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2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: BOWL GAMES PART 3 (DEC.31)

College Bowl mania continues on New Year’s Eve Day with four good games to watch for draft-eligible players with a combined fifteen top 100 prospects spread throughout the day. The slate of games will include teams like LSU, USC, Clemson and North Carolina State. In fact LSU and USC could each have up to eight prospects potentially selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. Some of the very top prospects playing in these bowls include quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Mike Glennon, wide receivers Robert Woods and DeAndre Hopkins and the LSU pass-rushing duo of Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery.

FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL, DECEMBER 31/2012

North Carolina State Wolf Pack (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4)

The Wolf Pack and Commodores will kick of New Year’s Eve Day in a battle of ACC against SEC with three possible Day 2 prospects in action. North Carolina State QB Mike Glennon (rJr) is the top prospect in this game and the one that scouts will have most of their focus on. He’s a big quarterback with good height and excellent arm strength, but he has struggled with his decision-making and still needs a lot of work. He’s a solid prospect with very good upside and could come off the board in the second round. Glennon has an excellent chance to make a move up the quarterback draft class rankings with Geno Smith’s awful New Era Pinstripe Bowl performance, Matt Barkley injured and out of USC’s bowl game and SEC quarterbacks Tyler Wilson and Tyler Bray not even involved in a bowl game this season. CB David Amerson (Jr) suffered one of the most dramatic falls down draft board of any player this season after coming into the year as a consensus top five prospect. It all started in the opener against Tennessee when he was lit up and exposed by Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson and it’s been downhill from there.  He hasn’t been horrible this year, but he hasn’t been anywhere near the form he showed as a sophomore in 2011 when he amassed 13 interceptions. He has rare height and length for a corner with good cover ability and possesses terrific ball skills and instincts. His speed is the major question surrounding him and he could be viewed as a possible safety prospect despite playing his entire collegiate career as an effective corner.  Whether he’s drafted as a corner or a safety, Amerson is one of the better defensive backs in the draft and has some serious upside. Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews (Jr) was outstanding this season establishing a team record 1262 receiving yards on 87 catches in being named to the 2012 All-SEC First-Team.  He has good size and decent speed with a knack for the big play. He’s considered a better football player than an athlete and could be a solid addition to any NFL wide receivers corps. He could come off the board in the late third/early fourth round. All three prospects have the option of returning to school for another season and it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see any of them back playing on Saturdays in the fall. Late round hopefuls include North Carolina State SS Earl Wolff (rSr) and FS Brandan Bishop (Sr) and Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers (rSr) and RB Zac Stacy (Sr).

HYUNDAI SUN BOWL, DECEMBER 31/2012

USC Trojans (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7)

It seems like everything is right in the college football world now that USC is back playing in a bowl game again, even if it’s not the one they had hoped for at beginning of the season. USC’s not just back in a bowl, but they’re back with eight potential draft picks on their roster. It wasn’t the senior season QB Matt Barkley (Sr) had hoped for when he chose to return for his last year of school passing on an opportunity to be a likely top five pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Trojans quickly fell out of the National Championship picture, Barkley struggled to maintain an elite level of play and his no.1 prospect ranking before finishing the season with a shoulder injury which will keep him out of this game. Barkley has all the technique and intangibles on and off the field, but lacks the elite athleticism, arm strength and after six multi-interception games this season questions are now being raised about his decision-making ability. He’s still one of the better quarterback prospects available and will probably come off the board late in the first round, but he’s not the top five pick he came into the season as. Barkley isn’t the only Trojan that saw his draft stock fall this season. WR Robert Woods (Jr) came into the year as a mid-first round pick and arguably the top receiver in the draft, only to end up being overshadowed by teammate Marquis Lee. He still had a productive season with 73 catches for 813 yards and 11 touchdowns despite dealing with a nagging ankle injury for most of the year, but wasn’t anywhere close to putting up the same numbers that he did in 2011. He has fantastic size and athleticism and excels as a route-runner, but still struggles with too many drops and doesn’t always try to catch the ball cleanly with his hands often letting it hit his body first. He’s fallen down draft boards a little bit, but could still sneak into the late first round. While he still has another year of eligibility remaining, he has made it known that he will declare for the 2013 NFL Draft following Monday’s Sun Bowl. CB Nickell Robey (Jr) and DE Morgan Breslin (Jr) are another pair of underclassmen that could declare for the draft early. Robey is a small, but effective corner with good cover skills and can also contribute on special teams returning kicks and punts. His lack of size and strength is going to be a major issue in matching NFL wide receivers and could hurt his stock come April. Breslin is another undersized player for his position and may struggle to find the right position in the NFL. Despite his size, Breslin is still a very talented and productive pass-rusher leading the team with 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss this year. He plays with terrific quickness and awareness and possesses an excellent first step off the snap. Of the underclassmen on the team eligible for the draft he seems the most likely to return to school for another year after just one season with Trojans following his transfer from junior college. Both Robey and Breslin could be third round picks should they enter the draft. FS T.J. McDonald (Sr) is another Trojan facing a declining stock as the 2013 NFL Draft nears. He’s a skilled safety with an imposing frame and an excellent combination of size, speed and athleticism. He’s a bone-crunching hitter and physical force on the football field. He struggled this year like a lot of the Trojans and probably saw his stock drop at least a round into the late third round. C Khaled Homes (rSr) is far and away the top center prospect available in the 2013 NFL Draft and the only one worth taking in the first four rounds. DE Wes Horton (rSr) and RB Curtis McNeal (rSr) are late round hopefuls, but likely undrafted free agents. Georgia Tech also has a pair of prospects and potential late round draft picks playing in OG Omoregie Uzzi (rSr) and CB Rod Sweeting (Sr). Uzzi is a tough, physical run blocker with a ton of starting experience and could go as high as the sixth round.

AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL, DECEMBER 31/2012

Iowa State Cyclones (6-6) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (10-3)

In what can be considered the dud of the day, at least from a scouting perspective, Iowa State and Tulsa will each have just one potential late round draft pick. Iowa State ILB A.J. Klein (Sr) is a productive, hard-nosed three-down linebacker. He comes into this game with 342 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and a NCAA linebacker record with four interception returns for touchdowns in his career. He can play against the run or the pass. He could be selected as high as the sixth round. Tulsa FS Dexter McCoil (Sr) is a big, powerful safety that is very effective in run support and possesses the ball skills and instincts to create turnovers in the secondary. He will likely go undrafted, but could sneak into the seventh round.

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL, DECEMBER 31/2012

LSU Tigers (10-2) vs. Clemson Tigers (10-2)

