Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville #5
Size/Athleticism: Height is adequate, although a notch below the ideal size for a pocket passer. Definitely lacks the bulk you’d like to see from a quarterback. He appears skinny, which raises some concern as to his long-term durability. However, he also clearly has the frame to add some weight. Listed at 185 in high school, so he’s obviously put in the work to gain weight and should continue to do so once he’s working with NFL trainers, nutritionists, etc. Athleticism is decent, but he’s definitely not a run-first quarterback. Capable of moving within the pocket and is a threat to run if he’s given space.
Arm strength/Accuracy: Accuracy is one of his best assets. His accuracy holds up even when his mechanics are altered by a collapsing pocket or when he’s forced to rush a throw. Maintains his accuracy and decent arm strength when throwing on the run. Accuracy on short and intermediate routes is elite. Deep ball accuracy is adequate, but not special. Does a great job adjusting the touch on his passes to give his receivers catchable passes. He isn’t the type of quarterback that plays at full speed all the time, and is more than capable of slowing it down when the situation allows to make life easier on his receivers. Has shown the ability throw to the full route tree, unlikely many college quarterbacks who rely heavily on more basic routes such as comebacks and screens.
Footwork/Release: Great footwork in the pocket. Moves very fluidly within the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Release is nearly flawless. He consistently stays balanced, shows perfect weight transfer and gets the most out his release to maximize his arm strength.
Decision making: Does a great job staying patient and going through his progressions. He has the ability to run, but he has always been a pocket passer first. Rarely forces throws into tight coverage and has shown he’s willing to check down when the deep options aren’t there.
Intangibles: Fairly quiet and isn’t your typical vocal leader that some coaches will prefer at quarterback. But he’s patient, calm and has the traits that translate well to performance under pressure.
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: Bridgewater lacks the physical traits to put him into an elite category, but he is a smart, patient quarterback who is easily the most NFL-ready in this draft class. I wouldn’t draft Bridgewater with expectations of an Andrew Luck-type immediate impact but he’s capable of starting right away and being a quality starter in the league for the next 10+ years. One concern that’s raised by his performance that only NFL teams will be able to address is his leadership. He’s very quite and appears almost too calm on the field. It’s tough to judge a trait like that from afar, so it’s something that NFL execs and coaches will need to question both him and his Louisville coaching staff on to get a better idea for how his intangibles will be able to shape their locker room.
We are still about 2 months away from the 2014 NFL draft, but people are already looking forward to what this crop of rookies will bring to the table. People who play in one day fantasy leagues might be a little hesitant to draft a rookie from the very beginning, but they could be impact players by the middle of the season. It is hard to predict what type of success players will have before they are actually on a specific team, but here are a few players poised to be breakout stars from day one.
Quarterback – Blake Bortles
There are 3 quarterbacks who seem to be thought of as franchise type of quarterbacks. Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Bortles all expect to hear their name called within the 1st 10 picks of the draft. However, it seems as though Bortles will be the most NFL-ready at this point in time. Not only is he the biggest and strongest quarterback of the bunch, but he has shown quite a bit of poise as a pocket passer so far in his career. He might not have the same type of ceiling as the other 2 players, but look for him to be the best option in one day fantasy leagues in 2014 at that position.
Running Back – Ka’Deem Carey
There are not a lot of people very high on the upcoming running back rookie class, but every season there are at least a few surprises to keep an eye on. It looks as though Ka’Deem Carey has the potential to be an impact player in one day fantasy leagues this upcoming season. At 5’9” and 207 pounds, Carey is never going to be a guy who provides a lot of long runs for big yards. However, he can do a little bit of everything and he has a knack for finding the end zone. It would not be a surprise at all to see him get a lot of touches in the red zone for whichever team drafts him.
Wide Receiver – Sammy Watkins
This one seems pretty obvious, but there are some other wide receivers who could make an impact as well. Sammy Watkins was absolutely sensational for Clemson in college, and he has the size and speed to be a number 1 wideout in the future. Even if he is selected by a team that has some talent at receiver already, he should be able to get more than enough touches from the very beginning. A guy like Mike Evans might have more red zone potential, but Watkins is the total package who should be an impact player in fantasy football for years to come.
Shannon Smith – special contributor to DraftAce
Mike Evans WR Texas A&M #13
Size/Athleticism: Elite size and strength. Has the ability to fight for the ball in traffic. Blend of size and speed makes him surprisingly dangerous after the catch.
