NFL Draft to Begin Thursday in Primetime
The 2013 NFL draft will begin with the first round airing Thursday night and the following rounds airing Friday and Saturday. If you've been following any of the millions of mock drafts, you should be pretty comfortable with the draft's top names. Ranging from Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher, to Florida DT Sharrif Floyd and Oregon DE Dion Jordan, the consensus is that this year's draft will focus on the big men on the inside. In sharp contrast to last year, in which 3 quarterbacks were taken in the first round, experts are torn on when and how many QBs could be taken on the first night.
The team holding the first pick in the draft is the Kansas City Chiefs, who finished last season 2-14. The Chiefs acquired QB Alex Smith via trade from the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason and are happy with running Smith out to start next season. Had they not made the move, it's likely they could've taken Geno Smith with the top pick. Now, the Chiefs and new head coach Andy Reid will focus on protecting their investment. The Chiefs' top pick ultimately comes down to Joeckel and Fisher, who project as All-Pro lineman. Graded almost identically, the lineman have made the Chiefs' decision difficult. The knock on Fisher could be the level of competition he faced at Central Michigan, though whoever the Chiefs take will significantly improve their O-line. It would be a shock to me if the Chiefs traded the top pick to move down.
The Jaguars, slotted second, will likely choose whichever of those lineman is left on the board. Similarly to last year's draft, the top 2 picks were unanimous in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Had Griffin went first, the Redskins would've immediately selected Luck.
Looking at the defensive side of the ball, top rated prospects include, Floyd, Jordan, and speedy BYU DE Ziggy Ansah. All are likely top 10 picks, though their projected order could flip flop up until the draft. Jordan, the former Oregon DE who played under Chip Kelly, could reunite with his former coach if the Eagles select him with the 4th pick.
Getting to the skill players and QBs, there is no telling where they might end up. Geno Smith and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib are the top rated QBs and either could fit in with the Bills at 8. The Jets, at 9, could also look to take one of those QBs if they are not sold on Mark Sanchez as their future starter. With another pick at 13, the Jets could take WR Tavon Austin (if he falls) or ND Tight End Tyler Eifert. Considering the Jets' need at TE, and the fact that Eifert has drawn comparisons to New England star Rob Gronkowski, the Jets would be smart to gamble on Eifert.
The Giants, picking at 19, could fortify their O-Line with one of the many talented lineman still expected to be available at their pick. It's tough to predict the Giants looking anywhere else, though they could take a risk selecting LB Manti Te'o. Te'o had a rough offseason, after playing poorly in the BCS National Championship and getting tangled up in a catfish situation.
As always, the draft will be exciting in the fact that every team has a chance to build talent for the future. Though there aren't the popular names like Luck and Griffin, the draft will feature players that can step in right away and make an impact for their new teams. Be sure to catch the NFL Draft, airing Thursday night at 8PM on ESPN.