Chip Kelly plucks out his former competitors
Eagles coach Chip Kelly went 24-3 in his final two seasons at Oregon, with the three losses coming to LSU, USC and Stanford. Three of Kelly's first four draft picks, in his first draft as an NFL coach, beat his Ducks. After selecting OT Lane Johnson from Oklahoma in Round 1, the Eagles took TE Zach Ertz from Stanford (which beat Oregon 17-14 in 2012); in Round 2, DT Bennie Logan from LSU (beat Oregon 40-27 in 2011); in round four, QB Matt Barkley from USC (beat Oregon 38-35 in 2011).
Bills repeat history with EJ Manuel
The Bills made EJ Manuel of Florida State just their third first-round quarterback in the modern draft era. The first was Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, the 14th overall pick in the historic QB class of 1983. Twenty-one years later, Buffalo selected J.P. Losman with the No. 22 overall pick. Kelly was 101-59 in his career, leading the Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances. Losman went 10-23 as the Bills' starting QB, with 29 TDs and 32 INTs. The Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999, the NFL's longest current drought.
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SEC players dominate draft class
The Southeastern Conference set a modern-era record with 63 players drafted, meaning 24.8 percent of the 254 players drafted played college football in the SEC. The SEC had more players drafted than each of the next two conferences combined (ACC: 31 and Pac-12: 28). If only four SEC schools -- Alabama (9), LSU (9), Florida (8) and Georgia (8) -- made up a conference, that exceptional group would have had 34 players picked, more than any other conference. The only SEC school not to have a player drafted in 2013 was the University of Mississippi.
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The winless standout
The Patriots made Jamie Collins from Southern Miss their first draft selection with the No. 52 overall pick. The Golden Eagles were 0-12 last season, making Collins the third-highest drafted player from a winless team since 1997. In 2000, the New York Jets drafted John Abraham No. 13 overall after his South Carolina Gamecocks went 0-11 the previous season. Abraham leads all active NFL players with 122.0 career sacks. RB Robert Holcombe from the University of Illinois was drafted No. 37 overall by the Rams in 1998 after the Illini went 0-11 in 1997. Holcombe had 1,141 career rushing yards in seven seasons, including three seasons as Marshall Faulk's backup (1999-01).
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Warford makes Kentucky proud
Larry Warford was drafted in the third round (No. 65 overall) by the Detroit Lions, making him the highest drafted offensive lineman from the University of Kentucky since 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Dermontti Dawson was drafted No. 44 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1988. Warford is the highest drafted Kentucky player overall since Randall Cobb was taken with the last pick in the second round (No. 64) in 2011. Cobb broke out in 2012 with 80 receptions for 954 yards and 8 TDs. Cobb is also a return threat with three return TDs in his two-year career. The two will now play twice a year in the NFC North.
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Big Ten's lone first-round representative
With the No. 31 pick in the first round, the Cowboys took Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, the only player drafted Thursday night from the Big Ten. It marks the second time in the common draft era that the once dominant conference was nearly shut out of the first round. In 1970, the Cleveland Browns took Purdue's QB, Mike Phipps -- the only player from the Big Ten to go in round one. Ultimately the Big Ten had 22 players drafted in 2013, tied with the Big 12 for the fourth most by any conference.
Boomerang draft selection
The No. 229 pick accumulated some serious airline rewards miles last week. The pick originally belonged to the Vikings, but it was traded near the end of the first round Thursday to the Patriots in a move to acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee. After spending two nights in New England, the pick was dealt to the Buccaneers in a trade involving running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jeff Demps. Just when the pick was starting to get comfortable in Tampa Bay, it was sent back Minnesota -- its original owner -- so that the Bucs could move up to take Miami RB Mike James. Eventually, the No. 229 pick was cashed in by the Vikings to select Florida State DT Everett Dawkins, the final pick of the Vikings' 2013 draft class.
A first-round rarity
Many thought a quarterback wouldn't be taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. If a quarterback was to be taken, the name that kept coming up was West Virginia's Geno Smith. With the No. 16 overall pick, the Bills took everyone by surprise when EJ Manuel's name was called. Manuel, of Florida State, was the only QB taken on Day 1 of the draft -- the first time since 2001 (Michael Vick) that only one quarterback came off the board in Round 1. In addition, it is the latest a QB has been drafted in the first round since 2000, when the Jets took Chad Pennington of Marshall at No. 18.
A team pick
South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger (second-round pick) and LSU linebacker Sam Montgomery (third-round pick) were teammates at Greenwood High School in South Carolina and were both taken by the Houston Texans on Day 2 of the draft. Swearinger rushed for 904 yards and 12 TDs as a senior QB in 2008 while Montgomery recorded 11.0 sacks, as the Greenwood Eagles finished the season 7-5. It marks the second straight year that high school teammates were drafted by the same team -- the Vikings took WRs Greg Childs and Jarius Wright in 2012, teammates at the University of Arkansas as well as Warren High School.
The rich get richer
The draft is supposed to be a chance for losing teams to level the playing field by rebuild their team with talented players who'll become franchise cornerstones. It's said that draft picks are like currency and if that's the case, there is a widening gap between the upper and middle classes in the NFL. Six teams that had 10 or more picks, five of which -- Packers, 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, Bengals -- made the playoffs in 2012. It's an unprecedented case of the rich getting richer. The closest approximation might have occurred in 1999 when three of the six teams with the most draft picks made the playoffs the season before. The six teams with the fewest picks in 2013? The Panthers, Browns, Saints, Bears, Chargers and Buccaneers didn't make the 2012 playoffs.
What a difference a year makes
Matt Barkley's selection by Chip Kelly's Eagles with the first pick of the fourth round marked an unlikely start to a long-awaited NFL career. As a high school freshman, Barkley was the starting quarterback at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, a high football powerhouse. Two years later, Barkley became the first junior ever to win Gatorade's national high school player of the year award. In his second start as a USC freshman, Barkley traveled to the Horseshoe at Ohio State and guided the Trojans on a 14-play, 86-yard drive to win the game with 1:05 left. Had Barkley entered the draft after his junior year, many expected him to be the third QB selected, right behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and likely among the first 10 overall selections. After throwing more interceptions (15) as a senior than any other season, Barkley was the fourth QB selected in 2013. Chosen with the No. 98 pick, this one-time, can't miss prospect barely cracked the top 100.
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Ivy League trio
Three Ivy League players were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. Cornell's J.C. Tretter was a fourth-round selection (No. 122) by the Green Bay Packers, Harvard's Kyle Juszczyk was a fourth-round pick (No. 130) by the Baltimore Ravens and Princeton's Mike Catapano was the first pick of the seventh round (No. 207) by the Kansas City Chiefs. The threesome becomes the first Ivy trio to be selected in the same draft since the NFL featured consecutive seventh-round picks (Nos. 222, 223 and 224 overall) in the 2001 NFL Draft. The 2013 Ivy league draftees would love to emulate the success of six-time Pro Bowler Matt Birk, a Harvard graduate who recently retired after 15 NFL seasons and a Super Bowl victory with the Ravens.
Will Lattimore be better than Gore?
The similarities between Frank Gore and Marcus Lattimore are remarkable. Both suffered devastating knee injuries in college, and both were drafted by the 49ers. Their college numbers are even more remarkable. Gore played in a total of 28 games at Miami while Lattimore appeared in 29 at South Carolina. With only one more college game under his belt, Lattimore totaled 702 more rushing yards and 24 more total touchdowns than Frank Gore. Gore has produced six 1,000 yard seasons in the NFL. If the trends continue, what will be Lattimore's legacy be in the NFL?
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LSU well represented in draft
Eight LSU defenders were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, tied for the second most from a single school in the common draft era. Ranking eighth in the nation in total defense in 2012, LSU had twice as many defenders drafted than the national champions Alabama, which ranked first in total defense. Of course, only seven LSU defenders were drafted because Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the team prior to the 2012 season. The "Honey Badger" went in the third round to the Cardinals, joining his former LSU teammate Patrick Peterson.
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Bradford's new targets
The Rams gave QB Sam Bradford two shiny new toys, by selecting WR Tavon Austin in the first round and his West Virginia teammate, WR Stedman Bailey in the third round. Austin ranked second in the nation in 2012 with 223.9 all-purpose yards per game. Bailey ranked third in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision with 124.77 receiving yards per game. Both Austin and Bailey finished their careers at West Virginia with back-to-back 1000 yard seasons. The St. Louis Rams haven't had a 1,000 yard wide receiver since Torry Holt in 2007.
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Packers wait and wait before drafting Lacy
For the first time since 1963, a running back wasn't drafted in the first round. In 2013, the first running back wasn't taken until No. 37 overall. Surprisingly, Alabama's Eddie Lacy was not the first running back selected. Instead, there were three running backs drafted ahead of him, and Lacy slid to the Packers at No. 61. That was the earliest the Packers have selected a running back since 1990, when they took Darrell Thompson of Minnesota at No. 19. Green Bay drafted Lacy to fulfill a distinct need, as the Packers have the longest active streak of consecutive regular season games (43 games) without a 100-yard rusher.
Not that irrelevant
The 2013 NFL Draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" is TE Justice Cunningham of South Carolina, selected by the Colts with the No. 254 and final pick of the draft. Last year's "Mr. Irrelevant" was also drafted by the Colts -- QB Chandler Harnish of Northern Illinois. Cunningham should take solace in knowing that last four "Mr. Irrelevants" are still on NFL rosters: Harnish remains with the Colts; DE Cheta Ozougwu of Rice, is with the Bears; WR Tim Toone of Weber St., is on the Falcons' roster; and "Mr. Irrelevant" from 2009, K Ryan Succop of South Carolina, is entering his fifth year with the Chiefs. Before last season, Succop reportedly signed a $14 million contract extension. "Mr. Irrelevant" might not be so irrelevant, after all.
Hall of Fame bloodline
With his selection by the Chicago Bears with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Oregon G Kyle Long joined an exclusive NFL club. Long became the ninth son of a Pro Football Hall of Fame player/coach to be drafted into the NFL. Kyle follows his father, Howie, a defensive tackle drafted out of Villanova by the Oakland Raiders in the second round in 1981. Howie Long is the first Hall of Famer ever to have two sons chosen in the NFL Draft. Kyle's brother, Chris, was the No. 2 overall choice in the 2008 NFL Draft.