Battle of the AFC North: Assessing the 2013 5th and 6th Round Draft Picks
I was initially planning to deal with rounds 5 – 7 in this post, but it turned out to be a lot of players and to have some interesting things going on, so I’m going to group the 7th round picks and UDFAs in one post next week.
Cleveland Browns: [WR Davone Bess,] Pick No. 165, Janoris Slaughter, S
Pittsburgh Steelers: Pick No.150, Terry Hawthorne, CB; Pick No. 186, Justin Brown, WR; Pick No.206*, Vince Williams, LB
Cincinnati Bengals: Pick No. 156, OT Tanner Hawkinson; Pick No. 190, Rex Burkhead, RB; Pick No. 197, Cobi Hamilton, WR
Baltimore Ravens: Pick No. 168*, OT Ricky Wagner; Pick No. 200, Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE; Pick No. 203*, Ryan Jensen, OT
The Bengals had been busy the previous year or so robbing everybody blind, and they used up most of the booty in this draft. Included was Pick No. 197, which they got from New England the previous year, along with a fifth round 2012 pick, in exchange for Chad Johnson. It’s not often you get the better of the Patriots, but whatever the previous year’s pick was and whatever this guy turns out to be, I think they got a deal…
The Browns yet again complicate the picture. First, there’s the third round deal: shortly after picking Leon McFadden in the third round they traded with the Miami Dolphins to get WR Davone Bess. In exchange they gave up their fourth and fifth round picks, got Miami’s fourth round and seventh round picks, and of course Bess.
Although it’s pretty hard to follow, I think in effect they traded a fourth round pick for a seventh round pick and Bess, who will be evaluated with this group.
As to what happened to the 2014 pick, it’s actually more complicated than this, but basically they used it to move up four spots in the first round. They then drafted Johnny Manziel, also giving up a third round pick in the process.
But there’s more. They got Pick No. 164 and 227 from San Francisco in exchange for quarterback Colt McCoy and Pick No. 173. They had gotten Pick No.173 from Philadelphia, in exchange for David Sims. (They also gave the Eagles Pick No. 212.)
Oh, and Pick No. 227? That was traded to San Francisco by the Bengals, who got Taylor Mays in return. They then…oh, never mind.
Have you got that straight? Me neither.
But to return to our regularly scheduled post subject, let’s check out what the draft experts had to say. Naturally as one gets lower in the draft the pundits had less to say, so I’ll report anything the usual three had to say.
Rob Rang, CBS Sports:
Ravens: [no comment on these rounds]
Bengals: I’m just as high on their third-day picks. Rex Burkhead would’ve been drafted much earlier a year ago but slipped after an injury-plagued senior season. And if Texas A&M outside linebacker Sean Porter and Kansas offensive tackle Tanner Hawkinson get in the weight room, they’ll surprise.
Browns: [no comment on these rounds]
Steelers: Of their third-day picks, I’m highest on cornerback Terry Hawthorne and developmental defensive lineman Nicholas Williams.
Rang’s grades for each team: Ravens, A, Bengals A, Browns C, Steelers B+
Bucky Brooks: NFL Network:
He had no comments on any individual players after the third round.
Brooks’ grades: Ravens, B; Bengals, A; Browns, C; Steelers, A-
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: [Actually, after the first several rounds the grades are given by various staff writers.]
Ravens: A strong run-game player from the Badgers’ OL factory, Wagner is a well-schooled technician who will have to fight hard to hold up in pass pro.
[Lewis-Moore is] a future 5-tech candidate who dropped with an injury that could land him on the PUP or force him to take a full-on redshirt in 2013. He has the potential to be a solid member of the DL rotation in the Cory Redding mold once he’s back to health.
A bit of an off-the-radar choice from football factory Colorado State-Pueblo, Jensen can learn the OT position behind Michael Oher while teaching his teammates what a pueblo is.
Bengals: A versatile guy who was able to get beaten up at both tackle spots for the Jayhawks, Hawkinson may kick inside at the next level but may need a lot more strength to stick anywhere.
A quick and explosive player who consistently finds ways to elude defenders and make productive runs. With the addition of Giovanni Bernard its’ hard to say exactly how Burkhead will fit into Cincy’s 2013 backfield, but if he makes the roster he’ll be a willing special teams contributor and depth piece.
A physical receiver who was caught up in the crossfire of Arkansas’ nightmare 2012 year, Hamilton nonetheless looks to be a solid possession-receiver prospect. He may not bring anything to the table that Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones don’t already, though, so he’ll face a tough fight for a roster spot.
Browns: He’s no Barkevious, but Slaughter’s name should still provide some entertainment for the Dawg Pound. With his struggles against bigger TEs and quicker WRs, though, that’s where the entertainment might end.
Steelers: Hawthorne brings a physical brand of coverage and solid straight line speed. He adds some intrigue to a fairly depleted Pittsburgh CB corps.
With the departure of Mike Wallace, there’s not a lot of depth in Pittsburgh’s wideout corps. With a number of higher-potential guys still on the board, though, it’s hard to see what Pittsburgh will get out of Brown.
Pittsburgh turned an undrafted James Harrison into an all-pro linebacker. [Vince] Williams probably should have been undrafted, so maybe he can capture some of that same magic. [Note: the writer gave this particular selection a D+)
Prisco’s grades: Ravens, B; Bengals, A; Browns, C; Steelers, B-
Part of the value of your draft picks is just being on the field. But it will become increasingly uncommon for most of the players to make it to the field any substantial amount as we get into the lower rounds, save for exceptional cases, or with special teams.
Therefore I’m just going to note how many, if any, game snaps were played, and the Pro Football Focus rating for said. Since special teams is going to comprise the bulk of a lot of these players’ work, I’ll also list how many games they played special teams and what they were rated. Naturally it will become more common to see players end up on the practice squad or be cut altogether, and this will be noted as well. Since there are a lot of players we’ll take them separately:
As you can see I’ve put Davone Bess on here, since as far as I can work out that is about the equivalent of what the Browns gave up to get him.
The team who got the least out of their fifth round pick was definitely the Steelers. Terry Hawthorne was cut at the end of camp, so they didn’t even get practice squad use out of him.
The team who might seem to have gotten the most at first was the Browns. Bess came in and played a lot of snaps. But he didn’t play them particularly well, as you can see from the Pro Football Focus rating. You don’t need to see the rankings to know they thought he was pretty awful. Here’s how awful, from the Wikipedia page:
In Bess’ first season in Cleveland, he recorded 42 receptions for 362 yards—both career lows—and 2 touchdowns, while being credited with nine dropped passes, the second-highest total in the league. On December 21, 2013, with two games to go in the season, Bess was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list with a “personal matter,” ending his 2013 campaign. He was released on March 5, 2014.
It doesn’t get better, either:
Bess was arrested in Florida on January 17, 2014, on charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer at Fort Lauderdale airport. Broward Sheriff’s Office records show Bess was arrested, after acting erratically and confronting an officer.
It makes one think of The Factory of Sadness video:
The Bengal’s pick didn’t set the world on fire, but he’s still on the team.
The Ravens are the ones who really cleaned up in the fifth round. Wagner made some contributions in 2013 and was their starting right tackle in 2014. He did very well, too, as you can see. On to Round Six:
Slaughter was one of the few picks the Browns actually had in this draft, and being the Browns, they didn’t luck out. Slaughter was actually on the practice squad in 2013 but was cut in 2014 before camp even began.
The Ravens were surprisingly snake-bitten in this round. Both of their picks spent most of their time on IR.
Jensen was injured in 2013 and spent the year on IR. He was cut at the end of camp in 2014, because he suffers from severe sleep apnea. That being the case, he’s best off losing the extra 100 pounds or so you have to carry as an offensive lineman and getting on with his life’s work.
Lewis-Moore was out for 2013 with a torn ACL. He then tore his Achilles in camp in 2014 and spent last year on IR. He’s still on the roster at the moment,* and I suppose everyone is waiting for the third shoe to drop. Hopefully, for his sake, there isn’t one.
Neither of the Bengals’ picks did much, but they were on the team at the end of 2014, so there’s that.
However, Hamilton’s path was not straightforward. He spent 2013 and part of 2014 on the practice squad. He was apparently cut shortly thereafter, because he was then signed to the Eagles’ practice squad. They cut him a few weeks later and the Bengals brought him back, eventually signing him to the 53 man roster at the end of December. They then cut him at the end of the season. He is currently on the Dolphins’ roster.*
The Steeler’s first pick, Justin Brown, spent 2013 on the practice squad, and was a bit of a camp darling in 2014. He made the active roster, but didn’t make a great deal of difference, although as you can see his PFF rating isn’t bad at all. He was waived after the 2014 season and picked up by the Bills. He was waived/injured on August 9.
Their second pick, the one of whom the CBS Sports writer was so dismissive, has turned out to be quite the bargain. Williams was thrust into playing as a very green rookie when Larry Foote was injured in the first game of 2013, and while he was not very good he was a body, which was about all you could expect under the circumstances. He also learned quite a lot, and played a good deal last year. He is turning into an accomplished inside backer, which is an excellent outcome for a sixth round pick. (This is despite the big whiff on Saturday. Everyone makes mistakes.)
Returning to the original point of the post, who “won” the 2013 fifth and sixth rounds?
Cleveland, as usual, won in the short term and lost in the long term. Bess played a lot of snaps, but managed to drop even more passes than Dropmeister Extraordinaire, Greg Little. Neither Slaughter nor Bess was on the team in 2014.
The Ravens, despite the underwhelming performance of their sixth round guys, probably can be said to have won. To get an NFL-quality offensive tackle in the fifth round, one who is the starter in his second year, is pretty sweet.
Cincinnati is probably runner up for the least impressive class, as none of their picks have shown much at this point. Since they still have two of them at the moment, as far as I know, that could of course change.
The Steelers are definitely runner-up to the Ravens, for now, at least, as Vince Williams has single-handedly cancelled out the Hawthorne pick in the fifth round and the relatively small return from Brown in the sixth.
And lest we forget as we get into these lower rounds, getting a starter, especially in the early years, is the exception rather than the rule. I’ll publish the awesome graph which shows just how much value to expect from lower round picks in the final post.
That’s all for now. Come back next week to look at the end of the draft and an overall assessment.
*This was written just after the first roster reduction deadline, and all of these gentlemen seem to have made it through the first round of cuts. However, as we know, there are more coming…