2013 NFL Draft: Top 10 Steals of Day 2
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The 2013 NFL Draft may not have been loaded with superstar talent at the top of the board, but the depth of the draft class showed on Friday, where many first-round talents came off the board during Rounds 2 and 3, the draft’s second day.
There was value to be had throughout Friday at positions across the board. For the New York Jets, it was West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, projected as the top quarterback for most draft prognosticators, falling into their hands at the No. 39 overall pick. The Baltimore Ravens traded up late in Round 2 for a falling star in Kansas State inside linebacker Arthur Brown, while the Green Bay Packers moved down and still came away with a steal in Alabama running back Eddie Lacy.
Those three players are among the many tremendous-value selections that NFL teams came away with during the draft’s second day. In the following ten slides, we take a look at the 10 best value selections of the day, considering not only the player’s overall value compared to the spot in which they were drafted, but also compared to the talent still available on the board at their position, and how well they fit the needs and schemes of the teams who drafted them.
Note: Overall rankings referenced within the slideshow are from my pre-draft Top 100 Prospects rankings. The rankings relative to spots players were selected are considered in compiling this list of 10 steals, but are not the sole factor considered.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, OLB/DE, Florida State
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Selected: No. 40 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 23
Pass-rushers as talented as Florida State’s Cornellius “Tank” Carradine are typically first-round draft selections. Realizing that, the San Francisco 49ers took advantage of his value with their first pick of the second round, drafting him at the No. 40 overall selection.
There are some obvious reasons why Carradine fell to Round 2: he is coming off of a torn ACL, was only a one-year starter at Florida State and needs to improve upon his hand technique. That said, he is an explosive pass-rusher off the edge who has great size, strength and athleticism, and is also a very strong point-of-attack run defender who has the speed to track down running plays in space.
The 49ers already have arguably the NFL’s best pass-rushing outside linebacker tandem in Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks, but pass-rushing depth is very important. Additionally, at 6’4” and 276 pounds with 34 3/4” arms (combine measureds, per NFL.com), Carradine definitely has the frame and strength to bulk up and develop into a 5-technique defensive end if the 49ers see him as a better fit there than at outside linebacker.
Carradine would have been good value at the No. 34 overall pick, where the 49ers originally held their first second-round pick that they received from the Kansas City Chiefs for quarterback Alex Smith. They made his value even better by also pulling off one of the best trades of the draft, trading down six spots to No. 40 overall and receiving both a 2014 third-round pick and the Titans’ seventh-round pick (No. 216 overall) in the process.
9. New York Giants: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
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Selected: No. 49 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 16
Johnathan Hankins may be limited as an interior pass-rusher, but is arguably the best run-stopping defensive tackle in the draft class. The Giants have made a strong effort to reinforce their interior defensive line this offseason, and continued that effort with a very smart pick by selecting Hankins just inside the top 50 selections.
While defensive tackle was not a pressing need, pairing Hankins with Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins will give the Giants one of the best run-stopping interior defensive lines in the NFL. Hankins is a big, powerful load for opposing offensive lines to handle, but he also has the lateral athleticism and quickness to make plays all along the line of scrimmage, out in space and to break into the backfield and make stops for loss.
A legitimate first-round talent to anchor a defensive line, the Giants got terrific value by having the opportunity to select him in Round 2, and will have a stronger presence in the middle against the run because of it.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
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Selected: No. 43 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 21
In the past week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have quickly turned the cornerback position into a strength from a weakness. After trading their first-round pick to the New York Jets for Darrelle Revis, arguably the NFL’s best cornerback if he makes a full recovery from a torn ACL, the Buccaneers made a great choice to upgrade the No. 2 spot opposite Revis by drafting Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks at the No. 43 overall selection.
Banks lacks the desired speed of a No. 1 cornerback, having run a disappointing 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he is a great fit to play opposite Revis. He is a long (6’2” with 33 7/8” arms) cornerback who plays with physicality, has sound instincts and great ball skills. If opposing teams think they can pick on Banks opposite “Revis Island,” he can make them pay with his ability to intercept and break up passes.
