The Biggest Surprises from Day 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft
The first round of the 2013 NFL draft was already viewed as one of the most unpredictable in recent memory going in, with no clear No. 1 and a number of players of great skill who could end up being selected at any time.
Thursday night certainly carried out those expectations, with a number of unexpected picks, falls and trades punctuating the entire round. Here are the biggest surprises of Day 1 of the draft.
E.J. Manuel Is the 1st —and Only—QB off the Board
The free-agency run on quarterbacks initially seemed like an indictment of the 2013 quarterback class, and it looks like it indeed was. Even in years where the crop of draftable quarterbacks aren't particularly that inspiring, there are often a handful of teams that choose to pull the trigger in the first round, regardless. That wasn't so this year.
A quarterback did get drafted in Round 1, but it wasn't the one most expected—Geno Smith out of West Virginia. And the team that took said unexpected quarterback, the Buffalo Bills, were absolutely in the market to add a rookie passer. Many believed that would be Ryan Nassib, simply because new Bills coach Doug Marrone was Nassib's coach at Syracuse. But no...it was EJ Manuel, from Florida State.
The Bills selected Manuel at No. 16 after trading down with the St. Louis Rams. While the Bills certainly needed someone to compete with Kevin Kolb, Manuel is an interesting—and even controversial—selection.
At first blush, Manuel doesn't seem like rookie-starter material. He particularly has issues under pressure and football security. Perhaps these issues can be ironed out, but chances are he'll need to marinate on the bench behind Kolb, hopefully for the entire season.
How telling, however, about Smith, Nassib and the rest of the quarterback class that Manuel was not only the first passer taken, but also the only selected in Round 1?
3 Offensive Tackles in First 4 Picks
We all knew that the biggest positional buzz heading into this year's draft was surrounding the offensive tackles, but it didn't become completely apparent until the first round began in earnest. The Kansas City Chiefs took Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher first overall, as was widely reported earlier in the day.
Then, rather surprisingly, the Jacksonville Jaguars took another left tackle, Luke Joeckel, with their second overall pick despite having a very good left tackle, Eugene Monroe, already on the roster. Clearly, they weren't as interested in a dedicated right tackle later on and decided to make a splash at two.
The third offensive tackle to go went No. 4. Lane Johnson, the draft's most athletic guard, heads to the Philadelphia Eagles to work in what's likely to be a very fast-paced offense under new head coach Chip Kelly.
It's not just that these tackles were fall-backs in a draft devoid of any can't-miss talent at the top. Rather, it's more reflective of how many teams were in dire straits when it came to protecting their own quarterbacks.
Still, it's the first time in draft history that offensive tackles have gone back-to-back at picks one and two, which makes it both historically significant as well as surprising.
The Dolphins-Raiders Trade
Trades were bound to develop in such an unpredictable first round. However, the first of the night, between the Oakland Raiders at No. 3 and Miami Dolphins at 12, was quite surprising.
With a need at left tackle, it seemed like the Dolphins were gunning for Oklahoma's Lane Johnson. Instead, they forewent the offensive line altogether and made an addition to their defense, grabbing Oregon pass-rusher Dion Jordan.
Jordan was considered by many to be a top-five pick, so it's not shocking that he went third. However, that the Dolphins were the ones to move up and grab him was an unexpected move.
The Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd Slides
While it's not insane that Geno Smith wasn't among the first five or 10 selections, the slide of two seemingly sure-thing defensive tackles was absolutely unexpected.
Both Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd had been viewed as top-10 or even top-five picks for months. It seemed a foregone conclusion they'd both be off the board early. Instead, Lotulelei lingered until the 14th overall pick when the Carolina Panthers got a steal, while Floyd fell all the way to 23rd and the Minnesota Vikings.
The drops of Floyd and Lotulelei once again help illustrate how nothing is ever 100 percent certain heading into the draft, no matter how strong the consensus about a player.
Minnesota Vikings Trade Back into 1st Round
The Minnesota Vikings had two picks in the first round—their 23rd overall selection and the 25th overall pick, which they acquired in the Percy Harvin trade with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Vikings used those two picks on defense, taking Sharrif Floyd and then cornerback Xavier Rhodes with the second. However, they still had a major need to fill—wide receiver—and they saw themselves an opportunity.
The New England Patriots didn't come into the draft with very many picks, so it seemed highly likely that they'd try to find a trade partner and add some ammo. They found a willing one in the Vikings—perhaps a little too willing.
For the honor of moving back into the end of the first round, the Vikings surrendered four picks: Their second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-rounders (Nos. 52, 83, 102, 229) just so Minnesota could take receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who had a surprising slide.
Granted, the Vikings met a very important need, but they sure gave up a lot of valuable picks to do so. They had to have felt quite strongly about Patterson to give up four picks to land him.
Manti Te'o Is Still on the Board
Though Manti Te'o was one of the most controversial potential first-round prospects, but if you told any college football fan in the middle of the Notre Dame linebacker's Heisman run that Te'o would fall out of Round 1 entirely, many would've been truly dumbfounded. And it wasn't entirely because of the "catfishing" scandal, either.
Te'o is a high-effort player, but there are a number of holes in his game. The simple fact that he doesn't project to be a three-down linebacker is certainly enough to push him out of Round 1.
Inside linebacker is, in general, not a typical first-round position. It's a bit less high-impact and teams can certainly wait until Round 2 to go after top prospects at the position. Only one went in the first round—Georgia's Alec Ogletree at 30th overall to the St. Louis Rams.
NFL general mangers validate the belief that Te'o received way more media attention than his position and skill set warranted, as he's still on the board heading into Day 2 of the draft.