NFL Draft Center


MARK SCOTT’S 2013 NFL THREE-ROUND MOCK DRAFT

1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) – LT Luke Joeckel/Texas A&M

The Chiefs land their new franchise left tackle. There’s a very high possibility that Branden Albert gets traded during the draft. Even if he remains on the team he’s only signed for one season and the Chiefs don’t appear interested in him for the long term, while they also cut right tackle Eric Winston this off-season. Luke Joeckel could take over the left tackle position immediately or the Chiefs could let him gain some NFL experience while at right tackle for a year before moving him back to the blind side. This pick could just as easily be Eric Fisher. 

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

63. FS D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina

96. ILB Kiko Alonso, Oregon

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) – DE/OLB Dion Jordan/Oregon

The pass-rush has been awful for years in Jacksonville and Jordan is a perfect fit for the dynamic “LEO” position in new Head Coach Gus Bradley’s defense. Jordan is drawing comparisons to future Hall of Famer Jason Taylor and 49ers star Aldon Smith and would bring much needed talent, speed and most importantly the ability to get to the quarterback to the Jags. There are a number of rumors flying around that left tackle Eric Fisher could be this pick.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

33. QB Matt Barkley, USC

64. CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut

3. Oakland Raiders (4-12) – DT Sharrif Floyd/Florida

This is the biggest rebuild job in sports right now and the Raiders need as much talent as possible. With Eric Fisher still on the board they could add him to their offensive line or they could more than likely use him to trade down and acquire more draft picks. If they can’t do that than adding one of the best defensive players in the draft should be their direction. In this case it is Florida’s defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. The Raiders need three new starters on their defensive line and Floyd would be a fantastic addition to it. He would also give them scheme versatility if they ever switch to a 3-man front.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

66. QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) – LT Eric Fisher/Central Michigan

The Eagles bolster their offensive line that has injury and age issues and has to get much more athletic by adding Eric Fisher. His addition allows them to move Todd Herremans back to his more natural guard position from right tackle upgrading two spots on the offensive line with one move. Fisher will also provide them with some insurance should Jason Peters go down with another season-ending injury.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

35. QB EJ Manuel, Florida State

67. CB Darius Slay, Mississippi State

5. Detroit Lions (4-12) – LT Lane Johnson/Oklahoma

The Lions lost both of their starting offensive tackles this off-season, but needed to better protect their best player quarterback Matthew Stafford anyway. They’re about to give Stafford a long term contract and a ton of money so their best move is to draft a franchise left tackle to protect him for the next ten years. The fast-rising Lane Johnson may be the best athlete in the entire draft standing 6’6”, 303lbs. with the ability to jump as high as A.J. Green and as far as Steven Ridley. He possesses arguably the highest ceiling of any prospect in the draft.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

36. DE Sam Montgomery, LSU

65. WR Terrance Williams, Baylor

6. Cleveland Browns (5-11) – QB Geno Smith/Cleveland

The Browns are the team that draws the first crazy reaction from the analysts, fans and Twitterverse when they draft Geno Smith to be their new franchise quarterback just a year after the old regime traded back into the first round to add Brandon Weeden. The new regime is not fans of Weeden and new Head Coach Rob Chudzinski wants to run some read-option in his offense which he cannot do. Smith can run the read-option and a whole lot more, plus he’s not 30-years old unlike their second-year man. Dee Milliner and Barkevious Mingo are likely two of Cleveland’s top options at this spot as well.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

68. CB David Amerson, North Carolina State

7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11) – OG Jonathan Cooper/North Carolina

This is one of the worst offensive lines in football and has to be improved. They would love one of the offensive tackles, but it’s not going to happen without a trade into the top five and GM Steve Keim has made it clear they won’t be trading up. Instead they add one of the top guards in Cooper (they apparently prefer him over Warmack), who is more athletic than Chance Warmack and can play all three interior offensive line positions. He’ll instantly upgrade their pass protection and run blocking. They could take a pass-rusher here if they don’t go with a guard.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

38. OLB Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

69. QB Mike Glennon, North Carolina State

8. Buffalo Bills (6-10) – OG Chance Warmack/Alabama

The Bills want to draft a new franchise quarterback this year to build around, but with Smith gone and this spot being just way too high to take Ryan Nassib means they have to go in another direction and find their new signal-caller later on. They could possibly add a pass-rusher here, but instead they fill the massive hole left by Andy LeVitre at left guard by bringing Warmack into the fold. He can do it all at the position and is one of the top guard prospects ever. As unlikely as it sounds, Nassib is a real possibility here as the Bills appear to be afraid that a few of the teams ahead of them in the second round will take him before they are up to pick again, unless they trade back into the second round or trade down from the no.8 spot.   

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

41. QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse

71. WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech

9.   New York Jets (6-10) – OLB Barkevious Mingo/LSU

The Jets have two first round picks to work with after landing the 13th overall selection from Tampa Bay for Darrelle Revis. They could go any number of ways with these two picks whether it is defense-offense, defense-defense or offense-offense. They appear to be extremely high on Mingo and they do have a desperate need for a young, explosive pass-rusher. Mingo is a fantastic athlete that is still making rapid improvement s and possesses an incredibly high ceiling.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

13. TE Tyler Eifert, ND

39. CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

72. FS Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

10. Tennessee Titans (6-10) – DE Ezekiel Ansah/BYU

Tennessee was interested in drafting one of the top two guards here, except in this scenario they are both off the board leaving them to have to go in a different direction. They attack the pass-rush by scooping up the falling Ezekiel Ansah. Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan are decent players, but neither is particularly explosive or strikes much fear into opposing offenses. Ansah is a developing talent so using him in a rotation or as a situational pass-rusher behind their two starters would be a great situation for him and the Titans.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

40. OG Larry Warford, Kentucky

70. CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana

97. OLB Zavier Gooden, Missouri

11. San Diego Chargers (7-9) – RT D.J. Fluker/Alabama

This is probably the worst scenario for the Chargers as all five of the top offensive linemen are off the board. Unfortunately, San Diego is in a position where they are almost forced to go with an offensive lineman because of the current state of their line. They reach a few spots for Fluker, who is a massive pass-protector at right tackle and an absolute mauler when run-blocking. His addition helps both QB Phillip Rivers and RB Ryan Matthews. Trading down a few spots becomes a real possibility in this situation.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

45. OL Kyle Long, Oregon

76. SS Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse

12. Miami Dolphins (7-9) – CB Dee Milliner/Alabama

Miami was hoping to land one of the top offensive tackles, but it won’t happen without trading into the top five, although they do have the ammunition to do so with five picks in the first three rounds. In this scenario they probably trade one of those picks to Kansas City for Branden Albert. It’s not all bad as the top corner in the draft Dee Milliner drops to them here filling their need for a new starting cornerback after losing both of their starters from last year. With so many high picks, the Dolphins can afford to take a risk on Milliner’s injury history.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

42. OT Menelik Watson, Florida State

54. DE Alex Okafor, Texas

77. DT Akeem Spence, Illinois

82. RB Andre Ellington, Clemson

13. Tampa Bay (7-9) New York Jets – TE Tyler Eifert/Notre Dame

They added the pass-rusher their defense desperately needed earlier in Barkevious Mingo allowing them to turn their attention to rebuilding this ghastly offense. Geno Smith might have been a possibility here if he was still available and so could his former teammate wide receiver Tavon Austin, who is considered the top offensive playmaker in the draft. In this scenario they pass on Austin instead waiting until the second round to possibly add a wide out and go fill the hole left at tight end by Dustin Keller’s departure. Keller was Mark Sanchez’s favorite target and he likes to check down a lot anytime he thinks he feels any sort of pressure. Eifert may be the cleanest prospect in this draft and is on the rise. Ryan gets his stud tight end to match the Pats Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

9. OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU

39. CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

72. FS Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

14. Carolina Panthers (7-9) – DT Star Lotulelei/Utah

This is one of the better scenarios for the Panthers as they need to desperately upgrade their defensive tackle position and not only is Sheldon Richardson available, but so is Star Lotulelei. Richardson might be the better fit as an interior lineman that can penetrate and put pressure on the passer along with stuffing the run, but Star is just too talented to pass up and new general manager Dave Gettleman is a believer in taking the best player available and in this case it is Lotulelei.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

44. WR Robert Woods, USC

15. New Orleans Saints (7-9) – OLB Jarvis Jones/Georgia

Jarvis Jones might be falling, but the 3-4 outside linebacker market dries up pretty quickly and Jones is the last potential elite game-changer left at the position and the Saints desperately need a pass-rusher to fit their new 3-4 defense. Jones had just an awful pre-draft season, but his game film is as good if not better than any other defensive prospect in this draft. He gives New Orleans and new DC Rob Ryan the pass-rusher they need to rebuild this horrid defense.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

75. LT David Bakhtiari, Colorado

16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) – WR Tavon Austin/West Virginia

A no-brainer pick here as Austin is still available giving the Rams and Sam Bradford the receiver they sorely need. Austin is not only great replacement for the departed Danny Amendola, but probably even an upgrade. He can do a lot of things with the ball in his hands and will quickly become Bradford’s favorite and most reliable target. Kenny Vaccaro is tempting here with the Rams in need of two new starting safeties and unlikely to still be available with the 22nd overall pick.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

22. FS Eric Reid, LSU

46. SS Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International

78. RB Jonathan Franklin, UCLA

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – WR Cordarrelle Patterson/Tennessee

This doesn’t really feel like a Steelers first round pick, but with all of the outside linebackers off the board they have to go in another direction. In this scenario they land boom or bust receiver Cordarrelle Patterson giving them a guy who can break the game wide open every time the ball is in his hands. They lost Mike Wallace in free agency and nearly lost Emmanuel Sanders, who will be an unrestricted free in 2014 as well. You know a team needs a receiver when the quarterback has to beg the franchise to match an offer sheet for their no.3 wide out.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

48. DL Jesse Williams, Alabama

79. QB Tyler Bray, Tennessee

18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – DT Sheldon Richardson/Missouri

The Cowboys don’t get the offensive line help they need, but instead bolster their aging defensive line. They thought they would only have a shot at Sylvester Williams at this spot, but with Sheldon Richardson still available they jump all over him. He is exactly the type of penetrating, three-technique defensive tackle Monte Kiffin needs for his Tampa-2 defense the Cowboys are installing this season. He gives them Dallas the much needed youth they need on the defensive line while improving their run defense and pass rush.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

47. OL Justin Pugh, Syracuse

80. OL Barrett Jones, Alabama

19. New York Giants (9-7) – DE Bjoern Werner/Florida State

The Giants haven’t drafted a linebacker since 1984, but this could be the year that they change that given the state of their linebacker corps. Under GM Jerry Reese this has become a franchise that almost always goes with the best player available regardless of position or need. In this case its pass-rusher Bjoern Werner, who was considered one of the top prospects for most of the regular season before falling slightly down draft boards. In this scenario he falls right to the Giants giving them a third pass-rusher for their defense to replace the departed Osi Umenyiora. Werner is a special talent that is still developing and with the coaching he’ll receive from Tom Coughlin and his staff he could be one of the steals of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

49. OLB Sio Moore, Connecticut

81. OG Brian Winter, Kent State

20. Chicago Bears (10-6) – LB Alec Ogletree/Georgia

The Brian Urlacher era is over in Chicago, while Lance Briggs time is almost up as well as he gets older. The Bears lost Nick Roach and Geno Hayes in free agency, while free agent pickup D.J. Williams is an injury risk. Ogletree has some off the field red flags, but is supremely talented and one of the best athletes in this draft. He can play all of the linebacker positions giving the Bears some added versatility.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

50. CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – S Kenny Vaccaro/Texas

The Bengals land the safety prospect they have needed for a while. Vaccaro can play both safety positions and can be an immediate replacement for free agent Chris Crocker. The Bengals really like running back Eddie Lacy and could take him to be the workhorse ball-carrier they’re looking for. 

