Draft day will be here before you know it.
For us, of course, it's always draft day. Who doesn't love a mock, even in mid-June? With the release of our Draft Kit, we assembled the best minds from our writing and editing staff to participate in a 10-team, standard ESPN draft to give you a sense of how player values are settling in the early weeks of the preseason.
You'll notice an oddity with this one: I'm actually not in it. Nope, the role of the critic was too attractive to resist; I served as the proverbial fly on the wall, ready to shred apart everyone's carefully considered selections. It's a different approach, yes, but offers an unbiased angle on the results of the draft. For instance, no need to applaud or pan my own selections in any given round.
Still, even observing the draft, who can resist putting an actual stake in the proceedings? Rotisserie baseball fans might be familiar with the concept of "shadow drafting," where during a draft you decide at the point of a player's selection whether you'd have taken the player, or in an auction whether you'd buy that player for $1 more than his selling price. Similarly, in this draft, I took pen and paper, set myself the same roster guidelines as our drafters and decided that in any given round I could not select any player picked in the first half of the round (though players picked in subsequent rounds were not off-limits).
Drafting teams were, in picking order, Keith Lipscomb, Pierre Becquey, Christopher Harris, Eric Karabell, AJ Mass, Ken Daube, Brendan Roberts, Nate Ravitz and James Quintong. Here's how the mock -- and my shadow draft -- went:
Is there any such thing as a "bad" first-round pick? Certainly -- like the Detroit Lions fan who races to grab Calvin Johnson with a first pick. But it's not something you should come to expect from this group. If anything here was unexpected, it was probably Adrian Peterson's selection over Chris Johnson with the top spot. After all, Johnson averaged four points per game more than Peterson in 2009. Still, who's going to quibble over two players who are the clear Nos. 1 and 2 overall?
Roberts' selection of Turner officially got the smack talk going:
"Didn't think Mr. St. Louis would pass on Jackson," said Ravitz, who grabbed Jackson with the next pick.
"I passed on Jackson because I'm Mr. St. Louis," Roberts said. "See too many of their games."
I'd have taken: Andre Johnson, because if I'm picking in the back half of the first round, a wide receiver is highly likely to be my target.
"Called out": Again, if I draw a bottom-five pick, wide receiver is probably going to be the direction I go.
Daube agreed, saying, "There's a four-player tier this year atop draft boards: Peterson, [Chris] Johnson, Rice and Jones-Drew, in that order. After those four, the next 10 or so running backs are interchangeable."
Still, while Andre Johnson would be my pick, Daube went somewhat against the grain -- or as against the grain as first-round picks go -- by taking Moss.
"I decided pre-draft that if I pulled any slot in the first round where all of those four players were unavailable," Daube said, "I'd draft the best available wide receiver and grab my first running back with my pick in the second round, as I'm convinced that walking away with a wide receiver in the first two rounds this year is an absolute must.
"Back to the selection itself, I have Moss as the clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver this year. The dude is an absolute beast when healthy. Last year, Moss separated his shoulder in Week 5, yet went on to finish the season as the No. 2 wide receiver. Consider this: From Weeks 6-17, Moss averaged almost 90 yards and over a touchdown per game while playing with an injury that would have kept most players off the field. That soft label he has should have been shredded long ago."
While in past seasons, a RB-RB strategy might have been all the rage, this draft demonstrates how much the game has shifted. Quarterbacks were the first two picks of the round and three of the first six. After two rounds, only Karabell and Roberts had filled both of their starting running-back slots.
"Quarterback-wide receiver in some order seemed to make the most sense [with my first two picks]," Quintong said.
"Well, there goes my 'hope one of the two quarterbacks falls' strategy, "said Roberts, whose second-round pick was the next one after the Brees and Rodgers selections.
"I was debating between Rodgers and DeAngelo [at No. 12]," Ravitz said. "Ultimately decided that there was plenty of running-back depth in a 10-team league, so getting the best quarterback was a better play."
I'd have taken: Jamaal Charles, but I admit that being a back-end pick in the second round isn't going to be the most exciting spot this season. That's especially true if you've already taken a wide receiver in the first round.
