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2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Week 5

In a bit of a down week the Tennessee/#5 Georgia matchup will be featured not only as the top game of the week to watch for draft-eligible prospects with upwards of ten players that could be selected in the first three rounds with most of them being potential first-round picks, but it will also showcase the best head to head matchup, well sort of, as Volunteers QB Tyler Bray will have to navigate his offense against a star-studded next-level Georgia defense that includes the #1 ranked draft-eligible prospect, OLB Jarvis Jones.

While it will unfortunately be on at the same time you should also keep an eye on the #14 Ohio State/#20 Michigan State game as it will include four top 60 prospects in OSU DT Johnathan Hankins and DE John Simon along with MSU DE William Gholston and RB Le’Veon Bell. Hankins is ranked among the top ten draft eligible prospects on most boards, while Gholston is rated as a likely late first round pick at the moment.

Best Head to Head Matchup to Watch: Tennessee QB Tyler Bray vs. Georgia’s NFL Defense @ Sanford Stadium

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: Tennessee Volunteers vs. #5 Georgia Bulldogs @ Sanford Stadium

Tyler Bray’s draft stock could be determined on Saturday. That is when he’ll face Georgia’s vaunted defense that features multiple highly rated prospects that will be playing on Sundays in the very near future. Bray has certainly looked the part of a future first round pick this season in leading the NCAA with 12 touchdown passes (Matt Barkley, Geno Smith and Seth Doege also have 12) while racking up 1301 passing yards, good for third in the nation. One of the biggest knocks on him has been his decision-making and he’s certainly showed improvement in that area throwing just three interceptions so far this year. He is a gun-slinger type quarterback with arguably the strongest arm in the class. He’s most often compared to Chicago’s Jay Cutler and it is an apt comparison as he does possess a number of the same qualities as Cutler, both good and bad. A great performance on Saturday against Georgia’s next level defense could not only lock Bray in as a first round pick, but could also send him flying up draft boards into the top five of the draft depending on how well he plays. The offensive weapons for him to succeed are at his disposal with one of the best wide receiver tandems in the nation in top-15 ranked prospect Justin Hunter and the fast rising Cordarrelle Patterson, who has made a major impact in his first four games with Tennessee after transferring from junior college. The duo has reminded scouts of former high first round picks A.J Green (Hunter) and Julio Jones (Patterson). The 6’4”, 205lb. Hunter is in a battle this season with the likes of California’s Keenan Allen and USC’s Robert Woods to be the first receiver selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. He combines great size and speed with elite hands and leaping ability. Hunter is able to use his size to outmuscle defensive backs on the inside, particularly when running a slant which he excels at a lot like Brandon Marshall, or on the outside going deep where he’s able to go up and get any ball thrown his way. There was concern coming into this season about his health after he tore his ACL last year, but he has recovered nicely and has not shown any lingering effects in his play through the first four games. It didn’t take long for Cordarrelle Patterson to show the Tennessee faithful what all the fuss was about with an electrifying first half performance in the season opener versus North Carolina State. Another big, fast wide out like his teammate Hunter, Patterson attacks defensive backs at the line before he blows past them deep with his deceptive speed. He also possesses excellent hands and leaping ability. If Patterson can continue to play at the level he currently is, he will definitely continue his march up draft boards towards joining his teammates in the first round. Those three aren’t the Volunteers’ only potential first round picks as LT/LG Dallas Thomas has started to be brought up in late first round discussions. Before starting the first four games of this season at left guard, Thomas had started 25 straight games at left tackle. He is an excellent athlete that plays with good quickness and leverage. He possesses very good balance and flexibility, but does lack the foot speed to consistently handle the faster pass-rushers. He should excel inside where he can be better protected, but because of his athleticism he could be able to eventually transition back to the left tackle position.

