Which Luxury Pick Will Each NFL Team Be Tempted to Take?
I recently wrote an article about what positions each NFL team needed to look at to have a successful draft next week. This article will do just the opposite.
Take the Washington Redskins for instance. In last year’s NFL draft, general manager Bruce Allen selected two quarterbacks. So the future of that position for the Redskins seems secure with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins on the roster.
But if a player like quarterback Ryan Nassib from Syracuse is available at the 51st pick, would Washington pull the trigger and draft him?
This article will address positions on each NFL team that may add depth or just be a player that would add excitement to a team. The Green Bay Packers had a luxury pick in selecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and that turned out great for the franchise.
Here is a look at player that each team would love to be able to add to the roster.
The Cardinals have one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald. They drafted a wide receiver, Michael Floyd in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, so the Cardinals will look to add other positions this year. But one player that would instantly upgrade the offense in Arizona is West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.
Imagine Fitzgerald on one side of the football field with Floyd or Andre Roberts (a former third-rounder) on the other side. By using Austin in motion or from the slot position, the Cardinals would force their opponents to play tons of nickel coverage. Austin would create countless coverage mismatches. Fitzgerald’s receiving numbers would go up exponentially as he would see more one-on-one coverage.
Another team that is loaded at wide receiver, the Falcons have plenty of depth, talent and experience at the position. Roddy White and Julio Jones are both former first-round picks for the Falcons.
Adding a player like West Virginia’s Tavon Austin would give them a different element at the position, but I think a great pick would be Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson. He compares favorably to Jones.
What better way for the young, well-traveled player to learn the ways of the NFL than from White and Jones. Another downfield weapon would make the Falcons offense almost unstoppable.
The Ravens have two very good young tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. Both are restricted free agents, and what is a position of strength for the Ravens could be a weakness after the 2013 season.
A great luxury selection for the Ravens in the 2013 NFL draft would be Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert. Many experts rank Eifert to be a first-round talent, and his addition to the Ravens offense would give quarterback Joe Flacco another weapon.
Eifert can learn from two solid professionals like Pitta and Dickson. By using all three tight ends on the field at the same time, the Ravens can attack the middle of the field against the opposing defenses. The Ravens do not need him, but Eifert would look good in a Ravens uniform.
The Bills have plenty of needs to address in the 2013 NFL draft, but a solid luxury pick would be addressing the defensive end position in the draft. The Bills paid defensive end Mario Williams a truckload of money to improve the pass rush. Mark Anderson, the other starter, has shown his ability to rush the passer as well.
But if the Bills want to be truly dominant, taking a player like BYU’s Ziggy Ansah would be a huge coup for new head coach Doug Marrone. By lining up Williams, Anderson, Ansah and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on passing downs, the Bills would be a force to be reckoned with. Williams would see more single blocks and could get to the 20-sack plateau for the season.
In 2011, the Panthers used the first pick overall on quarterback Cam Newton. That selection has paid off so far for the team. While they do not technically need another quarterback on the roster, drafting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith would be a great “get” for new general manager Dave Gettleman.
The Panthers missed on quarterback Jimmy Clausen and also have Derek Anderson on the roster, but by drafting Smith, the Panthers would have a good young arm on the bench to learn from Newton. Smith would not be asked to start or even play right away. If Newton were to get hurt, Smith’s ability is not much of a drop off from Newton’s either.
The Bears paid two running backs, Matt Forte and Michael Bush, decent amounts of cash to hold down the position in Chicago. Forte has shown he can be a franchise runner and Bush, when asked to play an extended role, has proven his worth and value.
The Bears need defensive help in the front seven, but a sleeper pick for the Bears would be adding UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin. He has more speed than both Forte and Bush. Franklin would give new head coach Marc Trestman another weapon out of the back field.
Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL and seems to make good players out of any that are handed to him. Zimmer made Vontaze Burfict a legitimate NFL starter at linebacker and helped resurrect cornerback Adam Jones’ career.
The Bengals have two former first-round picks starting at cornerback—Leon Hall and last year’s selection Dre Kirkpatrick. If the Bengals are able to select cornerback Xavier Rhodes from Florida State in the 2013 NFL draft, they may have the best secondary in the AFC.
Zimmer could get very creative with his blitz packages knowing the secondary will lock down the opponents’ receivers.
New general manager Mike Lombardi was very active in free agency and tried to fill many of the Browns' needs in March. Lombardi was extremely aggressive on the defensive side of the football, signing rush linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive end Desmond Bryant.
