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Top 2013 NFL Draft Prospects

I know that this time of year can be a little daunting for NFL fans because the season is almost over. I know how it feels. I have a new prescription for anxiety because of it. Thankfully, these times are different and there’s entirely more information at our disposal. And luckily for you, I have this information. Your welcome.

First up, the quarterbacks. This year’s class, in my opinion, isn’t that good. In fact, this draft reminds me a lot of the 2000 draft. Great defensive players, quality linemen and mediocre quarterbacks. I think a lot of these guys have the talent to play in the NFL but it won’t be right away. I think its safe to say we won’t be seeing rookies in the Pro Bowl for a consecutive year.

Geno Smith, West Virginia – Geno is talented. He’s quick, athletic and has a strong arm. I’m concerned about the fact that he played some dreadful defenses and his numbers might be a little skewed. I’m not convinced he can read an NFL defense.

Matt Barkley, USC – I rarely say this but maybe he should have entered the draft last season. He’s not very accurate and he doesn’t have a strong arm. I mentioned skewed numbers before and it apples here. A lot of his yardage came from YAC from Robert Woods and Marquise Lee, two of the best receivers in the country.

Mike Glennon, South Carolina – I think Glennon has an opportunity to push himself into the first round and be considered in the top tier of quarterbacks.

Ryan Nassib, Syracuse – Nassib’s draft stock has been sliding since the week of the Senior Bowl. He didn’t have very good practices and he didn’t look good during the game either.

Tyler Wilson, Arkansas – Wilson’s stock has been falling lately as well. He’ll have to have a great combine and pro day to push himself into the first two rounds.

Tyler Bray, Tennessee – Bray is another guy that can push himself into the first couple of rounds. He’s as good as any quarterback in this year’s draft and has the chance to separate himself from the pack.

Collin Klein, Kansas St – Optimus Klein reminded me and a lot of people of Tim Tebow, except with better mechanics. He’s a tough dude to bring down, he’s deceptively fast and he’s more of a run first guy. He’s a bit more accurate than Touchdown Jesus but he’s another guy I have trouble wondering if he can read an NFL defense.

EJ Manuel, FSU – I have a bias against FSU guys as a huge Miami fan, but he’s talented. He played very well in the postseason, even if it came against Northern Illinois.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma – Jones had a disappointing season after a few good ones as a Sooner and his Senior Bowl performance wasn’t very good either. He’s a statue in the pocket and his arm isn’t that strong.

Zac Dysert, Miami (OH) – I know very little about Dysert. I’m just being honest. I’ve seen him display the ability to extend plays outside the pocket, and he can make plays for his team when they need them but i wonder about his decision making. The few games I saw him play, there were a few times he tried to do too much.

Next up, the running backs. I think there are some good backs in this year’s class. Maybe a few that could contribute right away but none that are going to have the type of impact that Trent Richardson had last season. Oddly enough, the best back in the year’s class that also can come close to Trigga Trent’s production is Alabama running back Eddie Lacy.

Eddie Lacy, Alabama – Speak of the devil. He’s not as great as the last two Bama backs (Ingram and Richardson) but he’s shown flashes of greatness. He needs to stay healthy and show he’s a little more versatile. He looks like he’ll be a productive third down back but lets be real…third down backs aren’t taken in the first round.
Giovani Bernard, UNC – Bernard is another good back with some injury concerns. He’s a good all around back and he can return kickoffs.

Montee Ball, Wisconsin – I think Ball has the most upside at his position. He’s elusive, he’s powerful and quicker than he looks. He did benefit from playing behind an awesome offensive line but he took advantage of everything he was given.

Andre Ellington, Clemson – Ellington rushed for over 1000 yards but the most interesting stat was that he averaged over five yards a carry. He’s a tough runner but he’s going to have to add some bulk to be able to break tackles in the NFL.

Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St – Randle is a good runner but he’s just as good of a receiver out of the backfield. He’s got good acceleration and burst, and a lot of his yards came from after the first hit.

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina – I wish Lattimore would stay another year with the Gamecocks so we could see what he can do with another full season. Apparently, he’s 100% healthy and ready to showcase his skills but its difficult to have faith in a running back that has already had major knee surgery twice.

Jonathan Franklin, UCLA – Franklin had a great year at UCLA and has great breakaway speed. He’s projected as a change of pace back because of his lack of size but his production speaks for itself.