Every year now it seems that we’re talking about how good the Alabama and LSU defenses are and how stacked they are with draft-eligible prospects and that is no different this year, except that the best and most talented defense this season may reside in Georgia. The Bulldogs defense features four potential first round picks and as many as eight possible draft picks. Among those rated in the first round is OLB Jarvis Jones, who ranks as the #1 draft-eligible prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft and the best pass-rusher in the nation. Jones is an absolute terror on the field that wreaks havoc in the opponents’ backfield all game long. He’s already recorded 4.5 sacks in limited duty in blowouts of Buffalo, Missouri and Vanderbilt this year and has racked up 17.5 sacks in his last 17 games. An explosive pass-rusher, Jones has been brought up as a 3-4 outside linebacker in his time at Georgia, but so far this season he has started to show his versatility in being lined up all over the Bulldogs’ front seven. He’s shown that he’s not just a pass-rusher, but an every down linebacker that can stop the run and drop into coverage when called to. Jones has a great shot at being the first player selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. In that front seven with Jones are potential first-rounders, DT John Jenkins and ILB Alec Ogletree. Jenkins is a massive man at 6’3, 358lbs. with the athleticism to move and make plays across the line of scrimmage. He is much more than your standard take up the middle nose tackle. Jenkins displays great agility, balance and footwork to go with his incredible strength. He’s able to take on double and triple teams, while still being a major factor in getting to the quarterback. He’s being ranked all over the first round. Ogletree has yet to play this season, but will return for this matchup with Tennessee after serving a four game suspension to the start the year. Despite missing the first third of the season scouts have not stopped talking about the star inside linebacker. Ogletree is an elite linebacker with the ability and vision to cover the whole field and pursue ball-carriers sideline to sideline. He possesses the long arms NFL teams want in their linebackers and has shown that he can also make plays behind the line of scrimmage, which has some scouts wondering about moving him to the outside as a pass-rusher. While Tennessee may have the best pair of wide outs in the nation, the Bulldogs boast arguably the best safety tandem in SS Shawn Williams and FS Bacarri Rambo. Williams is an elite playmaking safety with excellent awareness and instincts. He possesses the ball skills (4 interceptions, 6 pass break-ups in 2011) to change the game, while still providing a stabilizing force against the run. Williams has received some first round buzz, but is more likely a second round pick. Rambo will make his season debut on Saturday after serving the same four-game suspension as Ogletree. He is Georgia’s safety valve always patrolling the back end allowing for Williams to be the risk-taker and make the headlines with the big play. Rambo is extremely solid and should be a late third/early fourth round pick. The rest of Georgia’s draft eligible prospects all look like Day Three selections and include QB Aaron Murray, DT Abry Jones, OLB Cornellius Washington, CB Branden Smith and WR Tavarres King. Murray is a good quarterback with the arm strength and athleticism to play in the NFL and probably has the best chance of this group of moving into the second day of the draft, but his lack of NFL prototype size will likely cause him to fall into the fourth or fifth round.

Written By: Mark Scott

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2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Week 4

The college football season is just starting to really get going as the in-conference part of the schedule is now underway and more of the top teams and top prospects will start to get on the field with one another. This week’s head to head matchups won’t feature any prospects directly defending one another, but will instead showcase a pair of battles involving five marquee players that will be in direct competition with each other for early draft position and to be the first selected at their individual position. The first matchup to watch will be LSU’s pair of elite pass-rushers, OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo and DE Sam Montgomery as they’ll put their skills on display while Auburn’s DE/OLB Corey Lemonier will do the same on the other side of the field. In the second matchup, two of the top three wide receivers in the nation will do battle as USC’s Robert Woods and California’s Keenan Allen will try to out do one another with every ball thrown their way. And in the feature game of the week #10 Clemson will head to Tallahassee to take on #4 Florida State in the ACC’s game of the year and one that will include highly ranked prospects like Bjoern Werner, Xavier Rhodes and Andre Ellington.

Best Head to Head Matchup to Watch: LSU OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo and DE Sam Montgomery vs. Auburn DE/OLB Corey Lemonier @ Jordan Hare Stadium, USC WR Robert Woods vs. California WR Keenan Allen @ Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Three of the top pass-rushers in the nation will be on the field together on Saturday. LSU’s Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery along with Auburn’s Corey Lemonier all rank among the top fifteen draft eligible prospects with Mingo being considered as high as the top three. Mingo might be the most raw of the three given that he didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school, but he’s also the most naturally gifted pass-rusher and probably has the highest ceiling. As a former track star, it’s Mingo’s speed that really sets him apart as he is able to explode off the snap and fly past the offensive lineman he’s lined up against and get to the quarterback. Mingo is a physical freak with good height and exceptionally long arms that allow him to be quite effective at knocking the ball down in what appear to be open passing lanes. In just a short amount of time, he has displayed the awareness and instincts of a kid who has played the game his entire life. Scouts love his combination of size, speed and athleticism which allows him the versatility to play multiple positions among the front seven. Across from Mingo stands Sam Montgomery, LSU’s 6’5, 260lb. sack leader in 2011. After tearing the ACL in his right knee in 2010, Montgomery came back with a fury last year as team’s featured pass-rusher often taking on the opponent’s best blocker. He’s a big-time playmaker with great speed and a good frame to go with his hard-working attitude. Montgomery has the look of a natural 4-3 defensive end at the next level and still has a lot of room to get even better. While Mingo and Montgomery are just two of LSU’s star-studded defense, Corey Lemonier is the lone standout on Auburn’s defense and his play often determines whether they’ll be able to win the game or not. He carries the load of their defense and is often relied upon to come up with big play after big play to keep Auburn in the game. While he plays as a 4-3 defensive end in college, he projects better as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL given his lack of ideal size. He’s an explosive pass-rusher with a bevy of exciting skills that allow him to get into the backfield and make a play on the quarterback or ball-carrier. He doesn’t just live in the opponent’s backfield as he is also able to make some of his best plays chasing ball-carriers further downfield. All three are among the best at their position and should be expected to come off the board early in this pass-rusher filled draft.

While a trio of pass-rushers will be on display on one side of the country, a pair of star wide receivers will be the focus on the other side. USC’s Robert Woods and California’s Keenan Allen will showcase their exceptional talents and do battle for top spot among draft-eligible wide outs. Like the trio of SEC pass-rushers, Woods and Allen both rank among the top fifteen or so prospects on most draft boards along with Tennessee WR Justin Hunter. Both Woods and Allen catch the ball with ease and are as dependable as you can get, but they are different types of receiver from one another. Woods is the smaller of the two and relies more on his quickness and intelligence and is probably the more dynamic playmaker. Woods is able to use his outstanding route running to be effective in the slot, while he also has the speed to stretch the defense deep and has shown the uncanny ability to make extraordinary plays along the sidelines and in the corners of the end zone. Allen on the other hand is a big, strong down the field wide receiver that uses his size advantage, athleticism and strong hands to outmuscle smaller defensive backs and go up and get the football. Allen has the look of a Vincent Jackson-type of receiver should he add a few more pounds of muscle to his frame. As for Saturday night, Allen will have the tougher task of the two to look good as he’ll have to line up against USC CB Nickell Robey, who ranks among the top-100 prospects while also keeping an eye out for one of the top safeties in the nation in FS T.J. McDonald.

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: #10 Clemson Tigers vs. #4 Florida State Seminoles @ Doak Campbell Stadium

