2013 NFL Draft
We spent all last week evaluating the players that were drafted, but there are so many players in the NFL that went undrafted that it’d be foolish not to look at the undrafted players that still have a chance to make it. We’ll start with the quarterbacks, where Tony Romo and Warren Moon are the poster boys for undrafted players. Here’s a look at some of the undrafted quarterbacks that still have a chance to find a home in the NFL.
Tyler Bray – It’s rare that the most talented quarterback in a draft class goes undrafted, but all 32 teams had good reason for passing on Bray, who clearly should have stayed at Tennessee for his senior season, despite a coaching change in Knoxville. Bray has the size and arm strength that NFL teams love, and he’s great at throwing the ball deep, but there are still questions regarding his leadership abilities and his dedication. After going undrafted, Bray signed with Kansas City, which is actually a good situation for him.
Andy Reid has taken far less talented quarterbacks, like A.J. Feely and Kevin Kolb, worked with them and given them a chance to play in the NFL, so he’s definitely a guy that can help to develop Bray. If Bray can improve his work ethic and learn a few things from Reid, then a couple years from now he could be in position to take over for Alex Smith in Kansas City. He has all the talent in the world, but he needs to get it together above the shoulders if he wants to have a career in the NFL.
Matt Scott – Scott going undrafted was a bit of a surprise, as most had him as one of the 10 best quarterbacks available. Nevertheless, he signed with the Jaguars, which may end up being a better outcome for him than getting drafted by someone else. With Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne as the only other quarterbacks on Jacksonville’s roster heading into the draft, Scott could have a realistic chance to compete to be the starter or backup right away. He has the mobility that NFL teams are beginning to covet and his arm is strong enough to hold up in the league. He has the skills, and in Jacksonville he’ll have the opportunity, and so Scott has as good a chance as any undrafted quarterback in this year’s class to make it in the league.
Jordan Rodgers – Like Scott, Rodgers signed with Jacksonville after the draft, which means he’ll have a fair shot to compete to be the starter or the backup for the 2013 season. He doesn’t have as much talent as his brother, but he has enough arm strength and mobility to draw interest from NFL teams, as will the fact that his brother was a late bloomer, and Jordan could be as well. He was also a key part of Vanderbilt’s miraculous resurrection over the past two years, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s smart, knows how to play the position, and won’t be intimidated by NFL defenses, and that’ll be enough to keep giving him chances in the NFL, even if his first shot with the Jaguars doesn’t work out.
James Vandenberg – The former Iowa quarterback has the skills to hang around the league awhile and carve out a niche for himself as a NFL backup. Vandenberg is a consistent thrower that can make quick decisions and move the ball down field when he gets in a rhythm. He signed with the Vikings, which is a team he might be able to stick with, despite the presence of Matt Cassell and Joe Webb as backups. He won’t impress anybody too much, but he also won’t drive coaches crazy with horrible decision-making and wild inconsistency, and that steadiness could help Vandenberg keep a job in the NFL for several years.
Collin Klein – If Tim Tebow can have success in the NFL, albeit for a brief period of time, why can’t Klein as well? He’s a great athlete and a powerful runner that is also capable of making quality throws in the right situations. If he’s not as stubborn as Tebow, he could consider changing positions and find a team that’s willing to use him as a running back, fullback, and quarterback, and get creative with ways to use him. He was a Heisman finalist, so he can play the game; it’s just a matter of finding the best way to utilize him. He signed with the Raiders, which may not be the best organization for him to go to, but then again, Oakland may be desperate enough to give him a shot at playing quarterback.
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.
Maybe I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself here, but few things are more fun than making predictions for events that are little under a year away in the world of sports. Maybe I’m just ahead of the curve? Whatever the case, I’m going to hypothetically kickstart the newly drafted rookies careers by projecting who will win each of the two annually awarded honours, courtesy of the Associated Press. Not only will I project the winners of the AP Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year winners, but I’ll even make up an award of the player I deem most likely to be most valuable to his team on special teams. As a rookie. For a look at these bold predictions take a look down yonder.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Terrance Williams: Before you get too skeptical of this selection, you have to remember a lot can be said for opportunities. Williams will get no shortage of those in Dallas. Their offense lives, and more frequently, dies by Tony Romo. That means they are bound to throw the football. A lot. Another thing worth mentioning is that Dallas’ receiver depth is a little suspect and all the more shaky when you take into account the fact that Miles Austin is perpetually injured. If Austin does get hurt, and that’s more or less a question of when, Williams becomes the second best option in the passing game. Expect big things from Williams.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Dion Jordan: Sometimes the obvious pick is the right pick. This one is less obvious than most obvious entities, but by that same token he was the first defensive player taken in the draft. There’s a reason the Dolphins traded up for Jordan. This kid has unreal talent and lining up on the opposite side of Cameron Wake will give him a great chance to show it.
