No One Like You: 5 Things and 10 Predictions I’ve Learned/Made thus far in the 2013 NFL Draft
I apologize for the lengthy title AND this introduction. I recently realized I should be involved in the rather large market for draft information that is Twitter, so I created an exclusively sports-related page on the site (@tripleddraft). That being said, I may have some new readers I wouldn’t typically have, so I feel the need to explain my title. People tend to read articles they pass by that have odd or amusing titles. I try to capitalize on that by using random song lyrics in mine. This title is a song by The Scorpions, and my iPod randomly selected it off shuffle. Having said that, let’ get to football.
I see other experts doing these types of stories on TV or the web when they have downtime between mock drafts or Big Boards. So I made my own. Here are 5 things I have learned so far in this draft season, and ten predictions I have for the draft at this juncture:
5 Things I have Learned About the 2013 NFL Draft thus far:
1. This draft class is so shallow that guys who will be drafted in the third round next year could have a shot at going in the first round this draft!
- It’s sad to say, but it’s true. I will use the offensive positions as an example. The only reason, and experts have admitted it, that a quarterback is slated to go in round one is because of the tradition of teams reaching for them. I watched a Sportscenter story about how teams may suffer another year with a horrible starter (Jacksonville perhaps?) so they can have a chance at Johnny Manziel next year. They are willing to suffer a year of angry fans, loss of revenue, and neverceasing blame just so they don’t have to call a QB from this class their franchise guy. That’s sad. At offensive tackle, once two top 10 prospects in Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews returned to school, a late first rounder and a guy (Lane Johnson) who was barely getting second round consideration from every analyst got vaulted into the mid first round. That’s pretty sad.
2. Because this class is so weak, it only takes two weeks for a guy to rise 3-5 rounds.
- Who knew the names Logan Ryan or Cordarelle Patterson near the end of the college football season, when bowl games were beginning to be made? No one. The wide receiver and cornerback positions have so little talent that in two weeks, Patterson went from a guy who should have stayed in school another year to help his prospects to top wideout prospect; Ryan entered the draft near the underclassman deadline and instantly became a late first round prospect. His talent may be there eventually, but I guarantee he gets a third round grade if there’s one or two more quality prospects who’ve proven they belong in round one.
3. One good or bad performance will result in an extreme change in rank.
- I’ll use everyone’s favorite player to hate right now, Manti Te’o. I don’t care and couldn’t care less about his stock after his girlfriend hoax story came out. I’m viewing the window of time from the start of the college season until the days directly following the BCS Championship. He was a first round prospect before the season and an elite one by the championship – some experts, myself included, felt he should go top 5 overall. He played horribly in the championship, and instantly became, instead of a target everyone had falling no lower than Buffalo at pick number 8, a feasibly prospect for Pittsburgh at 17, New York (Giants) at 19, and Chicago at 20. One bad game costs a sure-fire first rounder 9 spots minimum and the millions of dollars that a fall of that nature translates into. Imagine how a bad game costs a player sitting on the brink of round one-two, or anything later than that.
4. A bad draft class, such as this one, makes free agency relevant again.
- Last year, I don’t think I heard a player other than Mario Williams get mentioned in regards to free agency. Were I a more dedicated fan than most and not the raving obsession I am in reality, I may not have known Matt Flynn was in Seattle under the QB competitions stole preseason media spotlight. For me to hear about only one player consistently on the free agent market is sad, especially considering how integral it is to the game. This year, instead of one elite prospect being the only mention for free agency while the draft steals the rest of the time, I hear little mention of the draft class and mention of many free agents! I can name Alex Smith as a top candidate in the QB class devoid of a proven Pro Bowler. Heck, I can even name multiple offensive linemen of the same position as highlight free agents (Ryan Clady and Jake Long)! Not even NFL experts can consistently name offensive line free agents. And I hear this on TV now! The worst draft class in years just so happens to be the same year that free agency is mentioned more often than the draft on TV? More than coincidence.
5. The positions of defensive end, defensive tackle, and hybrid rusher (I’ll explain) are carrying this class.
- I thought the class of 2011, which had over a third of the first round picks (11/32) and 3 of the first 10 in round two fall under those three positions, was the best class of defensive linemen I’d see in the next decade. I still rate them higher than this year’s crop, but this draft is going to be one heavily focused on those three positions (hybrid rusher is a term I invented to describe a player who could line up at rush linebacker or defensive end). Of my latest Big Board, 13 of the first 32 are a DE, DT, or HY. You take away half of the guys in the pass rush crop, and guys like Jordan Poyer, a cornerback who shouldn’t go until mid round two, become prospects who slot into round one. IU anticipate a lot of teams basing their draft yield off of the pass rushers they will find throughout all seven rounds.
10 Predictions I have for the 2013 Draft
1. Three quarterbacks will go in Round 1, but none will fully deserve to go there.
- Quarterbacks balloon in the weeks directly preceding the draft. It’s a staple of the process. Did Ryan Tannehill deserve to go 8th overall last year, Christian Ponder at 12 or Jake Locker at 8 the year before, or Tim Tebow (yes I went there) at 25 the year before that? No! I admit, some of them did turn out to be pretty good rookies, but none at a first round of top ten pick caliber. Teams need quarterbacks more than anything else, and are willing to sacrifice first round picks in exchange for a miniscule chance at not undergoing another year of futility. I don’t know which of the 6 QB-hungry teams in the top ten pull the trigger, but I anticipate Geno Smith definitely going top ten, and some combination of Ryan Nassib (could join his college coach at Buffalo, pick #8), Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon, and Matt Barkley joining him.
