When it comes to drafting rookies, IDP drafters are always looking to find the next Patrick Willis or James Lauriniatis. From my experience, with careful research and some luck, one can get pretty good at judging the performance of rookie IDPs.
The outstanding production of guys like Willis, Laurinaitis or Jon Beason wasn't really a surprise to the owners who did their research and truly understood the dynamics of IDP fantasy football.
The rookie draft is one of the areas that an experienced IDP owner can really separate themselves from other, less-savvy owners.
With this being said, I'm going to do the research for you. I will continually update this list as the offseason progresses depending on what happens in the 2010 NFL draft, injury news, etc.
Here are some initial rookies to watch out for in 2010:
1. ILB Rolando McClain (Alabama)
McClain was an absolute beast for Alabama. At 6'4" and 256 pounds, he has the perfect size and intangibles to be a great inside linebacker in a 3-4 system. With this being said, I expect him to either go to the Broncos at pick No. 11 or the Dolphins at pick No. 12 (both teams that run a 3-4 defense).
McClain is already drawing comparisons to the great Patrick Willis and future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. If he lands in the right situation, we could have the next Willis on our hands. I wouldn't hesitate using an early round pick on McClain.
2. S Eric Berry (Tennessee)
If you talk to NFL scouts, they will tell you that Berry may, in fact, be the best player in the NFL draft behind Ndamukong Suh. Many are comparing him to Ed Reed and for good reason. While at Tennessee, Berry amassed 494 interception return years (second most in NCAA history). He could provide the big-play fantasy potential of Reed; therefore, he is worth a late-round flier in some deeper leagues.
3. S Taylor Mays (USC)
Mays' college success may not immediately transfer to the NFL due to his lack of superb coverage skills. He reminds me a lot of former Cowboys SS Roy Williams. He has a great ability to lay down the big hit, but he really struggles in coverage sometimes.
This fact could make Mays a very viable fantasy option, depending on where he lands in the draft. If he gets substantial playing time, he could be a good source of late-round tackles for IDP owners.
4. DT Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma)
In pretty much any other year, McCoy would be the No. 1 defensive lineman taken in the draft. I see McCoy going to Tampa Bay with the 3rd overall pick. This is a good fit for him. He is built to play tackle in a 4-3 system.
I think McCoy has the potential to become a better fantasy player than Suh. Not because he's more talented, but because the Bucs will utilize him in a more productive fantasy fashion than the Lions or Rams will use Suh. But, once again, McCoy is a defensive tackle, so temper your expectations.
5. DT Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska)
Suh could, perhaps, be the most talented defensive tackle to come out of college in the last 20 years. He reminds me of Albert Haynesworth. He has great agility and speed for a man of his size and is versatile enough to play many different positions on a NFL defensive line (a la Richard Seymour).
However, I think some people may get caught up in the Suh hype and draft him way too early in fantasy drafts. The fact remains that he is primarily a defensive tackle and will be expected to command double and even triple teams. Therefore, I see his value being similar to that of Haynesworth. With this being said, he's probably a tier-five defensive lineman.
And for your general amusement: Chad Johnson Performing "Dat Ain't My Baby."