One Rookie Every NFL Team Will Regret Passing On in the 2013 NFL Draft
From the moment "Mr. Irrelevant" is named, the media and fans react and judge every one of the preceding 254 picks.
Actually, that starts from the very first pick.
Of course, with each pick, there's a player whom fans, analysts or even members of the scouting department think would have been much better.
Sometimes, as in the case of Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. Michael Crabtree, they're right. More often than not, they aren't.
So a few weeks after this year's draft, we're going to take a knee-jerk look at one player each team is going to regret passing on in the 2013 NFL draft.
Just to be clear, this is not capping on a team's pick (I'll be upfront if I do that within the piece), but a look at an alternative who could have been a better choice. Naturally, it's a bit premature to say player A or B will be terrible or good.
So have fun and tell me who you would have rather seen drafted by your team.
Since some teams (Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots) didn't have a first-round pick, I tagged them on to the end of this piece. Otherwise, the teams are in the order they were in before the first pick of the first round.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
At some point, Eric Fisher became the sexy pick of the draft. It happens every year, as someone has a great workout at the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine or a pro day. They rise up draft boards and become the hot pick of the draft.
In Fisher's case, it's largely deserved.
The problem is, Fisher played primarily at a small college against defenses not on par with the best in college football. He has tremendous potential, but is still raw and unproven—unlike Luke Joeckel.
Joeckel was a three-year starter in the SEC, easily the best conference in college football with some of the toughest defenses around.
Maybe Fisher is the hipper pick, but Joeckel can be just as dominating and is safer.
As Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller said during our live draft coverage, "they took the pretty girl home, not the safe girl."
While I like Fisher, Joeckel may end up as the one who got away—a more solid pick and ready to go immediately on the left side.
Branden Albert is likely to remain in Kansas City and on the left side this year, but down the road, the Chiefs might miss Joeckel's steady presence.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Luke Joeckel is a great pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars, of course, but was there an even better one?
Not if you think Blaine Gabbert will be just as bad this year as he has the past two.
The Jaguars could easily have let the tackle go at the No. 2 overall pick, since they have Eugene Monroe. Taking a right tackle, which is essentially what Joeckel is, just isn't something that should not have been done.
Meanwhile, every quarterback was on the board.
Geno Smith is probably the most ready to go of the quarterbacks in this class, so we'll go with him. With his strong arm and accuracy, Smith could have stepped right in and improved the offense (even with Justin Blackmon suspended).
Don't pay much attention to the "stories" about him being a diva, and remember that's what was said about Mike Crabtree, now blowing defenses up in San Francisco.
Those stories just happened to surface after he fired his agents, who sound like they mismanaged him and the draft process pretty badly.
Does that make him a slam dunk? There's no such thing, but ultimately, he might have been a better selection for the future of the franchise than a left or right tackle.
3. Oakland Raiders
I really respect the way the Oakland Raiders handled their first pick. They knew their guy was going to be there a little later, so they maximized the pick by trading back and picking up some extra selections.
For a team which had traded away most of its picks in the Carson Palmer debacle, that was savvy.
And hey, the Raiders needed a cornerback and D.J. Hayden was a guy who, when healthy, many analysts had high on their boards. In fact, there were really no bad ways to go given how much help they needed and still need.
Still, they were and remain desperate for some meat in the middle of the field, and Shariff Floyd was there not only at No. 3, but No. 12 as well.
They passed on him twice.
I am still not 100 percent clear why Floyd fell, hearing nothing when I was at Radio City nor anything since. So assuming he's healthy and just took a weird tumble, he'd have been a better fit for this defense with a tremendous impact right away.
Ultimately, Floyd would have a been a huge help as a 4-3 defensive tackle or a switch to end if the team decided to run a 3-4 or a hybrid, as is so common.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
It's virtually impossible to quibble with the pick of Lane Johnson, given the struggles the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line has had at times, but let's do it anyway.
