Redrafting the 2013 NFL Draft
The 2014 NFL draft is upon us. Naturally, this is a perfect time to revisit the 2013 class.
What if teams got a mulligan on last year's draft? One year isn't enough to determine if a player is a success or bust, but it is certainly enough to change how things would have happened.
Of course, we have to wipe out draft-day trades as a part of this exercise. There is no telling how the draft would have shaped in that regard if we were able to do it all over again. Instead of guessing, teams were given their original draft picks here.
The exceptions are teams that made trades before the draft—the New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams have extra draft picks at the expense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington, respectively, as a result.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2013 Pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
2014 Mulligan: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs are stuck between a rock and a hard place here in this redraft of last year's class. On the one hand, Eric Fisher wasn't very good as a rookie. On the other, they lost 60 percent of their starting lineup on the offensive line in free agency this offseason.
Instead of taking Fisher here, though, let's change things up.
Luke Joeckel was the consensus top offensive lineman in last year's draft for most of draft season. It turned out the Chiefs felt differently.
While Joeckel's rookie season wasn't any better—he was knocked out for the year with a broken ankle after Week 5—he seemed ready enough to play the blind side that the Jaguars traded away Eugene Monroe. That seems like enough to cause a switch at the top here.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
2013 Pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
2014 Mulligan: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Like in Kansas City, the Jaguars are in a tough position here at the top of the draft. They traded left tackle Eugene Monroe away because of his impending free agency.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, Luke Joeckel was injured immediately after the trade, leaving the Jaguars trouble at the tackle position for the rest of the year.
With Joeckel gone to the Chiefs here, the Jaguars would be in dire straits at offensive tackle. Of course, we could go in a different direction and just push offensive tackle to the top of the draft-need pile for the 2014 class, but which player is worth selecting No. 2 overall here?
Fisher did not have a good rookie season with the Chiefs, but he was playing out of position on the right side. The Jaguars take him here to man the left side.
3. Oakland Raiders
2013 Pick: Trade down
2014 Mulligan: Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU
General manager Reggie McKenzie made a savvy move down last year to grab a guy he was probably going to take at No. 3 regardless.
Cornerback D.J. Hayden was a bit of a surprise first-round pick after being red-flagged for medical reasons. He was able to overcome those concerns as a rookie, and he did a fine job after being thrown into the fire.
But how could the Raiders resist taking Tyrann Mathieu at this point?
The talented cornerback out of LSU only fell out of the first round because of off-field concerns, which have since dissipated. Instead, Mathieu was the best rookie defensive back in the league, able to play free safety and cornerback with ease and aplomb. There is a reason he was in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Mathieu did tear his ACL, making this a bit of a risky pick. Per Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com, Mathieu is ahead of schedule on his rehab from surgery, with a possibility that he could be ready by Week 1.
In the end, this isn't just about the beginning of the 2014 season. The Raiders get the draft's best cornerback whether he misses some time or not.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
2013 Pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
2014 Mulligan: Keenan Allen, WR, California
It's tempting to slot Dion Jordan in here for a few reasons. For starters, he went at No. 3 last year to the Dolphins, who made a surprising move up to get him. Then there are the reports that Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was enamored with the athletic linebacker before he was sniped by Miami general manager Jeff Ireland.
Philadelphia does have a need at outside linebacker, and removing offensive tackle Lane Johnson from the equation creates another. But there are other holes to fill. To wit, the Eagles are rumored by Peter King of The MMQB (h/t Brandon Lee Gowton of SB Nation) to be targeting a wide receiver in this year's draft, despite having Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin starting.
Why not add last year's top receiver instead?
Keenan Allen would have been in contention to be the top receiver drafted were it not for a knee injury that likely precipitated a poor combine and draft season in general. His loss was San Diego's gain, however, as the Chargers found themselves with a real third-round gem.
Allen was a contender for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award after posting 71 catches for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013. Just imagine what he could accomplish in Kelly's offense.
Allen was the biggest jump in this redraft, moving all the way up from No. 76 overall to No. 4 here. This fills the hole DeSean Jackson's release left at the receiver position and allows the Eagles to focus on defense and replacing Johnson in this year's draft.