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

37. LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State

53. RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

84. WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon State

22. Washington (10-6) St. Louis Rams – FS Eric Reid/LSU

The Rams just slumped over in their seats as both of the two players they were hoping to still be available at this pick come off the board right before them in Ogletree and Vaccaro. After adding Austin to their receiving corps earlier in the draft, their need at safety becomes even more important. Reid has bounced up and down draft boards arguably more than any other prospect, but appears to be rising in the right direction as the draft nears closer. He gives the Rams a player they can feel good about in any situation.  

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

16. WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia

46. SS Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International

78. RB Jonathan Franklin, UCLA

23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – DT Sylvester Williams/North Carolina

For a long time the Vikings were known for the “Williams Wall” in the middle of their defense, but when Pat stepped away from football they never really replaced him. Meanwhile Kevin turns 33 later this year and the Vikings don’t have any youth coming up behind him, let alone someone who can be an effective starter next to him. Sylvester Williams can do it all. He stuffs the run, attacks the passer and can move sideline to sideline to make a play. Some teams even had him display his athleticism in linebacker drills. The former Tar Heel helps rebuild the ‘Williams Wall” in Minnesota.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

25. MLB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

52. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

83. CB Dwayne Gratz, Connecticut

24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – CB Xavier Rhodes/Florida State

The Colts spent every pick but one on offense in last year’s draft so this year it should be all about the defense.  Indy has done a nice job of rebuilding their cornerback corps in the last year trading for Vontae Davis during the season, resigning Darius Butler and adding Greg Toler in free agency. Toler can start next to Davis, but he’s better suited as a nickelback and third corner. Xavier Rhodes is still available and a perfect fit for Chuck Pagano’s defense. He can play man and zone and is just as good contributing in run support as he is in coverage. He’s also a big, physical corner giving the Colts someone who can match up with opposing tight ends as well.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

86. OLB Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi

25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) Minnesota Vikings – MLB Manti Te’o/Notre Dame

Vikings GM Rick Spielman loves his Notre Dame prospects and just so happens to have a gaping hole in the center of his defense at middle linebacker that needs to be filled. Manti Te’o seems to be too perfect of a fit here that it works. The Vikings get their guy and Te’o has a Fighting Irish support group already in place in the locker room to lean on when he gets to Minnesota. It’s probably the best situation possible for him.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

23. DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

52. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

83. CB Dwayne Gratz, Connecticut

26. Green Bay Packers (11-5) – RB Eddie Lacy/Alabama

The Packers have been dealing with a running back by committee for a while now and it’s about time they drafted someone who can be a three-down feature running back. They add the one dimension their offense is missing and take it to the next level by adding Alabama’s BCS National Championship running back Eddie Lacy. He’s a bulldozer that welcomes contact, but can make defenders miss with an excellent spin move.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

56. OC Travis Frederick, Wisconsin

88. SS J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern

27. Houston Texans (12-4) – WR Justin Hunter/Tennessee

The Texans get the big play wide receiver to pair with Andre Johnson that they’ve been searching for. Hunter is a tall, lean Randy Moss-type of receiver. He’s silky smooth with good hands despite the problems with drops he had last season, knows how to run routes and most importantly he can make big plays down the field. He’ll have a terrific mentor in Johnson, who he will hopefully be able to take over for when he retires.  

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

57. NT Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State

89. TE Travis Kelce, Cincinnati

95. ILB Jon Bostic, Florida

28. Denver Broncos (13-3) – DE Tank Carradine/Florida State

The Broncos waited until the last minute to try and resign Elvis Dumervil and it cost them as the deadline passed and he ended up signing with the Baltimore Ravens instead, leaving a huge hole at defensive end in Denver. Rookie Derek Wolfe played well, but Robert Ayers continues to be a draft bust disappointment that can’t be counted on as a starter. The Broncos take a risk on Carradine who was one of college’s best pass-rusher until he tore up his knee and only started working out for teams a few weeks ago. If he is completely healthy the Broncos get great value with Carradine at this spot.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

58. RB Giovanni Bernard, North Carolina

90. DT Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State

29. New England Patriots (12-4) – DE Margus Hunt/SMU

The Patriots added Chandler Jones to improve their pass rush last year, but still have a need across from him on the other side of the line where Jermaine Cunningham and Jake Bequette aren’t the answer and Rob Ninkovich is good, but not great. Margus Hunt gives the Pats a big, versatile defensive lineman that they can play on the edge or inside and in multiple schemes. Bill Belichick will have a lot of fun developing this guy. Hunt will also bring unprecedented ability on special teams as the massive athlete set an NCAA record for blocked kicks in his time at SMU.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

59. WR Keenan Allen, California

91. WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3) – CB D.J. Hayden/Houston

One of the Falcons main priorities this off-season has been rebuilding their cornerback corps as three of their four corners from last year will be wearing new uniforms this season. Dunta Robinson was cut, while Brent Grimes and Chris Owens headed elsewhere as free agents. They still have Asante Samuel, but have yet to bring in someone to play next to him. Hayden may be the best story in the draft after overcoming a life-threatening injury to his heart during the season. He was finally cleared medically late in the off-season and was able to show that he was healthy at Houston’s Pro Day. He was so good at his pro day that he sent scouts flying back to the film room to watch him on tape. He’s been rising ever since and ends up as a first round pick in this scenario.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

60. TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego State

92. DE Corey Lemonier, Auburn

31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) – DE Datone Jones/UCLA

The 49ers have one of the best defenses in football, but their fantastic defensive line appears to be vulnerable. Justin Smith will turn 34 at the beginning of the season, while Ray McDonald will be 29. They also lost starting nose tackle Issac Sopoaga and backup defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency. Datone Jones is a tremendous talent that is only going to get better learning from Smith, McDonald and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. He has the ability to overwhelm offensive linemen with his strength and speed and wreaks havoc in opposing back fields. It’s almost unfair that the 49ers end up with this kind of prospect.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

34. TE Zach Ertz, Stanford

61. NT John Jenkins, Georgia

74. CB/S Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

93. OC Brian Schwenke, California

32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – ILB Kevin Minter/LSU

The Ravens waited forever to find someone to eventually replace Ray Lewis and now they will have to do it as the future Hall of Fame linebacker retired following the Super Bowl. Baltimore thought they were only going to have to replace Lewis at the inside linebacker position this off-season, but Dannell Ellerbe shocked them by signing with Miami leaving the team’s other inside spot vacant. They signed former Raider Rolando McClain, but he can’t be counted on or off the field as he’s already had a run-in with the law since singing with them. Ogletree and Te’o are off the board so Baltimore goes with the underrated Kevin Minter. He has the talent and leadership that will allow them to plug him into the starting lineup immediately.

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

62. LT Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

94. SS Shawn Williams, Georgia

Seattle Seahawks (11-5)

55. DT Kawann Short, Purdue

87. OLB Trevardo Williams, Connecticut

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)

43. CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State

73. TE Vance McDonald, Rice

Washington Redskins (10-6)

51. FS Phillip Thomas, Fresno State

85. WR Aaron Dobson, Marshall

Written By: Mark Scott



What to Know About the 2013 NFL Draft

The 2013 NFL Draft is finally here and you better be prepared for the unpredictable. This year’s draft is wide open from top to bottom. Literally any one prospect could go anywhere as no one as this point in time really knows what is going to happen. The draft is filled with a ton of good, but very few exceptionally great players with every team giving prospects drastically different rankings. This has the makings of the most exciting NFL Draft in history. Here are just a few of the things you might need or want to know about this year’s draft.

More Drama Then Ever: Can anyone remember a year where we didn’t already know who the first overall pick in the draft was going to be. I can’t. That happens to be the case this year as the Kansas City Chiefs have yet to let it be known who they are taking with the top overall selection and remain quiet only revealing that they have their choice narrowed down to four players. Left tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher have been the front-runners to be taken with the first pick for months now, although a different report seems to come out every day as to which one it will be. It gets pretty dicey after the Chiefs are done making their selection as nobody has really any idea what direction some of the new regimes selecting in the top eleven picks are going to take. There’s the Jags, who have been as secretive as any team, while nobody ever knows what the Raiders might do and then Chip Kelly is sitting there at no.4 and could select just about anybody to fit his system that no one has any clue as to what it will look like. This type of uncertainty goes throughout the draft. While teams usually have their own personal prospect rankings and big boards that differ from other teams, they are never this drastically different. Take Florida’s Sharrif Floyd who appears to be the consensus top defensive tackle for example. At least one team reportedly has him as their best prospect in the entire draft, while a couple of other teams apparently have him as their third-ranked defensive tackle and a mid to late first round pick. This is the case with a number of prospects and the intrigue as to where all of these guys may go continues all the way into the late stages of the third round, where a prospect like Tyler Bray may be available even though a number of teams view him as having the best pure arm talent of any quarterback in the draft. There is very little separating the top 100 or so prospects leaving open the very real possibility that anyone can go anywhere in the draft. So don’t hold your breath waiting for your team to take a certain player or hoping the prospect you want will still be available and certainly don’t put a lot of stock in yours or anyone else’s mock draft as this year it is wide open.

The Offensive Tackles: There are three left tackle prospects ranked at or near the top of the draft in Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. All three are expected to come off the board very early. One appears to be a lock to land in Kansas City, while the destination of the other two remains unclear, but could very likely be within the first five picks. Whoever doesn’t end up with the Chiefs between Joeckel or Fisher is bound to go within the next couple of picks as the Jags, Raiders, Eagles and Lions all have a need at the position. If the second tackle is taken immediately after with the next pick or two, then Johnson becomes even more valuable and teams outside the top five like Arizona, Buffalo, San Diego, Miami and New Orleans that are in need of a left tackle may feel pressured to have to trade up to land him. These three guys will likely determine which direction the early portion of the draft heads.

The Quarterbacks: This is as interesting a quarterback draft class as you will ever see. There is not one sure-fire first round quarterback, although a couple of them could very likely still be selected with one of the first 32 picks. Every one of the top ten prospects has their strengths, but also possesses major flaws, even the position’s top ranked player Geno Smith.  Other than Smith, who seems to be rated as the top quarterback on most boards, there is no real consensus as to how to rank the rest of the class. However, most of them will be selected on Day 2 of the draft in the second and third rounds. This entire class really is made up of beauty in the eye of the beholder type players. There is not one player in the group who can fit any and all offensive schemes, so where these prospects end up will really depend on the type of scheme a team is running.

No Running Backs in First Round: For the first time since 1963 there is a chance a running back won’t be selected in the first round. It’s not like this is a poor draft class as six or seven backs could be off the board in the top 100 picks. The problem is that the only truly elite, game-changing running back in the class is South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore and he’s currently trying to recover from his second straight devastating season-ending knee injury and could miss the majority if not all of the 2013 season. He probably will come off the board around the fourth round, but a team with a strong roster could surprise and take him in the third. Alabama’s Eddie Lacy is the top ranked running back coming into the draft and the only one with a chance to be taken with one of the first 32 picks, most likely in the late portion of the round. Teams currently in the late first round that could consider a running back include the Bengals at 21, Green Bay at 26 and Denver at 28.

Draft Depth:  This might not be the sexiest draft in terms of elite, true first round level prospects as there are fewer than ever this year. But what this draft lacks in exceptional prospects, it more than makes up for it with the number of good players available. There are more late first, second round type prospects in this draft than ever that will still be around deep into the third round. Your team’s first round pick might not have you booking your season’s tickets right away, but when you see the number of good players your team has added by the end of the draft you might.