Special Teams Rookie of the Year: Tavon Austin: If you were a little upset about his not getting the offensive rookie of the year award, consider this his consolation prize. Austin is at his best with the football in his hands, and since he’s most likely to be the punt and kick returner for the Rams, he’ll have it in his hands very often. Expect Austin to show up in highlight reels on a nearly weekly basis.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV
Yesterday we did the good, and now it’s time for the bad, as we continue to examine last weekend’s NFL Draft. Here are 10 teams, in no particular order that could have done a better job in making their picks:
Chicago – With just six picks, the Bears chose to focus on just a couple of positions instead of trying to spread out their picks to cover a multitude of positions. The additions of Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene, and Cornelius Washington should make the Bears feel better about the linebacker position without Brian Urlacher around. Also, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills will definitely bolster their offensive line, but their secondary and defensive line needs weren’t addressed at all. They didn’t have a lot of flexibility or a lot of picks to work with, but they had enough to do better than what they ended up doing.
Arizona – The Cardinals wanted an offensive tackle, but when the top three tackles available were all taken off the board prior to their first round selection, they settled for an offensive guard in Jonathan Cooper, and failed to take a tackle later in the draft. But that was just their first problem. Arizona also needed secondary help, but the only defensive back they added was Tyrann Mathieu, a major character risk and at best a slot corner, not a safety like they needed. Kevin Minter and Alex Okaford were nice additions to their defense, and they did address a need with running backs Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington, but the offensive line and secondary remain big areas of concern following the draft.
Carolina – The Panthers had just five picks in the draft, and they did not use them wisely with regards to their needs. Carolina did well to address their defensive front, taking Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first two rounds, but their needs in the secondary and at wide receiver went completely ignored. In the late rounds, Carolina ended up with a situational linebacker in A.J. Klein and a change-of-pace running back in Kenjon Barner. Those are two solid players, but not exactly what they needed.
Buffalo – The first round selection of quarterback E.J. Manuel does carry some risk, but that’s not the biggest problem the Bills had during the draft. The quarterback position aside, their defense had a lot more holes to plug coming into the draft than their offense. It would have been nice to see Buffalo focus more on defense early in the draft rather than take a wide receiver in both the second and third rounds, although both receivers taken should improve their offense considerably, especially Robert Woods. Buffalo added a couple players that can help their secondary later in the draft, but nobody that is expected to make a big impact. The Bills also used a sixth round draft pick on a kicker, which is a pick they could have used elsewhere considering all the holes they have to fill.
New England – It may be surprising to see the Patriots on this list, but they did not have a good weekend. New England traded out of the first round and loaded up on middle round draft picks, but they failed to find any impact players in the five picks they had between the second and fourth rounds. Second round pick Jamie Collins is the closest to an impact player the Patriots drafted, but he may not be an every down player in the NFL. Both of the defensive backs out of Rutgers that New England took in the third round were reaches and neither may be able to give them the kind of help at cornerback that they need. Wide receiver Josh Boyce was a nice pick up in the fourth round, but second round wide receiver Aaron Dobson is awfully raw and may not be ready to play in an offense that’s orchestrated by Tom Brady. The Patriots also ignored their offensive line, which is a position they should have addressed with all those middle round picks.
New York Jets – No one should be surprised to see the Jets on this list. They may have gotten their quarterback for the future, but the Jets failed to get any skill players that can help that quarterback make plays. New York did add a few offensive linemen, which should help, especially Brian Winters, who should start right away. However, both of their first round picks were spent on defensive players, which may have been a mistake considering that their offense was a far bigger problem for them last year. They ended up with some good players, but they didn’t address their weaknesses the way they should have, and so there’s no guarantee this draft has made them a significantly better team.
