NFL Draft Center


MARK SCOTT’S 2013 NFL THREE-ROUND MOCK DRAFT

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

63. FS D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina

96. ILB Kiko Alonso, Oregon

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

33. QB Matt Barkley, USC

64. CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

66. QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

35. QB EJ Manuel, Florida State

67. CB Darius Slay, Mississippi State

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

36. DE Sam Montgomery, LSU

65. WR Terrance Williams, Baylor

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

68. CB David Amerson, North Carolina State

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

38. OLB Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

69. QB Mike Glennon, North Carolina State

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

41. QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse

71. WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

13. TE Tyler Eifert, ND

39. CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

72. FS Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

40. OG Larry Warford, Kentucky

70. CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana

97. OLB Zavier Gooden, Missouri

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

45. OL Kyle Long, Oregon

76. SS Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

42. OT Menelik Watson, Florida State

54. DE Alex Okafor, Texas

77. DT Akeem Spence, Illinois

82. RB Andre Ellington, Clemson

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

9. OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU

39. CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

72. FS Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

44. WR Robert Woods, USC

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

75. LT David Bakhtiari, Colorado

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

22. FS Eric Reid, LSU

46. SS Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International

78. RB Jonathan Franklin, UCLA

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

48. DL Jesse Williams, Alabama

79. QB Tyler Bray, Tennessee

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

47. OL Justin Pugh, Syracuse

80. OL Barrett Jones, Alabama

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

49. OLB Sio Moore, Connecticut

81. OG Brian Winter, Kent State

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

50. CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

37. LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State

53. RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

84. WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon State

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

16. WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia

46. SS Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International

78. RB Jonathan Franklin, UCLA

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

25. MLB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

52. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

83. CB Dwayne Gratz, Connecticut

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

86. OLB Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

23. DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

52. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

83. CB Dwayne Gratz, Connecticut

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

56. OC Travis Frederick, Wisconsin

88. SS J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

57. NT Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State

89. TE Travis Kelce, Cincinnati

95. ILB Jon Bostic, Florida

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

58. RB Giovanni Bernard, North Carolina

90. DT Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

59. WR Keenan Allen, California

91. WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

60. TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego State

92. DE Corey Lemonier, Auburn

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

34. TE Zach Ertz, Stanford

61. NT John Jenkins, Georgia

74. CB/S Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

93. OC Brian Schwenke, California

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

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

Other 2013 Draft Selections:

62. LT Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

94. SS Shawn Williams, Georgia

Seattle Seahawks (11-5)

55. DT Kawann Short, Purdue

87. OLB Trevardo Williams, Connecticut

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)

43. CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State

73. TE Vance McDonald, Rice

Washington Redskins (10-6)

51. FS Phillip Thomas, Fresno State

85. WR Aaron Dobson, Marshall

Written By: Mark Scott



What to Know About the 2013 NFL Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: PRO DAYS WEEK 3 RECAP

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

MARCH 18: Houston

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

MARCH 19: Florida State

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

MARCH 20: Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina State

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

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

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

MARCH 21: Georgia, Stanford, Stony Brook

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

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

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

MARCH 22: Sharrif Floyd

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

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL 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 5 (JAN.2-JAN.3)

The final two BCS Bowl games before the National Championship will be played over the next two days and they shouldn’t disappoint for those watching for NFL prospects in this year’s upcoming draft. The Florida Gators lead the way with a very impressive group that could feature up to ten potential draft choices, while Oregon, Kansas State and Louisville will all have multiple entries into the 2013 NFL Draft.

ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL, JANUARY 2/2013

Florida Gators (11-1) vs. Louisville Cardinals (10-2)

The Gators and Cardinals will get the main stage to themselves in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night and there will be more than enough NFL prospects on display. Like fellow SEC powerhouses Alabama, Georgia and LSU, the Gators roster is jam-packed with draft-eligible players for the 2013 NFL Draft. The top of Florida’s draft class is headed by SS Matt Elam (Jr) and DT Sharrif Floyd (Jr). Elam is a powerful, hard-hitting safety that is a high impact player. He possesses the ability to change games whether it be with a ferocious hit that he often delivers multiple times a game or by using his ball skills and instincts to create a turnover and take it the other way. He contributes in a number of areas and has the versatility that NFL teams are demanding in today’s safeties. One of the most impressive things that Elam accomplished this season was his development as an elite leader. He stepped up in a big way and was a driving force in the Gators improvement from a 7-6 squad in 2011 to the no.3 ranked team in the country this season. Floyd is a dominating defensive lineman with the versatility to line up at multiple positions in the front four. He uses a great burst off the snap along with terrific hands and power to take out offensive linemen and get into the backfield. His best spot on the field is as a penetrating defensive tackle. Both Elam and Floyd are rising up prospect lists and expected to declare for this year’s draft where they are projected to be second round picks, but could definitely work their way into the first day of the draft. Florida has multiple potential mid-round selections in RB Mike Gillislee (Sr), TE Jordan Reed (rJr), DL Dominique Easley (Jr), ILB Jon Bostic (Sr) and OLB Jelani Jenkins (rJr). Gillislee had a career year this season and carried the Florida offense on his back from start to finish. He’s a three-down back with the ability to bang inside, take it for big yards on the outside or make plays with his hands as a receiver out of the backfield and is very similar to Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin. He has feature back potential. Jordan Reed has developed into a pretty nice pass-catching tight end in his time at Florida. He’s very similar to former Gator Aaron Hernandez as a faster, undersized tight end with the versatility to line up at multiple positions on offense, including quarterback where he took snaps as a freshman. He’s still in a bit of developmental stage and could opt to return to school for another season. Easley is a reliable defender that can be used at multiple spots on the defensive line. He’s best at shutting down the run, but does have a bit of pass-rushing ability that he shows on occasion. He should fit in nicely with a defensive line rotation at the next level. Athletic linebackers Bostic and Jenkins are a pair of talented, versatile defenders. Bostic is a steady presence in the middle against the run with the ability to provide a pass-rush and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He’s also an excellent leader that can be trusted with on-the-field play-calling duties. Jenkins is an extremely aggressive player that reads the action quickly and attacks the ball-carrier. His aggressive play isn’t all good as it has caused him to leave early and miss multiple games with injury. Both have NFL starting potential with the ability to contribute right away and could be steals. Late round prospects for the Gators include OLB/DE Lerentee McCray (rSr), OT Xavier Nixon (Sr), FS Josh Evans (Sr), K Caleb Sturgis (rSr) and DT Omar Hunter (rSr). Louisville has a pair of their own Day 3 prospects in CB Adrian Bushell (rSr) and C Mario Benavides (rSr). Bushell is a solid corner with decent all-around skills that excels on special teams, but has been around the block playing for multiple teams in high school and college and has various off-the-field red flags. Benavides is a tough, reliable interior lineman with good hands and ranks among the top five prospects at the center position.

TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL, JANUARY 3/2013

Oregon Ducks (11-1) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (11-1)

