The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft is in the books and it was an exciting evening. Every pick was unique and led to a lot more excitement and suspense than in past years. Rather than knowing who teams wanted and who they were going to draft we were treated to a whole lot questions and wonder as team after team made our mock drafts look like the amateur hour that they are. Particularly interesting picks were the Bills selection quarterback E.J. Manuel, the New York Jets picking Sheldon Richardson with both Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd still on the board, and the Minnesota Vikings trading back into the first round to get a third selection.
But let’s get to the grades! We’ll take them as the picks came.
1) Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan – A
- The Chiefs shouldn’t be slighted for not selecting Luke Joeckel. Fisher is more athletic, more versatile, and he is the guy the Chiefs’ coaching staff wanted. They got their man and he will immediately start while providing Pro Bowl potential. This is a great pick and Joeckel would have been as well.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M – A
- Not many people had Luke Joeckel “falling” to the Jaguars at number two overall. I’m glad he did. Joeckel is the consensus top offensive lineman in this year’s draft and he fills a major need at right tackle for the Jaguars. Don’t slight the Jags for getting the best player in the draft and putting him at a “non premium” position in his first year. He’ll be great no matter what they do with him.
3) Miami Dolphins: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon – B+
- You can’t slight the Dolphins for taking a great player. Jordan will be phenomenal in the NFL. You can, however, slight them for picking a player at a position that wasn’t a major need for them and trading up to do it. They must really love Jordan but that doesn’t mean we all have to love the pick.
4) Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma – B+
- The difference in grade from NFL.com between Johnson and Joeckel is just 2.6 points. Johnson is a good offensive tackle that meets need. It would have been good for the Eagles to get a better player here but nobody fell to them. Johnson is a necessity for keeping Michael Vick healthy in Chip Kelly’s high flying offense.
5) Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU – A-
- I like Ansah’s upside too much to downgrade the Lions much. Ansah is raw, yes, but that is mostly because he’s still learning the game. Seriously, the guy was a soccer player in Ghana before coming to the United States to dominate the football field. He’s a freakish athlete who played basketball as well. He’ll be great and I love that the Lions had the balls to take him.
6) Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU – B
- I like Mingo a lot and have mocked him to the Jaguars at number two in the past, but if you’re going to go with a pass rusher why not take the most prolific of them all in Jarvis Jones. This may have been the beginning of the slush of quality draft picks at the pass rushing positions but I like someone like Jones a bit more than Mingo.
7) Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina – B
- If you’re going to go with a guard, go with Chance Warmack. Guard picks in the top 10 aren’t popular already so you may as well land the best at the position. Cooper is good but I think Warmack is a step up and would have been more pleased to see the Cards address their O-line needs with him instead of Cooper. They got a guy they wanted at a position of need, though, so it’s worth it to them, obviously.
8) St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia – A-
- Austin is the best receiver in the draft and the Rams needed him. They traded up and got their man and that’s the way you play the game when you need. They still have their second first round selection so this was a cost they felt they could swallow to get a playmaker they need to pair with Sam Bradford.
9) New York Jets: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama – A
- It’s tough to argue against Milliner. He’s a great talent that fits a major need for the Jets. Simply a great pick.
10) Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama – A
- It’s no secret that I love Warmack. I think he’s a fantastic guard and will be phenomenal in the NFL. The Titans need offensive line help and head coach Mike Munchak (a Hall of Fame O-lineman himself) was livid that his O-line played so terribly. They are fortunate Warmack slipped past the Cards, this was really something special in the first round for them.
11) San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama – B
- Fluker isn’t a bad player and he’s versatile but he isn’t one of the premium players at his position in this draft. The Chargers need O-line help, which is why they took him, but there may have been better value at different positions.
12) Oakland Raiders: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston – B-
- I think there were better cornerbacks available at number 12 overall and better players at positions of need still for the Raiders. Like a lot of the players selected in the first round, Hayden is a good athlete. I just don’t like him this high.
13) New York Jets: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri – B
- This is the first major head scratcher in the draft. With both Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei – the consensus top players at the position – still on the board, the Jets forego them in favor of Richardson. They must be really confident in him. I’d be more confident in Lotulelei or Floyd.
14) Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – A
- The Panthers were run over in 2012. Literally, they surrendered ridiculous yardage in the running game, particularly up the middle. It’s amazing Lotulelei, who has top-3 talent, slid all the way to 14. That made this pick a no brainer for the Panthers and they should be immensely pleased.
15) New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas – A-
- Vaccaro is the best safety in this draft and the Saints were smart to get him. There’s really nothing wrong with this pick even though the Saints could have addressed other needs. Still, they got the best player at a position of need rather than the second, third, or fourth best at another position.
16) Buffalo Bills: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State – D+
- It was good of the Bills to trade back and pick Manuel rather than pick him at eighth overall. Still, this one is a major reach. The Bills could have had Manuel in the second round, which would have been easier to swallow, and could have addressed another position here. They fell in love with Manuel and, unless he’s unbelievably good in the NFL, they fleeced themselves.