Privately, some inside of the Kansas City Chiefs organization were feeling sorry for themselves in the spring of 2013 as they prepared to use the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
They felt a terrible sense of bad timing. In 2011, the Carolina Panthers were rewarded for having the top pick with quarterback Cam Newton. The following year, the Colts were able to snag quarterback Andrew Luck with the top pick. The Chiefs, however, had no such luck after earning the No. 1 pick. There wasn’t a great quarterback prospect available to them.
Kansas City ended up taking tackle Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan. The fact that a small-school tackle was the top pick was a hint about the 2013 draft class: It was miserably bad.
This week, players from that draft class will be starting their fourth NFL season. There should be a large group of players entering their prime. However, few top picks from that class are factors in the NFL.
“What a lousy class,” an AFC West scout said. “There just wasn’t much there.”
The lack of production from the 213 draft class starts at the top. The top 10 was spectacularly terrible.
Fisher has become a functional left tackle, but he did have his struggles and has played right tackle as well. He hasn’t lived up to the billing of being the No. 1 overall pick.
The player the Chiefs were considering drafting instead of zoning in on Fisher at the 11th hour, Luke Joeckel, has struggled after being the No. 2 overall pick by Jacksonville. The Texas A&M product has been moved from tackle to left guard this season. Joeckel was picked so high in hopes he would become a cornerstone left tackle in Jacksonville. That has not happened.
And it gets worse.
The Dolphins moved up in a trade with Oakland (surrendering the No. 12 and No. 42 picks) to take Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan with the No. 3 pick. Jordan has been a huge disappointment. He was suspended for six games in 2014 for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. He was then suspended for the entire 2015 season for the violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Jordan has just 3 sacks in the NFL. He has been reinstated for this season, and the Dolphins hope he can salvage his career.
Lane Johnson, the fourth pick of the dreadful class, has also had suspension trouble. The Philadelphia Eagles right tackle was suspended for four games for a PED violation and there have been reports he is now facing a 10-game suspension for PEDs, but nothing official has happened. Johnson is actually a good player, and he signed a five-year extension earlier this year. But the PED issues are clearly a concern.
Congratulations are in order to the Detroit Lions. With the fifth pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Lions got good value in the form of Brigham Young pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah. The man they call “Ziggy” has 30 sacks in three NFL seasons, including 14.5 last season. He has the look of budding star. After the Ansah success, the woes of the 2013 top 10 draft continued.
The No. 6 and No. 7 picks, LSU pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper, were flame outs with the Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals, respectively. Both Mingo and Cooper were traded to the New England Patriots this year.
The No. 8 pick (Los Angeles Rams running back Tavon Austin) and No. 10 pick (Tennessee guard Chance Warmack) have been OK, but probably not worthy of top 10 picks. Meanwhile, the No. 9 overall pick, cornerback Dee Millner, was released by the Jets on Saturday, ending an injury-filled three seasons in New York.
To recap: The top 10 of the 2013 draft featured the No. 2 pick being moved to a less important position, the No. 3 and No. 4 picks dealing with suspensions, the No. 6 and 7 picks traded and the No. 9 pick cut. All before the start of their fourth season.
That is an awful, awful top of the draft.
Thank goodness for Ziggy Ansah.
The rest of the first round had other failures, such as cornerback DJ Hayden (12th, Oakland), quarterback EJ Manuel (16th, Buffalo) and No. 24 pick Bjoern Werner, who has been cut by the Colts, who picked him, and most recently by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who cut him last week.
There have been some solid players taken in the first round as well. They include the No. 13 pick, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson of the Jets; the No. 14 pick, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei of the Panthers; the No. 20 pick, guard Kyle Long of Chicago; the No. 21 pick, tight Tyler Eifert of Cincinnati; and the No. 27 pick, receiver DeAndre Hopkins of Houston.
But the major failures and lack of impact of the top 10 makes this class one of the worst in recent memory.