The Biggest Reaches from Day 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft
They say it takes years to properly assess a draft, so before we reveal who we believe made the biggest reaches on Day 1 of the 2013 NFL draft, let's make it clear: "Reaches" are all about perception, and perceptions change quickly in this league.
But based on who was available when all 32 picks were made Thursday night, and with no hindsight factoring in, here's an initial look at who we perceive to be the biggest reaches from Round 1.
Philadelphia Eagles Draft Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma) Fourth Overall
I get it—the Philadelphia Eagles need offensive line help. But when you draft in the top five, it's anything but ideal when you end up taking a guy considered only the third-best prospect at his position...especially when that position isn't quarterback.
The Eagles might have preferred all three of the selections ahead of them, but there had to be a trade market for them to move down and take Dee Milliner or Star Lotulelei, right?
Sometimes, reaches are necessary. Sometimes, they pay off. Lane Johnson helps this team a lot, but Eagles fans expected more from a top-five selection.
San Diego Chargers Draft D.J. Fluker (OT, Alabama) 11th Overall
Usually I side with teams that favor prospects who address positions of need over the "best player available" philosophy. In this case, though, I can't defend the San Diego Chargers' decision to use the 11th overall pick on D.J. Fluker.
Why? Because Fluker's stock was artificially inflated by the market, and the desperate Bolts might have caved for a guy who doesn't appear ready to play left tackle at the pro level any time soon.
Maybe the Chargers didn't have a choice here, but if they were that desperate for a tackle, they should have traded up for one of the big three, rather than reaching for a lifetime right tackle in the 11th spot.
The guy's a mauler, but King Dunlap is still your freakin' left tackle.
Oakland Raiders Draft D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston) 12th Overall
The Oakland Raiders had a chance to look like geniuses, which is quite the rarity. Oakland traded out of the No. 3 spot and still had Sharrif Floyd available at the No. 12 spot, but the Raiders instead went with a cornerback in a draft loaded with quality players at that position.
D.J. Hayden could become one hell of a player, and he addresses a need, but the Raiders probably could have had him a lot later in Round 1. Even if they eventually missed the Houston product, guys like Xavier Rhodes, Desmond Trufant and Jamar Taylor might have been available to them.
With Floyd, Sheldon Richardson and Star Lotulelei also still on the board at No. 12, I don't like this pick.
New York Giants Draft Justin Pugh (OT, Syracuse) 19th Overall
I understand that Justin Pugh's stock rose in the lead-up to the draft, but for a guy many think won't cut it as a tackle at the pro level, he wasn't worth taking in the top 20.
That's especially true with quality options in Bjoern Werner, Sharrif Floyd, Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes still on the board for the New York Giants.
Pugh, who missed four games last year for Syracuse due to a shoulder injury, has short arms, which concerns talent evaluators. He might be better suited as a guard or center, which would give New York some much-needed versatility, but it's still not enough to merit the 19th overall selection.
Chicago Bears Draft Kyle Long (OT, Oregon) 20th Overall
I get this one to more of a degree than I get the others, because the Chicago Bears are desperate for help along the offensive line, and Kyle Long at least went nine spots later than D.J. Fluker. Still, he was probably picked a little higher than most expected.
Chicago has issues in pass protection, but so does Long—at least as an offensive tackle. He's a great run-blocker, but he plays too high and has some technical flaws; that concerns me. The Bears would have been better off trading down (assuming they had the choice).
Dallas Cowboys Draft Travis Frederick (C, Wisconsin) 31st Overall
The Dallas Cowboys are always entertaining. This time, they provided us with the biggest "What the hell?" moment of the first round. They took a center whom NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock had given a third-round grade with the second-to-last pick of the first round.
Travis Frederick could turn into a great NFL center, but the Cowboys probably could have selected the Wisconsin product with the 47th overall pick in Round 2. Even if they lost him, would it have been such a big deal? Phil Costa isn't a sure thing, but the jury's still out on him, and the 'Boys definitely had/have bigger needs.
Dallas needed a center, but I can't believe it passed on Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien for this guy.