10 NFL Rookies Drafted by the Wrong Team
Who hasn’t played the role of NFL general manager during the draft months? As players fall off the board on draft day, either to a favorite team or one of its rivals, I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard "Man, Player X would have been AWESOME on Team A. It's too bad Team B drafted him!"
I’d be rich.
While none of us outside an NFL war room has all the information the team has, it still doesn’t stop anyone from voicing his or her opinion. “What if's” are popular around NFL draft time.
What if JaMarcus Russell had been drafted by some team other than the Oakland Raiders? Would he have succeeded, or had a better chance to, elsewhere?
What if the San Francisco 49ers has taken Aaron Rodgers with the first pick in the 2005 NFL draft instead of passing on him. Would Rodgers have turned out to be the All-Pro quarterback that he is had he not fallen to the Green bay Packers?
It’s way too early to tell for anyone drafted last weekend, but let’s take a crack at finding 10 rookies that were drafted by the wrong team.
Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
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Many believed Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert to be the top tight end in the 2013 NFL draft. So who could blame any team for wanting to grab him?
For me, however, the team that did grab him—the Cincinnati Bengals—didn’t really have a need for a tight end and had far more pressing positional needs.
The Bengals already had Jermaine Gresham on the roster, and he caught 64 passes last season. He’s a major part of the Cincinnati offense.
I realize the NFL is moving in the direction of a lot of two-tight end sets, but Eifert’s talents could have been put to better use elsewhere.
What about the Tennessee Titans?
The Titans had a need for a tight end, but were unable to fill that need in the draft. Eifert might have been able to produce quicker in Tennessee than he will in Cincinnati.
Barkevious Mingo, LSU
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The New Orleans Saints have decided to move from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme in 2013. That kind of move will take a huge rearrangement of the team’s defense.
The biggest area of need for New Orleans was finding pass-rusher for the outside of the linebacker corps or the defensive line.
Barkervious Mingo was one of the bigger more explosive outside edge-rushers in the draft and would have looked fantastic on the weak side of Rob Ryan’s new defense in New Orleans.
The problem is that the Cleveland Browns nabbed Mingo at pick No. 6 before the Saints had a chance. That move was questionable because the Browns already have two outside pass-rushers in Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger.
Getting to the quarterback is a major problem for a good number of teams, so I can’t fault the Browns for wanting another guy like Mingo. But boy, wouldn't Mingo have been beneficial to that Saints defense?
Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State
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When former St. Louis Rams and current Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson was asked which running back in the 2013 NFL draft class reminded him most of himself, Jackson said Le’Veon Bell (MLive.com).
There's not a lot of big size running backs this year, (except) Le'Veon Bell out of Michigan State," Jackson said. "(He has the) ability to run behind his path and stay in a physical conference like the Big Ten. He would probably be the closest in this draft.
That’s huge praise from a nine-year veteran that’s rushed for 10,135 yards in his career.
If Bell reminds Jackson so much of himself, how great would it have been to see Bell land with the Falcons?
Bell could have learned how to look and run more like Jackson from the man himself. And Jackson isn’t going to be around forever. The Falcons could have let Bell run behind Jackson for two, maybe three season and then handed the keys to a younger-modeled back.
But Bell was taken in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, too early for Atlanta to make a go at him.
D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
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South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger was a captain and four-year starter for the Gamecocks and sure would have looked good in a Carolina Panthers uniform. And he only would have had to move 90 minutes north to Charlotte.
The Panthers secondary was brutalized at times last season and the unit lost its best commodity in Chris Gamble, who was released as a cap casualty and later retired.
Charles Godfrey and Haruki Nakamura will enter training camp as the starters for Carolina, but I’m not sure they are the right answer.
Swearinger could have brought an aggressive, playmaking aura to the middle of the Carolina defensive backfield and has the ability to cover half the field in a two-deep zone.
Swearinger went to the Houston Texans with the 25th pick in the second round.
Knile Davis, Arkansas
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Had Arkansas running back Knile Davis been eligible for the NFL draft after the 2010 season, he would have been a first-round pick.
Davis ran for 1,282 yards as a sophomore and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes and crossed the goal line that way once.
But Davis had to return to school for one more year and the injury bug kicked Davis in the teeth, er, the knee. Davis’ 2011 season ended after an ankle injury in practice (ESPN). In 2012, a timid Davis only rushed for 377 yards.
