My favorite week of the year, in regards to sports, is almost here; the NFL Draft. Next week teams across the country will to address their needs through the drafting of young, talented players. With these picks NFL fans will think that now their team is ready to win the Lombardi. Every draft brings the analyzing and the excitement. I will break my blogs down into three parts for the upcoming draft, offense players, defensive players and what the Rams should (or I hope) will do.
2013 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW – OFFENSE
Geno Smith- The definition of an athletic quarterback. He comes from a high powered offense and was supposed to be the run away Heisman winner early in the season when he was putting up XBox like numbers. His numbers faded down the stretch and the question is whether or not he can be a starting QB in the NFL.
Matt Barkley– Another in a long line of star recruits to USC. But is he another in a long line of lackluster USC quarterbacks in the NFL? Barkley has talent and I admire his loyalty to the program when he returned for his senior season. The injury only puts more of an emphasis on whether he has a strong enough arm for the league.
Ryan Nassib– This year’s workout warrior. Nassib went from an unheralded quarterback with good numbers to all of a sudden possibly being a top 10 pick in the draft. He offers the size but does he have the tools?
My Thoughts: The quarterback class of 2013 has nothing to offer. Yes I understand there are teams that need quarterbacks. But no that does not justify spending a first-round pick on a player you are hoping to be something they are not. Sometimes drafts just do not have top notch QB talent. And this is one of those drafts. To the teams that decide to waste an early pick on one of these quarterbacks, good luck and see you in the top 10 again in three years when you are still looking for that quarterback. My Pick of the bunch: Matt Barkley. While I do not see him worthy of a first-rounder, I do think he has the most potential of the group. He could be another Carson Palmer, and a two-time Pro Bowler wouldn’t be all that bad.
Eddie Lacy– Yet another draft. Yet another Alabama underclassman running back atop the RB rankings. Lacy is a BIG, and I mean BIG back. He does have quick feet but he does have injury concerns. Although the last two Alabama running backs are starters (Ingram and Richardson) neither has been a true star. Can Lacy be a star?
Montee Ball– Ball is a local kid, out of Timberland High School, and put up some outstanding numbers in Wisconsin. He underwent a lot of change prior to his senior season and lost some great linemen.
Gio Bernard– Running back from North Carolina, which in recent years has put out some really talented players. Bernard had nearly identical seasons in his two years at N.C. with 1200 yards and over 5.2 yards per carry. He isn’t particularly fast or big but might be something in the league with the right team.
My Thoughts: This class does not have the singular workhorse running back. However as the trend in the NFL moves away from standout running backs to ones by committe that does not matter. While having a potential running attack is important in the NFL it is just having the threat, you can do that with a decent back. With that in mind i would not take a RB in the first round of this draft. My Pick of the Bunch: Out of all the prospects, I like Bernard the best. As I mentioned he is not the fastest or biggest. But he probably offers the best combination of both worlds. He is versatile and if he can get behind an offensive line that can open inside lanes he could have success.
Cordarrelle Patterson– One year year wonder from Tennessee Patterson can catch, return and run the ball. He offers both speed and size and provides that explosiveness that the majority of receivers are missing in this year’s class. His concern is three schools in three years and just one year of quality competition.
Tavon Austin– The talk of the combine maybe no other player has seen his stock soar as much as Austin’s. He is 5-8 dynamo that offers speed with a little more speed. His nickname should be Adderall. Austin is a perfect fit for a team looking for a slot receiver. And his bonus is that he is not a typical slot guy because of his speed. But can he survive the hard hitting NFL?
Keenan Allen– Coming into this college season it was Allen and Robert Woods battling it out for top WR. Allen had a solid year, despite playing with poor quarterback and overall schemes that saw him take a lot more short passes. Allen is sure handed and has size at 6-3. But he suffered a knee injury and is still recovering from that.
My Thoughts: Wide Receiver is always a popular position to discuss. These players are often loud-mouthed and think the world of themselves. They are highly visible. With that said they also offer great risk because of their bust potential. Anyone remember Mike Williams? This draft should have some quality receivers throughout and well into the 2nd round. My Pick of the Bunch: Patterson sure appears to be the top talented WR with his combo of size and speed while Austin looks like he could be the next version of Percy Harvin or DeSean Jackson. But I am going to pick Allen as my guy. Yes he is not overly fast but he offers something that can not be overlooked as a WR. He catches the ball and runs good routes.
Tyler Eifert– Notre Dame has been churning out quality TE’s for years and Eifert could be the best of the bunch. He has very nice hands and unlike many of the recent start TE’s in the NFL he can also block. Eifert can line up out wide and I expect him to be a standout player.
Zach Ertz– Ertz has followed in former Stanford teammate Coby Flener’s cleats. Ertz is much like Eifert in that he can catch and block. I have him just behind Eifert but should be another good NFL player.
Gavin Escobar– I honestly have not seen much of him in action this year. But from all respects he did look good at the combine and very athletic. That is not to say that translates well but we all know how athletic tight ends are trending in the NFL, UP!
My Thoughts: This class of TE’s, highlighted by Eifert and Ertz should provide immediate starters. These two will be valuable because they can not only get into the seam and lineup out wide but stay in and block. My Pick of the Bunch– Tyler Eifert is someone that I have long admired for two years. I think he has the chance to be the next great tight end in the NFL.
Luke Joeckel– The likely first pick of the draft. He has the tools to be a quality tackle in the league. One thing to note however is that did block for some mobile QB’s in college which may have benefited his game.
Eric Fisher– A player from outside the power conferences that has crept into conversation for being the top pick. Fisher has the size and tools and is similar to Joeckel but in my opinion has more of that nasty attitude I like from offensive linemen.
Lane Johnson– Athletic. That is the first word out of everyone’s mouth when talking about Johnson. And while that is something that is usually a good thing. I do not like that to be first word about an offensive lineman. Johnson moved from QB to TE to DL to OL before finally settling at tackle for the last two years.
Chance Warmack– Called the best player regardless of position in this draft. He is part of an outstanding offensive line at Alabama. Does that figure into his production or is he truly the dominant player people have said is the best offensive guard prospect in years?
Jonathan Cooper- Another of North Carolina’s talented prospects. Cooper shot up the boards with his workouts and has pushed himself well into the first-round.
My Thoughts: This is the star position for this year’s draft. If you are in need of offensive line help this is the year to fill the need. There are some players though that I feel are much riskier than the “experts”. First is Lane Johnson, I am sorry but I prefer my offensive linemen to be natural offensive linemen. Not players that just weren’t good enough at other positions. I want guys that grew up wanting to be in the trenches. Another guy I am not big on is Watson from Florida State. Another athletic and raw player. And same applies to him. Yes he has played one year and did well. His upside may be great. But I am not taking the risk. My Pick of the Bunch: Chance Warmack. I think the fact he is a guard should not play into the factor that he will be an immediate upgrade for whoever drafts him. Correct me if I’m wrong but the pass rush comes from the middle too and running game often goes up the middle. If you can have someone who can control that spot why not take him?
Stay tuned for my breakdown on the defensive players in the 2013 draft class later this week.