Cleveland – With just five picks, the Browns fell well short of what they needed to do. Barkevious Mingo was too risky of a player to take sixth overall, despite their need for a pass rusher. Cleveland could have bolstered their defense in the secondary or along the defensive line with that pick, instead of taking Mingo, a player with some questions regarding his work ethic and attitude. Cornerback Leon McFadden was a good pick up for them in the third round because they needed a cornerback, but after Mingo and McFadden they didn’t pick again until the 6th round, where there was little chance of finding impact players. In the end, the Browns finished the draft without making significant improvements to their roster.
Tampa Bay – The Bucs sacrificed their first round pick in order to get Darrelle Revis, and then for some reason they decided that they needed to improve their secondary even more in the second round by taking cornerback Johnthan Banks. Tampa’s third round pick was even more questionable, as they took quarterback Mike Glennon. Not only does taking Glennon show a lack of confidence in Josh Freeman, but also it was surprising to see Glennon picked with both Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib still on the board. Instead of getting another quarterback, Tampa may have been wise to get a wide receiver or tight end that could be a receiving threat for their current quarterback, and the third round would have been the right time to take someone at that position. Defensive tackle Akeem Spence was a good pick up for them, but defensive end William Gholston has a reputation for being inconsistent, so despite a lot of talent he may pan out for them. Without a first round pick, the Buccaneers needed to be more efficient than they were with the picks that they did have.
Dallas – The Cowboys really failed in this draft, starting with first round pick Travis Frederick. Dallas needed help on the offensive line, but they reached too far to get it in the first round when they could have drafted a safety. Instead, they waited until the third round to get a safety, which would have been the place to get an offensive lineman. Tight end Gavin Escobar and wide receiver Terrance Williams will be useful targets for Tony Romo in the passing game, but Dallas could have used those picks in the second and third rounds to address their needs at the line of scrimmage, which is a more pressing need for them than offensive skill players. Not only did the Cowboys fail to address some needs, but they also took the wrong approach when they did attempt to address their needs.
Oakland – There’s a chance the Raiders end up with several quality players from this draft, but they took far too many risks for a team that’s rebuilding and that’s expected to be at the bottom of a bad division this season. D.J. Hayden is a huge medical risk, especially 12th overall; the Raiders needed to make a safer choice in the first round, no matter how much they liked Hayden. Second round pick Menelik Watson has plenty of potential, but he has so little experience playing football that he could have a huge learning curve in the NFL, and there’s a chance he’s never able to catch up. It was also questionable why they drafted quarterback Tyler Wilson, because he’ll need at least a year or two development, the Raiders have Matt Flynn for the time being, and there should be better options in next year’s draft. The safest pick they made was third round linebacker Sio Moore. The Raiders had six picks in the final two rounds, but those players can’t be relied on to be impact players and neither can their early round picks.
Of course they did.
The Lions would draft the one football player who doesn’t know how to play football.
I’m not saying it was the wrong pick. I’m not proclaiming Ansah to be a bust. The Lions just would.
Don’t get it twisted: Ziggy Ansah is a freak. A draft can only hope for a small handful of prospects whose measurable approach those of Ansah. He sports a 4.63 40-yard-dash—faster than oft-compared Jason Pierre-Paul’s 4.71—combined with a 34.5 inch vertical and raw strength that resulted in 21 bench press reps at the combine. Packed into a 6’5”, 271 lb. frame equipped with long reach, Ansah is a physical marvel.
The issue isn’t Ansah; it’s the Lions.
The Lions aren’t just another team when it comes to the draft. Detroit has developed a long tradition of annual spots atop the draft order with only rare successes. For every Calvin Johnson, there is a Mike Williams. For a good pick like Matt Stafford, there is a Mike Williams.
The Lions are a talented team coming off a disappointing year. While they certainly have holes on their roster, the filling of those holes could vault the Lions into playoff contention. Despite the 5th overall pick, the Lions had the opportunity to add someone who could step in and be an immediate impact.
Ziggy Ansah has 4.5 career sacks. He has been playing football for all of three years. He also has all the physical tools to be the NFL’s best pass rusher. That is why Jim Schwartz and the Lions couldn’t resist the temptation to snag him with their first pick, and it is why Lion Nation has reason to be optimistic. A history of 1st round busts also gives this weary group of fans a reason to shake their collective head.
Ansah is both intriguing and simultaneously terrifying for Lions fans because he represents two possible paths already traveled. Ziggy could be the Calvin Johnson of pass rushers, and Detroit fans know just how special that is. However, he also represents the possibility of another bust, and after a disappointing season with a talented roster, the Lions could truly use an already-developed player.
