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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 DAY WEEK 4 RECAP

The month of pro days came to an end last week with just a handful of individual workouts remaining. The week featured a number of prominent programs like Notre Dame, LSU, South Carolina and USC. Prospects like Matt Barkley, Manti Te’o, Marcus Lattimore and Tyrann Mathieu were some of the key prospects working out in the final week of pro days. With pro days in the bag, the countdown to the 2013 NFL Draft is on with just under a month to go.

MARCH 25: N/A

There were no notable teams or prospects working out on Monday.

MARCH 26: Notre Dame, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana Tech, Southeastern Louisiana

Notre Dame’s much anticipated pro day went down on Tuesday where representatives from 29 NFL teams were on hand. Minnesota Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman, Bengals TE Coach Jonathan Hayes and Lions RB Coach Curtis Modkins were the most notable decision-makers in attendance. Manti Te’o was actually able to help his stock this time out after an off-season full of hits against him. He was able to slightly improve his 40 time to 4.71s and then looked the best he has in positional drills yet. He probably remains in the late first, early to mid second round mix. TE Tyler Eifert dropped just one pass thrown his way all day and definitely looked the part of a solid first round prospect. OL Mike Golic Jr. and S Zeke Motta also turned in good workouts.

NFL teams came in full force to the North Carolina pro day where highly touted prospects OG Jonathan Cooper and DT Sylvester Williams were in action. Notable NFL team reps included Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and G.M. David Caldwell, Detroit Lions G.M. Martin Mayhew and New York Jets G.M. John Idzhik. Cooper looked excellent in offensive lineman drills, including taking snaps at Center. Williams continued his climb up draft boards into the first round with another great workout running through a variety of defensive lineman drills and even showed off his incredible agility when he took on linebacker drills. A trio of other Tar Heels prospects was also impressive. RB Giovani Bernard looked strong and showed off a great burst in running back drills and drew the most attention from Lewis, who is in the market for a new running back. OT Brennan Williams missed the final four games of the season with a torn labrum, but was able to display his athleticism to scouts and could be a steal later in the draft. Finally WR Jheranie Boyd, who caught just four passes all year, recorded one of the best workouts of any prospect in the draft, including a 42” inch vertical jump where he actually touched the highest level of the measuring device. His impressive performance may have earned him a spot in the seventh round as a developmental receiver.

Thirty NFL teams were represented at the Texas pro day, including the likes of Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert, Cincinnati Bengals DC Mike Zimmer and New York Jets DC Dennis Thurman. While FS Kenny Vaccaro wanted to improve his times and scores from the Combine, he was unable to after he suffered a hip flexor injury in a private workout with the Dallas Cowboys the week before. He did go through positional drills led by Mike Zimmer though. He showed terrific quickness and little hesitation while changing direction. WR Marquise Goodwin had a great workout. He stood by his blazing 4.27 40 from the Combine, but recorded an incredible 42” inch vertical jump. He looked fantastic catching the ball as well. DE Alex Okafor, who missed the Combine because of a right hip injury looked awful on Tuesday and could see his stock take a decline.

A pair of prospects were the main attractions at Louisiana Tech’s pro day where reps from 23 teams were in attendance. WR Quinton Patton ran a 4.48s in the 40 and recorded a 9’6” broad jump and 37” inch vertical jump and then looked solid in receiver drills. OT Jordan Mills turned in another good performance, although his footwork needs a lot of work leading scouts to think he’ll be better suited at right tackle instead of on the left side.

There were reps from 18 NFL teams on hand at Southeastern Louisiana’s pro day to watch CB Robert Alford. The talented corner looked smooth and fast in positional drills and is moving up draft boards.