International Flavor: As the NFL’s popularity grows around the world, athletes from all kinds of countries with different athletic backgrounds have migrated to the United States to play football. This year’s draft may be the best example of the growth of American football across the world yet as the number of foreign-born prospects is higher and more talented than ever. These are not just athletes that are trying their hand at pro football, but young men that have proved themselves at the college level first and are some of the top prospects available in the draft. Five of these prospects could be first round picks, four of which happen to be defensive linemen. BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah is projected by most draft outlets to be selected among the top ten picks, while Bjoern Werner (Florida State), Margus Hunt (SMU), Jesse Williams (Alabama) and offensive tackle Menelik Watson (Florida State) will come off the board in the late first, early second round range.  Ansah and Hunt were some of the best performers at the NFL Scouting Combine and blew scouts away with their off the charts athleticism. Ansah came to America from Ghana and to join the BYU track team and had aspirations of playing in the NBA, however it was the coaching staff from the football team that saw him working out and convinced him to play football. The Estonian-born Hunt has a similar story as the former 2006 World Junior Championships Gold Medalist in the shot put and discus moved to Texas to attend SMU so he could train under famed track coach Dave Wollman, but after coming to SMU, the track and field program ended up being cancelled. Hunt wanted to keep training with Wollman, so the coach sent him over to the football team so he could remain on scholarship and he blossomed into the type of athlete football scouts dream about at 6’8”, 277lbs with 4.70/40 speed combined with incredible strength. Werner and Watson both found themselves playing football at Florida State. The German-born Bjoern Werner loved the sport so much as a teenager that he went on multiple student-exchange programs to the States during high school so he could play football before he eventually landed with the Seminoles in college. Watson meanwhile came to America from England on a scholarship to play basketball at Marist College. He spent two years there before deciding to try boxing and then eventually football. He ended up at Saddlebrooks Junior College in California where he played on an offensive line next to Oregon’s Kyle Long. From there he gained some recognition around the nation and ended up signing with Florida State. Finally Jesse Williams is a great story as the Australian-born rugby and basketball player decided to start playing American football as a teenager and took the opportunity to show off his skills as a 16-year old to coaches from the University of Hawaii that were in Australia teaching a clinic. After seeing him work out they immediately had him commit to their program.  It was later discovered he was a few required credits from being allowed to attend the school so he ended up attending Western Arizona Community College where he was a dominant force before being snatched up as a JUCO-transfer by Alabama’s Nick Saban. The international talent doesn’t end there as LSU punter Brad Wing is one of the nation’s best, while British-born and former Olympic discus thrower Lawrence Okoye showed up at one of the NFL’s Super Regional Combines at Cowboys Stadium this month and caused scouts’ jaws to drop. 

New Decision-Makers in Charge: Look out for the new regimes at the NFL draft this year. Kansas City, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Arizona and San Diego all have new general managers and head coaches in place, while Philadelphia, Buffalo, Carolina and the New York Jets have either a new general manager or head coach taking over this season. The Eagles may be the most interesting to watch of these teams at the draft as former Oregon Head Coach and innovative football mastermind Chip Kelly brings his bag of tricks to the NFL and could take just about anyone to fit his systems.

Top Players with Injury Concerns: Medical reports may be more important than ever this year as a number of the draft’s top prospects have injury concerns. Alabama’s Dee Milliner once looked like a for-sure top ten pick and he still might be when all is said and done, but recent reports have come out revealing the numerous injuries and surgeries he’s dealt with in his career and he could see his stock falling quickly. This is also an off-season where we’ve seen Star Lotulelei of Utah be forced to sit out the Combine with a heart issue that no doubt permanently hurt his stock, despite eventually being medically cleared to work out for teams and play in the NFL with no issues. Georgia’s Jarvis Jones was far and away the nation’s best pass-rusher in college last year, but a lifelong spinal stenosis condition discovered when he was at playing for USC has teams worried and was reported as one of the reason’s he decided not to work out at the Combine. Dion Jordan had shoulder surgery following the Combine, while late season knee injuries to Cornellius Carradine and Keenan Allen kept them out of workouts until early April and could see them be the main reason they are still available in the second round. Then there is South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who is the best running back in the class and has no doubt first round ability, but is trying to battle back from his second straight devastating season-ending knee injury and will have to wait for a team that is comfortable with him likely being out for a full season while he recovers. That probably happens in the fourth round. There are also talented offensive linemen like Barrett Jones and Dallas Thomas that are recovering from injuries too. Finally some good news on the injury front as Houston’s D.J. Hayden is completely healthy and recovered from a life-threatening injury to his heart that he suffered during the season and is currently one of the hard-charging risers as the draft nears and could even be taken in the first round.

Trades: Sit back and enjoy because a lot of trades are expected this year with all the uncertainty going on between teams. Perhaps even an unprecedented amount of movement throughout the event could happen. There are very few clear cut elite prospects at the top of the draft that team’s are desperate to have  so that alone will put pressure on team’s that are just out of range in landing one to make a move up to get them. Also due to the uncertainty as to where each team values or ranks a certain prospect over another has left teams with no clue as to whether the guy they want will be there when they pick or not leading them feeling like they have to move up to ensure they get him.  A number of teams want to move down and get more picks. Teams like the Jags, Raiders, Jets and Saints have holes all over their rosters and not enough picks to fill them with, while a squad like New England, who like to trade down in most years have just five picks at the moment to work with. St. Louis, Minnesota and the New York Jets all have two first round picks and could deal up or down. There are number of teams that want to move up as well and have the ammunition to do so. San Francisco has an astounding thirteen draft picks, but not enough space on their roster to add that many prospects so watch for them to move up or try and turn some of those picks into higher ones for next year. The Ravens are another team that likes to move around the draft and this year should be no different as they have twelve draft selections they can deal from. Then there are the Dolphins and Vikings who both have a pair of first round picks this year and could move up or down, while the Jets do as well, but aren’t expected to be a team that is going to give one of them up.

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD – TOP TEN PROSPECTS BY POSITION

The 2013 NFL Draft is finally upon us. It’s an incredibly interesting draft in that every team has drastically different rankings for all of the prospects from top to bottom. A good example would be Florida’s Sharrif Floyd, who seems to be ranked as the top defensive tackle on most draft boards with at least one team reportedly having him listed as their overall top prospect in the draft, while some teams have him ranked as the third best defensive tackle and much further down their overall rankings. Then there is the Quarterbacks, who could go absolutely anywhere in the draft. There is just so much unpredictability in not just the first round, but the entire draft. Here’s my best effort at providing you with what should be a pretty reliable cheat sheet as to where the prospects might rank and which round they could come off the board in. I have listed every prospect that is ranked in my Top 100.

