Every year the draft comes and goes with analysts and draftniks alike rushing to put a letter grade on each teams draft, despite the overwhelming fact that it will take years to determine their level of success. Instead of attempting to predict the future, the goal is to analyze various aspects of each divisions draft class. Focusing on which players are in the most advantageous positions and which players could be looking at struggles. To conclude this series, we will take a look at the NFL as a whole.
Top Contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year
Tavon Austin – WR, St. Louis Rams #8 Overall
Tavon Austin was the most explosive offensive playmaker available in the 2013 NFL Draft and the Rams paid a hefty price to move up from #16 to the Bills spot at #8 in round one in order to draft the pint sized highlight reel from West Virginia. The 5’8 174 lb. Austin may never be a traditional #1 wide receiver but the Rams were willing to give up their #46 pick in round two in order to move up into the top 10 and secure his unique services. While Austin is a threat to reach the endzone every time he touches the football, it is his ability to line up from anywhere on the offensive side of the ball that makes him so dangerous. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will look to feature Austin on a weekly basis, both as a receiver and a runner. Austin has the skillset to line up on the outside, in the slot, or even line up in the backfield and take handoffs. His open field ability will make him one of the most dangerous return men in the NFL and one of the league’s most exciting players. The up and coming Rams offense is littered with youth while this is their most explosive group of receivers since the days of the “greatest show on turf“. With the addition of tight end Jared Cook to go along with the further development of young wide receivers and 2012 draft pick’s Brian Quick and Chris Givens, expectations are sky high for quarterback Sam Bradford and the Rams receiving corps and Tavon Austin’s gamebreaking ability is a big part of it.
Top Contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year
Jarvis Jones – LB, Pittsburgh Steelers #17 Overall
With James Harrison’s production declining with age and mounting injuries, the Steelers had a hole at outside linebacker opposite Lamarr Woodley. They waited patiently and watched as a James Harrison clone, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, fell right into their laps at #17. Jarvis Jones was the most disruptive player in college football a year ago, leading the nation in sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles. Jones will be playing the same rush linebacker position in Dick Lebeau’s 3-4 Blitzburgh defense as he did in Georgia’s 3-4 under Todd Grantham. Jones should step into the starting line up early and will be set up for success in the Steelers perennially top 5 defense. The Steelers have quietly restocked their once aging front 7 and have put together a unit which should remain amongst the leagues elite for a long time.
Best Schematic Fit
Lane Johnson – OT, Philadelphia Eagles #4 Overall
Lane Johnson set the combine on fire with an athletic display rarely seen from a player of his size, which vaulted Johnson up the draft boards and into top 10 consideration. The former JUCO quarterback started at left and right tackle for the Oklahoma Sooners and could see time in both spots this season in Philadelphia due to health concerns for left tackle Jason Peters. Johnson is a perfect fit for the fast paced and wide open Chip Kelly system, an offense which places an emphasis on the same athleticism which got him drafted in the top 5. Lane Johnson will start at either left or right tackle as a rookie, but long term should become the Eagles franchise left tackle once Jason Peters moves on.
Dee Milliner – CB, New York Jets #9 Overall
It is hard to imagine a young cornerback heading into a more difficult situation than the one facing Dee Milliner in New York. It is hard enough for young players to get used to the speed of the NFL and the intricacies of NFL defensive schemes, but Milliner will have to do that while also recovering from shoulder surgery. On top of that, he will be replacing the best cornerback in football Darrelle Revis who was traded to Tampa Bay in early April. To make matters worse, the Jets open their season against Revis, the Buccaneers, and their emerging passing offense featuring wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. It could be a long year for Milliner in the league’s biggest market and it’s most ruthless media contingent.
Under the Radar Impact Player
Aaron Dobson – WR, New England Patriots #59 Overall
With little standing in Dobson’s way of becoming the Patriots #2 wide receiver opposite Danny Amendola, the former big play threat for the Thundering Herd should receive plenty of targets from quarterback Tom Brady. The tall and rangy deep threat brings a skillset the Patriots offense has been lacking in recent years. The Patriots are going to look towards Dobson to pick up some of the slack left by the departure of Aaron Hernandez, but with most of the defensive attention focused on Rob Gronkowski and Amendola Dobson is in an excellent position to get plenty of one on one looks in an offense which throws the football as much as any team in the league.
Duron Harmon – S, New England Patriots #91 Overall
Not unlike 2012 2nd rounder Tavon Wilson, the Patriots and Bill Belichick again reached on what appeared to be a late round safety prospect. While Harmon was a solid player for the Scarlett Knights, he was a surprise as a 3rd round pick and faces an uphill climb for playing time. Harmon is well built and was a strong run defender for Rutgers this past year, but he is behind both Adrian Wilson and Tavon Wilson at strong safety. His impact as a rookie could be minimal as he appears relegated to special teams duty. Not a bad player, but poor value where he was selected.
