NFL Draft Grades 2013: Assessing Value of Every First-Round Pick

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25:  E.J. Manuel of the Florida State Seminoles holds up a jersey on stage after he was picked #16 overall by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Spoiler alert: E.J. Manuel wasn't a very good pick.

Manuel was just one of the 32 players drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. Some will consider him the worst pick of the first round, while others think he could be a masterful selection.

Still, Manuel wasn't the kind of pick that will be remembered years from now as a huge bust. Many talked about the lack of elite quarterbacks, but that didn't mean there was a lack of overall talent. This first round was very deep, and there were few, if any, selections that were extremely poor.

Without further ado, here are the grades for each first-round draft pick.


1. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

Grade: A-

Eric Fisher is gonna be good. He's just not gonna be as good as Luke Joeckel. You can't say the Kansas City Chiefs necessarily got this pick wrong; however, they could have done better. Years from now, Chiefs fans will be ruing the day the team passed up on Joeckel.

Fisher is the better athlete, but he's not going to be a better blocker in the NFL. Joeckel is incredibly polished and versatile at left tackle. Fisher simply isn't there yet. His footwork is very good, and he's a great athlete for somebody his size.

The biggest issue right now with Fisher is strength. He needs to add some muscle to his frame in order to not get pushed around by smaller, more compact defensive linemen.


2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Grade: A+

Although the Jaguars already have Eugene Monroe, they couldn't pass up a talent like Joeckel. You wonder what Monroe's future is in Jacksonville now. He's been very good, so left tackle wasn't a pressing concern coming in.

With Joeckel, though, Gus Bradley is getting his left tackle for the next decade. In college, Joeckel had to block for two completely different quarterbacks in Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel. He was equally proficient with both, which illustrated his talent at the position.

Like Fisher, Joeckel actually looks rather thin for a left tackle, but his frame allows him to have the quickness to handle speed rushers coming off the edge. This is a fantastic pick for Jacksonville.


3. Miami Dolphins (via Oakland): Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

Grade: A

Many thought the Miami Dolphins were going to draft Lane Johnson when they moved up to the third pick. Instead they took Dion Jordan, and it's a great move. Jordan is the best pass-rusher in the draft. He's tall and fast, so offensive linemen will have a hard time figuring out how to handle him.


4. Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

Grade: A-

The offensive line was a mess for Philadelphia last season. As a result, the Eagles got Johnson with the fourth pick. They must have been breathing a sigh of relief when the Dolphins took Jordan, since that let Johnson fall right into their hands.


5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU

Grade: A

The Detroit Lions' pass rush is pretty threadbare right now. Ezekiel Ansah is a major upgrade. He's extremely quick and strong. Also, you have to marvel at the improvements he's made to his game in such a short period of time. Ansah is going to be second to Jordan in terms of top pass-rushers to come out of this draft.


6. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

Grade: B-

With the sixth pick, Barkevious Mingo is a huge risk. Many have compared him to Bruce Irvin, and it's easy to see why. Irvin had a good season, registering eight sacks. However, he also looks very one-dimensional at this point.

Mingo is a good pass rusher and a freak athlete. Unfortunately for the Cleveland Browns, there's a very good chance he doesn't evolve as a player. He has yet to develop the kind of technique you'd hope to see after three years of college.

You're not getting much value with the sixth overall pick should he become a one-dimensional hybrid who can only rush the quarterback.


7. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

Grade: B

If the Arizona Cardinals wanted an offensive guard, they should have taken Chance Warmack. Jonathan Cooper is very versatile on the offensive line, but he's not as good a blocker as Warmack. The Cardinals needed to upgrade the line, though. They did that drafting Cooper.


8. St. Louis Rams (via Buffalo): Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams

Grade: A

What a move by the Rams. St. Louis moves up to No. 8 and takes Tavon Austin before the New York Jets have a chance with either of their first-round picks. Austin will be a great slot receiver and gives Sam Bradford a dynamic option in the passing game.


9. New York Jets: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Grade: B+

Darrelle Revis was dealt before the draft (h/t Adam Schefter and Rich Cimini of, so the Jets needed to get a game-changing cornerback. Dee Milliner was the best on the board, and he can be the long-term replacement for Revis.

Milliner's coverage skills are very good. He just flies all around the field. In a couple years, Milliner is a surefire Pro Bowler.


10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Grade: A

Chris Johnson had to be the guy happiest with this pick. Warmack is one of the best players in the draft. Getting him at 10 is a nice haul for the Tennessee Titans. Warmack is extremely polished and he's athletic enough to open up lanes for Johnson in the running game.


11. San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

Grade: B-

D.J. Fluker can help an offensive line that was one of the worst in the league last year. All of the top options were off the board, so the San Diego Chargers had to reach with Fluker at 11. Since he's going to be nothing more than a right tackle, the Chargers didn't get a ton of value here.


12. Oakland Raiders (via Miami): D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston

Grade: B

It's a great story how D.J. Hayden went from almost dying on the practice field to getting drafted in the first round. Oakland was smart to trade down since there wasn't anybody the Raiders needed to take with the third pick. Taking Hayden this early is a bit of a gamble, though.


13. New York Jets (via Tampa Bay): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Grade: C+

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Jets already have talented defense linemen, so Sheldon Richardson doesn't address any immediate need. Plus, the team left the offense completely untouched in the first round.


14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Grade: A

How did Star Lotulelei fall to 14? He's the best run-stuffer in the draft. The Carolina Panthers have yet to find an elite defensive tackle since Kris Jenkins left. Lotulelei will be one of the best players to come out of this draft.


15. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

Grade: A

Kenny Vaccaro is a safe pick for the New Orleans Saints. He's the best safety in the draft and will be an immediate upgrade. It's a bit of an obvious selection, but one that is still very smart.


16. Buffalo Bills (via St. Louis): E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

Grade: D+

This has been the most polarizing pick of the draft, and it doesn't take long to see why. The Buffalo Bills desperately need a franchise QB, which isn't a good thing coming into this draft. There weren't any can't-miss options.

The Bills opted for E.J. Manuel. They're either going to look very smart or very stupid. Right now, it doesn't look to be a good move. Manuel needs a lot of time to develop into a dependable NFL quarterback.

He's the quintessential project QB. If you're going to take a flier on a QB, it would have made much more sense to go with a guy like Geno Smith, who looked much better in college.


17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Grade: A

The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to look like geniuses for grabbing Jarvis Jones at 17. The defense is getting older and James Harrison's no longer on the team. Jones is a tremendous talent and will fit in perfectly.

Many scouts were scared away by Jones' average performance at Georgia's pro day. That led them to question what his ceiling will be in the NFL. Those scouts seem to have forgotten about how good he was in college.

Jones made a habit of harassing the quarterback and isn't just limited to being a pass-rusher. He's got the kind of speed and range that make him very strong against the run. The Steelers knocked this one out of the park.


18. San Francisco 49ers (via Dallas Cowboys): Eric Reid, S, LSU

Grade: B-

Safety was a concern for the 49ers coming after they had lost Dashon Goldson. Eric Reid can step in for Goldson next season. The only issue here is whether San Francisco needed to trade up and take him at 18.


19. New York Giants: Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse

Grade: C+

Justin Pugh is limited by his arm length. He doesn't have the reach to work out as an offensive tackle. The New York Giants made a mistake going with a guard this early in the draft. The defense was a much bigger concern coming in, and Pugh looks much more like somebody you'd draft in the second round.


20. Chicago Bears: Kyle Long, OG, Oregon

Grade: C

The Bears offensive line has been an issue, so Kyle Long is going to help somewhat. Chicago reached in a big way by taking him with the 20th pick. Plus, Long doesn't look like an offensive tackle right now. He's likely to play guard for a few seasons until he's more prepared for a tackle position.


21. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Grade: A

This was a very good pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. Tyler Eifert will help take pressure off A.J. Green in the passing game and offer Andy Dalton a short option.

With Jermaine Gresham's drops last season, you wonder if he's the kind of aerial threat he looked to be a few years ago. Adding another tight end can cover up Gresham's issues. Eifert can also join Gresham on two-tight-end sets.


22. Atlanta Falcons (via St. Louis): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

Grade: B+

Desmond Trufant has an advantage over any other cornerback in the draft as he's got two brothers already in the league. He knows what's going to be expected of him at the next level. Trufant wasn't the best corner on the board at 22, but he's a nice upgrade for the Atlanta Falcons.


23. Minnesota Vikings: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Grade: A

Some experts had Sharrif Floyd in the top five. Instead he falls to 23, and the Minnesota Vikings snap him up. This is tremendous value and was the start of things to come for the team. Floyd is a solid run-stopper, and he's athletic enough to get pressure on the quarterback.


24. Indianapolis Colts: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Grade: C+

Bjoern Werner is one of the more polished pass-rushers in the draft. He's very strong, and his technique is advanced for this stage in his career. The only problem is whether he's going to fit well in the Indianapolis Colts' 3-4 defense.


25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Grade: A+

This is one of the best picks in the first round. The Vikings needed to find a replacement for the departed Antoine Winfield. They found one with Xavier Rhodes. He's a very physical corner, and his coverage skills are very strong. To be able to get him at 25 is a major coup for Minnesota.


26. Green Bay Packers: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Grade: B+

Datone Jones isn't quick enough to rush off the edge, but he should fit in well with the Packers' 3-4 defense. He's got some speed but not enough that you'd see him coming off the edge. Jones is a very good pass-rusher and offers something against the run as well.


27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

Grade: A-

The Texans needed to get a second option in the passing game. Andre Johnson's the star in Houston, but there isn't a skillful receiver who can take pressure off of him. DeAndre Hopkins is exactly what the team needs. He should become a solid, if unspectacular receiver.


28. Denver Broncos: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

Grade: B

Sylvester Williams can slot right in on the Denver Broncos offensive line. The problem with Williams is consistency. He can be great for certain stretches, then disappear for others.

Being a part of such a talented defense should push him and help him reach his potential. Still, there's that chance Williams never improves his game the way he should.


29. Minnesota Vikings (via New England): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

Grade: A-

The Vikings finished out their first round with a flourish. Minnesota parted with four picks in order to move up and draft Cordarrelle Patterson (h/t Luke Hughes of Patterson gives the Vikings the deep threat they lost trading Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks.


30. St. Louis Rams (via Atlanta): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

Grade: B+

This is a boom-or-bust pick for the Rams. Alec Ogletree is a tremendous athlete. He carries some major risk, though. There are the off-field issues he dealt with while in college. Ogletree might also have trouble against the run. This late in the first round, St. Louis was smart to take a chance.


31. Dallas Cowboys (via San Francisco): Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin

Grade: C-

It makes sense for the Dallas Cowboys to target a center. It's a massive hole on their offensive line. The problem is taking Travis Frederick. He's a good player, but he doesn't have a first-round grade. In terms of value, this was one of the worst in the first round.


32. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, S, Florida

Grade: B+

The question was whether the Ravens were going to replace Ed Reed or Ray Lewis with their first-round pick. Baltimore opted for a safety with Matt Elam. He's a solid pick and offers good value this late into the round. Elam is a playmaker in the secondary and has very good range.