LSU and Clemson wrap up 2012 with the final football game of the year and yet another bowl battle between the SEC and ACC. LSU continues to be a NFL Draft factory continually churning out multiple high-level prospects every year with 2013 being no different as up to eight LSU Tigers could be selected in the draft, nine if you count former defensive back Tyrann Mathieu among their list of prospects. At the top of their draft class is the pass-rushing pair of OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo (rJr) and DE Sam Montgomery (rJr), who both rate among the top 20 draft-eligible prospects. Mingo is an exciting freak of an athlete that is still very raw in his football development (only started playing football as a junior in high school), but has incredible potential. He possesses fantastic speed off the edge as a former track star with an explosive first step and surprising power to overwhelm offensive linemen on his way to the quarterback. He’s also shown an ability to use his freakish long arms to get into passing lanes and knock the ball down. Mingo has the look of a hybrid defender that can be used in multiple spots in the front seven. A bit of disappointing season has him probably somewhere in the mid-first round. Montgomery is your traditional 4-3 defensive end with very good size and athleticism. He uses his superior quickness and all-out effort to get to opposing quarterbacks, but could use a few more moves as he often relies on just his speed to get into the backfield. While he is considered more of a traditional 4-3 defensive end, he has shown the ability to line up as a stand-up pass-rusher. He doesn’t have quite the upside of Mingo, but he also isn’t anywhere near the risk as he is already an established talent. He should end up coming off the board in the mid-first round as well. FS Eric Reid (Jr) will continue to prove that LSU’s moniker of “defensive back university” is true if he declares for the 2013 NFL Draft. He’s a complete safety with the ball skills and instincts to handle “center field” while in pass coverage and is highly effective in run support where he is a feared and violent hitter. He plays with a fierce intensity and non-stop aggressiveness. Reid is the top draft-eligible safety and could come off the board in the late first/early second round. ILB Kevin Minter (rJr) is a tackling-machine with incredible strength that also has shown the ability to get into the backfield and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He could be a Day 2 selection. Potential mid-round selections for LSU include a pair of defensive linemen in DT Bennie Logan (rJr) and DE Lavar Edwards (rSr). Logan is a disruptive, explosive interior lineman that uses his strength to handle double-teams and swallow up ball-carriers. He has some very good upside and could be taken as high as the late second/early third round. Edwards is a solid depth player that could find a fit in a defensive line rotation somewhere. He’s probably a fifth or sixth round pick. All of LSU’s top prospects are juniors with another year of eligibility and could choose to return to school for another season. WR Russell Sheppard (Sr) and DT Josh Downs (Sr) are late round hopefuls. Former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (Jr) has decided to enter the 2013 NFL Draft instead of taking advantage of another year of eligibility in an attempt to rebuild his image while playing at a smaller school. Mathieu was finally kicked off the LSU team before the season after he continued to rack up off the field incidents involving the law. Despite being a game-changing talent in college Mathieu’s scouting report is littered with red flags. Numerous off the field issues plus a major lack of size and a full year away from football have Mathieu lucky to have a team take a late round flyer on him.

Clemson have their own pair of exciting prospects playing in this matchup in offensive dynamos WR DeAndre Hopkins (Jr) and RB Andre Ellington (rSr). Hopkins is a fast, athletic wide receiver with large, reliable hands and a nose for the end zone. His terrific athleticism allows him to routinely make acrobatic catches down field and cause tacklers to miss when in open space. His stock is rising and he could be selected as high as the second round. Ellington is very similar to former alumni C.J. Spiller. He’s a playmaking, speed back with homerun hitting ability that likes to bank most of his yards on the outside.  He possesses good vision and his high level of toughness makes up for his lack of size. He has a great set of hands for a running back that allows him to be a major factor in the passing game. He should be able to make a living as a change of pace and third down back in the NFL. He could be a third or fourth round selection. Potential mid to late round draft picks include DE Malliciah Goodman (Sr), FS Rashard Hall (rSr) and C Dalton Freeman (rSr). TE Brandon Ford (rSr) and SS Jonathon Meeks (Sr) are likely undrafted free agents.

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: BOWL GAMES PART 2B (DEC.28-29)

The second week of bowl mania comes to close with eight games across Friday and Saturday. A number of big name schools with highly ranked 2013 NFL Draft prospects will be on display for front offices, scouts and fans to see. Teams like Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Texas and Michigan State will be in action, while up to twelve prospects playing in these games could be first or second round picks in April. Prospects like Geno Smith, Logan Thomas, Tavon Austin, Alex Okafor and Jordan Poyer are just a few of the names to watch over the next two days.

ADVOCARE V100 INDEPENDENCE BOWL, DECEMBER 28/2012

Ohio Bobcats (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (8-4)

There are no draft-eligible prospects of note on either team in this game.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL, DECEMBER 28/2012

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6)

One of the more prospect-packed bowls of the week, Rutgers and Virginia Tech will combine for ten possible NFL draft picks with three being potential Day 2 selections. The Scarlet Knights boast a pair of talented defenders in OLB Khaseem Greene (rSr) and CB Logan Ryan (rJr) that could be second round picks in April. Greene is one of the more notable prospects to make major leaps up draft boards this season as he racked up countless tackles for Rutgers. After beginning his collegiate career as a defensive back, Greene moved to the weakside linebacker position in 2011 and exploded for 141 tackles in being named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. A distinction he repeated this season in being just the second player in Big East history to be named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year twice. Greene was a dominant force this season amassing 125 tackles, 5.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions in leading one of the nation’s top defenses. He’s a complete, three-down linebacker that is an impact player. Logan Ryan was also a dominant force for Rutgers this season registering 87 tackles, 4 picks and averaging 1.5 passes defended per game (8th nationally). In his two seasons as a starter Ryan has made major strides in his game in becoming a pretty complete corner with good size, great instincts and fantastic ball skills. He has displayed top corner potential. Both guys are moving up and could go very early in the second round, although Ryan still has a year of eligibility left for the Scarlet Knights and could return to school. Late round hopefuls, but likely undrafted free agents on Rutgers include ILB Steve Beauharnais (Sr), OT R.J. Dill (rSr), WR Mark Harrison (Sr) and TE D.C. Jefferson (rSr). Virginia Tech was a major disappointment this year. The team managed just a .500 regular season record this year and one of the main reasons was the very disappointing performances from their top draft-eligible prospects. At the top of the list is QB Logan Thomas (Jr), who came into the season as a possible top-15 draft pick, but just didn’t makes the major leaps in his game that many thought he would make and ended up plummeting down draft boards into possibly the third round. Thomas is a huge quarterback with a cannon for an arm and possesses the speed and mobility to make plays with his legs (997 rushing yards, 20 rushing touchdowns in 2011 and 2012), specifically using his size and power to plunge through the line on short yardage where he’s almost an automatic first down. Thomas struggled throughout the season though, mainly with his accuracy, decision-making and inability to properly read defenses on a consistent basis. He has all the tools, size and athletic ability to be a star at the next level, but still remains a work in progress that could benefit greatly from another year of seasoning at the collegiate level. He is said to be leaning to returning to Virginia Tech for his senior season and if he can make the right progress in his game he could potentially be a top prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. After Thomas, Virginia Tech has group of potential Day 3 selections in WR Marcus Davis (rSr), ILB Bruce Taylor (rSr), WR Corey Fuller (rSr) and OT Nick Becton (rSr). Davis was a disappointment this season and saw his stock drop out as well. He possesses a combination of tantalizing size and speed, but has been way too inconsistent in his route-running and with his hands to be relied upon and seems to have a little diva in him. He’s a project worth taking a shot with, but he needs to be willing to work and improve his game if he wants to stick in the NFL. Taylor is an incredible leader and has the athleticism and skills to be a very good NFL linebacker, but a bad foot has constantly held him back and teams will be wary of investing in him until he can prove that his foot is completely healthy.

MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS, DECEMBER 28/2012

Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6)

The late game Friday night between Texas Tech and Minnesota is lacking in noteworthy prospects, but it will still involve some late round possibilities. Red Raiders prospects include QB Seth Doege (rSr), OT LaAdrian Waddle (Sr) and SS Cody Davis (rSr), while the Golden Gophers feature LB Mike Rallis (rSr) and WR MarQueis Gray (Sr). All of which will most likely go undrafted.

BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

Rice Owls (6-6) vs. Air Force Falcons (6-6)

Rice TE Vance McDonald (rSr) is the only draftable prospect playing in this game. McDonald is a big, athletic tight end that can create mismatches against opposing defensive backs, but also possesses a variety of skills where he can be used in multiple positions on offense similar to former Owl and current Houston Texan James Casey.

NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5) vs. Syracuse Orange (7-5)

Former Big East rivals West Virginia and Syracuse renew hostilities in what should be a back and forth offensive shootout. Both squads feature multiple top 100 prospects, including Mountaineers QB Geno Smith (Sr), who ranks among the top 15 and could even be taken with the first overall pick by the quarterback-desperate Kansas City Chiefs. Smith has put together back to back phenomenal seasons for West Virginia compiling 8385 passing yards with 71 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions. He completed 65.8% of his passes in 2011 and raised that number to 71.4% this season. Smith has a big-time arm with very good accuracy, although his deep ball accuracy needs improving and he possesses the NFL size teams covet. He’s a mature leader on and off the field and should do well during the interview process with front offices in the lead up to the draft. He’s the best athlete in the quarterback class and has the mobility to make plays and be dangerous with his legs. One knock against him though is his lack of experience taking snaps under center as he has primarily played only in the shotgun in his career. He is a sure-fire first round pick. Smith’s two main offensive weapons WR Tavon Austin (Sr) and WR Stedman Bailey (rJr) will be joining him the draft. Both are smaller, dynamic playmakers that can hit the home run play from multiple spots on the field and a have nose for the end zone (Bailey 23 TDs in 2012, 12 in 2011/Austin 12 TDs in 2012, 8 in 2011). They both run with exciting speed and quickness, but still play with a running back’s toughness against bigger defenders. They are reliable pass-catchers that could be used as productive slot receivers in the NFL. Austin is currently earning the higher draft grade of the two due to his ability to line up as a running back (598 rushing yards, 3 TDs in 2012) and as a returner on special teams and could go as high as the late first round, while Bailey is primarily a receiver and could be selected in the third round.  Syracuse has a talented signal-caller of their own in QB Ryan Nassib (rSr), who is one of the hottest prospects right now and is moving his way up draft boards into a possible spot in the second round. He’s possesses NFL size with a good arm strength and accuracy. He’s solid in the pocket, but has also shown that he can make the necessary throws while on the run. He plays with intelligence, toughness and has developed into an impressive leader on and off the field. He may never be elite, but he does have the look of a guy who could be a consistent starter for the next ten years. Protecting Nassib’s blind side is one of the top draft-eligible left tackles in the nation in  OT Justin Pugh (rJr). The 6’5”, 300lb. tackle helped lead an Orange offensive line that allowed just 14 sacks this year and was named to the Big-East First-Team for the second straight season and his third consecutive all-conference selection. He’s an effortless blocker in pass protection and the run game.  The ceiling is extremely high for Pugh as he continues to add more size and strength to his frame and while he currently sits as a possible second round pick, he could make a late move into the first round. Along with Nassib and Pugh, the Orange also have a pair of potential Day 3 selections in SS Shamarko Thomas (Sr) and WR Alec Lemon (Sr).

KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5) vs. Navy Midshipmen (7-4)

The Sun Devils come into this game with a pair of prospects, although one may return to school and the other could go undrafted. DT Will Sutton (Jr) is an impact player and when he was healthy this season he carried the Arizona State defense. Despite battling injuries, Sutton was still able to amass an impressive 10.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. He also displayed an ability to get his arms in passing lanes and knock the ball down and has shown the versatility to play multiple spots on the defensive line. If he chooses to enter the draft Sutton could be a third or fourth round pick. OLB Brandon MaGee (rSr) is a productive linebacker with a well-rounded game, but he looks like a depth player at this point and has a shot to be drafted in the seventh round.

VALERO ALAMO BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

Texas Longhorns (8-4) vs. Oregon State Beavers (9-3)

The Longhorns and Beavers will showcase one of the more impressive groups of prospects in a bowl game this season with three draft-eligible players on each team, all of which rank among the top 100 prospects. The Longhorns boast two very talented pass-rushers in DE Alex Okafor (Sr) and DE Jackson Jeffcoat (Jr), along with one of the top safeties in the country FS Kenny Vaccaro (Sr). Okafor is a good, but not great athlete that relies on his strength, power and good hand technique that he developed as sophomore playing defensive tackle to bull rush offensive linemen from the outside on his way to the quarterback. He’s relentless in his attack and gives all-out effort on every play to make up for his lack of elite athletic ability. Okafor remained a steadying force for the Longhorns this season despite receiving added attention after fellow pass-rusher Jackson Jeffcoat went down with a season-ending injury mid-year. He’s a possible late first round pick, but could see his stock take a hit into the mid-rounds if he struggles to put up good measurables at the Combine. While Okafor gets by using superior technique, Jackson Jeffcoat relies on his impressive athleticism and explosiveness to get the job done rushing the passer. Jeffcoat is a natural pass-rusher with the pure athletic prowess to play standing up or with his hand in the ground. Despite rupturing his pectoral muscle mid-season he was still able to register 11 tackles for loss, four sacks and six quarterback pressures. The son of former NFL standout Jim Jeffcoat, Jackson has a much higher upside than Okafor, but because the injury has kept him off the field he has slipped down draft boards into Day 2 and could still choose to return to school for another season in order to get completely healthy and display his full potential to scouts. He won’t play Saturday. Kenny Vaccaro is a complete safety with the ball skills and cover ability to be steady in pass coverage and the physicality and toughness to stop the run. He is a sure tackler with the versatility and size/speed combination to man either safety position and is a special-teams ace. There’s no doubt he should come off the board on Day 2. CB Carrington Byndom (Jr) could be a mid-round pick if he chooses to enter the draft a year early. For Oregon State, CB Jordan Poyer (Sr) and WR Markus Wheaton (Sr) are their top two prospects and both could be second round picks in April. Poyer put together his second straight fantastic season this year in helping lead a turnaround of the Oregon State program. He recorded seven interceptions this season including one for a score and had 6 passes defended despite teams often throwing away from him.  He’s a good athlete with the strength and toughness to battle bigger receivers and possesses the ball skills and instincts to create turnovers and go from defense to offense in a split second. He should be able to step in as a nickel corner right away with potential to eventually develop into a NFL starter. Markus Wheaton is a dynamic receiver with incredible speed that finally took his game to another level and came into his own as a big-time playmaker this year. He amassed an impressive 88 catches for 1207 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding a pair of rushing scores. He’s a versatile athlete that can line up at multiple spots on offense and create nothing into something with very little space to work with and fill up the stat sheet. He possesses reliable hands and should find a home as a slot receiver with the ability to develop into a very good no.2 wide out down the road. DE Scott Crichton (rSo) is just a sophomore, but because he’s been at Oregon State for three seasons (one as a redshirt) he can enter the draft should he choose to. He was unstoppable in the first half of the season recording eight of his nine sacks before opposing teams started focusing solely on stopping him.  He also racked up 17 tackles for loss on the year. He has an explosive first step and creates havoc in opposing backfields all game long. I expect he’ll return to the Beavers for his junior year before entering the 2014 NFL Draft with still another year of eligibility remaining. While he probably won’t be in the 2013 NFL Draft he is still a guy worth watching this Saturday night.

BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

Michigan State Spartans (6-6) vs. Texas Christian Horned Frogs (7-5)

In the final bowl of the week a solid group of mid to late round prospects will be on display between Michigan State and TCU. The Spartans boast the majority of the prospects in this game with DE William Gholston (Jr) leading the way. After an outstanding sophomore campaign Gholston came into the year viewed as a potential late first round pick, but a disappointing season this year has caused his stock to drop into the mid-rounds and raised red flags about his commitment and effort to playing hard every game. Despite not living up to expectations this year, Gholston still possesses the NFL size and strength to dominate blockers and the quickness to get into the backfield from time to time. He’s a better run-stopper than pass-rusher. His best performance of the season in an overtime victory against Wisconsin showed just how dominate he can be.  Gholston could choose to return to school for his final year of eligibility in an attempt to redeem his image and improve his stock. The Spartans also have a pair of solid weapons on offense in RB Le’Veon Bell (Jr) and TE Dion Sims (rJr) that will most likely come off the board early on Day 3. Bell is the definition of a power back and he’s a giant one at 6’2”, 244lbs. His 1648 rushing yards led the Big Ten, while his 824 yards after contact was a nation-high.  He runs over defenders using his superior power and strength, but also has the foot work and speed to break off big runs on the outside. He’s a reliable receiver out of the backfield as well tallying 65 catches over the past two seasons. He could crack the late third round for a running back-needy team. Sims is a powerful tight end with near offensive lineman size that allows him to destroy defenders when blocking, but still has soft enough hands and feet to contribute in the receiving game. He’s nowhere near the pass-catching tight end that a number of the other prospects in his position class are, but he is a more complete prospect than most of those other tight ends. Like Gholston, Bell and Sims have the option to return to Michigan State for a final year of eligibility. Bell has nothing left to prove and would benefit from not having to put another 300 plus carries on his body (350 carries this season), while Sims would probably be better off with another year at the collegiate level to further improve as a receiving threat. Potential late round prospects for Michigan State include CB Johnny Adams (rSr), DT Anthony Rashad White (Sr) and OG Chris McDonald (rSr).  The Horned Frogs have just one prospect of note in CB Jason Verrett (Jr). The 2012 Third-Team All-American was fantastic this season in recording 6 interceptions and 20 passes defended as the only player in the nation to rank in the top ten in both categories. He has good all-around skills, but doesn’t have ideal size to be a starting NFL corner and could find a spot as a nickel back. He probably comes off the board early on Day 3, but still could return to school for his senior year.

 

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: BOWL GAMES PART 2A (DEC.24-DEC.27)

The second week of bowl mania gets underway on Christmas Eve and marks the start of a 13-game week. The first five bowls of the week will feature three potential first round picks, a couple mid-round prospects and as always a number of possible late round draft choices. The three guys to really watch in the first half of the week for the 2013 NFL Draft are Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, Terrance Williams of Baylor and UCLA’s Anthony Barr. The Holiday Bowl match-up between Baylor and UCLA on Thursday night is the best game of the five to watch for prospects.

SHERATON HAWAII BOWL, DECEMBER 24/2012

SMU Mustangs (6-6) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3)

SMU and Fresno State kick off the second week of bowls and feature three possible mid-round draft choices. The Mustangs have one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft in massive DE Margus Hunt (rSr). The former Estonian shot put and discus throw champion is an incredible freak of an athlete that decided to make the move to American football and has done so with great success and is only getting better with more experience. An explosive pass-rusher with great power and agility, he is a problem to stop for many offensive linemen. Hunt’s not just a pass-rusher as he has displayed a remarkable uncanny ability to block kicks. He holds the NCAA career record for most blocked field goal attempts with 10 and added 7 blocked extra points making him second all-time in total blocked kicks. He’s currently rated around a third or fourth round pick, but watch out for him at the Scouting Combine where he is likely to blow scouts away with his on-field performance in the various drills and could shoot up draft boards. SMU also features the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year FB Zach Line (rSr). It’s not very often that a fullback gets talked about being drafted, let alone possibly being selected in the middle of the draft, but Line is an exceptional talent. While he is likely to make a career in the NFL blocking for other running backs, Line has shown the ability to be a very productive running back in his own right after putting up three straight seasons of at least 1200 yards rushing and displaying an ability to catch the football out of the backfield.  He has the look of a Peyton Hillis-type of athlete and it will be very interesting to see where a team takes him. Keep an eye on him possibly landing with the Jets to help their ground and pound attack if the current regime is still in place. SMU OLB Ja’Gared Davis (Sr) could be a seventh-round pick. On the other side of the field, Fresno State is led on defense by SS Phillip Thomas (rSr), who put together just an absolutely incredible year after missing the entire 2011 season with a brutal leg injury. He came back strong in 2012 though amassing 8 interceptions (3 for touchdowns), 82 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. He is the complete package at safety showing the ball skills and instincts necessary to be a dangerous playmaker in pass coverage, while also being displaying the strength and toughness in helping stop the rushing attack of opposing teams. He really is an outstanding talent that does a bit of everything on the field and is always there when a big play is needed. He is surging up draft boards as fast as any prospect right now and could possibly go early on Day 2 in the second round of the draft.

LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL, DECEMBER 26/2012

Central Michigan Chippewas (6-6) vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (7-5)

Central Michigan LT Eric Fisher (Sr) will have the stage to himself on Wednesday as likely the only player in this game that will get drafted. He won’t only get drafted, but could be a possible first round pick. Fisher is a name most won’t know, but will hear his name go pretty early in the draft. An extremely under the radar prospect, Fisher has started to emerge higher and higher on draft boards the past few months as more front offices and scouts see him on tape. He’s a solid athlete with good athleticism and footwork. He’s not the most stout of anchors, but can handle smaller speed rushers and displays good power and ferocity when run-blocking. He’s the top Senior Offensive Tackle and could make a team like the Bears very happy. Look for him to be selected in the bottom third of the first round in April. After Fisher, there’s a pair of potential seventh-round picks in Central Michigan SS Jahleel Addae (rSr) and Western Kentucky DE Quanterus Smith (rSr). Smith is an intriguing athletic pass-rusher that has fallen down draft boards after tearing the ACL in his left knee in mid-November. Smith won’t play in this game.

MILITARY BOWL PRES. BY NORTHROP GRUMMAN, DECEMBER 27/2012

Bowling Green Falcons (8-4) vs. San Jose State Spartans (10-2)

Not much to talk about in terms of draftable prospects between the Falcons and Spartans, but there are four players worth mentioning that could be late Day 3 selections. San Jose State TE Ryan Otten (rSr) is the best of the bunch and is another one of those athletic tight ends that are all the rage in football these days. He has very good size and is a decent pass-catcher that can create mismatches against opposing defenses and be a legit downfield threat. He has some good potential and could go as high as the fourth or fifth round. Spartans’ LT David Quessenberry (rSr) and DE Travis Johnson (Sr) could be sixth or seventh-round picks that could contribute as backups in the NFL, along with Bowling Green’s sole prospect DT Chris Jones (Sr).

BELK BOWL, DECEMBER 27/2012

Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3) vs. Duke Blue Devils (6-6)

The Bearcats and Blue Devils is another game featuring a group of possible Day 3 draft choices. Cincinnati ILB Greg Blair (Sr) emerged on scouts’ radar after putting together a fantastic senior season in which he led the Bearcats in tackles, tackles for loss while being a force defending the pass. He has the skills and potential to be a three-down linebacker and could be a great guy to have on the depth chart behind a team’s starters. Also possibly being selected late in the draft from the Bearcats could be FS Devin Drane (Jr), TE Travis Kelce (rSr), RB George Winn (rSr) and SS Drew Frey (rSr). The Blue Devils feature a pair of prospects on offense. WR Conner Vernon (Sr) just produces. He’s the type of receiver that doesn’t jump off the screen with his size, speed or playmaking ability, but just seems to fill up the stat sheet. Of all the great receivers to have played in the ACC over the years, it’s Vernon who will finish his college career as the conference’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards with 273 catches for 3,630 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’s experienced, reliable and productive. He should add good depth to an NFL receiving corps and could be a fifth or sixth round pick. It seems like QB Sean Renfree (rSr) has been starting for Duke forever. The Blue Devils quarterback has been a solid leader for the team since taking over as a sophomore in 2010 and is one of the main reasons they find themselves playing for a bowl again. Renfree doesn’t have the greatest numbers, but possesses good size, arm strength and appears to have the tools that NFL scouts look for in potential quarterbacks. He’ a traditional drop-back passer with very good intelligence and has been well-coached under David Cutcliffe, the Manning brothers’ former mentor. He should come off the board on Day 3.

