As expected, this year's 2013 NFL Draft had it's share of surprises. Eric Fisher jumped Luke Joeckel as the Chiefs' No. 1 overall pick. Tavon Austin lands on a team (Rams) that desperately needs a playmaker after losing Danny Amendola to the Patriots. As for the Patriots themselves? Well, Bill Belichick worked his magic once again and gained a nice sum of picks for the rest of the draft by trading out of the first round with the Vikings. Geno Smith sat in embarrassment back in the green room at Radio City Music Hall, having been bypassed by all 32 teams after being graded as high as a top 5 pick earlier in the week. Manti Te'o suffered the same fate after both the Bears and Vikings, teams in need of fresh blood at the middle linebacker spot, whiffed on the Notre Dame prospect. Getting catfished really did a number on his draft value. But unlike Smith, Te'o was chilling back in Hawaii. Not a bad spot for seeing your value plummet to, more than likely, the second round.
Below are the questions I asked before the draft and the answers that came to fruition once the full first round was complete. And right after that I give a quick summary on how good and bad each team did heading into the second round Friday evening.
Who will trade up and down?
With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement including a rookie salary cap for every team, trading up will be more common than past years. And because teams won't have to break the bank on a player who hasn't even set foot on an NFL field (Jamarcus Russell, I'm looking at you), they are more likely to trade up for that one player they so desperately covet. I won't go through all of them individually, but the 2012 NFL Draft saw 16 trades (on draft day) in the first round alone. The most talked about being the Redskins trading up from No. 6 to No. 2 with the Rams to draft Robert Griffin III. Will we see as many trades or more this year? The Chiefs hold the top spot, but Andy Reid has been known for moving up and down in the draft in recent years. Will Kansas City trade down, get more picks and still get the player they want? How about a team trading up? We've seen teams trade up with success (Falcons/Julio Jones/2011) and utter failure (Jets/Mark Sanchez/2009). Thursday night figures to be just as active in the trade department.
ANSWER: Looking in the war room, you could clearly see the Chiefs were hoping for a phone call before using up all their time for the first pick. No phone calls. The Chiefs stood their ground and selected their left tackle of the future. Miami made the most news by trading with the Raiders into the No. 3 spot for a player no one thought they'd take. After a record 16 trades in the first round last year, only 5 were made in 2013. I won't go through every trade, so check out Wikipedia's summary of all first round trades and how they affect the rest of the rounds between Friday night and Sunday.
It was all Smith as the No. 1 quarterback prospect as we headed into the month of April . But a few weeks later and it looks like Nassib could be THE guy, possibly as a top 10 pick. There have been several rumors that the Jets and the Bills have their eyes on Nassib, while some draftniks still have Smith going within the top 5 to the Jaguars or even the Eagles. Could there still be that small chance that neither quarterback gets taken in the upper-half of the first round? It's a distinct possibility. While there is talent there, all of the quarterbacks coming out have drawbacks that will make them questionable franchise options. Most teams might try and get by with what they have for this year and look for their new signal caller in 2014. George Banko consider Nassib the "steal of the draft," but there is always a possibility that neither player goes high.
ANSWER: It wasn't as shocking to me to see quarterbacks fall in the draft. Like I wrote above, each player clearly has as many faults compared to their positives. However, both Smith and Nassib falling past E.J. Manuel (Bills) was a bit of a surprise. Manuel had been getting hyped up recently, but I didn't think he would A. jump past both Smith and Nassib and B. find himself drafted in the upper half of the first round. Manuel is freakishly athletic for his size (6'5/237), but can he push Kevin Kolb for the starting job? I don't see it happening going into Week One. Manuel is still a project who needs refinement. But given Kolb's track record, it wouldn't be shocking to see Buffalo have to lean on Manuel once the losses start pouring in. Even if Kolb can stay healthy all season, the chances of Manuel starting before the end of the year are fairly high.
Can Tavon Austin crack the top 12?
No other receiver's draft stock has skyrocketed as much in recent weeks as Austin's. Ranked behind guys like Cordarrelle Patterson, DeAndre Hopkins and Keenan Allen, Austin started to slowly climb up after his blazing 4.34 at the Combine. A dwarf receiver at 5'9/174, Austin's speed and playmaking ability has turned teams' heads recently and has pushed him as a possible, yet somewhat unlikely, top 10 option. He's been linked to the Eagles, Jets and Bills, but his size is somewhat of an obstacle. I think I will stick to my guns and say Austin won't make it into the top 10, but he won't make it past pick No. 20 (Bears).