Then again, it is sports. The not-so-distant-past of Lions’ draft blunders makes it easy to go the safe route, but Ansah’s nearly limitless potential could anchor Detroit’s defensive line for years to come.
Still. The Lions just would.
So the draft is over and the dust has settled. It was one of the more exciting drafts in recent history, to say the least. A lot of trading up and down and some picks that just came way out of left field made for three days of white knuckle television. For a look at some of the best draft performances in those exciting four days and who in my mind is a winner, take a look below.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings found a way to address nearly of all their needs and best of all they did so in the first round. Sharrif Floyd will be an excellent addition to their rotation on the defensive line, Xavier Rhodes will be a week 1 starter and Cordarrelle Patterson could very well become the next Julio Jones. Who needs picks in the second or third round when you have three in the first? Clearly not the Vikings.
Vikings Picks: 23rd Overall DT Sharrif Floyd, 25th Overall CB Xavier Rhodes, 29th Overall WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 120th Overall LB Gerald Hodges, 155th Overall P Jeff Locke, 196th Overall G Jeff Baca, 213th Overall LB Michael Mauti, 214th Overall G Travis Bond, 229th Overall DT Everett Dawkins
St.Louis Rams: The question on everybody’s mind this offseason has been who exactly is Sam Bradford going to throw the ball to after the departure of Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola in free agency. The trade up and subsequent pick of Tavon Austin with the eighth overall pick was a great start and the addition of Stedman Bailey in the third added even more stability at wide receiver. That they were also able to add Alec Ogletree in the first round makes this draft made their weekend nothing short of amazing. Even in the ultra competitive NFC West I have a hard time not considering the Rams as a threat for a Wild Card spot.
Rams Picks: 8th Overall WR Tavon Austin, 30th Overall LB Alec Ogletree, 71st S T.J. McDonald, 92nd Overall WR Stedman Bailey, 113th C Barrett Jones, 149th Overall CB Brandon McGee, 160th Overall RB Zac Stacy
Green Bay Packers: After losing out on the Stephen Jackson sweepstakes I had to think they were going to target running backs in this year’s draft. That they were able to land the two best ones available in the second and fourth round is just great. The much anticipated addition of Datone Jones will also help the Packers get pressure on the quarterback without relying solely on Clay Mathews.
Packers Picks: 26th Overall DE Datone Jones, 61st Overall RB Eddie Lacy, 109th Overall T David Bakhtiari, 122nd C J.C. Tretter, 125th Overall RB Johnathan Franklin, 159th Overall CB Micah Hyde, 167th Overall DT Josh Boyd, 193rd Overall LB Nate Palmer, 216th Overall WR Charles Johnson, 224th Overall WR Kevin Dorsey, 232nd Overall LB Sam Barrington
San Diego Chargers: With only 6 picks in this year’s draft, the Chargers somehow found a way to address nearly all their needs in a big way. The selection of D.J. Fluker with the 11th pick in the draft is just a little bit of a reach, but he was also the best tackle left on the board. Can’t complain about that pick too much. How Keenan Allen was still available in the third round is beyond me, but good on the Chargers for taking advantage of the situation.
Chargers Picks: 11th Overall T D.J. Fluker, 38th Overall LB Manti Te’o, 76th Overall WR Keenan Allen, 145th Overall CB Steve Williams, 179th Overall LB Tourek Williams, 221st Overall QB Brad Sorensen
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV
You can’t have a draft without the long and drawn out post-draft evaluation. First, the good; here are 10 teams, in no particular order that made good use of their draft picks last weekend:
Baltimore – The Super Bowl Champions didn’t pick early, but they had a lot of picks and they used them wisely. Baltimore’s two biggest losses in the offseason were Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, and they wasted no time replacing them with safety Matt Elam and linebacker Arthur Brown. Addressing those two needs in the first two rounds was great to see.
Their other eight picks don’t stand out as much, but they added a lot of depth at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which never hurts. Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore could end up being quite a steal in the sixth round and wide receiver Aaron Mellette from little known Elon College could be an interesting guy to watch as well.
St. Louis – The Rams were maybe a little too proactive by trading up to get Tavon Austin, but they clearly wanted him, and drafting him along with his West Virginia teammate Stedman Bailey conjures up memories of “the greatest show on turf” with the amount of speed they added on offense with those two players.