5. Detroit Lions
2013 Pick: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
2014 Mulligan: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Lions seem to be in perpetual need of help in the secondary. Redrafting Kenny Vaccaro here is a big step toward solving the problem.
To be fair, Glover Quin was pretty good for Detroit last season, and James Ihedigbo was a nice surprise for the Baltimore Ravens. But 30-year-old Ihedigbo is on a meager two-year, $3.15 million contract, and Vaccaro established himself as a solid safety in New Orleans last year.
6. Cleveland Browns
2013 Pick: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
2014 Mulligan: Sheldon Richardson, DE, Missouri
This is far enough for last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Sheldon Richardson might have been redrafted higher here, but team needs trumped talent to this point. Of course, the Browns do not have a big need on the interior of their defensive line, but Richardson was too irresistible here.
Richardson would pair with John Hughes to form a formidable tandem at defensive end, instantly making Cleveland's good defensive line one of the best in the league. The Browns would lose out on a pass-rusher by passing on Barkevious Mingo, but he did not show enough as a rookie to merit being chosen over Richardson at this point.
7. Arizona Cardinals
2013 Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC
2014 Mulligan: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Jonathan Cooper was a nice pick for the Cardinals at No. 8 last year. The guard out of North Carolina filled a big need along the offensive line in Arizona.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals weren't able to see the fruits of their first-round draft pick last season because of a preseason injury that knocked Cooper out for the season.
Fast-forward to today, when the Cardinals need to address the right tackle position. Bobby Massie could be an answer, but why not take the athletic Lane Johnson with this pick instead?
8. Buffalo Bills
2013 Pick: Trade down
2014 Mulligan: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Why Cordarrelle Patterson fell so far in last year's draft is a mystery, at least in hindsight.
The talented receiver out of Tennessee was raw, to be sure, but his upside was incredible. He showcased some of that as a rookie despite lack of usage early in the season, particularly as a kick returner.
Patterson is electric with the ball, and the Minnesota Vikings finally figured that out as the season wore on. He might not be a polished route-runner yet, but he is good enough to take in the top 10 here.
The Bills don't have a massive need at wide receiver, but adding one in this redraft allows them to focus on a different position in the second round instead of taking Robert Woods. Perhaps they could take a quarterback there instead of EJ Manuel, as they did in the first round of last year's draft.
9. New York Jets
2013 Pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
2014 Mulligan: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The only reason Star Lotulelei fell in last year's draft was a medical concern regarding his heart. The teams who passed on him might regret their decision today.
Lotulelei showed no hint of a medical issue as a rookie, playing fantastic football on the middle of the Carolina Panthers defensive line. Lotulelei was one of the top 20 defensive tackles in the league according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The Jets lost out on Sheldon Richardson in this redraft—they drafted him at No. 13 last year—but Lotulelei is an excellent consolation prize here. Head coach Rex Ryan would find similar uses for the big defensive lineman.
10. Tennessee Titans
2013 Pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
2014 Mulligan: Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
Offensive guard Larry Warford is the second third-round pick to rise all the way into the first round in this redraft.
Warford wasn't hyped much coming out of Kentucky, but the Detroit Lions found themselves a steal last year in the big offensive lineman. Warford wasn't only the top-rated interior lineman; he was one of the top offensive guards in the entire league according to Pro Football Focus.
11. San Diego Chargers
2013 Pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
2014 Mulligan: Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
The Chargers made a fine draft pick in D.J. Fluker last year.
The big offensive lineman was a solid right tackle in San Diego, and he was nearly the pick here. But there was another right tackle who stood out from last year's draft—Justin Pugh out of Syracuse.
Eyebrows were raised when the New York Giants took Pugh later in the first round. It was a bit of a reach in the minds of many, but Pugh quickly proved the doubters wrong last season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Pugh was actually the best rookie offensive tackle in 2013. Maybe he's a minimal upgrade, but every little bit counts.