The game of the year in the ACC between Clemson and Florida State will go down Saturday night in prime time with a national television audience. The stage couldn’t be much bigger for a regular season game for the draft eligible prospects competing as the majority of NFL scouts will be watching. There are quite a few notable prospects between these two schools with probably at least five players that could go in the first few rounds of the draft. Florida State features perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the draft in DE Bjoern Werner. The German-born pass-rusher has quickly made a name for himself over the past season and a bit putting up some fantastic numbers including 6.5 sacks already through the first three games of this season. Werner is a strong, powerful pass-rusher, but also uses his strength just as well when facing the run. He possesses an endless motor and an incredible passion for the sport. He’s currently being rated all over the place by different scouts from as high as the top ten to further down draft boards, but it seems that the majority of scouts view him as a first round talent. All eyes will be firmly on him now that his teammate and FSU’s leading sack artist from 2011, DE Brandon Jenkins is out for the season with a foot injury. He will now be the main focus of opposing offensive lines and defensive coordinators and is likely to face more and more double teams from here on out. How he handles himself without Jenkins, who would’ve likely been a second round pick before his season-ending injury, will have a major effect on where he might land in the draft. The injury to Jenkins has not only affected Werner, but also senior DE Cornellius Carradine, who’s moved into the starting lineup and has quickly generated buzz and consideration among the top-100 prospects. He’s a talented, versatile pass-rusher from either side of the line that has shown an ability to repeatedly get to the quarterback. After Werner, CB Xavier Rhodes is FSU’s next top prospect and a potential second round selection. An imposing, physical corner, Rhodes is about the last guy receivers want to face. He likes to get aggressive and rough up opposing wide outs immediately off the line of scrimmage and is a more than willing tackler and big hitter. The best thing is he’s a great cover corner too. He’ll definitely be tested Saturday night, especially with his speed as Clemson features two blazing fast receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.  DT Everett Dawkins is also a player to watch for the Seminoles and could be a potential late third round pick.

For Clemson, they have a pair of talented playmakers to watch in WR Hopkins and RB Andre Ellington for the 2013 NFL Draft. They would have a third, if the team’s best player, WR Sammy Watkins was draft-eligible, but the super sophomore will have to wait until at least the 2014 draft. Hopkins is an extremely fast wide receiver that is devastating with the ball in open space. He has fantastic footwork and body control that allow him to make defenders miss and extend plays for more yards after the catch. That body control along with his large hands allow him to go up and make the difficult catches look easy. He’s not completely polished just yet and still needs to improve his route-running, but Hopkins is sure to intrigue some teams selecting in the second or third round. One of the top running backs available for the 2013 draft, Andre Ellington finally has his chance to shine as the featured back in a high scoring offense after battling for playing time with former teammates C.J. Spiller and Jamie Harper over the past three years. Speaking of Spiller, Ellington is very much the same player, although not quite as talented, but the success that his former teammate is having this year in the NFL should only help give a little boost to his draft stock. A speed back with the ability to make oncoming tacklers miss and hit the homerun play, Ellington is a dynamic playmaker whether running the ball or catching passes out of the backfield. He too should be a Day 2 draft pick.

These two teams also feature interesting quarterback prospects in FSU’s EJ Manuel and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. Manuel appears to possess all the raw physical abilities that one would want in a quarterback including NFL prototype size and arm strength, but he has yet to live up to his immense potential despite quite a bit of playing time over the his collegiate career. In his final year of eligibility, he really has to show scouts that he finally understands what it takes to be a potential NFL quarterback. Leading Florida State to a National Title this season could do just that. For now, he sits as a possible Day 2 selection. But that’s also predicated on him showing improvement in multiple areas this season.  Tajh Boyd might have been the best player through the first eight games of last year before struggling the rest of the way specifically with his decision-making. He possesses an intriguing combination of skills including the arm strength and mobility to play at the next level, but also lacks the size most NFL teams want in their quarterback. The opportunity is there for Boyd to thrust his name into the same discussions as higher rated quarterbacks with one of the best supporting casts of offensive weapons and one of the top offensive coordinators in the sport. I expect Boyd to make the improvements necessary in his game, but I also expect to see him back at Clemson for another year of seasoning. If he does in fact enter the draft, I see him as probably a third round prospect right now.

