Drafting NFL players is not a precise science. Some teams seemingly never get it right, while others have histories of draft success. But every so often there's a draft that just defies everyone's efforts to do their job — and gives GMs a good argument for trading away their picks.
Take the 2013 NFL Draft. While the previous year produced some first-round flops, the 2012 Draft still produced its share of stars: Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Luke Keuchly, Josh Norman. But not the 2013 Draft. The best player it has produced is second-round pick Le'Veon Bell. Several first-round picks already are absolute busts. Some picks have proven to be solid, even Pro Bowlers. But they're not stars, and the vast majority are ho-hum.
It may have been only four years ago, but we're pretty confident in calling the 2013 NFL Draft the worst of the past 25 years. Just take a look at each of the first-round picks and you'll see why.
OT Eric Fisher, Chiefs
Fisher became just the fourth offensive lineman drafted No. 1 overall since the AFL-NFL merger and the first from Central Michigan. KC had just traded for QB Alex Smith, and rolled the dice in hopes of having a cornerstone for their O-line. Fisher has started 59 of 62 games, more than any other top-10 pick in this draft, and though he hasn't been voted to a Pro Bowl yet, he has improved enough to land a $48 million extension in 2016. And by the way, only one offensive tackle from this draft has made a Pro Bowl: fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari.
OT Luke Joeckel, Jaguars
Joeckel, who won the Outland Trophy at Texas A&M, was expected by many to be the No. 1 pick, and it was the first time OTs went 1-2 since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. However, Joeckel's drop to No. 2 did not prove to be good fortune for Jacksonville. Joeckel missed most of his rookie season with an ankle injury and most of last season after knee surgery. When he's been healthy, he's started 39 games but has not gotten good grades for his play. Now he'll try to resurrect his career in Seattle after signing a one-year deal.
DE Dion Jordan, Dolphins
Miami traded up to draft Jordan, a pass rusher out of Oregon, and blew it big time. He had 26 tackles and two sacks as a rookie, then 20 and two the next year while serving a six-game suspension for twice violating the NFL’s drug policy. He missed all of 2015 for a third violation and all of 2016 with a knee injury before the Dolphins finally released him. By that point he'd become the only active player on our list of every NFL team's worst draft pick ever. Now he's another reclamation project for the Seahawks after signing a one-year deal.
Interesting, considering only one of the Seahawks' 11 picks in the 2013 draft remains on the team — tight end Luke Willson.
OT Lane Johnson, Eagles
Johnson, the No. 4 pick out of Oklahoma, has been good when he hasn't been suspended for PED violations. He got a four-game ban in 2014 and a 10-game ban in 2016. He's started all 50 of his games and got a six-year extension in 2016, so he'd better start earning it.
DE Ezekiel Ansah, Lions
Ansah grew up in Ghana playing soccer and basketball and never even put on pads until college. He twice was cut from BYU's basketball team before walking on to the football team, and despite having little more than raw talent Ansah emerged as a sleeper pick during his senior year. He made an immediate impact in Detroit with eight sacks as a rookie and raised his total to 14.5 in 2015, earning a Pro Bowl nod. However, his numbers dropped dramatically last season — his two sacks in Detroit's playoff loss to Seattle matched his entire regular-season output.
Despite the down year and his lack of a football pedigree, Ansah still looks like the best player taken in the top 10.
LB Barkevious Mingo, Browns
Oh the Browns. Another lousy first-round pick, just a year after they blew it with Trent Richardson (No. 3) and Brandon Weeden (22). Mingo was an edge rusher out of LSU with an all-time great name, but after three disappointing seasons the Browns traded him to the Patriots. Mingo wasn't one of Bill Belichick's steals, however, playing mostly on special teams in his single season in New England (and winning a Super Bowl ring). He signed with the Colts in the offseason.
G Jonathan Cooper, Cardinals
Cooper was another reclamation project that didn't work out for Belichick and the Pats. A standout at North Carolina, Cooper went on IR before his first season with the Cardinals even started and made just 11 starts in two more injury-plagued years in Arizona. He was traded to the Pats in a deal for linebacker Chandler Jones but got hurt in the preseason and never played a game for them before being waived. The Browns gave Cooper a look last year but waived him after five games. Now, after three NFL deaths, the 27-year-old finds himself in O-line heaven: Dallas.
WR Tavon Austin, Rams
Austin was a 5-foot-8 speedster and all-purpose weapon coming out of West Virginia, and the Rams traded up to get him. He immediately established himself as a triple threat — running, receiving and returning — and in 2016 the Rams signed him to a $42 million extension. However, he has yet to have a breakout season — Austin has only one game with 100 or more receiving yards, and five with 100 or more yards from scrimmage. That's probably why the Rams signed Robert Woods to a five-year, $39 million contract in March.
