Drake London leads crop of WRs

Rushing, protecting and picking off the passer are essential skills to win football games. And those attributes proved too tempting to resist in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday.

Because teams swarmed to take 16 defensive players and nine offensive linemen, only a sprinkling of the new skill-position talent — who’ll find themselves drafted again late this summer by fantasy football owners — were taken off the board.

Even the Green Bay Packers, with their glaring void at receiver following the trade of Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, opted to select two defenders from reigning national champion Georgia. The Packers will likely Purdue’s David Bell, Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson or Colorado State tight end Trey McBride with their No. 53 pick, greatly increasin g

That was mostly due to the rush of wide-receiver picks triggered by the Atlanta Falcons’ No. 8 selection of USC’s Drake London.

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Three of the following four picks were wide receivers, and two more were taken by the time the Tennessee Titans traded A.J. Brown and replaced him with Arkansas’ Treyon Burks at pick No. 18.

The Pittsburgh Steelers then selected hometown quarterback Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh at No. 20 to begin their transition from the Ben Roethlisberger era.

So it starts, the plotting for a new fantasy season with an influx of fresh talent.

Here is the USA TODAY Sports+ Top 10 first-round selections most likely to produce in fantasy football.

10. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, New York Jets 

Defensive points are minimal in fantasy, but by adding this charismatic, confident cornerback to a unit that includes defensive lineman Quinnen Williams and linebacker C.J. Mosley, the Jets firmed up the unit with a Cincinnati product who didn’t give up a touchdown pass during his college career.

His ball-hawking ability makes No. 4 pick Gardner a likely candidate to produce interceptions, too.

9. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, New York Giants

Similar to their MetLife Stadium roommates, the Jets, the Giants have a serviceable defensive unit that required more star power. They got it with No. 5 pick Thibodeaux, whose name was among top-pick talk.