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 2 RECAP

Pro Days continued with a number of top schools and prospects showcasing their skills for scouts this past week including Florida, Oregon, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Alabama. Top prospects on display included Eric Fisher, Chance Warmack and Geno Smith.

MARCH 11: Central Michigan

There were representatives from 28 NFL teams at Central Michigan’s pro day, the majority of which were there to see projected top ten pick Eric Fisher. The Left Tackle has put together one of the best pre-draft seasons of any prospect rising from a possible late first-rounder to a potential #1 overall pick. His pre-draft success continued at his pro day where he decided to stand by his excellent Combine numbers and instead focused on running through various offensive lineman drills with Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line coach George Yarno. Teams came away extremely impressed with Fisher yet again.

MARCH 12: Florida, Syracuse, UCLA

Always a routine stop on the pro day tour, the Florida Gators played host to reps from all 32 teams, including a number of noteworthy decision-makers like Pittsbugh Steelers Head Caoch Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert, Jacksonville Jaguars new Head Coach Gus Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell, along with prominent members of the Colts, Bengals and Rams coaching staffs. Weather conditions were far from ideal with rain coming down and a soaked field to deal with. Potential late first round pick SS Matt Elam focused solely on positional drills where he looked great and the same went for linebacker Jon Bostic. OT Xavier Nixon ran thorugh offensive lineman drills despite a nagging hamstring injury, along with putting up 19 reps on the bench press. RB Mike Gillislee and FS Josh Evans were unable to improve their times in the 40, but that portably had more to do with the rain-soaked turf they had to run on. LB Jelani Jenkins looked excellent and very fluid in linebacker drills and put up solid measurables. WR Frankie Hammond, TE Omarius Hines and DL Earl Okine put up solid numbers in drills. Finally K Caleb Sturgis showed off a terrific leg, including hitting a 58-yard field goal despite the wet turf and might be the best kicker available. Three players chose not to workout on Tuesday including projected top five pick Sharrif Floyd, Lerentee McCray and Jordan Reed. They will run through drills on March 22 instead. There was no real reason for why Floyd chose not to workout aside from being advised by his agent to wait until later in the month, although teams were given notice beforehand. McCray and Reed were nursing minor injuries.

There were reps from 28 NFL teams on hand to watch Syracuse’s pro day featuring a number of Day 2 prospects including QB Ryan Nassib, SS Shamarko Thomas and OG Justin Pugh. Nassib stood by his numbers from the Combine and chose to just throw for scouts. The New York Jets appear to be the most interested in Nassib of any team. Thomas added a 6.84s three-cone drill to his Combine numbers, while Pugh added 22 reps on the bench press to his Combine workout.

Datone Jones and Johnathan Franklin were among 16 UCLA prospects that ran though workouts in front of reps from 15 NFL teams. Jones stood by his solid Combine numbers, but looked fantastic running through defensive lineman drills and projects as one of the better 4-3 defensive ends in the draft and a late first round pick. Franklin also stood by his Combine numbers and looked great during drills, particularly in catching the ball out of the back field. There were a couple of other interesting prospects on the field for the Bruins including TE Joseph Fauria and left-footed P Jeff Locke, who may be the best punter in the draft and is considered to be just as good as 2012 third-round pick Bryan Anger. Not that anyone should spend a third round selection on a punter though.

MARCH 13: Alabama, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Washington

As with Florida, Alabama is a routine stop for NFL teams and all 32 were in attendance for the Crimson Tide pro day. New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese and Jets General Manager John Idzik were among those in Tuscaloosa. Australian-born DL Jesse Williams stole the show with an incredible workout including a 4.84s in the 40, 30 reps on the bench press and a 7.69s in the three-cone drill, while weighing-in at 6’3”, 326lbs. His movement and footwork in drills was just fantastic as well. He is probably a first-round pick now. Highly rated OG Chance Warmack and OT D.J. Fluker both looked great while competing against one another. They both showed terrific strength and power. Warmack ran the short shuttle and three-cone dill, while Fluker will go through drills on April 11. They should both be first round selections. RB Eddie Lacy did not work out as expected, but has yet to schedule a his own pro day, while decorated OL Barrett Jones was still in a walking boot, but managed to throw up 27 reps in the bench press, along with weighing-in. CB Dee Milliner was in attendance, despite his shoulder still being in a sling following surgery. He didn’t really need to work out after a great Combine.

While there were reps from 30 NFL teams at the Oklahoma pro day, surprisingly none were offensive line coaches despite rising left tackle prospect Lane Johnson in attendance. Because of that, Johnson chose to just get measured and weighed. Quarterback guru George Whitfield ran Landry Jones through passing drills that included 70 throws with a focus on middle to deep passes. Jones complete 66 of the 70 throws and only one was said to have been bad. Jones chose to stand by his good Combine numbers where he was the top performer among quarterbacks in multiple drills. Steelers QB coach Randy Fichtner and Jaguars QB coach Frank Scelfo were in attendance. Jones spoke with seven different teams, most of which are in the market for a new quarterback. WR Kenny Stills improved his times in the short shuttle and three-cone drill and also caught the ball well from Jones all day. FS Tony Jefferson and LB Tom Wort both had to call it a day early after pulling up lame with hamstring injuries.

