Predictions for Day 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft
The NFL draft kicks off Thursday, April 25, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The first round gets underway at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, and the draft itself goes through Saturday.
Countless predictions have been made up until this point by both fans and media—most of which will be proven wrong once the picks are announced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The first day of the draft is a time of endless optimism. Every pick is a future Hall of Fame inductee as they're whisked off to their new home cities for press conferences and media appearances.
So, in that spirit of optimism, here are 10 more predictions that are sure to be right in the first round of the NFL draft.
Luke Joeckel Goes First Overall
Luke Joeckel NFL Player Comparison
Let's start at the very beginning.
Recently, Eric Fisher has been rising up boards as a potential top pick. I've been pointing out his massive talent level since the Senior Bowl, where I pegged him as a potential top-five player. Still, this song and dance has happened before.
Luke Joeckel has been the presumptive top pick for a long time. It's almost impossible to get to this point without people questioning the validity of the prediction. We saw arm strength concerns with Andrew Luck last year, and rumors that maybe Cam Newton and Sam Bradford weren't the guys for their respective teams before that.
Fisher certainly could go above Joeckel—he's got that much talent, and we don't know which impresses the Chiefs more. Yet, the smart money is still on the Aggie while the rest looks like last-minute smoke and mirrors.
A Running Back Will Definitely Go in the First Round
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But the chances of him going in the first round look slim to none. Many of the teams in the later first round don't need a running back—at least, not as much as they need other positions.
1963 is the last year a running back failed to go in the first round. Even then, Jerry Stovall (a Pro Bowl defensive back) was drafted second overall and could easily be considered a running back—his college position.
Lacy isn't going to break that trend. Look for one of the teams, perhaps the St. Louis Rams or Green Bay Packers, to select him over more pressing needs. A team picking in the second round could also move up to grab him.
Lane Johnson Is Going to Have a Huge Market Around Him
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So often, we think of players on the big board and don't actually group them in the way many teams do. Lots of NFL scouts and personnel men talk about tiers of prospects—a group of talent where the ranking drops off precipitously after the last guy in the tier.
This year features one of the best top tiers of offensive tackle talent since 2009 (Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith). Teams are already jockeying for position to grab either Joeckel, Fisher or Lane Johnson.
Because Johnson's the last guy in the tier, teams are going to head to the phone lines the second Joeckel and Fisher are off the board. Expect a team like San Diego to end up with him before its original first-round pick is on the clock.
Tavon Austin Will Go to a Team That Already Has a Good Receiving Corps
Tavon Austin NFL Player Comparison
Calling Tavon Austin a receiver is a bit of a mislabel.
When teams talk about Austin, it's never as an "X" or "Z" receiver. It's usually not as a very talented slot guy either.
Instead, the idea with Austin has always been to just engineer ways to get him the ball and let him do what he does best. While the two are very different players, the role is similar to Percy Harvin or Dexter McCluster.
The team that selects Austin isn't going to count on him as a receiver; it will be to make an already talented receiving corps that much better. Teams to watch out for: Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers.
Manti Te'o May Go Late, or Maybe Not Until Friday
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Manti Te'o is not a first-round talent.
I've been saying that since last season, but the hype around the Notre Dame prospect and the consistent storylines he generates make him a tantalizing player for many in the media.
He's this class' Tim Tebow, and I mean that in all the wrong ways.
Te'o might end up at the bottom of the first round. The Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens both have a big need for middle linebackers and could reach for him, especially if LSU's Kevin Minter is off the board. Still, don't be surprised if Te'o is left waiting until Friday night to hear his named called.
The Dallas Cowboys Will Trade Back
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Other than the Kansas City Chiefs, no team has been as eager to trade down as the Dallas Cowboys.
Jerry Jones and Co. know that the strength of this draft class is in the middle rounds. Their needs (interior offensive line, safeties, linebackers) can be filled later on in the draft. For a team with lots of salary-cap issues, adding a bunch of cheap rookie talent makes sense.
The Cowboys will likely end up as a trading partner for a team trying to trade up to get the quarterback they like. This slot could be the landing place for Ryan Nassib or Matt Barkley, but neither one will be starting over Tony Romo.
The Trade Record Will Be Matched or Broken
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With every team in the top 10 at least considering a trade down, we're likely to see a number of trades on Thursday night. To break last year's record of 19 trades, a lot more movement is going to have to happen.
The aforementioned strength of this draft class (the middle rounds), the need for teams to grab a quarterback and the draft's new three-day format should lead to increased trade activity.
With the small number of elite first-tier prospects at numerous positions, we could see easily 19 or 20 trades in the first round.
Menelik Watson Gets Left in the Green Room
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Of all the players invited to the official draft festivities in New York, Menelik Watson and his Florida State teammate EJ Manuel have the best chance of sticking around until the draft's second day. Because of the position Manuel plays, it's much more likely that a team will reach for him.
Watson is a talented player, but he's a talent who teams will likely have to wait on until he develops. As such, he'll be left in the green room on Thursday night.
The New York Jets Pick Gets Booed
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This is a pretty easy prediction every year, along with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles picks being booed. This year, however, it's even more applicable as Darrelle Revis heads to Tampa Bay and gives the Jets a second first-rounder.
Simple math tells us that two picks to boo has a better chance than one. More than that, fans aren't exactly ecstatic that Revis is gone (even if it was the right move, and it was).
Plenty of attendees in Radio City Music Hall are going to compare the pick—whoever it is—to their dearly departed cover corner and put the newest Jet on "Boo Island."
Three (Maybe Four) Quarterbacks Will Go in the First Round
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We've talked about it a couple times already, but let's make this prediction official, shall we?
This is certainly a subjective opinion, but Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib and EJ Manuel are all second-round talents. Still, they'll probably go in the first round.
Teams can't wait on quarterbacks in the draft. They don't fall like other positions, and there are very rarely any steals at the position. It's important to get the guy who fits your specific team, and that often means grabbing them higher than they're necessarily worth.
Look for the teams at the bottom of the draft to do some wheeling and dealing so the teams at the top of the second round can move up and grab their new starting quarterbacks.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.