NFL Draft 2013 Results: Biggest Winners & Losers from Day 1
With the first round of the draft in the books, the most important picks have passed.
The middle rounds of the draft may be where great general managers make their money, but hitting or missing on first-round picks can make or break a franchise. Reaching for picks can lead to years of mediocrity. Missing out on players that will help your team can haunt teams and their fans for decades.
Who were the biggest winners and losers on Night 1 of the 2013 NFL draft?
Here's a quick look at every pick from the first round.
Winner: Offensive Line Draft Prospects
What a great year for trench warfare in the NFL!
Seeing Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson go in the top four was a strange sight, but so was watching Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack both go in the top 10! This forced teams to reach for Justin Pugh, Kyle Long and Travis Frederick.
These aren't "sexy" draft picks, but they are the kind of draft prospects that fortify franchises for a long time to come.
Loser: Manti Te'o
Manti Te'o is not a first-round pick.
I've said it over and over since before the college football season, but people didn't believe me. The hype train—fueled by a storied university and an ESPN-led Heisman campaign—seemed destined to put this guy in rarefied air as a top pick at middle linebacker.
Problem is he's not that great. His athleticism isn't on par with guys like Patrick Willis or Luke Kuechly. I'm not even sure he's as good as last year's crop of second-round picks—Bobby Wagner, Lavonte David and Mychal Kendricks.
If Te'o falls out of the top 50, I'll be surprised, but the second round is where he belongs.
Winner: EJ Manuel
No one really expected EJ Manuel to be the first quarterback taken. Many didn't think he'd even sneak into the first round!
I've been higher on Manuel than most. He's got all of the raw physical tools that a quarterback needs in the NFL, and he'll have a good coaching staff and weapons around him in Buffalo.
They'll probably sit him behind Kevin Kolb for a year or two, but Manuel has a good chance to be the best player from this draft class.
Loser: New York Giants and Chicago Bears
We've already talked about the reach for Pugh and Long, but while it's great for those players, it's a huge loss for the teams forced to pass on better players to protect their respective quarterbacks.
There's no doubt that the need was there. Eli Manning and Jay Cutler have both become volume passers, and it's dangerous to put up a huge number of passes without good protection in front of you. Still, fringe first-round prospects that are guard/tackle tweeners are not the type of players that should go in the first round.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
Defensive end Datone Jones was an inspired pick for Ted Thompson, who has shown a willingness to let the draft come to him and take the best player at a position Green Bay could use.
Jones steps right into the Packers' starting lineup (on an improving defense, no less) and helps create a lot of havoc on the line of scrimmage.
Against offenses like Chicago and Detroit, Jones will be a huge factor.
Loser: Geno Smith
There was no way this kid was supposed to fall out of the first round.
The only quarterback with a first-round grade on many boards, Geno Smith was a lock for one of the QB-needy teams in the top 10. Then, as the offensive linemen fell like dominoes, Smith had to realize he was in the green room for a long haul.
Look for Smith to go early on Day 2.
Hang in there Geno, "good things come to those who wait" -Paul Tagliabue— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) April 26, 2013
Winner: The SEC
Twelve picks in the first round is always a big headline, but fans don't always appreciate the cyclical nature of things like this. Because college recruits see all of these Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia players fly off the board, they'll think twice before heading up to Big Ten or Big East (now American Athletic) country.
The SEC has been the premier training ground for defensive NFL talent for a while, and nothing will change about that for quite some time.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
One of my favorite picks of the night was the perfect marriage of need, fit and value as the Panthers ended up with Utah's Star Lotulelei.
The Ute was the top defensive player on my board before his medical condition. Once he was medically cleared, I put him right back on top. Honestly, I believe a lot of teams will regret passing on him.
Meanwhile, in Carolina, he's a perfect fit and gives the defensive ends—Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy—a lot more room to work with. They'll see fewer double-teams, and Luke Kuechly will see fewer blockers up the middle.
Loser: Dallas Cowboys
I have a fringe starter grade on Travis Frederick and don't think he'll be any better than Phil Costa. Not only is this a huge reach (mitigated by the fact the Cowboys traded down), but it's at a position that is generally not valued very highly in the draft.
Long story short: The Cowboys almost certainly could have gotten Frederick a round or two later, but it wouldn't have mattered that much if they had missed on him.
Jerry Jones, once again, proves that owners shouldn't play with their toys.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
The biggest winners of the night with three draft picks, the Vikings bring in Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson. All three are immediate starters (or at least heavy snap players) at positions of need. I'm less excited about Floyd than most, but at the end of the first round, he's a steal.
This is an arrow across the bow of Green Bay saying, "We're not going anywhere."
Not only does this keep the Vikings defense stout in a conference with three high-octane offenses, but it also gives Christian Ponder another weapon that fits his style of play. Patterson replaces a little bit of the intermediate stuff that Percy Harvin did, so Ponder won't have to throw those plays out of his playbook.
A fantastic night for the Vikings, who got great value and met their needs with elite prospects.
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.