Grading and re-drafting the 2013 first-round picks
Hindsight is always 20/20; the NFL draft is a great example of that.
It’s easy to look back and tell teams who they should have selected, safely using knowledge we’ve gathered after watching players’ perform in the NFL. It’s not just easy, it’s also fun. With that in mind, we’re going to turn our minds back to the 2013 NFL draft, grading the picks teams made, and suggesting who, in hindsight, they should have added to their rosters.
1. Eric Fisher, OT, Chiefs
Key Stat: Beaten for 14 sacks in his first two years in the league.
I’m not a believer in spending such a premium pick on a player who doesn’t touch the ball, but if the guy turns out to be Joe Thomas, I can live with it. If the upside appears to be a slightly-above-average left tackle, I most certainly can’t justify it.
Re-Draft: Top-end talent in this draft wasn’t high, but DeAndre Hopkins would be an immediate upgrade at wide receiver.
2. Luke Joeckel, OT, Jaguars
Key Stat: Joeckel has graded negatively every year with his pass blocking.
Similar to Fisher, I don’t believe in taking lineman this high; more so, I don’t believe in taking guys of this talent level in this spot. Joeckel has done nothing to suggest he will ever be a top left tackle.
Re-Draft: Get yourself a true feature back in Le’Veon Bell. He’s proven to be as talented as anyone in this draft.
3. Dion Jordan, DE, Dolphins
Key Stat: Has played 562 snaps in the league.
Three picks, three fails. Jordan has run into problems off the field that prevent him from getting on it, but even when he wasn’t suspended, playing time was an issue. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done much with the playing time he has received, either.
Re-Draft: Jonathan Martin was never going to be the answer, and Bryant McKinnie was just a stop gap. You wouldn’t need to spend big on Branden Albert with Terron Armstead on the roster.
4. Lane Johnson, OT, Eagles
Key Stat: Top-four run blocking grade amongst right tackles during his first two years in the league.
After a slow start, he’s really developed into one of the more solid right tackles in the game. If you’re going to pick a tackle this high, Johnson is the low-bar of what they need to achieve.
Re-Draft: It’s not flashy, but that Eagles offensive line requires athleticism, and Lane Johnson brings it in spades. Keep the same pick here.
5. Ezekiel Ansah, DE , Lions
Key Stat: His 27 combined sacks, hits, and hurries are sixth-most of all 4-3 defensive ends this year.
The best edge defender in this class by some distance, Ansah took a big leap from year one to two, and looks poised for something similar this season given his start to 2015. A real standout in a disappointing year for Detroit.
Re-Draft: The best edge defender in the class, the Lions got this one right, so they’ll keep Ziggy Ansah.
6. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Browns
Key Stat: Has played just 115 snaps this season, despite being healthy.
Mingo has played well in parts, but has lacked the kind of consistent output you’d expect from a guy taken this high, and now is struggling to get on the field.
Re-Draft: It’s something of a risk, but the chance of picking up the most talented defensive player in the draft is too much to pass up: Sheldon Richardson is the guy.
7. Jonathan Cooper, OG, Cardinals
Key Stat: Just 189 snaps on the field in his first two years.
Cooper suffered a horrible injury during his rookie preseason, and it’s been a struggle getting back since then. Too soon to judge, in this case.
Re-Draft: They would wind up getting Tyrann Mathieu in the third round, but the truth is, knowing what we know now, there’s no way he makes it out of the first round. Grab the Honey Badger now.
8. Tavon Austin, WR, Rams
Key Stat: Austin has five career receptions on balls that have travelled over 20 yards in the air.
He’s made some plays on special teams and contributed some on offense this year, but don’t let that make you forget how little Austin has contributed overall. If you’d picked him a little later, you might like that, but an eighth-overall pick has to have a bigger impact.
Re-Draft: They’d grab Aaron Donald a year later, but why take the risk on waiting when you can grab the excellent Kawann Short in 2013?
9. Dee Milliner, CB, Jets
Key Stat: Just 118 snaps since his rookie year.
Milliner started slow as a rookie, but heated up towards the end of the year to get you excited about what he could do in 2014. Unfortunately, injury has meant he’s struggled to get on the field since then.
Re-Draft: No deviation from the script in terms of taking a cornerback—it just wouldn’t be Milliner. No, that honor goes to Desmond Trufant.
10. Chance Warmack, OG, Titans
Key Stat: Flagged for 18 penalties since entering the league.
Deemed the most NFL-ready player and a can’t-miss prospect, everyone fell in love with Warmack running over college players for fun. It’s been a different story in the pros, where he’s struggled to get push in the run game and is currently enduring some difficulties in pass protection.
Re-Draft: Want to run power? Rather than Warmack, why not pick Larry Warford?