A lot of teams were scared of Star Lotulelei due to the heart condition which cropped up during the draft process. He was cleared by all the team doctors in the NFL, so ultimately, it shouldn't have been a concern.
Lotulelei would have been a great fit for the new defensive front the Eagles are going to run and is a physical freak to boot. He has size, speed and power and would have made an immediate impact.
As I said, it's pretty hard to quibble with their pick as it is, but Lotulelei might have been an even better fit.
5. Detroit Lions
While Ziggy Ansah is absolutely a great pick given his upside, the fact that he is so raw definitely brings some equally big bust concerns.
Given some of the questions on the offensive line after the departure of Gosder Cherilus and retirement of Jeff Backus, a trade up to grab one of the "Big Three" might have been a wise choice.
You could even make an argument that Dee Milliner was a safer choice and, considering that the guy they drafted (Darius Slay) has some knee issues, more likely to play and lock things down across from Chris Houston.
But the offensive line is a bigger need. So if the tackles are gone and you don't trade, what about guard?
Sure, guard is (traditionally) not a position that goes in the top 10, but these are fascinating times we live in. Two went in the top 10, one only two picks after this one.
Chance Warmack would have been a huge upgrade along the offensive line either over Larry Warford or Rob Sims. Warford especially leaps out at me since he looks like he will be plugged in immediately, and if you're going to do that, you might as well put the top guard in the draft class in, right?
Warmack is an excellent blend of size and nastiness, who was widely regarded as not just one of the top guards in the draft, but one of the top players as well.
6. Cleveland Browns
Again, it's hard to argue with adding another pass-rusher as the Cleveland Browns shift to a new defensive scheme. Besides, you can't have too many pass-rushers, can you?
That said, you also need to lock down passers. You can do that with the aforementioned pass-rushers, but you still need need the secondary to shut down the receivers.
Joe Haden can do that on one side, but there is a severe lack of talent on the other.
The team might have been better served grabbing Dee Milliner at No. 6 and putting together one of the better corner tandems in the league.
Waiting until the third round (because they no longer had a second-round pick) made it hard to get a real impact player at corner, while this defensive end class was deep enough to get a good player at that point.
Again, Barkevious Mingo is a talented player, but Milliner would have had a bigger impact in the immediate future.
7. Arizona Cardinals
When your offensive line is in shambles, nobody will blame you if you take a guard in the top 10, even if that never happens.
Jonathan Cooper is an athletic freak who lit up the NFL Scouting Combine, but one thing he lacks is overall power.
That's not to say he isn't strong—he is. But he lacks the power to be dominant in the run (a real issue for the Arizona Cardinals the last few years) and doesn't have a strong enough punch, lacking that initial drive which can knock a defender back.
It can be an issue in pass protection as well. He has great footwork, but can get bull rushed and pushed around, especially against bigger defenders.
Warmack has no such issues. He does have some footwork and technique glitches, but you can fix those easily enough. Cooper might not get a lot stronger.
In the end, Warmack may not have Cooper's raw athleticism, but he'll get pushed around less.
8. Buffalo Bills
Remember when I said I'd be up front about hating a pick? Here we go.
Things I liked about the Buffalo Bills' first-round pick: They traded back for great value.
Things I didn't like: pretty much the rest.
I think this selection could be an immense mistake—a catastrophic one—by the Bills.
That's not to say EJ Manuel sucks (he doesn't) or can't play well enough to start in this league (he probably can).
No, it's to say that if you're going to grab a quarterback this early, he has to be ready to go, and Manuel is a raw, one-read-and-go kind of quarterback right now.
If you put him in early, it could be a disaster. I will, however, concede they got him a ton of weapons to play with. So there's that.
So what to do? I'm not going to start throwing out quarterbacks here. I'm going to go a different way.
I say they should have waited on a quarterback and grabbed Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper.
The guard position is a big question mark between Kraig Urbik and David Snow.Urbik was ranked at No. 25 by Pro Football Focus when they tracked the guards in the NFL, while Snow played all of five games for the Bills last year.
