Draft Week News and Notes: First Round Recap

NFL Draft

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People: there is manna in the desert.

The NFL draft has arrived.

It’s a magical time in which dreams are realized and the regular season doesn’t feel like it’s still 4 months away. The honeymoon tends to end quickly: you soon realize that your picks aren’t all they were cracked up to be and the season really is unbearably far away. But for one short weekend, it’s pure joy.

Miss something last night? Go to bed before midnight? Not to worry. Here’s our complete first round recap!

2013 Draft: Round 1

Pick 1: Kansas City Chiefs

Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

This is such a great story. Fisher, who is from Michigan, didn’t even get recruited by Big Ten schools coming out of high school. And after college? No one thought he was going to be a top pick. Eric Fisher is one of those underdogs who is such a joy to cheer for, and he’s going to a great organization and a solid team.

Pick 2: Jacksonville Jaguars

Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

This is the first time in modern day draft history that tackles have been taken with the first and second picks. This bit of trivia probably wasn’t tremendously comforting to Joeckel, who for weeks has been projected to go #1. And as far as win-probability goes, he’d probably been better off in Kansas City.

Pick 3: Oakland Raiders TRADE to Miami Dolphins

Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon

Hello, surprise! When the Dolphins made the trade, most people thought they’d pick another tackle, likely Lane Johnson. But the Dolphins continue to exercise the element of surprise this offseason and went for defensive end Dion Jordan. (And everyone’s mock drafts burst into flames.)

Pick 4: Philadelphia Eagles

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

This kid is crazy. In college he played QB, DE, RT, LT…and finally wound up getting drafted as the third tackle in the first four picks. Before the pick my mom asked me who I thought they’d select. I said I didn’t know; the Eagles need help everywhere. Apparently they drafted the guy to do just that!

Pick 5: Detroit Lions (announded by Barry Sanders, always a class act)

Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU

Ziggy is another one of the underdogs who’s easy to route for – a business major from Ghana who played soccer primarily until this past season, when he played 9 football games and then turned into a first round draft pick, and the 5th overall pick at that. Wow.

Pick 6: Cleveland Brown

Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

This was a bit of a surprise; over the past few days it seemed like the Jets or the Saints were eager to land Mingo. My favorite anecdote about Mingo is from this interview, concerning his unique name: “My mom just kind of threw it together and wrote it on the birth certificate,” the LSU linebacker/pass-rusher said at the NFL Scouting Combine. Mrs. Mingo did the same with Barkevious’ brother, whose name is Hughtavius. 

That’s a great story.

Pick 7: Arizona Cardinals

Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

The FOURTH offensive lineman taken in the first seven picks. Insanity.

Pick 8: Buffalo Bills TRADE to St. Louis Rams 

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

When all of the invited players lined up to be introduced at the start of the draft, it was easy to pick out Tavon Austin. He’s the one you can’t see. Austin is only 5′ 8″ and has been discredited for his size for entire career. But that didn’t stop St. Louis from trading up to get him, and they were right to do so. He’s an exceptional talent and combined QB Sam Bradford? That’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

Pick 9: New York Jets

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

The Jets needed to replace Revis, who they traded to the Bucs earlier this week, who was without a doubt their best player. (No one understands.) Replacing Revis through the draft was highly unlikely, but if that was their plan, they got the best corner available.

Pick 10: Tennessee Titans

Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

The top 10 first round picks of 2013? Half were offensive linemen, with nary a quarterback, running back, or tight end to be seen. Completely unheard of, but this pick was just what the Titans needed to sure up their offensive line.

Pick 11: San Diego Chargers

D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

Bama haters: that’s the third member of the Crimson Tide selected in the top half of the first round. Say what you want; they’re as close to an NFL team as you’ll see in college football. Great pick by the Chargers.

Pick 12: Oakland Raiders (from Miami Dolphins)

D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston

GO D.J.!!! (If you missed Tuesday’s post, you’re going to want to check it out and watch the feature on Hayden.) So, so excited to see him go in the top half of the first round. The Raiders are the Raiders are the Raiders, but what an achievement to go from life-threatening injury to first round draft pick in 6 months time. Huge testament to his work ethic and durability.

Pick 13: New York Jets

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Well, that was unexpected. But then again, this is the Jets we’re talking about.

Pick 14: Carolina Panthers

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Lotulelei wasn’t able to participate in most of the Combine due to cardiovascular concerns. But thankfully, it had no affect on his draft status. He’ll be joining an up-and-coming Carolina defense, getting to play with last year’s first round pick and Defensive Player of the Year, Luke Kuechly.

Pick 15: New Orleans Saints (announced by Markell Gregiore, a patient at St. Jude’s and the tearjerker of the night)

Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

The Saints needed to make this pick count since their second round pick was taken by bounty sanctions, and they decided to use it to keep building their defense with Kenny Vaccaro.

Pick 16: Buffalo Bills

EJ Manuel, QB, Florida St.

And at long last: a quarterback was drafted. SIXTEEN PICKS IN. That’s unheard of. But Buffalo picked a great one; EJ Manuel has so much charisma and the potential to be an answer to the question that has plagued Buffalo ever since Doug Flutie left decades ago. (To the point where they still sell Flutie Flakes in grocery stores in Rochester. Really. Maybe Manuel Munchies are forthcoming!)

Pick 17: Pittsburgh Steelers

Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Go Jarvis!!! Another one of our Tuesday guys to cheer for! The Steelers needed an outside linebacker, and he’s a great one. Glad to see him go to a great program.

Pick 18: Dallas Cowboys TRADE to San Francisco 49ers

Eric Reid, S, LSU

The Niners basically have all of the picks in the draft. They are saturated with options with 13 picks total. They needed a safety, so they picked up a great safety. Good call, Niners.

Pick 19: New York Giants

Justin Pugh, G, Syracuse

And the offensive line dominos continued to fall with the third guard of the night. A solid decision by the Giants who needed to address offensive line issues this offseason.

Pick 20: Chicago Bears

Kyle Long, G, Oregon

Kyle is the son of legendary Raiders defensive end Howie Long and brother of 2008 second overall pick Chris Long. Football is definitely in his blood, and the Bears had to like him a LOT to take him instead of any of their other position needs, namely tight end. And for the record: that’s another guard, another offensive lineman.

Pick 21: Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

It was a miracle that Eifert was still on the board at this point, and even though I was kind of hoping he’d end up in Green Bay if he lasted that long, Cincinnati is a great landing place for him. They are officially loaded on offense.

Pick 22: St. Louis Rams TRADE to Atlanta Falcons

Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

Desmond Trufant also comes from a football family. His brother, Marcus, was drafted by Seattle in the 2003 Draft (and has been a stand-out talent there ever since) and also plays corner.

Pick 23: Minnesota Vikings 

Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida

Finally! If you had told me back on Tuesday that Shariff would be third to go out of our 5 players to cheer for, I would have been shocked. But first round is first round, and Minnesota is getting a great guy at a great value.

Pick 24: Indianapolis Colts

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

The second international player to go in the first round. Werner is from Germany and had some trouble adjusting to life in the States. He worked through it and decided to come back and play for Florida State, and now he’s a first round draft pick. Well worth it the transcontinental adjustments.

Pick 25: Minnesota Vikings

Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

First the Vikings get Floyd, who had no right to still be around at 23, and then they get Xavier Rhodes. Not a bad start on defense for the Vikes, who probably needed a linebacker more than a corner, but still got a great player.

Pick 26: Green Bay Packers

Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

I have to say that I was a little surprised with this pick, but the more I hear about Jones, the more I like him. He sounds like just what the Packers need to sure up the defense after the past two disappointing defensive years. As the saying in Green Bay goes, “In Ted We Trust.” Amen.

Pick 27: Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

The Houston offensive arsenal continues to stock weapons with a first round wide receiver pick. Merry Christmas, Matt Schaub!

Pick 28: Denver Broncos

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

This was a steal for the Broncos. Great defensive choice.

Pick 29: New England Patriots TRADE to Minnesota Vikings (announced by former Patriot Joe Andruzzi, who was a hero in action during the attacks in Boston)

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

The Vikings stole signed former Packer Greg Jennings in the offseason after trading Percy Harvin to Seattle. They needed more wide receivers, but getting Patterson came at a fairly high price: they gave up their 2nd, 4th, and 7th round picks to the Patriots for the trade.

Pick 30: St. Louis Ram

Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

This will be an interesting one. Ogletree has gotten mixed reviews from draftniks and has had significant off the field issues, but if there’s a head coach who can turn a guy around, it’s Jeff Fisher in St. Louis.

Pick 31: Dallas Cowboys (from San Francisco)

Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin

And another one bites the dust. 2013 shall forever be known as the year of the offensive line.

Pick 32: Baltimore Ravens

Matt Elam, S, Florida

When Goodell started with, “Ma–” I was sure he was going to finish with “nti Te’o.” But no such luck. All the same, the Ravens needed a safety to replace Ed Reed, and Matt Elam seems like a great fit.

And so the first round ends with Geno Smith, Manti Te’o, and Eddie Lacy all still waiting. Not a single running back was taken in the first round for the first time since the 1960’s. Instead, the offensive line finally got a little love with nearly a third of first rounders being O-linemen.

And we get to do it all again today.

Happy Draft Weekend, everyone!

Draft Week History Lesson : Bests and Busts

The draft wasn’t always the draft. It was always a selection process to procure new talent in which the worst teams selected players first, that much is true. But it hasn’t always been the media frenzy it has now become, complete with red carpet arrivals and round the clock coverage.

Future commissioner Bert Bell was the mastermind behind the NFL’s first draft in 1936. As fate would have it, the first player ever selected in the draft, Jay Berwanger, decided he didn’t want to play pro football after all.

I think it’s safe to say that tonight’s first pick will not follow suit.

In today’s NFL, it’s easy to think that all legendary talent gets drafted with the first or second pick. Last year’s draft history would tell us this is true: Andrew Luck was drafted first overall by the Colts and the Redskins moved up to take Robert Griffin III at number two. They’re both proving to be worth the high picks.

But history also tells us that Russell Wilson was chosen 73 picks later in the 3rd round of the draft. And that his Seahawks advanced farther in the playoffs than the Colts and the Redskins, whom the Seahawks beat in the first round to advance.

It’s not as cut-and-dry as it might seem in either capacity; there were extenuating circumstances throughout the year for all three teams. But it goes to show that sometimes the 75th pick can be just as valuable, and occasionally more valuable, than the first or second pick.

To test out this theory, let’s play a game. Try to match each player with their respective draft pick:

Draft day is HERE! Before the first pick is announced tonight, let's take a look back at the history of the draft.



A. (6) – Tom Brady was taken with the 199th pick in the 6th round. He was infamously drafted before 6 other QB’s, and will inevitably go down as one of the best to ever play the game.

B. (5) – Three quarterbacks were taken with the first three picks of the 1999 draft: Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, and Akili Smith. Only one survived to achieve success…and it wasn’t Couch or Smith.

C. (1) – See above.

D. (3)  – Shannon Sharpe was selected 192nd overall and spent 9 seasons with the Broncos, during which time he won two Super Bowls with the team.

E. (2) – The Bucs selected Ronde Barber 66th overall in the 1997 draft…and he’s still with the team to this day, 15 years later. And he’s still one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

F. (4) – Ryan Leaf is perhaps the most well-known of draft day busts, and also the saddest. He was taken by the Chargers with the 2nd pick in the 1st round by the Chargers and played there for only 2 years. He had all the potential in the world, but none of the drive.

Now, that list is admittedly deceiving, as there have been plenty of worthy #1 picks over the years: the Manning brothers both went with the first pick, as did Troy Aikman, John Elway, Earl Campbell, Terry Bradshaw, and plenty of other notables. It just goes to say that the draft might determine which team a player calls home for a time, but it doesn’t have anything to do with that player’s inherent talent and drive to be the best.

Who’s the diamond in the rough this year?

We’ll just have to wait and see. (That’s the best part!)

Happy draft day, everyone!

Draft Week Profiles : Five Players To Cheer For

I love watching the draft. It’s so powerful to watch the moment when someone realizes that all of the hard work was worth it. Who doesn’t love watching dreams coming true? Plus, with Roger Goodell as commissioner, it’s almost as fun to watch the congratulatory hugs as it is to find out who will be drafted next.

(Drafted later than expected? Not to worry. The intensity and duration of The Goodell Hug increases as the draft goes on, so he’s got your back. Literally.)

But in every draft, there are a few players who inspire you to cheer a little louder. I’m sure there are more great guys out there with great stories, but these five come to mind (as well as the aforementioned Walter Stewart) as players to feel good about rooting for come draft day.

Shariff Floyd
Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Florida
Projected Round: First

D.J. Hayden
Position: Cornerback
School: Houston
Projected Round: First

Rex Burkhead
Position: Running Back
School: Nebraska
Projected Round: Late (5-7)

Marcus Lattimore
Position: Running Back
School: South Carolina
Projected Round: Mid (3-5)

Jarvis Jones
Position: Outside Linebacker
School: Georgia
Projected Round: First

Draft Week Fundamentals : Q & A

Draft week is here!!! To prep for Thursday, we're answering all of your questions about the draft process in today's Fundamentals post.


Now, let me be the first to state the obvious: we haven’t covered much of anything draft-related in the past few months. That’s true! And that’s mainly because draft projections chip away at my soul…it seems so pointless to spend time guessing where all of the prospects may or may not get drafted only to have it all fall to pieces after the first pick.

So why the excitement? It’s three-fold (Friends lovers, that’s for you):

First, the draft makes the regular season feel like it might actually arrive in the not-too-distant future (even though in reality, this only marks the halfway point…).

Second, it’s pure joy to see dreams come true one after the other in tearful succession for hours on end. It’s warranted to think whatever you wish about professional athletes – how they’re overpaid, arrogant, disproportionately lauded. That’s understandable and occasionally true. But at the heart of every professional athlete is a kid who had a big dream and worked relentlessly to achieve it, and that’s what you see on stage at Radio City Music hall each spring. I love it.

And third, now the projections that actually matter can begin. Instead of wondering how so-and-so might contribute to such-and-such a team if he’s drafting in this-or-that round, you can put names on the jerseys and speculate about impact on the lineup. That’s the kind of projecting I can get on board with.

It really is a great weekend for all involved.

So, how does it work? We know that players get added to teams over the course of multiple rounds, but how? Let’s answer a few of the foundational questions today:



The draft is a rotating player selection process which exists to give all teams an equal chance at procuring the players they need. There are seven rounds of selection that take place over the course of three days in April at the Radio City Music Hall in NYC.


Questions and Answers:

Q: Who can get drafted?

A: Players who have been out of high school for at least three years, which means nearly all of whom are college juniors, are eligible to be drafted. That doesn’t mean that the draft is comprised entirely of college juniors; a surprising majority of college players choose to stay and play out their senior year.

Q: What determines the order of the picks?

A: The worse your season, the better your draft order. The team with the worst record gets the first pick, followed the by teams with the worst records who did not make the playoffs, followed by the least successful playoff teams. Consequently, the Super Bowl champion gets the last pick in the draft. In the event of shared win-loss records, draft order is determined by 1) strength of schedule, 2) division record, 3) conference records, 4) coin toss. The order stays mostly the same for every round (teams within the same “tier” of win-loss records do cycle, but stay within the same general area of picks), until teams start trading picks during the draft to get a player they want (more on that below). To see this year’s draft order, check out this list.

