Seven Rounds, 254 picks, and a whole lot of conversation to be had. That pretty much sums up the 2013 NFL Draft last weekend.
I don’t want to sit here and say I’m going to call the next big thing in the NFL (although I did a pretty good job of it last year), but I just wanted to chime in on my reasons for some of the opinion I gave on social media the night of the first round.
Lets start with the criticism that got the BYU contingent all fired up. That was my disappointment in the Detroit Lions taking the athletically gifted, but still raw defensive end Ezekiel Ansah with the fifth pick overall. I know I’ve had my disagreement with BYU’s football program (and to my credit, for good reason), but my disappointment had nothing to do with him coming out of BYU and more to do with the fact that I don’t see it as a great fit. I understood that the Lions needed a defensive end, but I still maintain that with Barkevious Mingo still available that would have been a better fit.
Ansah is a project the Lions don’t really have time for. I can’t say how he will develop, and maybe he will be the pass rusher of the future (a la Jason Pierre-Paul). But the Lions had a guy not only with SEC experience, but vast football knowledge (something Ansah still lacks). Furthermore, my disappointment in the Lions pick was also rooted in them passing over Dee Millner in a division that is home to Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. Getting to the quarterback is important, but they still need a guy to take away things vertically and they don’t have that.
Speaking of Millner, the New York Jets took him with the ninth overall pick. Not a terrible selection given the man they really wanted (Tavon Austin) was taken just before them after the Buffalo Bills traded down with St. Louis. He was, according to many experts, the best defensive player in the draft and I can’t fault them for taking him. However, the Jets now have another defensive back who might end up looking better than he actually may be. Think about the AFC East as a division for a second. The quarterbacks in said division read as follows: Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, and Kevin Kolb. Now with the exception of Brady (who is basically a “dink-and-dunk” tight end/slot thrower at this stage in his career) there won’t be many vertical offenses for Millner to showcase his skills for.
Again, I can’t blame them for this pick because they wanted Austin. It would have been nice to see them get Ansah instead (circus aside, Rex Ryan actually knows what he’s doing with a defense) and couple him with the defensive tackle (Sheldon Richardson) they picked up. I didn’t care much for the Richardson pick at 13 (especially with Utah’s Star Lotulelei still on the board). Despite his mouth, he is the best defensive tackle in the draft when it comes to getting through and destroying a pocket. That should help with Tannehill, Brady, and Kolb all being pocket dwellers.
In the case of Kolb, I don’t see him starting very long in Buffalo. For the aforementioned reasons above, I predict he’ll be down by week four (Baltimore) and that is only if he somehow navigates his way through the preseason. For that reason, I love, love, love, extra love their pick of E.J. Manuel out of Florida State. He’s an ACC guy, good size, strong-arm, and is about as polished a leader/player can be. The Bills did well taking him over Ryan Nassib and Geno Smith. They also did well adding Robert Woods from USC and Marquise Goodwin from Texas. As a side note, don’t downplay their selections on the defensive side either; picking up Kiko Alonso (Oregon), Duke Williams (Nevada), and Jonathan Meeks (Clemson) was as impressive a haul as any you can imagine in recent years.
Lastly, I wanted to touch on a pick that really made me scratch my head. The Miami Dolphins trading up to select Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan with the third overall pick. I just don’t understand how they justified taking a guy who didn’t play every down in college and has a well documented history of injuries. If you don’t believe me, check Jon Gruden’s “sunny” assessment of the folks in South Beach decision to take Jordan third overall. But as usual, the Dolphins took flash over substance.