To a certain extent, the NFL Draft is a game of risk/reward. With every pick that’s made, teams take a chance on the impact that player will have, if they are maximizing their value by taking this player, and whether or not they can find a comparable player later in the draft. There’s also the matter of whether the player deserves to be picked at that spot and if the team is addressing their needs in an efficient manner. Here are five of the more questionable and risky moves made by teams during the 2013 NFL Draft.
The New York Jets taking Geno Smith – Taking Smith in the second round isn’t so much a risky pick, but it’s a risk in the sense of what it does to the organization. Bringing in Smith all but signals the end of the Mark Sanchez era, which means the Jets will be playing with a rookie quarterback in what could be a make or break season for head coach Rex Ryan. Any time you have a coach on the hot seat in a big market and you go with a rookie quarterback, it’s a big risk.
The Cleveland Browns taking Barkevious Mingo sixth overall – Cleveland definitely needed to add defensive help with the sixth overall pick, but Mingo was a risky pick to make to try to get it. He’ll have to move from defensive end to outside linebacker in the NFL and he’ll have to add strength in order to make an impact. Mingo’s work ethic is also questionable, which is a major red flag this early in the draft. The Browns needed to make a safer pick in the first round and took too big of a risk for a rebuilding franchise by drafting Mingo.
Oakland Raiders taking D.J. Hayden 12th overall – There’s no doubt that Hayden is one of the best stories to come out of this year’s draft, as he miraculously survived a life-threatening injury and against all odds was able to get back on the football field, but drafting him, especially 12th overall, is a big risk. The Raiders should be commended for giving this young man a chance, but it was not a wise football decision to take a player with a disconcerting medical history so early in the draft when they have so many other needs to address. Oakland needed to play it safe, especially in the early rounds, but that’s not what they did here. So while we’ll all be rooting for Hayden to perform well this fall, it’s the Raiders that are assuming all the risk, which may not have been a smart move for them to make.
New York Jets taking two defensive players in the first round – The Jets did well to trade Darrelle Revis and receive a second pick in the first round, but they made a mistake by using both picks on defensive players. They have issues on both sides of the ball and took a risk by not trying to draft a game changer on both sides in the first round, essentially ignoring their needs on offense. Whether their quarterback is Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, or somebody else, not doing more early in the draft to give their quarterback support with either an offensive lineman or a skill player is a risky move to make with head coach Rex Ryan on the hot seat.
Arizona Cardinals taking Tyrann Mathieu in the third round – It’s not like the Cardinals took a flyer on the Honey Badger in the late rounds when no one was paying attention, they drafted him with their third round pick, which in this draft could have been used on a much more reliable player. The Cardinals are hoping that Mathieu’s former LSU teammate Patrick Peterson will be able to keep him in line and help him adjust to life in the NFL, but there’s no guarantee that will work. There’s also the issue of Mathieu not playing competitive football in over a year, as well as his well-documented problems with drug abuse. To spend a third round pick on him in a draft this deep is a risky move for Arizona and will forever be second-guessed if Mathieu ends up flaming out.