The long-awaited day is almost upon us, as the 2013 NFL Draft is but nine days away. The draft, which will broadcast on ESPN and NFL Network at 7:00 PM on April 25 from New York City promises to be another good one. Brendan Bond, senior journalism major at Loyola University and long-time contributor to the Loyola Sports Locker program, weighed in on next Thursday’s event.
Purple Horns: Unlike previous drafts, such as last year, where it was pretty much widely known that [quarterback] Andrew Luck would go first overall, there is less certainty this year. Who do you think will end up going first overall to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Brendan Bond: I think there’s a pretty good chance Luke Joeckel, the left tackle from Texas A&M will go first overall.
PH: Despite the fact that Geno Smith has been touted as the top quarterback, do you think that another QB could go before him? This is a historically weak quarterback class after all.
Bond: I don’t think another QB will go before Smith, mostly because all of the top QBs in this draft are all pocket passers and Smith is more mobile than [USC’s Matt] Barkley or [NC State’s Mike] Glennon.
PH: Will a running back be taken in the first round, or will that trend break this year? Historically, running back has been a big target in the first round, with 21 of them going in the past seven years, but the game has shifted towards more of a passing league.
Bond: And for that reason I don’t see a running back going in the first round this year. I see Eddie Lacy [from Alabama] going in the first few picks of the second round.
PH: Which players have the most upside, even if they are raw right now?
Bond: I would go with either Barkevious Mingo or Ezekiel Ansah. Both are still very raw, especially Ansah, but both have amazing physical abilities which pay greater dividends on the defensive side of the ball. Players can afford to be more raw on defense than offense.
PH: Which team do you think is the most likely to move up into the top five in a trade?
Bond: I actually don’t see anybody trading into the top 5 but I could see the Jets and Bills flipping picks at 9 and 8 or the Jets and Cardinals at 9 and 7 so the Jets could jump ahead of those two teams and possibly grab a quarterback.
PH: Which player do you anticipate being the biggest reach in the first round?
Bond: I think this draft is too deep and sans star power for there to actually be any reaches, but if a QB is taken in the top 10, whether that is Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib or Mike Glennon, I would call that a reach.
PH: What positions do you see the teams in the NFC North targeting?
Bond: The Lions are going to go for O-line help first, hoping that either Joekel or Fisher are still there at 5. I could see the Vikings looking wideout but with Austin off the board, they might go defensive front seven. The Packers will look tight end at some point, and my fear is that they will get Eifert who I see as a Pro Bowl tight end for a long time. Otherwise, they will go secondary. And the Bears need help on the O-line, at middle linebacker, tight end and maybe cornerback too. I see them looking linebacker round one though.
PH: Will the Vikings trade out of the first round with one of their picks, and if so, why?
Bond: Yes, because I think their biggest need is a WR and after Austin, they aren’t many top WRs so they can trade out and still get good value.
PH: Which rookies do you think have the best chance winning offensive and defensive rookie in the year in 2013?
Bond: That’s almost impossible to say because we don’t know yet who will be on which team, which possibly means depth chart or scheme issues. That said, I would like [Alabama cornerback] Dee Milliner for defensive and [Notre Dame tight end] Tyler Eifert for offensive.