Having a new quarterback is all well and good, but it won't make a darn bit of difference if he can't stay upright. Warmack or Cooper would have done that.
While the offensive line is pretty good, the guard position might be a big problem.
9. and 13. New York Jets
We'll look at these picks together. I actually like the Dee Milliner pick. Will he replace Darrelle Revis' production? No, but they don't need him to. I like the pick overall.
I don't understand why Sheldon Richardson was picked, though. The New York Jets have horded defensive lineman for three years and now will kick Quinton Coples out to linebacker.
Perhaps they did it because they'd already decided Coples was switching positions, as he's not terribly adept at playing with his hand up.
Regardless, there were other, better players on the board, and if the Jets wanted a pass-rusher at No. 13, all they had to do was get one. That's why, ultimately, they will regret not selecting Jarvis Jones.
Jones is an elite playmaker off the edge whose biggest knock is the spinal stenosis he was diagnosed with at USC.
However, the condition won't affect him for some time. He could have walked right into the lineup and got after the quarterback, rather than a player who worked a position already deep on the roster and ultimately forces another player to move.
10. Tennessee Titans
Given how much Chris Johnson struggled, it's not surprising the Tennessee Titans grabbed a guy who appears to have been born just to open holes for him.
Chance Warmack, arguably the best overall player in the draft, falling to 10th is almost a no-brainer.
But when your starting cornerbacks are Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner and your division has Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub (and the conference boasts Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco), you need better corners.
Xavier Rhodes is sitting right there for the taking and may end up having a higher impact. Rhodes has a tall frame, plays quicker than he times and, most importantly, has a knack for getting to the ball and generating turnovers.
Again, getting the offensive line right is a high priority for the Titans. At the end of the day, though, you also need to stop the opposition from scoring, and Rhodes would have done that.
11. San Diego Chargers
Offensive line was such a big need—even after some free-agent collecting—that it was an easy call for the San Diego Chargers. It's pretty obvious that whatever other issues Philip Rivers has, knowing his offensive line was a sieve contributed greatly to his lackluster play the last few years.
So how do I argue with this pick?
Well, aside from not being all that high on D.J. Fluker—I think ultimately, he's a guard in the pros at best—Rivers has also been missing having any weapons beyond an aging Antonio Gates since Vincent Jackson headed to Florida.
I can only imagine what damage a guy like Tavon Austin could do in a quick hit, Mike McCoy offense.
Listen, I know offensive line is a bigger need, but Fluker just isn't worth this high a pick in my estimation, while Austin is going to be a game-changer.
I do love that the team got Keenan Allen at a tremendous value in the third round (a crime in my opinion), and I think Manti Te'o was a solid pick.
But I would have preferred Austin, with a decent tackle (really not much worse than Fluker) in the second and a linebacker in the third.
Hopefully, Allen will be enough, but at some point, Rivers is going to be looking to dump the ball off under duress, and it would have been much better had he been throwing it to a guy who could take it 99 yards through traffic.
12. Miami Dolphins
Not only was Dion Jordan a fantastic pick, he also (as evidenced by that picture) wears a nice bow tie.
I love that the Miami Dolphins made such a strong move up to grab a guy—I just think they picked the wrong guy.
While Jordan isn't a bad pick by any stretch, Lane Johnson at No. 3 would have been a much better one.
Jonathan Martin struggled at right tackle last year and is now plugged into the left side. His replacement on the right side is third-round rookie Dallas Thomas.
If I'm a Miami fan, that makes me nervous.
Admittedly, you're not finding Jordan-level talent in the second or third round. But you're sure as heck not finding Johnson in those rounds either, and given the strength of the defensive line Miami had anyway and the ability to find a good end in the second or third round, I'd say Johnson was a much better pick.
Here's hoping that Ryan Tannehill doesn't end up thinking the same thing.
14. Carolina Panthers
It was unexpected when Star Lotulelei dropped to the Panthers at No. 14, and you can't blame them for jumping on that pick as fast as possible.