Getting Alec Ogletree 30th overall is going to be a very valuable pick if he’s able to clean up his act and stay out of trouble away from the field. St. Louis was also to take advantage of a deep group of safeties at grab T.J. McDonald in the third round. It’s hard not to like the addition of Barrett Jones, who is extremely valuable with his versatility along the offensive line. Also, don’t sleep on former Vanderbilt running back Vac Stacy, as he was 3rd in the SEC in rushing in 2011 and 5th in 2012.
San Francisco – The 49ers entered the draft with 13 picks, and they made good use of them. The biggest need they had was at safety and they took care of that right away by trading up to take Eric Reid. San Francisco also did well to improve their defensive front with a pair of great pass rushers in Cornellius Carradine and Corey Lemonier, as well as run stuffer Quinton Dial. Linebacker Nick Moody was also a nice pick up late in the draft to help their front seven. In terms of offensive playmakers, the 49ers made some real nice additions as well. With so many picks at their disposal, taking a chance on running back Marcus Lattimore was a brilliant move. They don’t have to rush him back from injury and if he ever returns to full health he can be a difference maker. Wide receiver Quinton Patton didn’t get a lot of publicity, but he’s a great sleeper out of Louisiana Tech. The same goes for Rice tight end Vance McDonald, who will pair up well with Vernon Davis.
Detroit – The Lions were the final team to sneak onto this list, as taking cornerback Darius Slay in the second round, before Mississippi State teammate Johnthan Banks, was a questionable choice, as was going after a punter in the fifth round. But the rest of their draft went well. Ziggy Ansah has a high ceiling at defensive end, and getting Devin Taylor, a seasoned veteran of the SEC, to pair with him was a smart move. They couldn’t find an offensive tackle, but Larry Warford was a real nice pick up at offensive guard, especially in the third round. Detroit couldn’t get Matthew Stafford any game breakers to get the ball to, but the three offensive skill players the Lions found late in the draft should be able to help out. Wide receiver Corey Fuller is a solid pick in the sixth round and versatile running back Theo Riddick could end up being a steal that late in the draft. Alabama tight end Michael Williams should also be a useful player for them going forward.
New York Giants – New York didn’t make a big splash with Justin Pugh in the first round, but if he can stick at left tackle he has the quickness and athleticism to handle some of the quicker pass rushers in the league, and if not he’s still talented enough to start somewhere else along the offensive line. In rounds two, three, and four the Giants got great value with their picks. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and defensive end Damontre Moore both had borderline first-round grades and will help the Giants up front if their pass rushers don’t bounce back from subpar seasons last year. In the fourth round the Giants picked up quarterback Ryan Nassib, who easily could have gone in the first or second round. Nassib is the ideal backup quarterback with a high ceiling to develop into something much more. One area of disappointment is that the Giants didn’t address their secondary early in the draft, although safety Cooper Taylor of Richmond is a big defensive back they took in the fifth round and could become a contributor for them.
Jacksonville – It was disappointing to see the Jaguars not take a quarterback to compete with Blaine Gabbert (especially with Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib falling so far), but the rest of their draft went pretty well. Getting Luke Joeckel will obviously help take some pressure off their quarterback, and the addition of Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson give them a pair of quick and potentially dynamic playmakers, both on offense and special teams. Other than that, Jacksonville was focused on the secondary, which was a big priority for them. John Cyprien was a good pick up for them at the top of the second round and third rounder Dwayne Gratz should start for them right away at cornerback. They also added some depth in the secondary in the late rounds, which was a necessity.
Pittsburgh – The Steelers had a lot of areas to address after a bit of a down year last year and they seemed to have taken care of them all. The first two defensive players they drafted, linebacker Jarvis Jones and safety Shamarko Thomas, and both perfect fits. Jones gives them the edge rusher they needed after the departure of James Harrison and Thomas is the kind of physical and hard-nosed safety that they’re going to love in the Steel City. Second round pick Le’Veon Bell is a big and physical running back that is emblematic of the city and fits what the Steelers covet. With Mike Wallace gone at wide receiver, the Steelers picked up Markus Wheaton to give them some speed and Justin Brown to give them some size at that position. Taking Landry Jones in the fourth round was an interesting decision, but he at least gives the Steelers a young quarterback to develop, as well as a quarterback with a lot of experience in college that should be ready to fill in if Ben Roethlisberger has more problems with injuries.
