With only two teams still eligible to win an NFL championship this year, 30 other front offices are now looking towards the future and beginning to plot their next move. The Super Bowl will determine who the best team in football this year is, however, as we have seen on numerous occasions over the past decade, the parity in this league is unlike anything that any other sports association in the world can boast. That means any of the 31 teams who fail to claim a title this year have a reasonably good chance at changing their fortunes next season – presuming they make the right picks in this year’s draft.
We have seen countless front office and coaching changes over the past few weeks, and that in turn will manifest itself in the draft strategies that will be applied this April. Because the NFL has slowly turned into an offense-first league, primarily because of the limitations now imposed on defensive players, this year’s coaching hires were dominated by names who are known for their prowess on that side of the ball.
Chip Kelly, Mike McCoy, Marc Trestman – are you beginning to see a pattern here? There is a reason why Lovie Smith, despite the fact that he probably deserved to be fired less than any other coach who was fired on Black Monday, is still unemployed.
Times have changed. Defense and a solid running game are no longer the two pillars of football success. You have to be able to put up points.
The interesting thing about the coaching hires that have been made thus far and the NFL’s noticeable offensive shift is that this particular draft actually features relatively few solid offensive skill position options. There are no standout quarterbacks to speak of. Marcus Lattimore’s injury ensures that, at most, there will be one running back selected in the first round. The wide receivers, aside from Keenan Allen, are not No. 1 options.
This draft is comprised of defensive and offensive line studs, with more of the former than the latter. How these new offense-first coaches handle the proceedings may ultimately determine their fates more than anything else.
With all that in mind, here are our projections for the first seven picks of the 2013 NFL Draft.