MARCH 27: USC, LSU, South Carolina, SMU

Matt Barkley drew mixed reviews at the USC pro day on Wednesday after finally getting on to the field since injuring his shoulder during the season. He went through a scripted workout with former NFL QB Chris Weinke where he threw 60 passes, completing 55 of them. The workout consisted of a variety of different passes. The reaction to his workout summed up the entire 2013 quarterback draft class. Some liked what they saw, while others thought he was highly unimpressive, although it seemed like there were more good reviews than bad. Someone who impressed everyone was WR Robert Woods, who looked outstanding running routes and catching the ball from Barkley. C Khaled Holmes also impressed with teams with his size and length, while he put up solid numbers in measurable drills. Every NFL team was represented where some of the more notable names in attendance included Jacksonville Jaguars G.M. David Caldwell, Head Coach Gus Bradley and owner Shad Khan and his son, Chicago Bears G.M. Phil Emery, Oakland Raiders G.M. Reggie McKenzie, St. Louis Rams G.M. Les Snead and Cleveland Browns OC Norv Turner.

There was an outstanding 26 prospects (20 from this past year’s team and six from the 2011-12 squad) on the field working out for reps from all 32 NFL teams at the LSU pro day. Pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo was the most impressive of all the prospects turning in a fantastic workout. He ran through defensive lineman and linebacker drills for well over an hour and didn’t appear to even break a sweat he was in that great of shape. Eric Reid, Sam Montgomery, Kevin Minter, Tyrann Mathieu and Lavar Edwards all looked terrific. DT Bennie Logan decided to hold a private workout for a team right before the LSU pro day and suffered a pulled hamstring. He was then unable to run at the pro day and recorded unimpressive scores in the vertical and broad jumps. Other limited prospects due to injury included OT Chris Faulk, P Brad Wing and RB Spencer Ware. Notable NFL team reps in attendance included New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, Cincinnati Bengals DC Mike Zimmer and Arizona Cardinals Director of player personnel Jason Licht.

The South Carolina pro day was host to reps from all 32 teams where they were witness to a truly special performance. Just five months after suffering a gruesome knee injury that tore multiple ligaments, Marcus Lattimore was back working out for scouts, albeit in limited drills. The beloved Lattimore went through a set of drills approved by his doctors. The workout included drills like jumping from a standing position onto an 18” inch box and then with a 24” inch box, lunges, reverse lunges, balancing and lowering himself on one leg along with stepping in and out of a rope ladder. The drills were designed to show the progress in his knee. When he completed his workout the entire room loudly broke out in applause. It’s unknown where Lattimore will be drafted, but he will most likely be a Day 3 selection. D.J. Swearinger, Devonte Holloman and Devin Taylor all turned in excellent workouts. Swearinger is moving up draft boards, while Taylor could be a big sleeper in the late rounds as a guy with a ton of potential talent, but just has never shown it other than a flash here and there. Ace Sanders ran a very disappointing 40 (4.55, 4.59) and with his small stature he could be dropping quickly down draft boards into the late rounds.

The main event at the SMU pro day was the fast-rising Margus Hunt. The Estonian-born, former track and field star is one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft and is starting to look like a potential first round pick. At 6’8”, 282lbs. Hunt is a physical specimen that only started playing football in 2009 after SMU’s track program was dropped. He quickly picked up the sport and is improving at a rapid rate and actually holds the NCAA-record for blocked kicks with 17 (10 field goals, 7 extra points). He stood by his Combine numbers, but put on a show in positional drills where he was worked out by New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. Of note, Ryan had the massive Hunt go through some linebacker drills as well. Fullback Zach Line also turned in a good workout and will remind some of former Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis. There were reps from 20 teams in attendance.

MARCH 28: BYU

In the final major pro day of the year, Ezekiel Ansah was on display for representatives from 18 NFL teams. The pass-rusher ran through both defensive lineman and linebacker drills and all reports have him looking impressive. He probably solidified his spot in the top ten of the draft.

MARCH 29: Andre Ellington

After pulling a hamstring at the Combine and being unable to compete at the Clemson pro day, Ellington finally got back on the field at his own pro day on Friday. The running back ran a 4.51 in the 40, a 34” inch vertical jump and a 10’2” broad jump. He looked good in the positional drills as well. There were reps from 20 teams to watch Ellington work out. He should come off the board in the mid-rounds and could be in high demand given how many teams showed up to his work out.