11. D.J. Fluker, OL, Chargers
Key Stat: Had missed just 53 snaps in his first two years in the league.
He’s played tackle on both sides, and is now at guard. One thing is for sure, Fluker is versatile. But that can be to detriment of his development, with a series of highs and lows characterizing an inconsistent start to his career.
Re-Draft: They would wind up selecting Manti Te’o in the second round, but a round earlier they could get his superior (in every regard) in the shape of Jamie Collins.
12. D.J. Hayden, CB, Raiders
Key Stat: Has allowed 12 touchdowns to just three picks.
It’s a minor miracle that he’s is playing at all. The Raiders knew the risks in selecting Hayden, but it’s his unforeseen injuries that have slowed him down. Now in a critical third year, he’s an every-down player, but the results don’t justify the investment.
Re-Draft: As much faith as the team had it’s receiving corps in 2013 (I would imagine very little), it makes the selection of Keenan Allen an easy one.
13. Sheldon Richardson, DL, Jets
Key Stat: Only J.J. Watt had a higher 2014 grade than Richardson among 3-4 defensive ends.
It’s only his actions off the field that stop this pick from earning an A+. Richardson is the most talented player from this draft class, and the biggest difference maker, but he’s in danger of wasting that.
Re-Draft: Richardson is off the board already in our re-draft, so I’m going to crazily suggest Rex looks to address his offensive line. Insert Kyle Long, and that unit becomes better day one.
14. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers
Key Stat: Lotulelei had the second-highest run stop percentage (12.9 percent) of all defensive tackles his rookie year.
Lotulelei took the league by storm with a big rookie year, where he showed up as a run-stuffing force. Injuries have hampered him recently, and he’s never developed into the top-tier pass rusher that would consider this an unqualified success.
Re-Draft: It’s not flashy to say the team got it right—but the team got it right with Star Lotulelei.
15. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Saints
Key Stat: Missed just three tackles his rookie year, before missing 19 in 2014.
Vaccaro seems to be back to his rookie-best after a tough 2014, where every Saint defender seemed to struggle. He brings an edge to the New Orleans’ secondary.
Re-Draft: Ideally, you’d find someone in the secondary here, but the value isn’t there. So, grab yourself Brandon Williams to protect your weaker linebackers.
16. E.J. Manuel, QB, Bills
Key Stat: Had the lowest grade of all quarterbacks in his rookie year.
Widely viewed as a reach at the time, Manuel has done nothing to prove people wrong. The Bills have rightly been reluctant to hand him the keys after a tumultuous trial run as a rookie, and now he finds himself derailing their 2015 season with Tyrod Taylor hurt.
Re-Draft: That offensive line was such a mess, you couldn’t fail to make a selection and see it improve. Justin Pugh could drop in at guard or tackle—most importantly, he would prevent Colin Brown from seeing the field.
17. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Steelers
Key Stat: Just 43 quarterback disruptions through his first two seasons (plus seven 2015 games) in the league. By way of comparison, James Harrison has 25 in his last seven games in a part-time capacity.
Jones was meant to inject some youth into the Steelers’ edge rush. Instead, he’s forced them to bring back Harrison and draft Bud Dupree. He just hasn’t performed with any sort of consistency.
Re-Draft: Running back was a need, but with Le’Veon Bell gone in our re-draft, the next best option is Eddie Lacy.
18. Eric Reid, S, 49ers
Key Stat: Just three picks since his rookie year.
Reid has never continued from his good rookie year to become the kind of difference-making safety you hope to draft here. His stint at slot cornerback didn’t do him any favors, either.
Re-Draft: The team needed to plan for the eventual retirement of Justin Smith, and while Johnathan Hankins isn’t a likely replacement, he could handle duties on the nose, and is a skilled enough pass rusher to contribute in sub packages long-term.
19. Justin Pugh, OL, Giants
Key Stat: Pugh currently owns fifth-highest grade of all guards for the 2015 season.
The worst thing about being a lineman is that, when you get beat, it shows up in a big way. Pugh has taken more criticism than warranted because of a few poor moments, but outside those, he’s proven to be an able tackle who is now excelling at guard.
Re-Draft: The best lineman gone in our re-draft, the team reaches a little to grab Ricky Wagner.
20. Kyle Long, OL, Bears
Key Stat: Long has played 989 snaps at guard without giving up a sack.
Long is a much better guard than tackle—and given that he’s not played terrible at tackle, that highlights his ability on the inside.
Re-Draft: Roberto Garza isn’t getting any younger, so grab his heir in the shape of Travis Frederick.
21. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
Key Stat: Has the second-highest grade of tight ends in 2015.
Eifert has the potential to be much more, but just because he’s riding high right now doesn’t mean we ignore what he didn’t do his first two years. If he can stay healthy, he’s leading the case to be the best tight end not named Rob Gronkowski.
