The Dallas Cowboys surprised everyone when they drafted Wisconsin interior offensive lineman Travis Frederick with the No. 31 overall selection.
In a class deep with talent, there weren't many egregiously bad or questionable selections in the 2013 NFL draft. However, every draft will leave prognosticators scratching their heads regarding a number of the selections made.
From reaches on offensive linemen in Round 1 to talented quarterbacks surprisingly bypassed for other signal-callers in Round 7, the following slides break down the 10 choices among this year’s 254 draft picks that made the least sense based upon player value, team fits and the other players available at that position.
Drafting a reinforcement for the offensive line in the early rounds was a solid decision by the New York Giants. Selecting Syracuse’s Justin Pugh in the first round, however, was one of the biggest reaches of the draft.
Pugh was a very good left tackle at Syracuse, and he is a good athlete who is physical and can attack the second level. That said, he will likely have to kick inside or at least to right tackle at the next level due to a lack of length (32-inch arms), and he could struggle with the power and strength of NFL defensive tackles and rushers.
With the top six offensive linemen off the board, the Giants would have been smarter to take advantage of the value on the board by upgrading at pass-rusher with Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner, defensive tackle with Florida’s Sharrif Floyd or even cornerback with Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes.
Then they could have drafted an offensive lineman at better value on Day 2, where Pugh’s value was more appropriate.
After six offensive linemen went in the first 11 picks, it appeared that teams started to panic late in the first round and reach on Day 2 offensive line talents to fill their needs in Round 1. There was no more obvious example of that than the Dallas Cowboys’ selection of Wisconsin interior lineman Travis Frederick at the No. 31 overall pick.
Frederick was widely projected as a third- or fourth-round selection, so it came as a major surprise when he was selected. While he is massive (6’4”, 312 pounds) and a powerful run-blocker, he has poor athleticism and footwork for an NFL interior offensive lineman. Whether he lines up as a guard or center, he will struggle with quicker interior pass-rushers and offers little as a pull blocker.
In a weak center class, Frederick going higher than expected is understandable, as he could project to fill the Cowboys’ need at center and is arguably the best available at that position. That said, he is better suited to play guard, where the Cowboys could have gotten better talent still on the board in Kentucky’s Larry Warford or Miami’s Dallas Thomas, neither of whom went until Round 3.
Making this pick even worse for the Cowboys is that they originally held the No. 18 overall pick and were in position to fill their need at defensive tackle with Florida’s Sharrif Floyd or at safety with LSU’s Eric Reid, who the San Francisco 49ers selected with Dallas' original pick. Instead, the Cowboys traded down and reached to continue the round’s offensive line trend and made a pick that surprised virtually all draft prognosticators.
The Dallas Cowboys are likely to have the lowest draft grades for many members of the media draft community, as a result of their first two draft picks. After reaching on Frederick, selecting San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar in Round 2 wasn’t a much better choice.
There is plenty to like about Escobar’s game: He is a skilled receiver who has great size and can make defenders miss in the open field. That said, he is not much of a blocker.
Escobar was not the best tight end on the board—that designation goes to Cincinnati’s Travis Kelce—and he did not address a position of need. The Cowboys already have a non-blocking tight end in James Hanna, who has more upside as a receiving playmaker given his downfield speed, and one of the NFL’s best tight ends in Jason Witten.
The Cowboys could have addressed a position of need with a solid choice, even if a slight reach, in LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan or South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger in Round 2. Instead, they made another puzzling selection by reaching on a player who could be their third-string tight end.
In a deep cornerback class, South Florida cornerback Kayvon Webster was projected to be nothing more than a late-round draft choice. While adding cornerback depth was a smart move for the Broncos, there were many better options still available late in Round 3 than Webster.
That’s not to say Webster cannot be a solid contributor in the Broncos’ secondary. He is a fast, agile cornerback who tackles well and should be able to contribute on special teams if not immediately on defense. That said, he does not have great size (5’10”, 195 pounds) and lacks natural ball skills.
Webster had a good run up to the draft at the East-West Shrine Game and NFL Scouting Combine, which likely propelled his draft stock. That said, it came as a huge surprise that he was picked with some very talented cornerbacks, including Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer and William and Mary’s B.W. Webb, still available.
For the second straight year, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots left the media draft community scratching their heads when they drafted a safety on Day 2 who was almost completely off the radar. This year, that player was Rutgers strong safety Duron Harmon, who they drafted as the No. 91 pick.
Fresh off of drafting Harmon’s teammate in the Rutgers secondary, Logan Ryan, just eight picks earlier, the Patriots drafted the Scarlet Knights safety, who did not assert himself as a consistent impact player during his Rutgers career. He has good size for the position (6’0", 196 pounds) and is a hard hitter on the back end, but in limited study he appears to have deficiencies in both coverage and run-support tackling.
