The 2012 NFL Draft is in the proverbial books, and after a weekend that saw reaches, steals, and trades galore 253 of college football’s best players have been welcomed into the National Football League, including many of the nation’s top defensive players.
Now that the dust has settled in New York City let’s take a look back at the players featured in this season’s IDP Draft Preview Series here at IDP Manor and how their new homes impact their IDP value both in the upcoming season and beyond.
Luke Kuechly – LB, Boston College (Carolina Panthers – Round One, Pick 9): It may seem a bit surprising that given the Carolina Panthers’ talented linebacker trio of James Anderson, Jon Beason, and Thomas Davis that the team would spend a top 10 pick on a linebacker this season.
That is, until you take a look at the fact that Beason and Davis missed a combined 29 games last year or that Davis is returning from a 3rd torn ACL.
The Panthers didn’t draft Kuechly that highly to sit him, and right now the more pressing questions would appear to be whether he’ll line up on the weak side or the middle and whether or not Kuechly will see time in the nickel. Those questions are enough to make college football’s leading tackler an IDP LB3 lottery ticket in redraft fantasy leagues, but they aren’t enough to knock the Butkus Award winner from his perch atop dynasty IDP rankings.
Whitney Mercilus – DE/OLB, Illinois (Houston Texans – Round One, Pick 26): The NCAA’s sack king landed in a situation that may bode well for his chances of successfully making the transition to outside linebacker, but it was a kick in the teeth for Mercilus’ IDP fortunes, especially in the short term.
The Texans defense didn’t miss a beat when Mario Williams went down last year, so while Williams departure to Buffalo might seem to open a hole for Mercilus it’s more likely that Houston will be in no huge hurry to rush the All-American into the lineup.
A rotational role in the early going and likely positional designation as a linebacker with most fantasy providers are huge hits to Mercilus’ fantasy value, and while the Illinois star may still be worth a late flier in dynasty rookie drafts he’s little more than a waiver watch in all but the deepest and/or sack-heavy of redraft IDP leagues.
Dre Kirkpatrick – CB, Alabama (Cincinnati Bengals – Round One, Pick 17): The Cincinnati Bengals were one of the teams believed to be targeting a cornerback in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and sure enough with LSU’s Morris Claiborne and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore off the board the Bengals pulled the trigger on the 6’2″ All-American.
Kirkpatrick will likely assume slot duties and could push veteran Nate Clements for a starting job outside in Cincinnati, and while his IDP value, at least for now, lies mainly in fantasy leagues that require corners his willingness to drop his head, and the tackle opportunities that brings with it combined with his “rookie corner” rule potential, make Kirkpatrick likely to be the first rookie at his position selected in the majority of IDP leagues this summer.
Audie Cole – LB, North Carolina State (Minnesota Vikings – Round Seven, Pick 210): Poor performances at February’s NFL combine and the Wolfpack’s pro day only amplified concerns about Cole’s speed and athleticism, and that precipitated a draft plunge that only halted when the Vikings took Cole with the third pick in the seventh round.
For now it would appear that Cole’s IDP value in redraft formats is minimal, as he’ll be stuck behind Jasper Brinkley on the depth chart and would appear to have no shot at nickel snaps even were he to crack the lineup.
However, all is not lost, as the thumper makes up for what he lacks in ability with smarts, toughness, and knowledge of the game, and those types of players buck the odds every year. Is he worth a draft pick? In all but the deepest of IDP leagues no. Is Audie Cole still a player worth monitoring? You bet.