CB Dee Milliner, Jets
Milliner was an All-American and two-time national champion at Alabama, so the Jets jumped at the chance to take him after trading Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay right before the draft. However, Milliner had a rough rookie season until picking off his first three INTs in the final two weeks. Injuries limited him to two starts in the next two seasons, and the Jets released him in 2016. He remains a free agent.
G Chance Warmack, Titans
Warmack was a three-time national champion at Alabama and started 48 games for Tennessee before missing most of 2016 with a hand injury. The Titans elected to let him go, and Warmack signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia in March.
For those keeping tabs, that's five offensive linemen (and two guards) taken in the first 10 picks.
OT D.J. Fluker, Chargers
Fluker made it three 'Bama players in a row, and another offensive lineman. Like Warmack, Danny Lee Jesus Fluker was an All-American and three-time national champion at Alabama, and he started 59 games in four seasons for the Chargers. However, his play never rose to a Pro Bowl level and they released him in March. Fluker has since signed a one-year deal with the Giants.
CB D.J. Hayden, Raiders
Hayden snapped the streak of Alabama players selected but started a new one with two straight D.J.'s being drafted. Derek Jr. overcame a life-threatening injury in his senior season at Houston to become the No. 12 pick and eventually a starter for Oakland. His numbers increased with his playing time in each of his first three seasons, but he lost his starting job in 2016 as the secondary struggled and the Raiders released him after the season. Hayden signed a one-year deal with the Lions in March.
For those keeping track, eight of the first 12 picks were let go after last season. Seven signed one-year deals, while Milliner remains unsigned.
DT Sheldon Richardson, Jets
The Jets used their second first-round pick, which they got from the Bucs in the Darrelle Revis deal, on the defensive tackle from Mizzou. Richardson made an immediate impact as the Defensive Rookie of the Year, even scoring two touchdowns as a fullback, and was voted to the Pro Bowl the following year. However, he began 2015 with a four-game drug suspension and served a one-game suspension in 2016 resulting from an arrest for reckless driving and resisting arrest. Now he's reportedly on the trading block.
DT Star Lotulelei, Panthers
Lotulelei was the second defensive tackle taken after Richardson and might've been the first if not for a heart condition that kept him out of the Combine. The Tongan standout from Utah won a starting job as a rookie and helped Carolina win three straight NFC South titles. He had a career-high four sacks in 2016, however he has yet to be named a Pro Bowler.
S Kenny Vaccaro, Saints
Vaccaro, taken out of Texas as the first safety in the draft, at times has been a rare bright spot in a dismal Saints defense that has contributed to three straight 7-9 seasons. After posting a career-high 104 tackles in 2015, Vaccaro took a step back in 2016 and saw his season cut short by a four-game PED suspension.
QB EJ Manuel, Bills
That's right: EJ Manuel was the first quarterback taken in the 2013 Draft, and the only one in the first round.
To be fair, Manuel went 25-6 at Florida State and won a bowl game in each of his four years there. He won the Bills' starting job, but success was much harder to find in Buffalo. Manuel missed five weeks of his rookie season with a knee injury and was benched after four starts in 2014 in favor of Kyle Orton, who led the Bills to their first winning season since 2004. Manuel never got the starting job back, as Tyrod Taylor took over in 2015 and '16, and left town complaining that he never got a fair shot — just 17 starts in four seasons. He signed a one-year deal with the Raiders to back up Derek Carr.
LB Jarvis Jones, Steelers
Jones was a two-time All-American at Georgia and winner of the Jack Lambert Trophy. But he turned into arguably the worst draft bust of Mike Tomlin's tenure. Jones had just six sacks in four seasons and lost his job to James Harrison, who's 11 years older. The Steelers let Jones go after 2016 and he signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals.
S Eric Reid, 49ers
San Francisco traded up to draft Reid out of LSU and replace Dashon Goldson, and it was rewarded with a Pro Bowl season by the rookie. Reid picked off Aaron Rodgers in his debut and started all 16 games, finishing with 4 INTs. He started 31 games the next two seasons but only 10 in 2016 before he went on IR.
OT Justin Pugh, Giants
Pugh, selected out of Syracuse, started all 16 games as a rookie and allowed only three sacks. He started 14 games each of the next two seasons but moved from right tackle to left guard after New York drafted Ereck Flowers with the No. 9 pick in 2015. Pugh was limited to 11 starts in 2016.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
G Kyle Long, Bears
Long, the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long, was the first guard the Bears drafted in the first round since 1960. He rewarded their faith in him with three straight Pro Bowl seasons, despite moving to tackle in 2015. Chicago signed him through 2021, but Long struggled through injuries for eight games in 2016 before being shut down, as the Bears stumbled to a 3-13 season.
Still, he's one of the closest things to a cornerstone player to come out of this first round.