*Position Rank/Prospect Name/School/Overall Ranking/Projected Round

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK

1.   Geno Smith/West Virginia/19/ First Round

2.   Matt Barkley/USC/36/ Second Round

3.    EJ Manuel/Florida State/48/Second Round

4.   Ryan Nassib/Syracuse/49/Second Round

5.   Tyler Wilson/Arkansas/58/Second Round

6.   Mike Glennon/North Carolina State/82/Third Round

7.   Tyler Bray/Tennessee/94/Third Round

8.   Landry Jones/Oklahoma/99/Third, Fourth Round

9.   Matt Scott/Arizona/Fourth Round

10.   Zac Dysert/Miami-Ohio/Fourth, Fifth Round

RUNNING BACK

1.   Eddie Lacy/Alabama/28/Late First, Second Round

2.   Montee Ball/Wisconsin/63/Second, Third Round

3.   Jonathan Franklin/UCLA/67/Second, Third Round

4.   Giovanni Bernard/North Carolina/76/Third Round

5.   Le’Veon Bell/Michigan State/83/Third Round

6.   Andre Ellington/Clemson/86/Third Round

7.   Christine Michael/Texas A&M/90/Third, Fourth Round

8.   Marcus Lattimore/South Carolina/Third, Fourth Round

9.   Mike Gillislee/Florida/Fourth Round

10.   Stepfan Taylor/Stanford/Fourth Round

WIDE RECEIVER

1.   Tavon Austin/West Virginia/13/First Round

2.   Cordarrelle Patterson/Tennessee/23/First, Early Second Round

3.   Justin Hunter/Tennessee/27/First, Early Second Round

4.   Keenan Allen/California/37/Late First, Second Round

5.   Robert Woods/USC/39/Late First, Second Round

6.   DeAndre Hopkins/Clemson/42/Second Round

7.   Terrance Williams/Baylor/60/Second, Third Round

8.   Quinton Patton/Louisiana Tech/61/Second, Third Round

9.   Markus Wheaton/Oregon State/78/Third Round

10.   Aaron Dobson/Marshall/84/Third Round

Stedman Bailey/WVU/89, Da’Rick Rogers/TNTC/92

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

1.   Luke Joeckel/Texas A&M/1/Top Five

2.   Eric Fisher/Central Michigan/2/Top Five

3.   Lane Johnson/Oklahoma/4/Early First Round

4.   D.J. Fluker/Alabama/17/First Round

5.   Menelik Watson/Florida State/30/Late First, Early Second Round

6.   Justin Pugh/Syracuse/32/Late First, Early Second Round

7.   Kyle Long/Oregon/46/Second Round

8.   Terron Armstead/Arkansas-Pine Bluff/51/Second Round

9.   David Bakhtiari/Colorado/87/Third Round

10.   Brennan Williams/North Carolina/Fourth Round

OFFENSIVE GUARD/CENTER

1.   Chance Warmack/Alabama/9/First Round

2.   Jonathan Cooper/North Carolina/10/First Round

3.   Larry Warford/Kentucky/53/Second Round

4.   Brian Winters/Kent State/69/Late Second, Third Round

5.   C/Brian Schwenke/California/71/Third Round

6.   C/Travis Frederick/Wisconsin/77/Third Round

7.   Barrett Jones/Alabama/96/Third, Fourth Round

8.   Hugh Thornton/Illinois/Fourth, Fifth Round

9.   Alvin Bailey/Arkansas/Fourth, Fifth Round

10.   C/Khaled Homes/USC/Fourth, Fifth Round

TIGHT END

1.   Tyler Eifert/Notre Dame/14/First Round

2.   Zach Ertz/Stanford/29/Late First, Second Round

3.   Gavin Escobar/San Diego State/75/Third Round

4.   Vance McDonald/Rice/81/Third Round

5.   Travis Kelce/Cincinnati/83/Third Round

6.   Jordan Reed/Florida/Fourth Round

7.   Dion Sims/Michigan State/Fifth Round

8.   Nick Kasa/Colorado/Fifth, Sixth Round

====================

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

1.   Sharrif Floyd/Florida/3/Early First Round

2.   Star Lotulelei/Utah/7/Early to mid-First Round

3.    Sheldon Richardson/Missouri/12/First Round

4.   Sylvester Williams/North Carolina/19/First Round

5.   Kawann Short/Purdue/45/Second Round

6.   Jesse Williams/Alabama/47/Second Round

7.   Jonathan Hankins/Ohio State/54/Second Round

8.   John Jenkins/Georgia/56/Second Round

9.   Brandon Williams/Missouri Southern State/95/Third Round

10.   Akeem Spence/Illinois/100/Third Round

DEFENSIVE END

1.   Ezekiel Ansah/BYU/8/Early First Round

2.   Bjoern Werner/Florida State/24/Late First Round

3.   Datone Jones/UCLA/26/Late First, Early Second Round

4.   Margus Hunt/SMU/38/Late First, Early Second Round

5.   Cornellius Carradine/Florida State/40/Late First, Early Second Round

6.   Damontre Moore/Texas A&M/41/Second Round

7.   Sam Montgomery/LSU/57/Second Round

8.   Alex Okafor/Texas/62/Second Round

9.   John Simon/Ohio State/95/Third, Fourth Round

10.   Corey Lemonier/Auburn/97/Third, Fourth Round

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

1.   Dion Jordan/Oregon/6/Early First Round

2.   Barkevious Mingo/LSU/11/Early to mid-First Round

3.   Jarvis Jones/Georgia/15/First Round

4.   Arthur Brown/Kansas State/43/Second Round

5.   Khaseem Greene/Rutgers/55/Second Round 

6.   Sio Moore/Connecticut/65/Second, Third Round

7.   Jamie Collins/Southern Mississippi/70/Second, Third Round

8.   Trevardo Williams/Connecticut/Fourth Round

9.   Zavier Gooden/Missouri/Fourth Round

10.   Chase Thomas/Stanford/Fourth Round

INSIDE LINEBACKER

1.   Alec Ogletree/Georgia/20/Late First, Early Second Round

2.   Manti Te’o/Notre Dame/22/Late First, Early Second Round

3.   Kevin Minter/LSU/44/Second Round

4.   Kiko Alonso/Oregon/93/Third, Fourth Round

5.   Jon Bostic/Florida/Fourth Round

6.   Kevin Reddick/North Carolina/Fourth, Fifth Round

7.   A.J. Klein/Iowa State/Fourth, Fifth Round

8.   Nico Johnson/Alabama/Fifth, Sixth Round

CORNERBACK

1.   Dee Milliner/Alabama/5/Early to mid-First Round

2.   Xavier Rhodes/Florida State/21/First Round

3.   Desmond Trufant/Washington/25/Late First, Early Second Round

4.   D.J. Hayden/Houston/33/Late First, Early Second Round

5.   Jamar Taylor/Boise State/34/Late First, Early Second Round

6.   Johnthan Banks/Mississippi State/50/Second Round

7.   Blidi Wreh-Wilson/Connecticut/64/Second, Third Round

8.   Darius Slay/Mississippi State/66/Second, Third Round

9.   Dwayne Gratz/Connecticut/74/Third Round

10.   Tyrann Mathieu/LSU/79/Third, Fourth Round

Robert Alford/Southeastern Louisiana/80, David Amerson/North Carolina/88

FREE SAFETY/STRONG SAFETY

1.   FS/Kenny Vacarro/Texas/16/First Round

2.   SS/Matt Elam/Florida/31/Late First, Early Second Round

3.   SS/Jonathan Cyprien/Florida Intern./35/Late First, Early Second Round

4.   FS/Eric Reid/LSU/52/Second Round

5.   FS/D.J. Swearinger/South Carolina/59/Second Round

6.   FS/Phillip Thomas/Fresno State/68/Second, Third Round

7.   FS/Bacarri Rambo/Georgia/91/Third Round

8.   SS/Shamarko Thomas/Syracuse/98/Third, Fourth Round

9.   SS/J.J. Wilcox/Georgia Southern/Fourth Round

10.   SS/Shawn Williams/Georgia/Fourth Round

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: PRO DAYS WEEK 3 RECAP

The third week of pro days for 2013 NFL Draft prospects is in the books and a number of highly anticipated players worked out for scouts. Star Lotulelei and Jarvis Jones were finally able to get on the field for NFL teams after not working out at the Combine due to injuries, while other prospects like Sharrif Floyd, Mike Glennon and the contingent out of Tennessee were on display.

MARCH 18: Houston

An incredible story emerged out of the Houston pro day where CB D.J. Hayden took to the field to show scouts from across the NFL that he is not only alive and almost completely healthy following a life-threatening injury in early November, but back playing football. In a freak accident during practice Hayden tore the main vein (inferior vena cava) in his heart and many thought he would never play again. However, Hayden made a statement on Monday when he ran the 40 in anywhere from as fast as a 4.33s to 4.24s to go along with a 33.5” inch vertical jump and 10’ foot broad jump. He had to call it a day early and was unable to perform in positional drills after pulling a hamstring in his second 40 attempt. He also wasn’t able to get on the bench press as his sternum is still recovering. Hayden was earning second and third grades from scouts before the injury and his work out on Monday washed away most of the injury concerns and probably ensured that he will be off the board by at least the fourth or fifth round.

MARCH 19: Florida State

There were 23 Seminoles on the field for NFL team reps to see with prospects like E.J. Manuel, Xavier Rhodes, Bjoern Werner and Menelik Watson working out. Notable NFL personnel on hand included New Orleans Saints DC Rob Ryan, Denver Broncos DC Jack Del Rio as well as Pittsburgh Steelers OC Todd Haley. Manuel appeared to be the feature attraction as he drew a large crowd to watch him throw various routes to teammates. Scouts still seem to be pretty split on Manuel, although he has met with 25 teams since the Senior Bowl, where he was the game’s MVP and was recently invited to attend the draft, which is often an indicator that he could be a first round pick. Rhodes, Werner and Watson stood by their Combine numbers as well, but all competed in positional drills. Rhodes struggled in cornerback drills where he slipped multiple times and dropped a couple of balls. Werner impressed scouts by performing in defensive line and linebackers drills. Pass-rusher Brandon Jenkins, who missed almost his entire Senior season after suffering a Lisfranc injury looked healthy in drills and could be an interesting mid-round selection. Cornellius ‘Tank’ Carradine did not work out as he is still recovering from a torn ACL, but is reportedly ahead of schedule and is tentatively set to work out for NFL teams on April 20. He’s probably an early second round selection.

MARCH 20: Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina State

Utah’s Star Lotulelei’s much anticipated pro day went down on Wednesday where the highly rated defensive tackle worked out in front of reps from 31 NFL teams, including defensive line coaches from at least six teams. He seemed to put to rest some of the concerns about the heart condition that prevented him from working out at the Combine, however his draft stock will probably remain in the air until he goes through the medicals at the “combine re-checks” in early April. On the field he looked great turning in a fantastic workout. He registered 38 reps on the bench press, a 30” inch vertical jump, a 4.65s short shuttle and a 7.76s in the three cone drill, while he ran a 5.31s in the 40, despite being advised to sit it out. He weighed-in at an impressive 6’3”, 314lbs with 34” inch arms. His pro day performance was positive step in forward.

The Tennessee pro day was a must-see this year as the Vols bevy of offensive talent drew representatives from all 32 NFL teams, including Oakland Raiders G.M. Reggie McKenzie, New York Jets G.M. John Idzik, St. Louis Rams G.M. Les Snead, along with Pittsburgh Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert, Head Coach Mike Tomlin and OC Todd Haley. The Steelers contingent took Tyler Bray out for a dinner meeting. Bray showed off his superior arm talent in a good workout nailing throws to all levels. He has the best arm of any quarterback in this draft, but it is the intangibles like leadership along with some maturity issues that have Bray possibly falling into the mid-rounds. His interviews with teams will be what determines where he comes off the board, but his supreme arm will cause teams to overlook some of the those other issues. It didn’t hurt that he was throwing to the best receiver corps in the nation. Two of the drafts top receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter turned in terrific workouts again. Both were great at the Combine and even better at the Tennessee pro day. Patterson chose to improve his times in the shuttle drills, while Hunter improved his vertical jump to an incredible 40.5” inches and his broad jump to 11’6”. Patterson dropped a couple passes in drills and still needs to work on his route-running, while Hunter looked as smooth as ever. Unheralded Zach Rogers was one of the Bray’s most reliable targets throughout their time at Tennessee and he turned in a solid workout that should earn him a spot in the mid-rounds. Former Vols wide out Da’Rick Rogers, now of Tennessee Tech was allowed to work out at the Tennessee pro day despite being kicked off the team before last season. He improved his vertical jump to 38” inches, but kept his other numbers from the Combine. He also caught the ball very well. Tennesse-Martin’s Montori Hughes was also invited and allowed to work out and put in a good performance that should help his stock a little bit. Some scouts have said that Patterson, Hunter, Bray and Rogers (Da’Rick) could be off the board by the end of the second round. OG/OT Dallas Thomas was unable to work out because of a torn labrum that he suffered during Senior Bowl practices. He only had surgery on February 7th and is expected to be out for 4-5 months. His draft stock at this point is completely up in the air after coming into the draft process as a possibly Day 2 selection.

One of the top quarterbacks available, North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon turned in an impressive pro day on Wednesday. He ran through a pro-style passing workout that involved a number of West Coast offense-type plays along with completing multiple high-risk passes into the wind that showed off hi s fantastic arm strength. He solidified himself as a second round pick.

MARCH 21: Georgia, Stanford, Stony Brook

Utah’s Star Lotulelei wasn’t the only prospect with a highly anticipated pro day this week as Georgia’s Jarvis Jones also finally got on the field. And it wasn’t good. The nation’s leading sack artist was extremely disappointing on Thursday. He ran a slow 4.92s in the 40 and did nothing to impress anyone in any of the other measurable drills. In fact some of his numbers were only slightly better than 342lb. NT Kwame Geathers. Positional drills didn’t go much better for Jones either. His workout was so disappointing that some scouts are now considering him as a situational 4-3 defensive end only. He probably still comes off the board in the mid to late first round, but it would no longer be a surprise if he falls into the second round and will now have to rely solely on his game tape. Supremely athletic LB Alec Ogletree was excellent again and probably solidified his spot in the first round. Massive Nose Tackles John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers turned in excellent performances. They both improved their numbers in multiple drills and looked great in positional drills. Other Bulldogs prospects had solid workouts, but nobody stood out.

There were reps from 31 NFL teams, with only the Redskins not in attendance to see Stanford’s pro day. One of the drafts’ top tight ends, Zach Ertz was the main attraction. He recorded a 4.62s in the 40, a 35 ½ “ vertical jump and a 9’6” broad jump. He kept the rest of his numbers from the Combine. He also looked smooth while running routes and caught the ball exceptionally well. His draft stock probably remained the same as a likely early second round pick. Stepfan Taylor, Chase Thomas and Levine Toilolo had decent performances in their work outs.

Watch out for Stony Brook’s Miguel Maysonet. The running back drew 28 teams to the Stony Brook pro day and is skyrocketing up draft boards. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay raving about him on ESPN doesn’t hurt either. Maysonet turned in a good performance with a 4.62s in the 40, 21 reps of 225lbs. on the bench press, a 31” inch vertical jump, an 8’11” broad jump, a 4.27s short shuttle and a 7.19s in the three-cone drill. He looked very quick in running back drills and showed good hands catching the ball. He may now come off the board on Day 2 due to the high interest in him.

MARCH 22: Sharrif Floyd

Reps from 14 NFL teams, including Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie were in attendance to see Florida’s Sharrif Floyd work out and from all reports his performance was outstanding. Floyd has made the case that he is arguably the best prospect in 2013 NFL Draft and it is highly unlikely that he falls past the Raiders at the no.3 selection. NFL Network’s Charlie Casserly said he would take Floyd over Ndamukong Suh.

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL SCOUTING COMBINE STORYLINES/PLAYERS TO WATCH

Draft season continues on as the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine gets underway this week and brings together all of the top prospects for NFL front offices and scouts to see as 333 potential draft picks will report to Indianapolis. The prospects will be on display off the field at the weigh-ins, medical exams, press conferences and team interviews and on the field in a multitude of measurable and football drills. A great performance by one of the top prospects at this year’s Combine could determine who the top prospect is and who the first overall pick might be.

