled injuries the past two years. Injuries happen, but if he dealt with them at the collegiate level, the Vikings have to be concerned how he’ll hold up against the big boys. Especially in the NFC North facing Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Suh.
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The new coach hitched his wagon to a rookie quarterback. It’s not uncommon. Time will tell if it was the right wagon.
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This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the Vikings Fan Voice writer.


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Here’s a eighth and final look at the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft.
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1.  Carolina Panthers:  Cam Newton, QB, Auburn:  All signs seem to be pointing towards Cam Newton as the number one pick. I’m not sure it’s the right decision, but the Panthers will have to live with it.
Previous Pick:  Cam Newton, QB Auburn
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2.  Denver Broncos:   Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama:  Dareus almost seems like a lock. He fills a need at defensive tackle for the Broncos. Fixing their defense, a priority for John Fox, starts on the defensive line.
Previous Pick:  Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
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3.  Buffalo Bills:  Von Miller, DE/LB, Texas A & M:  Cam Newton would breathe life into the franchise, but with him out of the picture the Bills turn to the athletic Miller.
Previous Pick:  Von Miller, DE/LB, Texas A & M
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4.  Cincinnati Bengals:  A.J. Green, WR, Georgia:  I had Gabbert going to the Bengals, but they seem to stubborn to to consider Carson Palmer’s threats legitimate. I think they’ll try to mend fences by cutting ties with T.O. and giving Palmer a shiny, new toy.
Previous Pick:  Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
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5.  Arizona Cardinals:  Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU:  Pairing Peterson with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would give the Cardinals one of the best cornerback duos in the league. Even though Gabbert is available, I think they go with the more “can’t miss” prospect.
Previous Pick:  Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
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6.  Cleveland Browns:  Robert Quinn, LB/DE, North Carolina:  With A.J. Green off the board, the Browns will address their pass rush need.
Previous Pick:  A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
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7.  San Francisco 49ers:  Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska:  With Gabbert in the picture, he will get strong consideration, but I think his slide continues one more pick
Previous Pick:  Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
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8.  Tennessee Titans:  Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: I still like Fairley for the Titans, but they are floating downstream without a paddle at quarterback. Gabbert could easily go number one in this draft. It would be hard to imagine the Titans passing on him.
Previous Pick:  Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
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9.  Dallas Cowboys:  J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin:  The Cowboys wanted to nab one of the top two corners in the draft, but have to turn their attention elsewhere.
Previous Pick:   J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
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10.  Washington Redskins: Jake Locker, QB, Washington:  The Redskins need playmakers, but they must address the quarterback position first.
Previous Pick:  Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
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11.  Houston Texans:  Aldon Smith, DE/LB, Missouri:  The Texans’ switch to a 3-4 defense creates a need for an rush linebacker. Smith is the top choice available.
Previous Pick:  Robert Quinn, LB/DE, North Carolina
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12.  Minnesota Vikings:  Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn:  With Locker out of the picture, a quarterback doesn’t make sense here. Julio Jones is a possibility, but Leslie Frasier is a defensive-minded coach. Pat Williams may not return to Minnesota so pairing Fairley with Kevin Williams makes sense.
Previous Pick:  Jake Locker, QB, Washington
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13.  Detroit Lions:  Tyron Smith, T, Southern Cal:  The Lions offensive line wasn’t terrible last year, but Jeff Backus will be 34. It’s time to look to the future to protect Matthew Stafford’s blind side.
Previous Pick:  Tyron Smith, T, Southern Cal
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14.  St. Louis Rams:  Julio Jones, WR, Alabama:  Suddenly Sam Bradford has an explosive weapon.
Previous Pick:  Aldon Smith, LB, Missouri
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15.  Miami Dolphins: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State: Chad Henne isn’t it. The Dolphins need to find a quarterback. They don’t have a second round pick so it’s either trade down or find a QB now.
Previous Pick: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
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16.  Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue:  The Jags have struggled to find the right mix at defensive end. They managed just 26 sacks last year, which was second to only Denver.
Previous Pick:  Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa continue reading »


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