Still, they need Cam Newton to take another step forward, and to do that, he needs weapons to pass to beyond an aging (though still effective) Steve Smith and a decent guy in Brandon LaFell.
Instead, they ignored the wide receiver position, hoping to enhance it with shaky free agents like Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon.
I'm actually shocked they didn't draft any receivers.
So, at this point, I could say they will regret passing on just about any receiver, but DeAndre Hopkins might be the one who stings the most since he'll be in Houston.
Hopkins isn't the biggest or fastest guy, but he has great hands and runs crisp routes. He is a fierce ball-catcher and would have been a tremendous weapon for Newton.
15. New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are another team who took a great player with their pick, but might have been better served by selecting another great player instead.
Certainly, Kenny Vaccaro will step in and contribute immediately. However, the outside linebackers still concern me. Will Smith returns, but is he enough? Are the other players there going to step up?
I've already preached about Jarvis Jones and his ability off the edge. Again, it could be a case where his spinal stenosis scared people off, but that's a mistake. His ability would have allowed the Saints to move throughout the year with Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins in place while still making it tough on passing attacks.
Again, this is another pick I like, but I wonder whether Jones might have been a better fit.
16. and 22. St. Louis Rams
As with the Miami Dolphins, you have to respect that the St. Louis Rams knew the guy they wanted (Tavon Austin) wasn't going to be around for the 16th pick, and so, they shuffled things around enough to jump up and grab him.
However, with as many needs as this team has, was that a wise decision? And then following it up with Alec Ogletree, who many had concerns about off the field?
Look at who was around at No. 16. Sure, Austin would likely have gone to the New York Jets at No. 9, but DeAndre Hopkins and Cordarrelle Patterson were both there, as was Jarvis Jones (who we've already talked about a few times).
Jones is a surer thing than Ogletree. His upside might not be as great, but neither is the bust factor. And as nobody jumped on a receiver before they would have picked again at No. 22, both Hopkins and Patterson would have been available—at worst case, one of them would have been.
So to me, while I applaud them working to get "their guy," they might regret not grabbing Jones at 16 and then a receiver at 22.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
At this point, it's no doubt that I love Jarvis Jones, and therefore, love this pick.
However, this is a team which has struggled to run the ball the last few years. It went after Le'Veon Bell in the second, but Bell's upside is limited. He doesn't play as big as his size, doesn't have a ton of acceleration and burst and won't outrun defenses.
If you're going to take a chance on him, you'd be better off with Eddie Lacy.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were reportedly scared away from Lacy due to a toe injury, which will probably be a big mistake. While Lacy has some questions, the Steelers were interested enough to have to split hairs and look pretty deeply at the medical.
The toe does not seem to really be a concern, and Lacy is a big powerful back who will run over guys at the line. He's got better playing speed on game "film" and plays tough.
In short, he's everything you'd think the Steelers want in a running back.
18. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys traded back and selected a center who most people (teams included) had a third-round grade on. While it's true that it only takes one team to steal a player you covet, it seems like the Cowboys had a ton of needs which were higher priorities than center.
At No. 18, Eric Reid was available. A big hitting, aggressive safety, he would have walked into the starting job and made NFC East receivers think twice about crossing his zone.
Given the talent they have at safety right now, I'm a little shocked they passed on Reid and then Johnathan Cyprien and Matt Elam.
19. New York Giants
The New York Giants have needed some offensive line help for a while, so I don't dislike the selection of Justin Pugh. On the other hand, they have some question marks at cornerback.
Can Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara step in and shut down the prolific passers in the NFC?
I would feel much better with Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant here. Both are solid corners who have proven their ability on tough conferences time after time. While the Giants excel at getting after the quarterback, they need better players in the secondary, and both Trufant and Rhodes were available.
The team didn't address this need at all during the draft, and it may live to regret that.
20. Chicago Bears
Kyle Long has the bloodline and the ability to step right in at guard—so why am I not as excited as I should be?
Well, the problem is that the Bears still need to improve that middle linebacker spot that Brian Urlacher vacated, and they really didn't.
