Considering we’re almost at Week 7 of the NFL season, we’ve had a lot of time to digest the play of many rookies from the 2013 NFL Draft. Slowly we’re beginning to see who may have been taken too high and who could be considered a steal. So for round 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft, who was the biggest steal? It’s hard to necessarily call any first rounder a ‘steal’ per say, but for the sake of argument, let’s evaluate.
There are many fine options for the biggest steal of the first round. DE Ziggy Ansah (Detroit Lions, 5th overall) is playing very well with three sacks so far. OLB Barkevious Mingo (Cleveland Browns, 6th overall) also has three sacks for a much improved Browns defense. Both would make fine options, but they were selected too early in my opinion to count as a steal.
G Kyle Long (Chicago Bears, 20th overall) has arguably played as well and contributed as much to his team’s success as any rookie in the league, but I can’t call him a steal because when the Bears drafted him they took him above his draft value. Has he outplayed his draft value? Of course he has, but he was projected by almost everyone to be a second rounder. Wouldn’t it be even better for the Bears if they took someone like Sharrif Floyd (an elite 3-tech at a position of need for Chicago) and traded up in the early part of the second round for Long?
Then we come to DeAndre Hopkins, a wide receiver from Clemson selected 27th overall by the Houston Texans. Hopkins was expected to go in the early half of round 1, somewhere close after Tavon Austin would be picked. He fell to the Texans, who have desperately been looking for a decent complement (and potential heir) to franchise great Andre Johnson, and they’ve been a successful match ever since.
Through six games, Hopkins leads all rookies in both receptions (25), receiving yards (340), and has also hauled in a TD. Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans was Hopkins’ coming out party, and he erupted for seven receptions, 117 yards and a TD.
Some may protest this selection because of his drop off in production the last three weeks (seven receptions for 97 yards), but two things to remember are: 1.) The three NFC West teams (Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams) he played against all have outstanding cornerbacks, and 2.) He hasn’t really had much consistency from any QB he’s played with (Texans QBs have combined for seven INTs the last three weeks, all losses).
Even considering the lack of consistency plaguing Houston’s passers, Hopkins is still a focus for opposing defenses. With Johnson constantly battling nagging injuries and a concussion, Hopkins is arguably their most explosive threat offensively.
And that’s why he’s the steal of the first round, at least in my humble opinion.