Put away the speculation because we have a new No. 1 for the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. And without little suspense, this thing came down to a two-team race and only one winner.
And we'll start with the San Diego Chargers. This was really their last chance to crack the list because next season when Jon Gruden (hopefully) takes the reigns in San Diego, they will no longer be able to compete for the Alt Ranks.
Unlike the Jets, who made a huge push down the stretch. The Jets had the chance for greatness (who can forget the Butt Fumble?), but a disastrous stretch in the middle of the season with wins over the Cardinals and Jaguars (two highly loseable games), kept them out of the big race.
Ditto for the Arizona Cardinals, easily one of the top teams down the stretch. If not for a horrific 4-0 start to the 2012 season, the Cardinals could have made a real push for the top spot. But there's always next year, guys. And seriously, if the Cardinals don't follow my mantra of "Everybody to Arizona" then they are your current frontrunner for 2014.
But firing Ken Whisenhunt shows this team is poised to make a run for it next year.
And without further ado ...
The Browns finished in the sixth spot, thanks in no small part to Thad Lewis, who started in Week 17 against the Steelers. The Browns also benched Trent Richardson, too. Brilliant move. No need to risk the future in a somewhat meaningless game. The Browns move up the draft to get a better draft pick, and Richardson doesn't risk further injury. Don't look for the Browns to even sniff this list next year, they are on the rise.
You could argue the Lions were the hottest team down the stretch with eight consecutive losses, including an inspired performance against the Cardinals. Not many coaches could have wasted another great season of Matthew Stafford and the best single-season performance by a receiver from Calvin Johnson. The Lions were serious contenders, but again, fell just short. Can't wait to see which receiver they burn this pick on next year, because a upgrade to the secondary would just be silly.
Vince Young was nearly correct; this was close to being a dream team in the Alt Ranks. (See what I did there?) The Eagles' season ended in another disappointment and Coach Andy Reid was fired. A lot depends on who will be brought in, but a Ray Rhodes-type of hire and the Eagles could be a darkhorse in the Alt Ranks for 2014.
The Raiders post-Al Davis have look a lot like the Raiders during Al Davis, only worse. Kind of like the Blues Brothers 2000 with Jim Belushi. One thing which could hurt the Raiders in 2013 is Terrelle Pryor, who showed a lot of promise. If the Raiders want to be No. 1 in the 2014 NFL Draft, Matt Leinart is the only option.
The Jaguars had another great season in the Alt Ranks. One down spot for the Jags was the play of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, whose great play could have made the team a winner in 2013. But there are positive reports about the team making a bid for Tim Tebow, which would negate all the offensive prowess of Shorts, Blackmon and the hopeful return of Maurice Jones-Drew.
Congratulations to coach Romeo Crennel who took a team some (all right just me probably) thought could be a super contender and took them the complete opposite way to No. 1 … the No. 1 pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Congratulations coach, this was well earned.
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