New York, NY (Sports Network) From the beginning, the narrative of the 2013
NFL Draft has focused on its depth of prospects.
It wasn't going to wow you at the top according to most scouts, but the second
day was going to be big because a group of players starting from about No. 20
overall and ranging all the way into the third round had similar grades.
In the end, only 32 players were going to be smiling Thursday night. A far
bigger number was going to feel like you kicked their dogs, something very
relatable after spending a very long day at Radio City Music Hall and catching
the last train home from Penn Station.
But, life is what you make out of it and a number of those same players will
use the snub, put a chip on their shoulders and try to prove their detractors
wrong. Others will head in the opposite direction, however, and one night of
rejection could morph into bitterness and a bad attitude moving forward.
The human psyche can't be defined by 40-yard dashes or lifting 225 pounds, and
that's what makes this process so hard.
Jacksonville is scheduled to pick first on Friday, a nice position to be in.
When teams have the night to think about a potential player they might covet,
history says they start to get antsy and think about trading up.
Here are five players left on the board who could put the Jags, a team in need
of assets, in the catbird seat:
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia - One of the knocks on Smith was his rabbit
ears, the thought he heard criticism and let it get to him far too often.
That's why it was so alarming when he told ESPN's Suzy Kolber that he won't be
back on Friday after watching the entire first round from the Green Room. It
shows immaturity and the inability to persevere in bad times, something scouts
tend to take very seriously. That said, Smith was once thought of as a
possible No. 1 overall pick, so it's hard to say there is not value there
Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California - A lot of us have felt Barkley was the
most NFL-ready quarterback throughout this process, but a perceived lack of
arm strength sent what was once a top-five prospect tumbling. To me,
anticipation and accuracy are a lot more important in today's NFL than being
able to throw the ball 70 yards down the field. Barkley remains a better
prospect than the only quarterback taken in Thursday's first round -- Florida
State's E.J. Manuel.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama - Thursday marked the first time since 1963 that a
running back was not taken in the first round, which tells you just how much
the position has been downgraded in today's pass-happy NFL. Lacy is a better
player than about 10 or so of the prospects picked on Thursday and is the type
of bell-cow back teams used to salivate over.
Barrett Jones, OC, Alabama - Yeah, Alabama could and perhaps should have had
five first-round picks, which tells you all you need to know about the
juggernaut Nick Saban has created in Tuscaloosa. The versatile Jones played at
an All-American level at center, guard and tackle at Alabama and is a can't-
miss 10-year starter as an interior lineman on the pro level.
Mantei Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame - Let's not play the political correctness game
and be honest, the "catfishing" scandal and rumors about Te'o's sexuality are
the reason the Notre Dame star is still waiting to hear his name called. He
was never going to be a top-10 pick as some surmised early in the process due
to some athletic limitations, but Te'o put far too much good football on film
to pretend he can't play at the next level.
- Three offensive tackles -- Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel of
Texas A&M and Lane Johnson of Oklahoma -- were selected in the top four picks
Thursday. That marks the first time a trio of offensive tackles were selected
among the first four picks in the modern era.
- Miami traded up to take defensive end Dion Jordan with the No. 3 overall
pick, making him the first defensive player in Oregon history to be chosen in
the top 10 of an NFL Draft.
- With his selection by the Chicago Bears with the No. 20 overall pick, Oregon
offensive lineman Kyle Long joined a very exclusive NFL club. Long becomes the
ninth son of a Pro Football Hall of Fame player/coach to be drafted into the
league. Kyle follows his Hall of Fame father Howie, a defensive tackle with
the Oakland Raiders. And Howie Long is the first Hall of Famer to have two
sons chosen in the NFL Draft. Kyle's brother, Chris, was the No. 2 overall
choice in the 2008 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.
- With three consecutive Alabama players chosen in Round 1 of the 2013 NFL
Draft, the Crimson Tide became the first college in the modern era to have
three consecutive first-round picks in an NFL Draft. The New York Jets chose
defensive back Dee Milliner with the No. 9 overall pick, followed by the
Tennessee Titans' selection of guard Chance Warmack at No. 10 and the San
Diego Chargers picking offensive tackle D.J. Fluker at No. 11.
- The SEC had 12 players drafted in Round 1, the most of any conference. Since
the start of the century, the SEC leads all conferences with 540 total draft
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