1.   Can a consensus #1 prospect emerge with a great performance at the Combine?

The 2013 Scouting Combine might just be the most competitive one yet as this year the event will get underway with no clear consensus #1 prospect rated among scouts, analysts and other draft experts. Right now any one of about four or five prospects among a group that consists of Luke Joeckel, Star Lotulelei, Bjoern Werner, Damontre Moore and Chance Warmack could be considered the top guy, but even they have their detractors. That’s why a fantastic performance at the Combine this year by any of these prospects or another could solidify them as the top dog. One of these prospects needs to do something to separate themselves from the group. If you don’t agree with that notion, just look at Central Michigan Left Tackle Eric Fisher who has skyrocketed up draft boards from a late first round pick into the top ten after a dominant performance at the Senior Bowl and one would have to think that he’s coming to Indianapolis with the mindset of outshining Joeckel at their position and putting himself into consideration for that top spot among 2013 prospects. Joeckel appears to be the favorite at the moment to be considered the top prospect and most likely first overall pick, but if he disappoints at the Combine there will be any number of guys ready to steal that spot from him. The Combine is as important as ever this year for these prospects.

2.   The Quarterback Competition Continues

Perhaps the most interesting storyline of the 2013 NFL Draft is the ongoing Quarterback competition between eight or nine prospects and who will emerge among them as the top signal-caller and a guy worthy of taking early in the draft. Six quarterbacks (Glennon, Jones, Wilson, Manuel, Nassib and Dysert) failed to do much to improve their draft stock at the Senior Bowl as the event was filled with highs and lows as all six had their good and bad moments. The Combine will bring three more quarterbacks back into the fold as seniors Geno Smith and Matt Barkley will attend the event after skipping the Senior Bowl along with underclassman Tyler Bray, who might just have the best pure arm of anyone this year. No real reason has been made for why Smith skipped the Senior Bowl and he will have some fence mending to do this week, while Barkley missed the event because he was still recovering from shoulder surgery and the same injury will apparently keep him from throwing and doing most of the drills at the Combine as well. This will be Bray’s first opportunity since the college football regular season ended to show off for scouts as Tennessee didn’t even make a bowl game this year. Despite struggling down the stretch and skipping out on the Senior Bowl festivities, Smith comes into the Combine still as the favorite among quarterbacks to be taken in the first round, although to who is still up in the air. The pressure will be on all of these quarterbacks to impress NFL front offices and scouts this week and a great performance could have a major impact on just where all of these guys will come off the board. It is that wide open between these quarterbacks. Dysert won’t compete in drills after tearing his hamstring last week.

3.   SEC Showcase

If you needed any more proof as to why the SEC dominates college football and wins the BCS National Championship every year, look no further than the 2013 NFL Draft and this week’s Scouting Combine. Of the 333 prospects invited to the event, 73 are from the SEC. LSU leads the way with 13 players at the event including a record 11 underclassmen, Georgia is next with 11 invitations, while Florida and Alabama have 10 each. South Carolina (7) and Texas A&M (6) will combine for 13 prospects at the Combine. Up to 20 SEC prospects could be selected in the first round including Luke Joeckel, who is currently one of the favorites to be taken with the first overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs.

4.   The Medical Reports

Medical/Physical exams may be the most important aspect of the Combine for prospects where NFL team doctors will get their first chance to examine potential draft picks. A failed medical report or unreported injury could affect a prospect more than anything else that happens this week. There are quite a few notable prospects that will have all eyes on them as they pass through the exam starting with Matt Barkley, who was going to throw at the Combine, but now isn’t and was said to be almost fully healthy, but may be further off then has been reported. The condition of his throwing shoulder is probably the biggest storyline to watch in regards to the medical portion of the event. Marcus Lattimore’s entire draft stock may rest with what happens in his medical exam. After blowing out his knee for the second straight season, the running back with first round talent is facing a tough road back to being fully healthy and returning to the form that had him ranked as the top ball-carrier in the draft before the injury. Others to keep an eye on include Jarvis Jones, who will continue to downplay his spinal stenosis condition, Tank Carradine (ACL tear), Keenan Allen (PCL strain), Jesse Williams (knee), Barrett Jones (Lisfanc injury), Eddie Lacy (recent torn hamstring), Zac Dysert (recent hamstring tear), Denard Robinson (nagging elbow injury), Sean Renfree (torn pectoral muscle), Kiko Alonso (nagging wrist injury) and Dion Jordan (pending shoulder surgery).

5.   Manti Te’o faces the Media and Interview Room

If Manti Te’o wanted all the attention, he sure got it with this fake girlfriend hoax whether he was in on it or not and the toughest part as a result of it will take place this week when he will have to face the media firing squad and hoards of reporters at his news conference and even more so in private interviews with team front offices and coaching staffs. His stock has taken multiple hits with this hoax off the field and more importantly his dreadful performance on the field in the BCS National Championship against Alabama where he was completely dominated. He has a lot of making up to do this week both on and off the field if he wants to remain a first round possibility. Te’o’s not the only prospect in for a tough week of interviews and questions as Alec Ogletree and Tyrann Mathieu will also be under the microscope. Despite starting the season with a four-game suspension for a violation of team rules, Ogletree was still able to play his way into the top 20 prospects, but a DUI arrest just a few days ago have sent red flags soaring. Baltimore appears to be the biggest benefactor of Te’o’s and Ogletree’s issues as the chance of one of them falling to the Ravens is now a real possibility giving the Super Bowl Champions a shot at landing an instant replacement at middle linebacker for the retired Ray Lewis. Mathieu’s off the field problems over the last couple of years are well documented and the Combine will be his final chance to win a team over and have a chance of even being drafted.

6.   A lack of elite offensive weapons

It’s not the most glamorous year for top prospects as the 2013 class is dominated by the defensive and offensive lines. Just a handful of prospects at the offensive skill positions appear to have a chance to be selected in the first round this year. The quarterback class is quite underwhelming with just Geno Smith as a likely first round pick, while maybe two wide receivers like Corrdarrelle Patterson and Keenan Allen might crack the first 32 picks. Eddie Lacy appeared to be the only running back with a shot at being a first round pick, but a recent tear in his hamstring and not being able to compete at the Combine could prevent that. While there may be a lack of elite offensive playmakers in the draft this year, there is no shortage of prospects in rounds two through four that have the ability to make an impact on NFL offenses. In fact the mid-rounds are stocked full of guys with next-level talent as nine quarterbacks, 12 running backs and 15 or more wide receivers could come off the board in these rounds with a number these prospects still having the chance to crack the first round. The tight end position has a couple of nice prospects as well in Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz and Jordan Reed who should all be off the board in the first two days of the draft. While there isn’t an Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson or Calvin Johnson this year, there is still a ton of talent at the offensive skill positions.

7.   The New Test

A new aptitude test will be added to the Combine this year. It will focus on measuring a player’s learning styles, motivation, decision-making skills, core intellect and their ability to respond to pressure or unexpected stimuli. There is no score, but will instead give a comprehensive look at a player’s non-physical capabilities, aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses. The exam will be 60 minutes and take place in a classroom environment the same way as the Wonderlic test is. The test results will be shared with one or two team executives to protect confidentiality and every team will receive one page of “coaching points” on every player who takes the exam. These points will assist teams to closer evaluate prospects and determine whether they will be able to fit in with the current roster and coaching staff/style. This new test will not replace the Wonderlic, but will instead help to support its results.

8.   Fast Man/Strong Man

Every year scouts and fans wonder “who the fastest man” and “who the strongest man” are at the Combine. This year the fastest man competition appears to be wide open as Ace Sanders, Marquise Goodwin, Tavon Austin, Markus Wheaton and Steve Williams lead the candidates from the wide receiver class, while Onterio McCalebb, Kenjon Barner and Andre Ellington appear to be the best bets among running backs to run the fastest 40 time. Cornerback Nickell Robey and Athlete Denard Robinson could also run in the 4.3s. Goodwin was actually a member of the American Olympic Track Team at the London Games where he competed and finished tenth in the long jump event and was the champion in the same event at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials. Alabama’s Jesse Williams is the favorite to be this year’s strongest man and has the potential to break the bench press record. His weight room performances at Alabama are apparently legendary and he is said to have the ability to bench 600lbs. As for prospects who have the potential to star in drills across the board and be the event’s “Workout Warriors,” keep an eye on freaky athletes like Ezekiel Ansah, Barkevious Mingo, Margus Hunt, Dion Jordan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Zaviar Gooden, while Lane Johnson, Menelik Watson and John Jenkins are expected to stand out among the bigger athletes.

9.   Small School Prospects

Every year the Combine gives a chance to a handful of the best small school prospects to compete and test their skills against the nation’s top draft eligible prospects for all the NFL to see. Each year at least one or two prospects emerge as player worth taking somewhere in the first three rounds. This year the best candidates to shine include Missouri Southern DT Brandon Williams, Tennessee-Martin DT Montori Hughes, Arkansas Pine-Bluff OT Terron Armstead and Florida International S Jonathon Cyprien. The Golden Panthers safety has already made a splash this year after a terrific Senior Bowl week.

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT – DECLARED UNDERCLASSMEN/NOTABLE RETURNEES

A record 73 underclassmen have entered the 2013 NFL Draft according to the NFL’s official list of players granted “special eligibility” for the draft. It should be noted that a number of notable underclassmen that have declared for the draft were not included on the NFL’s list, but are listed on every major website’s underclassmen draft tracker, including NFL.com, ESPN.com, NFLDraftScout.com and SI.com, while others that don’t appear on some of these websites are listed on the NFL’s official release. Players like Tyler Eifert, D.J. Fluker, Justin Pugh, Da’Rick Rogers, Josh Boyce, Brandon Kaufmann, Trabis Ward and Kyle Padron appear on every major website’s underclassmen tracker, but do not appear on the NFL’s official list. Fluker and Pugh were granted permission to play in the Senior Bowl because they have already earned their university degrees as fourth-year juniors and that may be why they are not listed. Underclassmen appearing on the NFL’s official list, but not displayed on most trackers include Dwayne Beckford, Duron Carter, Bradley Randle, Jose Jose and Jajuan Harley. If all of those prospects count as underclassmen than there would be 81 in total. The 73 prospects officially listed by the NFL tops last year’s record of 65 early entrants, which smashed 2011’s record of 56 underclassmen. The number has actually risen from 43 to 73 over the last ten years. The SEC leads the way with an outstanding 33 underclassmen prospects proving again to be the best conference in college football. Of those 33 SEC prospects, an incredible eleven players come from LSU blowing away every other school’s total. In fact Florida, Tennessee and Florida State have the next most with just four underclassmen each. A large number of the underclassmen listed will be selected among the first three rounds of the draft including Luke Joeckel, Bjoern Werner, Damontre Moore, Dee Milliner and Jarvis Jones, who could all be selected among the first five picks. The 2013 NFL Draft goes down April 25-27.

