Another NFL Draft is in the books, 254 new players with a chance to create a professional future, and 32 teams delighted for the moment with the work they’ve done.
And while there were an abundance of storylines, one thing that stood out about the 2013 NFL Draft was the remarkable restraint many teams showed.
There wasn’t an Andrew Luck or a Cam Newton — or perhaps even a Ryan Mallett — in this draft.
But even with the extreme financial penalty for missing on a first-round passer gone, teams didn’t line up to take the chance on a potential franchise quarterback as they have in the past. Only three quarterbacks were chosen in the first three rounds, the fewest since 2000 (the fabled Chad Pennington-Giovanni Carmazzi-Chris Redman draft).
The Bills fooled us all by taking E.J. Manuel in the first round, and even the Jets withstood the temptation to win the back pages by taking Geno Smith in the second. When Mike Glennon was the only third-rounder, it left names such as Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib for the fourth, where the Eagles and Giants bought low.
Some of the best quarterback business was done by teams that didn’t take one.
The Jaguars might be more needy at the position than any team in the league, with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne competing. But as bad as that might be, there’s no guarantee any of this year’s candidates are better. So since new general manager David Caldwell didn’t see value, he withstood temptation and restocked a bad team with many other parts they needed — most of them with speed.
But it wasn’t just at the quarterback position where the smart teams held fast.
After an unprecedented run on left tackles (three of the top four picks), teams with needs there started drafting guards and right tackles and defensive tackles instead of reaching. It would have been easy for the Chargers to move up for one of the top blind-side protectors, but by letting the board come to them, they found a solid starting right tackle in D.J. Fluker. Likewise, Arizona added a guard in Jonathan Cooper who could turn out to be the best value in the draft, and the Titans made Chris Johnson a better running back by drafting guard Chance Warmack (and center Brian Schwenke) to go with big-ticket free agent Andy Levitre.
And not to beat up on Manti Te’o any more than has already happened, the teams that needed him and didn’t draft him deserved notice as well.
The Vikings had a pair of late firsts, and used them on value picks Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes, both of whom figured to go sooner. Then they made a move for a third first-rounder, not for Te’o, but to take a receiver in Cordarrelle Patterson who has some Randy Moss-ish tendencies. The Bears also skipped an obvious need for a middle linebacker, and took a versatile but raw offensive lineman with good genes (Kyle Long).
The two Super Bowl teams (and two that should push them) exemplified the patience of the weekend as well.
The 49ers stockpiled picks, and used one on running back Marcus Lattimore, who might not play a down for them this year. The Ravens might have had interest in Te’o as well, but took their safety first (Matt Elam) before filling in at linebacker later (Arthur Brown).
The Packers added two running backs in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin who could make a good team better, and the Seahawks used the benefit of a roster with few holes to take some chances on players with question marks, from running back Christine Michael to defensive tackle Jesse Williams.
Not every team has such luxuries. But the best things might come to the ones that were able and willing to wait this weekend.