2013 NFL Draft: Colleges That Will Dominate in Next Year's First Round
Teams like Alabama and Georgia heard a lot of their players' names being called in this years draft, which should come as no surprise to those who watched college football throughout the season. Some teams are chock full of talent and are represented well in the draft.
Well, the first 2013 mock drafts are beginning to pop up, and they only build up the anticipation for the upcoming college football season. After all, by the end of the year, some guys could fall from first round to free agency (i.e. Vontaze Burfict).
With that in mind, it is safe to say that there are schools across the nation with NFL-caliber players. Some with more than others.
These are the schools that have the best talent, and will subsequently be rewarded in the first round of next year's draft.
*Denotes expected foregoing of senior season
Being the preseason No.1 team in the nation certainly does put pressure on this Trojans team, but none that it hasn't felt before. Matt Barkley is an astute leader, and should be able to lead them to at least a Pac-12 title.
There are three guys from this USC team that I think will find their way into the first round, and they're all on the offense. It is pretty easy to guess the first two, but the third one I had to make a judgement call on. Either way, expect to hear the words "the University of Southern California" early on draft day 2013.
Matt Barkley (QB): Could have been a Top 5 pick if he declared last year. Chose to return to USC for another chance at a national title, and is almost guaranteed to be the first pick. Prototypical size for NFL QB. Has decent arm strength, average mobility, but great decision-making. A very capable leader.
*Robert Woods (WR): USC could easily have the first two picks of the draft. Woods is a great receiver that has all the abilities needed. Great hands, speed and separation ability. Could work on strength, but overall the real deal.
Khaled Holmes (C): May be a bit of a stretch, but Holmes is by far the best center in the class. It also helps that he played different positions on the offensive line, which shows versatility. Has great technique, strength and football intelligence. Obtained a lot of experience. Expect a late first-round pickup.
I really like the chances of the Seminoles returning to the BCS this year. With a roster as loaded as theirs, how could I not? They finally seem to be returning to their old form of constantly supplying the NFL with high level players.
The defensive side of the ball is where they play the best ball, as evidenced by their Top 5 defense last year. Whether it was the running game or the passing game, FSU could shut it all down. The defensive line was the overall best unit, and I have two guys from it going in the first round.
That isn't to take anything away from the offense. There are some very talented players that will get their time to shine this year, which will help their draft stock. Guys like E.J. Manuel can help their cause a lot by having a stellar season.
E.J. Manuel (QB): Tall, strong quarterback with a powerful arm. Decision-making is decent, but forces passes sometimes. Is a dual-threat QB, but uses legs mainly to escape pressure. Has a very high ceiling.
*Bjoern Werner (DE): Powerful, threatening defensive end that forces his way to the backfield and can rush the passer. Has a great first step and showed up big in important games. While once criticized for his lack of moves, Werner added some to his game last year, making him a complete package.
Brandon Jenkins (DE): Once thought a sure-fire first-rounder, a disappointing 2011 convinced him to go back for one more year and work on his game a little bit. Besides inconsistency, nothing really bad about his game. Great speed, moves, strength and can play OLB if needed.
*Xavier Rhodes (CB): From a physical standpoint, Rhodes is an ideal corner. It also helps that he has elite athleticism, strength and coverage ability. Shows flexibility in multiple schemes and can defend the best wide receivers.
While they won't be the biggest winner next year, Alabama will still place among the top in players selected. You can thank that to Nick Saban's stellar recruiting and amazing coaching staff.
Alabama's defense has been the big story in recent years, but it will see a slow down next year. Still, don't think that the Crimson Tide will fall off the map. They will always have NFL talent.
Both of the offensive guys from Alabama that will probably be drafted are offensive linemen. That is, barring an early NFL entry by Eddie Lacy. Either way, both are elite linemen that have skills necessary to advance.
*D.J. Fluker (OT): The consensus No. 1 offensive tackle in the draft, likely picked up in the Top 10. Can overpower any defensive lineman with his strength and size. Worked on his speed to get it up to NFL standards. Besides minor technique issues, a very ready prospect.
Barrett Jones (C/G/OT): A very versatile lineman who could play all three positions mentioned. Feet placement, explosion off the ball and movement are all strengths. Needs to work on better hand placement. Late first-round steal.
*C.J. Mosley (ILB): Next great Alabama linebacker. Speed and lateral movement are some of the best. Great tackling technique. Needs more strength. If he has a stellar junior season, could become tied with Manti Te'o for best ILB of the draft.
*DeMarcus Milliner (CB): Underrated cornerback that has amazing athleticism. Has great size, toughness and covers receivers very well. May fall to second round due to packed cornerback class, but still has first-round talent.
If anybody thought that LSU would lose any firepower clearly did not see their roster for next year. Like last year, it is mostly defensive, with four out of five prospects belonging to the defense. After all, there is a reason that these Tigers are viewed as one of the favorites to win the BCS National Championship.
The Tigers defense was ranked second in the nation at the end of last year, and looks to take the steps to being first. With the talent they're returning, that is easily attainable. This LSU team is a lot deeper than people give it credit for, which should work in its advantage.
*Chris Faulk (OT): Lone offensive player likely to be drafted in the first round for LSU. Could battle for the best tackle in the 2013 NFL draft. Great strength, size and technique. Looks to improve speed next year. Could be a project for a team, but one worth undertaking.
*Sam Montgomery (DE/OLB): With Brockers gone, Montgomery will assume the role of the defensive line leader. Quick off the ball, has great speed and power. Needs to put on weight if he wants to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL.
*Barkevious Mingo (DE/OLB): As the often overlooked part of the dynamic duo on the line, Mingo certainly deserves just as much attention. Has amazing athleticism, speed and first step. Needs to work on strength to defend the run better.
*Eric Reid (S): Another forgotten aspect of the LSU defense who got mixed in the shuffle of Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne. Good coverage skills and size. Especially tough player with versatile movement. Could easily sneak into first round.
*Tyrann Mathieu (CB): A very hard player to predict. Amazing instincts, flexibility, change of direction skills and toughness. However, is very undersized for a cornerback and gets beat on pass coverage sometimes. I predict a team will grab him in the first based on ball-hawking skills alone. Whoever it is will not regret it.