The 2013 NFL Draft class is one of the most unique classes over the last decade. While it lacks a clear, elite, top-off-the-board talent, one could make first-round argument for each of nearly sixty players. However, only some of those arguments hold water. There are several players who have been over-hyped and won’t (or at least shouldn’t) be drafted as high as they’re being projected now.
When evaluating overrated players, I only really consider those who are being projected in the first round or early in the second. Once you drop out of the top-40 picks, the cost of a draft pick decreases pretty sharply. It’s hard to call a failed third-round pick a “bust” since the investment is relatively low. So the players I’ve included on this list are all consensus top-40 picks who are being projected higher than they should. Some of them don’t belong in the top 40 and some just belong lower than they’re currently projected.
OT Luke Joeckel - 6’6”, 306 lbs - Texas A&M
For many people, Joeckel is the top prospect in the draft and will be drafted first overall. In my opinion, he wasn’t the best offensive tackle on his team. If the Chiefs want to take a tackle first overall, they should look at Eric Fisher’s superior strength and athleticism or Lane Johnson’s top-notch athleticism and upside (the highest of the three). Joeckel probably has the lowest floor of the three, but he also has the lowest upside. His worst games this last year came against Florida and Alabama, which isn’t a good sign because those were also two of the best defenses he faced. He’ll be a good starter in the NFL and merits a top ten pick, but I wouldn’t take him first overall.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson - 6’2”, 216 lbs - Tennessee
As with Joeckel, many people have Patterson as their top wide receiver in the class, and there’s talk of him even cracking the top ten. It won’t happen. He’s a terrific athlete and has movement skills of a much smaller man, but succeeding as a wide receiver in the NFL is about more than athleticism. It’s about precise routes, reliable hands, and running through each play with the same intensity, whether you’re getting the ball or not. Patterson has occasionally flashed some of the above, but none of those characteristics are strengths of his. He doesn’t consistently win off the line of scrimmage, he runs inconsistent routes, and he gives up on plays when he’s not involved. His available interviews leave much to be desired, and his Combine performance was less than inspiring. He deserves merits second-round selection because of his production and athleticism, but I wouldn’t touch him in the first round.
DE/OLB Jarvis Jones - 6’3”, 245 lbs - Georgia
After spending much of the year as a consensus top-five pick, Jones’ stock has dropped a bit. Some prospect lists have him in the 15-25 range, but many still project him in the top 10. His drop out of the top five wasn’t because of anything on the field, though it should’ve been. It was mostly because of his spinal stenosis, which has since been covered ad nauseam. His play on the field just doesn’t merit a top five pick, though.
His production is through the roof, but his tape just doesn’t match up. He’s undersized and not particularly agile, and right now he lacks the technical refinement to make up for it. Throw in a big health red flag, and I don’t want anything to do with him in the top 20. If team doctors completely clear him, I might consider him in the 20-30 range because of his production and upside.
DT Star Lotulelei - 6’3”, 311 lbs - Utah
The big defensive tackle out of Utah is another popular top five pick with recent health scares. He’s been recently cleared of the heart issues that cropped up at the Combine, so they don’t affect his stock, but his tape doesn’t scream top five to me either. He has moments of ridiculous dominance, but he also disappears for long stretches. He plays too high off the snap and doesn’t have the consistent explosiveness to disrupt the pocket at the next level. He’s still a tremendous athlete and he should have a great career. But if he projects to 3-4 nose tackle or 4-3 one-technique, he represents much better value in the 15-25 range.
DE Bjoern Werner - 6’3”, 266 lbs - Florida State
A mediocre Combine should’ve cooled Werner’s formerly white-hot stock, but it only temporarily dampened it. The big German Seminole had a productive college career and should definitely be drafted in the first round, but a team that takes him in the top 15 will leave better players on the board. He’s explosive and strong as a pure pass rusher, but he loses the leverage game too often, which contributes to his inconsistent motor. He’s not as strong against the run as he could be, and his hot-and-cold motor is the biggest thing that sets him apart from his usual comp, Chris Long. If I was sitting in the top 15 and really wanted to draft a Florida State defensive end, I’d rather take Tank Carradine and let him sit for a year.
TE Zach Ertz - 6’5”, 249 lbs - Stanford
Ertz is the first prospect on this list that flat-out doesn’t belong in the first round. Coby Fleener’s adaptation to the NFL should be a cautionary tale to those coveting a Stanford tight end. The Cardinal offense is terrific at maximizing the strengths of its tight ends and minimizing their weaknesses. Ertz isn’t a bad player, but he has noticeable weaknesses, and there are markedly better tight ends in this class. He’s not nearly the blocker he’s made out to be and Tyler Eifert, Travis Kelce, Gavin Escobar, and Jordan Reed are all better receivers than he is. He also has short arms (only 31 3/4”, compared to the 6’2” Reed’s 33” arms), which can be a critical weakness to an NFL tight end. He shouldn’t be considered until at least the end of the second round.
QB Tyler Wilson - 6’2”, 215 lbs - Arkansas
Wilson is one of the most baffling prospects I’ve seen. Many reputable analysts have him as their top quarterback in the class, but I have yet to see a consistent quarterback that I would rate above the third round. He has health concerns, size concerns (including tiny 8 3/4” hands), arm strength concerns, decision-making concerns, and mobility concerns. The biggest positives I see with him are his willingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit to make a throw, and the fact that he survived the nightmare that was the 2012 season at Arkansas. His downside is just too significant for me to draft him as anything more than a Day 3 project.
RB Eddie Lacy - 5’11”, 231 lbs - Alabama
These last three prospects aren’t tremendously overrated. They are being talked about in the late first and early second range, and it’s possible they’ll end up being drafted around there because of production or because their flaws were masked by their teammates or the schemes they played in.
Lacy looked pretty good in college, and may have success in the pros, but the relative fungibility of the modern running back and his dependence on his dominant offensive line should push his value down. He’s strong and explosive and has good moves for a big man, but there isn’t a big enough talent gap between him and the other top running backs to justify taking him in the top 40 picks. There will be other better players available, and most teams could probably replicate his production with a back drafted on the third day.
S Matt Elam - 5’10”, 208 lbs - Florida
Elam is a great safety, and he does project as a starter in the NFL. However, he’s often portrayed as a diverse player who can play strong safety, free safety, and nickel cornerback, and he won’t be able to do that at the next level. He’ll be a good, physical strong safety, and he can improve his coverage skills in the NFL, but he won’t be that player coming out of college. He over-pursues on tackles too often, and his size and lack of flexibility limits his coverage ability. A team would be a lot happier drafting him in the mid to late second round.
DE Sam Montgomery - 6’3”, 262 lbs - LSU
Montgomery is often mocked somewhere between the 28th and 35th picks, but that would be a pretty poor pick for any team. He was fairly productive in college, but he has one of the worst getoffs of any defensive lineman in the class. Reacting slowly to the snap will decimate an NFL pass rusher’s effectiveness, and Montgomery lacks the strength or technical skills to disengage from an NFL offensive lineman who has latched onto him. Add in his comments about deliberately taking off plays against poorer teams, and he should start writing a check to Barkevious Mingo (the two have a bet about who will be drafted higher).
He will have a role in the NFL, but he won’t reach his potential for a few years, and his potential is probably as a situational rusher. If a team is looking for a pure 4-3 defensive end in the late first and early second range, they’d be better off reaching for a guy like Malliciah Goodman or Quanterus Smith, or settling for someone like Alex Okafor or Damontre Moore.