Kansas City's Eric Fisher struggled this season.
The offseason is a critical time for all NFL teams.
General managers, coaches and scouts have to make decisions on the draft, free agency and coaching hires. These decisions are critical to a franchise's future.
The draft may the be most important of those areas. Make the right choice, and a team can be set at a particular position for 10 or 12 years. Make the wrong choice and it's a disaster.
The top scouts in the NFL won't fully assess their performance until three full seasons go by. We are under no such constraints.
In this piece we look at the 2013 first-round draft picks and throw back the selections that did not work out.
Injured players may be able to turn it around in the future, but we don't give these players any breaks for their performance—or lack thereof—in the 2013 season.
(We are no longer looking at value or potential. When we suggest a replacement pick, we are looking at productivity.)
Draft choice: OT Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs, No. 1 pick
Why it didn't work out: The Chiefs were banking on Eric Fisher becoming a dominating blocker in his first year. He was anything but. He played in 14 games, and missed the final two with a groin injury. He was ordinary at best and while he should get better, it may be a long time before he becomes dependable.
Whom they should have selected: The Chiefs need a big-play performer at the wide receiver position. They should have selected DeAndre Hopkins, who was picked by the Houston Texans with the No. 27 pick in the draft. Hopkins caught 52 passes for 802 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.
Draft choice: OT Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 2 pick
Why it didn't work out: The Jaguars had moved Joeckel from right tackle to left tackle, but when he suffered a high-ankle fracture in early October, his season came to a crashing halt. While Joeckel is a talented athlete who may eventually develop into a star, he missed three-quarters of his rookie season.
Whom they should have selected: The Jaguars struggled in many areas this year, and their defense was particularly bad. Think they could have really benefited from a strong defensive end. No rookie was better at that position than Sheldon Richardson of the New York Jets. Richardson had 77 tackles and 3.5 sacks, and that would have helped the Jaguars immensely.
Draft choice: DE Dion Jordan, Miami Dolphins, No. 3 pick
Why it didn't work out: Have you ever head the phrase, "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane?" That phrase was coined by the late draft guru Joel Buchsbaum of Pro Football Weekly, and he would use it when assessing any player who looked like a star but could not contribute. Jordan was the No. 3 pick in the draft because of his explosive athletic ability. However, he did not start one game for the Dolphins and he finished the season with 26 tackles and 2.0 sacks
Whom they should have selected: The Dolphins were right to look at defense with the No. 3 pick in the draft, but they would have been much better off if they had selected middle linebacker Kiko Alonso, who will be a star for the Buffalo Bills for many years. Alonso had a team-high 159 tackles, nine passes defensed and four interceptions.
Draft choice: CB Dee Milliner, New York Jets, No. 9 pick
Why it didn't work out: Milliner started 12 of the 13 games he played, but he was often in the wrong position, and he got picked on by opposing quarterbacks and receivers. Milliner was a smart, sharp player during his college career at Alabama, but he was dazed and confused at the NFL level. He had 56 tackles and three interceptions, but he made too many mistakes.
Whom they should have selected: The Jets are a poor offensive team and they are particularly needy at the wide receiver position. The Jets would have been much better off going after Keenan Allen, who caught 71 passes for 1,046 yards while playing for the Chargers. We know that Allen was a third-round pick, but he was almost certainly the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Draft choice: CB D.J. Hayden, Oakland Raiders, No. 12 pick
Why it didn't work out: Hayden went on the injured reserve list in late November with a hernia injury, but the season was not going well for him prior to getting hurt. Hayden was victimized regularly and bit on fakes from receivers. Double-moves left him in a chase position, and he could not catch up and make plays. Hayden had 26 tackles, three passes defensed and just one interception in his first season.
Whom they should have selected: The Raiders need help all over and they could have used a stud running back like Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 1,178 yards. However, they need an explosive pass-rusher even more, so we will take Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah of the Detroit Lions, who had 8.0 sacks as a rookie and will only get better from here.
Draft choice: LB Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 17 pick
Why it didn't work out: It was not a terrible year for Jones, but it's very difficult for rookie linebackers to pick up Dick LeBeau's complex scheme. Jones learned a lot during the season, but he was not productive enough. He had 40 tackles and 1.0 sack.
Whom they should have selected: The Steelers have quite a bit of age on defense, and they also need to address their secondary. They should have gone after defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. The Cardinals primarily used him at safety, but he can play cornerback as well. Mathieu had 68 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble before he suffered knee injury late in the season.
Draft choice: DE Bjoern Werner, Indianapolis Colts, No. 24 pick
Why it didn't work out: There were a lot of raised eyebrows when the Colts selected Werner with their first-round draft pick. He appeared to be a major project, as he did not have much experience coming out of Florida State. If we wanted to be kind, we would say that Werner is still a project. If we didn't, we would say that Werner is a failure. He had one assisted tackle in 2013.
Whom they should have selected: The Colts need a top-of-the-line running back. They traded a first-round pick for Trent Richardson, and that move appears to be disastrous. They should have drafted Eddie Lacy, who ran for 1,178 yards in Green Bay this season.
Draft choice: CB Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota Vikings, No. 25 pick
Why it didn't work out: Rhodes was functional during his rookie year. He played in 13 games and started six of them. He was credited with 48 tackles and 10 passes defensed, but he did not have an interception. One word to describe Rhodes' rookie year: ordinary.
Whom they should have selected: The Vikings obviously could use a quarterback, but none of the choices in the class of 2013 are guarantees. They could use some toughness and athleticism at the linebacker position, and that's where Alec Ogletree would have fit in. Ogletree had 118 tackles this season for the St. Louis Rams and seemed to get better each week.
Draft choice: DT Sylvester Williams, Denver Broncos, No. 28 pick
Why it didn't work out: The Broncos could use some strength on the defensive line and that's why they drafted Williams. He appears to have a decent future, but the Broncos are playing in the AFC Championship Game, and they need some production right now. Williams had 19 tackles and 2.0 sacks, and that's not enough.
Whom they should have selected: The Broncos could use some help in the secondary, and they would have been better off drafting Logan Ryan. The Patriots selected Ryan in the third round, and he led all rookies with five interceptions.
Draft choice: WR Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams, No. 8 pick
Why it didn't work out: Tavon Austin may have been the fastest player in the 2013 draft, and he had some impressive moments. He has a chance to develop into a big-play performer after catching 40 passes for 418 yards and four touchdowns. However, with his talent and explosiveness, he should have done more.
Whom they should have selected: The Rams would have been better off selecting wide receiver Terrance Williams, who caught 44 passes for 736 yards and five touchdowns. Austin is tiny at 5'8", and it's going to be difficult for him to win the battle against bigger defensive backs. Williams is 6'2" and has the size to outfight opponents for the ball.