12. Miami Dolphins
2013 Pick: Traded up
2014 Mulligan: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Dolphins shocked the NFL world last year by moving all the way up to No. 3 to draft outside linebacker Dion Jordan, a move anticipated by few and perplexing a year later.
Jordan is a phenomenal athlete, but Miami barely used him last year. There have even been rumors that Jordan is on the trade block, as exemplified by Bob Grotz of The Mercury.
As luck would have it, Jordan is available at No. 12 in this redraft, quite probably because of Miami's misuse of the talented outside linebacker. Given their needs elsewhere, however, the Dolphins would be better served addressing other positions.
Namely, the offensive line still needs plenty of work. The right tackle position is in dire straits, as it has been for the past few years. D.J. Fluker would solve that problem here, allowing the Dolphins some flexibility in this year's draft.
13. New York Jets (from Tampa Bay)
2013 Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DE, Missouri
2014 Mulligan: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
The Jets could take cornerback Dee Milliner here and have virtually the same first-round haul as last season, substituting Star Lotulelei for Sheldon Richardson.
Milliner was a disappointment for most of last season, however. More importantly, how could head coach Rex Ryan resist taking Dion Jordan at this point?
Jordan was misused by the Dolphins as a rookie—injury limitations regardless—something that would be unlikely under Ryan's tutelage. The talented outside linebacker would be a better fit in Ryan's defense too.
14. Carolina Panthers
2013 Pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
2014 Mulligan: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Carolina Panthers hit the defensive tackle lottery last year. Not only did they snag a falling Star Lotulelei with the No. 14 pick, but Kawann Short was fantastic out of the second round last year. In fact, he rated better than Lotulelei over at Pro Football Focus.
They have no such luck in this redraft, as teams wised up with Lotulelei. They couldn't take the risk that Short would be gone later in this exercise of the hypothetical, so the big defensive lineman was the pick here.
15. New Orleans Saints
2013 Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
2014 Mulligan: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Kenny Vaccaro was long gone in this redraft, but the New Orleans Saints should be fine at safety regardless now that they have Jairus Byrd playing center field.
Eric Reid would have been a fine replacement option—he was almost the choice—but what about adding some firepower to an aging, underwhelming group of wide receivers?
Granted, there is plenty of youth there with Kenny Stills and Nick Toon around, but how could New Orleans resist taking Tavon Austin at this point?
The St. Louis Rams overdrafted Austin last year. Then they misused him for most of his rookie season.
Head coach Sean Payton knows a thing or two about maximizing offensive potential in New Orleans, and Austin would be a fantastic addition there. Austin is a nice chess piece who could take over many of Darren Sproles' duties now that the diminutive back is in Philadelphia.
16. St. Louis Rams
2013 Pick: Trade up
2014 Mulligan: Eric Reid, S, LSU
The Rams were almost able to land Tavon Austin here with their original pick instead of moving all the way up to No. 8 like they did last year. Alas, Austin was swiped out from under them.
No matter, there are more pressing needs in St. Louis.
The secondary in St. Louis needs a major overhaul right now, and safety is one of the biggest concerns. That is where Eric Reid comes in.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
2013 Pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
2014 Mulligan: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Steelers could use help at linebacker, sure. Moving away from Jarvis Jones wouldn't help either.
The Georgia product wasn't terribly good as a rookie, though, and Pittsburgh has a much bigger need at cornerback right now.
Enter Desmond Trufant, the second-best rookie cornerback from the 2013 season. Like Tyrann Mathieu—the top-performing cornerback from last season—Trufant rated in the top 10 over at Pro Football Focus.
18. Dallas Cowboys
2013 Pick: Trade down
2014 Mulligan: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Laughter ensued after the Cowboys selected a center in the first round last year. Dallas got some good value by trading down, but it seemingly wasted its first-round pick on a player many considered a third-rounder at best.
Dallas got the last laugh, however. Travis Frederick was great as a rookie, but was he good enough to take here?
Not really. More to the point, Ezekiel Ansah would be a steal for the Cowboys at this point.
Ansah fell due to circumstance, mainly because of team need and fit up until now. The rookie leader in sacks last season would be a boon to the Cowboys, who had to let DeMarcus Ware go in free agency this season.
