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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 – DECLARED UNDERCLASSMEN/NOTABLE RETURNEES

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

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Tyler Bray/Tennessee, Kyle Padron/Eastern Washington

RUNNING BACKS (13)

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

WIDE RECEIVERS (13)

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

OFFENSIVE TACKLES (6)

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

OFFENSIVE GUARDS/CENTERS (2)

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

TIGHT ENDS (6)

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

DEFENSIVE ENDS (7)

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

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (9)

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

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

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

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (3)

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

CORNERBACKS (12)

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

FREE/STRONG SAFETIES (3)

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

PUNTERS/KICKERS (1)

Brad Wing/LSU

NOTABLE RETURNING UNDERCLASSMEN

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

Written By: Mark Scott



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

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

FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL, DECEMBER 31/2012

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

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

HYUNDAI SUN BOWL, DECEMBER 31/2012

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

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

AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL, DECEMBER 31/2012

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

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

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL, DECEMBER 31/2012

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

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

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

Written By: Mark Scott



Mark Scott’s Official 2013 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written By: Mark Scott



Mark Scott’s Official 2013 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

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

1.  CLE 0-5 – QB MATT BARKLEY/USC

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

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

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

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

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

4.  TEN 1-4 – DE SAM MONTGOMERY/LSU

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

5.  CAR 1-4 – DT STAR LOTULELEI/UTAH

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

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

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

7.  DET 1-3 – CB DEE MILLINER/ALABAMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19.  STL 3-2 – WR ROBERT WOODS/USC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Week 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written By: Mark Scott

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2012 NFL Draft Watch: BCS National Championship Part 9 (JAN.9)

Written By: Mark Scott

The BCS National Championship Game and rematch of the century is finally here as LSU and Alabama are set to duke it out for the second time this season. Both teams are stacked and possess some of the best prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft, including a potential eight first round draft picks between them. The majority of the elite prospects are on defense with the likes of Claiborne, Kirkpatrick, Upshaw, Hightower and Barron, but Heisman Finalist Trent Richardson will also showcase his talents in this matchup on offense. It should be an incredible game with a group of prospects that could shape the 2012 NFL Draft.

All rankings attained form CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, SI’s Tony Pauline and ESPN’s Todd McShay.

 

Allstate BCS National Championship Game (January 9/2012)

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Louisiana State Tigers

ALABAMA

The Crimson Tide will showcase a buffet line of top prospects in this game, including five likely first round selections. It all starts with 2011 Heisman Finalist and Doak Walker Award winner rJr RB Trent Richardson, as complete a running back as you will find. He has the strength of a power back to pound the ball up the middle with the speed and agility to beat defenders on the outside, while also possessing excellent receiving ability out of the backfield. He is a big-time playmaker with great vision, who has been groomed for a NFL career since he arrived at Alabama and is a better prospect than former teammate and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram (2011 New Orleans First Round Pick, 28th overall). He could be a Top Ten draft choice this year. On to defense as the rest of Alabama’s top prospects are defensive players beginning with Jr CB Dre Kirkpatrick, a tall, athletic corner that possesses great ball skills and instincts, while he continues to improve and get better in coverage. He is a confident player with a lot of upside and could end being the top corner in this draft. SR OLB Courtney Upshaw is a ferocious, versatile defender that can play multiple positions in multiple schemes. He has fantastic strength and power with a great burst and his best fit is as a pass-rusher whether standing up or with a hand on the ground. It should be interesting to see which team he goes to in the draft because he could land in any number of spots in the first round. Another stud linebacker that will be a first round selection is rJr ILB Don’ta Hightower.  He is a fantastic leader and imposing athlete that could immediately step into a NFL starting defense. He has great size, speed and strength that allows him to stuff the run and is fluid enough to drop into pass coverage. There are some questions about his effort, but battling back from serious knee injury suffered during the 2009 season should silence those questions. Sr SS Mark Barron is a complete player and easily the top safety in the draft. He is a terrific athlete that does it all on the field, whether it is in pass coverage or contributing against the run. He possesses great ball skills and is a devastating hitter with fantastic leadership ability. A very underrated player, he will be a steal for some team in the second half of the first round. After their top five prospects, Alabama has a pair of Day 2 defenders in rSr NT Josh Chapman and Jr FS Robert Lester. Chapman is a big, strong Nose Tackle that is dominant against the run and swallows up ball-carriers in the middle of the field, while taking on multiple blockers. He doesn’t get to the passer very much, but still has a good first step off the snap and possesses some explosiveness. He might not be the top rated Nose Tackle in the draft, but he is definitely the best coached under Nick Saban. He could be a great sleeper pick on Day 2. Hidden amongst all of the elite prospects on his team, Robert Lester is an excellent Free Safety with great cover skills and instincts that can also lay out offensive players with big hits. The Crimson Tide also has some possible late round draft choices in rSr WR Marquis Maze, rSr C William Vlachos, Sr CB DeQuan Menzie and Sr OLB Jerrell Harris.

 

LSU

The Tigers have their own fantastic group of prospects starting with a potential Top Five draft pick in Jr CB Morris Claiborne. An excellent athlete, Claiborne is the top cover corner in the draft and also possesses terrific ball skills and instincts. He is a complete cornerback that is well-coached and should start right away in the NFL. Some have him rated as a better prospect than former teammate and Arizona 2011 first-round pick (5th overall) CB Patrick Peterson, although he doesn’t have the returner skills that Peterson has. Possibly joining Claiborne in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft could be a pair of young defensive linemen in rSo DE Sam Montgomery and rSo DT Michael Brockers. Montgomery has started to gain some first round buzz following the end of the regular season and for obvious reasons after he recorded 9 sacks and 9 tackles for loss on the year. He is a very fast pass-rusher with an explosive burst that allows him to blow past offensive linemen en route to the Quarterback or chasing down ball-carriers on the outside. A little undersized, he currently projects as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Brockers is an imposing interior defensive lineman that is versatile enough to play multiple positions on the line. He is an excellent run-stopper that can also wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage, while occasionally getting to the Quarterback. Both Montgomery and Brockers are still young, developing players that could benefit from another season at LSU and probably will return to school for the 2012 campaign. On offense, LSU rJr OT Alex Hurst is starting to gain some buzz around him. The 6’6, 340lb. Offensive Lineman is a mammoth man that uses his size and strength to dominate defenders. He has very good fundamentals and technique that allow him to use his intelligence on the football field. He has a lot of experience and can play either Right Tackle or inside at Guard. He could be an early Day 2 selection if he chooses to enter the draft this year. Also on offense for the Tigers is Jr WR Reuben Randle. A tall, reliable wide out, Randle has big play ability deep and on third downs. He has a great set of hands and good speed that allow him to make plays downfield. He has made some very good improvements this season and has terrific upside as a potential feature NFL receiver. Randle currently sits as a possible Day 2 selection and he too could return for another season at LSU. Sr SS Brandon Taylor hasn’t gotten the attention that his defensive back mates like Claiborne and Heisman Finalist Tyrann Mathieu have gotten, but he is an outstanding player in his own right. Taylor made big-time improvements in his game this season and showed that he can defend against the pass and run. He has a great work ethic along with good instincts that make up for a lack of size and speed. He currently rates as a Day 3 draft choice. LSU also has a pair of possible late round selections in Sr TE Deangelo Peterson and Sr QB Jordan Jefferson, although it would be a surprise to see Jefferson get drafted, even in the seventh round.