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Tyler Bray/Tennessee, Kyle Padron/Eastern Washington

RUNNING BACKS (13)

Le’Veon Bell/Michigan State, Giovani Bernard/North Carolina, Knile Davis/Arkansas, Michael Ford/LSU, Jawan Jamison/Rutgers, Stefphon Jefferson/Nevada, Eddie Lacy/Alabama, Marcus Lattimore/South Carolina, Bradley Randle/UNLV, Joseph Randle/Oklahoma State, Trabis Ward/Tennessee State, Spencer Ware/LSU, Cierre Wood/Notre Dame

WIDE RECEIVERS (13)

Keenan Allen/California, Stedman Bailey/West Virginia, Josh Boyce/TCU, Duron Carter/Florida Atlantic, DeAndre Hopkins/Clemson, Justin Hunter/Tennessee, Brandon Kaufman/Eastern Washington, Cordarrelle Patterson/Tennessee, Da’Rick Rogers/Tennessee Tech, Ace Sanders/South Carolina, Kenny Stills/Oklahoma, Marquess Wilson/Washington State, Robert Woods/USC

OFFENSIVE TACKLES (6)

David Bakhtiari/Colorado, Chris Faulk/LSU, D.J. Fluker/Alabama, Luke Joeckel/Texas A&M, Justin Pugh/Syracuse, Menelik Watson/Florida State

OFFENSIVE GUARDS/CENTERS (2)

Alvin Bailey/Arkansas (OG), Travis Frederick/Wisconsin (C)

TIGHT ENDS (6)

Tyler Eifert/Notre Dame, Zach Ertz/Stanford, Gavin Escobar/San Diego State, Jordan Reed/Florida, Dion Sims/Michigan State, Levine Toilolo/Stanford

DEFENSIVE ENDS (7)

William Gholston/Michigan State, Joe Kruger/Utah, Corey Lemonier/Auburn, Stansly Mapongo/TCU, Sam Montgomery/LSU, Damontre Moore/Texas A&M, Bjoern Werner/Florida State

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (9)

Shariff Floyd/Florida, Kwame Geathers/Georgia, Johnathan Hankins/Ohio State, Jose Jose/UCF, Bennie Logan/LSU, Brandon Moore/Texas, Sheldon Richardson/Missouri, Darrington Sentimore/Tennessee, Akeem Spence/Illinois

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

Dwayne Beckford/Purdue, Jelani Jenkins/Florida, Jarvis Jones/Georgia, Barkevious Mingo/LSU

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (3)

Kevin Minter/LSU, Alec Ogletree/Georgia, Tom Wort/Oklahoma

CORNERBACKS (12)

David Amerson/North Carolina State, Terrence Brown/Stanford, Mike Edwards/Hawaii, Jajuan Harley/Middle Tennessee, Tyrann Mathieu/LSU, Dee Milliner/Alabama, Greg Reid/Valdosta State, Xavier Rhodes/Florida State, Nickell Robey/USC, Logan Ryan/Rutgers, Tharold Simon/LSU, Steve Williams/California

FREE/STRONG SAFETIES (3)

Matt Elam/Florida (SS), Tony Jefferson/Oklahoma (FS), Eric Reid/LSU (FS)

PUNTERS/KICKERS (1)

Brad Wing/LSU

NOTABLE RETURNING UNDERCLASSMEN

OLB Anthony Barr/UCLA, LT Taylor Lewan/Michigan, OT Jake Matthews/Texas A&M, WR Jordan Matthews/Vanderbilt, QB A.J. McCarron/Alabama, DT Daniel McCullers/Tennessee, ILB C.J. Mosley/Alabama, QB Aaron Murray/Georgia, DT Louis Nix/Notre Dame, CB Bradley Roby/Ohio State, QB Logan Thomas/Virginia Tech, OLB Kyle Van Noy/BYU, CB Jason Verrett/TCU

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: BOWL GAMES PART 4 (JAN.1)

Bowl Mania continues on New Year’s Day as six games involving a boatload of draft-eligible prospects will keep scouts, front offices and fans busy all day long. The day starts out slow for prospects, but quickly picks up as the bowls grow more important and involve higher profile prospect-stocked teams. A number of highly ranked players like Bjoern Werner, Taylor Lewan, Jarvis Jones and most of the rest of the Georgia draft class will be in action. Nothing like some college football to cure a hangover.

TAXSLAYER.COM GATOR BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (9-3)

New Year’s Day starts out pretty slow for prospects in the Gator Bowl with just one highly rated player. Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks (Sr) is an experienced corner with very good height and length that possesses the ability to play man coverage and in zone. His ball skills and instincts are among the best at the position and allow him to contribute in a number of areas and make game-changing plays. His lack of elite speed is the biggest question surrounding him right now and could keep him out of the first round, but won’t cause him to fall any further than the second. He was fantastic this season in winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back and enters the 2013 NFL Draft as the top senior cornerback available. After Banks the Bulldogs have a group of mid to late round prospects that includes OG Gabe Jackson (rJr), CB Darius Slay (Sr), DT Josh Boyd (Sr) and OLB Cameron Lawrence (Sr). Jackson is a mammoth offensive lineman that moves incredibly well for a man his size and absolutely mauls defenders in pass protection and especially when run blocking. He has starting potential in the NFL and could be drafted as high as the third round. He still has a year of eligibility remaining and could return to Mississippi State for another season. CB Corey Broomfield (rSr) and WR Chad Bumphis (Sr) are likely undrafted free agents. Northwestern doesn’t have any noteworthy draft-eligible prospects this season.

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-5)

There are even fewer prospects in the other game at noon between the Boilermakers and Cowboys, but at least each team has a noteworthy draft-eligible player in this one. Purdue DT Kawann Short (rSr) is a huge athlete with the ability to dominate a game. While he’s able to handle double-teams and clog up the middle he’s not just the typical space-eating defensive tackle, but is actually a very talented pass-rusher from the interior as evidenced by the 18.5 sacks and 48 tackles for loss he amassed over his collegiate career. He is also able to use his huge wingspan to knock down passes and block kicks on special teams. He would probably be rated as a first round pick, but major questions exist about his lack of effort game in and game out and thought that he plays too passive at times. He probably comes off the board in the second round and could end up being a steal if he can change his bad habits. Oklahoma State RB Joseph Randle (Jr) is a very talented running back with explosive speed and the ability to break off big runs when he gets just a bit of open space. He also has terrific hands out of the backfield as a pass-catcher. While he showed for the second straight season that he can handle a full workload as a feature ball-carrier, he will probably be best suited as a change of pace or third down back in the NFL. Randle has the choice to return to school for his final year of eligibility, but should he declare early he could be selected as high as the third or fourth round. Purdue CB Josh Johnson (Sr) is an underrated corner and has a chance to be a seventh round pick in April.

OUTBACK BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Michigan Wolverines (8-4) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2)

The number of prospects starts to pick up with the Outback Bowl matchup pitting Big Ten against SEC when the Wolverines and Gamecocks take the field. Michigan LT Taylor Lewan (rJr) is the highest rated prospect in this game and the only one that will be drafted in the first round in April. He’s a massive blindside protector with elite athleticism and may just be the most physically imposing prospect in the draft. His technique still needs some work, but he’s extremely competitive and plays with a mean streak. He’s soared up draft boards as the season’s gone on and looks to be the clear no.2 offensive tackle prospect behind Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel could sneak into the top ten of the draft. While he played basically his entire career at Michigan as a quarterback, WR Denard Robinson (Sr) will enter the draft as a receiver, although some think he could even be moved to cornerback. It is unlikely he’ll take too many snaps at quarterback in this game if at all. Instead he will likely line up as a receiver or running back throughout the game. While the position he’ll eventually play in the NFL is still unknown at this point, what is known about him is that he is an extremely fast and dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. He could come off the board in the first half of Day 3. Late round hopefuls for the Wolverines include DE Craig Roh (Sr) and SS Jordan Kovacs (rSr), while ILB Kenny Demens (rSr), CB J.T. Floyd (rSr) and DT William Campbell (Sr) will most likely go undrafted. Hearts are still broken for South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore (Jr) and what he’s had to go through after suffering his second brutal season-ending knee injury. In 2011 he went down with a torn ACL that he fought and rehabbed tooth and nail to come back from and did so successfully in regaining most of the form that had him rated as the top running back coming into the season. He was just starting to look completely like himself again when he went down with one of the most gruesome-looking injuries seen in sports in a while. Despite the injuries, the fact that he won’t be able to work out for anyone and another year of eligibility remaining, Lattimore has still chosen to declare early for the draft and hope for the best. His plan is to land on an NFL team and rehabilitate his knee with the best possible training staff. Is future at this point is a complete unknown. Aside from Lattimore whose draft stock is up in the air at this point, the Gamecocks feature a group of mid to late round prospects that will be playing in this game including FS D.J. Swearinger (Sr), OLB DeVonte Holloman (Sr), DE Devin Taylor (rSr) and C T.J. Johnson (rSr).

CAPITAL ONE BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Georgia Bulldogs (11-2) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-3)

Perhaps more so than any other team this season the Georgia Bulldogs are a legit showcase of NFL talent with up to twelve possible 2013 draft picks, six of which that could be taken among the first four rounds. OLB Jarvis Jones (rJr) is a freak athlete that is arguably the top pass-rusher and may even be the top prospect in the entire draft. He is an explosive pass-rusher with elite speed and strength and is constantly wreaking havoc in opposing backfields and taking out the quarterback. He rounded out his game very nicely this season displaying the ability to be more effective in stopping the run and holding his own when asked to drop into pass coverage. NFL front offices and scouts have all been eagerly waiting for Jones to enter the draft to have their shot at adding him to their squad, but if teams want him they’ll have to make a move as it’s not likely he makes it out of the top five selections. He is a big-time playmaker that should be able to start and dominate right away. NT John Jenkins (Sr) is a mammoth athlete and the best pure run-stopper in the draft. He’s basically impossible to move at the point of attack and is a dominating force in the middle. He handles double-teams without a problem and is able to make a play on the ball-carrier when he gets into the backfield. He’s not the most glamorous draft pick, but he is an immediate starter that can be plugged into the starting line up right away and will instantly upgrade anyone’s run defense. Outside of Jones, ILB Alex Ogletree (Jr) was Georgia’s best defender this year. Despite missing the first four weeks of the season he still managed to lead the team with 98 tackles in just nine games and was their most consistent and reliable player. He’s an outstanding athlete with the ability to make plays sideline to sideline whether chasing ball-carriers or dropping into pass coverage.  He possesses an excellent combination of size, length and speed and has the versatility to play multiple linebacker positions. His length especially has some scouts thinking that he could be a highly effective pass-rushing outside linebacker in the NFL. While Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o is the top ranked inside linebacker, Ogletree and his incredible athleticism is not far behind and may even be a more dynamic player than Te’o at the next level. He is a likely first round pick should he decide to declare a year early for the draft. QB Aaron Murray (rJr) is a tough, athletic quarterback with very good arm strength and clean mechanics, but he has struggles with his decision-making at times and lack ideal NFL size. He’s a confident kid with talent and could make for a nice developmental quarterback behind an established starter. A number of the quarterback prospects are closely jockeying for position with Murray likely a third or fourth round pick. Jones, Ogletree and Murray could all elect to return to school for their senior year, but only Murray is a real candidate to do that with Jones and Ogletree considered first round locks. The Bulldogs secondary is well represented with FS Bacarri Rambo (rSr) and SS Shawn Williams (Sr). Rambo is a playmaking safety that can lay the wood when delivering big hits and create turnovers in the secondary using his terrific instincts and ball skills. He’s constantly in the middle of the play making something happen. Williams is a smart, productive player that always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s a guy that coaches don’t have to worry about where is head is at and rarely makes mental errors. He’s a reliable safety that teams will know what they’re getting with him. Both safeties have the potential to be starters in the NFL and could be selected as high as the third round. A number of Georgia’s possible draft picks will be potential Day 3 selections including DT Abry Jones (Sr), WR Tavarres King (rSr), CB Sanders Commings (rSr), OLB Cornelius Washington (rSr) and CB Branden Smith (Sr). ILB Christian Robinson (rSr) will probably end up an undrafted free agent. The Cornhuskers have a pair of their own possible late Day 3 draft picks in RB Rex Burkhead (Sr) and FS Damion Stafford (Sr). Burkhead is a thick, power back with the ability to plow his way through the line for the hard yards inside or use his speed to make big plays on the outside with his feet or hands. He showed in 2011 that he can be a feature back, but this season he was constantly battling injuries causing him to miss six games and saw his production take a major dip. He’s probably a sixth round pick. Stafford will most likely join Burkhead in the last couple rounds of the draft. He is an underrated consistent defender that is at his best in run support and is decent in pass coverage, but could stand to make improvements in that area. He’s not going to blow any scouts away with his athleticism, but could be a solid special-teams and depth player that might come off the board late in the draft. Behind them is group of players that will likely go undrafted, but could sneak into the late portion of the draft including DE Eric Martin (Sr), K Brett Maher (Sr), ILB Will Compton (rSr) and DT Baker Steinkuhler (rSr).

ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO, JANUARY 1/2013

Stanford Cardinal (11-2) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (8-5)

The 99th Rose Bowl will showcase two tough, smash mouth-types of teams in Stanford and Wisconsin and the seven prospects involved are perfect examples of that type of player. Stanford will feature one potential late first round pick to go with three others that could be mid-round selections. After taking over for Cody Fleener (Indy Colts), TE Zach Ertz (rJr) proved this season that he was an even better and more complete player than his former teammate. He showed off his big, soft hands and route-running ability in leading all FBS tight ends with 66 catches for 837 receiving yards, both school records, while adding six touchdowns. He’s not just another pass-catching tight end either after elevating himself into a dominant blocker this year. Ertz will be in close competition with Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert for the top spot among tight ends and could sneak into the late first round. Stanford’s linebacker combination of OLB Chase Thomas (rSr) and ILB Shayne Skov (Sr) are a pair of hard-nosed, intelligent defenders. Thomas constantly causes chaos at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield. He’s not an elite athlete, but makes up for that with high-energy all-out effort on every down. He’s the type of football player every team would want and could go as high as the late second round. Skov is a notch or two below Thomas, but is still a very good football player. He is solid in run support and can provide a pass-rush from the middle when called upon. Skov has a red flag or two off the field and should be taken in the first half of Day 3. RB Stepfan Taylor (Sr) is a workhorse back that has proven over the last three seasons that he can handle full-time duties at the position with three straight seasons of at least 1100 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns. He’s also a running back that doesn’t need to come off the field on third down as he has proven to be a talented pass-catcher out of the back field with 91 receptions for 718 yards and five scores. He’s a tough athlete with a thick, powerful frame built to handle the rigors of the NFL. He could be selected in the late third/early fourth round. Late round hopefuls for Stanford include WR Drew Terrell (Sr) and C Sam Schwartzstein (rSr). The Badgers will feature three mid-round draft choices in RB Montee Ball (Sr), OT Ricky Wagner (rSr) and OC/OG Travis Frederick (Jr). In the end it seems like Ball’s highly publicized decision to return to school for his senior season didn’t hurt him much after all as he earned a similar third round draft grade to the one he received last year. Like Taylor, Ball is a workhorse back that can handle 30+ carries a game, while often contributing with his hands on third down. Ball compiled an amazing 5040 career rushing yards with an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns with 76 and most total touchdowns with 82, including 39 total scores in 2011 to tie Barry Sanders’ single season NCAA record. While Ball is a highly talented running back with the potential to be feature ball-carrier in the NFL, he has already put 900 carries on his body heading into the Rose Bowl. His collegiate workload could have an effect on his draft position, but will definitely have an effect on his career long-term. He’s a third or fourth round pick. Ricky Wagner and Travis Frederick will continue the Wisconsin tradition of sending talented, rugged offensive linemen to the NFL. These two are absolute maulers at the line of scrimmage and have the ability to just destroy oncoming defenders when run blocking. They are big, strong and as mean as it gets with the versatility to play multiple positions on the offensive line. Frederick has slightly more upside than Wagner, but both players should come off the board somewhere between the third and fifth rounds.

DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Florida State Seminoles (11-2) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1)

It will be big school versus small school in this season’s Orange Bowl as legendary powerhouse Florida State welcomes upstart Northern Illinois to the big show. The big school/small school angle is quite evident in terms of NFL prospects as the Seminoles have eight or nine players that could be draft picks in April. At the top of the Florida State draft class are potential first round picks DE Bjoern Werner (Jr) and CB Xavier Rhodes (rJr). The rise of German-born Bjoern Werner has been pretty remarkable. In just five short years he’s gone from a high-school exchange student with zero football experience to a First-Team All-American and one of the very top draft-eligible prospects. He is a powerhouse pass-rusher with the strength and power to flatten offensive linemen and the speed and explosive burst to beat them around the edge. He made a name for himself as junior, but became a star and elite prospect this season when he stepped up as the Seminoles feature pass-rusher following Brandon Jenkins’ season-ending injury. Despite having to often face the opponents’ best pass protector Werner was dominant registering 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He looks like a sure-fire top ten pick and could come off the board in the first three selections. Rhodes is a tough, very physical corner with imposing size and strength. He excels in the physical part of playing defense using his superior strength to get in the face of opposing wide receivers and knock them off of their routes. He also has pretty good speed and has shown he possesses the ability to cover receivers anywhere on the field. He’s projected to be a late first, early second round pick. Following Werner and Rhodes are four projected mid-round picks in OLB Brandon Jenkins (Sr), QB EJ Manuel (rSr), DE Cornellius Carradine (Sr) and DT Everett Dawkins (rSr). Jenkins is an explosive pass-rusher with first-round talent, but a Lisfranc injury in his left foot ended his season and dropped him down draft boards leaving his stock a bit up in the air. It won’t be until February or March before he’s able to show he’s fully healthy and worthy of a spot in the first half of the draft. Manuel is a big, athletic quarterback with a very strong arm and the mobility to make plays with his legs, but is still a project at this time. He makes too many bad decisions, holds on to the ball too long and seems to get rattled pretty quickly by pressure. He came into the season as a Heisman candidate and potential first round pick, but struggled despite Florida State’s impressive record and will now need a good showing at the Senior Bowl to sneak into the late third round, but could fall into Day 3. Carradine came into the season as the little known third man behind starters Werner and Jenkins, but like Werner he raised his game to another level with Jenkins’ injury and was flying up draft boards into the first round before going down with a torn right ACL in the season finale. He amassed 11 sacks and 13 tackles for loss through twelve games, but like Jenkins his draft stock is really an unknown until he can show scouts he’s healthy again. Dawkins is a very athletic interior defensive lineman who is best at creating havoc in the middle and putting pressure on the passer even if it doesn’t translate to the stat sheet. His agility and athleticism allow him to move easily around the field and pursue ball-carriers. He should be an early Day 3 selection. Possible late round draft choices for the Seminoles include FB Lonnie Pryor (Sr), WR Rodney Smith (Sr), K Dustin Hopkins (Sr) and DT Anthony McCloud (rSr). Northern Illinois has just one late round hopeful in DE Sean Progar (rSr) for the 2013 NFL Draft. S Dechance Durante (rSo) is still just a sophomore, but is definitely a guy to watch for next year as he looks to have some star potential despite missing half the season with an injury.

 

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



Mark Scott’s Official 2013 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

The quarter mark of the NFL season has passed with every team having now played at least four games on the year which means it’s time to take a look ahead to next year’s draft with the first version of my 2013 NFL Mock Draft. Prospects are moving up and down draft boards each week during the college football season and now halfway through the year we know which draft-eligible prospects are solidifying their rankings as potential first round picks. The 2013 NFL Draft is considered to be a solid draft, but seems to be lacking in truly elite, complete prospects at number of positions. There doesn’t seem to be that can’t miss franchise quarterback, elite play-making number one cornerback, franchise left tackle or superstar running back. It does however have a good group of quarterbacks and is stocked with exceptional pass rushers and defensive linemen. The 2013 NFL Draft is still far away and this mock will probably look completely different in April as NFL teams move up and down the standings and draft-eligible prospects continue to show what they are made of as the year progresses.

1.  CLE 0-5 – QB MATT BARKLEY/USC

New ownership is taking over in Cleveland and a new regime (GM and Head Coach) is likely to be put in place. I don’t see that new regime willing to put their jobs on the line with a nearly 30-year old second-year quarterback as their starter. Brandon Weeden will probably be kept around as a backup the same way Colt McCoy was this season, but the new regime will draft and hand over the reins to Matt Barkley. The Browns cannot pass up the opportunity to take a franchise changing quarterback with the first overall pick just because they took a huge risk with Weeden last year. Barkley probably would’ve been drafted in the top three of the 2012 NFL Draft and funny enough he probably would’ve ended up on the Browns then as well. Playing in a pro-style offense at USC is the main reason I have Barkley just edging out the hard-charging Geno Smith of West Virginia.

2.  KC 1-4 – QB GENO SMITH/WEST VIRGINIA

The Matt Cassel era in Kansas City is most likely over following the season and the Chiefs will replace him by drafting current Heisman favorite Geno Smith. The West Virginia quarterback has lit up opposing defenses this year with astronomical numbers and has skyrocketed up draft boards into consideration for the first overall pick. If Smith is taken with the top pick than this selection will be Matt Barkley. The Chiefs finally get the franchise quarterback they’ve been searching for.

3.  JAX 1-4 – DE BJOERN WERNER/FLORIDA STATE

Surprise, the Jaguars pass rush is abysmal once again. They’ve finished at or near the bottom of the league in sacks the past three seasons and have recorded just 3 in five games this year. Jarvis Jones is the top ranked pass-rusher in the draft, but isn’t the greatest fit for Jacksonville’s 4-3 defense as he is better suited as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme like the one he plays in at Georgia. Bjoern Werner is one of the fastest rising prospects this year and is a perfect fit at defensive end for the Jags. He’s a ferocious pass-rusher that plays with the effort and passion General Manager Gene Smith looks for in his draft picks, even if this is a few spots higher than where he should be selected.

4.  TEN 1-4 – DE SAM MONTGOMERY/LSU

The Titans usually have a pretty good pass rush, but this year it stinks. They lost a couple of key contributors in free agency and their own big signing Kamerion Wimbley has only one sack this season, while Derrick Morgan continues to prove he’s a draft bust with just five sacks in his career. Jarvis Jones is passed up on again in favor of LSU’s Sam Montgomery, who is a better fit for the Titans 4-3 defense. Montgomery is a tremendous athlete with excellent pass-rush skills and has received fantastic coaching under Les Miles.

5.  CAR 1-4 – DT STAR LOTULELEI/UTAH

It’s no wonder the Panthers are drafting in the top five again when they have dedicated most of their money to running backs and linebackers, two of the least valued positions in terms of drafting and spending. The Panthers run defense is awful and their defensive tackles are below average. Star Lotulelei is a difference-maker in the middle that can handle double and triple-teams, while still putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He will improve both the run defense and pass rush and will give the Panthers ability to switch to a long-rumored 3-4 defensive scheme should they want to. He’s the closest prospect to being the next Haloti Ngata that we’ve seen.

6.  OAK 1-3 – OLB JARVIS JONES/GEORGIA

The Raiders are in a bit of a rebuild mode under new General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Dennis Allen especially on defense. McKenzie let go of a number of high-priced talent since taking over and it has depleted this roster of game-changers. They don’t have a pass rush and have one of the worst cornerback corps in the league. Allen had Von Miller in Denver playing a pass-rushing role from the 4-3 outside linebacker spot and could use Jones in the same way. Jones has the versatility to line up all over the front seven and while he has been predominantly used as a 3-4 outside linebacker at Georgia, he has the talent and drive to play in any scheme.

7.  DET 1-3 – CB DEE MILLINER/ALABAMA

The Lions have ignored the cornerback position for years and it continues to haunt them every year. They add some much needed talent in top ranked cornerback Dee Milliner. The Alabama product has emerged as a legit number one cornerback this season after taking over for 2012 first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick. Milliner is excellent in coverage and possesses the ball skills and instincts to create big plays on defense.

8.  NO 1-4 – DT JOHNATHAN HANKINS/OHIO STATE

The whole New Orleans defense has been just putrid this season and appears to lack the right type of talent to fit new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. They can’t stop the run or the pass and have not been able to generate much of a pass rush. They’ve been unsuccessful in finding someone to pair with Sedrick Ellis on the interior of the defensive line and now Ellis will be a free agent in March. Whether they bring Ellis back or not they will still need to add another presence on the inside to fix the run defense. Hankins has been one of the most dominating players in college football this year and looks ready for the NFL.