Written By: Mark Scott

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2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Week 3

The third week of the college football season brings some excellent prospect matchups to watch beginning with an SEC slugfest between Alabama and Arkansas that could feature up to fifteen or more potential NFL draft picks including a number of possible first round selections. That will be followed by a fantastic and extremely physical head to head battle between Notre Dame ILB Manti Te’o and Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell, both of which could be taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Best Head to Head Matchup to Watch: Notre Dame ILB Manti Te’o vs. Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell @ Spartan Stadium

More often than not Notre Dame and Michigan State are great games and this year should be no different as both teams rank among the top 20 in the nation. The spotlight matchup to watch in this game and this weekend will be the leader of Notre Dame’s defense, ILB Manti Te’o as he tries to shut down Michigan State’s stud running back Le’Veon Bell.  This should be one of the more physical head to head battles between two draft eligible prospects all year as Te’o and Bell will line up across from one another and repeatedly meet somewhere in between all game long. Both players are earning first round buzz. Te’o ranks among the fifteen best prospects available for the 2013 NFL Draft and actually could have been a first round pick in this year’s past draft before choosing to return to Notre Dame for his senior season. He’s an intense, attacking defender with the speed and range to cover and make plays sideline to sideline. Extremely productive, experienced and with a high football I.Q., he projects as an immediate starter at the next level. In perhaps his toughest test of the season, Te’o will be tasked with stopping the Spartans’ star ball-carrier, Le’Veon Bell. A massive running back at 6’2, 245lbs, Bell is definitely a power back that has the size and ability to run over defenders, but also possesses the speed and footwork to make oncoming tacklers miss. He has displayed a good pair of hands out of the backfield as well (35 rec. for 267yds in 2011). A productive backup the past two seasons, Bell is now the star attraction on Michigan State’s offense and began this season with a breakout performance (44 carries for 210yds/6 catches for 55yds) against Boise State that has thrown his name into early Heisman Trophy discussions. While it’s still early in the season he seems to have emerged from a group of four or five backs as the second best option behind Marcus Lattimore and as a possible late first round selection. There are a number of other draft eligible prospects worth watching in this game too like Michigan State’s DE William Gholston (first-round) and CB Johnny Adams (Second/Third-round) as well as Notre Dame’s TE Tyler Eifert (second-round).

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Arkansas Razorbacks @ Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium

This should have been the first real game of the year type matchup, but Arkansas’ loss to lowly Louisiana-Monroe last weekend and historical drop out of the rankings along with an injury to QB Tyler Wilson has taken some of the luster out of this matchup. Regardless this game will still feature upwards of fifteen potential 2103 draft picks between both teams. Now Alabama was featured in my Week One column, but since then a couple of their prospects have made moves on various draft boards. Most notably CB Dee Milliner has skyrocketed up the ranks into first round discussions and may now be considered the top corner available after his strong play in the first two weeks along with North Carolina State’s David Amerson looking highly overrated. Milliner is a big corner that in limited playing time has shown solid coverage skills along with good instincts and balls skills. He’s not the only one to move up draft boards as scouts have started to take more notice of QB A.J McCarron, who has looked pretty good so far this season, although he’ll be in tough to move up too far with such a good crop of quarterbacks available. It’s not all good news as RB Eddie Lacy, who some were wondering if he could make a push this season with more carries and a great year to be the third consecutive Crimson Tide running back to be selected in the first round probably won’t make that move now with freshman T.J. Yeldon looking like he’s going to be getting the bulk of the work for Alabama. That’s a shame given that he would be rushing behind three potential first round offensive linemen in OG Chance Warmack, OL Barrett Jones and RT D.J. Fluker, who give Alabama the best offensive line in the nation. For more on these three and the rest of Alabama’s top prospects check back to my Week One column.

