Draft Plan 2014: Free Agency 3.0
Apr 11, 2014
More articles from Eric Hartvigson
DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington – Far and away the biggest news of the 2014 free agency was the release, and subsequent signing of Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson . Tossed out in Philadelphia, Jackson quickly moved to the Eagles’ sworn enemy in the nation’s capital. With Robert Griffin III slinging the rock, and pass-heavy Jay Gruden calling the plays, Jackson should easily retain his status as a lower WR1. The lone knock is sharing targets with running mate Pierre Garcon . However, Jackson’s upside still has him projected as a solid pick in the back end of the third round.
The real winner in all this is going to be Robert Griffin III . I could be drinking the first batch of Kool-Aid, but Griffin III has early projections as a late third-round pick on Draft Day.
As for the lasting effect in Philadelphia, the loss obviously hurts the production of both Riley Cooper (ninth round) and Nick Foles (early seventh round), while late-round flyer Jeremy Maclin has nowhere to go but up. An interesting prospect in the Jackson fallout is Zach Ertz . At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Ertz has the size, speed and basketball skills to be a solid contributor on the Ducks, err, I mean the Eagles-fast paced offense. I’m taking a stab on the second year tight end somewhere in the 13th round.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Oakland – I recently read that the Raiders had something like $54 million they were obligated to spend this offseason. One of those acquisitions was Jones-Drew. With the running back market plummeting faster than the Canadian Dollar (.89 cents US), Oakland scooped up Jones-Drew at a bargain price (ironic to think the NFL’s 2012 rushing leader is being paid less than Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka) . Running alongside Darren McFadden is an excellent place to be, especially late in the season – just ask Rashad Jennings and Michael Bush . Jones-Drew is not without his own red flags. At 29 years old, he too is injury prone. Installing Matt Schaub as the starting quarterback isn’t helping the situation, while the Raiders offensive line is in shambles after losing top tier left tackle Jared Valdeer. Simply based on the fantasy value of running backs, I’m willing to wager an eighth-round pick on Jones-Drew.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Pittsburgh – After reading this news I quickly envisioned dynasty owners of Le'Veon Bell cussing at the computer screen. Don’t get to crazy as Bell will remain the focal point of the Pittsburgh ground game. However, Blount has enough skills to cut into Bell’s production, especially around the stripe. In redraft leagues, Bell remains a late first rounder. Just make sure to draft Blount two rounds ahead of his average draft position.
Mike Williams, WR, Buffalo – Generating one of the league’s best rookie seasons in 2010, Williams proved he has the talent to be an elite NFL wide receiver. However, Williams fell into a sophomore slump with rumors of excessive partying before games, substantiated by multiple police reports. Whipped in line by former coach Greg Schiano, Williams again exploded in 2012 while being rewarded with a healthy six-year, $40 million contract. As they say – “mo money, mo problems.” Reverting back into his old ways, the police began making repeated house calls in 2013, capped off with a stabbing from his own brother. Ripping off the band aid, Tampa Bay managed to find a trade partner in Buffalo. Reunited with former college head coach Doug Marrone, and given Williams’ historic trend, I’m willing to take a stab in the 11th round.
Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Arizona – All offseason we’ve been reading quotes from the Cardinals brass about an expanded role for Andre Ellington , corroborated by the retirement of Rashard Mendenhall. However, coach Bruce Arians has remained steadfast to retaining a strong running back by committee. The addition of Dwyer only confirms the coach’s philosophy (let’s not forget second-year runner Stepfan Taylor is still on the roster). Ellington won’t be this year’s Lamar Miller, but he won’t become Knowshon Moreno either, especially playing in the stout NFC West. For now, Ellington should be viewed as a high-end RB4, with spot start upside, taken somewhere in the eighth round.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Miami – As if the running back situation in Miami wasn’t already a mess with Lamar Miller , Daniel Thomas , and Mike Gillislee , the Dolphins added Super Bowl free agent Knowshon Moreno into the mix. Although Thomas is likely the odd man out, a running back by committee seems imminent. It’s worth noting that the offensive line did receive a sizeable upgrade with the addition of Brandon Albert, but the entire right side is vulnerable. Just like last season, I’m walking away from all of Miami’s backfield.
Kenny Britt, WR, St. Louis – Brimming with talent, Kenny Britt suffers from the same metal disorder as Mike Williams – stupidity. And when he’s not getting arrested, he’s either injured or in the coach’s doghouse. He does have history with Jeff Fisher, while the quarterback upgrade is significant from whoever’s been starting for Tennessee over the past three seasons. I will say this – Britt is immediately the best wide receiver on the Rams roster. You might find the next Alshon Jeffery, or you might find this year’s Vincent Brown . He’s worth taking a stab in the later rounds as a low WR4 with upside.