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT: SENIOR BOWL PRIMER

Most of the top senior prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft have been in Mobile, Alabama all week showing off for NFL front offices and scouts at the annual Senior Bowl, the preeminent post-season pre-draft prospect all-star game. There are a number of storylines to follow at the event this week with the culmination happening Saturday as the North squad takes on the South team in an extremely important game for the prospects involved. Futures and draft stocks are on the line and a whole lot of money is there for the making or losing. The Senior Bowl goes down Saturday at 4 pm EST on the NFL Network.

1.  The Quarterback Competition

The biggest storyline of the week has been the ongoing competition between the six quarterbacks at the event. All six came to town as part of the second tier of quarterbacks in the draft class behind West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Matt Barkley of USC, but with both of them not at the event it’s given this group a chance with all eyes watching to elevate their stock and even surpass Smith and Barkley on some draft boards. While none of the quarterbacks blew scouts away this week in practice all six showed off their strengths and weaknesses with Mike Glennon, Tyler Wilson and Landry Jones emerging as the top guys at the event, although they didn’t impress everyone as scouting reports differ around the league. Glennon showed off the strongest arm of the group and has been described as the most complete of the six by ESPN’s Todd McShay, although he was much taller (6’6 ¾”) than expected and looked stiff and robotic at times. Wilson has also drawn good reviews as the top quarterback at the event and was described by NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang as having the best combination of size, arm talent, toughness and experience. Every year quarterbacks start moving up draft boards around this time and both Glennon and Wilson seem to be doing just that as they are starting to be talked about as real first round possibilities. Landry Jones has also elevated his stock with a good week of practice and looks like he might have potentially secured a spot in the second round. EJ Manuel, Ryan Nassib and Zac Dysert didn’t show nearly as well and will probably be mid-round selections.

2.  First Round Left Tackles

Two of the most impressive prospects at the Senior Bowl this week have been a pair of left tackles in Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson. Fisher has been this year’s unknown small-school prospect being talked about as a first round talent, but after an exceptional performance all week long competing against his North squad teammates (a more talented group of pass-rushers than the South Team) he won’t be an unknown anymore and appears to have locked down a potential spot in the top fifteen of the draft as the second highest-rated left tackle behind Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M. Lane Johnson looks to be a first rounder now after this week, but that could depend on his performance Saturday when he has to face the more talented pass-rushers from the North Team like Datone Jones. Either way he has helped his stock immensely, while other offensive tackles like Oday Aboushi and Justin Pugh struggled and discussions about moving them inside to guard are now being had.

3.  Dominant Nose Tackles

Georgia’s John Jenkins cemented his place as a first rounder this week with an absolutely dominant performance in practice. He blew everyone away with his mammoth size at the weigh-ins and then continued to do so on the field by displaying his rare athleticism. He mauled everyone that stepped in front of him and handled double-teams with ease. He did seem to get winded as the practices wore on, so the scouts will definitely be watching for how we plays late in the game on Saturday. North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams was a bit of a forgotten man with such a talented defensive line class this year, but he too was dominant during the week and showed off impressive athleticism and instincts as did Kawann Short of Purdue. Williams and Short could sneak into the late first round, but appear to be second round locks now.

4.  Impressive Pass-Rushers

UCLA’s Datone Jones appears to have made some money this week. He was awesome in practice often taking on the top offensive tackle at the event in Eric Fisher and looks to have completely shed the tweener label he came to Mobile with by showing he can be an effective 4-3 edge rusher. He displayed a non-stop motor and overwhelmed offensive linemen with his strength and power. Texas pass-rusher Alex Okafor was also good this week and most likely secured his spot in the second round. He doesn’t appear to be a star, but does look like he could be a solid, productive starter for years to come.