Christine Michael, Texas A&M – I think there’s more talent to this guy than we’ve seen. He’s shown flashes of greatness before. I don’t know what happened with coach Ken Sumlin but he was used less and less throughout his time at in College Station. He’s had some injuries, he’s not good in pass protection and there are rumors about his attitude.

Stepfan Taylor, Stanford – Taylor does a lot of things well. He’s a good pass protector, he’s strong and can catch out of the backfield. He doesn’t have a lot of breakaway speed and he tends to be a little overly aggressive and impatient with his blockers.

LaVeon Bell, Michigan St – I really like Bell a lot. He’s a big powerful back that may not have great speed but he uses what he has very well. He’s hard to take down so he’ll be a pretty good change of pace back early on.

As far as wide receivers go, there aren’t many great options here. When Kenny “Stands” Stills is an option, you know its a down year for wideouts.

Keenan Allen, Cal – Physically, Allen is a specimen. He’s not the fastest guy in the world but he’s got enough speed to get separation on the outside. He’s also shown no fear of going over the middle. His 40 time won’t be amazing but he’s got more than just straight line speed.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee – He doesn’t have a lot of experience after transferring from a JuCo in Kansas but he was very productive. In one season, he set a new record for all purpose yards and was the team’s leader in touchdowns. He was very productive in special teams even though he’s made some mistakes.

DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson – Hopkins had a great final season in Death Valley setting new school records and earning first team All-ACC honors. Hopkins makes big plays and has great ball skills. Once he learns to run better routes, he’ll become a more dangerous threat.

Tavon Austin, West Virginia – Austin is really small for a wide receiver but he’s very versatile. He has experience at running back and he’s a very good returner. Look for teams to view him as another Percy Harvin type. He’ll have to become a better route runner.

Robert Woods, USC – Woods has the skill to be the best wide receiver in this year’s class. he has great hands, he runs good routes and he’s pretty athletic. He’s been known to drop some catchable passes and he benefitted from playing opposite Marquise Lee.

Terrance Williams, Baylor – Williams has the ability to make tough catches, he’s fast enough to create separation on the outsides and he’s a decent route runner. He’s not as explosive as his former teammates, Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon, have shown themselves to be at the next level.

Aaron Dobson, Marshall – Dobson runs good routes and has reliable hands. He doesn’t seem very dedicated to blocking downfield and he’s not that fast.
Markus Wheaton, Oregon St – He’s a pretty good route runner, he’s strong enough to beat the press and he shows the ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point. He’s small for the position and sometimes has an issue catching passes when he’s anticipating a hit.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech – Good blocker, accelerates well and has good experience playing special teams. As well as he can accelerate, he doesn’t have much breakaway speed.

Justin Hunter, Tennessee – I’m disappointed in Hunter. He’s very talented and versatile, not to mention he’s been very productive in Knoxville. He’s shown lack of focus, and has injury concerns. If he gets his head on the game, he’ll be a great receiver at the next level.

Next up, the tight ends. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. This year’s crop of tight ends isn’t very impressive. There are only three or four guys that stood out to me.

Zach Ertz, Stanford – Ertz follows Coby Fleener as another top flight tight end coming out of Palo Alto. He runs well, he catches well and he blocks well. Enough said.

Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame – The only reason I have Ertz listed higher than Eifert is because he’s a better blocker right now…right now. As far as I’m concerned, Eifert may be the best overall pass catcher in this year’s draft. I have no doubts he’ll get drafted in the first round.

Jordan Reed, Florida – Reed doesn’t have prototypical size for a tight end, but he’s pretty versatile as he used to be a quarterback. He runs decant routes and basically looks like a wide receiver sometimes. He could be a better blocker and has some injury concerns.

Jake Stoneburner, Ohio St – He’s got a great name. Great name.

Now, for the offensive linemen. This group is among the best in recent years. Theres a strong possibility that the first overall pick could be an offensive lineman.

Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M – Hes the prototypical left tackle. He gets comparisons to Joe Thomas and Jake Long, perennial Pro Bowlers. He has no significant injury history and has great recognition.

Barrett Jones, G/T/C – Oklahoma – While Joeckel is the best lineman in the draft, Jones is easily the most versatile. He played all three positions on the offensive line and even won the 2012 Rimington Award for best center. Center is probably his best position and he’ll likely play the same position at the next level.

Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama – Warmack is the best guard in the draft. The guy is a beast on the line and he’s blocked for Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. I’m sure TJ Yeldon is going to miss him.

Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan – Big, strong kid with pretty good agility. He could stand to be a little stronger but even though he didn’t face any great competition in college, he did his thing during the week of practices at the Senior Bowl.

DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama – His focus tends to be an issue but at his best, he’s an elite blocker .His specialty is in the running game so he’ll need to focus on his footwork in the pass game.

Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC – Cooper is another versatile lineman with experience and ability at several positions. He’s never played much at tackle but he’s plaid all over the interior.

Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin – You can’t go wrong with Wisconsin linemen. They’re bred out there. He’s a smart guy that moves well for his size.

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma – Talk about being versatile and athletic. This guy has played quarterback, tight end and defensive end. He had a pretty good week at the Senior Bowl. He bears strong comparisons to Joe Staley who had a similar background before being drafted.

Kyle Long, OT, Oregon – He’s the brother of Chris Long and the son of Howie Long so he comes from a great football background. Because of Oregon’s scheme he wasn’t required to hold blocks very long. Despite his inexperience, he’s got a lot of potential.

Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse – He can play both inside and outside but he’s a much better inside player. He could stand to be a little stronger but he’s got pretty good mobility and body control.

Next up, the defensive linemen. Like the offensive linemen, this is a very talented group. The SEC is well represented among these guys.

Björn Werner, DE, FSU – I normally don’t like FSU guys but this guy is an absolute beast. He put hop huge numbers in only two seasons and its hard to believe he started playing organized football when he was 15.

Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M – Moore is pretty versatile as he can line up at outside linebacker but is obviously better suited at defensive end. He’s a terrific pass rusher and has shown the ability to drop into coverage.

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – I’m still not sure I can pronounce his name yet. He’s big enough to plug up holes in the run game but a knock on him is his lack of athleticism and he’s a little heavier than most.

Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU – Easily the best name in the draft. He’s another hybrid type defensive end that can also play outside linebacker. He’s pretty lean and extremely quick. He needs to develop some moves to get past blockers.

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri – He’s got great size and athleticism although he was only dominant over a short period of time. There are question marks about his motivation.

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida – He’s powerful, quick and uses his hands very well. If he can improve his technique, he’ll be a Pro Bowler.

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU – This guy has been compared to JPP because of his speed, quickness and athleticism. He doesn’t have a lot of experience but he’s very versatile and has played some outside linebacker.

Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama – He’s been compared to Vince Wilfork but I see a lot of Haloti Ngata. He’s very strong and deceptively quick. He’s actually play some fullback in short yardage situations. He doesn’t move well laterally though.

Datone Jones, DE, UCLA – I’m worried about his inconsistency but he’s played at different positions no the defensive line. He’s very coachable and learned a lot under Jim Mora Jr.

Alex Okafor, DE, Texas – It seems the growing trend in this year’s class of defensive linemen is versatility. Okafor is no different. He’s played some defensive tackle. He’s very powerful and he’ll be a great pass rusher.

This group of linebackers is pretty good, once again mostly dominated by SEC players.

Jarvis Jones, Georgia – This guy is explosive and hits hard. There’s some issues about his injury history and he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis but I don’t think it’ll be a huge issue. He’s good enough to drop into coverage and strong enough to dominate blockers much bigger than he is.

Alec Ogletree, Georgia – Jones’ teammate is a former safety with excellent ball skills. He has awesome leaping ability and he’s very quick. He’s a little thinner than you’d like for an outside linebacker and he’ll need to get stronger. He also had a four game suspension for substance abuse and as recently as a week ago he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Kevin Minter, LSU – Minter is a little undersized for a middle linebacker but he’s very smart and tackles very well. He times the snap as good as anyone I’ve seen in this year’s draft pool and he’s fast enough to cover guys out of the backfield.

Manti Te’o, Notre Dame – Had he come out after his junior year, he would easily be the first linebacker selected. Ironically, leading Notre Dame to the national title game is what might make scouts doubt him because he didn’t play well against Alabama. Te’o is still a great player. He can play against the run or the pass, he’s very instinctive and makes plays all over the field. The big thing will be how he bounces back from such an embarrassing hoax he was involved in.

