The Draft Without A True First Round
By Bob Boyles
Day Two of the NFL Draft is over. Did we just watch three full rounds of second-round talent being drafted into the league? Was this the year there was no true first round?
The league told us it was a deep draft, but will 2013 be remembered as the year there was nearly no blockbuster talent?
Every one of the 97 drafted players (so far) might make their teams. There also might not be a star among them.
Many first round choices in this year’s draft were identified for one extraordinary skill, while management overlooked some deficiencies. Let’s face it; there were plenty of top picks this year who need polish.
Yet the second and third rounds were loaded with well-rounded players who graded as potential first round choices. Those players carried sufficiently large question marks to push them down a round or two. The list is long: Jacksonville safety Jonathan Cyprien, Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter, Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz, Detroit cornerback Darius Slay, San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, San Francisco defensive end Tank Carradine, Buffalo receiver Robert Woods, Tampa cornerback Johnthan Banks, Carolina defensive tackle Kawann Short, Arizona linebacker Kevin Minter, New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy, Dallas receiver Terrance Williams, San Diego receiver Keenan Allen, and New York Giants defensive end Damontre Moore.
Whenever a player drops there are the usual concerns about lingering injuries and off-the-field issues that range from drug use to trashing Indianapolis hotel rooms during the NFL Combine.
This year, some of the blemishes were bizarre. Two first rounders were born on other continents—Africa’s Ezekial Ansah of the Cleveland Browns and Germany’s Bjoern Werner of the Indianapolis Colts—so they spent as much time being tutored in Pop Warner Football as they did playing oboe in the New York Philharmonic.
Lane Johnson was the third of what was considered a brilliant offensive tackle corps and was picked by Philadelphia fourth overall even though he played quarterback as recently as three years ago.
Oakland cornerback D.J. Hayden suffered an injury so rare that only speedy work by University of Houston medical staff kept him from dying from internal bleeding.
And finally there was the bizarre case of San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o, who as anyone alive must know by now was hoaxed into thinking he had a girlfriend, an imaginary girlfriend.
It is an interesting group, this class of 2013. Let’s hope this year is remembered for quality as well as depth.