Over the course of the past week, there’s been a trend emerging in the media in regards to depth projections and the 2013 NFL Draft. There seems to be a consensus that while the draft may have overall depth in terms of moldable talent that could contribute for their teams one day, the level of elite talent is severely lacking and could in fact make this year’s draft the weakest in a decade.
An unnamed NFL General Manager in an interview with CBS Sports noted that this years draft could be the worst “in the past 10 years or longer.” Apparently, this is a common feeling among NFL scouting executives, front office people and general managers but few have been willing to voice their concerns publicly due to potential backlash from Roger Goodell and the NFL league offices.
Traditionally, there are somewhere between 20-25 players in any draft — most often selected in the first or second rounds — that show every sign of being impact players the second they strap on the cleats for a professional team. Depending on who you choose to believe, there are far fewer players that fit this mold who are eligible for the 2013 draft — some suggest as few as 10-12.
This lack of impact players is driven primarily by the dearth of high impact skill guys at the top of the board. There is collective uncertainty among those who will be pulling the trigger on the important decisions on draft night that any of the quarterbacks and running backs available to be taken in the first round will actually be taken in the first round.
For the first time in years, it’s become a foregone conclusion that an offensive tackle, Texas A&M Aggies star Luke Joeckel, will be selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs, because no skill player exists that the Chiefs believe could make an impact faster, even with a questionable quarterback situation. Only Jake Long and Orlando Pace were taken as No. 1 overall picks as offensive linemen.
Wow, is that saying something.
But perhaps the biggest blemish on the skin of the 2013 NFL Draft at first glance is the lack of can’t miss prospects, of guys that everyone knows have star quality that will translate into instant, and consistent production.
Ironically, this lack of star quality at the top of the draft may well produce just the opposite of what NFL General Managers and executives are suspecting. When the top-end talent is missing, teams are forced to roll the dice on guys they may not have vetted as thoroughly, but are seen as having the upside to be solid pros at some point. Upside is a very murky world to make your living in.
Often, these guys seize an opportunity they may not have otherwise had and the little known talents become tomorrow’s stars, but just as often they fall flat.
The 2013 NFL Draft may provide some interesting storylines, but these storylines certainly won’t have much to do with star power, but instead, the tactical ability of league decision-makers to find unpolished diamonds.