In 2011, the Browns drafted defensive tackle Phil Taylor in the first round and have solid depth along the defensive front. Adding a player like Alabama’s defensive tackle Jesse Williams would be a steal for Cleveland and would allow defensive coordinator Ray Horton to devise all types of blitz packages to attack the offenses Cleveland will face.
The Cowboys just locked up quarterback Tony Romo and decided to place the franchise tag on outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys have a ton of money tied up in the outside linebacker position. That is why adding another pass-rusher does not make much sense but would be a great addition if they did.
Think of the defensive mismatches the Cowboys could use on the football field if they drafted a player like Florida State’s edge-rusher Cornellius “Tank” Carradine. Ware could move all along the defensive front and find the weakest blocker to exploit. With a lineup like that on defense for the Cowboys, new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin could have a top-five unit.
Quarterback Peyton Manning is one of the best of all time. With another offseason in the Broncos offense, Manning will only get better. Club president John Elway knows all about all-time quarterbacks, being one himself.
Last year, Elway used a second-round selection on quarterback Brock Osweiler. But the jury is still out on the second-year professional from Arizona State.
A sneaky-good pick for the Broncos in the 2013 NFL draft would be getting USC’s quarterback Matt Barkley. The former Trojan has taken a beating by media and draft pundits all year. By getting drafted by Denver, Barkley could learn from two of the greatest players to ever play the position and would not be forced to play right away.
This luxury pick could turn out to be like Aaron Rodgers getting selected by the Packers in 2005.
General manager Martin Mayhew targeted running back Reggie Bush in 2013 NFL free agency and got his man. Backup Mikel Leshoure has proven to be a capable player when he can stay healthy. Even Joique Bell has a solid track record as an NFL running back. The Lions have other draft needs, but a solid luxury pick for them would be Alabama’s Eddie Lacy.
Lacy would be the power to Bush’s speed, and this duo could help even out the Lions’ pass-happy offense. The Lions need to find a running attack, and by using Lacy to spell Bush, the offense led by quarterback Matthew Stafford could find a balance. Lacy would also give the Lions a red-zone option.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are one of the better drafting teams in the NFL, led by general manager Ted Thompson. While the Packers do have some holes that need to be filled like linebacker and offensive line, one of their deepest and most talented positions is wide receiver.
That is why drafting Cal’s Keenan Allen would be a major “get” for Thompson and the Packers.
Allen is the most disciplined route-runners in the 2013 NFL draft and was at one time most pundits’ No. 1 wide receiver in this draft class. An injury has hampered him this offseason, but by adding him to Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, Thompson would give quarterback Aaron Rodgers another trusted player at the wideout position.
General manager Rick Smith has quietly stacked the Texans roster with playmakers on both sides of the football. One of the strengths of this team is the cornerback position. Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are two of the better players in the NFL.
Smith can add depth to the position by taking Johnthan Banks from Mississippi State. This would allow Joseph to jump inside to cover the slot wide receivers in the AFC South. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips covets big cornerbacks, and using a luxury pick on a player like Banks only makes the Texans defense better.
General manager Ryan Grigson showed his drafting chops last season by selecting major contributors like wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill and of course quarterback Andrew Luck. He also added tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
Grigson drafts by taking the best-valued player on the board, and in 2013 a huge luxury pick for the Colts would be at the wide receiver position. Indianapolis has Reggie Wayne on the roster still to go along with Hilton and Brazill. Grigson also signed Darrius Heyward-Bey this offseason. A player like USC’s Robert Woods would give the Colts another big wide receiver that can stretch the field.
The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill, and new general manager David Caldwell needs to hit on all his selections, especially with the No. 2 pick overall. One position the Jaguars are solid at is linebacker, so selecting a player like Georgia’s Alec Ogletree is definitely a luxury pick.
Olgetree would instantly push either Russell Allen or Geno Hayes for the starting spot. Olgetree is a playmaker who can rush the passer as well. The Jaguars do not need him, but if Caldwell was able to get someone of Olgetree’s talent, the selection is a no-brainer.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have the No. 1 selection overall and could go many different directions. While most people expect new general manager John Dorsey to draft an offensive or defensive lineman, a luxury position to draft is cornerback. The Chiefs just paid Sean Smith to leave Miami and already have Brandon Flowers locking down the other cornerback spot.
I am not suggesting that Dorsey use the No. 1 pick on a cornerback, but if the Chiefs wanted to shake up the draft, selecting a player like Alabama’s cornerback Dee Milliner would not be a bad move. Dorsey covets bigger cornerbacks, and Milliner has shown he can handle playing on the biggest of stages.
