Previewing the (finally) approaching NFL Draft—the Monday Morning Realist


Apr 24, 2013; New York, NY, USA; General advertising for the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the latest sports news in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @AkiemBailum.

Because of the fact that this year’s NFL Draft has been seemingly pushed back to a few days prior to the start of training camp, we have a little bit of a later start than usual to the draft. But, we are now at that point where the top college prospects descend on Radio City Music Hall in New York City as they await whom their first respective NFL teams will be.

Ever since the end of the regular season, a huge voice rang out over the entire NFL that said: “The Houston Texans are now on the clock.”

What shall the Bulls on Parade do with that first pick? The speculation has been abound. While some have talked about the possibility that they will draft a quarterback (possibly Johnny Manziel from nearby Texas A&M), there has also been talk that South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney will be the guy they choose with the first pick. Houston could entirely pass on Clowney and decide to select Khalil Mack instead.

There have even been reports that Houston will trade the first overall pick to another team, potentially the Atlanta Falcons, even though these reports seem to be conflicting. It would not be a surprise for the Texans to pull a stunner that would affect the NFL Draft.

A few years ago, the Texans had the first pick and chose Mario Williams over Reggie Bush and Vince Young—both players whom the press already had ticketed for the Hall of Fame directly out of college. And there is a certain team in the Texans’ same state that has said they would love to draft Manziel.

Of course, Manziel is not the only QB in this draft, but he is definitely the most ballyhooed. The hoopla over Johnny Football has somewhat diverted attention away from some of the other QBs in this draft, but not entirely.

There will also be intrigue over where Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) ends up as well as A.J. McCarron and Blake Bortles.

Quarterbacks are always a hot ticket. Runningbacks—not so much. There are a plethora of runningbacks that can be had in this draft, including Auburn’s Tre Mason, Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde, LSU’s Jeremy Hill, West Virginia’s Charles Sims, and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey.

Side note, Realists—could there be a more perfect last name for a runningback than Carey?

The issue with RBs is a larger issue that relates to the NFL as a whole. Runningbacks are no longer the hot commodity that they once were. This is because the league has become more conducive to the passing game. In addition, a new crop of young, mobile quarterbacks is emerging including Robert Griffin III, and this past season’s Super Bowl winning Russell Wilson.

After all, no runningbacks were drafted in the first round last year and despite the depth at the RB position that permeates this draft, do not be surprised if Mason, Hyde, Hill, Sims, Carey, and others have to wait until the second round to hear their names called by Commissioner Goodell.

Wide receivers are likely to be a target of teams this year, with the primary one being Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. The Cleveland Browns have the fourth pick in this year’s Draft and most are ticketing Watkins to join the Dawg Pound in Northeast Ohio. Others include Mike Evans of Texas A&M, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr., and USC’s Marqise Lee. At least five wideouts will be drafted in round #1—if not six.

On the defensive side of the football, there are more picks out there than just Clowney and Mack (one of whom will likely become a Houston Texan). Anthony Barr out of UCLA is projected to be available until the middle portions of the first round. C.J. Mosley from Alabama could also be available by the time the first round ends. One team needing defensive help is the Minnesota Vikings who could use a replacement for Jared Allen, now playing for Chicago, who themselves could use more defensive help.

The Bears needing defensive help? This sounds like an oxymoron on its face, but they were near the bottom of the NFL in total defense last year.

Dallas, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia would also be well served by coming out of this draft with defensive players.

The primary thing to remember about the NFL Draft as must be written this year is that the whole thing is a guessing game. After all, Tom Brady was drafted out of Michigan in the 5th round. He’s gone from fifth round draft pick, to three time Super Bowl champion, to the husband of a supermodel, and will soon have a bust in Canton at the Hall of Fame.

So, Realists. Enjoy the NFL Draft as always, but don’t put all of your little toy footballs into the basket of this year’s draft picks.