After seven rounds and too many hours to recall of this 2013 NFL Draft, here are a few things on my mind about how it all played out.
When I asked people about Eddie Lacy's drop, the thing that I heard the most was simply not pushing himself hard enough in training leading up the combine and the draft. The buzz around the Alabama program was that he wasn't taking that side of it seriously enough, it was reflected in poor times and a muscle injury that set him back, and he never quite recovered.
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He's a good kid, isn't into partying or any of that stuff, but needs to stay motivated. Should be a wake-up call for him, and that, coupled with the Packers drafting plenty of competition at his position, should keep him pushed as well. Could turn out to be a total steal there, because some on the Alabama staff believe he has more talent than Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson -- former Alabama backs who recently went in the first round (and in Richardson's case, near the top of the first round).
And, as part of a general theme in this draft of the rich getting richer -- i.e. Baltimore, Seattle, San Francisco finding great value down the board -- kudos again to Green Bay. Between Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, they landed two backs who could make a real difference there. And if the both pan out, the trade route is always open.
Also lost amid the draft hoopla was the single biggest piece of NFL news in a while and the most significant transaction of this offseason: Aaron Rodgers is now locked up in Green Bay until 2019 and at a very team-friendly price. Agents and execs around the league were surprised Rodgers “only” got $22 million (this is all relatively speaking) and set no real huge benchmarks despite being the best in the game. Getting $62 million over the first three years is already in line with what guys like Joe Flacco are getting. In hindsight, Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, looks smarter and smarter with the deal that he did.
So, yeah, a massive weekend for the Packers.
I am all in favor of the Browns' new regime keeping an eye on the future and spinning this draft into additional third- and fourth-round picks for 2014 and not forcing moves at positions of need, like quarterback. It's going to take time and plenty of forward thinking to get that franchise turned around after a long rut.
Came away scratching my head about the Bills. There is no need to take EJ Manuel at 16. You'll never convince me there was. Everyone thought they were going Nassib. Trade back with Atlanta, which moved to 18 for Des Trufant, or just take the best non-QB on your board. Whatever.
If you can't trade down, then trade back into the end of the first round -- New England at 29 was dangling its pick, for one -- or, in reality, you could have traded up with Jacksonville at pick 33. The run on quarterbacks didn't come until the third round. And with the Bills having plenty of holes, it just seemed like an overreaction in a draft in which everyone else who was QB-needy was more than content to let these guys fall.
Of course, if Manuel is a decent starting quarterback, no one will care what could have been or how they got him … And if he isn't developing by 2015, then, well, this is exactly what gets entire organizations blown up (see: Jacksonville and Blaine Gabbert, for one).
Will be interested to see how the Dolphins address some remaining needs like tackle, corner after moving up for Dion Jordan. It's a splashy move, and it's part of a very active offseason, but I still see them being also-rans in the AFC and, given all of the movement and money spent, I can't imagine that real improvement won't be required for GM Jeff Ireland, a long-time resident of the hot seat, to remain.
And I know it has become almost a prerequisite of NFL coverage to bash the Jets, and there have been plenty of low points the last 18 months or so, but I believe John Idzik and his staff are making the most of a trying situation on many levels. They did the best possible given their limitations in the Darrelle Revis situation. They were prudent in the first round, finding an anchor for the defensive line in Sheldon Richardson and the best corner in the draft in Dee Milliner.
They thought about going with Geno Smith at 13 overall but waited, and he fell right to them in the second round. All this stuff about how many quarterbacks there are and how Mark Sanchez will handle it and what a circus it will be … it's noise. They have to keep Sanchez because the owner isn't going to pay him $9 million to walk, understandably, and so Smith has some competition and time to figure out the pro game. The Jets got three of the highest-rated players at vital positions with their first three picks. I love the trade for Chris Ivory. They got two very versatile, intriguing offensive line prospects later in the draft, in Brian Winters and William Campbell.
It could have been a helluva lot worse. Had the Rams not traded up for Tavon Austin at the eighth spot, I tend to think he might have been the pick there given the other corners possibly available (Austin and Smith together would have been something), but the Jets showed patience and prudence this weekend, which hasn't been the norm in the past.
Let's give the new regime a chance. Sure there is some flawed stuff still going on, and Rex Ryan looks like a lame-duck coach, but they are digging out of the cap, budget and personnel hole slowly it seems.