NEPD Staff Writer: Oliver Thomas
Day 1 of the 2013 NFL draft is in the books, and with it came some shockers.
Not many thought three of the first four draft picks would be offensive tackles. Not many thought Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker would jump up to the San Diego Chargers at No. 11. Not many thought that Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei would drop to the Carolina Panthers at No. 14. And most certainly, not many thought that Florida State’s E.J. Manuel would end up being the first quarterback drafted at No. 16.
What kinds of surprises are in store for us tonight? It’s time to look ahead and delve into the Day 2 possibilities.
Geno Smith Starts a Quarterback Avalanche
Once West Virginia’s Geno Smith slipped out of the top-five, then the top-10, and then the top-20, it became clear that he’d fall all the way to Round 2. Smith was sitting in the green room distraught, channeling his inner Aaron Rodgers-circa 2005. It was a stunner, considering the usually first-round run on quarterbacks.
But once the clock starts ticking on Day 2, it’s hard to imagine Smith getting out of the first 10 picks. After all, there are some QB-needy teams looking to cash in on their patience. Between the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick 33, the Philadelphia Eagles at pick 35, the Arizona Cardinals at pick 38, the New York Jets at pick 39, the Tennessee Titans at pick 40 and the Oakland Raiders at pick 42, Smith will find a home. And once Smith finds a home, you can bet that Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib, USC’s Matt Barkley, North Carolina State’s Sean Glennon and even Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson could be soon to follow.
Are these signal-callers the best players available early in Round 2? It’s not likely; it’s just the way it is. Teams without a quarterback want one. Sometimes that trumps value.
Keenan Allen Gets Surpassed by Fellow Wideouts
Keenan Allen is a pure receiver with smooth route-running ability. Unfortunately for the California Golden Bear, he has 4.7 speed and a slowly recovering knee injury. With those two factors added on top of his failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine, you’ve got a guy who could drop down draft boards.
A lot of viable wide receiver prospects should hear their name called in Round 2. Will Allen be one of them? Probably. Still, he could be eclipsed by some other notable targets. Teams could fall in love with a prototypical ‘X’ receiver like Tennessee’s Justin Hunter, who not only has the size but the speed. Another possibility is Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton, who isn’t real tall or fast, yet has tools to remind some of Reggie Wayne. Another name slipping through the cracks is USC’s Robert Woods, who could have very well ended up a late Round 1 selection.
Allen should get a phone call before Round 2 is all said and done. He is not alone in the waiting game, however.
Eddy Lacy Isn’t the First Running Back Drafted
Leading up to the draft, Alabama’s Eddie Lacy was leading the way in the majority of halfback rankings. That said, this draft has the makings of a two-horse race.
While Lacy has proven to be a leg-driving, ground-and-pound rusher for the Crimson Tide, he has also shown average speed and durability. Not to say he won’t end up a very good pro, but there’s a reason no running back was taken in Round 1 for the first time since 1963.
With the way things are moving, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see another back leapfrog Lacy on Day 2. And if there was one to do it, it’d be UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin. Franklin has the explosiveness and balance NFL teams look for. Even though Lacy is a tough runner, Franklin also has the skill set to be a factor in between the tackles. In addition, he’s a sound pass-protector who holds up better than his 205-pound frame would suggest. If teams are looking for a spark plug over a power runner, then Franklin is the man to go after.
Tyrann Mathieu Gets Nabbed in Round 2
Ex-LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is one of the most polarizing players in this draft. He’s got the instincts, the awareness and the tenacious mentality that teams are drawn to. He’s also got the baggage, the average speed and the size to scare teams away. While Mathieu appears to have turned the corner, it would still turn some heads if he were to be drafted in Round 2.
There’s reason to believe it could happen.
Though his risk compared to other second-round caliber prospects is quite apparent, he looks like top-tier talent on tape. Mathieu should end up being a very stout corner and punt returner at the next level, despite his tribulations. At the end of the day, one team will see the competitor in Mathieu and make him a Round 2 draft choice. Hopefully that team has a strong coaching staff and veteran locker room.
The Patriots Trade Up in Round 2
When Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio and Co. were working the phones to get out of pick 29, they did so with a purpose: to add flexibility. The Minnesota Vikings helped New England’s brass do just that. Now, the Patriots – who started the draft with five selections – have Minnesota’s Nos. 52, 83, 102 and 229.
The Patriots are well aware that the value in this draft will come off the board on Day 2. And the team is well equipped to make the most of it. Nonetheless, the Patriots will have to wait for 19 other picks to pass through before the team is back on the clock. If a top-notch wide receiver, cornerback or pass-rusher is within shouting distance, New England could mortgage a couple selections to move up.
It goes without saying that there are some big-time playmakers yet to be drafted. The list includes pass-rushers like Florida State’s Tank Carradine and Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, cornerbacks Jamar Taylor from Boise State and Blidi Wreh-Wilson from Connecticut, Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams and the aforementioned wide receivers. It may not be in the Patriots’ nature to sacrifice picks. But we saw it happen last year, so we can’t rule out seeing it happen again.