ANSWER: Not only did Austin crack the top 10, but the Rams gave up quite a bit to jump from 16th to 8th overall. Austin was regarded as the most dynamic prospect in this year's draft. And since the Rams need to make up for the loss of Amendola, Austin should settle right in as one of Sam Bradford's favorite targets right out of the gate. The Rams were able to afford moving up since they had another first rounder waiting in the 20s. BTW, Austin looked like a 12 year old standing next to Deion Sanders last night.
Make sure to check back frequently as I update all the picks throughout Friday.
1.1 Chiefs - Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan: There was a buzz that Fisher had become the Chiefs' top option going into the draft. They made it official last night. We still don't know the fate of Branden Albert (He could be traded before the Dolphins pick Friday), but Andy Reid continues his MO of drafting from the lines out.
1.2 Jaguars - Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M: Blaine Gabbert will get one more shot as the team's starter. Solidifying the offensive line was a no brainer. Hard to argue against this pick. Joeckel could eventually take over for Eugene Monroe, who is expecting big bucks after a strong 2012 season.
1.3 Dolphins (Via Oakland) - Dion Jordan DE Oregon: The fact that Miami whiffed on Lane Johnson speaks volumes in regards to how well trade talks are going with the Chiefs for Albert. The Dolphins made a lot of noise in free agency, giving Ryan Tannehill more weapons than he'll know what to do with, so going the defensive route was the right call. The pick will turn sour quickly if trade talks fall through, however.
1.4 Eagles - Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma: Not a sexy pick, but Johnson is just as good as Fisher and Joeckel in my opinion. He'll fit right in with Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense and should protect the team's next quarterback for years to come. Plus he can be used as a pass catcher in the end zone.
1.5 Lions - Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU: Lions were in need of help in many spots on defense, but landing a guy who can help you right away at a position that is empty in terms of depth was a big step in the right direction.
1.6 Browns - Barkevious Mingo DE LSU: A lineman in college, Mingo will convert to outside linebacker in the Browns' new 3-4 scheme. The move is bad news for Jabaal Sheard.
1.7 Cardinals - Jonathan Cooper G North Carolina: While guard isn't as high a priority on other teams, the Cardinals have needed o-line help for more than a couple years now. With Carson Palmer behind center, Arizona get off to a good start at keeping him protected this year. Cooper becomes the first guard drafted in the top 10 since Colorado's Chris Naeole was drafted by the Saints at No. 10 back in 1997.
1.8 Rams (Via Buffalo) - Tavon Austin WR West Virginia: St. Louis wasted little time in finding the heir apparent to Danny Amendola. A speedster who can also return punts, he'll have a big role in the offense right away.
1.9 Jets - Dee Milliner CB Alabama: The Jets pretty much traded the best cornerback in the league who has an injury for a rookie who also has injury problems. With Milliner expected to start 2013 on the PUP due to shoulder surgery, this pick is questionable at best until we finally see how well he can fill the shoes of Revis Island.
1.10 Titans - Chance Warmack G Alabama: The addition of Warmack, along with Andy Levitre from free agency, gives the Titans two top guard options Chris Johnson can run behind this year. Warmack will still be questionable in pass protection, but this is still a solid pick for another team who needed o-line help.
1.11 Chargers - D. J. Fluker OT Alabama: The Chargers were in need of help after Philip Rivers saw his play decline last year, but Fluker really looked inconsistent during his senior season. The pick could be brilliant, or could cause Rivers to slide even further. It's very questionable right now.
1.12 Raiders (Via Miami) - D. J. Hayden CB Houston: If Hayden can be something special in the NFL, it will be a true comeback story after he missed a big part of 2012 with a torn heart cavity suffered in a practice collision with another teammate. No doubt that the Raiders need help everywhere. Trading back, getting more picks and getting a playmaker in the secondary is a good start.
1.13 Jets - Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri: This pick is from the Buccaneers from the Darrelle Revis deal. Richardson is a highly athletic tackle who can get to the quarterback and drop into coverage when needed. While the pick is a bit of a head scratcher with Sharrif Floyd still on the board, Richardson upgrades the team's front 7.
1.14 Panthers - Star Lotulelei DT Utah: I don't really have any problems with this pick, although Lotulelei is a suspect pass rusher. Star was considered a top 5 selection before heart problems came up at the Combine. Lotulelei is expected to upgrade the team's run defense along with Dwan Edwards.
