I'm more convinced than ever that this is going to be a crummy year for fantasy rookies. There are some nice skill position prospects, but few guys will have that elusive combination of pro-ready skills and immediate opportunity. In re-draft leagues, you're probably smart if you don't reach for any of the big names you saw drafted this weekend.
Of course, some rookies will have unforeseen positive impacts. In addition, many of us play in dynasty leagues, where we care less about production in 2014 and more about career prospects. That's why reviewing the draft's deeper rounds can be fruitful.
First off, here's my very early take on the top 10 re-draft rookies for 2014:
1. Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans: Sankey isn't my favorite talent at running back in this draft, but he's the lucky soul who landed on the only NFL team with a glaring need for a starting rusher. He's a great athlete. He runs fast, he's powerful, and he was productive at Washington. But on tape, I think he has a bit of "Bryce Brown-itis," in that he plays east/west as often as north/south, and he's not so fast that he can outrun an NFL defense. That said, he's an obvious candidate to wrest the starting gig from the oh-so-underwhelming Shonn Greene in Nashville.
2. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: How can you tell it's a shaky rookie class? I'm about to list three straight wideouts, and rookie WRs rarely deliver fantasy value. I wrote about Evans on Friday; his size should at least translate to some work in the red zone.
3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills: I also wrote about Watkins. I like the player very much, but given his nontraditional size for a No. 1 wideout and the Bills' questions at QB, he is far from bulletproof in 2014.
4. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are so barren in their receiving corps -- having seen Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn depart and only Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood arrive -- that Benjamin has a golden opportunity to start right away as Cam Newton's flanker.
5. Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, please pick up the white courtesy phone. The Law Firm seems destined to leave Cincy, as Hill slides into a complementary role behind Giovani Bernard. At 233 pounds with some surprising straight-ahead speed, Hill looks like the potential TD-maker in a pretty good offense, one that new coordinator Hue Jackson promises to make more balanced in 2014. I'm not that concerned for Bernard's fantasy value, though; I think Hill is a one-speed, one-direction player who runs upright and will take some thunderous hits in the NFL that might limit his shelf life. But it's fair to dream that Hill could make a fantasy dent this year.
6. Terrance West, RB, Cleveland Browns: I'm a fan of West's size/speed combo. He's a 225-pound player who runs a 4.54 40, and while his small-school competition at Towson wasn't the best, he has some multicut ability that got him loose a whole bunch in college. The likes of Chris Ogbonnaya, Edwin Baker and Dion Lewis should be no threat to West making the squad and potentially serving as Cleveland's No. 2 RB. Given Ben Tate's injury history, that could make West one heck of an intriguing handcuff this summer.
8. Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants: You'll recall that my take on Beckham included concern about his lack of strength. There's no questioning his wheels, and his route running is solid. Will he be able to get off the line as an outside receiver? That's my worry. If he can, Cecil Shorts is a good comparison.
9. Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams: Give the Rams credit for acknowledging that they made a mistake going into last season with Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson as their top rushers. Zac Stacy is ensconced as the workhorse in St. Louis, but his backup job is wide open. Benny Cunningham was serviceable in small doses in 2013, but Mason is a quicker-footed player, plus his dad was in De La Soul, and that's awesome. Mason may not have ideal feature back size at 5-foot-8, but his college tape portrays him as unafraid of contact and willing to run with a low pad level to crank out yards. He was my No. 2 RB in this draft. Alas, I simply love Stacy more.
10. Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Matthews got flak during the draft's silly season because (supposedly) too many of his yards came on bubble screens that won't work in the NFL. Whatever. Matthews might not be a "sudden" athlete, but he's got 4.46 buildup speed at 6-3 and 212 pounds and he's known for his discipline, work ethic and smarts. With Avant gone from Philly, Chip Kelly is in the market for someone to run out of the slot, and Matthews has a chance to be that guy. Not only that, but presumptive No. 1 Jeremy Maclin is injury-prone and presumptive No. 2 Riley Cooper isn't anything special. In an offense that wants to go fast, Matthews is a name to watch.
Now let's dig in with a look at every skill player taken in the second and third rounds and the skill-position names we might need to know that were taken thereafter.
36. Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders: My comparison for Carr is lazy, easy and, I think, accurate: David Carr. They both have good foot speed, big arms, occasional shaky accuracy and questions about their abilities under pressure. Derek was hugely productive at Fresno State, but the competition level was subelite and he ran entirely out of the shotgun spread. In his bowl game this winter against USC, he looked bad. In March, the Raiders traded for the rotting husk of Matt Schaub, which means if Carr produces a good camp, he could win this job. But even if that happens, fantasy glory will decidedly not ensue.
38. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Buccaneers: It's easy to get excited about ASF's pro prospects when you watch his sophomore game tape: He's 6-5 and 262 pounds, and he caught 69 passes that season. Some of the bloom came off him as a junior, perhaps mostly because of poor quarterback play at Washington. What's crazy is the frontcourt the Bucs are assembling: Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and ASF are all at least 6-5. I don't think Seferian-Jenkins is destined to be a Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski kind of seam-stretcher, because his hips are tight and he doesn't really elude defenders coming out of breaks. But there's reason to believe he can make noise in the red zone as early as this season. He has the potential to be an interesting midseason pickup for fantasy.
39. Marqise Lee and 61. Allen Robinson, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars: With the news that the Jags aren't counting on suspended Justin Blackmon at all this season, it was certainly expected that they would get multiple wideouts, and they did. Eventually, I think Lee will become a Victor Cruz kind of hybrid who can get open anywhere on the field and make big plays with his underrated in-game explosiveness, and Robinson is already a hyperpolished possession receiver with excellent hands who might follow the career path of Anquan Boldin.
But given that Chad Henne or Blake Bortles will be throwing to them behind an untrustworthy offensive line, it's a long journey to fantasy relevance in 2014. Dynasty-wise, I'm buying Lee. I know he ran a 4.52 40 at the combine, but his functional speed was beyond question during his breakout sophomore year at USC. He's going to be a legitimate all-around threat in coming seasons.
42. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles: See above.
45. Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Richardson is a one-trick pony as a deep threat. At 6-0 and 175 pounds, he runs a 4.4 40 and made his living at Colorado running past people. When teams take a player like this so early in the draft, they are clearly hoping to capture some DeSean Jackson magic. I'm just skeptical Richardson actually has such magic, plus he's a health risk having torn multiple knee ligaments. This year, certainly, he'll learn behind several more experienced Seattle WRs.
49. Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets: Amaro set a single-season record for most receiving yards by a TE last year, running the majority of his routes out of the slot. While he hasn't been asked to block much in his career, he did 28 bench press reps at the combine, hinting at a possible future as an all-around starter. Certainly, he's now the favorite to begin Week 1 as the Jets' top TE, ahead of Jeff Cumberland and Zach Sudfeld. But because New York is unsettled at QB, you're best served by keeping Amaro in mind as a midseason pickup.
52. Troy Niklas, TE, Arizona Cardinals: Arizona took Niklas this early because it values blocking tight ends as much or more than any squad in the NFL. And blocking is what Niklas does best. He's 6-6 and 270 pounds and is comfortable as an in-line mauler. Given that Rob Housler, a more athletic player, caught just 39 balls last year, Niklas will be way off the fantasy radar in 2014.
53. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers: Adams was Derek Carr's preferred target in Fresno State's spread attack, which means he will have to adjust to the tighter quarters of the pro game. That said, his career upside is intriguing. He falls shy of elite in all the measurable categories, but on tape you see an instinctive leaper and extremely fluid athlete whose production (leading the NCAA in catches last year) belies his 6-1, 212-pound, 4.54-running frame. He's the favorite to be Aaron Rodgers' No. 4 wideout as a rookie, and if Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb or Jarrett Boykin get hurt, Adams could be a waiver-wire special.
54. Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans: See above.
55. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: See above.
56. Cody Latimer, WR, Denver Broncos: When Peyton Manning gets a new weapon, people pay attention. And Latimer -- a late-riser in the draft -- could find himself in the eye of the storm in 2014. At 6-3 and 215 pounds, Latimer has deep speed, a big wingspan and plenty of hops. He also had one drop on 119 targets as a senior at Indiana. If the Broncos part company with Andre Caldwell, Latimer becomes their No. 4 WR, and Wes Welker had recurring concussion problems last year. I'm not convinced Latimer steps into an NFL lineup and is instantly able to get open, but if Peyton is Peyton again, the situation is intriguing.
57. Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers: What a bummer! Hyde was many folks' top RB in this draft (though not mine), and as a 230-pound thumper with some fine one-cut ability, many observers believed in the right situation he would have a valuable fantasy season ahead of him. Alas, Hyde joins a backfield mess. Frank Gore is still chugging along, Kendall Hunter is still around, and Marcus Lattimore is still trying to return from injury. (I'm not including LaMichael James, who isn't long for the Bay Area.) Hyde reminds me of Stephen Davis, and in the right situation, he could be a bell cow. But this isn't the right situation. Until and unless he becomes Gore's clear handcuff, I can't imagine carrying him on a 10-team re-draft roster all season.
62. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, New England Patriots: This pick was just weird. With Tom Brady turning 37 in August, the Pats are in win-now mode. So even if you love Garoppolo (and I'm not sure why you would), isn't there another player available in the second round who could help you immediately? Garoppolo won't play in New England for at least three years -- and maybe never.
63. Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins: Landry was supposed to be the less-flashy complement to Beckham this season at LSU and actually wound up outproducing him. But Landry is smaller and slower than Beckham, and as such is considered less of a big-play threat in the NFL. Still, he is an exceedingly smart player and crisp route runner who made many open-field plays in the SEC. I'm betting he beats out Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews to become the Dolphins' starting slot receiver in 2014. That won't lead to great fantasy production, but this was still a solid pick.
65. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans: As one of the architects of the offense that made the Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez tandem work in New England, Bill O'Brien figures to throw to his tight ends with the Texans. While he already has Garrett Graham and Ryan Griffin in place, neither of those players has accomplished much in the NFL. That gives Fiedorowicz a chance. Underused at Iowa, Fiedorowicz is strong enough to be a pro-ready blocker, and his combine numbers indicate he may be a better open-field pass-catcher than the Hawkeyes ever allowed him to show. It wouldn't be a shock to see him beat out either of the veterans on this depth chart.
69. Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers: The arrival of Sims as an early third-round pick spells bad news for last year's momentary favorite Bobby Rainey. Sims doesn't run the ball with as much power as you'd like for a 214-pound back, but he is an elite pass-catcher and was considered the best pass protector of any RB in this draft. In a best-case scenario for Tampa Bay, Doug Martin will stay healthy and dominate all three downs. But if and when he comes off the field in passing situations, Sims is already a candidate to take those snaps. He won't be a fantasy option, but just in case you were tempted to speculate on Rainey this year, don't.
75. Tre Mason, RB, Rams: See above.
86. Josh Huff, WR, Eagles: Huff is really a running back playing wideout. In Oregon's spread attack, he didn't run routes as much as catch the ball in space and try to plow over tacklers. He's 5-11 and 206 pounds, and the man who recruited him, Kelly, probably envisions him as a gadget player. Eventually, it's possible that Huff could be a candidate to fill Avant's old role.
90. Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Moncrief was a freak at the combine, running a 4.40 40 at 6-2 and 221 pounds while producing huge broad and vertical jumps. But his Ole Miss game tape is rocky. He didn't get open all that much, and he had bad bouts of dropping the ball. No doubt the Colts view Moncrief as a shot in the dark at a future No. 1 wideout, which is why dynasty leaguers are allowed to keep him in mind. But I'd be surprised if he's even active on game days to begin this year.
91. John Brown, WR, Cardinals: Brown played at Division II Pittsburg State and was explosive there, but he will be taking several major steps up in competition. At 5-10 and 179 pounds, he's officially tiny, and the Cardinals are almost certainly considering him as a special-teams player to begin his career.
94. Terrance West, RB, Browns: See above.
96. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings: I'll have an eye on McKinnon this summer, because the Vikings see something in him. With Toby Gerhart gone, they have a vacancy behind Adrian Peterson, and McKinnon figures to get a crack at the job (though momentary fantasy darling Matt Asiata will also be around). My problem with McKinnon is that he has no pass-blocking experience, which is a bad route to rookie contributions. At Georgia Southern, McKinnon actually swapped back and forth between QB and RB.
97. Dri Archer, RB/WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Archer was the fastest player at February's combine, running a 4.26 40, but at 173 pounds he's simply tiny. The Steelers tried a similar player -- Chris Rainey -- in the fifth round a couple years ago, and he busted hard. Maybe things will go better for Archer, but he'll certainly never be a standard-league fantasy option running reverses. Those in leagues that count return yards will be more interested.
98. Richard Rodgers, TE, Packers: There's an opening at tight end in Green Bay. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick should be considered the favorites in 2014, but the Pack see something they like in Rodgers (no relation to Aaron Rodgers, though he did also attend Cal). He shifted from TE to WR in the 2013 college season and lost a ton of weight, which he subsequently had to put back on for the combine. Most problematic, though, is how injury-prone he was throughout his collegiate career.
99. Crockett Gillmore, TE, Baltimore Ravens: Gillmore was a breakout player at the East/West Shrine Game this year, showing soft hands to go along with a nasty streak as a blocker, which likely comes from being a converted defensive end. This year, though, behind Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels, he'll simply learn.
103. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Freeman is the player the Falcons wish Jacquizz Rodgers was. Taking him is a tacit admission that the Quizz experiment didn't work, because Rodgers is just too small. Will Freeman ever be a workhorse back? At 5-8 and 206 pounds, I have my doubts. But he's a good, tough player who can catch and block and will be a natural complement to Steven Jackson. Does he qualify as a handcuff for those who want to take one last chance on S-Jax? I'm not there yet, but I'm interested to see how things go in camp.
113. Andre Williams, RB, Giants: As the leading rusher in the Football Bowl Subdivision last season, Williams got Heisman love this winter, but he was never going to be a high pick. He's a bowling ball at 6-0 and 230 pounds, but he has no wiggle and can't catch the ball. His NFL comparables are Green-Ellis and Greene. Players who fit this profile occasionally find themselves in valuable fantasy roles, but that's usually when they become TD-makers for ultraprolific offenses. I'll grant that if David Wilson's neck prohibits him from playing, the Giants are thin behind Rashad Jennings, but I'm just not that excited about Williams' raw talent.
115. Shaq Evans, WR, Jets: Evans is a good athlete who, at 6-1 and 213 pounds, has the potential to develop into a consistent, handsy NFL flanker. That probably won't happen in 2014. The reason I list him here, however, comes down to opportunity. The Jets don't have much outside WR depth behind Eric Decker, unless you're thrilled by the prospect of David Nelson or Stephen Hill.
117. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Chicago Bears: I know Carey didn't test well as a straight-ahead runner with a 4.70 40, but I liked his film more than any other back in this draft. I think NFL teams were scared off by Rich Rodriguez's spread attack and Carey's admittedly spotty off-field behavior. I can't speak to the latter, but as to the former: Carey wasn't some water bug slithering through giant holes at Arizona. He invites contact, bruises defensive backs and gives incredible effort on every play. He may not catch quite as well as Bernard, and he definitely doesn't have Gio's pure breakaway ability, but as dynamic runners in the box, I think they're similar. The Bears finally have a legitimate backup for Matt Forte, and while I want to see him in the exhibition season, I think Carey shapes up as a good handcuff if you take Forte early.
118. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: Bryant fits the same mold as Moncrief: a player who could become a No. 1 WR in the NFL or could flame out entirely. A one-year wonder who caught 61 total passes in three seasons at Clemson, Bryant has crazy talent. He is 6-4 and 211 pounds, runs a 4.42 40 and performed a 39-inch vertical jump. But he has maturity issues and seems to have cruised by without learning the finer points of being a receiver. If the Steelers are able to get through to him, Bryant could be a star, which makes him a dynasty league pick. But it'll be a multiyear process.
124. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Much like fellow Oregon RB LaMichael James, Thomas is a small runner who has a reputation for speed but isn't actually fast. Yes, these guys look great in the spread at Oregon, but then you time them and they're nothing special. At 174 pounds, Thomas runs a 4.5 40, which: meh. All that said, the Chiefs lost Dexter McCluster to free agency, and by the end of his tenure in KC, McCluster had developed into a vaguely useful offensive weapon. That's Thomas' best case. He's not a fantasy option.
130. James White, RB, Patriots: White is a shifty runner, but he was perpetually lost in the shuffle at Wisconsin behind Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon and doesn't have enough full-on speed to be a legitimate game-breaker. But White is a smart player and excellent pass protector and comes with a reputation for not fumbling, a quality much in demand in New England. As quickly as Bill Belichick tends to reshuffle a deck that consists of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden, you're forgiven for filing away White's name.
138. Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Ravens: Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce got through the draft avoiding an immediate threat to their primacy at the top of Baltimore's depth chart, and with Gary Kubiak coordinating the offense, there's hope this running attack can find its mojo. If it can't, remember Taliaferro. A 229-pound beast who dominated at FCS Coastal Carolina and ran an impressive 4.58 40, Taliaferro could develop into a platoon back, though he doesn't have the kind of lateral agility you'd want from a feature runner.
181. Alfred Blue, RB, Texans: A perpetual backup at LSU, Blue never got more than 78 carries in a single season. But he has been teasing for years. He is 6-2 and 228 pounds, runs a 4.63 40 and frankly looks dynamite in the uniform. But he couldn't stay healthy as a collegian and hasn't proved he can catch the ball. This is a case of the Texans taking a swing at a high-ceiling prospect who probably won't work out.
186. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Washington Redskins: Jay Gruden used Bernard to great effect last season, and now he takes a chance on Seastrunk, who has some of the same measurables as Gio. He is 5-9 and 201 pounds and has legitimately amazing first-step quickness and power for a guy his size. But as a relatively small RB, he has shown no pass-catching ability and was awful in pass protection at Baylor. As such, it's hard to see Seastrunk vaulting over Roy Helu during his rookie year to become Alfred Morris' passing-down mate.
228. Zach Hocker, K, Redskins. Because, y'know. Kicker.
229. Nate Freese, K, Lions. Because, y'know. Kicker run.