9.  TB 1-3 – ILB MANTI TE’O/NOTRE DAME

New Head Coach Greg Schiano is changing the culture in Tampa, but still needs a leader on his defense, especially with long-time cornerback Ronde Barber set to retire at the end of the year. Linebacker isn’t necessarily the Bucs biggest need, but selecting Te’o is an opportunity they won’t pass up. Te’o is the top middle linebacker and has the talent that would make him that in any of the last few drafts. He’s a complete three-down linebacker with sideline to sideline range and will be the leader that Schiano can build his defense around for years.

10.  WSH 2-3 STL – LT LUKE JOECKEL/TEXAS A&M

The Rams finally gave up on former 2009 second overall pick and Left Tackle of the future Jason Smith and shipped him to the Jets. Current Left Tackle Rodger Saffold has struggled since being drafted in 2010 and would be a much better fit on the right side. Luke Joeckel is the top blindside protector and one of the most skilled offensive linemen in the draft. Joeckel should finally give quarterback Sam Bradford the protection he so desperately needs.

11.  MIA 2-3 – WR JUSTIN HUNTER/TENNESSEE

Brian Hartline has been fantastic for the Dolphins this season, but he is not a number one wide receiver. Justin Hunter is the top wide out in the draft and would fill the void left by Brandon Marshall who was traded to Chicago in the offseason and never really replaced. Hunter is a big, fast wide out with great hands that can stretch the field deep or wreak havoc making catches over the middle. Hunter, Hartline and Bess could be a formidable trio of wide receivers for quarterback Ryan Tannehill to work and develop with.

12.  BUF 2-3 – QB TYLER WILSON/ARKANSAS

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is clearly not the answer in Buffalo. He’s average at best and doesn’t have the elite skills needed to be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. It also doesn’t help that he really can’t throw the ball deep at all. The Bills have resisted drafting a franchise-type quarterback for a very long time and it’s about time they do draft one. Wilson has fallen down draft boards a bit since suffering a concussion and due to the struggles of the Razorbacks to live up to their potential this season. Wilson is back to being fully healthy again and has started to turn things back around for Arkansas. He possesses a strong accurate arm that should be able to handle the wild weather in Buffalo.

13.  IND 2-2 – OLB BARKEVIOUS MINGO/LSU

The Colts new coaching staff decided to switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme this year and have a lot of rebuilding to do to find the right personnel to fit it. Indy resigned long-time pass-rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, but both are better suited for the more traditional 4-3 defense the Colts used to run. Both were also shopped around during the offseason and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either in a different uniform next year. Regardless Indy still needs a pass-rusher to fit their new defense and get a steal with Mingo still on the board. One of the top ranked prospects at the moment Mingo is still getting better and has as high a ceiling as anyone in this draft. He should become an instant force and the next great Colts pass-rusher.

14.  NYJ 2-3 – OLB/DE COREY LEMONIER/AUBURN

The Jets offense is a mess, but they won’t take a receiver here after selecting Stephen Hill in the second round this year and it’s a bit early to take a running back or right tackle so they will have to look at improving the offense later in the draft. The mighty Jets defense hasn’t been so mighty this season and a lot of that has to do with the lack of a pass rush. They have just five sacks so far and the pass rush doesn’t appear to be getting any better. Aaron Maybin has disappeared again and veterans Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace have provided nothing, while the defensive line hasn’t done much either. Lemonier has been the lone bright spot in a dismal season for Auburn. He has excellent pass rush skills and the versatility to line up at linebacker or defensive end which should be a nice fit for the multiple scheme the Jets use on defense.

15.  DEN 2-3 – CB DAVID AMERSON/NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey has started to slow down the past few seasons and is near the end of his illustrious career. The rest of the Broncos cornerbacks aren’t particularly that good either. David Amerson started the season as one of the very top draft-eligible prospects, but has struggled to live up to expectations and has since slipped into the middle of the first round rankings.  Amerson is a good cover corner with elite ball skills and instincts, but needs to improve his speed and strength to hang with NFL wide receivers.

16.  GB 2-3 – LT TAYLOR LEWEN/MICHIGAN

The Packers don’t have a ton of holes, but could certainly stand to improve their left tackle and running back positions. Marshall Newhouse has struggled at left tackle and is better suited to play inside at guard, while Bryan Bulaga needs to remain at right tackle. Lewen is a bit of project, but has the look and size of a NFL prototype blindside protector and does possess a very high ceiling. The Packers have enough talent on their offensive line to give Lewen the time to continue to improve his game. This selection could easily be South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore.

17.  DAL 2-2 – QB TYLER BRAY/TENNESSEE

This might be a huge shock, but if the Cowboys miss the playoffs again it could be time to replace Tony Romo and start over at the quarterback position. The Cowboys have won just one playoff game and played in only four with Romo as their quarterback. With Romo seeking an extension following the season, this is the time to cut him loose and move on. Tyler Bray has immense talent and the strongest arm in college football. He does have some areas in his game to improve on, but the skills to be a franchise quarterback are there.

18.  SEA 3-2 – WR KEENAN ALLEN/CALIFORNIA

Seattle has put together a pretty good team without a lot of holes, but their wide receiver corps does need to be upgraded. Sidney Rice is always injured, Braylon Edwards is a year to year player and Golden Tate is still a young developing NFL receiver. Keenan Allen is the type of big, athletic down the field wide out that Pete Carroll loves. Allen should be a great fit with the Seahawks and give them the potential number one receiver they need.

19.  STL 3-2 – WR ROBERT WOODS/USC

The Rams just breathed a huge sigh of relief after Robert Woods was still available for them at this spot, especially after missing out on some of the 2012 draft’s top wide outs. St. Louis has one of the worst receiving corps in the league and it has certainly hindered the development of quarterback Sam Bradford. Drafting Woods finally gives Bradford the go to number one wide receiver he has desperately needed since being drafted by the Rams himself.

20.  NYG 3-2 – OG CHANCE WARMACK/ALABAMA

The Giants almost always go with the best player available and worry about filling needs later. Chance Warmack is not only the best player available at this point, but also fill a huge hole for the Giants at left guard. Warmack is NFL-ready and might just be the best offensive linemen in the entire draft. DT Kawann Short, ILB Alec Ogletree or DE Jackson Jeffcoat could also fit the best player available type.

21.  CIN 3-2 (AFC 5) – RB MARCUS LATTIMORE/SOUTH CAROLINA

Free agent signing Benjarvus Green-Ellis was brought in to take over at running back for the departed Cedric Benson, but has struggled so far this season especially with fumbles, which was considered his biggest strength (He had never recorded a fumble in his career). Meanwhile Bernard Scott has done nothing since he was drafted. Marcus Lattimore is a stud that would add another elite weapon to this young Cincinnati offense. He tore his ACL last season, but has shown that he is pretty much back to where he was before the injury. Lattimore is a power back with the ability to make defenders miss and is also a receiving threat out of the back field.

22.  SD 3-2 (AFC 3) – CB JOHNTHAN BANKS/MISSISSIPPI STATE

Quinton Jammer is well into his 30s and is no longer playing at the level he needs too to be a number one corner. Both he and fellow starting cornerback Antoine Cason will be free agents at the end of the season and even if they bring both back next year, adding a young cornerback to the roster to take over for Jammer would be wise. Banks is an experienced SEC-hardened playmaking corner with good all-around skills.

23.  PHI 3-2 (NFC 4) – FS ERIC REID/LSU

Free Safety Kurt Coleman is average at best and could certainly be upgraded. Without too many glaring holes the Eagles can go in any number of directions. Eric Reid is the best safety in the draft and one of the best players available at this point and fits a need area for Philadelphia. Reid is another exceptional product out of Defensive Back U aka. LSU.

24.  ARZ 4-1 (NFC 3) – QB LOGAN THOMAS/VIRGINIA TECH

The Cardinals have had an amazing season so far this year despite Kevin Kolb and John Skelton playing quarterback. Both Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech have had some struggles this season and it has resulted in Thomas slipping down draft boards, but he is still a 6’6”, 250lb. athletic quarterback with a rocket arm and excellent mobility. He’s also extremely good on converting third and short by using his size to muscle his way to a first down.

25.  PIT 2-2 (AFC 6) – SS KENNY VACCARO/TEXAS

The Pittsburgh defense is quickly aging with multiple starters over the age of 30. They have already started the transition by letting go of a few veterans in the offseason. Troy Polamalu is 31 now and can’t stay healthy with any sort of consistency. I’m not saying cut him loose, but it might be time to find his eventual replacement and someone who can step into the starting lineup when he’s injured. Vaccaro has been tremendous this season for the Longhorns and has quickly risen into discussions as a first round pick and the top strong safety in the draft.

26.  NE 4-1 (AFC 4) – CB XAVIER RHODES/FLORIDA STATE

The Patriots cannot continue to use Devin McCourty as a starting cornerback. Every week teams continue to target him with success and New England still ranks near the bottom of the league in pass defense. Xavier Rhodes is a physical hard-hitting corner with solid cover and ball skills.

27.  SF 4-1 (NFC 6) – DT/DE SHARRIF FLOYD/FLORIDA

Defensive Ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald may be the best starting tandem of 3-4 ends in the league, but both are over 30 and the 49ers could use some youth behind them. Floyd has been dominant for the Gators this season and one of the main reasons their defense is one of the best in the nation. He’s flying up draft boards and looks to be a great pick late in the first round.

28.  MIN 4-1 (NFC 2) – WR TERRANCE WILLIAMS

The Vikings have had an outstanding year, but their offense is lacking in weapons after Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. They’ve had great success dropping it off short to Harvin and letting him create in open space, but that is only going to work for so long before defenses start keying in on him. Adding a deep threat like Williams across from Harvin will open up the field for everyone on the Vikings offense.

29.  CHI 4-1 (NFC 5) – LT ERIC FISHER/CENTRAL MICHIGAN

The Bears have one of the worst offensive lines in the league and have for some time now. JaMarcus Webb is absolutely horrible and it’s a wonder that Jay Cutler is able to somehow stay healthy despite being hit repeatedly every game. Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher is a bit off the radar right now, but his name is starting to emerge on more and more draft boards as he continues to impress scouts with his play this season. Georgia’s Alec Ogletree could be an option as an eventual replacement for the aging Brian Urlacher.

30.  BAL 4-1 (AFC 2) – ILB ALEC OGLETREE/GEORGIA

The Ravens have been searching for the last couple of years for an heir apparent to Ray Lewis and they finally land their guy in Georgia’s Alec Ogletree. He’s the top 3-4 inside linebacker in the draft and has the talent to take over right away should Lewis decide to retire following the season. Since he returned from four-game suspension to start the year he has quickly risen up draft boards and could easily be long gone by this selection.

31.  ATL 5-0 (NFC 1) – DE JACKSON JEFFCOAT/TEXAS

John Abraham continues to get older and Ray Edwards has been a major disappointment after coming over as a free agent last year. Even their defensive line isn’t all that great either. If the Falcons want to win a Super Bowl they will need to drastically upgrade their defensive line and pass rush. Jackson Jeffcoat is a talented, physical pass rusher that is a steal this late in the first round.

32.  HOU 5-0 (AFC 1) – DT JOHN JENKINS/GEORGIA

The Texans look like the best team in the NFL right now and have very few needs on their roster. One are they can upgrade is at the nose tackle position where they are still using the very average Shaun Cody. John Jenkins is a massive run-stuffing space-eating nose tackle that would be an immediate and major upgrade on Cody. Houston’s pass rush is already one of the best, but is only going to get better with Jenkins demanding double and triple-teams while he’s on the field.

 

Written By: Mark Scott



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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