I've been saying for a while now this 2013 draft class is a tough one to gauge. I'm not alone in thinking so too, as you'll see when you watch CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan offer his views on player prospects after pick #15.
The truly draft savvy among you may agree or disagree with me, but I can't help but compare this draft class to the one in 2009. We have top tackles like Luke Joeckle and Eric Fisher viewed as their position's best prospects, but could one of them wind up being a "Jason Smith"? The quarterback class looks a bit like 2009 too, with some first round reaches by desperate teams destined to happen. Matt Stafford would headline his year's class though, and seeing Geno Smith as the top QB this year has me shaking my head...
This draft has a muddle of talent, with few really being remarkable when compared to other draft classes. Yes, I think there are a few potential stars who will be taken in the top 10 or 12 picks, but after that?
Teams with great scouting departments are going to win in this draft. Kirwan and Gil Brandt - who's been around so many drafts, that in his first one Socrates went #1 overall - think there isn't much separation between pick #15 to #51. I agree, but I also think this presents a huge opportunity for NFL teams. The second round of the 2013 NFL draft is where teams are going to succeed or fail, and you might want to include the top of the 3rd round too.
I'll be watching the teams with multiple 2nd round choices: Miami, Cincinnati, and San Francisco. They have the draft "cha-ching" to move around the post #10 pick area at will. Interestingly enough, if you follow this line of thought, the St. Louis Rams are in the same position too. With picks at #16 and #22, plus #46 in the second round, the Rams have some serious draft capital to splash around if they find a player they truly want in the first round.
While I'm not sure Les Snead and Jeff Fisher truly have a single draft prospect they've fallen in love with this year, there are positional needs which could drive them to a "Best Player Available" line of thought. The safety class this year is deep, and I'm talking 3rd or 4th round deep too. If this is the case, I think most Mock Drafts we've seen are a bit off when it comes to the Rams. How many Mocks have the Rams taking Kenny Vacarro at #16? LOTS! I wouldn't be shocked to see the Rams trade down into the 3rd round to find a quality safety, and they'll be there too.
Next weekend, Turf Show Times will host one of the largest "LIVE" Mock Drafts of the year. It will pit draft savvy NFL fans against one of the toughest draft classes I've ever seen, especially in the second round. I wouldn't be shocked at all to hear NFL scouting departments are watching this Mock Draft. While their player opinions may differ from the MtD crowd, they'd love to see if one of the war rooms hits on a trade variant that could make sense for the big show in New York City the following weekend.
So if you want to be a NFL Draft savant, start paying less attention to the first round of the NFL draft, and look a bit deeper. Buried treasure is what you're looking for, and it's time to start digging.