Oregon and Kansas State will do battle on Thursday night in what should be an offensive shootout. Both squads have multiple pro prospects with each team having a player or two that could be taken in the first three rounds. Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan (rSr) is a freak athlete blessed with outstanding physical attributes and incredible potential, but still has some raw aspects to his game after coming to Oregon as a tight end. He is quickly developing into a terrific pass-rusher and hybrid defender that can stay on the field for every down. His rare athleticism and various skills have scouts drooling and should result in a first round selection. OL Kyle Long (Sr) is the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long and another Oregon player that made a position change during his college career that resulted in him becoming a top-100 prospect. He’s a very good athlete with natural talent and the ability to play offensive tackle or guard, but is still raw in his development as an offensive lineman due to a lack of game-time experience. He could come off the board in the third round. RB Kenjon Barner (rSr) is a gifted, speed back with incredible vision and homerun hitting ability. He dominated the college ranks with a monster year in 2012 racking up 1624 rushing yards for 21 touchdowns including a 321-yard, 5 touchdown performance against USC. He also possesses good hands out of the backfield as a receiver. Unfortunately he is an undersized ball-carrier like former teammate and current 49er LaMichael James and will probably only be viewed as a change of pace or third down back in the NFL. He’ll be selected somewhere in the mid-rounds. The Ducks also have a pair of possible late round prospects in ILB Kiko Alonso (rSr) and FS John Boyett (rSr). Talented P Jackson Rice (rSr) should catch on with a team as an undrafted free agent. Kansas State LB Arthur Brown (rSr) was an integral part of the Wildcats’ revival under Head Coach Bill Snyder the last few years. He’s been the leader on defense for the Wildcats since transferring from Miami-Florida and was so good this season he was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a FWAA First-Team All-American. He’s slightly undersized, but makes up for it with fantastic speed, vision and awareness. He’s able to sniff out what the offense is doing and possesses the ability to defend both the run and pass. He has every down starting linebacker potential and could be a second round pick. Some scouts have compared him to future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. Potential late round prospects for the Wildcats include WR Chris Harper (rSr), OLB Meshak Williams (Sr), QB Collin Klein (rSr) and CB Nigel Malone (Sr).

 

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 2

The second week of the college football season won’t feature the type of high profile matchup like we saw in Week 1 with David Amerson and Justin Hunter, however there is a pair of intriguing battles happening this weekend when LSU’s Zach Mettenberger has to throw passes into a Washington secondary led by potential first round pick Desmond Trufant while an under the radar matchup on Friday night between one of the draft’s top rated players, Utah’s Star Lotulelei and Utah State’s Tyler Larsen will take place in the trenches. The best game to watch this weekend for your prospect fix will definitely be Texas A&M’s SEC debut against Florida. The Aggies will have three potential first round picks on display in offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews along with pass rusher Sean Porter. On the other side, the Gators will have a myriad of players that should be taken throughout the draft, although a couple of their top prospects like SS Matt Elam and DT Sharrif Floyd may choose to wait until the 2014 NFL Draft.

Best Head to Head Matchups: Washington CB Desmond Trufant vs. LSU QB Zach Mettenberger @ Tiger Stadium and Utah NT Star Lotulelei vs. Utah State C Tyler Larsen @ Romney Stadium

The top head to head matchup to watch this weekend will be between LSU QB Zach Mettenberger and Washington CB Desmond Trufant. Mettenberger is the most physically talented quarterback that LSU has had since former 2007 first overall pick JaMarcus Russell. He has NFL prototype size at 6’5”, 230lbs with a big arm and the talent to lead LSU back to the National Title game. Mettenberger may be a better candidate for the 2014 NFL Draft as he just made his first start for LSU last week and is lacking in high level experience (Started 12 games for Butler Community College in 2010). Getting more experience should lead him to improving his decision-making, especially when facing heavy pressure, which he had problems with vs. North Texas in the season opener. He will face his first real big test on Saturday when he will have to throw passes into a Washington secondary featuring CB Desmond Trufant. A potential first round pick and one of the top corners available for the 2013 NFL Draft, Trufant is the younger brother of Marcus (Seattle Seahawks) and Isaiah Trufant (New York Jets). NFL eyes have been on him since he stepped on to the Campus in Washington and he’s done nothing to disappoint. He’s put together three outstanding seasons after starting as a true freshman with each year better than the last. He’s displayed next level cover ability and the ball skills and instincts to make game changing plays. He continues to make major strides in his game and it won’t be a shock to hear his name on the first day of the draft.

While Mettenberger and Trufant will take center stage, an under the radar matchup to check out will happen Friday night when Utah NT Star Lotulelei and Utah State C Tyler Larsen go head to head in the trenches of one of the longest standing rivalries in college football. Lotulelei came into this season with a ton of hype as one of top rated draft eligible prospects and for good reason. He may not put up eye-catching numbers, but his play certainly catches the eye of everyone watching as he blows up play after play despite facing double and triple-teams on every down. His combination of athleticism and massive size has scouts drawing favorable comparisons to Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, a player every team in the NFL wants. Tyler Larsen won’t be a first round pick or anything close to one, but he is one of the top centers in the nation and finds himself on the 2012 Rimington Award Watch List (Top center in the Nation). He’s a rock in the middle for the Aggies with a ton of starting experience and possesses great technique and footwork. This should be one heck of a battle between these two on Friday night.