Davis was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round, and he’ll sit behind Jamaal Charles and learn the pro game.
But, if Davis was going to sit and learn from a proven NFL veteran, I much rather would have had him land with the San Francisco 49ers, who handled Frank Gore’s injury issues out of college fantastically (CSN Bay Area).
Gore battled knee injuries at the University of Miami and landed with the 49ers, while slowly and painfully (Gore spent six seasons without the 49ers fielding a winning team) gained confidence in his knee and himself.
Marquise Goodwin, Texas
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After the draft, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock spoke about the attribute that could make Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin valuable in the NFL.
He's a vertical threat. Here's an Olympic track athlete who at the Senior Bowl all of a sudden showed up and ran by everybody.
When I looked at the Goodwin pick in the third round to the Buffalo Bills, yes, I see what Mayock is saying. But I initially thought man, what if Goodwin landed on a better team that really needed a vertical option?
Yes, I’m speaking about the New England Patriots.
The Patriots grabbed Aaron Dobson in the second round, but Dobson isn’t the kind of guy that can obliterate defensive backs off the mark.
Goodwin ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the combine and has the ability to run by everyone and under any pass Tom Brady could have heaved.
I seem to remember Brady and Randy Moss having fun on those routes.
Menelik Watson, Florida State
Menelik Watson has first-round talent but fell to the Oakland Raiders at Pick 42 because he doesn’t have the experience most teams wanted in the first-round pick.
Watson grew up in England and played competitive soccer, basketball and was even a boxer. He didn’t find football until very late in life.
Watson had to go the junior college route and then just played one season at right tackle for Florida State.
He has immense upside and tons of athletic ability. But are the Oakland Raiders going to foster his need to learn and develop as a raw talent?
Oakland’s track record would say otherwise (once again, remember JaMarcus Russell).
Since longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd retired, I’m going to give the nod to New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia as the guy I’d like to see handle Watson for the next few years. I bet Scarnecchia could bring out Watson’s true upside talent.
Matt Barkley, Southern California
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I’ll be the first to tell you that Matt Barkley falling to the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round was an absolute steal.
This was a weird year in the NFL draft for quarterbacks. No one knew who or even if a passer would be selected in the first round. Barkley surely could have been taken that early, but he fell all the way to the last day of the draft.
The value was there for the Eagles to grab Barkley, but is he going to fit in Chip Kelly’s new system? I’d imagine the Eagles wouldn’t have gone with Barkley had they thought he wasn’t a fit, but I’d like to have seen the USC quarterback go elsewhere.
What about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Head coach Greg Schiano had already told Josh Freeman the Bucs were bringing in competition (Tampa Bay Times). I believe I like Barkley in the fourth, or even the third round, better than I like Tampa Bay’s pick of Mike Glennon in the third.
Chance Warmack, Alabama
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No matter where Alabama offensive guard Chance Warmack was drafted, he was going to play. He’s a freakishly strong and massive body and pretty darned athletic.
But the Tennessee Titans, who selected Warmack with the 10th-overall pick in the draft, were already pretty solid along the offensive line. This is a situation of the rich getting richer, but since Warmack is already penciled in as the starting right guard, I can’t fault the Titans for making that pick.
I can, however, wonder how nice it would have been for the Washington Redskins to land Warmack.
Washington was in definite need of offensive line help heading into the draft, but wasn’t able to land anyone at that position.
It would have taken the Redskins trading up into the first round to grab Warmack, but how much would Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris loved to have Warmack opening running lanes for them in 2013 and beyond?
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
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No matter where Manti Te’o landed in the NFL, he was going to be story. How big a story depended on what kind of a media circus he was drafted into.
Te’o dodged the big-city nightmares of New York City and Boston and was selected in the second round by the San Diego Chargers, which is likely a good fit for him because the media aren’t hound dogs and geographically San Diego is just about as close as a mainland city can get to Hawaii.
And Te’o fits in San Diego with the Chargers. But is there a team he might have fit better with?
The Chicago Bears come to mind.
The Bears had a definite need for a middle linebacker with Brian Urlacher gone, and Chicago could have taken a shot at Te’o’s national championship game performance being an outlier and the regular-season performances being exactly what the Bears got from the Notre Dame star.
And even though Chicago is a huge city with a scorching media presence, the Windy City is also very pro-Notre Dame. Te’o could have felt comfortable being in a very welcoming environment.