5.  Raw Athletes Struggle

BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah and Margus Hunt of SMU came to the Senior Bowl as two of the guys scouts were most looking forward to watching. Both are exceptional athletes with rare athletic abilities, but are still raw football players after only playing the sport for a few years. They were both two of the biggest disappointments so far this week as they struggled in drills and failed to flash the potential scouts wanted to see often enough. They all love Hunt’s size and length, but his lack of a burst off the snap has really stood out. Saturday is the most important day for these two if they want to hold on to their lofty draft stocks, especially Ansah.

6.  Emerging Cornerbacks

Washington’s Desmond Trufant may have made as much money as any prospect this week with his performance in practice. The younger brother of pros Marcus and Isaiah showed off tremendous skills as a potential shut-down corner and was clearly the best at the event at his position. He was excellent in matching the wide receivers in Mobile stride for stride and is now being talked about as a possible first round pick. Having Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks out of the event with an injury has only helped Trufant with more eyes on him. California’s Marc Anthony and San Diego State’s Leon McFadden have also helped their stock this week as did a pair of FCS prospects in William & Mary’s B.W. Webb and SE Louisiana’s Robert Alford.

7.  Big Play Wide Receivers

A number of wide receivers stood out this week and improved their draft stock with good performances. Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton and Terrance Williams of Baylor were the best of the bunch. Wheaton displayed fantastic speed and quickness often separating from defensive backs. He also showed off some strong hands and an ability to make catches in traffic and tight windows. He shown great all-around skills and has moved himself into the top group with the likes of Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter and Terrance Williams. Speaking of Williams, he displayed better than expected speed and quickness to go with his terrific hands and showed scouts that he is a legit big-time downfield threat. Wheaton and Williams weren’t the only wide outs who looked good this week as Marquise Goodwin (Texas), Quinton Patton (LaTech) and Tavarres King (Georgia) put in great performances.

8.  Denard Robinson’s Transition to WR

Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson’s transition to wide receiver has been one of the main ongoing storylines during this year’s draft process and it hasn’t gone well. Robinson’s playmaking ability as a quarterback has been slow to translate to the wide receiver position. He still looks good in the open field, but has struggled to run routes and catch the ball even with lowered expectations from scouts. A right elbow injury has not helped his case. He came to the event as a potential mid-round selection, but unless he plays well on Saturday he appears to have fallen into the last couple rounds and may even go undrafted. It has not been a good week for him.

9.  Those Who Aren’t Here

Every year a certain number of prospects decide to skip the event for one reason or another and unless it’s due to injury it ticks front offices and scouts off to no end. This year’s group has been especially annoying as seven of the eight notable prospects not at the event could be first round picks. Geno Smith has received the most heat for not showing up. As the top rated quarterback, but one with a lot still to prove, scouts wanted to see him here this week, especially after a dreadful performance in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse. While his stock hasn’t suffered that much, it was a fantastic opportunity for him to show he’s worthy of a high draft pick, even the first overall spot to the QB-needy Chiefs. Instead other quarterbacks like Mike Glennon and Tyler Wilson have gained on him and the pressure to perform at the Combine next month will be extremely high. Others that have not pleased scouts with the absence include Star Lotulelei, Manti Te’o, Kenny Vaccaro, Jonathon Cooper, Chance Warmack and Tavon Austin, who really ticked scouts off by pulling out within 72 hours of the event. Montee Ball also skipped the event, but hasn’t received the wrath of scouts as he has very little to prove after over 1000 touches in his four year career at Wisconsin. As a non-first round prospect there was no need for him to take any more hits. Notable injury absences include Matt Barkley, Johnthan Banks, Tyler Eifert, Dion Jordan and Jesse Williams.

Written By: Mark Scott



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

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

SHERATON HAWAII BOWL, DECEMBER 24/2012

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

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

LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL, DECEMBER 26/2012

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

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

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

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

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

BELK BOWL, DECEMBER 27/2012

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

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

BRIDGEPOINT EDUCATION HOLIDAY BOWL, DECEMBER 27/2012

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

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

Written By: Mark Scott