Monday, June 3, 2013

Questionable 2013 1st Round Picks

Since 40-50 percent of each year's first round picks either turn out to be busts or disappointments, I thought I would speculate about which players from the 2013 draft are most likely to fall into that group.  Since that works out to 13-16 prospects, on average, that's how many I'll try to list.  I'm not saying that they will be busts.  I am just suggesting that these players have a bit more risk associated with them, than I would prefer to see.

Pick #4 Dion Jordan DE/OLB, Miami Dolphins - With a -0.216 Kangaroo Score he probably doesn't have the explosive power to bull rush.  While his Agility Score of 0.426 is good, it probably isn't good enough to make him more than average.  His college production, with only an average of 11.75 tackles for a loss in his final two seasons, also fails to excite me.  He might do okay, but for the 4th overall pick, he doesn't have the traits I would hope to see.

Pick #7 Jonathan Cooper Guard, Arizona Cardinals- Has a Vert. Kangaroo Score of -0.549, and an Agility Score of -0.234.  These aren't terrible numbers for a guard, but they fail to suggest anything spectacular.  He'll get plenty of opportunities since he was drafted highly, but I expect people's opinions to cool on him in the next few years.  Seems destined to become average at best.

Pick #8 Tavon Austin Wide Receiver, St. Louis Rams-  This is tricky since he falls into my unofficial midget class of receiver.  For what he is, he could be decent.  The likelihood that he will ever produce to a level to justify this high of a pick seems slim though.  The only receiver of his approximate size, selected in the last ten or so years,  to consistently produce at a high level was probably DeSean Jackson, who wasn't taken until the 49th overall pick.  Even knowing what we know now about DeSean, I'm not sure that we could justify picking him with the 8th pick, so...

Pick #10 Chance Warmack, Guard, Tennessee Titans - My data here is incomplete since he didn't do the vertical jump, but his broad jump suggests he has some power (1.245 Broad Jump Kangaroo Score).  Unfortunately, the broad jump is less reliable than the vertical jump for the fat guys.  Either way, his Agility Score was -0.916, which is pretty awful.  His forty yard dash time of 5.49 seconds was also poor, which surprisingly does matter for linemen.  Only Shawn Andrews and Dan Koppen managed to have similarly poor 40s and still achieve some success in the last few years.  The numbers suggest a guy who might be able to run block, though little else.

Pick #11 D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, San Diego Chargers - This is a tricky pick to criticize, since lumbering behemoths always have some value.  He has a 0.351 Vert. Kangaroo Score, so he probably possesses some moderate lower body power.  As for agility, we only have his short shuttle score which is -1.242, which is pretty terrible.  I won't be surprised if he is decent at run blocking, but the limited agility numbers I have, along with a 5.28 forty yard dash (mediocre) and a 10 yard split of 1.90 (pretty horrible), don't suggest he will do well in pass protection.  He does have some exceptionally long arms though (36 3/4"), so maybe that will help.  I would be looking for someone with more upside with this high of a pick.

Pick #12 D.J. Hayden, Cornerback, Oakland Raiders- I actually don't have a huge problem with Hayden, though I am missing some data on him.  The issue here is whether it makes any sense to draft someone this highly when their heart partially exploded while they were in college.  The doctor said repairing his heart was like "sewing together wet toilet paper".  Hmm, that would make me nervous.

Pick #17 Jarvis Jones, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers -  So, he is slow (4.88 second forty yard dash), not explosive (-1.243 Kangaroo Score), not agile (-1.304 Agility Score), and may have a high risk of back injury due to spinal stenosis.  Why would you take a risk on this guy in the first round?

Pick #24 Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Indianapolis Colts - Despite respectable production in college (averaged 14.5 TFL in his last two years) the numbers suggest he has somewhat mediocre athletic ability.  He could probably get by with his -0.280 Kangaroo Score, but combined with a -0.251 Agility Score, I would expect him to struggle.  The possibility that Tank Carradine was a better pass rusher, on the same team (Florida State) also cuts into his value a bit.  Would probably do better as a 4-3 DE, than as an OLB, due to his moderate lack of agility.

Pick #25 Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Minnesota Vikings- I've already covered this in an earlier post, but I don't know why someone would take a cornerback this high when they demonstrated what were possibly the worst agility scores ever, for a corner, in the short shuttle and 3-cone drill.  Agility matters for these guys.

Pick #28 Sylvester Williams DT, Denver Broncos - His production in college was decent, averaging 10.25 TFL in his last two years.  Sadly, his stats were too heavily weighted by his senior year, making him appear like a one year wonder.  His pitiful -0.848 Vertical Kangaroo Score, and equally dismal -0.858 Agility Score, don't paint a pretty picture.  I predict DOOM for Mr. Williams!

Pick # 29 Cordarelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings - I'll keep this simple, since I've already picked on the Viking's other 1st round pick.  Cordarelle is a very exciting and gifted athlete, but I don't think his production in college justifies taking this much of a gamble on him.  I would go with a safer, if less spectacular pick, if I was going to take a WR in the first round.

Pick #31 Travis Frederick, Center, Dallas Cowboys - At first, his numbers look pleasingly average, with a -0.067 Vert. Kangaroo Score, and a -0.091 Agility Score.  Unfortunately, I think a short shuttle time of 4.76 seconds doesn't suggest a high likelihood of success for a center.  For centers, the time to shoot for is closer to 4.50 seconds.  He also has an abysmal 40 time of 5.55 seconds, with a 1.91 second 10 yard split, which also doesn't bode well for him.  Among 26 Pro Bowl/All Pro interior lineman (from the last ten or so years), the average 40 time is 5.18 seconds, with only 4 out of 26 having times worse than 5.3 seconds, and the average 10 yard split is 1.77 seconds.  So, yes, a 5.55 second 40 time really sucks, even by fat guy standards.

There are a number of other players like E.J. Manuel, Justin Pugh, Matt Elam, Dee Milliner, Alec Ogletree or Kyle Long of whom I could question their merits.  They aren't quite as likely to become busts, in my opinion (though I have no idea about E.J. Manuel), but they don't appear likely to become stars either.  So, my main criticism would be based on their alleged 1st round value, rather than a suggestion that the pick had huge warning signs of bust potential.

I think this year's draft was pretty horrible in terms of talent.  I suspect you could measure the overall talent of a draft class by how many guards are drafted in the first round.  When all else fails, and you aren't sure who to select, a GM can always draft a guard, and figure nobody will notice if they suck.  It's not that I don't value guards; it's just that I don't think most people would value them highly enough to take in the first round unless there was a dearth of talent at the other positions.  This year 4 guards were taken in the first round, which seems a bit high.  Over the previous 5 years the average number of guards taken in the first round was 0.8 per year.  So, according to this admittedly idiotic measurement, I wouldn't be surprised if the failure rate for this draft class is significantly higher than normal.

Or, we could look at the number of safeties taken in the first round, which was 3.  That is another position which tends not to be taken in the first round.  Over the previous 5 years the average number of safeties taken in the first round was 1.2 per year, if we count Malcolm Jenkins as a safety.  Initially he was drafted as a cornerback, and didn't move to the safety position until his second year.  If we counted him as a corner, then the average number of 1st round safeties would be 1 per year.  So, either this year's safeties were either more plentiful/talented than they typically are, or a lack of talent at other positions was pushing safeties into the first round.

I'm sure that someone on this list will end up doing better than I expect, and someone I thought was relatively safe will under-perform.  I'm just curious as to how many of the riskier players will end up having their success hindered by issues that were fairly obvious from the beginning. 

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