It’s no secret that Arkansas’s main attraction is QB Tyler Wilson. The Razorbacks’ signal-caller came into this season as a potential top ten pick and Matt Barkley’s biggest competition for the top spot among quarterbacks. Wilson is certainly still in those discussions, but a concussion suffered last week could set him back and will cause him to miss at least this week’s game. Wilson possesses a strong, accurate arm along with excellent poise and toughness in the pocket. His return to full health will be closely watched by scouts throughout the rest of the season. Another Arkansas prospect whose return to full health is being closely monitored is RB Knile Davis, who suffered a season-ending broken ankle right before the start of last season. Davis looked incredible in 2010 drawing comparisons to former Razorback and current Raider RB Darren McFadden. Blessed with many of the same skills as McFadden, Davis is a physical freak built to be a feature back. He’s yet to really show that he’s fully recovered with a pair of oh-hum games to begin the year and will need to start putting together a few breakout performances to work his way back up to anywhere close to where he was at the end of 2010. Following Wilson and Davis are a group of potential mid-round selections to keep an eye on in interior offensive linemen OG Alvin Bailey and OC Travis Swanson along with WR Cobi Hamilton and OLB Alonzo Highsmith.

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Week 2

The second week of the college football season won’t feature the type of high profile matchup like we saw in Week 1 with David Amerson and Justin Hunter, however there is a pair of intriguing battles happening this weekend when LSU’s Zach Mettenberger has to throw passes into a Washington secondary led by potential first round pick Desmond Trufant while an under the radar matchup on Friday night between one of the draft’s top rated players, Utah’s Star Lotulelei and Utah State’s Tyler Larsen will take place in the trenches. The best game to watch this weekend for your prospect fix will definitely be Texas A&M’s SEC debut against Florida. The Aggies will have three potential first round picks on display in offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews along with pass rusher Sean Porter. On the other side, the Gators will have a myriad of players that should be taken throughout the draft, although a couple of their top prospects like SS Matt Elam and DT Sharrif Floyd may choose to wait until the 2014 NFL Draft.

Best Head to Head Matchups: Washington CB Desmond Trufant vs. LSU QB Zach Mettenberger @ Tiger Stadium and Utah NT Star Lotulelei vs. Utah State C Tyler Larsen @ Romney Stadium

The top head to head matchup to watch this weekend will be between LSU QB Zach Mettenberger and Washington CB Desmond Trufant. Mettenberger is the most physically talented quarterback that LSU has had since former 2007 first overall pick JaMarcus Russell. He has NFL prototype size at 6’5”, 230lbs with a big arm and the talent to lead LSU back to the National Title game. Mettenberger may be a better candidate for the 2014 NFL Draft as he just made his first start for LSU last week and is lacking in high level experience (Started 12 games for Butler Community College in 2010). Getting more experience should lead him to improving his decision-making, especially when facing heavy pressure, which he had problems with vs. North Texas in the season opener. He will face his first real big test on Saturday when he will have to throw passes into a Washington secondary featuring CB Desmond Trufant. A potential first round pick and one of the top corners available for the 2013 NFL Draft, Trufant is the younger brother of Marcus (Seattle Seahawks) and Isaiah Trufant (New York Jets). NFL eyes have been on him since he stepped on to the Campus in Washington and he’s done nothing to disappoint. He’s put together three outstanding seasons after starting as a true freshman with each year better than the last. He’s displayed next level cover ability and the ball skills and instincts to make game changing plays. He continues to make major strides in his game and it won’t be a shock to hear his name on the first day of the draft.

While Mettenberger and Trufant will take center stage, an under the radar matchup to check out will happen Friday night when Utah NT Star Lotulelei and Utah State C Tyler Larsen go head to head in the trenches of one of the longest standing rivalries in college football. Lotulelei came into this season with a ton of hype as one of top rated draft eligible prospects and for good reason. He may not put up eye-catching numbers, but his play certainly catches the eye of everyone watching as he blows up play after play despite facing double and triple-teams on every down. His combination of athleticism and massive size has scouts drawing favorable comparisons to Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, a player every team in the NFL wants. Tyler Larsen won’t be a first round pick or anything close to one, but he is one of the top centers in the nation and finds himself on the 2012 Rimington Award Watch List (Top center in the Nation). He’s a rock in the middle for the Aggies with a ton of starting experience and possesses great technique and footwork. This should be one heck of a battle between these two on Friday night.