Arthur Brown, Kansas St – Brown was one of my favorites going into the 2008 season because he had originally signed with Miami. There was a lot of potential there but unfortunately for my Hurricanes, that potential became reality somewhere else. With Kansas St, he showed versatility by playing inside and out and being productive wherever he played. He’s smaller than you’d like but he plays a lot bigger than he looks. He’s not much of a playmaker in coverage and there are questions about whether he can be away from home because of his struggles at Miami.

Khaseem Greene, Rutgers – Another player who plays bigger than he looks. He’s a good blitzer, makes tackles well in the open field, and he’s very athletic.

Sean Porter, Texas A&M – Porter can play both inside and outside linebacker. He’s a reliable tackler but isn’t very explosive. He’s pretty quick and athletic so he fits well into a 4-3 scheme.

Sio Moore, UConn – Like Porter, Moore is versatile. He has good recognition skills and looked impressive at the East-West Shrine Game.

Brandon Jenkins, FSU – Jenkins is a very good pass rusher. He’s quick and fast enough to chase people down. He’s not very explosive and doesn’t use his hands very well to get around blockers. He tends to rely on his speed. He can drop into coverage if necessary.

Devonte Holloman, South Carolina – I like this guy a lot. He’ll probably stay at outside linebacker in the NFL but he plays well enough in coverage to play safety.

I don’t do this often but I’m going to combine the corners and safeties in this section. I don’t know how deep the pool of talent is here but there aren’t as many big names as there are with the defensive linemen. I think there are a few guys that can surprise you with their production at the next level similar to what Harrison Smith did last season.

Dee Millner, CB, Alabama – He reminds me a lot of Charles Tillman. I don’t know if he can force fumbles the same way but he’s very physical and attacks the ball in the air. He’s excellent against the run.

Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas – He’s a former safety who’s very good against the run and has great closing speed. He doesn’t have many interceptions and tends to hit rather than wrap up tackles.

Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington – He comes from excellent bloodlines as his two older brothers, Marcus and Isaiah, are the in the NFL. Scouts say he’ll already be as good or better than both older Trufants this time next year. He plays well in both man and zone situations and plays pretty physical.

Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississipi St – Banks has excellent ball skills and always gets the ball at its highest point. He’s a playmaker and he’s not afraid to jump routes.

Matt Elam, SS, Florida – Like last season, there is only one strong safety that stands out to me. Last year it was Mark Barron, this year its Matt Elam. Elam is physical, he can play against the run or the pass, and hits like a truck. He’s a little smaller than you’d like and has had some trouble with the law.

Baccari Rambo, FS, Georgia – He’s my first runner up for best name in the draft. He’s the definition of ballhawk and a lot of his interceptions came from recognition and jumping routes. He doesn’t wrap up as much as he should but his timing is very good.

Eric Reid, FS, LSU – Like another former Tiger, LaRon Landry, he’s a big guy out there at safety. He’ll be able to cover wide receivers and tight ends at the next level as well as being able to play closer to the line of scrimmage against the run. He tends to be a little over aggressive in pursuit and that leads to mistakes.

Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU – Hes one of the bigger corners in the draft and his combination of size and athleticism make him an excellent prospect. He’s a good tackler in open space and has shown the ability to play close to the line of scrimmage.

Brandon McGee, CB, Miami – He has good speed he recognizes plays well. He doesn’t tackle very well and has an issue with down field contact that sometimes results in pass interference calls.

Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU – I believe this guy is way too talented not to have a place in the NFL. He’s a former Heisman candidate so there’s a lot of talent there. He’s very short but he plays bigger than his size. He’s a great returner and he might be an even better tackler. Hopefully his off the field issues are behind him because there are few guys as dynamic as he is.

I know what you’re thinking – what about the punters and kickers? Well, in the words for Sweet Brown…ain’t nobody got time for that. Questions and comments? Email me at s_talouis@yahoo.com and don’t forget to keep checking keepingitrealsports.com for more NFL draft updates.

Ed is a graduate of SUNY College At Old Westbury. He is currently the New York Knicks Beat Writer for Hoops Habit. Ed also works for MLB Advanced Media and CBS Radio's "1010 WINS" in New York City. He is the founder of Keeping It Real Sports LLC

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