BRIDGEPOINT EDUCATION HOLIDAY BOWL, DECEMBER 27/2012

UCLA Bruins (9-4) vs. Baylor Bears (7-5)

In what should be one of the more entertaining bowl games of the season, Baylor and UCLA should put on an offensive show full of fireworks. Both teams have notable prospects playing in this matchup with each team featuring a potential first round pick. The prospect to watch for Baylor is WR Terrance Williams (rSr), the nation’s leader in receiving yards with 1764 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams took his game to another level this year after taking over the #1 receiver spot for the departed Kendall Wright. He put up some solid numbers as Wright’s wingman in 2011, but displayed this year that he too has the talent and skills to be a first round pick like his former teammate. He’s a tough downfield receiver with great hands, excellent footwork and underrated speed that allows him to separate from opposing defensive backs. He’s probably a second-round selection, but could crack the late first round and is the top senior wide out in the draft. He’s 236 yards away from becoming only the second receiver in NCAA history to finish with 2000 yards receiving. Trying to slow Williams down will be UCLA’s two best prospects OLB Anthony Barr (Jr) and DE Datone Jones (rSr). After deciding to switch from running back/wide receiver to outside linebacker this year with the arrival of new Head Coach Jim Mora Jr, Barr put together an absolutely incredible season at his new position. He led the nation in sacks with 13.5 and the Pac-12 with 20.5 tackles for loss. His unique combination of size, speed and athleticism was made to be a pass-rusher and has led to him realizing what his full potential could be. He is still very raw after just one season at outside linebacker, but his ceiling is incredibly high, as high as any other draft-eligible prospect. The son of former NFL fullback Tony Brooks, Barr is generating a ton of buzz and has entered first round discussions. He still has another year of eligibility remaining and appears to be leaning that way and returning to school, but has left his decision open depending on how high a grade he receives from draft evaluators. Another  year of coaching and experience in college could help Barr in the long run, but a possible spot in the first round could be too good to pass up. Jones is a versatile defensive lineman with the large frame, strength and athleticism to play multiple spots along the defensive front in a variety of schemes. He’s reliable against the run and has shown he has enough speed and agility to attack the quarterback and make plays behind the line of scrimmage as well. His best fit is probably as a five-technique defensive end, but teams especially ones that use multiple defensive schemes will be highly attracted to Jones and he should end up being selected on Day 2 of the 2013 NFL Draft. UCLA RB Jonathan Franklin (rSr) has been the offensive catalyst for this program since arriving on campus and amassing 4369 career rushing yards (UCLA record) with 34 career touchdowns (3 receiving), including 1700 rushing yards (UCLA record) and 13 touchdowns this year. He also displayed an added element to his game this season showing good hands out of the backfield with 32 catches for 319 yards and 2 scores, which is a big reason why his draft stock has moved up the board. Franklin possesses NFL-speed with the ability to find small holes in the line of scrimmage to squeeze through and can make defenders miss in the open field. He’s a big-play back that could find a spot as a third-down specialist, but will probably need to add more strength and bulk to his frame if he wants to become a feature NFL running back. He looks like an early Day 3 pick in the fourth or fifth round.  Some prospects to keep an eye on as late round possibilities include Baylor QB Nick Florence (rSr) and UCLA TE Joseph Fauria (rSr) and OG Jeff Baca (rSr). After patiently waiting for his turn as the Bears’ full-time starter behind Robert Griffin III, Florence made the most of his chance finishing third in the nation with 4121 passing yards while adding 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Despite putting up some impressive numbers Florence’s lack of decision making and inconsistency will keep him waiting until at least the sixth or seventh round to be drafted if at all. Fauria is a big, athletic tight end with soft hands and decent route-running ability, but is still a bit raw due to a lack of playing time.

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: BOWL GAMES PART 1 (DEC.15-DEC.22)

Another college football regular season is in the books giving way to bowl season and the next step in the draft process for eligible prospects.  For many prospects this could be their last chance until the NFL Scouting Combine to show off their talent to scouts and NFL front offices. The first set of bowl games doesn’t feature too many prospects, but there are a few notable players worth taking a look at like BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah, Desmond Trufant of Washington and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor.

GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL, DECEMBER 15/2012

Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5)

An offensive explosion is expected in the first bowl game of the postseason between Nevada and Arizona, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that four of the top five prospects featured in this game are offensive players. The Wildcats are led by 2012 All-Pac-12 Second-Team QB Matt Scott (rSr), who really emerged as a legit talent this season under new Head Coach Rich Rodriguez putting up impressive stats with both his arm and his legs. Scott is an athletic quarterback with a live arm and excellent mobility that is at his best when rolling out and forcing defenses to account for his legs leaving receivers open downfield. Scott isn’t among the top ten quarterbacks in the draft class, but still could be a fourth or fifth-round pick.  One of Scott’s top targets, WR Dan Buckner (rSr) will also be in the 2013 NFL Draft. Buckner is a big wideout with good speed, but comes with off-the-field baggage that led to his transfer from Texas and wasn’t nearly as productive when he was on the field as expected for such a highly-touted former high school recruit. He’s a late-round project worth the risk.  Nevada has its own playmakers on offense led by RB Stefphon Jefferson (Jr) and TE Zach Sudfeld (rSr). While Jefferson rushed for an impressive 1703 yards (5.0 YPC) and 22 touchdowns this season, he finds himself currently ranked outside the top 15 running backs and with a year of eligibility left he will probably return to Nevada for another season. If he does enter the draft, look for him to be selected somewhere on Day 3. Sudfeld will also be a Day 3 selection. An impressive athlete at the tight end position, Sudfeld missed all of 2011 but returned to action this season as an impact player for the Wolf Pack. At 6’7”, 255lbs he will draw comparisons to New England’s Rob Gronkowski and could be a late-round steal.  On defense, Nevada is led by their top prospect SS Duke Williams (Sr). He certainly passes the eye test and could be a guy who lights it up at the Combine with his combination of size, strength and speed. On the field, he’s a big hitter with the versatility to line up anywhere in the back four. He will give the Wolf Pack another Day 3 selection to talk about.

FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL, DECEMBER 15/2012

Toledo Rockets (9-3) vs. Utah State Aggies (10-2)

A battle between two of the better non-BCS teams in the nation in Toledo and Utah State will feature a trio of Day 3 prospects. Utah State CB Will Davis (Sr) is a talented corner that really came on late this season with an interception in each of his final five contests including taking one back for a touchdown in the season finale against Idaho. He’s a solid athlete with good size and possesses shut down ability, but has played against pretty weak competition in his collegiate career. He’s a fourth or fifth-round pick, although SI’s Tony Pauline has him rated as a potential first round selection. Aggies’ RB Kerwynn Williams (Sr) is a smaller, multi-purpose back that has the speed to get yards on the outside or catching passes out of the backfield. After contributing as a backup the last couple of seasons, Williams exploded this year after entering the starting lineup amassing 1277 yards rushing, 663 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns. He projects as a third down back in the NFL and probably comes off the board in the fifth round.  Toledo’s top prospect is RB David Fluellen (Jr), a good-sized back with speed and quick feet that displays good vision. I expect him to be carrying the ball for the Rockets for another season as he appears to be way off the radar among scouts despite rushing for 1460 yards and 13 touchdowns. He could be a guy to watch in the 2014 draft otherwise he could be Day 3 selection in April. After Fluellen the only other prospect for Toledo is ILB Dan Molls (Sr), a likely undrafted free agent.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL, DECEMBER 20/2012

Brigham Young Cougars (7-5) vs. San Diego Aztecs (9-3)