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: #24 Florida vs. Texas A&M @ Kyle Field

The best game to watch for draft eligible prospects this weekend will be the debut of Texas A&M in the SEC when they welcome the Florida Gators to town. The Aggies boast a trio of potential first round draft choices in offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews as well as pass rushing outside linebacker Sean Porter. Joeckel and Matthews make up the best offensive tackle tandem in the nation. Joeckel mans the all important left tackle position and is the top offensive lineman in the draft. He isn’t quite a finished product, but he’s pretty darn close. He possesses the size and athleticism to play the blind side at the next level along with the experience after starting immediately as a true freshman and ever since. If there’s an offensive tackle that can ascend into the top five of the draft, it’ll be Joeckel. Matthews is the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and is the top right tackle prospect in the country. He is a strong, physical run blocker that plays with a mean streak that he puts on display every time he throws a defensive lineman to the ground and opens up a huge running lane. He has first round talent, but because he plays the less heralded right tackle position he could fall into the early second round. He too is experienced after winning the starting right tackle job midway through his true freshman season. Sean Porter is the leader of the Aggies’ defense and has drawn comparisons to his former teammate and 2011 second overall pick Von Miller. He’s very similar in size, speed and athleticism to Miller and plays the same type of hybrid pass rusher role from a 4-3 outside linebacker position. He’s not quite the natural pass rusher that Miller is, but he makes up for it with his ability to better pursue ball-carriers from sideline to sideline and drop into coverage on passing downs. It will be very interesting to see how high teams value Porter in comparison to Miller. After their top three prospects Texas A&M also has a pair of offensive playmakers in RB Christine Michael and WR Ryan Swope. Both look like mid round selections.

The 2012 NFL Draft was one to forget for the Florida Gators as they had just two players selected, neither among the top-100 picks. The 2013 draft might not be much different if Florida’s top prospects choose to return to school for another season. However, if they do choose to forgo another season in Gainesville then the Gators’ should be well represented at the 2013 draft. Currently rated as the top strong safety prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft, Matt Elam lived up his considerable hype as a high school recruit following a stand out season last year. Athletic and versatile, he has the ability to make all the plays required for the position whether dropping into coverage or moving up near the line of scrimmage to defend the run or rush the quarterback. Should he decide to enter the draft, he’ll be in a battle with the likes of Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) and Robert Lester (Alabama) for a spot as the top strong safety available, likely somewhere on Day Two. Sharrif Floyd is Florida’s next best prospect behind Elam and like Elam, he could be better off waiting for the 2014 draft. Floyd is a traditional defensive tackle, although he did start for the Gators at defensive end last season due to a lack at depth on the outside, but will be back on the inside this year. He possesses a great burst off the line and uses his raw power and talented hands to get into opposing backfields. Due to his ability to play inside and outside in a 4-3 defense, he will draw interest as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.  Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic are talented and fast attacking linebackers that should receive attention from traditional 4-3 defenses. Jenkins is the more talented and experienced of the two and will draw comparisons to the group of smaller 4-3 linebackers that went in the 2012 NFL draft in second round selections, Mychal Kendricks (Philadelphia) and LaVonte David (Tampa Bay). The team’s top Senior prospect is offensive tackle Xavier Nixon. He has the size of the NFL prototype left tackle with a naturally large frame and long arms. As a true freshman he looked like a potential star, but injuries and inconsistencies in the last couple of seasons have seen his stock decline. Nixon has shown he has the potential, but will need to show that he can stay healthy and play with more consistency this year if he wants to improve his draft stock among a very impressive group of draft eligible offensive tackles. Center/Guard Jonothan Harrison is also a prospect to keep any eye on, but I expect he’ll be back next season for another year in school.

Written By: Mark Scott