2013 NFL Draft Class With Immediate Impact Possibilities with Rankings
#1 E.J. Manuel (QB) Buffalo Bills – EJ could win the starting job for the Bills with the recent release of Ryan Fitzpatrick. EJ’s biggest competition in training camp is Kevin Kolb, so even if Kolb wins the starting QB job, still be looking for EJ to take over at the helm during the season. Manuel brings to the Bills a track record of being a leader in college with a huge arm. EJ’s ability to throw on the run arguably might be better than any other Quarterback in the NFL. The Bills are counting on making him the guy sooner than later with Stevie Johnson and their good compliment of targets on offense, which is also balanced by a good running game.
#2 Levon Bell (RB) Pittsburgh Steelers – I have Bell ranked very high due to Pittsburgh’s need for healthy running back. The Steelers need to establish their running game back to form as Big Ben has been taking a beating the past 2 seasons. Offensive Coordinator (Todd Haley) took notice of this last season, finding ways for Ben to speed up his delivery but we all know the best way to keep Ben healthy is running the ball to set up the pass. The Steelers went through several running backs last season forcing Ben to throw more than normal, but this year I look for Pittsburgh to go back to their basics of winning which is controlling time of possession by running the football. Bell should get a lot of opportunities to be an immediate impact player.
#3 Quinton Patton (WR) San Francisco 49ers – With Crabtree being injured recently, Quinton Patton should be able to get more opportunities than he would have originally seen. Patton has all the right tools for the next level and will be able to fit any receiver position on the field whether that be slot or playing outside. His ability to accelerate and reach top speed quickly is second to none as well as his agility to come in and out of breaks fluidly without losing control. Patton is a natural hands catcher who can create space, track the ball well and win jump balls without losing concentration. I believe Patton will be giving Cornerbacks fits and will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
#4 Tyler Eifert (TE) Cincinnati Bengals – Eifert was arguably the best receiving Tight End in the draft. With great quickness, route running and hands, he should be an impact for the Bengals this up coming season. Cincinnati announced this week that they plan on going with more 2 Tight End sets (much like the Patriots offense) so Eifert should see a good deal of playing time. Tyler will fit well in that system as his role will be primarily receiving than blocking which is the evolution of Tight Ends at this point in the NFL. On another note, he might be a good Fantasy Football pick up.
#5 Tavon Austin (WR) St. Louis Rams – With the loss of Danny Amendola, the pass happy St. Louis Rams have a great replacement in Tavon Austin. St. Louis seems to not mind the small explosive type Wide Receivers who are an élite threat with the ball in their hands as their main target. Austin has élite speed with the ability to stretch a Defense which forces them to keep a Safety deep. With the addition of Autsin and his fellow West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey, we could be seeing the return of the greatest show on turf.
#6 Geno Smith (QB) New York Jets – Honestly I don’t believe Geno will be starting Week 1 of this season, but I do see him taking over for Mark Sanchez a lot sooner than later. I expect Sanchez to be on a short leash in 2013 and with a true Quarterback waiting in the wings (unlike Tim Tebow) he’ll see his opportunity rather quickly. Geno can make all the throws you expect out of an NFL Quarterback and throws the deep ball very well. Smith has a very quick over the top type of release with the ability to fit the football in tight windows. The Jets not having serious deep threats on top of lacking in other Offensive positions might hurt his chance of putting up good numbers.
#7 Gavin Escobar (TE) Dallas Cowboys - Escobar’s draft stock rose tremendously through the months leading up to the draft. Gavin is a natural hands catcher with great ability to beat Defensive Backs deep vertically. His ability to leap and adjust to the ball with his 6’6 frame make a defense have to pay attention to him when he’s on the field. Though his Pass Blocking is almost a liability, Escobar’s upside and potential is nothing to sneeze at. With Jason Witten getting older, Dallas has a good chance to mold Gavin Escobar into a starting Tight End for years to come.
#8 Montee Ball (RB) Denver Broncos – With a lot more power than you would think he’d have and his elite vision, Montee Ball could be Denver’s starting Running Back by the end of 2013. His ability to change directions is exceptional with a good burst to take the ball down the field. One thing I really like about Montee is his ball security as it took him 655 carries in college for him to produce his first fumble. Though there is some worry about wear-n-tear carrying the ball 924 times at Wisconsin, I doubt that’ll effect him in the NFL. Denver has had a revolving door of Running Backs lately, so like I mentioned earlier, I believe Montee will solidify himself as the starter by the end of the season.
#9 Travis Kelce (TE) Kansas City Chiefs – Kelce was recruited as a Quarterback in college but ended up becoming an excellent threat at Tight End for the Bearcats in 2012. Travis has sub 4.6 speed and might be the best Tight End the Arrowhead faithful have seen since the great Tony Gonzalez. Andy Reid is infamous for targeting Tight Ends in his West Coast offense, so I feel it won’t be any different in how he uses Travis Kelce. Though he needs some improvement in blocking, his very aggressive mean streak type of attitude will help him improve in that department. With Alex Smith known to favor the short pass, that bodes nothing but a positive for Kelce as he explodes on the scene in the NFL.
#10 Aaron Dobson (WR) New England Patriots – With Rob Gronkowski’s status in question for the beginning of the 2013 and Aaron Hernandez also being injured quite often, Bill Belichick did not hesitate to load up big targets for this upcoming season. Dobson is a 6’3 Wideout who possesses 4.4 type speed with a great talent to keep body control through his routes and very reliable hands. Voted a team captain in 2012, Dobson’s ability to contort his body and get the ball at his highest point as well as make the tough catches on deep ball coverage’s with excellent hand eye coördination will be huge for the Patriots.
I look forward seeing what happens in pre season and keeping as up to date and ready for 2013 season as I can so stay tuned .
Twitter Handle danrussell67