Bleacher Report 2013 NFL Draft Conference Call Notes

BR-bleacher-reportBleacher Report, a leading digital sports media destination and division of Turner Sports, today announced its comprehensive coverage plans surrounding the 2013 NFL Draft. Starting Thursday, April 25, the site’s live video coverage of the NFL Draft will feature an entertaining combination of expert analysis from Bleacher Report lead writers, commentary and insights from current NFL stars, and fan reaction throughout all seven rounds of the draft.

Current NFL stars and All Pro running backs Ray Rice of the 2013 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and Steven Jackson of the Atlanta Falcons will participate in the coverage, along with Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller and Senior NFL Producer and Lead NFL Video Analyst Aaron Nagler, among other guests. Bleacher Report’s comprehensive draft coverage will be streamed live from Boomer Esiason’s Stadium Grill at Bowlmor Lanes Times Square in New York City.

 

Conference call participants:

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report NFL Draft lead writer

Steven Jackson, Two-time NFL All-Pro running back

Matt Miller shared a few predictions for the 2013 NFL Draft:

“There is a good chance we’ll see E.J. Manual, quarterback from Florida State, as the second quarterback off the board this year. If you had said that a year ago people would have been shocked because we all expected Matt Barkley to be the guy [in this year’s draft]. E.J. Manual has jumped him.”

“Another exciting offensive player that we could see go early, in fact in the top 10, is Tavon Austin, wide receiver from West Virginia. [Tavon Austin] is one of the more exciting, explosive players in this year’s draft, especially with the ball in his hands.”

“Up front we have a great class of offensive lineman. We’ll see four offensive tackles potentially go in the top 10 with Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher both expected to go very early. [Also] Lane Johnson from Oklahoma and D.J. Fluker from Alabama.”

Miller on how he describes his yearly preparation for the draft:

“[My preparation] starts after the draft ends. I familiarize myself with the top college players and spend all summer watching film. For me, it is nearly a year-round process of looking ahead at prospects…a 365 day a year job.”

Jackson on which running back in the draft reminds him of himself:

“There [are] not a lot of big size running backs this year, [except] Le’Veon Bell out of Michigan State. [He has the] ability to run behind his path and stay in a physical conference like the Big Ten. He would probably be the closest in this draft.”

Jackson’s assessment on the overall running back draft class this season:

“You could find value in [a few] guys in the middle of the draft. [Eddie] Lacey out of Alabama; [he] has the pedigree [and has] played against some of the top-notch defenses in the SEC. The way the NFL is going in the direction of two-back offenses….no one in this draft is a must-get guy.”

Miller on the most interesting storylines entering the draft: 

“It’s an exciting class because there’s not one or two guys stealing the headlines. It’s a good year to familiarize yourself with everyone. It will be interesting to see how the teams that have multiple picks in the first round restructure their roster. For me it will be exciting watching those teams [such as the New York Jets and the Tennessee Titans].”

Jackson on the athlete’s approach on draft day:

“Surround yourself with family and friends. As the draft goes on, you’re starting to figure out what each team needs. You and your agent figure out what ways you can best fit a team and what else you need to do by getting on the phone with someone to help make that pick happen.”

Miller on the most underrated NFL draft prospects:

“A running back I’m really excited about is Johnathan Franklin from UCLA. He is a player who can come in and be a starter from day one. [Also] defensive end Quanterus Smith [of Western Kentucky]. If he hadn’t been hurt late his senior year we would probably be talking about him at the end of the first round. Those are a couple of guys who I have my eye on as the sleepers of this year’s draft.”

Miller on the position with the most depth in this year’s draft:

“The strongest position in this year’s class is pass rusher. It’s tough to label some guys as a defensive end or an outside linebacker. There are so many talented defensive ends that we’ll continue to see starting quality guys.”

Miller on the weakest position in the draft:

“The quarterback [position]. We are seeing a cluster of guys that should be drafted second or third round. They will probably be over-drafted due to the nature of the position. Teams will panic and want to draft a quarterback.”

Miller on which NFL team can most benefit by adding depth in the draft:

“There are a lot of teams that have to quickly re-make their roster. The Oakland Raiders have to hit on the stretch and pick up quality players, [as well as] the Jacksonville Jaguars. They are ready to start over at almost every position. If I had to pick one team that has the most depth chart openings and holes, Jacksonville would be at the top of the list.”

Miller on Texas draft prospects Alex Okafor, Kenny Vaccaro and Marquise Goodwin: 

“I have Kenny [Vaccaro] as my No. 10 overall player. He does all the little things well. Teams [are] looking at [Kenny] Vaccaro as a player who can help early on. He has the versatility. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come off the board with the Jets, whether at No. 9 or No. 13, or the Titans at No. 10. Vaccaro is one of my favorite players in this year’s class.”

“Alex Okafor has not had the big media attention that [Kenny] Vaccaro has had, but [Okafor] is a very dynamic pass rusher. We saw in the Senior Bowl the kind of pass rusher he can be if he is unleashed. I have [Okafor] for my 25th overall player. I like him as a fit to the Atlanta Falcons in the first round if he is still on the board.”

“The most intriguing guy coming out of Texas is Marquis Goodwin. He’s a track star. Everyone knows how fast he is [and] how long he can jump. He is an exciting player at slot receiver or as a return man.  You worry about the limited number of touches he had while at the University of Texas [but] with his speed I see him drafted in the early part of the third round.”

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