Home > Draft, NFL > 2013 NFL Draft Analysis: Premium Positions will Fly on Thursday

2013 NFL Draft Analysis: Premium Positions will Fly on Thursday

Mike Mayock had an interesting quote during NFL Network’s Path to the Draft on Monday, when he concluded that perhaps only one quarterback might be drafted in the first round.

I’m not getting the same read on things that Mayock is, however.  I think it’s just the opposite: premium positions (quarterbacks, edge pass rushers, versatile defensive interior lineman, big, physical corners, any tackle who has the feet and hands to protect against edge rushers) will fly off the board on day one just due to simple scarcity.  My sense is that with the exception of the Bills and perhaps the Jets, trades are going to determine where the top prospects at premium positions play next season.  I think there will be something of a run on quarterbacks at the end of the first round, the issue being that the teams that currently hold those picks aren’t really in the market for quarterback talent.

Early on though, it’s not the quarterbacks who are going to drive the activity in the draft, it’s going to be the offensive tackles.  Both Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher, the top two offensive tackles and perhaps the top two players in the draft, will be gone no later than the third pick in the draft.  The top five or six pass rushers: Bjorn Werner, Tank Carradine, Barkevious Mingo, Jarvis Jones, Dion Jordan, and Ziggy Ansah, will go in the top 20, maybe 25 picks.  And every other offensive tackle with a first-ish round grade (Lane Johnson, DJ Fluker, Menelik Watson, and Justin Pugh) could easily be gone by the end of the round.

The trickiest thing to predict right now is probably where players in the secondary will get selected, given a couple of factors.  First and foremost, it is a really deep draft at both corner and safety (probably not as deep at corner as it was last year, however).  Secondly, not every scheme considers cover corners and safeties to be premium positions.  Some schemes put an incredible premium there, others do not.  While it’s easy to predict that guys like Xavier Rhodes and Dee Milliner will get drafted in the first round because they are top ten, top fifteen talents, it’s harder to predict the market for a guy like Desmond Trufant, a top twenty talent who may be just the fourth CB drafted in a year where theres a ton of talent at the position.  He may be a great example of the type of first round talent available on the second day of the draft, if not enough teams consider corner to be a premium position, then it’s easy to conclude that supply in this draft exceeds demand.

But that’s also why I expect the quarterback market to heat up late in the round.  In the absolute best case scenario for these quarterbacks, up to three could go in the first thirteen picks.  This scenario isn’t likely — but Geno Smith is in play for the Raiders and the Eagles right off the bat, and while the Raiders and Jags are looking to trade down for value, things will really heat up when the Bills and Jets pick later in the top ten.  The Bills are expected to go quarterback with the 8th overall pick, and in the event they decide to make Matt Barkley the pick, I think that that puts Ryan Nassib in play for the Jets.  So in that scenario, three quarterbacks get drafted in the top 13, and then as we get late in the round, the market for EJ Manuel and Tyler Bray will heat up because they are best available at the quarterback position.

The more likely scenario is that Geno Smith does not go in the top five, but remains in play for the Jets at the 13th pick.  The Bills then decide between Nassib and Barkley with the 8th pick.  So in this scenario, we have two quarterbacks going in the top half of the round, with one guy (Nassib, Barkley, or Smith) falling to the lower half of the round.  With the demand equation a bit different, Manuel’s market might not head up until the second day of the draft.  Still, I see no fewer than three quarterbacks getting drafted in the first round, wildly different than Mayock’s prediction of just one guy getting selected.

Three versatile defensive lineman will get selected in the first round: Star Loutulelei, Sharrif Floyd, and Sheldon Richardson.  None of these players will be a great value at the time they are selected.  Although they are clearly the cream of the crop in the class of defensive linemen, there will be values to be had at the position on day two and day three, so we won’t see any teams trading up to get these guys.  They will all be the top player on the board of some team picking in the first round, and will go in the top round without much of a doubt, and should have long, productive careers.

By my count, the first round selections in some order must include: 3-4 QBs, 6 OTs, 3 interior DL, 6 pass rushers, and 5 DBs.  Then likely first rounders just based on raw grades for players at a non-premium position include 3 WRs (counting Tavon Austin), a tight end, a middle linebacker, and 2 interior linemen.  By my count, that’s 29 of 32 first round picks that I can publish below as a prediction/cheat sheet for Thursday.

Consider this section the LiveBall Sports, team-independant mock draft

  1. OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
  2. OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
  3. OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
  4. DT Star Loutulelei, Utah
  5. OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
  6. CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
  7. OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
  8. QB Ryan Nassib, Buffalo
  9. WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
  10. DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU
  11. OT DJ Fluker, Alabama
  12. TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
  13. QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
  14. CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
  15. OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
  16. S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
  17. DE Tank Carradine, Florida State
  18. DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
  19. G Chance Warmack, Alabama
  20. QB EJ Manuel, Florida State
  21. DE Bjorn Werner, Florida State
  22. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
  23. CB D.J. Hayden, Houston
  24. DT Sheldon Ricardson, Missouri
  25. WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
  26. S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
  27. OT Menelik Watson, Florida State
  28. QB Matt Barkley, USC
  29. WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
  30. OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse
  31. G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
  32. LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
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