Some might point to Manti Te'o here, but I like LSU's Kevin Minter better. He's a tad undersized, but a very smart player, and while he wouldn't be able to replace Urlacher immediately in terms of veteran savvy, Minter would have gotten there eventually.
The Chicago Bears have a very good defense and signed D.J. Williams to fill in at middle linebacker, but that's a stopgap. Minter would have been the long-term solution.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals shocked everyone by getting another weapon for Andy Dalton in the form of tight end Tyler Eifert.
The Bengals are a team on the rise, and they might have felt a luxury pick (which this feels like) was fine when they are already competitive.
Still, defense would have been the pick here if I were in charge (some in the comments will tell me there might be a reason I'm not). Furthermore, outside linebacker. James Harrison is aging quickly, and the rest of the group isn't striking fear into the hearts of offenses.
At this point, I would have liked to see what the team could have done with Alec Ogletree. We've seen guys with character concerns flourish under Mike Zimmer—for example, Vontaze Burfict.
Ogletree would have had a good chance to be another Burfict—a guy whose character gave everyone pause, but who was also immensely talented.
23. and 25. Minnesota Vikings
It's really hard to find fault in one of the best first rounds we've seen in a long time—maybe ever.
Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes dropped into the Minnesota Vikings' lap while Cordarrelle Patterson was pretty much worth jumping back into the first for.
The only way I might have done things differently would have been going inside linebacker instead of defensive tackle.
The Vikings don't have a ton of talent at the middle linebacker spot, and Kevin Minter or Alec Ogletree would have been very valuable here.
It's hard to say the team will "regret" passing on anyone given who they got, but if Audie Cole can't hold up the middle of the field and they don't sign someone like Brian Urlacher, the defense could have problems.
24. Indianapolis Colts
Bjöern Werner will be a huge help to this defense, but I'm not sold on Vontae Davis or Greg Toler.
I'd much rather have Xavier Rhodes with this pick. Rhodes isn't a classic shutdown corner, but he is a tremendous defender who can play man and zone.
The Indianapolis Colts need to stop letting teams get out to big leads, and they need to stop letting teams get back in games.
Andrew Luck can score points, but it'd be better if he could have an off-game.
At this point, he really can't.
Rhodes would have made Luck's second season much easier, and the Colts might wish they'd grabbed him while they could.
26. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers continue to need help rushing the passer, so Datone Jones is a very solid pick for them—especially in light of the fact that Jerel Worthy could be on the PUP to start the season.
That said, we're looking at what might very well be Jermichael Finley's last season with the team, and there really aren't any other guys on the roster who will fill his spot.
While Zach Ertz dropped out of the first round, in my mind, he still has first-round talent. He doesn't have the freakish athleticism Finley has, but he's a strong, tough receiver who finds seams to get open with. He needs to add bulk, but unlike Finley, he's a very willing blocker.
There's no shortage of talented targets for Aaron Rodgers to throw to, but given how up and down Finley's production has been, getting a guy in you can count on would have been really good.
When Finley walks at the end of the season, the Packers might regret passing on Ertz.
27. Houston Texans
I really like DeAndre Hopkins' talent and he'll be great in this offense, but the Houston Texans really needed secondary help and could have nabbed a very good wide receiver in the second.
They shouldn't have passed on Johnathan Cyprien. Sure, Ed Reed will be a big help at safety, but Cyprien didn't just improve the next year or so—he would have been the improvement for a long time to come.
Cyprien has good ball skills and speed. You could play him at free safety (he likes to hit) or in place of Danieal Manning at strong safety.
The Texans have tried to upgrade with D.J. Swearinger, and I like it, but he's a guy who might take over down the road. Cyprien would have taken over tomorrow.
28. Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos needed to get a little beefier in the middle, and Sylvester Williams does that for them.
They also desperately need to improve the secondary, given the implosion it suffered in the playoffs.
Champ Bailey is getting old, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has never lived up to the hype and Chris Harris is OK at best. Neither Rahim Moore or Mike Adams are all that great.
