Punch Drunk Wonderland

Projecting Top Rookie Defensive Players for 2015

The 2015 season is nearly here and it’s time to start digging into the rookie IDP class. Eric Kendricks was the first off the board among rookies in our mocks with an ADP Value of 5.064. Our mocks have been running since before the draft and many rookies draft position have increased since they official landed on teams. Kenricks, however, has been getting selected in the 4th and 5th rounds consistently throughout. Many view him as a known commodity. But, who are the other rookies with strong IDP potential for 2015 and are there some sleepers hidden in the class? Let’s take a look.

Eric Kendricks (LB, Minnesota Vikings)

eric-kendricks-vikings-thumbWith IDP machine Chad Greenway getting up there in age, it’s time for some new blood to become a top producer in Minnesota. Kendricks should be able to step in and produce at middle linebacker right away and he has the skill set to be a top NFL linebacker. In time he should supplant Greenway at WLB for the Vikes. I expect him to be the top rookie IDP for the 2015 season and he should be a solid LB2 for your rosters. Look for him to top 100 total tackles. (ADP Value: 5.064)

Bernardrick McKinney (LB, Houston Texans)

bernardrick-mckinney-texans-01McKinney is in a solid position to produce for the Texans as he’ll start right away alongside Brian Cushing at inside linebacker. He’s an aggressive blitzer with great athleticism. There’s a strong chance that McKinney will be the Texans’ leading tackler in 2015 since Cushing has struggled in producing and staying healthy in recent years. He should be a nice source of tackles and sacks in his rookie season and I expect him to be the #2 rookie IDP at year’s end. He should be a decent LB3 with LB2 potential at this point. (ADP Value: 16.6.04)

Stephone Anthony (LB, New Orleans Saints)

stephone-anthony-saints-01Anthony should be able to surpass Dannell Ellerbe on the Saints’ depth chart which would mean he’ll be starting at inside linebacker alongside David Hawthorne. The real question will be how the Saints plan to use him. If he winds up being an every down linebacker, then he should have great production. If not, he’ll be more of a low end LB3 option. (ADP Value: 11.054)

Vic Beasley (DE, Atlanta Falcons)

Atlanta Falcons first round pick Vic Beasley is shown during the first day of rookie minicamp football practice Friday, May 8, 2015, in Flowery Branch, Ga.  (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Beasley is an athletic freak and should be able to step into a prominent role in the Falcons’ pass rush. That said, his potential as a fantasy IDP will depend on how his position is designated. If he’s used as a rush linebacker rather than a defensive end, then that will hurt his value. As the season draws near it will be important to double check how Atlanta is using him and check your leagues to see if he is designated as a LB or DE (or both). If you can get him as a DE, he’ll be a great IDP option as a DE2. At linebacker he’s probably a LB4 at best. (ADP Value: 12.269)

Landon Collins (DB, New York Giants)

Landon CollinsCollins may have been the steal of the 2015 draft for the Giants. He’s a solid in the box safety who should be able to step right into a big role. His coverage skills will need to increase, but his presence in stopping the run game should be felt immediately. He should easily be a top 15-20 defensive back with potential to become an elite IDP DB. (ADP Value: 10.619)

Just Under The Radar

Denzel Perryman (LB, San Diego Chargers)

Denzel-Perryman-Chargers-01Perryman is a strong prospect and is a great pick up in deeper or dynasty leagues. He’s going to be competing with Manti Te’o and Donald Butler at ILB, and he may not work his way into the starting lineup right away. At least for 2015, he’s probably going to spend time as a rotational player. He has the skills to find his spot though, and he likely has more potential to emerge as a 3-down linebacker edging out Te’o for the Chargers down the stretch. (ADP Value: 13.996)

Jake Ryan (LB, Green Bay Packers)

jake-ryan-packers-01The Packers had a hole at inside linebackers in 2014. Moving Clay Matthews inside was a stop gap, but they were losing their star pass rusher’s best abilities in the process. Enter Jake Ryan. Ryan was picked up in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and he will get every opportunity to land a starting gig at ILB alongside Sam Barrington. (ADP Value: 18.184)

Shaq Thompson (LB, Carolina Panthers)

shaq-thompson-panthers-01Thompson has gotten off to a slow start as he injured his quad on the first day of mini camp. Nevertheless, he should be able to land a starting spot at weakside linebacker. He may not be a big producer right away and, of course, teammate Luke Kuechly likes to lock up all of the tackles himself. He’s worth watching and he could be a decent LB3 option down the stretch. (ADP Value: 16.266)


Rookie IDP Sleepers

Ramik Wilson (LB, Kansas City Chiefs)

Ramik-WilsonWilson has some work to do before he’ll get a chance at a starting role in KC, but he has some potential. He’ll likely be the #3 ILB behind Derrick Johnson and Josh Mauga, so that means he’ll need to put in some work and catch some breaks to find his way into the starting lineup. While a little rough, he has the versatility to play inside or out. He’s definitely a nice developmental prospect in dynasty IDP leagues at the very least. (ADP Value: N/A)

Paul Dawson (LB, Cincinnati Bengals)

paul-dawson-bengals-01Dawson didn’t land in a particularly good spot to get playing time right away as the Bengals are fairly deep at the linebacker position. He’s likely going to be battling on the depth chart and playing special teams early on. That said, he has great athleticism and potential. If he gets his shot, he could be a solid IDP option down the road. (ADP Value: 9.855)

Ben Heeney (LB, Oakland Raiders)

ben-heeney-raiders-01Fifth rounder Heeney has some sleeper potential for 2015, and might be a nice pickup for dynasty IDP leagues. He has great speed and versatility, and he’ll likely be backing up Curtis Lofton at middle linebacker. His versatility would allow him to slide in to backup Sio Moore on the weakside as well. While the Raiders recently picked up Lofton, his production has been fairly shoddy in recent years. There’s certainly room for Heeney to move into a starting role if Lofton chokes or runs into health issues. (ADP Value: N/A)



K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...