"Called out": Most mocks -- especially among experts -- traditionally don't have as many of three quarterbacks going in the first two rounds, primarily because there's a prevailing belief that you can wait until deep into the draft to get one. Sure enough, Mass grabbed Manning at 16th overall, but the fourth quarterback off the board went 18 picks later, demonstrating how often people tend to wait on the position. That put Mass at a competitive disadvantage. Though we have the advantage of hindsight that he didn't, it wasn't hard to see that he'd have to reach at some point to fill his final starting spots at running back or wide receiver.
"At No. 5, I felt that a running back was the way to go in Round 1, but I was really hoping that either Brees or Rodgers would still be on the board at No. 16," Mass said. "When they both were snatched up, I felt the drop-off from Manning to Tom Brady was significant enough to grab him in Round 2. I tend not to worry too much about what other people do in fantasy football drafts, because there's usually plenty of value available to draft the team I want, especially with a pick in the middle -- Picks 4 through 9 -- of the snake."
Not a quarterback to be seen in the third round, as each owner continued to stockpile running backs and wide receivers. In a sort of fallback to the drafts of a half-decade or so ago, Karabell took his third consecutive running back, the veteran Benson. In contrast to that strategy, Daube and Lipscomb were the only two at this point to have selected both of their starting wide receivers.
I'd have taken: Ryan Mathews. For Quintong to get a running back with his ceiling with the 31st pick of the draft is quite a bit of good fortune, especially since it gave him two top-20 caliber running backs -- Mathews and his third-round pick of Wells -- despite his having selected a wide receiver and quarterback with his first two picks. Mathews' upside has helped him earn mid-second round status in some early mocks, but there's no way he should be falling past the third round now.
"Mathews has plenty of upside, and given the hype already, I doubt I would be able to get him at this point in the draft later in the summer," Quintong said. "I don't think I have too much of a problem having Mathews as my No. 2 running back, although I probably would've been happier as a No. 3, but given the situation, Mathews works for me there."
"Called out": Mass' McCoy pick is a candidate, but I'll choose Bell's selection of Stewart, being that he's not even guaranteed to be a starter come Week 1. In picking Stewart, Bell assembled a group of five running backs on her roster who aren't even guaranteed the bulk of the carries by their respective NFL teams, and four of them -- beginning with the Stewart selection -- who are likely to enter the regular season second on their respective depth charts. Picking Stewart here seems to be a calculated gamble on the health (or lack thereof) of DeAngelo Williams.
"I think Stewart comes in poised better than the past two years after some surgery on his Achilles," Bell said. "He was coming off toe surgery his rookie year. He had a bad Achilles' injury last year. By the way, I still don't think people recognize just how well the medical staff managed that and how hard Stewart worked to be able to get that to not only last all year but to still have some awesome performances. By the way, here's a stat for you: He has not missed a game as a pro. Williams has. And Stewart led the team in rushing last year. He had 10 touchdowns to Williams' seven. Stewart is still not ready to do everything, but I'm optimistic that he'll be in good shape by camp.
"Williams, meanwhile, is coming off an ankle surgery which he downplays -- with good reason -- and was not a big deal. But I think the Panthers will continue to split the workload. My sense is that if they both come in healthy, this will be close to an even split in terms of carries, and I like Stewart at the goal line."
To think, two short seasons ago, Brady was a consensus first-round fantasy pick. A year ago, the case could've been made that he'd have been picked higher than 35th overall in many leagues. It's a shame he didn't linger to the bottom half of this round so he'd have been my steal of an "I'd have taken," but Daube snatched him up to pair with his first-round pick of Moss. That pick sure makes a lot of sense now, right? Still, even Daube admitted he went with the obvious value selection at the expense of potentially leaving himself thin at running back.
"I felt a little dirty drafting Brady at that point, but it has nothing at all to do with my confidence in him," Daube said. "It completely has to do with the fact that I had to pass on Matt Forte to take Brady. I love Forte this year and think he could easily finish as a top-seven back this season. Forte was a better fit for my team as far as needs go, but Brady was the superior value. In the end, value won out for me.
"Quarterback-to-wide receiver connections don't affect my decision-making process at all. Furthermore, if I'm already betting a good portion on my success on Moss, why would I hedge that bet by backing away from Brady? It makes no sense to me. In order for the Moss pick to earn the value, Brady is going to have to throw for at least 4,500 yards and 30 scores, which only solidifies the pick of Brady as the right one.
"That being said, after four rounds when I only had one running back, I definitely had to make adjustments. I needed to re-rank the running backs on my board to more potential-based rankings than the value ranks with which I began the day."
