Every so often, it’s fun to check in on a draft class and see whether or not the experts “got it right” in terms of which draft prospects were the stars of the class. Five seasons have passed for the Class of 2013, and it’s interesting to see who was considered the most promising prospects back then and who has turned out to be the most valuable players once the NFL finally called.
Obviously, there’s no way to tell if the experts were really right or wrong. Even if a player had more talent and potential, freak injury and unfortunate circumstance can limit a player’s development. A receiver who has spent the last five years catching passes from Drew Brees is probably going to look better than the same receiver would have depending on the skills of Blaine Gabbert, for example.
2013 was originally considered a lackluster offensive class by some, with SB Nation’s Dan Kadar going so far as to say:
At this point, it’s well known just how poor the 2013 NFL Draft class is in regard to skill position players on offense...it’s hard to totally buy into the draft class this year. The bust potential of the better players is high. Some players only come in so highly by default.
However, Matt Miller disagreed.
Some will tell you that this isn’t a good draft class, and I couldn’t disagree more. When we look back on this class in three or five years, we will see marquee starters from the top 100 picks. All-Pro-level players will be found here.
Of course, depending on your point of view, they were both right. That’s the frustrating and wonderful thing about analyzing a draft before, during, and after it happens. Still, some retrospection is in order before the combine sees guru after guru uttering analysis as if it were gospel. While there are many gurus out there, this reflection is going to look at Matt Miller, Mike Mayock, and Dan Kadar as three high-profile pundits whose work is out in front of any paywall. There are two chances for each expert to get it right. First, an expert deserves credit for correctly identifying the top player at each position (in this case, if the actual top player is anywhere in the expert’s top three, it counts). Second, if an expert’s top player turns out to be a true talent (again, in the top three of the position for the draft class), that’s also worthy of acknowledgement.
Thus, each expert can earn up to two points. When injury was clearly a factor, that will be discussed.
All three experts were in agreement that Geno Smith showed the most promise of all of the quarterbacks, although Miller listed EJ Manuel as having the most potential and Mike Glennon as having the most bust potential. Matt Barkley was also in the running for these experts. All of the experts placed the quarterbacks relatively low on big boards or in other ways indicated skepticism.
As it turns out, they were all correct. Smith was drafted first among them, has the highest career average value per Pro Football Reference, and none of them have been all that distinguished. Verdict: The experts nailed this one.
Miller: 2pts (2/2)
Mayock: 2pts (2/2)
Kadar: 2pts (2/2)
Johnathan Franklin was Matt Miller’s “best prospect” and “best in five years,” but he did think that Eddie Lacy was the most NFL-ready. Mike Mayock, likewise, placed Eddie Lacy as his highest running back, and Dan Kadar agreed on Lacy’s promise, placing him highest for the position group.
The gurus were right to think highly of Lacy, who has been to a Pro Bowl and is actually the second-best running back in the class in terms of CAV. However, they all missed on LeVeon Bell. Bell was the fifth-best running back on Miller’s board. He was the 94th overall prospect (and 6th RB) for Mayock, and Kadar didn’t even have him in his Top 100 (he was 151 overall, actually).
Johnathan Franklin? We’ll never know. However promising he might have been, he took a neck injury and was warned that he could be paralyzed with another hit. He wisely retired. Even if we give the experts a mulligan on Franklin, and even if we credit them for getting Lacy more or less right, they all definitely missed on Bell.
Miller: 1pt (3/4)
Mayock: 1pt (3/4)
Kadar: 1pt (3/4)
Miller was high on Cordarrelle Patterson but thought Tavon Austin would be the first Pro Bowler. Mayock liked Austin better than Patterson, but Patterson was still his #2. Kadar, however, pushed his chips in on DeAndre Hopkins followed by Keenan Allen (Patterson was his fourth receiver).
As for real life, DeAndre Hopkins has gone on to become DeAndre Hopkins, the clear top receiver of his draft class and the only All-Pro receiver in the class (even if Patterson made it as a returner). Patterson and Austin are the fifth and sixth-best receivers per CAV, but Patterson made it to the Pro Bowl as a returner, at least. Austin still hasn’t.
In terms of overall CAV, Kadar was exactly right, with Hopkins #1 and Allen #2. Mayock had Hopkins as #4, and Miller thought Hopkins was the 4th-best WR (behind Patterson, Austin, and Allen). Kadar gets full credit, but Miller and Mayock both whiffed.
Miller: 0pts (3/6)
Mayock: 0pts (3/6)
Kadar: 2pts (5/6)
Looking back, this was an amazing tight end class, with four eventual Pro Bowlers in it (Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, Jordan Reed, and Tyler Eifert). Miller was fond of Ertz and Eifert as his 1-2, with Reed and Kelce coming in 5th and 6th behind Vance McDonald ad Gavin Escobar. Meanwhile, Mayock prefered Eifert to Ertz, and he preferred Escobar to Kelce (he didn’t put Reed in his Top 100). Kadar agreed with Mayock on their basic order, if not overall position compared to the other players in the draft.
In real life, the only repeat Pro Bowler was Kelce, and all of the experts missed on him. Eifert has had a career plagued by injuries, but he has played like one of the top three tight ends in the class. Ertz has been a solid tight end, and really his second-place finish in CAV and honors is more of a testament to Kelce than anything else. We can give all of them credit for their top prospects playing well, at least.
Miller: 1pt (4/8)
Mayock: 1pt (4/8)
Kadar: 1pt (6/8)
Tackles are tougher to compare than most positions, at least unless you trust sites like Pro Football Focus. However, this class makes it a little easier. Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher were the tale of this draft, and while Mayock placed Fisher ahead of Joeckel (unlike the other two), it was a two-horse race across the board. Miller thought Terron Armstead would be the biggest bust, and none of them gave a lot of respect to David Bakhtari.
In real life, Bakhtari is one of the two Pro Bowl tackles in the group (Lane Johnson is the other) with the second-highest CAV for the entire draft class. However, Eric Fisher has played well (he’s the third tackle on PFR’s CAV list) and Joeckel was bitten by the injury bug. Armstead is a 3-year starter taken in the third round, so it’s hard to call him a bust. This is another case of the experts’ choice being solid even if they missed the real gem.
Miller: 1pt (5/10)
Mayock: 1pt (5/10)
Kadar: 1pt (7/10)
The 2013 guard class is important to Chicago, and it’s an example of Phil Emery actually being right. Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper were consensus 1-2 in the draft. Only Mike Mayock included Kyle Long in his top three for the position. As it turns out, Warmack has had an unremarkable career to barely come in as the third-best guard in the class (Cooper finishes even later in the group, with fewer overall injuries than Long). Long, even with his injuries, is the 7th-highest CAV player in the draft. He’s a multiple Pro Bowler. Warmack earns points for everyone, but only Mayock saw any potential in Long, the best guard in this class.
Miller: 1pt (6/12)
Mayock: 2pt (7/12)
Kadar: 1pt (8/12)
Travis Frederick was the #2 center on everyone’s list, though whether he was #2 to Barrett Jones or Brian Schwenke varied (Jones was preferred by both Miller and Kadar). He turned out to be the only Pro Bowler among the group, and while Schwenke has gone on to have a reasonable career, Jones was waived two years into his career and has struggled to make practice squads while bouncing around the league. How much of this is due to his college injury is up for debate, but all of the pundits knew about that injury at the time these lists were assembled.
Ultimately, they all identified Frederick’s potential, but only Mayock had his top choice work out.
Miller: 1pt (7/14)
Mayock: 2pt (9/14)
Kadar: 1pt (9/14)
On offense, the pundits did tend to identify players who would turn out to show real promise, and when they missed they tended to all miss. However, there was a real tendency to overlook the real gems (Bell, Hopkins, Kelce, Bakhtari, and Long).