Cincinnati – There’s a lot to like about what the Bengals did in the draft. Tight end Tyler Eifert is a versatile playmaker that will give Andy Dalton another big target to throw to, and sixth rounder Cobi Hamitlon is a nice and underrated addition to their corps of wide receivers. Getting Giovani Bernard in the second round gives Cincinnati the running back they needed, and their offensive line was strengthened by three late-round selections. Defensively, they addressed their biggest need at safety with the addition of hard-hitting safety Shawn Williams in the third round. The Bengals also added a lot of versatility on the outside with defensive end Margus Hunt and linebacker Sean Porter, two guys that should help the defense right away.
Minnesota – The Vikings sacrificed the second and third round to get three first-round picks, and it seemed to work out for them. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes were both guys that could have been top-10 picks and somehow Minnesota managed to get them 23rd and 25th overall respectively, which makes them incredibly valuable picks in addition to being great players that will make an impact for Minnesota’s defense. The Vikings were also lucky to take Cordarrelle Patterson 29th overall, as he has outstanding talent and potential at wide receiver. Those three picks alone give Minnesota one of the best drafts in the league, but they were also able to add depth at positions of need in the late rounds.
Miami – The Dolphins focused on defense early on, and did some really good work on that side of the ball. Trading up for Dion Jordan was a nice move, as it gives them arguably the best pass rusher available. In dire need of cornerback help, Miami picked up two players that could be potential starters for them in Jamar Taylor of Boise State and Will Davis of Utah State. In the fourth round they picked up linebacker Jelani Jenkins, a player that could have been a second round pick with another year in college, so there’s good value there. Miami didn’t do much on offense that stands out, but tight end Dion Sims fits a need and could end up being one of the better tight ends to come out of this draft, running back Mike Gillislee was overlooked by many teams, and place kicker Caleb Sturgis is extremely accurate and should have a nice NFL career.
If there’s one thing you can count on during the NFL Draft, it’s being surprised, and this year’s draft did not disappoint in that department. Here are the five biggest surprises of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Eddie Lacy was the fourth running back taken – Lacy was thought of as a possible first round pick, especially with the Green Bay Packers picking 26th overall, but Lacy managed to stay on the board until the 29th pick of the second round when Green Bay’s patience paid off for them and they were able to take him anyway. As surprising as it was for Lacy to fall that far, it was even more surprising to see three other running backs come off the board before him. The Bengals had coveted Giovani Bernard all along, but Lacy being passed up by the Steelers and Broncos for Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball respectively was unexpected.
The Buffalo Bills took E.J. Manuel in the first round and not Ryan Nassib – This pick sent quite a few jaws to the floor. Ever since Doug Marrone became the head coach of the Bills, many speculated, and some even assumed, that Buffalo would draft Nassib after spending his college years with Marrone at Syracuse. But the Bills shocked everybody when they took Manuel 16th overall to be their quarterback of the future. Marrone’s connection to Nassib had many thinking he would be going to the Bills in either the first or second round while Manuel was not thought of by many to be a first rounder. Manuel may actually fit the offensive system Buffalo is going to run better than Nassib, but it was still quite a shock to see Marrone pass up the quarterback he groomed in college for someone else.
Mike Glennon was drafted before both Ryan Nassib and Matt Barkley – With all due respect to Glennon and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s hard to fathom how Glennon was off the board before either Barkley or Nassib. There wasn’t a lot of consensus on the pecking order of quarterbacks in this year’s draft, but most had Barkley and Nassib ahead of Glennon. Surprising as it was to see Barkley and Nassib wait until the fourth round to get selected, it was even more surprising to see Glennon come off the board even earlier in the third round.
Geno Smith dropped to the second round – No one was more surprised (and visibly upset) that Smith left Radio City Music Hall Thursday night without a home than Smith himself. Other than Ryan Nassib possibly going to the Bills, it was assumed that Smith would be the first quarterback drafted and that he would go somewhere in the first round. In the end, there just weren’t enough teams willing to use a first round pick on a quarterback considering how weak this year’s class was at that position, although once the second round started Smith didn’t have to wait too long to hear his name.
Tyler Bray went undrafted – It’s unusual for the most talented quarterback in a class to go undrafted, but then again this was an unusual class of quarterbacks. It’s no surprise why Bray went undrafted; despite his great talent he has some character issues, isn’t known for having a great work ethic, and lacks leadership, as well as several other essential intangibles for the quarterback position. However, it was still surprising to see none of the 32 teams take a chance on drafting Bray, while quarterbacks like Sean Renfree and B.J. Daniels were selected.
While it’s a little early to decide winners and losers of this draft only a few days removed, something can be said for the quality of the picks to this point. Here are the worst picks from the early rounds of last week’s draft.
1. E.J. Manuel 15th Overall Buffalo Bills
This pick came so far out of left field, I don’t even know where to start. Only time will tell if Manuel was worth the 15th overall pick and the distinction of being the first quarterback taken in this draft, but for now this pick is an absurd reach. The Bills easily could have traded down and still landed Manuel, but instead they made the jump. Who knows what awaits the Bills at the other side.
2. Barkevious Mingo 6th Overall Cleveland Browns
Ask five different people how they felt about Mingo going into this draft and you’ll get five different answers. One of the more commonly held opinions seems to be that he’s a tad overrated though. Not only is Mingo a reach with the 6th overall pick, but he also bears the burden of having to switch from being a 4-3 defensive end to being a 3-4 outside linebacker. Mingo is a great talent and addresses one of the Browns needs for another rusher on the outside, but there’s quite a bit of risk with this pick.
3. Will Davis 93rd Overall Miami Dolphins
There are reaches and then there is this pick. Most had Davis projecting as a fifth or sixth rounder - which if you ask me is quite generous. The fact that the Dolphins were willing to trade up to grab him makes this all the more absurd.
4. Tyler Eifert 21st Overall Cincinnati Bengals
Don’t get me wrong, Tyler Eifert is a great talent and should work out just fine with the Bengals. Looking at this pick purely from the standpoint of what this organization needs however, has me wondering what compelled them to call Eifert’s name. For as long as the Bengals have had A.J. Green they’ve lacked a solid number two receiver. Would have been much more satisfied had they picked Cordarrelle Patterson or Justin Hunter. Any receiver actually.
5. Christine Michael 62nd Overall Seattle Seahawks
I can think of no pick in the first three rounds that made lense sense in terms of addressing positional needs than this one. By that same token, the Seahawks don’t have much in the way of needs left. Not a horrible pick, but a bit of a head scratcher nonetheless.
You can follow J.D. Burke @JDBurkeOV
While it’s a little early to decide winners and losers of this draft only a few days removed, something can be said for the quality of the picks to this point. If it were as simple as picking out the best picks to this point, it would be rather easy. I guess I’d just have to account for the first five picks in the draft. Job done. That’s simply not the case though. In ranking the five best picks I had to take into account the value, organizational need and last but far from least the talent of the player chosen. With all that in mind, here are the five best picks from rounds one, two and three.
1. Sharrif Floyd 23rd Overall Minnesota Vikings
Any time a player that’s projected to go third overall on just about every mock draft that was made for this year’s class drops to the 23 spot, you’re getting some pretty good bang for your draft buck. With Floyd the Vikings were able to add to their already strong defensive line and find an heir apparent to the aging Kevin Williams.
2. Alec Ogletree 30th Overall St.Louis Rams
Were it not for the usual cause of most draft stock drop offs (the infamous off-field issues) Ogletree could have easily gone in the top 15. With the amount of talent at Ogletree’s disposal, you could even have justified a top 10 selection. The addition of Ogletree is the final piece needed at linebacker to make it one of the league’s best.
3. Geno Smith 39th Overall New York Jets
It’s not very often that the best quarterback in the draft falls to the second round and for that reason alone this is a good pick. When you take into account the fact that finding Smith in the second round, rather than reaching for him in the first, allowed them to maximize the value of their two first rounders it becomes clear that this is a steal of a pick.
4. Arthur Brown 56th Overall Baltimore Ravens
I’m not as high on Brown as most are, but this is a steal nonetheless. Most had Brown projected to go in the middle of the first round, not the latter end of the second. That and the fact that this pick fills a positional need following the departure of Dannell Ellerbe in free agency and Ray Lewis in free agency makes this a great pick.
5. Eddie Lacy 61st Overall Green Bay Packers
If you’re noticing a recurring theme here, it’s that a lot of great pickups were made as a result of unexplainable drops in draft stock in days one and two. Count Lacy among the strangest drops of them all. Going into this draft it seemed like there was some consensus that he was the best running back to be found. 60 picks, 3 of which were running backs, later and Lacy finds his home in Green Bay. He’s no Stephen Jackson, but then again he’s also a hell of a lot younger.
You can follow J.D. Burke @JDBurkeOV