All 32 teams were represented at the Rutgers pro day and were witnessed to an outstanding performance by LB Khaseem Greene, who added 11 pounds and improved on his numbers from the Combine. He was also fantastic in positional drills, although numerous scouts said his workout didn’t quite do justice to his fantastic game film. He’s moving up and should come off the board in the second round. CB Logan Ryan chose not to attempt to improve his disappointing 40 time form the Combine and probably paid for it as his teammates and fellow cornerbacks Marcus Cooper and Brandon Jones put it very good performances. Cooper also measured in at an impressive 6’2”, 190lbs. His size and athleticism could make him one of the better sleeper picks of the draft. RB Jawan Jamison didn’t help his stock by running another slow 40 time. It’s looking more and more like Jamison should have returned to school after forgoing not just one, but two years of eligibility remaining. Although the NFL Advisory Committee did give him a third round grade prior to making that decision.

Washington CB Desmond Trufant continued his rise up draft boards with another phenomenal workout at the Huskies pro day and no one should be surprised if he comes off the board in the first round.

MARCH 14: West Virginia, Oregon, Michigan, California

Perhaps there is a quarterback worth taking in the top ten after West Virginia QB Geno Smith put on a show completing 60 of 64 passes in drills led by former NFL QB Chris Weinke. All seemed to be highly impressed with Smith’s performance. He displayed great touch and zip on the ball and looked throwing it deep. Smith actually worked out earlier in the week in an unrehearsed, full-scale passing workout for the Philadelphia Eagles, although high-ranking reps form the Chiefs, Jags, Raiders, Browns, Cardinals and Bills were allowed to attend. Most notable was Buffalo G.M. Buddy Nix.  Following his pro day performance, Smith met with Jags Head Coach Gus Bradley in a long, private interview. WR Tavon Austin was almost as popular as Smith and also looked excellent in positional drills and received attention from multiple teams. Smith and Austin are both coming off the board and probably earlier than most people seem to think. WR Stedman Bailey also looked good during positional drills, although he did have a pair of drops.

There were reps from 27 NFL teams in Eugene to take in the Oregon pro day, including Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid, along with his entire defensive staff and General Manager John Dorsey. The Philadelphia Eagles were also well represented as were linebacker coaches from multiple teams. Top prospect and projected top ten pick Dion Jordan was unable to perform after undergoing shoulder surgery following the Combine. S John Boyett also did not work as he is still recovering from knee surgery on both knees that caused him to miss basically the entire season. RB Kenjon Barner, LB Kiko Alonso and OL Kyle Long all turned in great workouts and improved on a number of their Combine scores.

Former Michigan QB Denard Robinson continued his transition from quarterback to a new position following his collegiate career choosing to workout at the Wolverines pro day as running back after going through wide receiver drills at the Combine where he struggled for the most part. He looked impressive in running back drills and finally earned himself some good reviews.

California WR Keenan Allen was unable to workout due to a knee injury, but is scheduled to hold his own pro day on April 9.

MARCH 15: Arkansas

There were 28 prospects, 23 of which were representing the Razorbacks on the field for reps from 29 NFL teams to see. The main attraction was QB Tyler Wilson, who looked excellent throwing the ball displaying better than expected arm strength in hitting every throw possible. He should come off the board on Day 2. Reps from the Buffalo Bills met with him.

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

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

ADVOCARE V100 INDEPENDENCE BOWL, DECEMBER 28/2012

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

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

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL, DECEMBER 28/2012

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

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

MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS, DECEMBER 28/2012

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

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

BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

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

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

NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

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

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

KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

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

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

VALERO ALAMO BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

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

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

BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL, DECEMBER 29/2012

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

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

 

Written By: Mark Scott



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 6

It seems like Georgia prospects keep finding their way into this column, but that’s just how impressive their team is. The interior of the Bulldogs defense is the focus in the best head to head matchup of the week as DT John Jenkins and ILB Alec Ogletree will have the task of shutting down top ranked running back South Carolina Marcus Lattimore. All three are potential first round picks. The best game to watch this week for prospects is the first Big Twelve matchup between #8 West Virginia and #11 Texas in a game that will include six top 60 ranked prospects. The Mountaineers feature the current Heisman favorite and the fastest rising prospect in QB Geno Smith, who is playing at just an incredible level right now along with his top weapon WR Tavon Austin. They’ll be in for a tough test as the Longhorns boast four defensive studs in pass-rushers Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor and defensive backs Kenny Vacarro and Carrington Byndom.

