Posted: 10:42 a.m. Tuesday, April 30, 2013
By Dan Kadar
The 2013 NFL Draft is over. Done. Get it out. No more analysis. No more grades. No more mock drafts. Other than a few clean up posts here and there, here is my final look at the highs and lows of draft weekend:
Before the Senior Bowl this year, no one had Fisher as the No. 1 pick in the draft. Not a single person. Afterward, the buzz around Fisher grew and grew. He showed in Mobile he can handle top-level pass rushers. Three of the top five picks in the draft played in the Senior Bowl this year, and 10 picks in the whole first round. Ezekiel Ansah was the pick for Detroit partly because the team's coaches had him at the Senior Bowl. The top senior prospects for 2014 may think again about skipping out on the game and a week of practices.
As though #MACtion wasn't enough, everyone's favorite Midwest conference can now say it has the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft with Eric Fisher. That can only be good for other NFL prospects from the MAC. Chief among them for 2014 is Buffalo senior pass rusher Khalil Mack. Could there be another Fisher? Maybe it's teammate Jake Olson. A couple years ago, I was quite high on Olson before this Fisher character pushed him to right tackle.
The Rams offseason started by adding tight end Jared Cook and left tackle Jake Long. For most teams, that would be good enough. Then in the draft, the Rams added the top playmaking threat in wide receiver Tavon Austin and his severely underrated teammate, Stedman Bailey. Add center/guard Barrett Jones and running back Zac Stacy to the list and Bradford is the big winner. The onus is now on the fourth-year quarterback to prove he was worth the top pick in 2010.
For the first time, I had NFL Network on leading up to and during the draft far more than ESPN. It's not a knock on the Worldwide Leader, but a kudos to NFL Network. During the actual draft itself, Rich Eisen, Charles Davis and Mike Mayock were essential viewing. But the network really stepped it up by having former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah on air through the seventh round. Jeremiah's smart, informed takes were a breath of fresh air.
It's admirable any time a player goes back to school. But the left tackles at Michigan (Lewan) and Texas A&M; (Matthews) run the risk of a season of intense scrutiny. Had either entered the draft this year, they would have been a top 12 pick. Don't think so? After Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson were off the board, there were several teams that could be argued need a left tackle. That includes Detroit, Arizona, Miami and San Diego. With four teams in the top 12, it's hard to imagine Lewan and Matthews slipping. But a year from now, who knows how things will play out.
Who blocks the blind side for Detroit's franchise quarterback? Riley Reiff will probably be moved to left tackle to replace Jeff Backus. After picking him in the first round last year, the franchise almost has to give him a look on the left. But Reiff always looked like a better prospect as a right tackle or guard. As a left tackle, he may not have the quick feet to beat speed rushers. Reiff could be a lot like Rodger Saffold on the Rams and Michael Oher on the Ravens. Solid players, but better on the right side. If Reiff can't hold up on the left side, Stafford could struggle through another middling season.
Last year, the Miami Dolphins general manager managed to flip wide receiver Brandon Marshall for two third-round picks. Great! But what has he done with those picks? He flipped one last year and turned it into tight end Michael Egnew and wide receiver B.J. Cunningham. Combined, they played two games last season. Cunningham was cut before the season. The other pick was used on Michigan State tight end Dion Sims in the third round this year. Obviously Egnew and Sims are still unknown commodities, but that's a good player to give up for pieces and parts.
The Buccaneers quarterback is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and he's coming off a second-consecutive down year. In his last two seasons, Freeman has thrown 39 interceptions and completed less than 60 percent of his passes. Making things worse, the only offensive player Tampa Bay drafted was Mike James the sixth round. Oh, other than quarterback Mike Glennon, who has similar strengths as Freeman. If Freeman has a bad season, don't expect him to be back in Tampa Bay.
How can a school with nine players picked be a loser? During the draft, Adam Schefter reported that several Alabama players were injured because they get worked too hard. Injuries are part of the reason running back Eddie Lacy and defensive tackle Jesse Williams dropped in the draft. Don't think rival coaches Les Miles or Mark Richt will bring this up in recruiting? Think again.
The Browns only finished the draft this year with five players and likely just two starters. But the team played the draft this year the right way. The team landed wide receiver Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft. That looks like a steal for a second-round pick. General manager Michael Lombardi also shipped off two picks to get an extra third- and fourth-round pick in next year's draft, which most think will be more rich in talent.
Finally, the Miami Dolphins added a pass rusher opposite their superstar left defensive end. While Dion Jordan will need some time to come along, he should take some pressure off Wake. That's a scary proposition considering Wake has had 37.5 sacks the last three seasons.
It's a tradition unlike any other. Every April, people rip mock drafts, draft grades, player rankings, token draft phrases, Mel Kiper's hair and anything else they can make bad jokes or silly GIFs about. That's fine. Your opinion matters to me as much mine does to you. Just let me know how well your NFL season predictions or fantasy football prognostications turn out.
- I can't say enough nice things about the work Matthew Fairburn does for us. This year he got to go to the NFL Combine and the draft as a member of the media. For my money, it would be hard to find a better young reporter. Remember how Sam Montgomery admitted at the combine he took games off? Fairburn asked the question. He then followed it up with teammate Barkevious Mingo. Make sure you read all of his dispatches from Radio City Music Hall.
- Marginal prospects should stay in school if possible. A record 73 underclassmen entered the draft this year. Seventeen went undrafted, led by Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray.
- If you truly love the NFL Draft, don't go away. For all you longtime readers, thank you. I know this was a tough transition. It was for me, too. And we still don't have FanShots, I know. But Fairburn and I are already planning 2014 content that is rolling out immediately.