For the most part we here at Bruno Boys spend our time discussing the positions typically found in fantasy football, and a look back at our recent two-part draft recap is no different.
The top quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends were broken down but where's the love for the rookie defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs?
As fantasy football continues to grow and grow there is an increasing trend of including individual defensive players, also known as IDPs, as a position. With that in mind we're going to break down the top rookie IDPs for you at defensive line, linebacker and defensive back.
Brian Orakpo (Washington Redskins) — Surprisingly former Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo was the third player at his position to be drafted when many felt he was the best. He'll be able to step in along the Redskin defensive line and produce as free agent signee Albert Haynesworth will be drawing constant double teams.
Orakpo is solid all around whether it's in run support or rushing the quarterback. The Redskins still need to upgrade their secondary but Orakpo will be a part of what looks to be a stellar defensive line in Washington.
Aaron Maybin (Buffalo Bills)— The Buffalo Bills opted to select former Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin over Orakpo in what was a surprising move. Maybin only had one good year as a starter and at 6'3", 249 pounds is undersized to play as a 4-3 defensive end.
But last season as a Nittany Lion Maybin was an absolute terror. Plus, the Bills have two good defensive tackles in Marcus Stroud and John McCargo that should be able to keep the pressure off Maybin.
Tyson Jackson (Kansas City Chiefs)— Tyson Jackson, formerly of Lousiana State, was talked about as a mid or low first-round draft pick until the week leading up to the event when his stock soared. The Chiefs took him to play as their 3-4 defensive end, a position in which he fits naturally.
Jackson may end up being a great player but his production as a rookie will be limited. The Chiefs don't have a true nose tackle that can command double teams and the linebacking corps behind Jackson is a work in progress. Temper your expectations of Jackson for this season.
Robert Ayers (Denver Broncos) — Former Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers will be counted on to step in right away and produce for the Denver Broncos, who in the past paid little attention to the defensive line.
Ayers has the ability to produce right away but a lot of that will depend on the rest of the defensive line and if they can keep double teams away from Ayers. As it stands now the Broncos have no quality defensive tackles and the best defensive end besides Ayers is Elvis Dumervil.
Thus, Ayers is probably a year or two away from reaching quality fantasy football production.
Aaron Curry (Seattle Seahawks)— It was a no-brainer for the Seattle Seahawks when former Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry fell to their pick. Curry is the best all-around defensive player in this year's draft and will produce right away for the Seahawks.
Along with Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, the addition of Curry makes the Seattle linebacking corps the best in the NFC West.
The defensive line in Seattle isn't stellar but that just means more opportunities for Curry to make plays and he'll have plenty of them. Curry is not only one of the top rookie IDPs, but by the end of the season could finish in the top 10 of all IDPs.
Brian Cushing (Houston Texans)— The phsyical talent and ability has always been there for former USC linebacker Brian Cushing but the question was always about his health. His last season at USC he had no trouble with that an appears ready to go for the Houston Texans.
Cushing will be able to produce right away because teams will try to divert the ball away from fellow linebacker Demeco Ryans. Expect a small adjustment period from Cushing to start the season but solid production from him by the end of it.
Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers) — USC produced a great linebacking corps for this year's draft and Clay Matthews is one of the guys. Now as a Green Bay Packer, Matthews will be a third-generation NFL player.
The question is, where will he play? Matthews is an outside linebacker but the Packers already A.J. Hawk on the weak side and Brandon Chillar on the strong side.
Perhaps the Packers will move Hawk to the middle, where he played last season, permanently and place Matthews on the weak side. Either way, the Packers were so high on Matthews they were considering drafting him with the ninth overall pick.
Thus, they're going to find a place for him to play and he'll be able to produce right away.
Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals)— In keeping with the USC trend Rey Maualuga is the next player on our list. Maualuga fell in the draft because of character concerns, and also because some felt he lacked football discipline. But in reality Maualuga is just a terrific football player with good on-field instincts.
He'll step in right away as the middle linebacker beside Dhani Jones and former USC teammate Keith Rivers. He'll need to improve in pass coverage but there's also a good possibility he might not be on the field on certain passing downs. Regardless, Maualuga should have no trouble racking up the tackles this season.
James Laurinaitis (St. Louis Rams)— The St. Louis Rams were thrilled when they were able to get former Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis with their second-round pick. Laurinaitis, who many considered the top linebacker if he would've entered the draft last year, will play right away as the middle linebacker but unfortunately the talent around him won't help much.
Defensive end Chris Long is a good player and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa is OK but the rest leaves a lot to be desired, and that means plenty of opportunities for Laurinaitis to make plays. Just expect him to leave the field on certain passing downs.
Malcolm Jenkins (New Orleans Saints)— After running what many considering sub-par 40-yard dash times at the combine and his pro day, former Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins was discussed as being moved to safety upon entering the NFL.
Given the problems Jason David had last year as a corner for the New Orleans Saints, Jenkins will likely get a chance to see what he can do at corner, which is fair considering how well he played the position in college.
Whatever speed Jenkins may lack he makes up for it in football IQ and his ability to diagnose a play. Jenkins has a nose for the ball like Ed Reed did when he entered the league. Jenkins has a ways to go before being mentioned on Reed's level, but for now Jenkins is the top rookie at defensive back.
Vontae Davis (Miami Dolphins)— The Miami Dolphins needed a cornerback badly and got their guy by selecting former Illinois standout Vontae Davis. Davis is a physical corner known for his hitting and tackling—he had 78 tackles last year for the Illini—but he can also be a good cover corner as well as he had seven interceptions in 2008.
Considering how thin Miami is at cornerback don't be surprised if Davis gets to play early and if he does, expect some nice tackling stats.
Alphonso Smith (Denver Broncos) — Former Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith may have slipped a little in the draft because of concerns about his size but make not mistake about it, this guy is a pure cover corner as he is the ACC's all-time interception leader with 21.
Smith is extremely quick and athletic, which should help him even when he's in a mismatch.
He'll battle Renaldo Hill for the second corner spot opposite Champ Bailey which means if he does play, the ball will be thrown in his direction a lot because not many teams throw at Bailey. Considering he is a rookie, however, Smith will likely start the season as the nickel back.
Darius Butler (New England Patriots) — The New England Patriots believe they've found the man to be their next great cornerback in former Connecticut player Darius Butler. Butler was a four-year starter at UConn where he was so good that opposing coaches almost refused to throw to his side of the field his senior year.
He works equally well in man and zone schemes and should get an opportunity to play almost right away.
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