The BYU/San Diego State game will be one of the better bowls to watch for prospects in the first week with a pair of draft eligible players on each team. Cougars’ DE Ezekiel Ansah (Sr) is not only the most impressive prospect to watch of the first week, but one of most in the entire draft. A raw, but incredible athlete, Ansah only began playing football just two years ago after coming to BYU from Ghana on a track and field scholarship. At 6’6”, 270lbs. and off-the-chains athleticism, the sky is the limit for Ansah, who has picked up the sport at an incredible pace in becoming one of the most talked about prospects and one of the most feared pass-rushers in the nation. He has the ability to line up and create a pass rush with either his hand on the ground or standing up and should be able to be used in any defensive scheme. Coaches and scouts will savor over the opportunity to add Ansah to their roster, but will have to make a move early as most expect him to be a mid-first round pick in April. Joining Ansah in the 2013 NFL Draft could be teammate WR Cody Hoffman (Jr), a big wide receiver with good hands and the ability to separate from defenders using his size and speed. He put together a very productive campaign with 1134 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s a bit low on draft boards as a fifth round pick and I expect he will choose to return to school for another year and try to improve his draft stock with another great season. Versatile shut down defender, LB Kyle Van Noy (Jr) is another noteworthy candidate on BYU to come out early for the draft and could be a mid-round pick, but like Hoffman should be back at BYU for another year. For San Diego State, CB Leon McFadden (Sr) and TE Gavin Escobar (rJr) could represent the Aztecs at the draft in April. McFadden will be there for sure and could be selected as high as the third round. He has good size and possesses the ball skills and cover ability to shut down opposing receivers. He’s a versatile player that can be used in man or zone and can contribute against the run as well. Escobar is a player that has scouts buzzing and as a result he’s risen up draft boards and could now decide to enter the draft early while his name is hot. He’s another great athlete with size and mobility at the tight end position with the ability to catch the football. He’s a decent blocker as well for a predominantly pass-catching tight end. He has the looks of a potential Day 2 selection. QB Ryan Katz (rSr) will probably go undrafted and look to catch on with a team’s practice squad following the draft.

BEEF ‘O’ BRADY’S BOWL ST. PETERSBURG, DECEMBER 21/2012

Ball State Cardinals (9-3) vs. Central Florida Knights (9-4)

No one really worth talking about in regards to the draft playing in this matchup. For the hardcores, Central Florida FS Kemal Ishmael (Sr) and OG Theo Goins (rSr) will most likely be undrafted free agents.

R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL, DECEMBER 22/2012

East Carolina Pirates (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (8-4)

The Rajin’ Cajuns feature the only prospect of note in this one in CB Melvin White (rSr). He possesses fantastic size at 6’3”, 191lbs. and plays a tough, physical game. He’s all over draft boards right now ranging anywhere from a seventh round pick to as high as the third round.

MAACO BOWL LAS VEGAS, DECEMBER 22/2012

Washington Huskies (7-5) vs. Boise State Broncos (10-2)

The best game of the first week of bowls is between Washington and Boise State and it will showcase a pair of very good cornerbacks. Huskies’ CB Desmond Trufant (Sr) has been one of the Pac-12’s best cornerbacks since stepping on to the field and starting nine games as a freshman. He’s been a stalwart for Washington’s defense the past four seasons and has only gotten better every year. The younger brother of Marcus and Isaiah Trufant, the NFL has been in Desmond’s future for a long time. He’s a true shutdown corner with some of the best cover skills and instincts in the draft class and has #1 cornerback potential. He’ll be a second round pick in April. On the other sideline is an impressive shutdown corner in his own right in Boise State CB Jamar Taylor (rSr), who saw his talent really take off this year with a MWC Defensive Player of the Year-worthy season. He’s a hard-nosed player that doesn’t back down in coverage and is a willing tackler in run support. He’ll likely come off the board in the third round.  The Broncos also have a pair of prospects with late round potential in RB D.J. Harper (rSr) and CB Jerell Gavins (rSr).

Written By: Mark Scott



Mark Scott’s Official 2013 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

The NFL season is three-quarters of the way through with just four games to play, while the college football regular season has come to a close ramping up draft discussions across the nation. NFL teams are starting to solidify their positions in the draft order, although there is still some jockeying for position to do. Roster needs are starting to be clearly defined across the NFL as well and scouts now have until April to delve into game tape of all the prospects available for the 2013 NFL Draft.

1.   KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-10) – QB GENO SMITH/WEST VIRGINIA

The Chiefs have been a complete disaster this season and as a result the franchise could be blown up at multiple levels. Regardless of whether there is a new regime put in place or not there is no question the team needs to start over at the quarterback position. Geno Smith has had some ups and downs this season, but he is an outstanding athlete with a rocket arm and a great sense for the game. He has the tools physically and mentally to be a franchise quarterback. I see him blowing front offices away on and off the field at the Scouting Combine and flying up the draft rankings.

2.   JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-10) – DT STAR LOTULELEI/UTAH

The Jags have been awful again this season and have major issues across the roster. The pass rush has remained abysmal with only 13 sacks on the year, good enough for dead last and has ranked in the bottom third of the league in sacks the past four seasons.  The run defense is just as bad ranking 31st in the NFL giving up 144 yards/game. Star Loutlelei is the most dominant player in college football and arguably the top prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft. He’s a major force in the middle where he is able to handle multiple blockers and swallow up ball-carriers, while using his superior strength and explosiveness to bowl over offensive linemen and put heat on the quarterback. Star Lotulelei is the closest prospect to becoming the next Haloti Ngata that we’ve seen. He is an exceptional talent that will instantly improve Jacksonville’s run defense and pass rush.

3.   OAKLAND RAIDERS (3-9) – DAMONTRE MOORE/TEXAS A&M

General Manager Reggie McKenzie cleaned house of high-priced veterans when he took over leaving the team depleted of a lot of its talent. The pass rush might have been the most affected by the house cleaning and has struggled mightily since with only 14 sacks on the season. Damontre Moore was a good prospect that became a great prospect this season when he took his game to another level registering 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. Moore is an explosive pass-rusher with the versatility to line up with his hand on the ground or standing up and can even be used on the interior of the defensive line from time to time. He is arguably the best pass-rusher in the draft.

4.   PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-9) – LT LUKE JOECKEL

The Eagles have not been able to protect the quarterback at all this year and Michael Vick has felt the brunt of it getting hit way too often. Jason Peters was considered one the best pass protectors in the NFL, but after tearing his Achilles twice during the offseason has his future in doubt. He’ll return to action eventually, but what kind of player will he be when he does return. Peters’ replacements Demetrius Bell and King Dunlap have been terrible while Todd Herremans has done an admirable job on the right side, but is better suited inside at guard. Joeckel is the far and away the top left tackle in this draft. He’s not an elite athlete, but possesses exceptional technical skills and footwork. He’s proven he can eliminate the other team’s best pass-rushers and because he’s started since his freshman year in college he has the experience to step in and play right away.

5.   CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-9) – DT JOHNATHAN HANKINS/OHIO STATE

Carolina has a number of holes on their roster and needs an infusion of elite talent to upgrade at multiple positions. One of the weakest areas that needs to be addressed is their average group of defensive tackles. Dwan and Ron Edwards are way past their prime and 2011 third-round picks Terrell McClain and Sione Fua have not developed enough at this point. Hankins is a massive athlete that moves exceptionally well for a man his size. He can take on double teams and clogs up the middle of the field. He instantly helps this Carolina run defense.

