by NFL Gimpy
The NFL Draft starts on Thursday. At this point, we still don’t know who the #1 overall pick will be. There are some really good guesses, but it’s more or less a coin flip at this point. I’ve continually said that this is going to be one of the most interesting drafts we’ve had in a long time. The lack of a top flight QB is the start of the confusion. This will most likely be the first draft since 2008 where a QB isn’t taken 1st overall (Matt Ryan, 3rd pick). There’s also a good chance it’s the first draft since 2000 that a QB isn’t taken in the top 3 (Chad Pennington, 18th pick to the Jets in the Tom Brady draft). Tommy posted positional rankings and David has gone through team by team needs. As always, I like a macro-level perspective on things so I will go over what to look for with each position over the first 2 rounds and what to watch for.
QB: The biggest crapshoot in the draft, more so than usual. Geno Smith is the top QB for most, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be the top guy. Ryan Nassib or Matt Barkley could steal that spot depending on who drafts a QB first and which QB they covet. The next question is how many QBs go in the first round. It could be as few as 1 and as many as 4. The main thing to watch for is how many go in the 1st round. A few teams may trade from the 2nd round back up into the 1st to get their man. If the 1st round is slow on QBs, the 2nd round will be crazy. There could be great value in the 3rd round at QB as well, depending on a lot of factors. I’ve been a huge fan of Zac Dysert as a 3rd round pick with great upside.
RB: Without a top guy like Trent Richardson was last year, it’s certainly debatable whether or not a RB will be drafted in the 1st round. There are several RB needy teams (Steelers, Broncos, Rams, Jets…) but there aren’t that many 1st round caliber RBs. I’ve seen Eddie Lacy, Gio Bernard, and Jonathan Franklin listed as the top guy. What’s important to note with RBs is that it’s a position where a rookie can make an immediate impact even if he isn’t a high 1st round pick. Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, and Alfred Morris all were worthy of their starting roles and only 1 was a high 1st round pick. David Wilson of the Giants came on strong late in the season with 247 rushing yards and 3 TDs in his last 4 games.
NFL teams know this and won’t invest a high 1st in a RB unless he’s special. None of these guys are special. Watch for the first RB go to off the board because it could trigger the following 2 to come off very soon after. With 3 RBs who are likely ranked 6 different ways by NFL Teams, there could be a mini-run on RBs in the late 1st or early 2nd round. One other thing to watch for is Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore could easy have been the top RB if it wasn’t for a gruesome knee injury. He’s easily one of my favorite players in the draft and I hope he gets the chance to shine in 2014.
TE: This is one of my favorite positions in the draft this year because it’s full of players who should translate into starters yet there aren’t many teams who have a big need. This means someone is going to steal an impact player in the 2nd or 3rd round. There could be 1 or 2 guys in the first round, Tyler Eifert and/or Zach Ertz. Travis Kelce is a great prospect with some character concerns around him that I’ve heard are overblown, but still not something you write off.
WR: WR is an extremely deep position with a lot slightly flawed talents. Tavon Austin is one of the most dynamic playmakers college football has seen the past few years, but his short stature (5’8”) hurts his stock a little. Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter have had issues with drops. Keenan Allen has knee issues. There are 6 or 7 guys who will likely go in the top 2 rounds and all but Austin are 6’1 or taller. Look to see how much Austin’s height pushes him down. If he’s not one of the top 2 WRs taken, someone will be thanking the football gods. The NFL is a passing league; you need great pass catchers and there’s a lot of potential in this group.
OT: It is a close to a foregone conclusion that 3 OTs will go in the top 10. Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson, and Eric Fisher are all LT prospects and in a pass heavy league they’re highly valued. The order they go in will be based off of individual preference of the teams who draft them. The main thing to look for is next 3 or 4 guys off the board, guys like Menelik Watson, Justin Pugh, and Terron Armstead. Watson and Armstead are great athletes who need a little seasoning. Pugh isn’t as great of an athlete, but is much more of a finished product. When these 3 get drafted will have a big impact on picks 15-40. If they go in the top 30, it means some very talented players will get pushed down further than they should. Continue reading