There are several words to describe the 2013 NFL draft class, but the most fitting description is “deep.” In fact, “really, really deep” might be even more accurate.
This year’s class hasn’t received a lot of the same hype of draft classes from previous years, due in large part to lack of elite talent at the quarterback position. Quarterbacks make money and sell tickets, and without a crop of elite-level quarterbacks available this year, the rest of the player pool has been unfairly pushed aside.
The 2013 draft will be the deepest defensive draft in recent years. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see 20 or more defensive players drafted in the first round, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of quality offense to be had. Much of that offensive depth will slide into the second and third rounds where the reward outweighs the risk.
We’ll take a look at how the second and third rounds could shake out for offensive skill players, position by position.
The quarterback position is by far the most uncertain in this year’s draft. The names of as many as six quarterback prospects have been scattered throughout the first-round discussion, and while it’s still early in the pre-draft process, scouts have seen a lot of those signal-callers.
With a handful of quarterbacks doing very little for their draft stock at the Senior Bowl, Geno Smith once again stands alone as the most likely candidate to be the first quarterback selected in April.
Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Mike Glennon and Tyler Wilson stand to be next in line off the board (in no particular order). There really isn’t any way to project an order this early in the process. No one has stood out from the pack.
Some analysts feel there isn’t a true first-round quarterback in this class, but there will certainly be a team or two taking a chance on one. But with a logjam of unspectacular signal-callers vying for first-round attention, a large portion of them will likely slide into the second round.
The second round will be where NFL teams take their chance on several potential NFL starting quarterbacks. The risk is much lower, and there’s no mistaking the fact that many teams need a franchise quarterback. How many will come out of this class remains to be seen, but the second round is where as many as five quarterbacks could make their money.
Beyond the second round and the top tiers of quarterbacks, the NFL draft enters developmental quarterback territory. Enter E.J. Manuel, Tyler Bray and Landry Jones. All three could sneak into Day 2 action.
With teams placing a premium on potential franchise quarterbacks, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which at least a half-dozen quarterbacks don’t come off the board in the first three rounds.
This year’s running back class is a lot more like the 2011 draft crop than that of 2012. Last year, three running backs were selected in the first round, including Trent Richardson with the No. 3 selection. The year prior, only one was selected (Mark ingram at No. 28).
There isn’t really a standout running back prospect in this year’s class, but there is a litany of very talented runners that could dominate Day 2 coverage.
Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball and Le’Veon Bell could all garner some first-round consideration, but there’s a good chance none make a trip to the podium on Day 1. A more likely scenario is one in which all four are selected in the second and third rounds of the draft, along with Mike Gillislee and Kenjon Barner.
As is the case with the quarterback crop, there isn’t really any one running back in particular that merits a ton of first-round hype. The NFL has begun shifting away from drafting hordes of running backs in the first round, with so many late-round backs finding NFL success no doubt being a contributing factor.
Still, seven or eight running back prospects deserve early-round selections, so don’t be surprised to see almost all of them find a home in either the second or third rounds.
Of all the offensive skill positions, wide receiver is easily the deepest. In fact, as many as five have a chance at being selected on Day 1.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Keenan Allen, Justin Hunter, Tavon Austin and Robert Woods have legitimate first-round talent, and DeAndre Hopkins and Terrance Williams aren’t far behind. It’s become a stale mantra, but the NFL is a pass-driven league, and NFL signal-callers need weapons.
Given the amount of top-tier defensive talent in this year’s draft class, value will be a deciding factor in how far receivers slide this year. Several have enough talent to warrant an early-round selection, but value at other positions will force an exodus of ultra-gifted receivers into Day 2.
For teams in desperate need of some quality offensive skill players, trading back to acquire some second-day ammunition wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
Tight end classes never seem to be particularly deep, but hidden gems always tend to emerge from the middle rounds (see: Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski). This year’s class is nothing to brag about, but there are some quality players that could slip into Day 2.
Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz are widely considered to be Day 1 locks, but as is the case with running backs this year, value will dictate their final draft position.
Jordan Reed and Dion Sims could be potential tight end candidates for rounds two and three, and several others could be potential mid-round steals should they slide beyond Day 2.
Tight ends won’t dominate the draft coverage, but Day 2 promises the opportunity for several NFL teams to find a potential starting tight end with very little risk.