2. At least one third of Round 1 will be labeled busts by their 5th year of professional ball.
- Of the first round crop, not many are called “safe” picks. There’s no explaining this one until the results begin to take shape. I just factor an incredibly weak class and lack of proven talent and star power into this judgement call.
3. One of the Rookies of the Year comes from Round 3 or later.
- Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson, and Casey Heyward all came from the third round this past draft (Heyward was actually two picks before the start of the third, but is used for all intensive purposes). All were among the leading candidates to win their respective Rookie of the Year awards, and remain there. With no real way to gauge all majority of the talent in this weak class that could go in any round except the first, I anticipate some teams wasting second rounders on guys with seventh round talent, and vice versa. With lack of immediate talent in the first round, one of those late round steals could steal the show AND the trophy come postseason time.
4. There will be two trades within the Top 5 picks of the draft.
- I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think many teams will be satisfied spending an incredibly high pick (and the millions that go in league-stipulated salary) on the “elite” guys of the class. But I also bet that some teams will be stupid enough to take the risk, and forfeit some extra picks in future drafts to do so. My current estimations are that Geno Smith balloons up to the Chiefs at first overall (or some team could trade there to get him…? Hhmmm…?), and some team trades inot #2 for supertackle (and one fo the few safe picks) Luke Joeckel. My other estimated trade is someone random rising to get a rusher such as Bjorn Werner, Damontre Moore, or Jarvis Jones.
5. The top overall quarterback taken will be Geno Smith, but he won’t be in the Top 2 of this draft’s QB class by retirement.
- Rarely do random QB’s jump into the first round and usurp the top QB spot in the same draft. I don’t think it will happen this year either, but I do think Geno Smith is a mistake as an NFL QB. His playing style and ability he has proven thus far don’t translate well, in my opinion, as a long-term star QB. I am not locking this in stone, but right now I have Tyler Wilson and Matt Barkley as my top two QB’s by retirement from this class. Barkley is a prototypical QB who should return to the form that made him “the next big thing” in high school and college. I chalk this season up to injury and just some off games. Tyler Wilson, again in my opinion, is a better version of Barkley in the NFL.
6. Marcus Lattimore falls past Round 5, but plays like a 1st rounder.
- If you have ever followed or talked to me about the NFL Draft, you know one of, and probably my absolute, college player this year, and maybe last, was Marcus Lattimore. Scream favoritism and bias all you want, but I genuinely believe he has the talent of a first rounder, and with a professional team’s medical facilities and technology, will stay healthy enough to play like an elite RB, if given a starting chance of course. I don’t think any team will be risky enough to draft a running back with such high injury concerns until round six (or all the other candidates are reached for). But as long as he isn’t relegated to sporadic back-up, third string, or garbage time during an unfavorable blowout, I think Lattimore will play like he should have gone round one.
7. Some of the best players at their position of this class will be ones who fell because of injury.
- You already heard my shpeel about Lattimore and Barkley. To name two more guys though, let’s focus on the defensive end position. The top end before the season started was Texas’ Jackson Jeffcoat. He suffered a major injury, and now is projected a third-fourth rounder at best. Corrnelius Carradine from Florida State is now in that range as well, and he was graded as a mid first round guy by both ESPN and CBS Sports. With their workouts hindered or shut down by their recovery time, I could see both fall farther. The defensive end class is not shallow, and offers many of the limited supply of safe picks in this draft. If they were on top of that class and only got knocked down because of injury, they must have the talent to be pretty good.
8. Character issues won’t drop some early round guys out of Rounds 1 & 2.
- I speak of guys like Da’Rick Rogers, Alec Ogletree, and now the newly included Manti Te’o. The class is so weak that teams who see one of the few proven early round talents won’t be willing or able to pass because of character issues – it wouldn’t be worth it in their eyes when there’s no one else who can immediately impact them at a position of need. They may slide a few picks, but not rounds.
9. Everyone will want to trade down, but no trade up.
- This was supposed to be permanently done away with when the NFL instituted the pay grade all draft picks had to adhere to. I don’t think they counted on such a weak class though. Once the few surefire guys are gone, every team will want to trade down in exchange for high picks in next year’s class, which is gearing up to be the best one we’ve seen since 2006. It’s simple economics: when the only available quantity is a risky bet, teams will look to future well-being and save until then. Unfortunately, no one will be (immediately and early on) willing to risk picks for next year’s class on this unproven one.
10. New England will trade one of (or maybe more than one) of their picks in Rounds 1, 2, and/or 3 in exchange for multiple picks next year.
- I don’t know when teams will learn that Bill Belicheat (I still refuse to believe in his abilities after all the evidence showing he cheated to get there. One of the few grudges I stand firm on.) always trades early picks in the current draft on draftday for selections in the following draft. He also usually always gets the better end of the deal. With so few players worthy of procuring the Patriots’ picky early-round tastes, I bet they’ll find some team foolish enough to mortgage such valuable picks of next year on talent this year.
I hope you enjoyed this entry into my obsessive year-round NFL Draft coverage, and spread the word about my new Twitter feed, which will have every article I write posted to it!