2013 NFL Draft: Winners and losers; rookie GMs do well
As we take a look at the 2013 NFL Draft winners and losers, it's clear that the NFC West is loading up on talent.
The 2013 NFL Draft is over. That means it's time to make knee-jerk reactions about picks. But I think it's worth remembering how many first-year GMs were involved in this draft.
Steve Keim of Arizona, Dave Caldwell of Jacksonville, John Dorsey of Kansas City, John Idzik of the New York Jets, Mike Lombardi of Cleveland, Tom Telesco of San Diego and Dave Gettelman of Carolina all concluded their first drafts.
I thought Keim and Caldwell (below) killed it, thought Telesco (below) did a good job save one pick that I hated, think it's difficult to judge Lombardi given he didn't select Josh Gordon with the second-round pick from 2011 (although I don't love Barkevious Mingo over a corner at six overall) and was surprised with the way Gettleman's draft tailed off (although only a little) after he went heavy on defensive tackle early. Dorsey's draft has a ton of upside, but he and Andy Reid could be facing some dangerous offensive gambles in Travis Kelce and Knile Davis.
Idzik sentenced at least two of his 45 quarterbacks to the waiver wire with his second-round pick but acquired lots of quality players. I just wonder whether or not he's trying to reload or rebuild. Time will tell. In the meantime, let's make some reactions.
Agree, disagree or have better suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @WillBrinson or leave 'em in the comments.
49ers: After the second day of the draft, Trent Baalke and the 49ers were looking pretty good when it came to additions; getting Tank Carradine, Eric Reid, Vance McDonald and Corey Lemonier had them at the top of my winners list two days in. After day three? Baalke can basically do this:
Steve Keim: It ain't easy being the Cardinals right now, with the Seahawks, Rams and 49ers all looking like potential division winners in the NFC West. But give credit where credit is due to the first-year GM in Arizona, because Keim did a superb job during his first full draft on the gig. Jonathan Cooper is going to end up, when all is said and done, as one of the five best players in this draft. He'll be a perennial Pro Bowl candidate and will immediately help the Cards' offensive line. Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington are a very interesting pair of running backs to add to the stable and two guys that fit the new-age idea of what a running back should be. Alex Okafor looks like a steal in the third, and I'm a big fan of the LSU pair of Tyrann Mathieu and Kevin Minter and what they'll bring to the defense. It's an uphill climb in a loaded division, but Keim and Bruce Arians made some serious strides for the Cardinals this offseason.
Chris Johnson/Shonn Greene: Little queasy listing Greene here because he really has no business getting too many carries for the Titans, but I can see it going that way. Regardless, he and CJ2K should be loving life right now, with Tennessee heavily investing in the offensive line thanks to the selection of Chance Warmack at No. 10 overall. Actually, we already know how CJ2K feels, thanks to this marvelously understated tweet from Thursday night:
THANK GOD— Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) April 26, 2013
Ravens: I keep thinking they are going to be better on defense in 2013 than they were in 2012. I know I've said that a bunch so far this weekend, but I'd prefer you think of me when you have that thought. Of course, when you think of quickly reloading through strong drafts from weaker positions, you should think of Ozzie Newsome. Adding Matt Elam, Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams without trading? That's why the Ravens continue to be one of the strongest-drafting teams in the NFL.
Jaguars: Jacksonville and new GM Dave Caldwell came into this draft with a plethora of needs. They could've gone in almost any direction in terms of their addition of talent, but I like the move to avoid going in on a quarterback and instead giving Blaine Gabbert the type of surrounding cast that forces him to either perform or pack up his bags. Luke Joeckel should provide big protection for Gabbert on the right side with Eugene Monroe on the left, and the combo of Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson is straight spicy. It gives, as Sanders pointed out, the Jaguars "weapons for days."
We got weapons for days!! I gotta call my boy denard!!! That's like family! Im real excited— Ace Sanders (@AceSanders1) April 27, 2013
That might be a stretch, but they're still much more dangerous than they were when they came into the draft. And Jacksonville's secondary should look much better as well when 2013 kicks off -- Johnathan Cyprien, Dwayne Gratz and Josh Evans should be immediate impact draft picks in that arena. Strong first draft for Caldwell.
Sam Bradford: If there was some communication between Bradford and Geno Smith, it would probably involve "U MAD BRO?" Bradford, who's toiled in St. Louis with no weapons his entire NFL career, was handed Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey by Les Snead and Jeff Fisher in their second-straight impressive draft. That pair of West Virginia wideouts should immediately improve the offense that the Rams bring to the table. I praised the Alec Ogletree pick earlier and loved the Rams first day. They also picked up Barrett Jones (worth it solely for his impeccable 'Bama Bangs but also a worthy successor to Scott Wells) and then added two very nice picks in Brandon McGee and Zac Stacey. The Rams are firing on all cylinders draft-wise over the last two years.
Vikings: Minnesota was straight BUSY during the 2013 NFL Draft. Rick Speilman left the draft with nine total selections, including a whopping three first-round picks. The fact that his selections in the initial salvo were Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson is ridiculous. Patterson could've fallen a little further but the Vikings graded him as a good value there and I agree; Floyd and Rhodes were absolute steals at No. 23 and No. 25. That Speilman acquired those first rounders without actually giving up any future first-round picks either is even more impressive.
Chargers: I really thought that the D.J. Fluker pick was a smart move, given how quickly offensive linemen flew off the board. Whether he's a right tackle, a guard or a left tackle, he was the best lineman remaining and San Diego needed to get him. Keenan Allen could end up being a steal in the third. But the Manti Te'o pick just wrecked what could've been a reimagined Chargers offensive line. Menelik Watson and Terron Armstead were left on the board when San Diego traded up and grabbed the Notre Dame product. Yes, San Diego is a nice landing spot for him. Yes, people saw him as an upper-echelon talent for much of the year. Yes, he IS a two-down linebacker. Maybe Te'o pans out in San Diego and becomes a leader in the locker room and a player on the field. Or maybe he's constantly looking over his shoulder for pranks:
manti says when he saw a california area code he thought some of his friends were trying to prank him. can't make this stuff up.— Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter) April 27, 2013
Either way, passing on the chance to double up Philip Rivers' protection and trading up while doing it? No thanks.
Tyler Bray: Maybe Bray should've stayed in school? The uber-talented but oft-troubled quarterback out of Tennessee bolted from the Volunteers after throwing for more than 3,000 yards and piling up 34 touchdowns passes (to just 12 interceptions). However, his troubles off the field and personal red flags caused him to plummet out of the draft and into undrafted free agency. At least he has company there with his old wideout, Da'Rick Rogers.
Jimbo Fisher: Pete Prisco hammered Fisher twice during our draft show and with good reason: Fisher had an FSU school-record 11 guys drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. Eleven guys in one draft is pretty phenomenal, but it's only really worth celebrating if they're walking away from some kind of big banner. The Seminoles picked up an ACC title and squared off against Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. But considering all the talent that Jimbo shipped off to the NFL, 2012 really does have to be looked at as a major disappointment.
2013 Quarterback Class: What a dagger for this class in general when three guys are drafted in the first three rounds and then four immediately go in the fourth round, huh? It's worlds apart from last year, when three quarterbacks went in the top 10, four in the first round and the draft ultimately produced Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. The juxtaposition of those studs against EJ Manuel, Geno Smith and Mike Glennon will end up being quite stunning.
Mark Sanchez: It's looking more and more like Sanchez's last hurrah in New York, which was supposed to be the 2013 season, could be coming sooner than that. The addition of Geno Smith means the future is now for the Jets -- and they'd better hope they're happy with it, because the clock is already ticking on John Idzik's tenure with his selection of a quarterback -- and it could mean Sanchez is out the door. Even if he's not, the Jets can't possibly be thinking about starting him (or Tim Tebow or David Garrard or Greg McElroy) when they drafted a quarterback with the 39th-overall pick and face a possible rebuild situation.
Ryan Nassib: I feel so freaking bad for this kid. He was, at one point, considered to be a possible first-round pick. He was supposed to wind up with his old coach, Doug Marrone, in Buffalo and guide the Bills back to the playoffs. Instead, Marrone passed him over multiple times before the Giants scooped him up. Going to New York and not facing the scrutiny of starting for a bad team is a bit of a bonus for Nassib, but what are the odds he sees snaps behind Eli Manning? Pretty low. At least until he undergoes four neck surgeries and winds up with the Saints (coached by Drew Brees) in 2032.
Colts: Ryan Grigson's team was easily the biggest surprise of 2012, winning 11 games thanks to rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. But it was also Grigson's drafting prowess -- he landed Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hilton too -- that helped the team really improve. I named Indianapolis a winner last year but I didn't like what they did in 2013: Bjoern Werner is a questionable fit as a 3-4 rush linebacker (though these days you can rotate just about anyone standing up versus having their hand down), they barely addressed the secondary (only John Boyett in the fifth round was a defensive back) and I'm not in love with Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes as guys who will beef up the offensive line. They used their second-round pick on their trade for Vontae Davis which isn't too bad. Admittedly it's much harder to draft at No. 24 than it is at No. 1, especially with Luck up top, but like Grigson's second stint in free agency, I wasn't a huge fan of what he did in the draft this year.
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