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The 2013 NFL Draft Was Even Worse Than I Remember
AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Every year, NFL teams and their fans hope for a franchise-changing talent when they make selections in the NFL Draft. But each team doesn’t always hit on their picks. And in 2013, it was an even less successful year as the worst draft in recent memory.

Alhough there have been some players who have succeeded from this group, there are a lot of players who never lived up to the expectations of going early in this draft. Of the top-10 players selected, only three have been selected to the Pro Bowl in six seasons.

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An NFL Draft’s success is obviously measured by more than just the first round. Teams are built by finding gems in later rounds. But the failure to pick players who seem to be plug-and-play can set a team back because it can take years before giving up on a top pick.

Average Top Five

To start the draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan with the first-overall pick. The importance of having a strong left tackle can’t be overstated, but it hasn’t been for Fisher in his first five seasons, finally being selected to the Pro Bowl in 2018 during his sixth season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had the same thought process with the second pick, but didn’t have close to the same success when they chose Luke Joeckel out of Texas A&M. In four seasons, Joeckel played in and started 39 games for the Jags, but was let go because he just wasn’t the player they hoped to get when taking him with the second pick. He played a fifth season for the Seattle Seahawks, starting 11 games in 2017 but didn’t play at all in the 2018 season.

The failure continued with the third pick with the Miami Dolphins choosing pass-rusher Dion Jordan out of Oregon. In his two seasons in Miami, he recorded just three sacks in 26 games and one start. He then missed his third season due to suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and then played the past two seasons with the Seahawks, playing in 17 games and finishing with 5.5 sacks.

One of, if not the most, successful players from this draft was taken with the fourth pick. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson from Oklahoma was picked by the Philadelphia Eagles and is the last pick before the 20th who is still with the team who drafted him. Johnson has been a key piece in protecting the quarterbacks in Philly, but with Carson Wentz’s injuries, it hasn’t been a huge success. However, Johnson has started 80 games in his career and 15 in each of the last two seasons when he has made the Pro Bowl in both years.

Ezekiel Ansah, a defensive end from BYU, rounded out the top-five of the draft when he was selected by Detroit. He has had a good career so far, finishing with double-digit sacks in two seasons. He had the third-most sacks in the league with 14.5 and his only pro-bowl selection in 2015.

Gap in Success

After Ansah, there were seven consecutive players who have yet to make a Pro Bowl and 14 consecutive players who are no longer on the team that selected them. This doesn’t make them a bust or invaluable, but when a team takes a player in the first round, there are definitely expectations to have success over a long period with that team. Or at least hopes they can have success on their rookie contract.

Picks six through 12 is one stretch of first-round selections that teams probably wish they could have back. Barkevious Mingo to Cleveland (Defensive End, LSU), Jonathan Cooper to Arizona (Guard, UNC), Tavon Austin to St. Louis (Wide Receiver, West Virginia), Dee Milliner to the Jets (Cornerback, Alabama), Chance Warmack to Tennessee (Guard, Alabama), D.J. Fluker to San Diego (Offensive Tackle, Alabama), and D.J. Hayden to Oakland (Cornerback, Houston) accounted for seven consecutive picks who have never made a Pro Bowl, but many of those seven players have struggled to even stay on teams.

Sheldon Richardson, a defensive lineman out of Missouri, has been one of the more successful players from this draft. He played for the New York Jets, the team who drafted him, for four season, including a Pro Bowl selection in his second year. He was traded to Seattle and played there for one season before signing a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings for the 2018 season. This offseason, he signed a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns worth $36 million.

After Richardson, there were four more players who have been solid at best. Star Lotulelei was supposed to be a dominant defensive tackle out of Utah when he was picked at No. 14 by the Carolina Panthers, but after five seasons, the Panthers and Lotulelei decided to go their separate ways.

Kenny Vaccaro was picked in the No. 15 spot by the New Orleans Saints and played there for five seasons. He has been a solid safety and started 67 of his 68 games with the black and gold. After his fifth season, he signed a one-year contract with the Tennessee Titans and just signed a three-year extension with the team to stay there this off season.

At 16 and 17, both  E.J. Manuel and Jarvis Jones were letdowns. Manuel, the only quarterback taken in the first round, went to the Buffalo Bills after a solid career at Florida State. In four seasons for the Bills, he started 28 games, including 10 in his rookie season. It was pretty obvious early on that he wasn’t worthy of being a first-round quarterback, but was the best-looking in the draft and Buffalo reached.