Drafting a cornerback at all in 2013 is a luxury for the Chiefs.
General manager Jeff Ireland went on a shopping spree in free agency in 2013 and added a bunch of pieces to the Dolphins roster. Ireland got a wide receiver in Mike Wallace and two linebackers, Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe.
One position that Ireland did not address because of the depth and talent is safety.
Reshad Jones is one of the better safeties no one in the NFL talks about, and Chris Clemons is a very solid player as well. Jimmy Wilson adds very good depth and toughness to the position.
That is why selecting Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro would be a great pick but very much one of luxury. Vaccaro matched up with Jones would give the Dolphins one of best safety combos in the game and would help the Dolphins compete against the tight ends of the New England Patriots in the AFC East.
The Vikings have used a lot of draft picks over the years on the defensive line. This is also one of the strengths of the Vikings. Defensive end Jared Allen has lost a step but still has the ability to close on the quarterback. While the Vikings have holes at wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback, a luxury selection would be at defensive end.
Bjoern Werner, the defensive end from Florida State, sounds like a player who should be on the Vikings. If Minnesota were able to draft Werner, he could learn from Allen and Brian Robison. With those three on the field with defensive tackle Kevin Williams, the Vikings would be tough to block in pass-rush situations.
New England Patriots
All three starting linebackers for the Patriots were high draft selections by Bill Belichick. Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower were first-round picks. Brandon Spikes was a second-rounder in 2010. The Patriots are loaded at the position, which makes selecting Georgia’s Jarvis Jones such a luxury.
Jones has slipped in many people’s minds due to neck-injury issues and a slow 40 time. But by adding Jones to an already solid defense, Belichick can continue to get pressure on the quarterback. This will also free up last year’s first-round pick, Chandler Jones, to get more man-to-man pass-rush opportunities.
New Orleans Saints
All quarterback Drew Brees needs is another offensive weapon, but with the solid depth and play at the wide receiver position, this is a luxury spot for the Saints. Marques Colston is still one of the better players in the NFL. Lance Moore is consistently good, and head coach Sean Payton is expecting good things from last year’s fourth-round pick, Nick Toon.
Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton could stay in the state and would give Brees another playmaker on the outside. Patton is game-ready and could play from day one in the Saints offense. By working with a player like Brees, Patton has the work ethic and talent to be a Pro Bowler in New Orleans.
New York Giants
The Giants have weapons and depth at wide receiver and running back. In 2012, GM Jerry Reese took runner David Wilson in the first round. The depth behind Wilson is outstanding. Andre Brown could start for most teams. Da’Rel Scott is a former draft pick, and Ryan Torain has NFL experience.
That is why drafting Wisconsin’s Montee Ball is not a need but would be a good fit in New York. Ball is one of the most productive players in college football history. Ball fits the Giants' run-blocking scheme and would be a very productive one-two punch with Wilson.
New York Jets
The Jets are clearly in a rebuilding phase, and for Rex Ryan to still be the coach after the 2013 season, the Jets need to win now. New general manager John Idzik cannot afford to miss on any of the 2013 NFL draft picks. But if the Jets were to take a luxury pick, Datone Jones from UCLA would be the selection.
Jones was a hit at the Senior Bowl and dramatically increased his draft stock since leaving the Bruins. The Jets drafted Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round in 2011. Last year, they used their first-round selection on another defensive end, Quinton Coples. Jones would be a great addition to the Jets defense, but he is a true luxury.
Reggie McKenzie, the general manager for the Raiders, is the antithesis of former owner Al Davis. While Davis drafted the fastest player every draft and seemed to make moves that did not work, McKenzie is meticulous and thorough. The Raiders have a lot of needs, but one spot Oakland is solid at is along the offensive line.
That is why picking Luke Joeckel out of Texas A&M would be an amazing but not needed addition. Jared Veldheer is a former third-round pick who has done a very good job at left tackle. While Joeckel is a better player, the Raiders have too many holes to use a high pick at a position that is already getting solid production.
The Eagles are switching to the 3-4 defense and added pass-rusher Connor Barwin in free agency. He will start opposite of Trent Cole. Inside linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are both former high draft selections. The Eagles do not need another pass-rusher, but new head coach Chip Kelly knows Dion Jordan and would love to add him to the roster.
Jordan, lined up with Barwin, Cole and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox would be a nightmare to block and would keep offensive line coaches up at night. The Eagles need offensive line help, but Jordan is too good to pass up.
