2013 NFL Draft: Preseason Big Board Unveiled
The NFL draft has become a 365-day business each year—we even have a YouTube show called NFL Draft 365. With little time to waste, here is a look at the top prospects eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft. That means the best seniors, juniors and redshirt sophomores in college football during the 2012 season.
1. Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC
Leader. Winner. First-rounder. Matt Barkley is the next in a long line of USC quarterback prospects who have taken over college football and the NFL draft. But get this—he's at the very least the best one since Carson Palmer. Barkley has the upside of Mark Sanchez's final season with the accuracy and presence of Palmer.
2. Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End, Texas (Junior)
A fiery pass-rusher off the edge, this second-generation football player has the violent pass-rushing skills to dominate the corner. He'll be a highly touted prospect for the 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Jeffcoat has the potential to be the best defender in the country in 2012.
3. Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia (Junior)
An outside linebacker in the form of Von Miller, Jarvis Jones is one of the more electric defenders in the nation. With elite size, strength and speed to crash the edge, Jones can play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense in the NFL without missing a step.
4. Tyler Wilson, Quarterback, Arkansas
How well Tyler Wilson bounces back from the loss of coach Bobby Petrino will be one of the early storylines of the year. Wilson enters his second season as a starter with huge expectations. His size, arm strength and accuracy make him a surefire Top 5 prospect if he doesn't suffer from the coaching change.
5. Marcus Lattimore, Running Back, South Carolina (Junior)
Marcus Lattimore missed almost half of the 2011 season with a torn knee ligament that will put his 2012 season among those worth watching most. Before the injury, Lattimore was a dynamic running back who would have challenged Trent Richardson for top back status in the 2012 draft.
6. Alex Okafor, Defensive End, Texas
The University of Texas is blessed with pass-rushers on the 2012 roster. Alex Okafor joins Jackson Jeffcoat as bookend pass-rushers from Austin. Okafor is more of a classic 4-3 right defensive end, but he's athletic enough to stand up in space and make quarterbacks' lives hell.
7. Sean Porter, Outside Linebacker, Texas A&M
Sean Porter may not be extremely well-known right now, but give him time. Porter's all-around ability from the outside-linebacker position will make him an All-America candidate this season and propel his stock into the Top 10, much like Von Miller's final season at A&M did for his own stock.
8. Sam Montgomery, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, LSU (Junior)
Texas isn't the only NCAA power with elite defensive ends; LSU packs its own punch off the edge. Sam Montgomery has the athletic tools to rise way up draft boards with another dominant performance in 2012. He's a silky-smooth pass-rusher with the speed and agility to beat the best tackles off the snap.
9. Logan Thomas, Quarterback, Virginia Tech (Junior)
My pick to make a regular-season jump way up draft boards, Logan Thomas hasn't quite played up to a Top 10 billing, but if his 2012 season matches last year's performance, he'll be firmly entrenched among the top prospects.
10. Robert Woods, Wide Receiver, USC (Junior)
One of the best route-runners to come out of college football in quite some time, Woods is capable of making routine catches and turning them into big plays. He's also athletic enough to pull down acrobatic catches on the sideline and in the red zone.
11. Manti Te'o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame
A potential 2012 draft entry who went back for one more year, Manti Te'o is a versatile linebacker with the strength and athleticism to line up at any of the three linebacker positions in a 4-3 scheme. He's a better prospect than 2012's No. 9 overall pick, Luke Kuechly.
12. Devin Taylor, Defensive End, South Carolina
Another pass-rusher from South Carolina, Taylor has the ideal size to be a right defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. Unlike Melvin Ingram, he has a clearly defined position. He was also considered a better pass-rusher than Ingram before the 2011 season began.
13. Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, LSU (Junior)
A nightmare coming off the edge, Mingo doesn't have a great game against the run at this time, but when looked at as a 3-4 outside linebacker, few prospects are better. He'll be a favorite of NFL scouts this season.
14. Seantrel Henderson, Offensive Tackle, Miami (Fla.) (Junior)
A blue-chip left tackle with incredible upside, Seantrel Henderson needs to spend the 2012 season refining his game and living up to those expectations placed on him when he left high school. He's a massive man with unlimited potential. Now let's see if he uses it.
15. Aaron Murray, Quarterback, Georgia (Junior)
A talented, productive quarterback who is a bit small by NFL standards. Murray has everything scouts look for, but he's 6'1", which could drive his draft stock down if his production or performance slips in 2012.
16. Knile Davis, Running Back, Arkansas
Davis is coming off an ankle injury that caused him to miss the entire 2011 season, but he was back for spring practice and should be good to go this year. If Davis' injury doesn't set him back, he has Top 10 potential.
