Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Plank Predicts: Eric Predicts the 2013 NFL Draft's Biggest Stories

As we get closer to the 2013 NFL Draft, there are certainly plenty of questions to be answered. As a part of the new Plank Predicts series, these are my thoughts on some of the biggest questions in the 2013 NFL Draft. You can check out the rest of the team’s answers here.

1. Who do you believe will be the first quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, and by which team will he be drafted?

My safe bet answer here is to say Geno Smith will be the first QB taken. He is rated highest on NEARLY everyone’s board, and seems to have the most upside as a quarterback that can play both the passing game and variants of the read-option system. If he is drafted first, I see him going to Philadelphia, only because I think if they want to run a Chip Kelly offense for a few years, it would be worth it to groom Smith without a need to start him immediately.

My gambling man answer is Ryan Nassib going to the Bills before any other QB is drafted, and this is simply a case of coach-QB familiarity. Yes they signed Kolb but with only $1 mil guaranteed and rookie contracts no longer a danger, he can play second fiddle to Nassib. Also, not ruling out Smith to Philly with this prediction, I can see them trading down but still getting him.

2. Where will Tavon Austin be drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft?

A safe bet is that Tavon Austin will not be around past pick 16. He is a player many teams have been salivating over, which may cause a team to trade up and ensure they get him. If nobody trades up though, I expect him to be going to St. Louis, but that’s if the Dolphins and Panthers don’t take him.

A longer shot is that I wouldn’t be surprised if he is not around below the top ten. The New York Jets could use one pick on Austin and the other on a defensive player. They have receivers that are speedy and can stretch a field, but his talent to pick up yards after the catch is why they want him over others, and two picks in the top 13 allow them to take him without hesitation.

3. Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade into the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft?

Any other year, and I would say yes. The reason I don’t feel they will, is the same reason I feel they weren’t cut up over trading the 13th pick. This year’s draft is very deep, but there is not many guys that are marquee, start day 1, 2014 pro-bowl types (yes there will be but the hindsight is 20/20). In many other years (2007 or 2011 are good examples) this draft class would be sitting in the second and third rounds. Tampa can wait till their second round choice, and still get players very close to (if not matching) the quality of the first round guys.

However, there is still a chance that Tampa has their heart set on a guy that could be gone before the 43rd pick that may make them ditch some extra picks in an effort to chase. Mock drafts have been showing many of the Bucs’ team needs being picked through before round 2, so I really feel it will depend on urgency. By this, I mean they may be okay with the top 3 CB’s being gone but if they feel the fourth guy they are targeting will go late round 1, they will try to leapfrog to select him.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

4. Which player will take the biggest fall in the first round?

Okay, loaded question. There is no safe bet here as any player that falls is fairly shocking otherwise he wouldn’t be projected higher than he goes. Also some players have already slid (Manti Te’o, Tyrann Mathieu etc.). This being said, I do feel a few players have the chance to “Quinn out”. Now that the Bucs have Revis I could see Xavier Rhodes falling later into the first round, but his selection would then start a run on cornerbacks.. If Nassib does in fact go as the first QB, then it could have a ripple effect, and Geno Smith could even fall out of the first round (though I do think a team would trade into position to take him late in the first round). And lastly, let’s talk about the chance of a position falling. There is a small outside chance that a running back isn’t taken in the first round. This has only happened once (1963) and never since the merger, but it could happen this year.

5.  Who will be the first player the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select in the 2013 NFL Draft?

If Tampa Bay doesn’t trade up, then their first pick becomes hard to gauge. You have to consider their needs, and compare that to what players are already gone at that position. They may want a pass rusher first, but the depth left there as opposed to TE may cause them to go to the tight ends first.

My guess is that though the Bucs are high on adding depth in the defense, they may have a shot at DJ Fluker (doubt he slips this far), Tank Carradine or more likely Zach Ertz. If those players are still on the board come 43, they must take them and in that order. If they are gone, then it’s time to look at who’s available for their needs and take the highest one there, but those three would be my selections.

6. How many offensive linemen will be taken in the first 12 picks of the 2013 NFL draft?

I believe it could be up to 5 or 6, barring trades. The Chiefs are a sure bet at taking a tackle with #1. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles (4), Lions (5), Cardinals (7) and Chargers (11) land an O-linemen, and one more could go to the Bills or Titans depending on who has been taken already.

My bolder prediction is that only 3 teams will take an offensive lineman in the top 12, again barring trades. It is my belief that the Chiefs, Cardinals, and Chargers are the only sure bets, and many people are talking about so many being gone, that nobody has seemed to think about what if barely any get selected at all.

7. Any other bold predictions you want to make about the Buccaneers’ draft, or the draft in general?

As for the Bucs draft, I think that, unless they trade up, the players on the board when they are up at 43 will cause them to pick value over needs. I hope this is not the case, as our past few years of drafting players of need have been proving to be some of our best. If we stay true to what we need, it may seem wrong at first (letting a falling player fall further) but would probably work out when you look at the end result being our roster.

And as for the draft as a whole, I feel this has been one of the weirdest years pre-draft. Everyone always has strong criticisms of every player this year. The poking and prodding of the combine may raise questions (or literally ask them), that do not often affect a player’s performance. Te’o’s hoax, the “incompetent” QB class, a Honey Badger with “munchies”, and NFL Network’s Game Changers have altered the landscape of this draft. The evolving passing game even has scouts wanting to draft Leon Sandcastle, and they know it’s really Deion. Either way, a couple of sure things are that a player will be taken late in the draft and shock people by making his way into the Pro-Bowl, someone in the first round will be a career bust, and someone will go lower than originally thought and the media will scrutinize. Either way, let’s meet back here in 5 years, because that is when you can really analyze a draft’s value and effect.

Tags: NFL Draft Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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