While Manti Te'o stared pensively, sternly, melodramatically into the Pacific Ocean, 18 other defensive players actually got drafted into the NFL. Which guys landed in the best spots to help IDP owners in 2013 fantasy football leagues? Here's a quick top 5:
1. Matt Elam, S, Ravens It officially no longer matters that he only stands 5'10 (generously). Elam steps into an immediate starting role on a defense that let FS Ed Reed walk out the door and told SS Bernard Pollard to follow him. Baltimore signed former Raiders S Michael Huff, likely to start in Reed's old spot. That leaves Elam to play more in-the-box cleanup, which he should do quite well. He ranked 2nd on a strong Florida defense last year in tackles. He matched DT Sharrif Floyd for the team lead with 11 solo tackles for loss. Elam's college HC Will Muschamp described him as a "violent hitter," according to NFL Network. Pollard delivered a top 10 fantasy scoring average among DBs last year. Elam should begin his career as a starting-caliber IDP.
2. Alec Ogletree, LB, Rams "He's much more talented a player than the 30th overall pick in the draft," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said after the pick. "He plays linebacker like the safety he used to be. This kid does not take on the blockers, but he's a great athlete." You might remember Mayock saying similar things about LB Zach Brown when the Tians drafted him in Round 2 last year. Brown was a track star turned tackle-averse weak-side LB. All he did as a rookie was turn in a top 20 fantasy season despite not starting full time until Week 8. Ogletree will step in right away at WLB under defensive-minded HC Jeff Fisher. There are tackles to be collected and coverage upside. Plus, Ogletree delivered 3 sacks in each of his final 2 college seasons.
3. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Steelers But he has that neck problem. And he ran so freakin' slow. The Steelers don't care. They see a guy who led the SEC in sacks (14.5) last year and ranked 2nd in the nation. They get a guy who has drawn comparisons with Ravens DE/OLB Terrell Suggs through his disappointing testing season. Jones won't be as stout as Suggs against the run but should follow in a long tradition of top Steelers pass-rushers. Joey Porter and James Harrison faced transition periods before claiming their starting gigs. Look for Jones to grab his right away.
4. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Saints New Orleans might not know yet just what it wants to do with Vaccaro. Does he take over at SS for Roman Harper? FS for Malcolm Jenkins? He's capable of either. Vaccaro could also open his career as a sub-package defender. Defenses are playing more nickel all the time, and HC Sean Payton mentioned his ability to fill that role. Our guess, however, is that the former Longhorns stud carves out a starting role by September. If that happens, he'll find big numbers within reach.
5. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions No one really knows what this guy will do in 2013. Perhaps he'll be ready only for a situational role. Maybe he'd struggle even at that. Ansah fits here, though, because he finds opportunity in Detroit. The Lions plan to start free-agent addition Jason Jones at left DE. They have no obvious candidate to man the right side. Willie Young and Ronnell Lewis both look like situational rushers. Neither weighs more than 251 pounds. Ansah can see a clear path to starting duty. If he gets there, his athletic upside will be worth a late-round gamble.