So why not upgrade the secondary by grabbing a safety like Matt Elam?
Elam is a big hard-hitting safety who—and given last winter, this might be novel for the Broncos—has a knack for making big plays when a team needs them.
If Peyton Manning gets the team to the playoffs again, only to watch a pass sail over the heads of his secondary to send them back to Denver, the Broncos are going to have one unhappy quarterback.
30. Atlanta Falcons
As I have said several times in this piece, I love the aggressive move to get the guy you really want. The Atlanta Falcons needed a cornerback badly, and so, they jumped up and got one.
If there is one thing the Falcons do, it's make strong draft day moves. (For another example, please see Jones, Julio.)
Here's another team whom I think might regret passing up Zach Ertz.
As it stands, they were going cornerback in the second again when they traded up (and they just missed Tyler Eifert when they did), so they may have been just as well served getting a replacement for Tony Gonzalez, who will be gone after this season.
The Falcons have a lot of offensive weapons, so not getting another one makes total sense.
However, once Gonzo has moved on, they may look back and wish they'd gone in another direction.
31. San Francisco 49ers
The rich get richer—that's certainly true of the San Francisco 49ers, as they basically just picked anyone they wanted during the draft.
That said, I do wonder if the move up to get Eric Reid was necessary (we've talked about Matt Elam and Johnathan Cyprien and their skills), or if perhaps, they should have given Colin Kaepernick more weapons.
Had they moved up, they would have had their pick of the litter and grabbed any of the receivers we've talked about here—short of Tavon Austin.
I happen to like Quinton Patton, but he's not going to pan out at the level DeAndre Hopkins or Cordarrelle Patterson will.
There's not a ton there at wide receiver beyond Michael Crabtree. Between Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis, you have have some great options. Hopkins' size and hands or Patterson's ability after the catch would have been a huge boon to the offense.
If teams can key in on Davis and Crabtree or contain Kaepernick's running, the Niners might wish they'd grabbed a receiver a little earlier than the end of Round 4.
32. Baltimore Ravens
When you win the Super Bowl, you sort of get a pass on the whole "drafting for need thing."
Except for this article, that is.
Torrey Smith is a great wide receiver, but I'm not as sold on Jacoby Jones as the Baltimore Ravens are.
Justin Hunter can be a weapon on the outside and also in the red zone. While he's had some issues with drops, his ability to line up pretty much at any receiver position would have made him a valuable addition and help replace Anquan Boldin.
Washington, Tampa Bay, Seattle, New England
Washington, Tampa Bay, Seattle and New England all traded out either before the draft or during the draft, and ended up with no first-round picks.
What would I have liked to see them address with their picks had they kept them?
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In "Bizarro World," the Bucs have this pick and no Darrelle Revis, so naturally, I would have liked to see them with Dee Milliner (if the New York Jets passed on him) or Xavier Rhodes. Alternately, Star Lotulelei would have been a tremendous addition to this defense.
22. Washington Redskins
Even though offensive line is an issue (along with field maintenance), I think defensive end would be a great pick here. Bjoern Werner would have been my choice, as he is the best player available with that pick in that position.
25. Seattle Seahawks
As with the Bucs, keeping this pick means no trade which, in this case, means no Percy Harvin. So it would make sense for them to nab a receiver, someone like DeAndre Hopkins or Cordarrelle Patterson—both of whom were available and would have allowed them to keep the extra picks they gave Minnesota—and both of them carrying less diva-baggage.
29. New England Patriots
I'm not a huge Adrian Wilson fan, so I would have liked to see Johnathan Cyprien here had the Patriots kept this pick. The Pats have had problems with the secondary (and safety) before, and losing Patrick Chung, while not tragic, is problematic.
Ultimately, I believe that keeping the pick they had and adding an impact player like Cyprien would pay off, while this year, it seems like they have to hope what they have will hold up again.
Andrew Garda is the former NFC North Lead Writer and a current NFL analyst and video personality for Bleacher Report. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.