6.   SAN DEIGO CHARGERS (4-8) – OLB JARVIS JONES/GEORGIA

The Chargers can’t protect Phillip Rivers, but with Luke Joeckel off the board and this spot a bit too high to take either Taylor Lewen or Eric Fisher, they’ll have to focus on another area. Pass-rusher Shaun Phillips will be a 32-year old free agent after the season and might not be brought back. Jarvis Jones is the top player available and could fill the spot vacated by Phillips.  Jones is one of the top pass-rushers in the draft and is a special kind of talent. Jones along with 2012 first-round pick Melvin Ingram would give the Chargers a tandem of pass-rushers that could dominate for the next decade or so.

7.   CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-8) – ILB MANTI TE’O/NOTRE DAME

Cleveland could go any number of directions with this selection, but I do expect this to be a defensive player. They would’ve liked to take Jones to fill the hole left by the Scott Fugita at the strong side linebacker position, who is likely to retire because of injury. With Jones gone, the Browns take potential Heisman Trophy winner Manti Te’o to play middle linebacker to captain their defense and move D’Qwell Jackson to Fugita’s spot on the outside. Te’o would bring instant credibility to the Browns defense and would give them potentially the next Ray Lewis of the AFC North division.

8.   DETROIT LIONS (4-8) – DE BJOERN WERNER/FLORIDA STATE

It didn’t take long for Detroit to be back drafting in the top ten after finally making the playoffs last season. They’ve neglected the cornerback position for years in the draft and Dee Millliner could be a possibility here, but the Lions will ignore the position again to add to their defensive line. Kyle Vanden Bosch has only 3.5 sacks this season and is nearing an end after a long career, while Cliff Avril remains a solid threat on the other side, but isn’t the most dynamic pass-rusher. Florida State’s Werner is a disruptive talent that contributes in a number of areas. He is a powerful pass-rusher that is always causing havoc in the opponents’ backfield, while constantly getting his hands in passing lanes to knock balls down a lot like Houston’s J.J. Watt, while still being highly effective at stopping the run.

9.   ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-8) – QB MATT BARKLEY/USC

Arizona might have the worst quarterback corps in the entire NFL. It is absolutely abysmal. None of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley should be on this team next season. They need to completely start over. Luckily for them, Matt Barkly has slid down draft boards far enough that he could very well still be available for the Cards at this spot in the draft. Matt Barkley probably made a mistake in returning to USC for another year as they not only didn’t come close to playing for a predicted National Championship, but he also had his own struggles and to top it off he finished the season on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. He would’ve been a top five pick in the 2012 draft, but now looks like he will be lucky to go in the top ten with some scouts now saying he could a second-round pick. He’s not the best athlete and doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he does possess great fundamentals, experience in a pro-style offense and has the mental side of the game down pat. He is a major upgrade on what Arizona currently has.

10.   TENNESSEE TITANS (4-8) – DE SAM MONTGOMERY/LSU

The Titans pass rush has been majorly lacking this season. Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan have just 7.5 sacks between them and there is nothing on the roster behind them. Montgomery is an athletic, max-effort that is highly effective rushing the quarterback and defending the run. He possesses the versatility and skills to fit in any defensive scheme.

11.   BUFFALO BILLS (5-7) – ILB ALEC OGLETREE/GEORGIA

The Bills have made it clear that they’re looking for a potential franchise quarterback in this draft, but they’ll likely have to make a move up the draft to make sure they can secure Barkley or Smith otherwise they’ll have to reach quite a bit for one of the other quarterbacks or look elsewhere. That’s alright Buffalo needs major help on defense. Their ranked 30th against the run and have given up more rushing touchdowns this season than any other team. Ogletree has been a force for Bulldogs this year and arguably their most effective defender. A tackling-machine, Ogletree could easily slot in to the Bills starting middle linebacker spot moving Kelvin Sheppard to the outside.

12.   MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-7) – WR KEENAN ALLEN/CALIFORNIA

Brian Hartline and Davone Bess have both been good this season, but neither is a true #1 wide out and until Miami acquires one to replace the traded Brandon Marshall than rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be slow to develop. Just look at Sam Bradford in St. Louis as an example. Allen is currently ranked a top the wide receiver draft class at the moment, but the Tennessee duo of Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson aren’t too far behind and moving up. The California product is a big, down-the-field wide receiver with the ability to stretch the defense and go up and catch any ball above opposing defensive backs. He is exactly what the Dolphins need on offense.

13.   NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-7) – DT JOHN JENKINS/GEORGIA

The Saints defense has been just putrid this season. They can’t generate much of a pass-rush or stop the run. Jenkins is a mammoth athlete with the strength to handle multiple offensive linemen and stuff the run. He won’t ever put up eye-popping numbers on the stat sheet, but he will skyrocket the Saints run defense up the rankings. He’s the best run-stopper in the draft.

14.   NEW YORK JETS (5-7) – OLB BARKEVIOUS MINGO/LSU

The Jets are a complete joke and their regime led by Tannenbaum and Ryan is on the hot seat. They need a lot of help in a number of areas. While the Jets defense has held their own, they have done so for the most part without a very good pass rush. The Aaron Maybin project didn’t work out and both Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are in their thirties. Mingo might have the highest ceiling of any prospect in the draft. He has a long, lanky frame with an explosive burst off the snap and has incredible speed as a former track star. He’s still learning the game as he didn’t start playing until his junior year of high school, but has been well-coached by Les Miles at LSU and is making leaps and bounds in his skills as each game passes. Mingo could be the star pass-rusher that Rex Ryan needs to get his defense back to the top of the NFL.

15.   ST. LOUIS RAMS (5-6-1) – LT TAYLOR LEWEN/MICHIGAN

The Rams desperately need to get better protection for Sam Bradford, who has had to endure limited wide receivers and bad offensive lines in his short career. Jason Smith was a massive bust and was shipped to New York for Wayne Hunter who may be even worse. Rodger Saffold has done what he can, but he just is overmatched at left tackle. The Rams would’ve loved to land Luke Joeckel, but look to have won their way out of position with Joeckel emerging as one the very top prospects in the draft. Don’t sleep on Lewen though, he is a prototype left tackle and a better pure athlete than Joeckel, but isn’t as far in his development. He’s a very good pass blocker, but actually might be even better at run-blocking and he plays with a mean streak, an excellent trait to have in an offensive lineman.

16.   TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-6) – CB DEE MILLINER/ALABAMA

Tampa is the best in the NFL at defending the run, but has struggled mightily this season at stopping the pass. The talented, but troubled Aquib Talib was finally sent packing and Ronde Barber could be at the end of legendary career when the season comes to a close. Dee Milliner has been a stalwart for the Alabama defense and is the top corner in the draft. He possesses all the skills needed to be a #1 shutdown corner. He’s strong and physical and can run hip to hip with elite wide receivers. He won’t just help the pass defense as he is very valuable in run support as well.

17.   MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-6) – WR JUSTIN HUNTER/TENNESSEE

Adrian Peterson continues to carry the Vikings offense on his back. The passing attack just isn’t producing. Quarterback Christian Ponder has had his struggles, but Percy Harvin has been plagued by injuries again and the other Viking wide receivers just cannot get any separation.  Justin Hunter proved this season to everyone that he was healthy and could come back from a devastating torn ACL last year, although his production hasn’t completely returned, but that is to be expected after such an injury. He’s a smooth route-runner that can go deep or over the middle and uses his size and strength to outmuscle opposing defensive backs for the ball.

18. WASHINGTON (6-6) ST.LOUIS RAMS – WR CORDARRELLE PATTERSON

As noted earlier, Sam Bradford has had to throw to some pretty limited wide receivers since being drafted. Danny Amendola is a solid target, but seems to get banged up too much and their young wide outs still remain question marks. Patterson lit up the junior college ranks before bursting on to the National scene this season with Tennessee. He’s displayed exceptional speed and playmaking ability. He can be used in a variety of ways on offense and can line up at any of the wide receiver positions and the in the back field. A Percy Harvin-type talent, but taller.