Highest Bust Potential
Dion Jordan – DE/OLB, Miami Dolphins #3 Overall
Dion Jordan is a remarkable athlete, there is no denying that. The question is where do you play him? The Dolphins reportedly want to develop him as their starting right end, which is a position he certainly has the frame to grow into. The problem is that Jordan is a space player. He struggles to shed blocks and does not hold up well at the point of attack in run defense. Jordan is expected to fill the pass rushing void opposite of Cameron Wake, but with only 5 quarterback sacks his last season at Oregon the question remains whether or not Jordan is simply a great athlete without a true position. After giving up a 2ndround pick to move up into the top 3 to select Jordan, the pressure will be on for early production. Considering he will be spending the majority of his off-season rehabbing shoulder surgery, Jordan is going to be behind the 8-ball.
Best 2nd Round Pick
Manti Te’o – LB, San Diego Chargers #38 Overall
This one was a very tough call, but I went with Manti Te’o due to the instant stability he will bring to the position on and off the field. What he lacks in elite athleticism he makes up for with his instincts and natural ability to flow to the football. San Diego has the makings of a very strong and youthful front 7. The loss of Melvin Ingram for the year is a tough one, as a torn ACL will surely keep him sidelined for all of 2013 while affecting his 2014 as well. The Chargers are very excited about their inside linebacker duo of Te’o and Donald Butler, who had a breakout season in 2012. Their starting defensive line averages just 24 years of age and if Dwight Freeney can team up with Jarrett Johnson to produce enough of an edge rush, an athletic interior rush combination of Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget could prove formidable. Manti Te’o is not a make or break player for this up and coming defense, but he is capable of taking it to a higher level.
Best 3rd Round Pick
Keenan Allen – WR, San Diego Chargers #76 Overall
Quite possibly the steal of the entire 2013 NFL Draft. The knee injury, which cost Allen the last 3 games of his college career while also keeping him out of the Senior Bowl and NFL combine, is still a nagging issue and could hamper him throughout his rookie season. His inability to work out at 100% was the primary cause in his fall from probable top 15 pick to the middle of the third round. Once past this injury, Allen will prove just how lucky San Diego was and just how dangerous he can be with a capable quarterback. A good route runner, excellent hands, and #1 wide receiver size and ability. His health is the only thing keeping him from leading all rookies in receiving yardage and touchdowns.
Best 4th Round Pick
Brian Schwenke – C, Tennessee Titans #107 Overall
The final piece added to the overhaul of the Tennessee Titans interior offensive line was California center Brian Schwenke. Well built at 6’3 315 lbs, Schwenke will immediately enter a competition with veteran Fernando Velasco for the starting center position. Strong, and technically sound, the Titans are hoping Schwenke can win the job and start immediately between prize free agent addition Andy Levitre and first round pick Chance Warmack. The Titans have the makings of an elite offensive line and are looking for the resurgence of Chris Johnson and the running game to help lead to a breakout season for Jake Locker.
Best 5th Round Pick
Joseph Randle – RB, Dallas Cowboys #151 Overall
Joseph Randle left Oklahoma State a year early and had the production and tape to warrant a much higher selection. The Cowboys gladly broke his fall and are counting on Randle to be their top back up to DeMarco Murray. Murray and Randle are both slashing big play threats capable of making plays in passing game as well. The Cowboys needed to bolster their running back depth with the loss of Felix Jones and are counting heavily on Randle to factor into the 2013 offense.
Best 6th Round Pick
Bacarri Rambo – S, Washington Redskins #191 Overall
Bacarri Rambo was a 3 year starter and a very productive player at the University of Georgia. One of the better pure free safety prospects available, Rambo fell in the draft due to a lack of elite measurable and character concerns. The Redskins added Phillip Thomas from Fresno State in the 4th round to bolster their safety group alongside Brandon Meriweather, but Rambo is the true wildcard in the Redskins safety battle. Rambo is a strong candidate to win the 3rd safety job and could very well wind up teaming with Phillip Thomas as the Redskins starting safety duo.
Best 7th Round Pick
Jordan Poyer – CB, Philadelphia Eagles #218 Overall
Jordan Poyer is entering a crowded cornerback group in Philadelphia, but the lack of true difference makers make it very possible for Poyer to make an early impact as a 3rd or 4th corner. Poyer is an instinctive ball hawk who is always around the football, with Philadelphia shifting to an aggressive 3-4 scheme his playmaking skills will be a welcomed addition. Poyer fell from a possible day 2 pick to the 7th round due to a sub par 40 time and some minor off the field issues, but could make a serious run at a key role for the Eagles.
UDFA Most Likely to Earn a Roster Spot
Da’Rick Rodgers – WR, Buffalo Bills
The troubled wide receiver from Tennessee Tech has already been singled out by Head Coach Doug Marrone for being on a short leash with his attitude. Rodgers has been his own worst enemy and despite a world of talent, went undrafted because of off the field character concerns. The Bills have Stevie Johnson, 2012 3rd round pick TJ Graham, and 2013 2nd and 3rd rounders Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin locked into roster spots. Rodgers will be competing with Brad Smith and Marcus Easley for the 5th and potentially 6th WR spots.
Topics: 2013 Nfl Draft, Aaron Dobson, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Bacarri Rambo, Baltimore Ravens, Brian Schwenke, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Da'rick Rogers, Dallas Cowboys, Dee, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Dion Jordan, Duron Harmon, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jarvis Jones, Jordan Poyer, Joseph Randle, Kansas City Chiefs, Keenan Allen, Lane Johnson, Manti Te'o, Miami Dolphins, Milliner, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tavon Austin, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins