ESPN's NFL Draft overlord Mel Kiper Jr. posted his reactions to the first-round selections (Insider access required) of the 2013 NFL Draft very early Friday morning, listing the picks he liked and the decisions he found to be a little more questionable.
First, the positives. Kiper believes that the Pittsburgh Steelers got fantastic value in selecting Georgia Bulldogs outside linebacker Jarvis Jones with the 17th overall pick. Jones was atop Kiper's Big Board for a long time before underwhelming showings at the NFL Combine and his pro day workout caused him to slip.
Still, as Kiper writes here, this was a pretty great spot for the Steelers to find Jones:
" ... when the guy who led the country in sacks and tackles for loss -- and he did it against plenty of SEC competition -- is sitting there at No. 17, you take him."
Kiper also thought Pittsburgh's AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, did well by drafting Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert with the 21st selection. Really, Kiper liked Eifert going to a handful of teams, but the Bengals give quarterback Andy Dalton another receiving option and one more player other than wideout A.J. Green for defenses to worry about.
The third big winner in Kiper's eyes were the St. Louis Rams, who traded up to get West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin at No. 8, then moved back down to snag Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree at No. 30. These, as Kiper notes, are players that can be expected to contribute quickly in St. Louis.
Because nobody's perfect, Kiper had some questions about a few teams' first-round draft strategies. For instance, he figured the Buffalo Bills might take a quarterback, but Florida State's E.J. Manuel is a little underdeveloped as a passer for the No. 16 spot, according to Kiper. That said, he liked Buffalo's decision to trade out of the No. 8 slot.
Kiper had a similar lukewarm response to what the New York Jets did. Drafting the best overall cornerback -- Alabama's Dee Milliner -- with the ninth overall pick? That's smart and fills a void left by the trade of Darrelle Revis. But the selection of Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson at No. 13 left Kiper puzzled. Not because Richardson isn't a good player, but for the fact that the Jets had other areas of need worth addressing. He mentions Eifert here as a player New York should've taken instead.
The Miami Dolphins, writes Kiper, had a good plan but slightly missed in the execution department. He liked their move up to the No. 3 pick, saying they didn't give up too much to get there, but didn't take a surefire difference-maker in Oregon's Dion Jordan. Mostly, Kiper questions his durability and believes that Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson would have been a smarter choice at a position where Miami needs improvement.