SEVEN DAYS on from the 2013 NFL Draft, and it is perhaps time to reflect on the results. Each team has had time to assess their prospects and also bargain with college free agents and undrafted free agents to attempt to further swell the ranks.
Due to the unexpected complexion of the final draft board, there is opportunity to analyse and evaluate for perhaps longer than would be healthy for anyone other than certified NFL addicts. However, this writer is far from a certified ‘draft-nick,’ meaning the analysis will be informative but in no way comprehensive.
Quarterbacks: What Was All The Fuss About, Anyway?
A substantial section of commentators on the NFL were united in their view that the class of Quarterback available in the Draft was to a great extent lower than in 2012. They were perhaps vindicated in the end, but that did not prevent the very same section of commentators dithering excitedly over which of this group would draft first, and what this potentially meant for their lucky new employers.
As it was, the two highest drafted in the position were dealt a challenge. In the case of E.J. Manuel who was selected by the Buffalo Bills it is to grapple his way into the starting spot which may well be claimed initially by former Arizona Cardinal Kevin Kolb and then lead his team in a tough AFC East. While Geno Smith is in much the same position, he has no the added issue of leading a team with a maverick personality. For veteran opponents Ryan Tannehill at the Miami Dolphins, and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady at the New England Patriots, it is not a daunting proposition. Nevertheless, the reaction of both Manuel and Smith to their names being announced highlighted a sense of enthusiasm and determination which could result in some surprisingly early competition.
Meanwhile, Ryan Nassib was given one of the more palatable ‘back-up’ jobs as understudy to Eli Manning at the New York Giants. Most likely, Nassib will be primed to replace Manning at some point, though without the major injury legacy of his brother Peyton, making a call on when that may be is tricky. Perhaps in a similar situation is Zac Dysert, who goes from Miami, Ohio to the Rocky Mountains with the Denver Broncos to be back-up to Peyton.
Arguably the most conventional pick and furthermore most likely in terms of a starting chance was the Eagles taking the third of the most talked about QBs Matt Barkley. In competing with Ryan Foles and Michael Vick, the USC signal-caller will benefit from the challenge, but in the opinion of this writer will lead the team as the number-one in that position come kick-off time in the NFC East. He has also confirmed he will wear the number two jersey, which confuses the argument ever so slightly.
Despite the healthy volume of QBs picked in the Draft, the fact that it was well into the event seems to illustrate that the position was simply not a priority for most teams, and the temptation to bolster their offensive lines in other areas proved to make more sense.
OTHER QBs Drafted: Tyler Wilson (Oakland Raiders); Mike Glennon (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Landry Jones (Pittsburgh Steelers); Brad Sorensen (San Diego Chargers); Sean Renfree (Atlanta Falcons); B.J. Daniels (San Francisco 49ers)
You Did What?
With the exception of the number one and number two selections being the very two players most expected, the rest of the big talking points surrounded some of the unconventional and at times bizarre decision-making from the war rooms. Prominent amongst these was the trade the Dallas Cowboys made with 2012 Super Bowl runners-up the 49ers, by swapping their position at #18 in round 1 for a spot at #31, and proceeding to choose Centre Travis Frederick.
Staying with the theme of the NFC and first round and the picks of the New York Giants for Syracuse Tackle Justin Pugh, and the Chicago Bears ‘reached’ for Oregon Guard Kyle Long. Although both raised eyebrows, there may have been some method in the respective choices. With the Giants keen to steadily enhance the protection of their quarterback, whether it is Eli or Nassib, the versatility of Pugh appears to have appealed to the ‘big-picture’ plans of Tom Coughlin. In the case of Kyle Long, it is much the same reasoning, a quarterback who needs enhanced barriers to allow them time and space to utilise their ingenuity behind the offensive line.
The Hybrid Offence Trend Continues…
Traditionally the game of gridiron uses wide-receivers and running-backs as direct threats in offence. Yet the progression from this elementary tactic to the more diverse attacking options at the disposal of head coaches is reflected in the new crop of rookies who left the draft board early. The prominence of Tight-Ends, who are commonly being used as both blockers and receivers, was clear to see, with three going in the top-50 and a total of six in the top-100. The highest of these was Tyler Eifert by the Bengals, who also drafted the first running-back of the draft in Giovanni Bernard.
Yet that is not to say that the typical attacking assets were not appreciated, with Tavon Austin the only non-offensive linemen picked in the top-10. Much like the projected top-two overall picks were affirmed, the top running-back predictions were also correct, as Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball, Le’Veon Bell and Christine Michael joined Bernard in a mass exodus of RBs called in round two.
Let’s hear it for the outsiders…
Though it is essentially an American sports league, the NFL also welcomes players into its ranks from outside the fifty states of the USA. In this draft, there were three such ‘outsiders’ taken, though admittedly they had all completed some form of college level playing time at American universities. Manchester-born Menelik Watson was drafted by the iconic Oakland Raiders, Estonian giant Margus Hunt went to the Bengals, while the Indianapolis Colts acquired German native Bjoern Werner. Last but not least was the signing of the ‘undrafted’ free-agent and former Great Britain Olympian Lawrence Okoye by the 49ers.
Their reputation preceded them, until now?
Finally, it is time to address what happened to those players with the hysteria of media spotlights focussed on them even before the event. The respective back-stories are well trailed, so it will suffice to simply explain which teams they will now represent.
For Manti Te’o, it is a short journey across to the Pacific West Coast with the San Diego Chargers, while running-back Marcus Lattimore will suit up just up the coast with the 49ers. The exact timing as to when this may be will depend on the culmination of his intensive return from a serious knee injury, but it is assumed he will make some impression in the 2013 season. As for Tyrann Mathieu the player nicknamed ‘Honey Badger,’ it is a trip to Arizona to work with Bruce Arians at the Cardinals.
Thus the mocking, predicting and anticipation is over for another year. Please contribute any of your own observations on this edition of the Draft in the comments section.
What’s next you may ask? Training camp and then, on the horizon, the 2013 NFL season.
Until then, have a good summer y’all.