19.   DALLAS COWBOYS (6-6) – OG CHANCE WARMACK/ALABAMA

The Cowboys need help on the offensive line in better protecting Tony Romo and improving their 30th ranked run offense. Dallas liked David DeCastro a lot in the 2012 Draft, but chose to pass on him and ended up going with a couple cheap veterans to fill the guard positions. It hasn’t worked out and with Alabama’s Chance Warmack still available because he plays guard despite being one of the very top ranked prospects in the draft, the Cowboys just can’t pass on his talent.

20.   CINCINNATI BENGALS (7-5) – DE DION JORDAN/OREGON

The Bengals have one of the best pass rushes in the NFL this season, but with three of their top pass rushers (Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers and Manny Lawson) set to be free agents at the end of the season it’s unlikely they’ll all be back. Dion Jordan is an exciting athlete with still raw abilities, but the sky is the limit for this guy. He’s long, lean and explosive and has the versatility to play multiple positions in the front seven.

21.   PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-5) – OLB COREY LEMONIER/AUBURN

Pittsburgh yet again finds themselves with a top ranked defense this season, but age is quickly catching up to them and they need to keep adding young players to their defense to eventually take over for their seemingly ageless stars. Corey Lemonier is the type of rugged defender that should fit in perfectly with this Steelers defense. He is a relentless defender always in pursuit of the quarterback or ball-carrier. He possesses an explosive first step and has great closing speed. A pass-rusher first, he is also a big contributor against the run.

22.   SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-5) – DT SHELDON RICHARDSON/MISSOURI

The Seahawks are in need of a #1 wide receiver and could look at Baylor’s Terrance Williams at this spot, but instead decide to add to one of their strengths, the defensive line. Defensive tackle Alan Branch is a free agent after the season and could be brought back or upgraded. Sheldon Richardson put together a phenomenal season at Missouri this year. Richardson is a powerful bull rusher from the inside of the defensive line and is a much more active tackler than most interior linemen, mostly due to his all-out effort and quickness. The Seattle pass rush just got even scarier.

23.   INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (8-4) – NT KAWANN SHORT/PURDUE

The Colts put all their attention into rebuilding the offense at the 2012 NFL Draft, despite changing their defensive scheme from a long-used 4-3 to a 3-4. While the defense has held in there, they clearly are lacking the right talent to play in the new system. A big nose tackle is needed for Chuck Pagano’s defense and they would’ve liked to land John Jenkins to be that guy. Instead they go with Kawann Short, who is surely big enough to handle the position, but also brings a pass-rush element with him. He likes to penetrate and live in the opponents’ back field rather than just handle blockers and clog up the middle. If he can’t play the middle, they can easily slide him to the outside at the five-technique where they need just as much help.

24.   CHICAGO BEARS (8-4) – LT ERIC FISHER/CENTRAL MICHIGAN

The Bears cannot go into the 2013 NFL season with their current offensive line. They can’t protect Jay Cutler at all and continue to rack up penalties trying. JaMarcus Webb just isn’t a starting left tackle in this league and right tackle Gabe Carimi has already been moved inside to guard because he couldn’t handle playing tackle at the NFL level. Fisher might be most unknown prospect in the first round, but he shouldn’t be. Another athletic prototype left tackle, Fisher is quickly moving up draft boards and could surpass Taylor Lewen as the second-rated left tackle behind Luke Joeckel. He’s excellent in pass protection.

25.   GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-4) – TE TYLER EIFERT/NOTRE DAME

Jermichael Finley appears to have worn out his welcome in Green Bay with his disappointing play and attitude. He’s clearly not on the same page as the rest of the Packers offense and with ton of money due to him next year his days in Green Bay could be over following the season. Tyler Eifert was just named college football’s top tight end. He has great body control and ball skills and is a major weapon in the passing attack. He’s not going block many people, but he will stretch the field and demand a lot attention from opposing defenses.

26.   NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-3) – WR TERRANCE WILLIAMS/BAYLOR

The Patriots remain one the top offenses in football, but they still lack a legitimate deep threat. Chad Ochocinco was a disappointment last year and Brandon Lloyd has been almost as disappointing this season. All the while, Wes Welker will be a free agent and his relationship with Bill Belichick continues o deteriorate leading those to believe Welker won’t be a Patriot next year. Terrance Williams is a lanky wide out with good size and speed that is a dangerous pass-catcher deep down field.

27.   DENVER BRONCOS (9-3) – DT SHARIFF FLOYD/FLORIDA

The Broncos defense has played well this season ranking in top ten against both the pass and the run, but the middle of their defense is pretty average at both the defensive tackle positions and middle linebacker. Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan will both be in their thirties next season and neither is particularly good and could stand to be upgraded, especially since there isn’t much on the roster behind them either. Shariff Floyd is moving up draft boards. He can play in multiple schemes and on the outside or interior of the defensive line. He has the strength to stuff the run and the quickness to create a pass-rush and get to the quarterback. The Broncos don’t have anything like him on the roster at the defensive tackle position.

28.   ATLANTA FALCONS (11-1) – TE ZACH ERTZ/STANFORD

Tony Gonzalez is still one of the best in the game and extremely productive. He’s a major part of Atlanta’s offense, but looks like he is ready to retire at season’s end. He’s on the record as saying he is 95% sure he will call it quits. If Gonzalez does retire, there is nothing behind him on the Falcons roster to take over.  Ertz has emerged as a big-time playmaker for Stanford this year and is right behind Eifert for top spot among tight ends in the draft class. He possesses most of the same skills as Eifert in the receiving game, but is a better blocker than his Notre Dame counterpart.

29.   NEW YORK GIANTS (7-5) – DE EZEKIEL ANSAH/BYU

This could be anyone as the Giants and General Manager Jerry Reese tend to always go with the best player available regardless of position. Ansah may or may not be the best player available at this point, but he is the type of raw, explosive athlete with a ton of upside that they like. Osi Umenyiora is a free agent after the season and his rocky relationship with the front office to go with his contract demands could see his time in New York come to an end. Ansah is drawing comparisons to New York’s stud pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul.

30.   BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-3) – ILB C.J. MOSLEY/ALABAMA

This year more than ever has shown that the Ravens need to draft an inside linebacker to be Ray Lewis’ heir apparent when he finally decides to retire.  Lewis’ skills have deteriorated slightly as he’s gotten older and continued to pile up the battles on his body. When he went out with an injury this year Baltimore was left with a major gap in the middle of its defense. The Ravens do not want to have look for a guy when Lewis is already gone, they want someone to learn from him for a year or two before taking over. C.J. Mosley could be that guy.  He’s a versatile, well-coached three-down linebacker with the leadership skills to lead an NFL defense in the future.

31.   SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (8-3-1) – DT JESSE WILLIAMS/ALABAMA

The 49ers have one of best defenses in the NFL and one the top five-technique defensive end tandems as well with Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. What they don’t have is depth behind them and Smith is 33 and not getting any younger. Nose Tackle Issac Sopoaga will also be a 31-year old free agent. Australian-born Jesse Williams has the versatility and talent to fill either void, whether as depth behind Smith and McDonald or as a replacement for Sopoaga in the middle.

32.   HOUSTON TEXANS (11-1) – WR DEANDRE HOPKINS/CLEMSON

The Texans have lacked a legit second threat in the passing game across from Andre Johnson for years now. Hopkins is quickly moving up draft boards and is the type of dynamic player the likes of Percy Harvin that the Texans have never had. Hopkins can do a number of things on offense and can line up at multiple spots. He’s very fast and quick with the ability to make oncoming tacklers miss and can stretch the field deep. He would make this offense even more dangerous than it already is.

Written By: Mark Scott