The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft is in the books and while most front office personnel make their money in the middle rounds, many franchises can’t afford to have first round picks bust. Here are the three biggest winners and losers from the first round of the NFL draft.
1. Minnesota Vikings – With three picks in the first round the Vikings brought in three potential starters that fill needs. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was one of the best press corners in the entire draft. He will step in and immediately improve their secondary. Defensive Tackle Sharrif Floyd falling all the way to 23 was an early Christmas present for the Vikings front office. He was rated as one of the top defensive linemen in the entire draft and Minnesota had to be delighted to get him. Finally, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson will take the place of Percy Harvin. More importantly though is the fact that he fits the style played by quarterback Christian Ponder, this move keeps Minnesota competitive in a division of powerful offenses. Throw in the jersey unveiling from the afternoon and Thursday was a great day to be a Viking.
2. The SEC – No, you didn’t read that wrong. Why is a college football conference considered a winner here? Simple, recruiting. 12 players from the SEC were taken in the first round. If you don’t think that makes a big deal when coaches go visit recruits you are dead wrong. Recruits sitting at home watching tonight’s draft are probably starting to think twice about heading off to Big Ten, Big Twelve, or Big East programs.
3. E.J. Manuel – The Florida State quarterback probably didn’t expect to hear his name called so early. Most prognosticators didn’t have him as the first quarterback off the board, let alone in the first round! Manuel has a ton of upside. He possesses the ability to throw into tight spaces with great velocity, has a quick release, good vision and isn’t afraid to step into the pocket and throw under pressure. The only concern for me is his tendency to give the offense chances to force turnovers by forcing throws into coverage. The good news is that he will have a little time to develop behind Kevin Kolb and Buffalo already has a few weapons around him.
1. Dallas Cowboys – After trading down the Cowboys front office went into panic mode. After seeing a run on offensive linemen, Dallas drafted Wisconsin center Travis Frederick with the 31st overall selection. I understand drafting needs, but taking a center this early? That’s a little absurd to me. Jerry Jones could have probably taken him or another center in second round and honestly, I don’t think they would’ve missed much if they didn’t land Frederick. Yes, Dallas needs to protect quarterback Tony Romo, but there were more glaring needs that could have been addressed here.
2. Geno Smith – Remember way back when he was considered to be a lock for the first overall pick? That must seem like an alternate universe for the former West Virginia quarterback. He was the top quarterback on most boards and most “experts” said there was no way he fell out of the first round. Unfortunately for Geno, they were wrong. Smith sat in the green room the entire night and now says he won’t return for the second day. The only good news, he should go fairly early in round two.
3. The NFL – Hear me out on this before hauling me off to the looney bin. The biggest thing the NFL has going for it after the draft is marketability. Photo shoots, introductory team press conferences will take place and of course, new jerseys will appear on team websites. In the past top picks like Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford have kept the hype train going into the preseason and in some cases into the preseason. Players like Robert Griffin III have watched their jerseys climb up the most sold list. Why? Because they are play making quarterbacks and in many cases, the face of their respective franchises. And because fans like offense. This year the first five picks were linemen. Moreover, eight of the top 10 selections were the guys in the trenches. How will the league turn them into “sexy” picks? I just don’t see linemen stealing headlines tomorrow or after the draft. Yes, linemen are the types of players who solidify franchises for years to come, but they are not the marketable, young talent that the NFL loves exploit each year.