#1 DERRICK MORGAN, TENNESSEE TITANS – SELECTED IN THE 1st ROUND, 16th OVERALL
This guy is a physical specimen and has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl DE in the very near future. The Georgia Tech product was drafted by Tennessee in an effort to fill holes left behind by most recently Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth on the D Line. Every coach drools at the chance to get their hands on this kind of talent. He is hands down, in my opinion, the best DE in this rookie class. He will make an immediate impact and can start right away. Draft him in the early to mid 2nd rounds of deep IDP/Dynasty league Rookie drafts.
Fantasy Projections – 55 TAK/ 11 Sacks/ 5 FF/5 FR
#2 BRANDON GRAHAM, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – SELECTED IN THE 1st ROUND, 13th OVERALL
Some call him the reincarnation of Hugh Douglas, I call him a pure football player. Although he’s currently listed here as a Defensive Lineman, the transition to LB may be imminent. Some relief for Trent Cole is going to make everyone on the D Line better and the Eagles seem poised to get the defense back in order. Graham will be everywhere Andy Reid can put him. Wether it’s at OLB or DE Graham can pursue the QB and finish as well as any defensive player in the draft.
Fantasy Projections – 64 TAK/ 8 Sacks/ 5 FF / 4 FR
#3 JASON PIERRE-PAUL, NEW YORK GIANTS – SELECTED IN THE 1st ROUND, 15th OVERALL
JPP is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Giants. Unfortunately it may come at the expense of one Osi Umenyiora. When JPP was drafted the story lines broke that Osi was now the odd man out and he was most definitely on the move. I’m not so sure that’s the scenario today but JPP looks poised and ready to take his place opposite Justin Tuck on the D Line. Although JPP was the beneficiary of some heavy protection the opposition put on his ex-USF linemate George Selvie, I still think he is the heir apparent to Osi and will benefit greatly once given the opportunity.
Fantasy Projections – 41 TAK/6 Sacks/4 FF/ 5 FR
#4 JERRY HUGHES, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – SELECTED IN THE 1st ROUND, 31st OVERALL
Hughes isn’t projected to win a starting job over Mathis or Freeney but due to the recent injuries to both a plan to prepare Hughes as a replacement is definitely in order. He will be groomed and molded by two of the best DE’s in the game and should be able to excel on Special Teams initially and then as a replacement for either Freeney or Mathis. I believe Hughes is a great mid-to-late 3rd Round Rookie pick in deep IDP/Dynasty leagues. Look for Hughes to be a full time starter by 2011 as the Colts most likely will not give Mathis a contract extension.
Fantasy Projections – 44 TAK/5 Sacks/3 FF/5 FR
#5 GERALD McCOY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - SELECTED IN THE 1stROUND, 3rd OVERALL
You can argue all you want about who the better DT is between McCoy and Suh. I personally can’t sit here and tell you I like one sooo much more than the next. I will make McCoy the better of the two because of the systems they play in. Yes, Jim Schwartz has the edge over Raheem Morris as far as coaching goes but when I look at the Tampa Defense I see a team that is crying for a leader to step up. Barret Ruud is the LBIC (Line Backer In Charge) but the D-Line needs the most support. I believe that McCoy will be super active and could possibly be the better of the two in the long term as well.
Fantasy Projections 47 TAK/10 Sacks/4 FF/5 FR
#6 NDAMUKONG SUH, DETROIT LIONS – SELECTED IN THE 1st ROUND, 2ND OVERALL
Yes, it’s Suh at #6. Fantasy football scoring formats aren’t kind to DT’s at all. I’m sure anyone will tell you the same. They just don’t make the plays like MLB’s or DE’s. Suh, on the other hand, could be the exception to the rule. He’s got all the intangables to become a great NFL player and produce at a high level year in and year out. Since he’s on the inside on a team that will be playing from behind in 75% of their snaps, expect opponents to run the ball and wind down the clock late in the 3rd and 4th Qtr’s. This will allow the DT’s to make a ton of plays and keep them busy for the fantasy owners as well. He’s gonna be a great value in deeper IDP and Dynasty leagues.
Fantasy Projections – 45 TAK/8 Sacks/5 FF/4 FR
#7 CARLOS DUNLAP, CINCINNATI BENGALS – SELECTED IN THE 2ND ROUND, 54th OVERALL
As the Florida Gators 2009 Sack leader (9), Dunlap showed he can pursue and finish well from the LOS. I’m not sure he’s ready for a full time position in the NFL but his upside is better than those that follow him on this list. Cincinnati drafted Michael Johnson from GT last year and expect some of these early round draft picks to pay off sooner rather than later. He’ll play on Special Teams and contribute a bit in blowout scenarios.
Fantasy Projections – 39 TAK/2 Sacks/3 FF/4 FR
#8 COREY WOOTTON, CHICAGO BEARS – SELECTED IN THE 4th ROUND, 109th OVERALL
What the hell did they feed this kid? Wootton is a big boy and he’s fast too. Shedding blocks with one arm and pulling down QB’s with the other. Love him as a Chicago Bear and hopefully will learn the Defense quick enough to prove he’s a worthy replacement for an aging Mark Anderson alongside newly acquired DE Julius Peppers. May be a risk to start early but long term value could be high.
Fantasy Projections – 37 TAK/3 Sacks/3 FF/2 FR
#9 TYSON ALUALU, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – SELECTED IN THE 1st ROUND, 10th OVERALL
I’m not completely sold on Tyson as a top tier Rookie Lineman. Most DT’s aren’t huge fantasy factors to begin with but I’m going to respect the high draft position and allow him a spot at #9 in this list. Alualu maneuvers well in traffic for a big body and knows how to get to the QB once he sheds the double team. Although I don’t expect a huge output in his rookie campaign but a strong enough showing that he gets the starting job as a rookie and develops over the next 2-3 seasons.
Fantasy Projections – 33 TAK/4 Sacks/3 FF/4 FR
#10 EVERSON GRIFFEN, MINNESOTA VIKINGS – SELECTED IN THE 4th ROUND, 100th OVERALL
Griffen is sitting at #10 due to the fact that he has a lot of proving to do. He needs to show that he has the stamina and the smarts to be a productive NFL DE. I’m not discounting his ability, I just don’t think he compares to someone like Derrick Morgan. With that being said, I think that he will have plenty of time to learn from Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and the Williams Wall. He can make an impact this season filling in and making the most of his opportunities. Great upside in Dynasty/IDP leagues.
Fantasy Projections – 22 TAK/3 Sacks/2 FF/3 FR
George Selvie, St. Louis Rams
Jared Odrick, Miami Dolphins
Ricky Sapp, Philadelphia Eagles