NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
With the 2013 NFL Draft just days away, here are a few thoughts regarding some of the draft’s more intriguing storylines on the offensive side of the ball, as well as an overview of some potential first-day trade scenarios.
1. Many teams appear interested in trading up, especially because a number of teams in the same draft range are considering similar prospects. In order to draft one of the top three offensive tackle prospects, teams such as San Diego or Miami will be required to trade up. Wide receiver could be targeted by a number of teams in the mid-to-late first round, so it’s easy to imagine teams moving up to secure a particular prospect there as well. Some teams in the early second round may be looking to move back into the first for quarterbacks prospects, or teams could trade up for a prospect such as Florida State defensive end Cornellius Carradine or Florida International safety Johnathan Cyprien. With cornerback prospects such as Houston’s D.J. Hayden, Boise State’s Jamar Taylor, and Washington’s Desmond Trufant rising up draft boards in recent days, don’t be surprised to see clubs such as Minnesota, Denver, New England, Atlanta, and San Francisco jockeying for position on the first-round draft board.
2. It would come as no surprise if West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith slid out of the first round. Although he’s being projected as a likely first-round pick, most analysts have been forcing him into draft slots; at this point, most of the teams investigating quarterback prospects have been linked to other prospects. It’s possible that, for example, Buffalo prefers Southern California’s Matt Barkley or Syracuse prospect Ryan Nassib. Philadelphia could opt for Florida State passer E.J. Manuel, while North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon is a good fit in Arizona’s offense, now under incoming head coach Bruce Arians’ direction. Jacksonville could very well go with a pass rusher such as Oregon’s Dion Jordan in the first-round; they have also looked into prospects such as Manuel and Nassib. The New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings haven’t brought in Smith for private workouts.
3. Cordarrelle Patterson has received a handful of negative reports from anonymous insiders, but he should still be selected within the top twenty picks. It’s unlikely that a team such as Minnesota or St. Louis will be able to land him outside of that range; St. Louis would likely have to draft him with the sixteenth pick to secure his services. Pittsburgh could be interested, and another possibility is that Cleveland trades down from the sixth overall pick and drafts Patterson with the eleventh or twelfth overall pick in order to supply incoming offensive coordinator Norv Turner with the type of downfield threat his offenses are predicated upon. Other wide receivers with a shot at the first round include Tavon Austin (West Virginia), DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson), Robert Woods (Southern California), and Justin Hunter (Tennessee), loosely ranked. Keenan Allen (California), Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech), and Markus Wheaton (Oregon State) appear destined for the second round.
4. How high could Tyler Eifert go? As high as eighth to the Bills. He is arguably the draft’s safest bet as far as offensive weapons are concerned; his combination of size and athleticism should earn him a spot in the draft’s first round. He represents a safer investment than Patterson or Tavon Austin, a receiving threat too big for defensive backs to cover and too athletic for linebackers to cover. As the league moves towards more tight end-oriented passing attacks, a prospect of Eifert’s caliber will be in high demand. It would come as a big surprise if he made it out of the first round; pre-draft speculation that Stanford’s Zach Ertz or San Diego State’s Gavin Escobar were superior prospects was baseless, although the latter two tight ends are likely to be selected in the second or third rounds of the draft. Vance McDonald (Rice), Travis Kelce (Cincinnati), and Jordan Reed (Florida) should go on the second day as well.
5. Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker appears destined to become the most overdrafted prospect in the class; he does not successfully execute his blocking assignments with the consistency expected of a first-round pick, but will nonetheless be among the top twenty to twenty-five selections because of his combination of size and length. Cincinnati at twenty-one seems like the floor for Fluker at this point, as he would offer them a younger, cheaper alternative to Andre Smith. However, it would not be surprising if Fluker were selected before then, potentially as high as Arizona (seven.) Other possible destinations include San Diego (eleven), Miami (twelve), St. Louis (sixteen), the New York Giants (nineteen), and Chicago (twenty.)