Saturday, May 4, 2013

What I Got Out Of The NFL Draft Of 2013

I will start out by affirming that I have several pieces planned for this month and throughout the summer and fortunately, I will have some more time to complete this after college gets out for the semester. What I have planned include television reviews, book reviews, short story reviews, poem reviews, song reviews, food reviews, movie reviews, and anything and everything else you can think of... oh and some "Let's Be Brutally Honest" as well.

For now, the NFL Draft may have wrapped up last week, but there's a lot to go over with regard to who hit it on the money and who did not address their needs and did not do themselves any favors. Going in to the draft, the biggest names included quarterbacks Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, wide receiver Tavon Austin, linebacker Manti Te'o (for good and bad reasons), and offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, though other players have showed their worth and in this unpredictable draft that did not live up to the hype of last year, we saw twists and turns throughout.

To start the draft, the Chiefs and Jaguars selected Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel respectively. The offensive tackle is a role that garners little recognition with regard to individual talent, but the offensive line that is made up of tackles, guards, and the center is what allows the quarterback to shine. This is the difference between a brick wall and Swiss cheese. Not as many flashy names were taken from here, such as the Dolphins trading up to #3 to take defensive end Dion Jordan and the Eagles taking offensive tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth pick. When we got to the eighth pick, the Rams selected Tavon Austin, the top receiver in the draft, in order to provide QB Sam Bradford with some more passing options. The first quarterback would not go until #16 and the Bills decided that E.J. Manuel would be the one that fit their scheme the best. They are bound to be heading into a new direction, but whether or not E.J. Manuel is slated to be a guy is an absolute question mark. Plenty of notable players were left on the board after night number one.

It would be on the second evening that Manti Te'o and Geno Smith would find their new homes. Te'o went to the Chargers, while Smith went to the Jets. This seems to be a sign that Mark Sanchez is on the hot seat and will need to meet expectations or lose his job to Geno Smith. I don't see the Jets as being a contender with the mess they have and the question will be whether or not Smith will help the team into the right direction or not. Tim Tebow has been shown the door as they did not make use of him whatsoever.

Matt Barkley had to wait until the fourth round to be selected by the Eagles, who traded up to get him. Ryan Nassib, another quarterback who could have easily went to the Bills, went to the Giants instead. Chances are the Giants are looking for an efficient backup to take the reigns in an emergency situation and David Carr does not fit that bill. These kinds of powerful backups are becoming hot after what we have seen from Matt Flynn with his time behind Aaron Rodgers on the Packers and Russell Wilson on the Seahawks. Now, Flynn should hopefully see a chance with the Raiders. As for Barkley, we could expect Nick Foles to have no option but to play to his highest potential and for Michael Vick to have one last chance as well. The selection of tight end Zach Ertz by the Eagles was quite the selection, providing whomever is in the pocket with an additional target and pair them with Brent Celek. From what we saw with the Patriots and how they activated Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, two tight ends is quite a combination.

Some of the top decisions in the draft go to the Vikings and their three picks in the first round, one of which coming about after trading Percy Harvin to the Seahawks. Then you have the 49ers trading with the Cowboys to go up in the round and in addition, fill in possible needs.

As for the teams responsible for wasted opportunities, the one that tops the list is the Jaguars. The Jags need a quarterback to lead them and provide the team with a flashy face and neither Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne provide such a face. Gabbert is mediocre at best and Henne was below mediocre with the Dolphins. The Jags picked up quarterbacks after the draft ended, so they will have to hope and pray that one of them will be useful. In addition, Justin Blackmon, a wide receiver, is suspended for the first four games. The Jags refuse to go after Tim Tebow, which is an equivalent to refusing an offer for food on the Oregon Trail with paranoia that it's tainted. The Jags are overthinking, because they need to not only worry about winning games, but also about attracting fans. They are not popular and they don't fill their stadiums. Their next stop seems to be another city. The Panthers showed that Steve Smith is the only wide receiver they need and the Browns seem to be traveling along the same path they have been, but we'll just have to see how Brandon Weeden performs as the future approaches.

I cannot make any predictions about the 2013 NFL season until September, because the draft has little to nothing to do about the official notion as to how a team is going to perform. The only exception is in the event that a star player comes about, usually a quarterback that is ready to take the reigns on day one and lead the team into a new era, like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (and to some extent Russell Wilson) did last season.

What I got out of this draft was that because we didn't see dynamic players popping up and going immediately, this isn't a class that is going to sway one team in the upper direction. The only projections I can make is that the Jaguars are a good nominee for the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and the Bills, Browns, and Panthers will likely see no improvement (but this doesn't immediately mean regression, either). Should be exciting what we get out of the summer and what the progression of the off-season has to offer.

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