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Posted May 17, 2009
2009 Rookie Sleepers
After the 2008 NFL Draft, I listed eight different players as second-day rookie sleepers. Two of those eight, Peyton Hillis and Carl Nicks, had solid rookie seasons. Hillis led the Broncos in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns; Nicks is now the starting left guard for New Orleans and played at a high level last season. Watch out for players like Kory Lichtensteiger, Andre Woodson, Dre Moore and Jacob Tamme in training camps as I think they all have potential to be players in this league.
This year, I have nine second-day rookies I think can make a serious impact in this league. I will probably only get half right, which is still a pretty solid projection, but watch out for these prospects in 2009 and over the next couple of seasons.
Antoine Caldwell, OL, Houston Caldwell is a perfect fit for Houston's zone blocking scheme with his toughness and athleticism. He will likely start at guard or center this season for the Texans and improve their offensive line play. Caldwell was drafted in the third round at No. 77 overall.
Rashad Johnson, FS, Arizona: Johnson made my All-Underrated team at safety, and I think he is the steal of this draft. He was the 21st rated player on my big board and is going to be a big playmaker for the Arizona Cardinals' secondary. Johnson was drafted in the third round at No. 95 overall.
Jonathan Luigs, C, Cincinnati: Luigs was my second-rated center on my board and will be starting for Cincinnati next season. He was a complete steal in the fourth round at No. 106 overall.
Kyle Moore, DE, Tampa Bay: Moore made my All-Underrated team at defensive end, and he will be competing with Stylez G. White to be the starting left defensive end for Tampa this season. I think he wins that job and is going to be a bookend starter for Tampa for the next few seasons. He isn't going to be a sack artist, but he will get pressure and be a force against the run. Moore was selected in the fourth round at No. 117 overall.
Jarrett Dillard, WR, Jacksonville: I love elite route runners, and Dillard is certainly that. The only locked-in starter at receiver for the Jags is Torry Holt. Opposite Holt, there is Dennis Northcutt and Mike Walker. I think Dillard could start opposite Holt or even in the slot as a rookie. The Jags got excellent value at No. 144 overall and in the fifth round for Dillard.
Cornelius Ingram, TE, Philadelphia: Brent Celek? That's all I need to see on the Eagles depth chart to know Ingram will be a productive pro. If he is not, then the Florida football program is cursed at all positions they produce coming out of college. Philly drafted Ingram in the 5th round at No. 153 overall.
Brandon Gibson, WR, Philadelphia: I felt Gibson was the most underrated receiver in the 2009 NFL Draft, and he was an excellent late-round value for Philadelphia. Do not be shocked if Gibson beats out veterans Hank Baskett and Jason Avant, not to mention first round pick Jeremy Maclin. People called me crazy last year when I said seventh-round pick Steve Johnson would beat out James Hardy in Buffalo, but he did. Gibson was selected by the Eagles in the sixth round at No. 194 overall.
James Davis, RB, Cleveland: There really aren't many players on the depth chart Davis has to beat out to earn significant playing time as a rookie in Cleveland. He and Jerome Harrison will be in a battle for the No. 2 gig behind Jamal Lewis. Davis is a big sleeper in fantasy and could potentially regain his junior form he had at Clemson behind the Browns solid offensive line. The Browns drafted Davis with the No. 195 overall pick in the sixth round.
Sammie Strougther, WR, Tampa Bay: This was the best Buc draft pick in the seventh round arguably over the last decade. I think Strougther will eventually start for Tampa in the slot. His only competition is 2008 draft bust Dexter Jackson and Maurice Stovall. I expect Strougther to make a big impact in Tampa as a rookie because of his elite route-running ability and soft hands. Tampa drafted Stroughter in the seventh round with the No. 233 overall pick.