17. David Amerson, Cornerback, North Carolina State (Junior)
A huge cornerback prospect (6'3") who has rare quickness for his build, Amerson could really rise up the draft board if he shows the same improvement this year that he did between his freshman and sophomore years. His size and range are unbelievable.
18. Brandon Jenkins, Outside Linebacker, FSU
A productive pass-rusher who was tabbed as a 2012 first-rounder at some points last year, Jenkins should see a consistent and steady placement on the big board all season if he continues to rush the passer with the same effort he has the last two seasons.
19. Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama (Junior)
The next first-round defender from Alabama. Milliner will step into the spotlight in 2012 with Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie in the NFL. He has the skills to be better than both and a potential Top 10 pick.
20. Tyler Bray, Quarterback, Tennessee (Junior)
A systematic quarterback who has the size, strength and vision to jump up the board based on his own merit—and more so should any of the top quarterbacks falter. Bray needs work on his pre-snap reads and decision making, but the potential is there to be a blue-chip prospect.
21. Nico Johnson, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
It should surprise no one that Alabama has another elite linebacker prospect. Watching the Crimson Tide on film this past year, Johnson was my favorite of their linebacker corps. He has the speed and agility to be a better player than Dont'a Hightower or Courtney Upshaw.
22. Barrett Jones, Guard, Alabama
An All-American guard with the versatility to play some tackle if needed, Jones is a throwback blocker with great strength at the point of attack and very clean footwork. He'll be drafted at a spot comparable to David DeCastro (No. 24 overall) in 2013.
23. D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, Alabama (Junior)
A massive man who has played left and right tackle, D.J. Fluker would have been a first-rounder in 2012 if he had entered the draft. He's a rare athlete for the position, and with some coaching this summer, he could explode onto the scene as the elite left tackle of the 2013 draft.
24. Jonathan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State
A smooth cover man with good, fluid skills on the edge. Banks has the ideal size-speed ratio to be an effective No. 1 cornerback in the NFL. Teams scouting Fletcher Cox this year would have been impressed with the cover skills of the Mississippi State cornerback.
25. Jelani Jenkins, Outside Linebacker, Florida (Junior)
A stud linebacker in high school, Jelani Jenkins has only gotten better. He's a menace off the edge, but concerns about his height (6'0") will push this athletic superman down in the first round—much like Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw in the 2012 class.
26. Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame (Junior)
With a comparable frame to Coby Fleener (No. 34 overall, 2012), Tyler Eifert has better short-area quickness and burst off the line of scrimmage. He's able to box out defenders in the red zone, but has the feet to separate up the seam and make plays post-catch.
27. Kawann Short, Defensive Tackle, Purdue
A huge, massive man in the middle of the defensive line. Short has the body to play any position along the defensive line in a 3-4 or either interior spot in a 4-3 set. He's a gap-plugging tackle with the strength and quickness to shoot up the board.
28. Kwame Geathers, Defensive Tackle, Georgia (Junior)
Much like Geno Atkins before him, Kwame Geathers' play is a little underrated right now. He's a good penetrator who has the leverage and quick first step needed to slip through gaps and make plays in the backfield. Geathers is primed to improve his draft stock throughout the year.
29. Keith Price, Quarterback, Washington (Junior)
A super athlete who does well as a pass/run threat in the wide-open Washington offense, Price doesn't have ideal size, but he makes up for it with breathtaking plays outside the pocket and a rocket arm to launch passes downfield. If RG3 excited you in 2012, keep an eye on Keith Price for 2013.
30. C.J. Mosley, Inside Linebacker, Alabama (Junior)
Your classic Alabama inside linebacker, C.J. Mosley is a nice mix between Rolando McClain's athletic ability and Dont'a Hightower's strength in the middle. He just might end up being better than them both.
31. Bacarri Rambo, Strong Safety, Georgia
A punishing tackler in the secondary, Bacarri Rambo not only has the best name ever for a safety, but he plays like a true first-rounder, with excellent range and the strength to knock receivers on their butts when they dare to challenge the middle. Rambo will miss the first four games of the 2012 season due to suspension for marijuana use.
32. Ray Ray Armstrong, Free Safety, Miami (Fla.)
Ray Ray Armstrong is doing his part to maintain Miami's status as one of the premier colleges for defensive backs. He was brilliant in his junior season and could have been a fringe first-rounder for the 2012 draft class due to the weakness of the safety group. Back for another season in 2012, Armstrong could move himself up like Mark Barron did in 2012.
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