NFL Draft Grades 2013: Analyzing the Top 5 Selections from This Year's Draft
The 2013 NFL draft is officially upon us, and the top five was highlighted by lineman on both ends of the ball. With three offensive lineman and two athletic pass-rushers, the first five teams made a commitment to protecting and attacking the quarterback.
So how will each of these picks pan out?
The Kansas City Chiefs opened up with the first overall draft choice, using it on offensive tackle Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan. One pick later, the Jacksonville Jaguars took another offensive tackle in Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M.
The Miami Dolphins proceeded to trade up, thus taking the third overall draft choice from the Oakland Raiders and selecting pass-rusher Dion Jordan out of Oregon.
At No. 4, the Philadelphia Eagles solidified their offensive line by taking Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma. To round out this lineman-heavy draft, the Detroit Lions selected defensive end Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah out of BYU.
So how do these players fit into their new system?
Eric Fisher, OT, Kansas City Chiefs: A+
The Kansas City Chiefs didn't need a left tackle, as Branden Albert is a quality player under the franchise tag. With that being said, they landed the type of player that could anchor their offensive line for the next decade.
That's an important piece of information considering the Chiefs have a new quarterback and head coach.
Kansas City brought in Alex Smith and Andy Reid to run the offense in what is likely to be a West Coast set. Smith has the ability to do so and plays mistake free football, but needs his blindside to be protected for this offense to flourish.
Fisher's athleticism, strength and positional versatility permits him to provide an elite level of protection early in his career.
Furthermore, the Chiefs have an elite rushing attack led by Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles. With Fisher able to pull and block for the runner, Charles should find that this selection was of the ideal nature.
It wasn't glamorous, but the Chiefs made the perfect move here.
Luke Joeckel, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars: A+
The Jacksonville Jaguars entered the 2013 NFL draft with a serious need at the quarterback position. The options were to either draft an improvement at quarterback or to bring in players to improve their current crop's quality of play.
The Jaguars took the latter route by taking the best player available in offensive tackle Luke Joeckel.
Joeckel should step in and start from day one, providing blindside protection for either Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne. Regardless of who lines up under center, Joeckel has the rare ability to recover once the pocket collapses.
For evidence, note that Joeckel made a career out of protecting Johnny Manziel and Ryan Tannehill.
The Jaguars could have gone for a defensive player, but the crop is still ripe during the second round of the draft. More importantly, they wouldn't have found a better value pick than Joeckel, who may be the best player of this draft class.
When you land a player that can anchor your offensive line for the next decade, you've made a good pick.
Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Miami Dolphins: A-
The Miami Dolphins have an elite pass-rusher in Cameron Wake, which suggests that getting after the quarterback is not a need. By trading up to acquire Dion Jordan of the Oregon Ducks, however, one thing is clear.
This organization is committed to playing elite defense and rushing the passer.
Jordan measures more as a 3-4 outside linebacker than as a 4-3 defensive end. While this could pose questions in Miami, the team wouldn't have traded up to land Jordan if they didn't believe he was capable of playing elite football for their team.
As for how it all pans out, the key is Wake.
Wake is coming off of a 2012 season in which he recorded 15.0 sacks and was selected a first team All-Pro. After the past three seasons, he's picked up a combined 37.5 sacks and started all 48 games.
With that being said, he's 31 years old and is in need of a long-term replacement than can alleviate defensive pressure.
Wake may continue to defy father time, but Jordan's presence could elongate his career. Not only will Jordan's presence improve Miami's overall quality of defense, but he can help address a positional need for years to come.
That's what you call a quality selection.
Lane Johnson, OT, Philadelphia Eagles: A+
The Philadelphia Eagles hired Chip Kelly to become their head coach and thus adopted his up-tempo offense. They also made a commitment to quarterback Michael Vick for the 2013 regular season.
The only logical step was to bring on a player that could protect Vick's blindside after the Eagles let up the fifth most sacks in the NFL in 2012.
To address that need, the Eagles drafted offensive lineman Lane Johnson of the Oklahoma Sooners. Johnson, an intriguing athlete that was once a quarterback, is exactly the athlete necessary to block in Kelly's style of offense.
Now it's on Vick to return to the elite level he's capable of playing at.
Johnson may not be the glamorous skill player that can thrive in Kelly's offense as a playmaker, but he's just as important. With his ability to protect a quarterback in an offense that thrives on constant motion, Johnson could be the key to moving the chains.
Assuming he pans out as planned, Johnson was the perfect pick.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, Detroit Lions: A
The Detroit Lions have an elite interior defensive line with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley working their power game. With that being said, the Lions were 20th in sacks during the 2012 regular season.
In order to improve their team in said area, they landed the athletically gifted Ezekiel Ansah of the Brigham Young Cougars.
Ansah is a raw football player, but he's gone from having no experience as a basketball import from Ghana to an intriguing pass-rusher. Not only does his athleticism and size permit an elite future, but Ansah has active hands and explosive leaping ability.
Ansah is not quite as powerful as him, but his ability to defend the pass is similar to Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
Ansah should have no trouble getting after the quarterback, regardless of what set he ends up playing in. The key, of course, is that Ansah will be playing on a defense that has lane-clogging teammates such as Suh and Fairley.
Ansah could experience an early learning curve, but the upside here is undeniable.
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