The Big Uglies were up and the skill positions were down near the top of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The first round saw a record nine offensive linemen taken, the most since 1968. Offensive tackles went one-two for the first time ever. Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher became only the third offensive tackle taken No. 1 overall since 1970. A guard was taken seventh overall, the highest since 1986. Two guards went in the top 10 for the first time since 1988.
Meanwhile, not a single running back was taken in the first round, the first time that’s happened since the common draft began in 1967.
Only one quarterback went in the first round – Buffalo’s EJ Manuel – the lowest total since 2001. Only three quarterbacks went in the first three rounds. That was the fewest in the first three rounds since 1997.
So what happened to the NFL being a pass-first league? NFL general managers haven’t forgotten the fact. There were an all-time high 25 defensive backs taken in the first three rounds, about four or five more than the average over the past dozen years.
Here’s a gut-reaction review of the three-day draft:
• St. Louis: The Rams’ big need was an elite weapon for QB Sam Bradford. The Rams made a bold move to move up eight spots in a deal with the Bills and get the most explosive offensive weapon in the draft – West Virginia’s Tavon Austin. Mark him down for eight TDs this year. Then the Rams moved up to No. 30 overall to pick another guy who is a blur on game film – Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. He’s an athletic freak with production. They got good value with their fourth pick, West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey, who scored 25 TDs last year, and their fifth pick, Alabama center Barrett Jones, who won’t be a bust.
• Pittsburgh: Each of the Steelers’ first five picks looks good. First-rounder Jarvis Jones of Georgia didn’t time great (4.82) but he plays fast. He’s a perfect replacement for former All-Pro James Harrison. Second-round pick Le’Veon Bell is a pounder who has a nose for the end zone; a Steeler-type back. Third-rounder Markus Wheaton has good production and fills a need since Mike Wallace left in free agency. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will find a way to make fourth-round safety Shamarko Thomas a 5-foot-8, heat-seeking missile. Then they got Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, valued at about 80 on many boards, at No. 150.
• Minnesota: Any team with three first-rounders gets a good grade. The Vikings were fortunate that big DT Sharrif Floyd of Florida, who might have gone as high as No. 3, lasted to No. 23. Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes, at No. 25, fills a huge need. Then they moved up to 29th to get Tennessee’s dynamic WR Cordarrelle Patterson. He’s perfect for a Percy Harvin role.
• Tennessee: First-round pick Chance Warmack is a stud. Second-rounder Justin Hunter is a 6-4 receiver who runs 4.44 and caught 73 passes last season. Big, athletic corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson ran 4.39 at his pro day. The Titans caught the very end of a run on CBs to get him at No. 70. Third-round LB Zaviar Gooden of Missouri has upside, and fourth-round guard Brian Schwenke is solid.
• San Francisco: With 13 picks, it was hard for the Niners to foul it up. The Niners used their surplus to move from 31st to 18th and get proven LSU safety Eric Reid, a replacement for Dashon Goldson. Florida State DE Tank Carradine adds to the Niners’ defensive riches. The next second-rounder was a perfect fit. Tight end Vance McDonald can team with TE Vernon Davis, a duo that will rival the Patriots’ combination. McDonald is better than Delanie Walker, who left in free agency. The Niners have the luxury of waiting for RB Marcus Lattimore to heal from knee surgery.
• New York Giants: Giants GM Jerry Reese got a safe, sure-fire producer in Syracuse guard Justin Pugh at No. 19. Then he went to his organization’s wheelhouse – defensive line. Second-round DT Johnathan Hankins is a 320-pound load who underachieved a bit last season. Coach Tom Coughlin will get him going. Third-rounder Damontre Moore didn’t time well, had only 12 bench press repetitions (of 225 pounds) and didn’t always play the run. But he had 12.5 sacks in the SEC last season. The Giants got him at No. 81, a good 50 picks after where he might have gone. The Giants’ 31st-ranked defense got help. The fourth-rounder was Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib, great value at No. 110.
• Philadelphia: New coach Chip Kelly got an elite left tackle in Lane Johnson and will make great use of Stanford TE Zach Ertz. Big, third-round DT Bennie Logan of LSU was a bit of a reach because he should have stayed in school another year. But we like him because he’s a high-character guy who should get better. Then they got Southern California QB Matt Barkley in the fourth round. He will be the starter in 2014.
• Washington: The ’Skins had no first-rounder but don’t care because they have Robert Griffin III. Second-round CB David Amerson of N.C. State got burned a lot. Third-round TE Jordan Reed is a very poor man’s Aaron Hernandez.
• Chicago: The Bears reached for guard Kyle Long at No. 20. It’s hard to whiff on a guard, but they could have found better value. At No. 50 they got big-hitting Florida inside ’backer Jon Bostic, who is good. Why not Manti Te’o in the first round and somebody else at better value in the second round? Didn’t have a third-rounder.
• Cleveland: The Browns got a good edge rusher at No. 6 in LSU’s Barkevious Mingo. They didn’t have a second-rounder. Third-round CB Leon McFadden is OK. They dealt their fourth- and fifth-rounders for third- and fourth-rounders next year. That’s fine. But the 5-11 squad could have used more.
• Tampa Bay: The Bucs had no first-round pick due to the acquisition of Darrelle Revis. No problem with second-rounder Johnthan Banks, the big corner from Mississippi State. But QB Mike Glennon, the 73rd pick, is too immobile. Don’t like him.
The Southeastern Conference has won six straight national college football titles, and six SEC teams finished in the top 10 of the final Bowl Championship Series standing last season. The NFL notices.
There were 32 SEC players taken among the 97 picks in the first three rounds.
The next best conference was the Atlantic Coast, which had 12. Third was the Pacific 12 with 11 players and fourth was the Big Ten with seven. The Big Ten had just one first-round pick, avoiding what would have been its first first-round shutout since 1953.
Two-time national champion Alabama had three first-rounders, giving coach Nick Saban’s program 13 first-rounders in the last four years.
Eight defensive players from Louisiana State were drafted, the second most in the Super Bowl era. Texas had 10 defenders picked in 1984.