NFL Draft 2013: Where Top Quarterbacks, Running Backs Are Projected to Go
The 2013 NFL Draft is bereft of any quarterbacks worthy of being selected No. 1, and there isn't a running back to compare to Trent Richardson. So where will the top players at these two key positions be drafted this April?
The best we can do is project what we think might happen, because anyone who's followed the NFL draft for a few years or longer knows that some crazy stuff happens every year. Sometimes teams hit home runs on picks most experts excoriated, while other times the experts proved to be right.
Based on what we know about the players, here are the projections for the top five quarterbacks and running backs in this year's draft class.
Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia
Projected Landing Spot: Arizona Cardinals (No. 7 Overall)
With the recent news that John Dorsey won't reach for a quarterback (h/t KansasCity.com), it seems clear that Geno Smith isn't going to be the No. 1 pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
And with Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan both opting to stay in school for another year, this year's crop of offensive tackles took a huge blow.
Luke Joeckel will certainly be taken within the first handful of picks, so the most logical move for the Cardinals would be to draft the quarterback of the future, and Smith should still be around when they pick at No. 7.
Smith is very much a project quarterback at this point.
He doesn't have any experience in a pro-style offense, and though he is athletic, he isn't anything like Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick. He'll be more of a pocket quarterback who can maneuver out of trouble than a quarterback who'll burn teams with his legs.
His arm is plenty strong enough, and he is really accurate on short passes, but his medium-range accuracy needs work.
That said, his ceiling is high, and the Cardinals need a quarterback.
Tyler Wilson, Quarterback, Arkansas
Projected Landing Spot: Buffalo Bills (No. 8 Overall)
Ryan Fitzpatrick clearly isn't the answer for the Bills at the quarterback position.
At best, he's an average quarterback, and Buffalo needs more from its quarterback, being in the ultra-competitive AFC East.
Wilson is much more mobile than Fitzpatrick, has a better arm and has already proven he can deal with adversity during his stay at Arkansas. He has experience in a pro-style offense, and the Bills' strong running game will give him plenty of support as he learns how to lead an NFL team.
Mike Glennon, Quarterback, North Carolina State
Projected Landing Spot: Kansas City Chiefs (No. 34 Overall)
The Chiefs might not reach for a quarterback this spring, but there's no doubt Kansas City is desperate to upgrade its talent at that position.
Mike Glennon possesses an elite arm, and he's the best pure passer of any quarterback in this year's draft class. He's a bit like Joe Flacco, in that he is a statue in the pocket, but Kansas City has a decent offensive line and an excellent running game to combat his lack of mobility.
Tom Brady has never been accused of being a mobile quarterback though, so even though the latest trend has teams looking for dual-threat passers, it's clear there's still a place for pure pocket passers in the NFL.
Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Alabama
Projected Landing Spot: Atlanta Falcons (Late-First Round)
The Falcons have yet to nail down which spot they'll be drafting from, as the team is still in play for Super Bowl XLVII.
There's no doubt it's time to replace an aging, slow Michael Turner though, and of all the players in this year's draft class, Eddie Lacy fits what Atlanta does on offense the best.
Lacy is a power back with excellent burst and vision, and though he isn't the speediest back in the draft, his ability to hit holes with authority and run downhill makes him an attractive player for any team in need of a running back.
Additionally, Lacy is adept at catching the ball out of the backfield and is dangerous in open space. He would be a welcome addition to one of the NFL's most explosive offenses.
Ryan Nassib, Quarterback, Syracuse
Projected Landing Spot: Philadelphia Eagles (No. 35 Overall)
Michael Vick is surely going to be long gone by the time the 2013 NFL Draft arrives, and the jury's still out on Nick Foles.
The Eagles have some top-flight talent at the wide receiver and running back positions, but there is still some question as to who will pull the trigger on this potentially potent offense.
Ryan Nassib is an intriguing prospect. He is shorter than your traditional pocket passer, but Russell Wilson proved that is an invalid argument for leaving a shorter quarterback on the board.
Nassib possesses excellent pocket awareness, a phenomenal arm and savvy that is rare in such a young quarterback. He's an excellent fit with the talent in Philly, and I expect he'll be taken early on Day 2, regardless.
Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC
Projected Landing Spot: New York Jets (No. 40 Overall)
Perhaps no player has fallen further from 2012 to 2013 than Matt Barkley.
He stayed at USC to pursue his dream of winning a BCS title for the Trojans, but his senior season turned out to be one full of bitter disappointment.
The Jets have major issues on offense, and Mark Sanchez isn't the quarterback to fix them. His confidence is completely shot, and New York needs to bring in some legitimate competition this summer to challenge for the starting quarterback spot.
Barkley has a decent arm, and his accuracy is excellent on timing patterns, as long as he gets adequate protection. He isn't the best passer on the run, but there's no doubt he will be an excellent pro, given the right circumstances.
It remains to be seen if any quarterback will have the right circumstances to work with as long as Rex Ryan is the man in charge of the Jets, but Barkley is mentally tough and will be a good fit for this team.
Giovani Bernard, Running Back, North Carolina
Projected Landing Spot: Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 48 Overall)
The Steelers haven't found a player they really love at the running back position since Jerome Bettis retired.
And given the way Ben Roethlisberger's constantly getting injured, it's imperative that Pittsburgh finds a reliable running back to take pressure off its quarterback.
Giovani Bernard is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. Not only is he explosive as a between-the-tackles runner, but he is also an elusive back who can regularly make defenders miss.
He'd be the perfect complement to Roethlisberger's aerial attack, and he'd also contribute to it as a terrific pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Le'Veon Bell, Running Back, Michigan State
Projected Landing Spot: New York Jets (No. 73 Overall)
The New York Jets need to reestablish a power running game in the worst possible way.
Shonn Greene is not a bad running back, but he's not terrific, either.
Le'Veon Bell is a powerful runner who is always falling forward, always fighting for that extra yard, and he'd give the Jets an attitude on offense that's sorely been lacking.
Bell isn't a burner, and he won't be much of a home-run threat, but he'll keep the chains moving and should challenge for the Jets' starting spot from Day 1.
Joseph Randle, Running Back, Oklahoma State
Projected Landing Spot: San Diego Chargers (No. 108 Overall)
Philip Rivers has missed Darren Sproles, and the Chargers need to bring in another shifty back to fill the void Sproles left when he went to the New Orleans Saints a few years ago.
Joseph Randle comes from a shotgun offense, which San Diego makes use of often.
He is an excellent pass-catcher out of the backfield who is also a practiced route-runner. He makes people miss in space, and he'd be a boon to the Chargers on third downs as a runner, a receiver and a blocker.
Marcus Lattimore, Running Back, South Carolina
Projected Landing Spot: San Francisco 49ers (No. 151 Overall)
Marcus Lattimore might not even be able to set foot on an NFL field in 2013 as he rehabs from a devastating knee injury, but if any NFL team would be willing to take a chance on him, it would be the 49ers.
Kendall Hunter was injured this season, Frank Gore is nearing the end of his career and LaMichael James may not be capable of handling the load for the 49ers in the future.
Lattimore was the consensus No. 1 running back in this year's draft class before demolishing his knee, and if he can get himself back to 100 percent, the 49ers could have a gem on their hands in 2014.
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