As I watched the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft conclude I thought it would be a good idea, since I'm the offensive line specialist here at RotoWire, to compile a ranking of the top-5 most impactful selections from a fantasy perspective.
This year's draft was heavy at the top with offensive lineman, headlined by three tackles that went within the first four picks and two guards that were selected by pick number 10. You will find four of those five listed below. Here is my opinion of the additions that could change the fantasy values of their new teammates in a significant, and positive, way.
1. Chance Warmack to the Tennessee Titans at pick no. 10
Biggest Beneficiary: RB - Chris Johnson
Warmack may not have the highest upside or be the best lineman from this class in ten years, but he's the most ready to step on the field and be a force from Day 1. He's what I like to call a people-mover, he's tough and rugged. He'll step right in to play right guard and fill the Titans only remaining glaring weakness on their line. They signed Andy Levitre to fill their hole at left guard via free agency. The Titans have struggled to get the ground game going the last two seasons and that should change with Warmack in tow. Chris Johnson needs to get to the second level to be at his best and he should find a lot more creases to make that happen. He now becomes a much more comfortable selection somewhere near the top-10 fantasy running backs in drafts.
2. Lane Johnson to the Philadelphia Eagles at pick no. 4
Biggest Beneficiary: QB - Michael Vick
Johnson is the left tackle of the future for the Eagles, but I think he's the right guard of the here and now, granted Jason Peters and Todd Herremans can return healthy. Johnson is insanely athletic so he should be able to pull out in front of LeSean McCoy on sweeps and screens and Shady will benefit from his addition, but Vick has been getting murdered of late, a lot of times with the pressure coming up the middle. He'll have a cleaner pocket to work from this year. Right guard has been a major issue as 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins hasn't worked out to this point. Johnson also provides insurance at tackle if someone goes down again, and the offense shouldn't completely stall as it did this past season.
3. Eric Fisher to the Kansas City Chiefs at pick no. 1
With Fisher and Branden Albert the Chiefs will have one of the best tackle tandems in the NFL. Fisher is the premier lineman in this year's class and while he'll eventually be their left tackle, possibly as early as 2014 when Albert's franchise tag runs out, he'll probably man the right side in 2013. He has a better pedigree and more strength to be successful there than Albert does. Kansas City's offensive line wasn't their biggest problem in 2012, but the upgrade along the front will certainly help all their weapons. The likelihood of Alex Smith being a success moves up a tick, Jamaal Charles should see more holes to squirt through, and Dwayne Bowe should have more time to get open. The Chiefs also selected Travis Kelce who will boost their run-blocking from the tight end position.
4. Jonathan Cooper to the Arizona Cardinals at pick no. 7
Biggest Beneficiary: RB - Rashard Mendenhall
There was no question the Cardinals needed to address their offensive line in this year's draft and though they missed out on the top-3 tackles they got a fantastic player in Cooper. He's a fast, chisseled athlete who moves extremely well and may be the best pulling guard I've ever seen. He anchors well in pass protection too and is strong at the point of attack. My gut is he will start for Arizona at center, which may ultimately be the best fit for his skill set, and be the leader of their offensive line from Day 1. He will be a big boost to the Cardinals' running game and recently added running back Rashard Mendenhall. Not getting a tackle is a bummer, but the return of Levi Jones means only one of Bobby Massie or Nate Potter will have to work out on the right side and the interior will be vastly improved. All the skill position players in Arizona get a bump, but Mendenhall's is the biggest.
5. Terron Armstead to the New Orleans Saints at pick no. 75
Biggest Beneficiary: QB - Drew Brees
I'm a bit out on a limb by myself on this one as Armstead went much later than I had him rated and obviously NFL brass weren't big believers in his potential. I'm sticking with my evaluation though. He's every bit as athletic as Lane Johnson and the Saints' situation at left tackle after losing Jermon Bushrod to free agency was tenuous at best. Charles Brown is slated to be the starter there, but Armstead gives the team a back-up plan with loads of upside and I personally think he'll win the job outright. Obviously Brees can't get much of a boost from being a top-3 or four quarterback, but if his blind side was a major problem this season things certainly could have gone horribly wrong. This pick is a nice security blanket for those aiming to select Brees at the top of this year's fantasy drafts.