Getting Banks as the sixth cornerback off the board in the middle of Round 2 was great value, and was an important upgrade for a team playing in a division that includes Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steve Smith and Marques Colston as wide receivers.
7. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Video of Eddie Lacy vs. Notre Dame, 2013 BCS National Championship Game (video courtesy of Draft Breakdown)
Selected: No. 61 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 35
The Green Bay Packers came into the draft with a need to find a feature ballcarrier at the running back position. The Packers got what they needed, coming away with the draft class’ most complete runner late in Round 2, even after a trade down.
Alabama’s Eddie Lacy is a true power back and between-the-tackles runner with great size (5’11”, 231 pounds), and he can really lower his shoulder into contact and run through defenders. Yet although Lacy does not have great speed, he can also make defenders miss outside the tackles with good open-field moves, including a very strong spin move.
Lacy’s stock likely fell down the draft board as a result of a hamstring injury and subsequently disappointing pro day, where he struggled to finish his workout due to his injury and poor conditioning. That said, he has the potential to be a terrific NFL back, and could be a real steal as the fourth running back off the board and a pick outside the top 60.
Before drafting Lacy, the Packers moved down six spots from the No. 55 overall selection, picking up a sixth-round pick (No. 173 overall) from the San Francisco 49ers in the process.
6. Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
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Selected: No. 45 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 15
Daryl Washington is suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season due to a substance-abuse policy violation, so the Arizona Cardinals needed to have a contingency plan to account for the loss of one of the league’s elite inside linebackers. With their second-round pick, the Cardinals found a terrific fit to fill in his shoes, and then fill the starting spot next to him upon his return, in LSU’s Kevin Minter.
Minter is not an exceptional athlete, but can just about do it all as an inside linebacker. He can really attack the line of scrimmage as a blitzer and break through into the backfield to make tackles. He consistently wraps up opponents and drives them to the ground as a tackler and makes plays all over the field.
Although he is not great at dropping back into coverage, Minter can do it adequately. But alongside a very athletic linebacker than Washington, Minter can be utilized to the strengths of his game, which comes especially in his instincts and playmaking ability as a run-stopping linebacker.
Minter is the most well-rounded inside linebacker in the draft class. Making his value even greater, the Cardinals traded down seven spots from the No. 38 overall pick, and picked up the San Diego Chargers’ fourth-round draft pick (No. 110 overall pick) in the process, before drafting a first-round talent in the middle of Round 2.
5. Miami Dolphins: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
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Selected: No. 54 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 25
Even after signing free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes earlier this offseason, the Miami Dolphins came into the 2013 draft in need of another starting cornerback. They found a player more than capable being that starter in Boise State’s Jamar Taylor, nearly a full round after Taylor should have come off the board.
Taylor may have dropped below the other top cornerbacks in the draft class due to a lack of size, but even at only 5’11” and 192 pounds, Taylor is going to present a challenge to any cornerback he faces. He is a very physical cornerback who is terrific at playing press man coverage and getting his hands on opposing receivers, but also has the quickness, athleticism and instincts to excel in zone coverage.
Taylor is a playmaker who has very good ball skills, and a solid tackler. Given his physicality and athleticism, he projected to be a solid late first-round pick or early second-round selection.
By getting him with the No. 54 overall selection, the Dolphins got one of the draft’s best cornerbacks much later than expected, and a player with the talent to be better than Vontae Davis, who they traded to the Indianapolis Colts prior to last season in exchange for this draft pick.
4. Buffalo Bills: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Video of Robert Woods vs. UCLA and Notre Dame, 2012 (video courtesy of Draft Breakdown)
Selected: No. 41 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 14
After drafting their quarterback of the future in Round 1, the Buffalo Bills needed to add some better targets for E.J. Manuel to pass to on Day 2. While there are doubts on whether the Bills drafted the best quarterback with their first-round pick, they could very well end up with the best wide receiver from the draft class with their second-round selection of USC’s Robert Woods.