Jones, a pass-rushing linebacker out of Georgia who was supposed to be the guy to replace James Harrison, never replicated what he was able to do in college. In four seasons, he only had six sacks in 50 games.

Finally Some Value

In the backend of the first round, some teams found great value. Eric Reid, a safety from LSU, was selected at 18 by the San Francisco 49ers. He has been a good player, making the Pro Bowl as a rookie and intercepting seven passes in his first two seasons. After his fifth season, he signed with the Panthers and started 13 games, intercepting one pass and having his best season since his rookie year with 71 tackles.

The New York Giants, who seem to have picked a ton of offensive lineman in the last six or seven years, took Justin Pugh with the No. 19 pick. Pugh started 63 games during his five seasons with the Giants, but had a difficult time staying healthy. That unluckiness followed him to Arizona last season after signing a five-year deal with the Cardinals, only allowing him to play in seven games due to a knee injury.

Kyle Long (Chicago), Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati), and Desmond Trufant (Atlanta) may make up the best three-pick run in this draft from 20 to 22. Each have become one of the top players at their position, though Eifert has struggled to stay on the field. But each has made at least one Pro Bowl, Long being selected in each of his first three seasons.

Both Sharrif Floyd and Björn Werner dealt with injuries in their careers, neither having played since 2017. Floyd was actually a pretty good player for the Vikings before suffering a knee injury and sustaining nerve damage from the surgery. Minnesota also hit on their 25th pick with Xavier Rhodes out of Florida State. Rhodes has been selected to two Pro Bowls and was also a First-Team All-Pro in 2017.

The end of the first round had some huge steals and a few misses. At 27, the Houston Texans picked DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best receivers in the entire league. Two picks later, the Vikings picked for the third time in the round, this time going offense with Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee. In six seasons, he has played for three teams and just signed with the Bears as his fourth. Much of his success has come as a kick-returner but has shown flashes as a playmaker on offense.

The Dallas Cowboys began building their dominant offensive line in 2009 with Tyrone Smith, but it got much better with Travis Frederick out of Wisconsin. At pick 31, the Cowboys got a center who started all 16 games for the first five seasons, but missed 2018 due to an illness.

Of teams to pick in the first round, Minnesota had three selections while the Jets and the Rams each chose twice. The Vikings had a pretty solid first round with two of their picks making a Pro Bowl in purple and gold and the third probably reaching that level if not for injuries. St. Louis missed on both picks with Tavon Austin never reaching the play-making level they hoped and Alec Ogletree just being solid at linebacker.

Defensive lineman was the hot-commodity for the first round with nine total. There were five defensive ends (Jordan, Ansah, Mingo, Werner, and Datone Jones) and four defensive tackles (Richardson, Lotulelei, Floyd, and Sylvester Williams) selected.

Late-Round Gems

There wasn’t much to get excited about in the first round with just 12 Pro Bowlers, but in rounds two through seven, there are 17 draft picks, including six second-round picks, to receive postseason recognition as well as six undrafted free agents who have gone on to be selected to the Pro Bowl.

Teams had a lot of luck with running backs, tight ends, and cornerbacks after the first round. Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, and Latavius Murray have each been selected to the Pro Bowl and that isn’t counting some of the other backs in this class like Giovani Bernard, Rex Burkhead, and Theo Riddick.

Darius Slay, Tyrann Mathieu, and Micah Hyde were corners taken that would go on to imediate success, though Mathieu and Hyfe moved to safety in the NFL.

Some of the best tight ends in the NFL came from this draft with Eifert in the first round and Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and Jordan Reed later on.

Awful Quarterback Class

This has got to be the worst class of quarterbacks in NFL history. E.J. Manuel was the only quarterback taken in the first round, and the way they have played since entering the league shows why no one else was taken early. The best quarterback out of the 2013 NFL Draft: Mike Glennon. He is the only player in this group who actually played well for stretches, though he was never given a true opportunity to be THE guy on a team. Manuel (16th overall), Geno Smith (39th overall), Glennon (73rd overall), Matt Barkley (98th overall), and Ryan Nassib (110th overall) were the top-five quarterbacks off the board and it somehow didn’t get any better. Landry Jones to Pittsburgh at 115 was solid only because he backed up Ben Roethlisberger for quite a while, but it’s sad to think he may be the second-most successful quarterback from a draft class.

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