The first round of the NFL draft is in the books and there were many winners and many losers as a result. The Browns and the Rams seemed to get themselves a great haul and would be deemed "winners" while the big "loser" of the night was most likely Jon Gruden and his non-stop obsession with all things Johnny Manziel. But how did the first round project for your fantasy football team? Today I will present five winners and five losers from the NFL Draft's first round and the impact to fantasy football leagues everywhere.
MIKE EVANS - TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
In my opinion Evans and Sammy Watkins were the two best receivers in the draft. The NFL is a copycat league and the trend right now is for big strong receivers that can win jump ball situations. That is Mike Evans. He will step in to a starting WR role catching passes from Josh McCown (see 2013 Alshon Jeffrey) or Mike Glennon and will immediately be a top 30 fantasy WR.
ERIC EBRON - DETROIT LIONS
Ebron has been compared to Jimmy Graham in the way he can line up anywhere on the field. I don't know if ANYONE is in Graham's class but think of Ebron as 2014's Julius Thomas. You could do a lot worse.
CORDARRELLE PATTERSON - MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Minnesota trading up to select Teddy Bridgewater with the last pick of the first round solidifies Patterson as a legit WR for fantasy. Bridgewater is not known for his downfield passing skills and lacks the tools (hand size, arm strength) for a prototypical Norv Turner QB. Looks for lots of bubble screens. That means lots of getting Patterson the ball in open field situations, which translates into broken tackles and TDs.
ZAC STACY - ST. LOUIS RAMS
Stacy could not be happier that the Rams picked up a solid offensive lineman and area they "needed to improve" according to Pro Football Focus. Stacy was a RB1 from week 5 on last year and now gets an upgrade on the line to run behind. Some would say that Sam Bradford gets an upgrade here and while true, Bradford's leash got a little bit shorter with this pick. He is on notice now - no excuses.
BRANDIN COOKS - NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
I LOVE this pick. New Orleans WRs were just a step slow last year (Marques Colston) and the loss of Darren Sproles will open up some running room for the speedy Cooks to get out in space. Sean Payton will use this kid all over the field and will create opportunities for his talent. Everyone is raving about Cooks' head as well. A good kid who could not have landed in a better spot.
RUEBEN RANDLE - NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants drafting Odell Beckham Jr. was a clear shot across the bow at Randle who at one point last season was the target of nearly half of Eli Manning's interceptions. This past week both Victor Cruz and Giant GM Jerry Reese have spoken out about the Giants drafting a WR and/or a lack of confidence in Randle.
BARRY SANDERS - RETIRED
Um.... that was embarrassing.
JOHNNY MANZIEL - CLEVELAND BROWNS
If there can be a loser and a winner on the same night it would be Johnny Football. He looked excruciatingly uncomfortable waiting to be picked as he free-falled to the bottom of round one. After he was finally picked, he looked more relieved than happy. In addition to the uncomfortableness of the evening, he topped it off by flashing the money signal as he walked to the stage. Clearly - he doesn't get it. Or... maybe he does? BUT for a guy who is billed as a clutch player and a winner Johnny Cleveland looked incredibly uncomfortable on the big stage. The Browns got their man - I am just not sure he is the man they think he is.
BRIAN HOYER - CLEVELAND BROWNS
See above. If Hoyer wins the QB competition in Cleveland - that is IF there is actually a QB competition in Cleveland - every pass will be scrutinized. Every down will be scrutinized and every mistake will be magnified and used as a call for Johnny. Hoyer - coming off of ACL surgery - could not be in a worse situation.
RUNNING BACKS - EVERYWHERE
For the second straight year not a single RB was selected in the first round. Given the importance of RBs in fantasy football, we will need to pay attention to the later rounds for anyone of impact for the upcoming season. Who should you be looking for to make an impact? Check out FakeTeams RB preview.
THE BIG QUESTION MARK - SAMMY WATKINS - BUFFALO BILLS
First of all, I LOVE Sammy Watkins. I love his playmaking ability. I love his highlight reels. I think this is a good spot for him to display his YAC skills. I love everything about Sammy Watkins except one thing. I don't trust E.J. Manuel enough based on an incomplete grade in 2013. The question mark here is that I don't think there was a better player landing in a more questionable spot than Sammy Watkins. From my fantasy perspective Mike Evans AND Brandin Cooks jumped Sammy in the preseason rankings.
So there you have it. Five winners and five losers from Thursday night's first round of the NFL draft. I am looking forward to round two and seeing where some of the other QBs land and when a running back will finally be taken. It is never too early to get a jump on your league's draft. Give me your take on the draft in the comments section below or tweet at me at @bradcoustan.