1.15 Saints - Kenny Vaccaro S Texas: The Saints can't outscore every team on the schedule. Vaccaro excels in man-to-man coverage and has the ability to cover mismatches, meaning we will see a lot of him against guys like Greg Olsen and Tony Gonzalez. It's a solid pick for a defensive-needy team.
1.16 Bills (Via St. Louis) - E. J. Manuel QB Florida State: The biggest surprise of the draft. Many had the Bills heavily linked to Ryan Nassib, but Manuel winds up being the only quarterback drafted in the first round. The Bills have yet to find a quarterback who comes close to Jim Kelly, so there is a lot of pressure on Manuel to perform. Luckily, and hopefully, he can stand on the sidelines and learn while Kevin Kolb takes the reigns for now. Like I wrote above, don't be surprised to hear fans calling for Manuel before the season is up.
1.17 Steelers - Jarvis Jones LB Georgia: The Steelers are usually one of the best teams in terms of drafting for need and talent. This year is no different. Jones has a high motor and will step in immediately as James Harrison's replacement.
1.18 49ers (Via Dallas) - Eric Reid S LSU: After losing Dashon Goldson in free agency, the 49ers wasted little time finding his replacement by drafting up out of the 31 spot and nabbing Reid. While he doesn't fare well in one-on-one coverage, Reid has enough upside to make the pick worth it.
1.19 Giants - Justin Pugh G Syracuse: Pugh could be asked to slide to the right side of the line with a 31 year old Chris Snee coming off hip surgery and David Diehl set to turn 33 in September. GM Jerry Reese said Pugh was the highest-ranked player on their board.
1.20 Bears - Kyle Long G Oregon: Long was projected to go later in the draft, but offensive linemen went fast this year. Son of Howie Long, Kyle was considered a top guard behind only Jonathan Cooper. It's definitely not a sexy pick and I am sure a lot of Bears fans would have liked TE Tyler Eifert instead. But Long is talented enough to fill different spots along the o-line.
1.21 Bengals - Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame: Jermaine Gresham is officially on notice after a very subpar start to his NFL career. Cincy did well by drafting someone who can push him for the starting job as soon as this year.
1.22 Falcons (Via St. Louis) - Desmond Trufant CB Washington: With a juggernaut of an offense, the Falcons have to make defense a priority this year. Trufant isn't a physical corner, but he has the speed and fluid motion to stay with receivers.
1.23 Vikings - Sharrif Floyd DT Florida: Once considered a top 3 pick, Floyd slid down the draft hard due to character concerns and production in college. Likened to Warren Sapp, Floyd has the ability to penetrate the offensive line and will be an immediate impact player.
1.24 Colts - Björn Werner - DE - Florida State: It's a bit of a head scratcher with the Colts running a 3-4 defense as Werner doesn't particularly fit the scheme. But the Colts need pass rushers and Werner fits the bill in that department.
1.25 Vikings - Xavier Rhodes CB Florida State: This pick is from the Seahawks in the trade for Percy Harvin. Rhodes is a big physical corner with speed, but was inconsistent at times. He should step into a starting role.
1.26 Packers - Datone Jones DT UCLA: Jones is an aggressive player and was the anchor for UCLA's defensive line. He has short arms, but this is a good pick for the Packers, who want to get more physical on the d-line.
1.27 Texans - DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson: The Texans needed an upgrade after Kevin Walter failed to make much of an impact across from Andre Johnson. Hopkins has excellent route-running ability and big hands. He should excel as soon as this year.
1.28 Broncos - Sylvester Williams DT North Carolina: The Broncos fill a position of need and get a guy who they can rotate on the line.
1.29 Vikings (Via New England) - Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee: With 3 first-round picks, the Vikings are clearly in win-now mode. Patterson needs to be coached up, but was the most talented receiver in the draft. He'll push Jerome Simpson for the starting job (won't be too hard) in training camp across from Greg Jennings.
1.30 Rams (Via Atlanta) - Alec Ogletree LB Georgia: Ogletree has had off-field problems, but Jeff Fisher continues to show that he thinks he can change players around. Ogletree figures to line up at the weak-side.
1.31 Cowboys (Via 49ers) - Travis Frederick C Wisconsin: Considered a reach by many, Frederick could be asked to switch to right guard if Phil Costa can come back at 100 percent coming off foot surgery.
1.32 Ravens - Matt Elam S Florida: Elam had been compared to Bob Sanders and should start immediately after the team failed to re-sign Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard.