Cattle Call: We Grade 32 Prime Cuts From Round 1 Of 2013 NFL Draft
Linemen on both sides of the ball dominated the first round of the 2013 draft.
In fact, we haven't seen these many hogs snatched up in one place since the Quincy boys crashed Rick Morris's frat party at UMass back in 1991. The boys at Omega Kai still call it the Night of the Great Slaughter.
Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher was selected No. 1 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was the first player in MAC history to go No. 1 overall.
The Jaguars snapped up Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel with the second pick, marking the first time in draft history that offensive linemen were taken with the first two spots.
The first seven picks were all offensive or defensive linemen, and the first skill-position player was not taken until No. 8 overall; the first quarterback at No. 16 overall. We even saw a
Eighteen of the 32 players drafted in Round 1 were linemen, if we include Georgia sack-specialist OLB Jarvis Jones (Pittsburgh, No. 17).
In general, we like the trend: it tells us that teams were looking at their roster rationally, with an eye on building winners, and not greedily, with an eye of filling seats with flashy skill-position players. In fact, just five skill-position offensive players were drafted, including just one quarterback and, for the first time in 50 years, not a single running back in the first round.
Here's a quick look at our grade for draft pick. Remember, we base our grades not on how we project the player performing. We don't know. You don't know. The teams don't know. But we do know if a team put its best foot forward to address its statistical needs.
1. Kansas City – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Fisher dominated at mid-major Central Michigan and impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl and at the NFL combine, largely seen as the anchor left tackle with the most upside. It’s a good building block for a Chiefs team that was the worst in football last year and has question marks almost everywhere. The only problem: the Chiefs were so bad everywhere last seasoon in our Quality Stats that their 25th-ranked Offensive Hogs were actually their top-ranked unit. They had greater needs.
2. Jacksonville – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The blindside tackle for Aggies Heisman-winning phenom Johnny Manziel was a three-time all-conference player, twice in the Big 12 and last year in the SEC. He’s equally adept at both pass block and run blocking. The Jaguars were No. 31 in 2012 on the Offensive Hog Index and aren't ready yet to give up on Blaine Gabbert. Perfect pick based on that scenario.
3. Miami (from Oakland) – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Jordan is still recovering from a torn labrum which may keep him out of off-season activities, but racked up 23.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks over his last two season at Oregon. Has the size and speed to project to a dominating edge rusher in the NFL. The Dolphins have a promising defense but struggled to get after the passer in 2012. They ranked No. 21 in forcing Negative Pass Plays. Jordan can solve that problem.
4. Philadelphia – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The massive but athletic tackle played quarterback in high school and at Kilgore College before transferring to Oklahoma. He wowed at the combine with a 4.7 in the 40. The question is not the player, but Philadelphia’s decision to draft a left tackle after fielding one of the worst pass defenses in football in 2012. The Eagles ranked No. 30 in Defensive Real QB Rating and No. 31 in Defensive Passer Rating.
5. Detroit – Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
Multi-talented athlete and native of Ghana who has also excelled in soccer and track, projected as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. The Lions were one of the worst teams in football last year pressuring the passer in 2012 (No. 25 at producing Negative Pass Plays), so Ansah represents a strong needs-based selection. And that's something you rarely hear out of the mismanaged Detroit Lions.
6. Cleveland – Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Seen as a great athletic talent but a project more prized for his upside. However, has the potential to be a devastating pass rusher at the next level. A curious selection, though, for a team that fielded a fairly stout defense in 2012 and is still littered with issues at each level on offense.
7. Arizona -- Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
All America lineman and Outland Trophy finalist noted for his physical domination and pancake blocks, perhaps the best run blocker available in the draft. Arizona is desperate for help on the OL: they were No. 32 last year on the Cold, Hard Football Facts Offensive Hog Index, No. 32 in average per rush attempt, No. 32 converting third downs and No. 31 protecting the passer.
8. St. Louis – Tavon Austin, WR, WVU
The Rams have been desperate to put weapons around Sam Bradford, who has simply been unable to build a downfield threat. Tavon gives the Rams a triple-threat receiver who also racked up over 1,000 yards rushing in his college career while excelling in the return game. He averaged 10.4 yards per touch from scrimmage at West Virginia. The first of two first-round picks for the Rams.
9. N.Y. Jets – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Jets wasted no time trying to replace shutdown corner Darrelle Revis, who recently signed with Tampa Bay. Milliner was the best pass defender on the nation’s best defense is talented but widely seen as injury prone, and is overcoming shoulder surgery right now. But great upside and seen as a natural as a cover corner. The biggest issues for the J-Men, meanwhile, remain on offense. The team will go nowhere until it gives up on the Mark Sanchez experiment. It was a mistake from the get-go to put so much faith in a guy who started just 16 games surrounded by so much talent at USC. But we digress ...
10. Tennessee – Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Warmack is a classic road-grading guard, last seen gashing holes in what was the nation’s best run defense from Notre Dame in the BCS title game. Only problem: running the football was the least of Tennessee’s issues in 2012: the averaged 4.5 YPA on the ground, 10th in the NFL. Regardless, Warmack gives the Titans what could be an interior anchor in the Mike Munchak mold for years to come.
11. San Diego – D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Fluker, with No. 9 pick Chance Warmack, gave Alabama the most formidable OL in football last year. The Chargers, meanwhile, are desperate to rebuild an offensive line was a disaster last year: No. 28 protecting the passer; No. 29 on the Offensive Hog Index; and No. 31 in rush YPA. The future begins here with Fluker, a perfect needs-based pick for San Diego and new head coach Mike McCoy.
12. Oakland (from Miami) – D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
Hayden was one of the best cornerbacks in the nation before suffering a potential deadly injury in practice that tore a vein in his heart. He’s undergone a rather remarkable recovery. It’s a smart pick for a team that often gets caught up in the allure of flashy offensive players. Oakland surrendered 443 points in 2012, most by a Raiders team since 1961, and ranked No. 30 in Defensive Passer Rating, surrendering 28 TD passes with just 11 INT.
13. N.Y. Jets – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Richardson is playmaking interior defensive lineman who racked up 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks in 2012. He also impressed with 14 tackles against a mighty Alabama OL that’s already produced two first-round draft picks. But two picks into their draft, the Jets have done nothing to improve an offense that was embarrassingly bad at times in 2012.
14. Carolina – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Tonga native was a fireplug in the middle of the Utah defense, while chalking up an impressive 5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss largely from the nose tackle position. Carolina needs the help: it has struggled to stop the run in the Cam Newton Era. Now with Lotulelei and 2012 first-round pick Luke Kuechly, the Panthers have a formidable tandem of young talent in the middle of the defense.
15. New Orleans - Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas
The top safety in the nation is the perfect pick for a team that was a disaster at all levels of defense in 2012: No. 32 in Defensive Passing Yards Per Attempt, No. 32 on the Cold, Hard Football Facts Defensive Hog Index and No. 32 in defensive rush YPA. The Saints won a Super Bowl in 2009 when they paired Drew Brees’ offense with a ball-hawking defense led by great playmaking safety Darren Sharper.
16. Buffalo - E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
The Bills made it clear they’re not sold on recently signed free agent QB Kevin Kolb. Nor should they be. With that said, Manuel is a surprise as the first QB taken in the 2013 draft. He did not put up elite numbers at Florida State by today’s standards (23 TD, 10 INT in 2012) and was fortunate to be paired with one of the nation’s best defenses. A project “with upside” is the last thing desperate Bills fans want to see at QB.
GRADE: Incomplete (it sucks to be a Bills fan and we don't have the heart to grade the sad-sack pick)
17. Pittsburgh – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
A standout even on Georgia’s talented LB corps, Jones led the nation in both sacks (14.5) and tackles for loss (24.5) last season as a junior. Pittsburgh suffered with an aging defense in 2012 and its once formidable collection of pass rushers fell to No. 19 in at forcing Negative Pass Plays (sacks, INTs). Jones could instantly solve that problem.
18. San Francisco – Eric Reid, FS, LSU
The 49ers have fielded a tough, hard-hitting defense at all three levels in two years under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Reid, meanwhile, was great run-stopping safety as a junior last year who had the benefit of being surrounded by a slew of NFL-caliber talent at LSU. He helps the 49ers fill the hole left by the departed safety Dashon Goldson.
19. N.Y. Giants – Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
Projects to play either tackle or guard in the NFL, though some scouts have concerns about his strength and reach. The Giants with their aging OL are clearly building here for the future. But the offensive line was still formidable in 2012: No. 2 on the Cold, Hard Football Facts Offensive Hog Index, behind only New England, and No. 4 protecting the passer. The Giants still have much more pressing holes to fill, especially in the secondary.
20. Chicago – Kyle Long, T, Oregon
Long is the brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long and son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long. He could play both tackle and guard in the NFL. In terms of needs-based pick, Long is a much better selection than linebacker Manti Te’o, a popular pre-draft choice to come in and replace Brian Urlacher. The Bears have struggled for years with one of the worst offensive lines in football.
21. Cincinnati - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Eifert set Notre Dame single-season records for receptions (63) and yards (803) by a tight end as a junior in 2011 and was a pivotal cog in offense for national championship-contending team in 2012. Has true NFL tight end size (6-6, 250) and could give third-year QB Andy Dalton a much needed additional weapon: the Bengals averaged just 6.1 Real Passing Yards Per Attempt in 2012, 19th in the NFL, well below passing effectiveness typically displayed by true Super Bowl contenders.
22. Atlanta – Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The brother of Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant was a four-year starter for the Huskies and has good size for a cover corner. The Falcons need help playing pass defense in the QB-rich NFC South. But they still need to shore up one of the worst run defenses in football, a problem exposed badly in the playoffs: the Falcons were gashed 57 times for 272 yards and 5 TDs on the ground by the Seahawks and 49ers.
23. Minnesota – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Gators defense in 2012 held opponents under 3.0 YPA on the ground, and the All-American’s presence in the middle (13 tackles for loss) was a big reason why. Versatile lineman praised more for athleticism than size and has also played defensive end. He could prove a great value for the Vikings: Floyd was projected by many as a top 5 draft pick. They get him at No. 23. Minnesota's biggest issues remain in its porous secondary.
24. Indianapolis – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Colts produced their remarkable turnaround last year despite being anchored down by one of the worst defenses in football, including a defensive front that was No. 24 pressuring the passer and No. 31 in rush yards per attempt allowed. Werner should provide an instant upgrade. His 13.0 sacks last year were tied for third in the nation, while the Seminoles fielded perhaps the best pass defense in America. The Germany native will be the first player in NFL history named Bjoern. And who can't respect a team that drafted the guy who invented the rocket?
25. Minnesota – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Perhaps the most talented defender on one of the nation’s best defenses: the Seminoles surrendered just 162 yards per game through the air in 2012. Rhodes has great size for a corner but less than elite speed. The Vikings have used both first-round picks on defenders, meaning they’ve done nothing so far to upgrade one of the most anemic passing attacks in football. Minnesota was No. 29 last year in Real Passing Yards Per Attempt (5.37 YPA).
26. Green Bay – Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Jones racked up 5.5 sacks and 19.0 tackles for losses last season for the Bruins. The Packers need the help shoring up its defense at multiple levels to return to championship contention. The 2011 Packers surrendered a record 4,988 passing yards while the 2012 team was gashed for 4.5 YPA on the ground, 26th in the NFL.
27. Houston – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Perhaps the best big-play receiver in the draft, Hopkins caught 82 passes last year, averaged 17.1 YPC and hauled in 18 TD receptions. He may not be enough, though, to help Matt Schaub get to the next level. The Texans QB will be 32 when the season starts and hit a statistical plateau back in 2009. He is who he is at this point in his career.
28. Denver – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
A versatile lineman with a great combination of size and explosiveness. But Denver drafted on the wrong side of the ball. The Broncos were No. 1 last year on the Defensive Hog Index, No. 1 in third-down defense, No. 2 on run defense (3.6 YPA) and No. 3 pressuring the passer. The last thing Denver needs is another defensive stopper. The Broncos would have been better served landing a road grader on the offensive line: the once-famous Denver ground game was No. 25 rushing the football (3.8 YPA) in 2012.
29. Minnesota – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The future is now for the Vikings, who traded four picks for New England’s first at No. 29 overall, their third first-round pick this year. Patterson was part of Tennessee’s explosive tandem of wideouts in 2012. He is more of a project than Justin Hunter, who put up better numbers for the Volunteers last year, but seen my many scouts with more upside. The Vikings desperately need playmakers on offense: their downfield passing game with Christian Ponder has been anemic. Now they just need to figure out how to pay three first-round draft picks.
30. St. Louis – Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
A hard-hitting run-stopper in the middle of the Bulldogs’ talented litter of linebackers. Ogletree led Georgia with 1111 tackles plus 11.5 more for loss. The Rams, meanwhile, led the NFL last year in sacks (52) and in Negative Pass Play percentage (11.5%), forcing 69 sacks or INTs in 599 opponent dropbacks. If Ogletree lives up to his potential, St. Louis could be scary-good up front for years to come.
31. Dallas – Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin
That gush of air you heard was the wind being sucked out of the city of Dallas when this pick was announced: few if anybody projected Frederick as a first-round pick; centers in general are rarely drafted in the first round (just seven first-round centers in the past 10 years); and in the case of the Cowboys they clearly have far more pressing needs elsewhere. Dallas missed an opportunity to upgrade a defense that was No. 29 in Defensive Passer Rating in 2012 and produced a league-low 7 INT. You can’t win in the NFL with that kind of defense.
32. Baltimore – Matt Elam, FS, Florida
Baltimore begins the project of rebuilding its famous defense by grabbing a hoped-for replacement of great free safety Ed Reed, who will play for the Texans in 2013. Elam was the junior leader in the secondary last year for one of the nation’s best pass defenses, where he picked off four passes and racked up 76 tackles. Baltimore had to start somewhere, and Elam makes as much sense as any possible pick at No. 32 overall.
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