5 Teams That Flunked the 2013 NFL Draft
Standard qualifier: It is very difficult to get a read on draft successes and/or failures before any of the prospects chosen have actually, you know, played NFL football.
So there's a good chance that the five teams we're about to scold actually outsmarted everybody this weekend. But there's a better chance that they didn't.
Things can and probably will change, but for now, here's a handful of teams that failed to meet expectations in the 2013 NFL draft.
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The Arizona Cardinals didn't fail miserably at the 2013 NFL draft, but that the Cards went the entire draft without selecting an offensive tackle is enough for this to be at least a minor flunk.
Yes, they made the offensive line better by taking strong pass-protecting guard Jonathan Cooper with the No. 7 overall pick, but we kept hearing all offseason that this team stayed away from tackles on the free-agent market because it wanted to rebuild the line through the draft.
Well, the draft is over, and Levi Brown and Bobby Massie are still penciled in as Arizona's starting offensive tackles.
This is a team that surrendered a league-high 58 sacks while averaging a league-low 3.4 yards per carry last season. Brown was hurt, but are they that much better with him around? We're talking about a guy who gave up 11 sacks in 2011.
I'm afraid the new regime in Arizona overestimates how good its pass protection is.
They do get some credit for Cooper and Kevin Minter, who was a nice addition in Round 2. Tyrann Mathieu was a little risky for the third round, though, and they made some curious decisions in the middle rounds, passing on tackles for questionable fits (Alex Okafor), developmental projects (Earl Watford) and luxury picks (not one but two running backs).
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Even when the Buffalo Bills drafted Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel with the No. 16 overall pick, it looked as though they'd reached.
But when only two more quarterbacks were picked before the start of Round 4, you really began to see how silly Buffalo looked for taking a quarterback with a lot of question marks that early.
The Bills had no way of knowing where other teams had Manuel on their draft boards, but it looks as though they could have landed him or someone in his range two or three rounds later. Considering how many holes this team already has, that's no good.
Then, in classic Bills fashion, they used two of their next three picks on wide receivers. Robert Woods was a nice value pick in Round 2, but Marquise Goodwin in Round 3 was overkill.
Tell me: What exactly is the difference between Goodwin and 2012 third-round pick T.J. Graham?
The only defensive player sprinkled in there for a team that surrendered more points than all but six other teams in 2012 was Kiko Alonso, who is versatile and extremely talented but had two alcohol-related arrests under his belt before his 21st birthday.
They followed all that up with two safeties and a kicker, ignoring their need to replace the two guards they lost in free agency.
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The Dallas Cowboys entered this draft with one very clear hole in the secondary, but they continually passed on quality safeties during the first three rounds before finally taking J.J. Wilcox with their fourth pick overall in Round 3.
Before that, they took a center (Travis Frederick) who had third- and fourth-round grades in Round 1. Then they reached for a tight end (Gavin Escobar) who can't block, for the second year in a row, and despite the fact Jason Witten and James Hanna make up a solid duo already.
Then they put the icing on the cake by taking a wide receiver (Terrance Williams) in the third round despite the fact they already have two solid starters and some quality backups and recent draftees in that spot.
The Cowboys' problem, in addition to the fact that the meddling owner runs the draft without fear of repercussion, is that they overemphasize their draft board and put their needs on the back burner. This team has drafted so poorly over the last 15 years that it's tough to trust when it breaks from the status quo.
Talented sixth-round steal DeVonte Holloman has a chance to save this draft for Dallas, but things don't look good in the direct aftermath.
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Sylvester Williams at the bottom of the first round was a good pick, but that top selection doesn't usually make a draft, and the Denver Broncos made some strange decisions from that point forward.
I don't understand why a team that could afford to be selective took five rounds before drafting a player who could replace some of what it lost with Elvis Dumervil.
I also don't understand why Denver thought Montee Ball has more upside than Eddie Lacy, considered the better back, when both were available to the Broncos in Round 2.
Or how they thought Kayvon Webster was a better option than B.W. Webb, considered the much better corner (and special-teamer), when both were available in Round 3.
This draft won't hurt the Broncos, but it doesn't feel as though it'll help them very much. Of course, there's a lot of time for perceptions to change, but the early feeling on this end is that the Broncos overthought a lot of these picks.
New York Jets
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The New York Jets had to find a new pass-rushing threat in this draft, and they failed to do so despite possessing three picks in the top 39.
Why Sheldon Richardson? I really don't have a problem with No. 9 overall pick Dee Milliner, who quite simply was the best corner in the draft and has the best chance to replace Darrelle Revis, but Richardson at No. 13 makes little sense to me.
This is a team that took Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round two years ago and Quinton Coples in the first round last year. Star Lotulelei would have been a better pick for the line, but this shouldn't have been a line pick. This should have been safety Kenny Vaccaro or a pass-rusher like Jarvis Jones.
Then there was the Geno Smith pick, which wouldn't be a bad gamble had they at least addressed the outside linebacker spot or that glaring hole in the secondary earlier. Hard not to imagine the quarterback ordeal becoming even more of a disaster in New York now.
They followed that up by selecting two guards, which is a luxury they couldn't afford in that spot.
The draft is over now, and Antwan Barnes and 32-year-old Calvin Pace are still the steam's top edge-rushers, while Josh Bush is still on track to start at safety.