Guys who play on Saturdays hope to become stars on Sundays, starting Thursday night when college and pro football collide at the 2013 NFL draft.
OK, maybe “collide” isn’t the best choice of words given the leagues’ concussion issues. Speaking of concussions and bad word choices, I’m brain dead from looking at mock drafts and reading the latest rumors of teams supposedly hoping to trade up or down. I’m not bothering with a mock draft because this stuff is impossible to forecast and this year presents a deep and particularly unpredictable draft.
We’re obsessed with the NFL draft because we’re obsessed with the NFL. And the best and easiest way to win in the NFL is to be able to predict which players will be great, so now we’re obsessed with mock drafts (even if it’s pointless to attempt predicting this stuff). On Grantland, NFL guru Bill Barnwell’s pre-draft column basically said the whole thing’s a crap shoot and NFL teams may or may not know how to draft any better than you or I do, and the best thing I read about the draft all week was by Rolling Stone political writer Matt Taibbi.
The most exciting thing about the 2013 NFL draft, for me, is the fact that two West Virginia Mountaineers will likely be the keys to how the first round of the draft will play out. Geno Smith, the concensus top-ranked QB, has been speculated to go as high as somewhere in the top 5 or to perhaps slip and slide all the way down to a team with an established starter (like Aaron Rodgers fell to the Packers in 2005).
WR Tavon Austin is one of the most electrifying game-changers available and, despite all the offensive and defensive line talent at the top of this draft (and teams always looking for those big, safe first-round picks), every team should consider drafting Austin or trading up to get into position to do so. Why? THE GUY SCORES TOUCHDOWNS. Give him the ball, on a quick slant or bubble screen, on a reverse or even delayed-draw hand off, or on kick/punt returns, and he can take it to the house. Herm Edwards famously reminded us that “You play to win the game,” and many awful announcers have said the team that scores the most points will win. Tavon Austin will score points in bunches, and that’s the only thing I know I’m sure of heading into the 2013 NFL draft.
As for the things we don’t know… here are a few bold predictions sure to go wrong:
- The Cleveland Browns will pick QB Geno Smith with the sixth overall pick, and trade Brandon Weeden for a mid-round pick. Too soon to give up on Weeden? Maybe, but there’s a whole new regime in Cleveland, and they’ve already brought in veteran QB Jason Campbell who can either play well until Smith is ready and/or mentor Smith as a solid backup (and he’s a mature pro who will accept either role). And Weeden turns 30 in October.
- Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball might be the top two RB’s drafted, but UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin (the 8th-ranked RB on NFL.com) will be a superstar and easily have the best pro career of any RB in this class.
- During ESPN’s draft telecast, Jon Gruden will say “I love this guy” 14,682 times. And the corpse of Chris Berman will undoubtedly attempt some form of “Star Lotulelei is sure to be a star in this league” joke.
- Whichever blue-chip offensive lineman falls to the Eagles at number 4 will end up the best of this class and they’ll land QB E.J. Manuel in the 2nd or 3rd round.
- Tavon Austin will not go to the Jets, Panthers, Saints,or Rams (picks 13-16) because the Dolphins will beat them to the punch by taking Austin at number 12.
- No matter if they pick for offense or defense, if they make a great pick or a questionable one, the Jets and Bills fans will be shown on TV booing. Actually, that’s the only sure thing at the NFL Draft.
Topics: 2013 NFL Draft, Bill Barnwell, Cleveland Browns, Eddie Lacy, Geno Smith, Grantland, Jon Gruden, Jonathan Franklin, Matt Taibbi, Montee Ball, NFL Draft, Nfl Mock Draft, Philadelphia Eagles, Star Lotulelei, Tavon Austin, West Virginia Mountaineers, WVU