Adam Levitan

Draft Analysis

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013


7. Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots
Two undrafted rookie Patriots on one list seems excessive. It’s not. Sudfeld (6’7/255) was essentially an oversized slot receiver at Nevada, recording a 45/598/8 line as a senior. Well, it just so happens that the Patriots are in desperate need of both pass-catchers and tight ends. Sudfeld has been drawing rave reviews as the first-team “move” tight end throughout camp, which is essentially Aaron Hernandez’s old position. Through two preseason games (66 snaps), he has three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. If Rob Gronkowski (back surgery) misses the first few weeks as expected, Sudfeld will be a featured player on offense. If he plays well in that role, the Patriots will be more inclined to run two-tight end sets even when Gronk gets back.  

8. Rueben Randle, WR, Giants
The Giants’ offense does not typically support three wide receivers. Last year, No. 3 man Domenik Hixon caught just 39 balls and in 2011, Mario Manningham also had 39 grabs. Will Randle, who has been lighting up practices ever since he humiliated Nnamdi Asomugha in Week 17 last year, buck the trend? Probably not. But his white-hot offseason coupled with constant nagging injuries to Hakeem Nicks (as well as Victor Cruz’s new heel scare) should have owners on notice. Anytime Randle starts for the Giants, he’s going to be on the WR2 radar. A surefire sign that he’s a special player is that he’s consistently beaten double coverage in camp.

9. Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks
Sitting around and waiting for an injury is not fun. It also ties up a roster spot. But when one injury means you have a legit top-20 overall option, it can be worth it. Michael has zoomed past Robert Turbin during training camp, ripping off 89 yards on 16 carries (5.56 YPC) in the preseason opener. Turbin had nine carries for 35 yards in the second exhibition game as Michael sat out with a minor injury. The Seahawks live by the mantra that the best man will play, and it seems obvious that Michael is the best man for the job should Marshawn Lynch go down.

10. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings
One way to look at fliers is to just take the freakishly talented guys – regardless of situation – and let the chips fall where they may. That’s what happened last year with Randall Cobb. We knew we had a difference-maker in an elite offense, we just didn’t know how the Packers would get him on the field. It turned out that the Pack couldn’t keep him off the field. Perhaps things will go similarly this year for Patterson, who is currently behind Jerome Simpson at the “X” receiver spot. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave recently lauded the No. 29 overall pick for his dependability in the scheme, which is notable because of the raw label. If Patterson can get the mental part of the game and route-running down, he’s going to be a fantasy asset. The dude ran a 4.42 at 6’2/216 and recorded a 37-inch vertical leap at the combine.

11. Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
Under defensive-minded Lovie Smith, the Bears went 81-63 and went to the Super Bowl once. Over the last three years, they went 29-19. But Smith was still fired after the season because GM Phil Emery wanted a coach that would work closely with Cutler. Enter Marc Trestman, an offensive guru of sorts that has been lighting up the CFL for the last eight seasons. Before that, Trestman was a highly respected coordinator for the Browns, 49ers and Raiders. He quickly instilled a priority on protecting Cutler, as the Bears spent $35 million on left tackle Jermon Bushrod and used the No. 20 overall pick on impressive RG Kyle Long. New tight end Martellus Bennett also excels as a blocker. Add it all up and we finally have everything teed up for Cutler to realize his special ability in Chicago. Trestman won’t let the passing game fail.

12. Ryan Broyles, WR, Lions
This one was looking better about two weeks ago. When training camp first opened up, Broyles was practicing in full every day and impressing despite sustaining an ACL tear last December (the second one of his career). Now, however, he’s sitting out every third day of practice and having good days mixed with bad. Still, the situation couldn’t be much better for Broyles if he can sustain health. He’s a pure slot/possession receiver on a team that throws more than anyone in the league. No. 2 man Nate Burleson is declining and Broyles is excellent and finding holes underneath. Despite playing more than 36 snaps just once last season, he averaged 3.5 catches for 51.1 yards and scored two touchdowns in a six-game stretch between Weeks 7 and 12.

13. Coby Fleener, TE, Colts
I discussed Bruce Arians’ offensive philosophy above. His departure from Indy coupled with the arrival of Pep Hamilton is going to change the look of the Colts’ scheme significantly. There are going to be a lot more two tight end, two wide receiver formations featuring Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Note that Hamilton was Fleener’s (and Andrew Luck’s) offensive coordinator at Stanford when Fleener caught 62 passes for 1,101 yards with 17 touchdowns over his final two NCAA seasons. Head coach Chuck Pagano has already said he expects his flex tight end’s reception total to double. Things are clouded a bit by Fleener’s knee injury and poor preseason play, but there’s still tons of upside here.

14. Rod Streater, WR, Raiders
Who is the Raiders’ No. 1 wideout? If you answered Denarius Moore, the answer is mehhhhh. Although Moore has the most natural talent among the wideouts, his strength is running by corners and making difficult catches deep down the field. That’s a problem when the Raiders’ quarterback, Matt Flynn, has a moist noodle for an arm. During training camp, Moore has been so inconsistent and struggled so much that coach Dennis Allen said he doesn’t have a go-to receiver. Enter Streater, more of a possession and slot receiver that fits better with Flynn’s check-down style. As an undrafted rookie last year, Streater caught 39 passes for 584 yards (14.9 YPC) and scored three touchdowns. On the heels of a strong camp, he’ll have a chance to improve on those numbers.

15. Joique Bell, RB, Lions
I know that Reggie Bush sustained health and ran well between the tackles for the Dolphins over the last two seasons. That doesn’t mean he’ll do the same in Detroit. Bell proved last year that he’s at least good enough to be a change-of-pace player, averaging 5.04 YPC on 82 rushes and 9.3 yards on a gaudy 52 receptions. ProFootballFocus.com named him their Secret Superstar. Bell is the backup to Bush, while Mikel Leshoure will be the mere short-yardage pounder. In the Lions’ pass-happy scheme, there’s enough room for Bell to help extreme deep leaguers even if Bush stays on the field. 



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Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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