If the 1983 NFL Draft is unofficially called “The Year of the Quarterback” (6 taken in the 1st Round, with 3 ending up in the NFL Hall of Fame: Elway, Marino, and Kelly), then 2013 will be known as “The Year of the Lineman”, with 9 offensive lineman and 9 defensive linemen taken in the first 32 picks. Three of the top 5 picks were offensive tackles, a position usually considered mundane and not worth using high draft picks on. But, with quarterback salaries now heading up into the $100 million range, teams are seeking maximum protection for their most expensive franchise players.
Oddly, given the number of teams that actually need one, only one quarterback was taken in the first round, with the Buffalo Bills deciding that a Florida quarter, Florida State’s E.J. Daniels, could handle the wind and snow of upstate New York. For Tim Tebow fans, however, the selection by the New York Jet’s in Round 2 of controversial quarterback, Geno Smith, marked the beginning of the end for “Tebow Time” in the NFL: two days after the draft, the Jets cut Tebow and he now is free to take his talents to South Beach or wherever a left-handed tight end masquerading as a quarterback is needed. [The photo below is of Tebow in the Jets’ parking lot, after being told he was “cut” from the squad]
Readers desiring to watch another train wreck season for the Jets should take heart: they still have 5 quarterbacks on the roster and a press corps just waiting to rip the team to shreds. With the last pick of the draft this year, a position known affectionately as “Mr. Irrelevant” in NFL Draft nerd circles, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Justice Cunningham, a tight end out of University of South Carolina, so Tebow may want to look to latch on elsewhere.
In the AFC West, the Chargers lead the pack with both the smartest and riskiest choices. The new Chargers manager, Tom Telesco, managed to maneuver his way into drafting three players of first round quality even in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Telesco’s 3rd round selection receiver Keenan Allen was an extremely smart choice, despite previous knee injuries, as the Chargers have lost several potent offensive weapons in recent years. The 2nd round choice inside linebacker Manti Te’o who is infamous for being involved in a peculiar hoax concerning a dead girlfriend that did not in fact exist. The scandal made him a polarizing figure; however, he is an extremely talented player who in 2012 had 7 interceptions along with 4 pass breakups; making him a smart choice for the Chargers who have declined in recent years. While ingenious, these draft picks were also risky as they left the Chargers without a left tackle, a position which they sorely needed to fill.
The Chargers’ selection of Te’o garnered far more media interest and attention than their fellow AFC West team, The Kansas City Chiefs, who used their No.1 draft pick to select Offensive Tackle Eric Fisher. Drafting Fisher was a smart choice for the Chiefs, as he has strong potential to be stalwart for many years.