19. New York Giants
2013 Pick: Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
2014 Mulligan: Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC
We are getting to the point in this exercise where teams that found value are losing out on the prospects they stole in the 2013 draft.
That is precisely the case here for the Giants, who saw Justin Pugh taken by the Chargers several picks ago. What was once panned as a reach is now out of reach for New York, which needs help on that offensive line as a result.
Enter Jonathan Cooper, offensive guard out of North Carolina.
They don't play the same position, but Cooper presents great value here for the Giants, who could use another guard despite signing Geoff Schwartz this offseason.
Cooper didn't have a chance to shine as a rookie thanks to a season-ending injury before the season even began, so there is little to go on in the way of post-draft performance. He was considered the top prospect at guard last year, and there is little reason to think he won't be good at the next level.
20. Chicago Bears
2013 Pick: Kyle Long, OG, Oregon
2014 Mulligan: Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU
The Bears were awful on defense last season, and having a black hole at safety was a big reason why.
While offensive guard Kyle Long did a nice job and a few who were drafted higher are available here, it's difficult to give the Bears anything other than a good safety at this point.
Jonathan Cyprien was a small-school darling out of FIU who wound up being drafted in the early part of the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. His rookie season was up and down—he had a rough start to his career before stabilizing in the second half of the year—but he is a nice, young upgrade at the position for Chicago, who missed out on Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
2013 Pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
2014 Mulligan: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
It wasn't that Tyler Eifert had a bad season for the Bengals in 2013. But the rookie tight end out of Notre Dame was and still is a bit of a luxury given other needs.
Cincinnati still employs Jermaine Gresham, after all, and now the Bengals face a deficit at a couple of defensive positions. Namely, the cornerback position has fallen victim to age and injuries.
While Dee Milliner wasn't outstanding as a rookie, he did seem to flip the switch late in the season. Milliner nabbed his three interceptions in the final two games, part of a solid four-game stretch to close out the season.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)
2013 Pick: Trade down
2014 Mulligan: Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon
This is purely a best-player-available situation at this point for the Rams, who aren't in dire need of a linebacker.
St. Louis has James Laurinaitis, and they drafted Alec Ogletree last year. Of course, taking Kiko Alonso would likely mean no Ogletree, and Alonso would be an upgrade.
Incidentally, Alonso was drafted by the Bills with a pick the Rams traded to them in a move for the No. 8 pick.
The talented linebacker out of Oregon was a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate for much of the season after amassing a whopping 159 total tackles as a rookie. Granted, some of that might have to do with the Buffalo official scorer's generosity in doling out the murky statistic, but Alonso was all over the field for the Bills nonetheless.
23. Minnesota Vikings
2013 Pick: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
2014 Mulligan: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was disappointing as a rookie. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, meanwhile, was a fine rookie cornerback last season.
He rated positively over at Pro Football Focus, and despite not recording an interception, Rhodes allowed just one touchdown in coverage.
Without Rhodes, a weak secondary gets even weaker in Minnesota. He is far more valuable than Floyd.
24. Indianapolis Colts
2013 Pick: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
2014 Mulligan: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Like Ansah, Mingo fell quite away in the draft.
Well, the slide stops here, as Mingo lands with the Colts. Indianapolis took Bjoern Werner last season as a much-needed pass-rusher. Mingo had twice as many sacks as a rookie—five, which is admittedly not much—and he is simply more athletic with bigger upside.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle)
2013 Pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
2014 Mulligan: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Minnesota could use help along the interior of their offensive line, and Chance Warmack is a great choice here.
By many accounts, the Alabama product was the top guard in the draft class. Jonathan Cooper ultimately won out—just barely—Warmack had an inconsistent rookie year, but he showed plenty of promise.
26. Green Bay Packers
2013 Pick: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
2014 Mulligan: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
There was no way of knowing Jermichael Finley would have a horrific injury last season.
The injury has Finley looking for work and the Packers lacking a tight end. That makes Tyler Eifert a perfect match here.