Harmon being selected ahead of better strong safeties including North Carolina State’s Earl Wolff and Syracuse’s Shamarko Thomas is puzzling enough, but furthermore the Patriots did not have any need to draft another safety. Unlike last year, when the Patriots legitimately had a need for a safety when they selected Illinois’ Tavon Wilson to everyone’s surprise in Round 2, they were already fully stocked at the safety position after adding free-agent strong safety Adrian Wilson earlier this offseason.
Considering that the Patriots used their entire clock before making the Harmon selection, it is likely that they were attempting to trade out of Round 3 to pick up additional selections, possibly with the intention of drafting Harmon at more reasonable value in a later round. Instead, they drafted the lowest-rated player by most media draft analysts among the first three rounds at a position where they did not have a need.
The Buffalo Bills needed another strong safety after releasing George Wilson earlier this offseason, but after a good pick of Nevada’s Duke Williams in Round 4, double-dipping at the position with Clemson’s Jonathan Meeks in Round 5 did not make a lot of sense.
Meeks is a physical hitter with good size and is decent in run-support, but he can be a liability in coverage with tight hips. He will most likely be limited to playing on special teams and projected to be a seventh-round pick at best.
This pick likely came as a result of looking for a special teams player and a lack of talent still on the board at strong safety. That said, the Bills should have addressed another position of need—they could have gotten great value on a hybrid pass-rusher in Western Kentucky’s Quanterus Smith or Georgia’s Cornelius Washington—and waited on Meeks until a later round.
The Detroit Lions needed to bring in a punter, but if they were going to invest a draft choice in one rather than waiting to sign one as an undrafted free agent, they could have gone with a two-time Ray Guy Award winner in Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen or a very gifted and athletic punter with a booming leg in LSU’s Brad Wing.
Instead, they went completely off the radar with their fifth-round compensatory selection, drafting Applachian State punter Sam Martin. He was a good college punter, averaging 45.9 yards per punt (fourth in FCS in 2012), but with Allen and Wing still on the board, drafting him in Round 5 seems foolish when they could have had him or another NFL-caliber punter in a later round or as an undrafted free agent.
The Miami Dolphins appeared to draw inspiration from the Detroit Lions’ punter pick, drafting Florida’s Caleb Sturgis as the first placekicker off the board with their second of two compensatory selections.
Sturgis had a very good and accurate career for the Gators, missing just four field goals over the past two seasons. That said, he would have been more appropriate value as a seventh-round pick, and Florida State placekicker Dustin Hopkins might be the better prospect anyway (pick No. 177 to the Bills).
The Dolphins took advantage of very promising talent falling just two picks earlier by drafting Florida running back Mike Gillislee, but they reached to add a kicker in Sturgis.
The San Diego Chargers made a smart decision in drafting a young backup quarterback for Philip Rivers in the seventh round. They made a puzzling move by choosing that quarterback to be Southern Utah’s Brad Sorensen.
Sorensen does have promising physical tools, including great size, a strong arm and a quick release. That said, he struggled with inconsistent downfield accuracy and questionable reads even at the FCS level and does not have much athleticism.
Sorensen projected as a fringe draft pick, while Tennessee’s Tyler Bray, Miami (Ohio)’s Zac Dysert and Arizona’s Matt Scott all were projected to go much earlier and were still available on the board.
While all three of those quarterbacks have flaws that caused them to fall, they were all productive players against a higher level of competition than Sorensen and have impressive physical tools. The Chargers’ decision to draft Sorensen over all of them was surprising.
With many draft picks and few needs, chances are good that the San Francisco 49ers’ seventh-round picks are not going to make their 53-man roster. Those chances became even more likely with their selection at No. 237 overall, where they made a peculiar decision to draft South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels.
If the 49ers were looking to add a developmental quarterback with the potential to run the read option, Arizona’s Matt Scott would have been a very solid choice in Round 7. Instead, they drafted a quarterback who has little to no NFL potential.
Daniels is very short for an NFL quarterback, at only 5’11”, and although he’s a good athlete, he’s no Russell Wilson. Daniels is not a polished pocket passer, has a lackluster arm and really struggles with his accuracy (never completed more than 60 percent of his passes in a season at USF).
Of any player selected on Saturday, Daniels’ odds of making his team’s final roster may be the slimmest. He could be used as the scout team quarterback on the practice squad to simulate Russell Wilson, who the 49ers have to play twice a year when they battle the Seattle Seahawks, but he is highly unlikely to beat out Colt McCoy or Scott Tolzien for a spot on the quarterback depth chart.
Dan Hope is an NFL draft featured columnist at Bleacher Report, and was a National Draft Correspondent for this year’s live coverage of the 2013 NFL Draft.