2013 NFL Draft Retrospective: Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel

NFL teams have only so much money and draft picks with which to build a team, so making good decisions is paramount. Matt Weston, in his first piece for Inside the Pylon, looks at the biggest busts of the 2013 draft – offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel.

Weston will look in depth at Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, both in pass protection and the run game, breaking down the reasons for their struggles. Part 2 explores Fisher’s play strength and pass blocking. In Part 3, Fisher in the running game will be assessed. In Part 4, Joeckel’s pass blocking and run game performance is broken down.

Player Round Pick Approximate Value
Eddie Lacy (GB) 2 61 26
Le’Veon Bell (PIT) 2 48 25
Kyle Long (CHI) 1 20 21
David Bakhtiari (GB) 4 109 19
D.J. Fluker (SD) 1 11 18
Alec Ogletree (STL) 1 30 17
Giovani Bernard (CIN) 2 37 16
Keenan Allen (SD) 3 76 16
Ezekiel Ansah (DET) 1 5 15

The 2013 NFL draft was malformed. Before anyone was even selected it was criticized as one of the worst drafts in a decade, but this isn’t completely true; it has produced productive players – such as stars like Le’Veon Bell and Keenan Allen – though they came later in the draft.

The best players selected in 2013, though, were taken outside the top 10, which is both odd and interesting. When looking at approximate value, a metric created by Pro Football Reference to differentiate players’ contributions over a group of seasons, the first player drafted in the actual top 10 to show up is Ezekiel Ansah, who is tied for ninth with an AV of 15. The last draft where a top 10 player ranks this low was 2005 – the draft best known for Aaron Rodgers falling to Green Bay at the 24th spot – where Alex Smith, taken No. 1 by San Francisco, is 11th in AV.

The top picks of the 2013 draft can be put into two categories: players who haven’t been on the field enough; and those who have but haven’t performed at a high level.

Player Pick Games Approximate Value
Eric Fisher 1 38 14
Luke Joeckel 2 26 8
Dion Jordan 3 26 3
Lane Johnson 4 35 13
Ezekiel Ansah 5 38 15
Barkevious Mingo 6 39 9
Jonathan Cooper 7 18 1
Tavon Austin 8 35 10
Dee Milliner 9 16 6
Chance Warmack 10 37 14

Milliner, Cooper, and Jordan have either been injured, suspended, or haven’t played enough. Aside from Ansah, everyone ranges from below average to adequate. When teams pick in the top 10, they are expecting to come away with a significant contributor, not a fine or average player.

The top two picks of the 2013 draft, Fisher and Joeckel, are watching the metaphorical sand drain from the hourglass. Here are Football Outsiders’ charting numbers from the last two seasons:

Eric Fisher

Pos Year GS Snaps Pen Sks Pass Run ALY T ALY E
RT 2013 14/13 789 6 7 28 5 4.35 (6th) 4.35 (5th)
LT 2014 16/16 1,006 9 5 20.3 2.3 3.38 (26th) 4.26 (10th)

Luke Joeckel

Pos Year GS Snaps Pen Sks Pass Run ALY T ALY E
LT/RT 2013 5/5 272 2 2 11.5 3 3.67 (19th) 3.22 (25th)
LT 2014 16/16 982 5 8.5 21.3 4 3.4 (25th) 3.81 (17th)

(Pass and Run are the number of blown blocks, ALY stands for adjusted line yards, and the values are for the position where they primarily started that year.)

Neither player has even been average since they entered the league. Each has had issues protecting the passer, giving up more than five sacks, and blowing more than 20 blocks last season. In the ground game, their teams ranked in the bottom quarter of the league when running behind their spot on the line.

Kansas City and Jacksonville were hoping for a pro bowler. They have instead endured growing pains and below average performance from players who are starting simply because of when they were chosen.

Fisher and Joeckel have each played significant snaps this year and the film will reveal if they have developed any further.

With 256 players being drafted every year and teams using undrafted free agents more often as a cost controlled way to round out the roster, the time is ticking on the top 10 players in the 2013 NFL draft. No matter the pedigree, or draft position, there’s only so much time and attention a team will give a player – unless you are Michael Griffin. The top two players selected in 2013 are no different.

In Part 2, we look at Eric Fisher’s play strength and pass blocking.

Follow Matt on Twitter @Mbw987.

Inside The Pylon covers the NFL and college football, reviewing the film, breaking down matchups, and looking at the issues, on and off the field.

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