Q: How long do teams have to make their selection?

It differs in every round. In Round 1, teams get a lengthy 10 minutes to make their decision. That time gets shortened to 7 minutes in Round 2, and 5 minutes in Rounds 3-7.

Q: How do teams “trade up” for a player?

A: Teams can trade picks before and during the draft. Before the draft, teams trade picks for existing players. You’ve probably heard of this over the course of the offseason: Alex Smith was traded by the 49ers to the Chiefs for a second round pick this year and a conditional (based on how many games the Chiefs win) third round pick next year; Anquan Boldin was traded to the Niners for a sixth round pick; the Vikings got an incredible deal when they traded Percy Harvin to the Seahawks in exchange for Seattle’s first and seventh round picks this year and a possible mid-round pick next year.

During the draft, teams can call other teams and trade with them – a single pick or multiple picks, this year and/or in following years – to trade up to the spot they want. In 2011, the Atlanta Falcons infamously (and to much criticism) traded three picks in 2011 and two picks in 2012 – including their first round pick – the the Cleveland Browns so that they could move up to the sixth spot and take wide receiver Julio Jones.

You might say it’s worked out well for them.

Q: What is “cap management” and how does it relate to the draft?

A: That’s an excellent question for which I do not have an excellent answer. Math has never been my strongest suit to begin with, and the convoluted nuances of the NFL salary cap don’t help matters much. There are conditions for this and conditions for that and sometimes an amount of money actually counts for more or less than the numerical amount – it’s a jungle out there. But here’s what I can tell you, in short: the salary cap is like a budget, and each team has a finite spending limit. In 2013, the salary cap is set at $123 million dollars (don’t we all have that in pocket change?). That money isn’t used exclusively to draft new players – it’s the whole sum paid out to all players on the active roster. Teams have to budget wisely (or practice good “cap management”) throughout the year to retain their best current players and to also have the resources to pay players they want to add to the roster in the draft and throughout free agency. Take a look at this list to see how much cap space each team has left going into the draft (and notice the wide discrepancy in amounts!).

Q: What’s a compensatory pick?

A: The NFL awards compensatory picks – 32 total, and up to 4 additional draft picks per team – to teams that have lost significant talent through the free agency season. Free agents are players who are no longer under contract with their current team and are therefore allowed to sign with another team. When a teams loses their top free agents, they are given compensatory picks as a talent buffer (the picks occur in specified rounds and cannot be traded). 2013 Example: the Ravens, who lost what felt like the majority of their starting lineup this offseason, were awarded 4 compensatory picks, the maximum amount allowed.

Q: What’s a “war room” and what in the world does it have to do with the draft?

The war room is the place where each teams selected draft personnel – coaches, executives, general managers, owners, etc – hammer out their final decisions on draft picks and submit their picks to the NFL. It’s nicknamed the “war room” because of the intensity and strategy involved in getting the players the teams wants. For a great read on what goes on inside war rooms, check out this piece by Andrew Brandt about the Packers’ war room.

Q: Is there a limit to how many players a team can draft?

No; a team can draft as many players as they have picks, and can bring as many as 90 players into training camp to tryout for the final 53-man roster.

Q: What happens to the players who don’t get drafted?

Players who don’t get drafted are deemed “undrafted free agents” and can tryout for any team who will give them a chance after the draft. It’s easy to think that these players aren’t as good as the players who were drafted, but that’s not always the case. In fact, some of the best players to ever play the game were snubbed in the draft: Kurt Warner, James Harrison, Jeff Saturday, London Fletcher, Arian Foster, and Wes Welker are just a few of the notable players who’ve gone undrafted.

Q: Historically, how do draft picks usually pan out? Are there “good” and “bad” drafts? Are the first round picks the only ones who really make it in the league?

Great questions! Tune in for Thursday’s History Lesson post on draft history to learn all about memorable NFL drafts.