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Sunday, April 28, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Review

As I said after my first round review on Friday, if you've come here expecting draft grades, you might as well go back to what you were doing before. I used to do them because people asked, but it's completely fruitless and more often that not, entirely inaccurate.

Instead, I want to review some of the best values, biggest reaches, and other notes that made this draft stick out.

The 2013 draft lacked a lot of the names that we've become accustomed to, especially after last year. There were no Andrew Lucks or RGIIIs that can peak the interest of even the most casual fan. However, what this draft provided was depth at a lot of positions, and while probably not a lot of Hall of Fame candidiates, some guys who are going to be the cornerstones of of successful franchises.

Because of the depth, we saw a lot of quality players fall into lower rounds, so the list of all of the best value picks would be a really lengthy one. But, I've narrowed it down as much as I could. The list below is in the order in which they were drafted, not in importance or decreasin value in the pick:

1. Arthrur Brown - Baltimore, round 2, pick 56
I know it's hard to call a second-rounder a value pick, but Brown was one of my favorite, and safest, players in this draft. Getting him in the second for a linebacker-needy team like the Ravens was a steal for Ozzie Newsome.

2. Eddy Lacy and Johnathan Franklin - Green Bay, rounds 2 and 4, picks 61 and 125.
Of course, Lacy's freefall was understandable considering his medical reports, but most thought he would go in the first. Franklin was an absolute surprise, and these two selections secured Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson as set at the table of the league's top personnel men.

3. Marcus Lattimore - San Francisco, round 4, pick 131
This may surprise some, but this was one of the best picks in the draft. Sure, his full recovery is questionable and if he were selected by most teams, I wouldn't be as positive. But with a stacked backfield that will eventually need a replacement for Frank Gore, the 49ers got a great value on a player that would have been a first round back before the injury.

4. Denard Robinson - Jacksonville, round 5, pick 135
He may not have a position yet, but few can argue the talent of Robinson and the different ways a creative offensive coordinator can use him to create mismatches. I view him as a poor man's Percy Harvin. Once someone figures out how to take advantage of his speed and lateral ability, he could become one of the more dangerous weapons in football.

5. Jordan Poyer - Philadelphia, round 7, pick 218
I didn't have Poyer listed in my top 10 cornerbacks, but he was close. For Philadelphia to nab a defensive back with his ball skills in the last round of the draft, though, is the epitome of value.

Honorable mention with an asterisk: Sam Montgomery - Houston, round 3, pick 95
Montgomery's primary stigma coming into the draft was his apparent lack of a motor and consistency. He openly talked about taking plays off, and I'm sure that didn't sit well with most teams. However, when you turn on the tape, you see a talent that is equal to or better than Barkevious Mingo, his LSU teammate that went 6th overall to Cleveland. If hard working Texans' teammates JJ Watt, Brian Cushing, and Ed Reed can rub off on him, Houston may have snagged one of the top 25 players in this year's class with a compensatory pick.

Conversely, it's hard to come up with a "list" of reaches because of the depth in this draft. Most of the players taken were pushed down because there was gluttony of guys that would fit in the pick 25 to 40 range of most draft. However, there were a couple that caught my eye:

1. Travis Frederick - Dallas, round 1, pick 31
Don't get me wrong, I like Frederick and think he's going to be a good player. In addition, the Cowboys' biggest need was help along the offensive line. But, and this is a big but, it's hard to justify taking a player with the 31st overall slot that you certainly could have taken with the 47th and possibly even 74th pick. I think the Cowboys panicked after losing their true first-round target Kenny Vacarro.

2. Knile Davis - Kansas City, round 3, pick 96
Davis is a perfect example of a workout wonder. His straight line speed was apparent when he ran a 4.37 40 at the combine. When you watch him play, though, you see a runner with very little wiggle, puts the ball on the ground too often, and rarely gets yards after the contact. In addition, he was the 6th running back off the board, and more accomplished backs like Franklin, Stepfan Taylor, Mike Gillislee, and Andre Ellington were still there.

Other notes:

1. It's hard to argue that Minnesota didn't have one of the best drafts this year. When you're able to position your picks to get three probable starters and impact players like Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, and Cordarelle Patterson, you've had a really good draft. Many people said they gave up too much to get back into the first round to select Patterson. For those people, I simply ask what is the primary purpose of the draft? It's to get good players that can contribute as quickly as possible. And for a team like the Vikings, a borderline playoff team, to get three of them in the first round, they're moves that put you over the top.

2. The NFC West is the best division in football, and from what I saw this weekend, they will be for a long time. San Francisco had a ton of picks and used them wisely. In addition to a shrewd pick like Lattimore, who they can stash like a minor-leaguer in baseball, they filled a need at safety (replacing Dashon Goldson with Eric Reid), and bolster an already strong front seven with the underrated Tank Carradine (DE) and Corey Lemonier (OLB).

Next, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but maybe the best draft in the league from top to bottom was had by the Arizona Cardinals. They got value in almost every round, highlighted by Jonathan Cooper in the first, Kevin Minter in the second, Alex Okafor in the fourth, and Ryan Swope in the sixth. WHat I was most impressed with, though, is that they didn't reach for need like the organization had done in the past. Kudos to general manager Steve Keim in what looks to be a promising start to building this franchise.

Lastly, while I wasn't overly impressed with Seattle and St. Louis, they both made significant improvements. Seattle used the draft for depth after adding key pieces in free agency, namely Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield. As John Schneider said when asked what they will do on the first day of the draft, they'll just watch Percy Harvin highlights. As for the Rams, getting the most explosive player in the draft, Tavon Austin, and adding value picks like Barrett Jones and Zac Stacy, made for a draft that was better than most.

3. I have to admit that I was kind of confused by the moves of two teams: Cleveland and Indianapolis. In my opinion, the Browns reached on Barkevious Mingo in the first, and then traded away picks that were in the meat of this draft (two in the fourth and one in the fifth). The rest of their picks were pretty much JAGs (Just A Guy).

As for Indianapolis, their needs were along the offensive line, and still getting players that fit in their two-year-old 3-4 scheme. Sure, they took two offensive linemen in the second and third rounds (Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes), but both of them could have been considered reaches. It got off to bad start, though, when they took Bjoern Werner in the first, who's an ill-fit at outside linebacker. Sure, he'll be strong against the run, but I don't see a natural edge-rusher or the ability to drop into coverage when needed.

4. I'm a little surprised at the love given to the draft of the San Diego Chargers, specifically their first three picks. First, the selection of DJ Fluker was a panicked one, in my opinion. They saw a run on tackles and decided to take the only one left that could start. The problem is that he'll only be able to adequately play on the right side at the next level. Second, getting Manti Te'o in the second was a glamour pick, pure and simple. Te'o has been overrated for some time, and I think we'll see a lot more tape like the one against Alabama than those against Michigan and USC in the future. Lastly, while you can't argue with his college production, Keenan Allen is a medical concern (he's only "85%" recovered from a knee injury suffered in October - that's not a good sign), and I'm not sure he'll be able to get consistent separation.

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