I'd have taken: A tough call between Schaub and Chad Ochocinco. Based upon the construction of my "roster" so far, it'd have been the wide receiver. He shouldn't be lingering into the fifth round in many drafts.
The tight-end run begins, and Clark in the fifth round actually is decent value in a standard ESPN league, particularly if you already had two apiece at running back and wide receiver or two running backs, a quarterback and wide receiver. Roberts had the former; that left him with only quarterback and flex (RB/WR) to fill.
I'd have taken: Philip Rivers, and it's really not close. At this point of the draft, it's not too early to take your quarterback, lest you leave yourself having to settle for top-10 candidates instead of sure things and probably taking two of them to try to match up all season, which can be a maddening strategy. On my board, there are seven quarterbacks before the significant drop-off, with Romo, who went seven selections sooner, the one I have at No. 7.
"Called out": At this particular point of the draft, Barber was the biggest overdraft, going 12 spots earlier than our overall rankings. Also, he went three spots after Jones, which says a lot about how people regard that backfield. You'd think it might have been an attempt to steal Daube's handcuff, but Ravitz was clearly sold on Barber's touchdown potential.
"My choice had nothing to do with Daube, and actually not all that much to do with Felix Jones, although my lack of faith in Jones is well known to regular listeners of the Fantasy Focus podcast," Ravitz said. "No, it's a particular belief in Barber's talents in the Dallas offense, whatever the role. As I noted in our preview magazine, when Barber scored 16 touchdowns in 2006, he did so on fewer than 10 touches per game. That may have been four years ago, but if he's healthy this year -- he battled a leg injury last year, we found out after the fact -- he's still tremendously talented with a proven nose for the goal line. Some guys just score, and he's one of them."
And here come the second-string running backs, or at least the ones with workload concerns: Spiller (not guaranteed to be the opening-week starter), Jacobs (can he stay healthy?), Jones (a potential backup to Jamaal Charles) …
Plus, both Miami Dolphins running backs. In our first mock, it was Williams picked first of the two. But …
I'd have taken: Ronnie Brown. He's coming off major reconstructive surgery, which does make him a substantial health risk in 2010, but when healthy he's still capable of top-20 running back numbers if not greater. Harris landing Brown this late seems like a more-than-reasonable gamble, considering his team's offensive approach as well as his competition's age.
Harris agreed, noting: "Well, I'll tell you, this is the first draft I've done where I've seen Brown going after Ricky Williams. I'm not utterly in love with either guy, for obvious reasons -- Brown is coming off a very serious injury, and Williams is 33. At this point in the draft, Brown was a chance worth taking, because he was having a very fine season (eight TDs through nine-plus games) when he got hurt last year, and because the Dolphins can certainly be relied upon to run the ball. As a No. 3 fantasy back (with the potential-laden Jahvid Best as my No. 4), he's a no-brainer."
Roberts' selection of Crabtree apparently was not without a good share of hemming and hawing. At the time of the pick he practically requested to be called out -- not that I do requests -- but the selection seemed about right to me.
"I stand by the pick, and I'm glad I made it, but that doesn't mean I didn't take nearly the full time allotted in the draft tool to make it," Roberts said. "I wanted a running back there and had planned to take one. But then Nate took both Marion Barber and C.J. Spiller, leaving me with either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams as really the only semi-reliable options. (Or Brandon Jacobs, I suppose, but he scares me.) But seeing Ronnie and R-Dub ranked next to each other reminded me of how much I hate running back platoons. I had frightening flashbacks of the many wrong starting choices I've made with platoon backs over the years. There have been so many, and they literally can ruin my Sundays and Mondays when I lose games because of it.
"So I cowered and took Crabtree, a receiver I strongly wanted in this draft. I think he's going to have a huge year, not unlike Calvin Johnson in his second year in the league. I admit it looks odd that I took Crabtree before such players as Jacobs and Dwayne Bowe, but I wanted Crabtree, and there was no way I was going to get him in the next round."
"Called out": The sixth round, simply put, is too early to begin targeting handcuffs, in which case Becquey must see Jones as a potential threat to Charles' job security. Considering Charles averaged 141 scrimmage yards per game with eight total touchdowns the final eight weeks of last season, I'm not sure I see it.
"It wasn't so much about doubting Charles as it was drafting a fourth running back who could conceivably outperform his draft spot or become trade bait," Becquey said. "With Chris Johnson, Knowshon Moreno, Joseph Addai and my two starting wide receivers on board, no rush to pick a quarterback and knowing I'd still get either Celek or Tony G. with the next pick, I couldn't pass up on his upside."
Trade bait? Perhaps Harris might be interested, as Charles' drafter in the third round. He wasn't at all prepared to reach for Jones this soon.
"It turns out I'm higher on Charles than the group," Harris said. "The more I think about it, the more I think the Chiefs will be nuts not to see if they've got another Chris Johnson back there, so I don't think opportunity is going to be a problem with him. But I admit Jones was on my radar screen for, say, the eighth round. I've gotten Charles in a lot of mocks this year, and I've paired him with Jones in most of them, too. By the same token, in our mock draft for the ESPN Fantasy Football 2010 magazine (on newsstands now!) I didn't take Charles, but I did take Jones in the ninth round, which I think you can argue is a lot more reasonable than the sixth, where Pierre took him."
Among the more peculiar moves of the draft, Lipscomb selected Jackson -- note: nine spots after rookie C.J. Spiller -- despite having not yet filled his tight-end spot. At this point, only three teams had selected tight ends, and this is about the spot where people begin to seriously consider addressing the position. With 18 picks between his turns, Lipscomb took a big risk, but as you'll see in the next round, it paid off. Chances are, most fantasy owners wouldn't be so lucky.
"I actually do have Jackson ranked ahead of Spiller," Lipscomb said. "While Spiller has tremendous ability, I worry about him staying on the field, and I also think the Bills will find other ways to use him, so that both he and Jackson can be on the field at the same time.
"Most importantly, though, I went running back there instead of tight end, for example, because I don't love Forte as my No. 2 and decided to hedge my bets since there were still four tight ends in my queue: Gonzalez, Celek, Witten and Finley. I was hopeful that one of them would last until my next pair of picks in the eighth and ninth rounds. In addition, there were only two running backs I liked at that point -- Michael Bush being the other -- and I knew neither of them would be around if I didn't pick one in this spot. With the lack of proven depth at the running back position, I felt I had no choice but to grab one. Not the best value, but I felt it was the smartest pick in terms of providing depth."
I'd have taken: Donald Driver. Love his quarterback, love his level of consistency. Plus, if the Green Bay Packers have even close to the O-line concerns they did a year ago, Driver is going to remain a key cog in that offense.
"Called out": If Driver was good value, Bryant was quite the risky play by comparison, as the rookie who hardly stands out as a top option -- or maybe not even a top-two option -- in his team's passing game. People sure seem to be hopping aboard the Bryant bandwagon.
"Including Roy Williams!" Bell said. "Remember when he made a comment about his man hands? Put it this way: This kid impressed everyone in camp, and I think he's got gi-normous upside. Yes, he's struggled with his conditioning a bit, but that's because he really didn't play last year and he's getting used to not only getting back in football shape but taking it up a notch to pro level. That's why I think he got nicked up a bit in OTAs too. Roy Williams gave everyone their own reasons for not drafting him last season."
I'd have taken: And it worked out for Lipscomb, as Jason Witten -- the tight end I'd have picked -- lasted all the way to No. 80 overall. Complain about Witten's lackluster touchdown production all you want, but he's as consistent as a tight end comes in terms of receptions and yards, and one would have to think that, sooner or later, a couple of those catches might sneak him into the end zone. At the bare minimum, he won't be a weekly risk for a zero.
"I personally have only seven tight ends in that first tier," Lipscomb said. "One thing which made me feel like I still had a chance of landing one of those top tight ends was the fact that I knew our group of writers/editors liked the depth at the position enough to wait and would still be happy getting guys like Daniels, Winslow, Shiancoe, etc., later on as potential values, if necessary. I was definitely happy that it worked out. Now, I've just got to convince the Boys to target Witten in the red zone more often."
"Called out": Rookie Jahvid Best has gone as early as the fourth round in some early mocks, but in some of our initial rankings, we had him as low as the 11th round. That's a huge split, and if we're right on track with our ranking, then Harris reached quite a bit taking him at 78th overall. But are we too low on Best?
"Yes, yes and yes," Harris said. "Best is way too low in our group ranks. When we did them, back in early May, there was a sentiment in the room that he was just an injury-prone committee back. Now he looks like a lightning-quick clear starter, albeit an injury-prone one. I have him at my No. 23 running back spot, right behind Ronnie Brown, which puts him around No. 55 in my overall ranks. As the rounds rolled by, I was sitting there with fingers crossed I'd get him and, frankly, almost took him where I grabbed Mike Wallace. I think the Mock Draft Central rank is too high -- people love shiny new things they've never seen before -- but yes, our group rank was way too low." [Editor's note: We've since adjusted Best as a seventh-round pick. What can we say, that Harris is a convincing guy.]
Our first defense flies off the board as Ravitz selects the Jets, the consensus No. 1 fantasy defense on most people's preseason boards. At the time, he -- like Roberts -- expected to be called out for the pick. But why the lack of confidence? The ninth round might seem slightly early for a defense, but if you're sold on it being a consistent, trustworthy weekly option, that might be a heck of a lot better than waiting until the final round or two to take one that has as much bust as breakout potential. Remember, this position can be tough to predict, something that Harris even pointed out at the time of the pick: "Fun fact about consensus No. 1 defenses the past five years: Only one has finished better than 12th [in fantasy]."
"At that point in the draft, I felt that the remaining running backs and wide receivers were very closely bunched together," Ravitz said. "While I might personally like Steve Slaton over Ahmad Bradshaw, both are wild cards to a great degree, and I don't have a great deal of confidence in that ranking. And more importantly, I felt that the backs and receivers I did like would be there in another round, or two or three, which is exactly what happened. The fact that the next defense wasn't taken for another 25 picks isn't really relevant if I didn't have much interest in the players taken in the interim."
I'd have taken: Robert Meachem. The New Orleans Saints might be chock full of offensive weapons, but late last season they clearly trusted him as a red-zone target. That's a huge endorsement of his future potential. This kid was quite the sleeper at the time he broke into the league. Why not take the chance that he settles into a similar role to last season?
"Called out": Among any of the top 100 players selected overall, Welker, statistically speaking, was the biggest overdraft compared to our rankings. Granted, the early reports on his health are positive, but it was an especially odd pick because it gave Daube Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Welker; good luck picking which wide receiver to use from week to week!
"Everyone knows Welker's potential," Daube said. "Early reports are extremely promising, and if you look at the list of wide receivers that followed my selection of Welker -- T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Devin Aromashodu, Robert Meachem, Chaz Schilens and Santonio Holmes -- I don't feel like I am taking any greater a risk than what those owners took on their selections. Welker's potential, however, crushes each of theirs."
Bell could also be called out for picking Taylor when Tomlinson would have been a smart pick to handcuff her second-round pick of Shonn Greene.
"I thought about the LT handcuff but then remembered that I'm not really a big fan of the handcuff," Bell said. "And I don't feel like I know enough about how the Jets really plan to use him. If we were drafting after training camp/preseason, I might choose differently. But at this point, I'd rather have the flexibility to make choices throughout the season or have someone as trade bait. I liked Taylor for the reason I said above about teams going to more timeshare. The Bears will do what the Falcons are doing and they have already come out and said that Taylor and Forte will share carries. While he may hurt Forte's fantasy value more than creating huge value for himself, Taylor might just be a guy that I got for good value who becomes really important if Forte does get hurt. Not only important for me, but important for trade bait."
I'd have taken: Justin Forsett, who was grabbed by Karabell. I was among the many who openly questioned the Seattle Seahawks for inexplicably starting Julius Jones late last season after Forsett had wowed the masses in a brief stint as a fill-in. Now that the starting running back role is a wide-open competition and Forsett is probably the leading contender, he's quite the upside play to stash on a bench.
"I don't believe Forsett is a future fantasy star, but drafting in June, it remains to be seen what the Seahawks will do with the backfield situation," Karabell said. "I probably ranked LenDale White better than most until his untimely release. Someone has to run the ball, and we know what Julius Jones can/cannot do. Forsett has upside, and it's certainly possible he gets opportunity to be the regular ball carrier. I see him more in a Reggie Bush-type role, catching the ball and being a very good change-of-pace back. Didn't new coach Pete Carroll have a guy like that at USC? Oh yeah, it was Bush. I already possessed three running backs by the end of Round 3, so I probably should have added a safer running back than Forsett prior to Round 10 -- maybe my 11th round pick Cadillac Williams will be that guy -- but I don't see downside with Pick No. 97."