Re-Draft: With such a deep roster the Bengals can always seem to afford patience with their first-round picks. With that in mind, Tyler Eifert remains the ideal candidate.
22. Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons
Key Stat: The 0.58 yards per snap in coverage he has allowed is second-best in the NFL in 2015.
One of the best picks of the round, Trufant had a great rookie year and has improved each season since. Teams just avoid him for the most part now—such is his talent.
Re-Draft: You coaxed one more year out of Tony Gonzalez, but you need to start thinking about his replacement. Step on down, Travis Kelce.
23. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Vikings
Key Stat: Floyd had the fifth-highest grade of defensive tackles in 2014, despite playing just 587 snaps.
Floyd didn’t get on the field enough his first two years, but he has always looked like an every-down force when on it. This year is shaping up to be something of a breakout season if he keeps going.
Re-Draft: There’s more to come from Sharrif Floyd, but even taking that out of consideration, his first two-plus years are enough to keep him here.
24. Bjoern Werner, OLB, Colts
Key Stat: Werner had the fifth-lowest pass rushing productivity score of all 3-4 outside linebackers in 2014.
Just 92 snaps this year after a disappointing 2014 season, where he was forced to play far more than the Colts wanted. Werner was something of a project, but when you spend a first-round pick, these guys better turn out.
Re-Draft: Why spend an in-season first-round pick on Trent Richardson when you can grab a shiftier Giovanni Bernard?
25. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings
Key Stat: Rhodes was a pass-defensing machine in 2014, with his count of 15 the second-highest among all cornerbacks.
Rhodes isn’t enjoying the best of years so far, but let’s not forget that he was pretty impressive as a sophomore. How he finishes the season could prove big if Vikings are too make a playoff push.
Re-Draft: The 2014 season of Xavier Rhodes was good enough to stick with him.
26. Datone Jones, DE, Packers
Key Stat: Jones managed just 98 snaps this year.
Jones is useful, but I’d question whether his role is worth a first-round pick. Sub package passing specialists are important, for sure, but if you’re going to get one in the first round, they better produce like Aldon Smith did in his debut season in San Francisco.
Re-Draft: Never afraid of drafting a versatile defensive back, the Packers opt for Eric Reid in our re-draft.
27. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Key Stat: Dropped just four balls his first two years in the league.
A case could be made for Hopkins as the best player from this draft class. The wide receiver has improved each year, something made all the more remarkable when you consider the quarterback situation he’s had to deal with.
Re-Draft: Hopkins is long gone in our re-draft, so the Texans pick up Bennie Logan to give teams someone else to worry about not named J.J. Watt.
28. Sylvester Williams, NT, Broncos
Key Stat: Has just 36 career defensive stops.
Williams is a starter now, but doesn’t have the kind of impact you’d expect from a first-rounder. Not a part of the pass rushing package, and in a year filled with nose tackles who can destroy running games, he isn’t one of them.
Re-Draft: You can use some bigger playmakers in the secondary, and while he has his limitations, Kenny Vaccaro can help out.
29. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings
Key Stat: Featured on just 44 snaps this year.
This is a tough one. Patterson looked prime to break out after flashing elite playmaking skills as a rookie and receiver in year one. But it’s been downhill since then, and you feel his time in Minnesota won’t be much longer.
Re-Draft: We’re replacing one electric returner with a tendency to go missing on offense for another in the shape of Tavon Austin. Why? Well, the careers of both are trending in different directions right now.
30. Alec Ogletree, LB, Rams
Key Stat: Ogletree has missed 43 tackles since entering the league.
Ogletree is an all-action linebacker. The problem is, sometimes that sees him making good plays, and other times it means he’s missing tackles left, right, and center. Hit and miss.
Re-Draft: Linebacker fills a need, but Kiko Alonso is a better player. You just have to hope he doesn’t get hurt.
31. Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys
Key Stat: Frederick has graded in the top six at our center rankings every year since entering the league.
Frederick might just be the best center in the league, in a scheme that asks every bit of his athleticism and talent. His drafting propelled the Cowboys’ offensive line unit to excellence, and he continues to perform at a high level.
Re-Draft: How about drafting a pass-catching tight end to both complement, and eventually replace, Jason Witten? Say, Jordan Reed, for example.
32. Matt Elam, S, Ravens
Key Stat: Elam allowed the fifth-most yards per snap in slot coverage in 2014.
Elam struggled at safety, struggled at slot cornerback, and is now struggling to stay healthy. The “Matt Elam in Baltimore” story doesn’t appear to have many chapters left.
Re-Draft: Safety was the right move—it was just the wrong guy. Step forward, Tony Jefferson.