TE Tyler Eifert, Bengals
The Notre Dame standout was the top tight end in the draft and after missing almost the entire 2014 season due to injury, he had a breakout 2015 with 13 touchdowns and was voted to the Pro Bowl. But he suffered an ankle injury in the game that sidelined him for the first eight games of 2016, and that, plus injuries to A.J. Green and Gio Bernard, contributed to the Bengals missing the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
CB Desmond Trufant, Falcons
Trufant, one of three brothers who all have played cornerback in the NFL, started all 16 games in each of his first three seasons and was voted a Pro Bowl alternate in 2015. However, he missed Atlanta's run to the Super Bowl in 2016 after going on IR with a shoulder injury in Week 10. But the Falcons like Trufant so much that they gave him a $69 million extension earlier this month, with $42 million guaranteed.
DT Sharrif Floyd, Vikings
Floyd, an All-American at Florida, had 9.5 sacks in his first three seasons, emerging as a starter before missing almost all of 2016 with a knee injury. Worse, Floyd suffered nerve damage during the resulting surgery, making his return to football unclear.
DE Bjorn Werner, Colts
Werner was one of a record 11 foreign-born players taken in this draft, and perhaps that was too many. The German, who was an All-American at Florida State, started 15 games in 2014 and showed promise with 50 tackles and four sacks. But he was a non-factor in the playoffs and inactive for the AFC championship game. He lost his starting job the next season and was waived after making just 13 tackles in 10 games. The Jags signed him but released him before the 2016 season, and Werner announced he was retiring due to injuries.
CB Xavier Rhodes, Vikings
Rhodes was the Vikings' second pick of the first round and Florida State's third, tying Alabama for most. He set a rookie record with 23 passes defensed in just 13 games (six starts). Rhodes started all 16 games each of the next two seasons, helping Minnesota's pass defense improve from 31st to seventh in 2014. He had another team record with a 100-yard interception return in 2016, one of five picks he had in a Pro Bowl season.
DE Datone Jones, Packers
Jones, an athletic pass rusher out of UCLA, appeared in 59 games in four years with Green Bay but made just seven starts. His limited role made him expendable, and the Vikings signed him to a one-year contract in March.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsAndrew Weber
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Hopkins left Clemson with school records for receiving yards (3,020) and touchdown catches (27), and Houston drafted him to pair him with star receiver Andre Johnson. Despite having different starting QBs in his first four seasons, Hopkins emerged as the Texans' top receiver with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2015 with 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 TDs. However, his numbers dropped dramatically in 2016 with Brock Osweiler throwing to him. As a result, Hopkins will have a new QB throwing to him in 2017.
DT Sylvester Williams, Broncos
Williams, an All-American at North Carolina, joined a good Broncos team that reached the Super Bowl in his rookie season. He emerged as a starter the next three seasons as the Denver defense ranked No. 1 in 2015 and was the backbone of the Broncos' Super Bowl win. But Williams' modest numbers and the Broncos' backslide in 2016 led them to let Williams go, and he signed a three-year deal with the Titans.
Denver is one of eight teams that no longer have a single player from the 2013 draft on their rosters. The others: Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, Oakland, Tennessee.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
Patterson, a receiver and return man out of Tennessee, was the Vikings' third pick of the first round, and they sent four picks to the Patriots to take him. He scored an NFL-record 109-yard kickoff return as a rookie and made the Pro Bowl as a return man. However, he lost his starting job to seventh-round pick Charles Johnson the following year as he failed to click with new QB Teddy Bridgewater and his numbers dropped. Patterson was mostly limited to returning kicks in 2015, but got a second chance at receiver in 2016 and had a bounce-back season to earn another Pro Bowl nod. After playing with a handful of QBs in Minnesota, he'll get a chance to really show what he can do now, joining Derek Carr and the Raiders this offseason.
(Note: The Pats used two of those picks on LB Jamie Collins and CB Logan Ryan. Well done, Belichick.)
LB Alec Ogletree, Rams
Ogletree, an inside linebacker who teamed with Jarvis Jones at Georgia, started all 16 games each of his first two seasons and topped 100 tackles in both. He was limited to four games in 2015 due to a broken leg but bounced back for a career-high 136 tackles in 2016 and was voted second-team All-Pro.
C Travis Frederick, Cowboys
Frederick, an All-American from Wisconsin, was the ninth offensive lineman taken in the first round, tying a record, and he might be the best. Dallas actually traded down to get Frederick, and then snagged receiver Terrence Williams with the third-round pick it received from San Francisco. Frederick set a team rookie record by starting every game and became a mainstay on the best O-line in the league, earning Pro Bowl honors each of the past three seasons despite working with four QBs in 2015 and rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016. He and Hopkins are the only first-rounders to start every game since being drafted, and Dallas gave Frederick a six-year, $56.4 million contract extension in 2016.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsMatthew Emmons
S Matt Elam, Ravens
Elam, an All-American out of Florida, was drafted as the replacement for Ed Reed and started 15 games as a rookie but struggled the following season and missed all of 2015 with a torn biceps. He started 2016 on IR before being activated for the final nine games but didn't make a start and had just four tackles. Following a February arrest, Baltimore announced "Matt is not in our plans for the 2017 Ravens."