Best Head to Head Matchup to Watch: Georgia DT John Jenkins/ILB Alec Ogletree vs. South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore @ Williams-Brice Stadium

Through five games this season Marcus Lattimore has proved to the doubters that not only is his left knee completely healthy after tearing his ACL last year, but that he is also back to where he’s supposed to be as one of the best running backs in the country and a potential first round pick. In those five games Lattimore has racked up 440 rushing yards on 92 attempts for 8 touchdowns, while adding 16 receptions for 109 receiving yards displaying that he is also a threat as a receiver out of the back field. This week will be arguably his toughest test of the season (although he’ll have to face LSU’s daunting defense next week)as he’ll have to line up and run at two of Georgia’s many highly ranked prospects in DT John Jenkins and ILB Alec Ogletree, who both rate as potential first round selections as well. Jenkins is the rock in the middle of a very talented Georgia defense. He’s a sponge on the interior soaking up double and triple teams throughout the game that allow his teammates to attack the quarterback and make plays on opposing ball-carriers. His mammoth size and strength should fit in immediately with an NFL defense. Ogletree finally returned to action last week after serving a 4-game suspension to start the season and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact as he led Georgia with a career and team-high 14 tackles and three pass break ups. It’s pretty easy to see why Ogletree is so highly regarded among scouts as he jumps off the screen with his athleticism, speed and power. He is the preeminent 3-4 inside linebacker available for the 2013 NFL Draft and should draw interest from a number of teams, namely the Baltimore Ravens who have been looking for Ray Lewis’ heir apparent for the last few years. Ogletree has great vision and is able to see the whole field and make plays sideline to sideline. An excellent run stopper, he also possesses the long arms and pass-rush skills that will lead to some teams looking at him as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. If he chooses to declare for the draft there is no doubt he will be a first round pick.

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: #8 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #11 Texas Longhorns@ Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

The Big Twelve headliner this week will showcase the offense of West Virginia against the Texas defense in one of the conference’s biggest games of the season. NFL scouts will have their eyes on this game as it will feature six players ranked among the top 60 prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft. Mountaineers QB Geno Smith is the hottest player in the country right now and is putting up video game type stats to lead the nation with a 20-0 TD to INT ratio which includes last weekend’s mind blowing performance where he threw for 656 yards and 8 touchdowns versus Baylor in a 70-63 victory. Smith is an athletic quarterback with NFL arm strength, prototype size and a high football I.Q. His pocket presence might be the best in the country. He’s become far and away the Heisman frontrunner this season and has skyrocketed up draft boards into discussions with USC’s Matt Barkley as the top quarterback available and potential first overall pick. His main weapons are a pair of smaller, quick receivers in Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey. Austin is the go-to target for Smith. As a former high school running back, Austin shows zero fear in trying to make plays against much bigger and stronger defenders. He uses his elite speed and quickness to seperate and has a great set of mitts that allow him to be a reliable receiver. He has a playmaker’s vision and has the ability to break off the home run play at any time whether on offense or special teams. His outstanding play this year has moved Austin up boards into the top 60 draft-eligible prospects and is even earning him some late first round buzz. Bailey is not as explosive as Austin, but is the more polished route runner and is just as reliable a receiver if not more so. He’s also a bit bigger than Austin, but is still a smaller wide out. Bailey doesn’t have the upside of his teammate, but because of his route-running ability he could fit in quicker with NFL offenses than Austin. At the moment he’s probably a mid-round selection. Saturday night will be perhaps their toughest test of the season when they play Texas and their star-studded defense. The Texas defense features four prospects that could very well be selected in the first two rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft. They’re led by a pair of fantastic pass-rushers in Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor, both of which might be first round picks come April. Jeffcoat is the more athletic of the two and the son of former NFL standout defensive end Jim Jeffcoat. Due to his athleticism and speed, scouts will look at him as both a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker. He uses an explosive first step off the snap to blow by opposing offensive linemen, but will need to add some strength and muscle to his lanky frame if he wants to be an every down player or just a situational pass-rusher. He possesses a higher upside and more versatility than Okafor and that’s why he is the more likely of the two to come off the board in the first round. Okafor is no slouch though. He is the stronger, bigger and more powerful of the two pass-rushers and has the body to better hold up against the rigors of playing in the NFL. He’s also the better run defender too and has shown the ability to play inside after suiting up as a defensive tackle in his sophomore year. Okafor should be a real nice fit as a traditional pass-rusher for a 4-3 defensive team and will get looks from teams in the late first round. Texas doesn’t just rely upon their two pass-rushers, but also boast a pair of outstanding defensive backs in SS Kenny Vacarro and CB Carrington Byndom. Vacarro is the top rated strong safety prospect this year and one of the top safeties available. He possesses the NFL prototype size and athleticism to play either safety position and is a highly productive player. He’s got great ball skills and instincts, but really excels against the run and in the open field making a tackle. He plays very physical and is an excellent tackler. Next to him is shutdown corner Carrington Byndom. Head Coach Mack Brown describes him as one of the best defensive backs that they’ve had at Texas, which says a lot considering twelve Texas defensive backs have been taken in the past eleven NFL drafts. Byndom is a well-rounded corner that can cover, make plays on the ball and get physical when he has too, although he will need to add some strength and muscle to his lean frame if he’s going to be able to cover the giant wide receivers at the next level. He’s played his way up draft boards into the top five cornerbacks and should be a second round pick. This is not only a crucial game in the Big 12 title hunt, but also one for the draft-eligible prospects involved that could make or break their stock with a good or bad performance against such highly rated opposition.

Written By: Mark Scott

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