Eifert's talents were all but wasted in Cincinnati last season, a team that had a starting tight end in Jermaine Gresham. The rookie caught just 39 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns on the year.
You can bet Aaron Rodgers would find a way to get the talented tight end the football more often than that.
27. Houston Texans
2013 Pick: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
2014 Mulligan: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
This was a rather bland choice. Without any movement allowed in the draft, the Texans were stuck here. There are plenty of needs right now in Houston, but taking DeAndre Hopkins away would simply create an old need at wide receiver.
Hopkins had his moments last season, but poor quarterback play ultimately killed the Texans and Hopkins' rookie season. He caught just 52 passes for 802 yards and two touchdowns.
Without him, however, the Texans are back to one elite but aging receiver in Andre Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos
2013 Pick: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
2014 Mulligan: Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
What a coup for the Denver Broncos.
Sylvester Williams is a fine rotational player on that defensive line, but just think of what the Broncos offense might look like with Giovani Bernard back there. He is everything the Broncos hoped for and more when they took Ronnie Hillman in the third round of the 2012 draft.
Having Bernard would likely mean no Montee Ball, but Bernard was clearly the better player in 2013. The talented running back out of UNC was an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate at one point, amassing 1,208 total yards and eight touchdowns on the wrong end of a timeshare last season.
Simply put, Bernard is a dynamic back with great pass-catching ability, a fantastic fit for Peyton Manning and that offense. Would that this were true, the fantasy football implications would be enormous.
As for the defensive line, well, the Broncos could use a later pick or one of their 2014 selections to address any holes left by not taking Williams.
29. New England Patriots
2013 Pick: Trade down
2014 Mulligan: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
The Patriots were unable to pull one of their patented draft-day trades in this redraft, so they took what was given here.
It might seem like an unnecessary pick to take a tight end here, but the Patriots are no stranger to unconventional wisdom.
Zach Ertz wasn't considered a first-round talent last year, but he could become the best tight end to come out of the 2013 class. He proved himself as a rookie with the Eagles, catching 36 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns despite limited duty in a crowded tight end corps.
New England has Rob Gronkowski, but the Patriots have done well with two good tight ends in the past. More to the point, Gronkowski's injury concerns have some thinking the Patriots will take a tight end in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Having a guy like Ertz would take care of that perceived need.
30. Atlanta Falcons
2013 Pick: Trade up
2014 Mulligan: Matt Elam, FS, Florida
Unable to move up for their man, the Falcons take what they can get here at No 30.
Atlanta has needs along the offensive and defensive lines, to be sure, but safety is another concern after Thomas DeCoud was ousted this offseason. Given the top offensive linemen and defensive ends are gone, Matt Elam makes sense as the pick here.
Elam wasn't dazzling as a rookie, but he was decent in Baltimore's defensive backfield. Of course, stacking Elam up against the legendary Ed Reed, whom he replaced, might skew perception a bit.
31. San Francisco 49ers
2013 Pick: Trade up
2014 Mulligan: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
They got the short end of the stick in this redraft, unable to utilize their many draft picks for a big move up to take Eric Reid like they did in 2013. Instead, they have to sweat out 30 picks before going with a player at a position of lesser need.
Jones had a relatively poor rookie season, rating among the worst 3-4 outside linebackers in the league according to Pro Football Focus and amassing just one sack and 41 total tackles. It is for that reason that Jones nearly fell out of the first round altogether here.
If any team can groom Jarvis Jones into a force in the pass rush, however, it's the 49ers.
32. Baltimore Ravens
2013 Pick: Matt Elam, FS, Florida
2014 Mulligan: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
At this point, it might seem luxurious for the Baltimore Ravens to select a running back with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce in the fold.
Rice's legal issues—not to mention apparent decline last season, given he averaged 2.9 yards per carry—and Pierce's sophomore slump have raised questions about the backfield in Baltimore, though, and how could we let the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year slide out of the first round?
Lacy bulldozed his way to 1,435 total yards and 11 touchdowns en route to his award, proving his detractors wrong in the process. He may not have had that chance to prove himself last year in a crowded backfield, but Lacy would be a significant upgrade at this point.