NFL Draft: Why teams want out of the top ten

3/29/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

The top ten picks of the NFL Draft are usually an opportunity for franchises to revolutionize their future expectations. In the top ten, teams are not just hoping for a contributor - they are hoping for a player who can be a game-changing centerpiece for the franchise. Take a look at last year's top ten picks: three franchise quarterbacks were selected, the Browns grabbed Trent Richardson to help define their offensive philosophy, and Luke Kuechly came in and significantly improved the Panthers' defense from day one.

Unfortunately, this year's draft doesn't have that same sort of star power. With no quarterback drawing consistently solid ratings, and no truly exceptional offensive weapons, the 2013 draft is based more on potential and physical tools than usual - a draft class that the late Al Davis used to dream of. As a result, teams with top ten picks are already attempting to trade down.

"Teams looking to bail out of Top 10, already making calls," NFL Network's Albert Breer said on Twitter. "Makes sense with the makeup of this class, few elite guys, many with late first-round grades."
Blog Photo - NFL Draft: Why teams want out of the top ten
The top three picks may be strong (though not quite Andrew Luck/Robert Griffin/Trent Richardson strong), as Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher both project as franchise tackles, while Sharrif Floyd appears likely to be a dynamic game-changer on the defensive line, but there is a lot of risk beyond those three players.

Cornerback Dee Milliner appears to be one of the safer picks outside of the top three, though his good-not-great coverage skills have him best suited for a zone-heavy scheme. There are cornerbacks with equal man-to-man coverage skills that will be available later in the first round.

Then we have a lot of boom-or-bust type players whose stock is based largely on potential. Ezekiel Ansah, Dion Jordan, and Barkevious Mingo are all athletic freaks, but can they play football? None of them topped 5.0 sacks at school in 2012, and they are going to be drafted as potentially devastating pass rushers. Are these risky players worth top ten picks? That is obviously debatable, but it wouldn't be surprising if many teams answered that question with "no."

There are also a few ultra-talented players with medical concerns, such as Star Lotulelei (heart issues) and Jarvis Jones (spinal stenosis). These two players are among the draft's best on tape, but NFL teams take even the slightest of medical concerns very seriously when it comes to a top ten pick. The only thing worse than a top ten pick who doesn't pan out is a top ten pick who doesn't play. Teams will be extremely thorough in their medical evaluations of these two players, and if there is any cause for concern, they will likely find themselves drafted in the teens.

Alec Ogletree is another player who looks exceptional on tape, but has some off-field concerns. Ogletree was charged with misdemeanor theft in 2010, and was charged with a DUI a few days before the NFL Combine. Legal troubles - like medical concerns - are issues that NFL teams take very seriously.

Finally, we have the fact that there is no consensus top quarterback in this year's draft. Most people believe Geno Smith is the top signal caller, but I've seen reliable sources rank him as low as sixth at his position. There is no Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford, or Matthew Stafford. According to Scouts Inc., Smith is this year's top quarterback, but is only ranked 20th overall. Teams are often willing to stay in the top ten or even trade up to get a top notch quarterback, but this draft doesn't have a clear-cut ringer at that position.


As a result of all the things I've mentioned, we have teams reportedly attempting to trade out of the top ten already. Those teams, however, are going to have a very hard time finding trade partners. While teams in the past have been willing to give up a haul of draft picks to take a top player (such as the Falcons trading up for Julio Jones in 2011), that is unlikely to be the case this year. Although there is a lack of talent at the top of the draft, many suggest that this is going to be one of the most talented second round draft classes we've ever seen. As a result, early picks are less valuable than usual, while second round picks are more valuable.
Blog Photo - NFL Draft: Why teams want out of the top ten
It 's not going to be easy to find a team willing to deal a decent pick to move up into the top ten. The best bet would be if a team truly falls in love with a particular player. Tavon Austin - this year's top ranked receiver - has been suggested as a player who a team could potentially trade up for. I think that Ezekiel Ansah is another player that could get a team to trade up, as his rare physical tools are likely to get some teams excited. The Steelers have been mentioned as a team that is "drooling over" Ansah.

This well-balanced draft is a rough draw for the league's worst teams, but is a gold mine for the contenders. The rich are likely to get richer in this draft, and they won't have much of a reason to give up any of their draft pick inventory to move up.
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