"Called out": Quintong's selection of Hightower seemed like a mild reach to handcuff his two Arizona Cardinals running backs, but at least getting players like Beanie Wells and Ryan Mathews a little later than their ADPs in the early rounds helped ease the sting.
"I wouldn't call it a huge reach for him, given his potential production in the receiving game and/or at the goal line," Quintong said. "I suppose if I didn't have Beanie, I might've rolled the dice on one of the other running backs taken in that round like Ahmad Bradshaw, or even take the handcuff to Mathews in Darren Sproles. In fact, I even considered doing the double handcuff by getting Hightower and Sproles in that part of the draft before going with Tomlinson/Hightower."
Daube creates a second quarterback-to-wide receiver combination on his roster with his 11th-round selection of Cutler and 12th-round selection of Hester. He'll have quite a time making his weekly starts and sits picks as his team might be susceptible to streakiness with all his eggs in two baskets like that.
"I think we weren't as bullish on Cutler as we should have been," Daube said. "Cutler finished last season as the 12th-best quarterback despite throwing 26 interceptions. With a full offseason program and the infusion of Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator, I think it's safe to expect that number to drop by at least 10. I have Cutler projected to finish as the No. 6 quarterback this year, so drafting him when I did was a no-brainer.
"If I believe that much in Cutler, it's only logical that there has to be a receiver to go along with him, and in my opinion, Hester is the most likely to emerge as his go-to [wideout]. Hester was hurt for a portion of last year, but when he was fully healthy, he performed as a No. 1 receiver. During his team's first nine games, Hester was a stud. If you eliminate his Week 4 stats [because he left the game due to injury in the first quarter of that game], Hester averaged six catches on nine targets for 74.3 yards during those eight games. That performance would put him at 1,188 yards over a full season. For better perspective, only eight receivers achieved that total last season. Getting that type of potential in Round 12 is a steal.
"So, are all my eggs in two baskets? Yes. But they're the right baskets and that's all that matters."
I'm just not a Marshawn Lynch fan, so naturally I'm going to bust on Becquey's pick, even as late as it was. Even if he somehow holds off C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to start in Buffalo, I still think it was too soon for Lynch.
"Lynch is a lottery ticket and the sixth back on my roster," Becquey said. "Not only do I not believe he beats out Spiller and Jackson, I don't believe the Bills keep him. And that's why I grabbed him. Someone with a need at running back will trade for him, or pick him up off waivers, and if that team gives him 250 touches, he's a 1,000-yard, six-touchdown back who also had 300 yards receiving just two seasons ago. He's my candidate to be this year's recipient of the Cedric Benson 'reclamation project' award. Worse comes to worse, I dump him for Week 1's hot pickup."
I'd have taken: Vince Young in the 14th, Leon Washington in the 15th (handcuffing!) and David Akers in the 16th.
Roberts took a chance on Derrick Ward late, despite the fact that he might not even start for one of the weaker teams in the league. One would think he'd want a higher-upside bench running back, but hey, it's the 14th round.
"I still see a back with great all-around skills and someone who averaged 5.6 yards per carry and had more than 1,400 total yards less than two years ago," Roberts said. "And I see a better offense in Tampa, too, and one that is a better fit for Ward's skill set. More importantly, I don't really like what I see in Cadillac Williams (has he had more knee surgeries than Mark Schlereth yet?).
"Look, I know this quote is used more in baseball than football, but it still applies: 'If a player has shown he can do something, then he is capable of doing it again.' In essence, rather than looking for someone who could rack up 1,400 total yards, I grabbed the guy who already has done it, and recently. And with just a 14th-round pick, to boot.
"Ward is healthy, his job is safe, and by all accounts he is going to get plenty of opportunities for the Bucs. Picking "upside plays" is just what I like to do in the later rounds, and with Ward it's mission accomplished."
Mass took a speculative shot on Cribbs, despite his having been outperformed by 61 different wide receivers last season. In fact, Cribbs, for all his skills in the return game, managed double-digit fantasy points just three times while being held to zero or negative points in four. Seems like he's more hype than production, no?
"At this point in the draft, why not go with upside?" Mass said. "I agree the Browns are awful, but that's all the more reason to expect Cribbs to get even more involved in the offense than he did last season, especially after signing such a big contract in the offseason. Plus, there's not a better return man in the game and those touchdowns will help pad any lack of consistent targets. Hey, if you'd rather have 72-year-old Derrick Mason or one-legged Laurent Robinson, be my guest. I'm happy here."