Evan Silva

Draft Analysis

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Top 20 Recommended Targets

Thursday, August 25, 2011




9. Cardinals RB Beanie Wells - The real Beanie averaged 4.51 yards per carry with seven TDs -- four from ten or more yards out -- as a rookie in '09. The playing-hurt Beanie sank to 3.42 YPC and two scores -- neither from further than two yards -- in last year's sophomore slump after early-September knee surgery. Now handed what may prove one of the NFL's biggest workloads following Ryan Williams' knee injury, Wells is setup to approach and maybe surpass 300 carries if he stays healthy. Even if Wells splits the 2009-2010 difference in terms of per-carry average on 275 rushing attempts, he'll flirt with 1,100 yards. And he has the potential for much, much more.

10. Giants WR Mario Manningham - We've touted Manningham since the winter, and folks are no longer sleeping on him. His ADP is up to the early sixth round, a reasonable target area for a player with 1,200 yards in his future if he stays healthy. Hakeem Nicks will command the double teams while Manningham feasts on man coverage downfield in a vertical-based Giants passing attack. On passing downs, the G-Men are giving Manningham a look in the slot in order to increase his run-after-catch opportunities. Manningham is still being drafted behind Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Lloyd, and Chad Ochocinco, and he's a fair bet to out-produce them all.

11. Texans TE Owen Daniels - Daniels is a testament to the depth available at tight end. Typically still on the board in the late-sixth and seventh rounds, a healthy Daniels will be the No. 2 option in Houston's passing game this year. You probably know he closed out last season strong, but less talked about is the fact that Daniels played 75 percent of the snaps in the final four games and has been even more of a first-team fixture this preseason. For such a blocking-deficient tight end, the Texans find creative ways to keep Daniels on the field as a playmaking pass catcher.

12. Redskins RB Tim Hightower - Washington opened camp with its starting O-Line named, and the unit hasn't missed a day of practice in August. That's enviable continuity, and it's showed up this preseason. Hightower has stared at massive, gaping holes with Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking system hitting on all cylinders. Hightower is effective in all facets of the passing game, so we're talking about a potential every-down back here. Three of the Redskins' first three opponents (STL, ARZ, DAL) also project as mediocre-to-bad run defenses. Expect a fast start.

13. Falcons WR Julio Jones - We knew about Jones' physicality and ability to make plays in traffic from his time at Alabama. What we discovered this preseason is that Jones' timed speed at the Combine is more indicative of his skill set than college tape. Jones played in a deliberate offense for the Crimson Tide, quarterbacked by weak-armed, late-round talent Greg McElroy. In exhibition games, Jones has been the fastest player on the field more often than not. He's going to push for WR2 numbers as a rookie, and suck some life out of Roddy White's counting stats.

14. Rams QB Sam Bradford - The Rams' first-team preseason pass-to-run ratio has been balanced (28:23), but the vanilla looks will turn pass-heavy when real games begin. Bradford has "only" lined up in the shotgun on 19-of-51 snaps (37 percent), and we know from Josh McDaniels' history that St. Louis will have more of a spread than pro-style look. Behind one of the NFL's top young offensive lines, Bradford will air it out early and often. A candidate to lead the league in attempts, Bradford is an ideal QB2. The supporting cast may be unproven, but there isn't enough of a talent shortage to prevent Bradford from posting top-10 QB stats if the volume is there.

15. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski - While Aaron Hernandez remains a situational passing-down tight end, Gronkowski has emerged as a full-time player in his second season, seeing 95.1 percent of New England's first-team offensive snaps this preseason. The playing-time leap actually began late last year with Alge Crumpler banged up. "Gronk" took over as the Pats' lead player at the position with just three snaps of rest in the final three games (including playoffs). He racked up 14 catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns in those contests. Having separated from Hernandez with a beastly training camp, Gronkowski is a steal at his current middle-of-the-tenth-round ADP.

16. Saints WR Lance Moore - Moore only played 50.7 percent of the Saints' offensive downs last year. During the 2011 preseason, New Orleans has played 39 first-team snaps, and Moore has been in for 33 (84.6 percent). With Marques Colston sidelined for the Saints' opener, Moore was a perfect 20-for-20. He'll be looking at an every-down receiver role if Colston's knees act up during the season, which is certainly a possibility after the fifth knee surgery of his career. Even if Colston makes it 16 games, Moore is in store for a heavily increased role this year.


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva


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