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: #24 Florida vs. Texas A&M @ Kyle Field

The best game to watch for draft eligible prospects this weekend will be the debut of Texas A&M in the SEC when they welcome the Florida Gators to town. The Aggies boast a trio of potential first round draft choices in offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews as well as pass rushing outside linebacker Sean Porter. Joeckel and Matthews make up the best offensive tackle tandem in the nation. Joeckel mans the all important left tackle position and is the top offensive lineman in the draft. He isn’t quite a finished product, but he’s pretty darn close. He possesses the size and athleticism to play the blind side at the next level along with the experience after starting immediately as a true freshman and ever since. If there’s an offensive tackle that can ascend into the top five of the draft, it’ll be Joeckel. Matthews is the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and is the top right tackle prospect in the country. He is a strong, physical run blocker that plays with a mean streak that he puts on display every time he throws a defensive lineman to the ground and opens up a huge running lane. He has first round talent, but because he plays the less heralded right tackle position he could fall into the early second round. He too is experienced after winning the starting right tackle job midway through his true freshman season. Sean Porter is the leader of the Aggies’ defense and has drawn comparisons to his former teammate and 2011 second overall pick Von Miller. He’s very similar in size, speed and athleticism to Miller and plays the same type of hybrid pass rusher role from a 4-3 outside linebacker position. He’s not quite the natural pass rusher that Miller is, but he makes up for it with his ability to better pursue ball-carriers from sideline to sideline and drop into coverage on passing downs. It will be very interesting to see how high teams value Porter in comparison to Miller. After their top three prospects Texas A&M also has a pair of offensive playmakers in RB Christine Michael and WR Ryan Swope. Both look like mid round selections.

The 2012 NFL Draft was one to forget for the Florida Gators as they had just two players selected, neither among the top-100 picks. The 2013 draft might not be much different if Florida’s top prospects choose to return to school for another season. However, if they do choose to forgo another season in Gainesville then the Gators’ should be well represented at the 2013 draft. Currently rated as the top strong safety prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft, Matt Elam lived up his considerable hype as a high school recruit following a stand out season last year. Athletic and versatile, he has the ability to make all the plays required for the position whether dropping into coverage or moving up near the line of scrimmage to defend the run or rush the quarterback. Should he decide to enter the draft, he’ll be in a battle with the likes of Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) and Robert Lester (Alabama) for a spot as the top strong safety available, likely somewhere on Day Two. Sharrif Floyd is Florida’s next best prospect behind Elam and like Elam, he could be better off waiting for the 2014 draft. Floyd is a traditional defensive tackle, although he did start for the Gators at defensive end last season due to a lack at depth on the outside, but will be back on the inside this year. He possesses a great burst off the line and uses his raw power and talented hands to get into opposing backfields. Due to his ability to play inside and outside in a 4-3 defense, he will draw interest as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.  Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic are talented and fast attacking linebackers that should receive attention from traditional 4-3 defenses. Jenkins is the more talented and experienced of the two and will draw comparisons to the group of smaller 4-3 linebackers that went in the 2012 NFL draft in second round selections, Mychal Kendricks (Philadelphia) and LaVonte David (Tampa Bay). The team’s top Senior prospect is offensive tackle Xavier Nixon. He has the size of the NFL prototype left tackle with a naturally large frame and long arms. As a true freshman he looked like a potential star, but injuries and inconsistencies in the last couple of seasons have seen his stock decline. Nixon has shown he has the potential, but will need to show that he can stay healthy and play with more consistency this year if he wants to improve his draft stock among a very impressive group of draft eligible offensive tackles. Center/Guard Jonothan Harrison is also a prospect to keep any eye on, but I expect he’ll be back next season for another year in school.

Written By: Mark Scott