Woods does not have exceptional size or speed, but he is a very well-rounded wideout. He is a skilled outside playmaker with terrific hands, good open-field quickness and who has the body control and physicality to go up and get the ball in traffic. He is a superb route-runner who does a great job getting open both outside and inside, and should immediately emerge as a go-to receiving target in the Bills’ revamped passing offense.
Woods can line up both outside and inside, but projects as an immediate upgrade opposite Stevie Johnson on the outside. While the four receivers drafted ahead of him all have more upside, he is a polished receiver with the ability to emerge as a very productive and consistent receiver for many years to come in Buffalo.
3. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
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Selected: No. 56 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 18
Having lost Ray Lewis to retirement and Dannell Ellerbe to free agency, the Baltimore Ravens came into the draft with a massive need at the inside linebacker position. They made a tremendous move to address that need by trading up late in Round 2 to secure the opportunity to select Kansas State’s Arthur Brown.
The Ravens needed an athletic playmaker at the inside linebacker position to replace Lewis, and Brown may be the best fit of anyone in the 2013 draft class. He is a terrific athlete with sideline-to-sideline range, is very good at attacking and defeating blockers at the line of scrimmage and is fluid at dropping back in coverage.
He is a very good fit to play inside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4 defense, and while he may have fallen down the board due to a shoulder injury, it came as a big surprise to see him still available outside of the top 50 draft picks. Even at the price of both fifth- (No. 165 overall) and sixth-round (No. 199 overall) selection, trading up six spots to secure the opportunity to draft him was well worth it considering his value as a late second-round pick.
2. New York Giants: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
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Selected: No. 81 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 29
After reaching on offensive lineman Justin Pugh in Round 1, the New York Giants did a tremendous job of finding defensive line value on Day 2. Their best pick of the day came at the No. 81 overall selection, where one of the draft class’ top pass-rushers in Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore fell in their laps.
Moore’s stock dropped following disappointing pre-draft workouts that exposed a lack of explosive athleticism, but he is still a major steal in the middle of Round 3. He is a technically sound pass-rusher off the edge who can rush both outside and inside, has very good snap anticipation and a terrific motor.
Moore needs to bulk up and become stronger to hold up as a three-down defensive end in the NFL, but he can make an immediate impact as a situational pass-rusher opposite Jason Pierre-Paul, in situations where Justin Tuck often kicks inside to defensive tackle.
With Tuck potentially entering his final season with the Giants before his contract expires, they got a terrific value choice late in Day 2 to groom as his potential replacement in the starting lineup.
1. New York Jets: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
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Selected: No. 39 overall pick
Overall Ranking: No. 33
Geno Smith has some significant flaws in his game, which likely led to him falling from projected top-5 draft pick all the way into Round 2. He has poor pocket presence, lacks experience lining up under center in a pro-style offense and needs to become better at making reads under pressure, making him more of a developmental quarterback than an immediate fix to lead an NFL offense.
That said, Smith is a mechanically sound, athletic quarterback with a strong arm and good downfield passing ability, and has definite franchise quarterback potential. Although not personally ranked as my top quarterback in the draft class, he was by a strong majority of draft prognosticators.
It is extremely rare for an NFL team to get a player most consider to be the top quarterback in the draft class as a second-round pick. By accomplishing that feat, the Jets got the biggest steal of the 2013 NFL draft.
Smith would have been a very smart first-round choice for the Jets at either the No. 9 or No. 13 overall selection, considering their need for an upgrade over Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Instead, by biding the time and playing the draft board intelligently, the Jets got terrific value in Round 2 on the quarterback they coveted.
Now, the task falls upon the Jets’ coaching staff to develop Smith properly and put him in a position to realize his potential and become the franchise quarterback the team desperately needs. If they can get that out from Smith, this will go down as one of the best picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.