Ben Roethlisberger is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and one of the best in the NFL. The Steelers went out and signed Bruce Gradkowski to be Roethlisberger’s primary backup in 2013. The Steelers have other needs in the 2013 NFL draft, but a solid luxury pick would be Ryan Nassib out of Syracuse.
Nassib has played in a pro-style offense and plays with swagger. He has played a ton of games in poor weather, so playing in Pittsburgh would not bother him. He would not be asked to play right away either. Nassib can learn to be a professional by observing Roethlisberger.
When Ben is ready to retire, Nassib can step in as the heir apparent.
San Diego Chargers
New general manager Tom Telesco and new head coach Mike McCoy are trying to rebuild a Chargers team that got old very quickly. One position that is a strength for the Chargers is outside linebacker. Melvin Ingram looks to be a Pro Bowler in the making. Jarret Johnson is a wily veteran who always seems to be around the football. Larry English is a former first-round selection.
That is why drafting outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo out of LSU would be such a luxury. Mingo, paired with Ingram, would give the Chargers two explosive edge-rushers who are versatile. Both would benefit from the other being on the team, and they would give the Chargers an instant upgrade at sacking the quarterback.
San Francisco 49ers
One of the deepest teams in the NFL, the 49ers have the luxury to make almost all their selections luxury picks. The 49ers have the 31st and 34th picks in the 2013 NFL draft. They have the ammunition to move up and make a luxury pick like Jonathan Cooper, offensive guard from North Carolina.
The 49ers are loaded along the offensive line, but Cooper can play both guard positions and center as well. Cooper can watch and learn as a rookie, getting spot duty late in games. Head coach Jim Harbaugh can groom him to eventually take over for Jonathan Goodwin at center or as an upgrade for Alex Boone at right guard.
General manager John Schneider continues to make bold moves. He drafted defensive end Bruce Irvin in the first round last season. In the free-agency period this year, he added wide receiver Percy Harvin, and defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
Schneider drafted two safeties in 2010 and both start for Seattle now. Earl Thomas is one of the best in the NFL and Kam Chancellor sets the tone for the physical Seahawk defense.
Drafting South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger adds another big hitter to the Seahawks' back half. Swearinger will not be asked to start right away so he can get his feet wet in the NFL on special teams. He instantly upgrades the special teams units.
St. Louis Rams
General manager Les Snead has an extra first-round pick this year courtesy of the Washington Redskins from last year. With that pick, Snead has the option to make a luxury selection, and a perfect fit for head coach Jeff Fisher would be cornerback Desmond Trufant from University of Washington.
The Rams took Janoris Jenkins in the second round last year, and he starts opposite Cortland Finnegan. By adding Trufant, Fisher gets another shutdown cornerback who can kick Finnegan inside in nickel situations. Trufant has size and speed, and is a willing tackler. The Rams have another third-rounder from last year, Trumaine Johnson, on the roster. Those four cornerbacks could give the Rams one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mark Dominik, the Buccaneers general manager, and head coach Greg Schiano have quietly put together a solid roster to compete for the NFC South title. Last year, they drafted two impact starters, running back Doug Martin and safety Mark Barron. With eight picks this draft, these two men need to continue to hit home runs.
One area that would be a luxury for them to make a pick is linebacker. The Buccaneers just signed Jonathan Casillas as a free agent. He will be counted on to start next to Mason Foster and Lavonte David. Schiano could add competition by drafting LSU linebacker Kevin Minter. Minter may be the best inside linebacker in this draft. He would make the Buccaneers one of the best and youngest units in the NFL.
The Titans have draft needs along the offensive line, the defensive line and in the secondary. Losing starting tight end Jared Cook will make general manager Ruston Webster address that position as well. One spot the Titans are loaded at is wide receiver, which is why selection Tennessee wide out Justin Hunter would be a total luxury pick.
Hunter does not get the hype that college teammate Cordarrelle Patterson does, but he may have a chance to be a better professional. If he could stay in Tennessee and play with the likes of Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Kendall Wright, Hunter could learn the pro game. He would become another weapon for quarterback Jake Locker.
The Redskins are an up-and-coming team that should continue to get better even if quarterback Robert Griffin III takes time to get healthy. Backup Kirk Cousins is a good player and can win games in his own right. One position the Redskins are very deep at is running back, especially after hitting on Alfred Morris last draft.
Le’Veon Bell would be a major luxury selection, and the former Michigan State runner played in a similar offensive system in college and would add great depth behind Morris. Every running back that plays under head coach Mike Shanahan seems to benefit from playing in his system, and Bell would be no different.