Evaluating the 2013 NFL Draft

The 2013 NFL draft seemed to have a shallow talent pool with a few big names, such as Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, headlining the rookie quarterback class.  However, it felt like most of the impact players were considered diamonds in the rough, such as Tyrann Mathieu from Louisiana State University and Kenjon Barner from the University of Oregon, rather than elite stars.

The number one overall pick of the draft was Offensive Tackle Eric Fisher from Central Michigan. Fisher was the highest player from the MAC ever drafted, dating back to the first NFL draft.  Before Fisher, Byron Leftwich was the highest drafted player from the MAC at seventh overall in the 2003 NFL draft.

Tyrann Mathieu will look to silence his critics with his actions on and off the playing field. Photo courtesy of Tyrann Mathieu's Twitter account.

Tyrann Mathieu will look to silence his critics with his actions on and off the playing field. Photo courtesy of Tyrann Mathieu’s Twitter account.

On a side note, the Southeastern Conference showed its dominance with the amount of players they had drafted this year. Out of the first 100 players, 33 of them were from the SEC. Also, out the total 254 players drafted this year, the SEC was represented by 63 of them.

Geno Smith as drafted 39th overall by the New York Jets, which gave the Jets six quarterbacks on their roster. The Jets have released Tim Tebow from their roster, which gives Smith a better opportunity to help contribute to the their offense. Matt Barkley, who was projected to be a top ten pick, if not the overall number one last year, fell to the 98th pick in this year’s draft as the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him.

Tyrann Mathieu was considered a questionable pick due to his off field issues and size (5’9″, 186 pounds), but with the right guidance and understanding of his past, I could see him making a huge impact immediately with the Arizona Cardinals. Many of his critics called him undersized, but this could give him another advantage, as he will be harder to tackle by the bigger players.

The Cardinals drafted Mathieu with the 69th overall pick in the third round of the draft. He will be reunited with former LSU players Patrick Peterson and Kevin Minter, which will allow Mathieu to have an easier transition with the rest of his teammates. Not many players get an opportunity like this after being dismissed from their college team when the situations are drug related, but the upside is good to pass up for Mathieu.

Mathieu took to Twitter to express his gratefulness for being given a chance to prove himself in the NFL. He tweeted: “A blessing delayed is not a blessing denied!!” His message shows he has grown as a person overall and has taken steps in the right direction to bettering himself on and off the playing field.

He was known as the Honey Badger for his nose for the ball and physical style of play; he recorded four total touchdowns between fumble recoveries and punt returns along with being named a Heisman Trophy Finalist in his sophomore season. Mathieu could have a great career if his off-the-field issues are kept to a minimum.

The Rams had a successful draft after a few head-scratching draft classes in recent years. They targeted just

Fans will get to know the Rams recently drafted players and see who they are as people through social media. Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Rams' Twitter account.

Fans will get to know the Rams recently drafted players and see who they are as people through social media. Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Rams’ Twitter account.

about all of the positions that were depleted on the roster on both offense and defense. General manager Les Snead knew before the draft exactly what positions the Rams needed to fill and drafted what look like the right players for the offensive and defensive schemes.

After the draft ended, Snead said, “It’s good that we came away from every pick with a player we really wanted,” showing the Rams didn’t just draft players to use the pick for that round or draft a player that will take a few years to develop in an NFL-caliber player.

In the first round they drafted wide receivers Tavon Austin (5’8”, 174 pounds) and Stedman Bailey in the third round. Austin could be considered undersized, but has proven to be durable, having not missed a game his whole college career. Austin and Bailey were teammates at West Virginia, which will allow them to play better off each other due to their previous chemistry.

The Rams knew they needed to draft a running back after the departure of Steven Jackson. This led to them drafting running back Zac Stacy from Vanderbilt in the fifth round.

The pick that stood out to me was fourth round pick offensive Lineman Barrett Jones. He is coming from the University of Alabama and powerhouse conference SEC. He has played just about every position on the offensive line, which is just what the Rams need with their history of injured players. Jones was a very decorated player in college, winning multiple awards as the top offensive lineman in the country.

On defense, the Rams drafted linebacker Alec Ogletree from Georgia in the first round, safety T.J. McDonald from the University of Southern California in the third round, and cornerback Brandon McGee from the University of Miami in the fifth round.

All of the players drafted by the Rams could help them become more competitive in the NFC West as the NFC as a whole. While the draft doesn’t always represent how a players’ NFL careers will play out, it definitely gives new light to the players drafted as well as the teams that drafted them. Which players drafted in the 2013 NFL draft do you think will have successful careers or be labeled as busts?