The big underlying theme of this upcoming 2013 NFL Draft will be contrasting philosophies. Currently the media is enamored with more superficial talking points, however, soon enough everyone will realize the hilarious irony that is at work heading into this year’s proceedings.
Over the past five years, the NFL has very noticeably made big changes to “to keep players healthy.” Translation: to make it harder for defensive players to land legitimate, serious hits on offensive players. The league’s shift towards protecting offensive stars isn’t just motivated by a desire to not get sued down the line, though; there is also a very immediate business payoff to having a quarterback-centric, offense-happy NFL.
Frankly, you will get a lot more mainstream love when your games are 50-point, high-octane shootouts than when they are 10-7 AFC North defensive wars. That is just a reality that Roger Goodell and his people came to terms with a long time ago. And that reality is why they have put rules into place to make things harder for defensive players, and easier for offensive players.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), NFL front offices aren’t stupid. The saw where the league was headed and they adjusted accordingly. If you take a look around, almost all of the new head coaches hired this year are either offensive-minded or extremely tight with a prominent offensive coordinator (i.e. Rob Chudzinski). Everyone gets where football is going, and nobody wants to be left behind.
The question is: what does that mean for this draft? Mind you, there are no elite-level quarterbacks in this draft. None. Aside from Marcus Lattimore before he got hurt, there were no surefire first round-worthy running backs either. (Things have changed in light of team needs and Lattimore’s injury.) The wide receivers available on this go-round, aside from Keenan Allen, are average at best.
This is a defense draft with a bit of great offensive line talent sprinkled in for flavor. How will all of these new offensive-minded teams adjust to that?
We’ll all find out together in April. With all that being said, here is how we envision picks 24-32 of this year’s draft shaking out.