Separation Skills: Evans’ route running at A&M was limited almost exclusively to go routes which resulted in Manziel tossing up a jump ball. He definitely doesn’t have the speed or agility to consistently shake defenders but his ability to win jump balls makes that almost irrelevant. He’s shown the ability to fight through press coverage and he has enough speed to make defenders pay when they try to jam him at the line of scrimmage. When he develops his skills as an intermediate route runner, Evans will be elite in this area.
Ball Skills: Evans will drop some easy ones, likely due to a lack of focus in certain situations. But his ability to fight for the ball in traffic is elite. He knows how to use his size to box out defenders and fight for the best positioning. He shows excellent body control along the sidelines.
Intangibles: Very emotional player. Loses his cool on the field at times (see Jan. 2014 game vs Duke).
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: Evans has a rare complement of tools that you simply can’t teach. His blend of size and athleticism makes him extremely dangerous down the field. In terms of his ability to win jump balls, he’s comparable to Vincent Jackson or Alshon Jeffery. Evans will be pigeonholed by some as a deep threat and a possession receiver, but one of his most underrated qualities is his ability after the catch. In five charted games, Evans averaged 9.3 yards after the catch. By comparison, in charted games, Sammy Watkins averaged 10.1. Depending on the type of receiver teams are looking for, a strong case can be made that Evans is the best in this class.
C.J. Fiedorowicz TE Iowa #86
Size/Athleticism: Impressive overall size. He’s a big, physical tight end with the potential to excel as a blocker. Speed is limited, but he’s a decent all-around athlete. Played basketball in high school and was offered some D-I scholarships.
Separation Skills: Not a deep threat. Strictly a possession receiver and rarely gets open more than 10 yards down the field. He does a nice job sliding off blocks on delayed routes. Does a nice job using his body to shield defenders. Adjusts and finds the soft spot in zones.
Ball Skills: Reliable hands. Doesn’t have the athleticism or body control to consistently make plays on poorly thrown balls. Despite his height, he isn’t explosive enough to really excel in jump ball situations.
Blocking: Tough, physical blocker. Focused and consistent in his fundamentals. Struggles with speed rushers off the edge at times (got burned by Ryan Shazier vs Ohio State a few times).
Intangibles: Viewed as a hard worker and well liked by coaches and teammates. Awarded the “Coaches Appreciation” award in 2013.
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: Fiedorowicz is a solid mid-round prospect who can contribute in all phases of the game. However, his lack of athleticism limits his upside. His ceiling is probably as an Anthony Fasano type tight end which, ideally, is a No. 2 option in an offense and a guy primarily used for blocking responsibilities.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE Washington #88
Size/Athleticism: Elite size. He has the height to be a threat as a possession receiver. Overall size makes him a well balanced tight end with the ability to impact the game as a receiver and as a dominant blocker on the line of scrimmage. Modest speed and quickness limits his ability for big plays.
Separation Skills: Speed is average at best and he’s not a threat to break away down the field. But he does have the size to be a threat in jump ball situations. He isn’t explosive, so he’ll struggle to get open in certain matchups when the defender is willing and capable of pressing him at the line of scrimmage. He rarely faced a man-to-man matchup in college that wasn’t in his favor, but he will face some linebackers at the next level who can shut him down in the passing game.
Ball Skills: Very reliable hands. When he’s in position, he comes down with the ball. Should be more successful winning 50-50 balls than he’s shown. He has the size to dominate, but he isn’t very aggressive. Inconsistent body control along the sidelines. Doesn’t always put himself in the best position to come down with the ball.
Blocking: Possesses the size to dominate. Can mix it up with defensive linemen and hold his own. Awareness on the field is lacking at times. Seems to lack the ability to process the defense quickly. He gets lost in space and doesn’t make quick decisions in terms of his blocking assignments.
Intangibles: Serious character concerns. Arrested for a DUI after crashing his car in March, 2013. Effort has been questioned by many throughout his career.
Durability: Under went surgery on his finger in August, 2013.
Comments: Seferian-Jenkins has the potential to be an effective well-rounded tight end. He isn’t a flashy playmaker, but his size gives him the potential to excel in all facets of the game. He reminds me somewhat of Martellus Bennett. Like Bennett, he lacks the explosive playmaking ability to be a star but his size could make him one of the most well-rounded tight ends in the league. Character concerns linger which must be addressed, but he’s stayed out of the news since his DUI arrest and most teams should be willing to look past it if interviews go well.