The NFL Draft has one of the highest stud-to-dud ratios for the first round at right around a true 50-50 ratio. In 2013, there should be a higher ratio of closer to 75-25. This is mainly due to the talent level of the class, but also to how the NFL teams are learning how to scout and, more importantly, develop talent.
The scouting systems are going to help NFL teams take players in the right spot, while the developmental systems have been able to take later-round talent and turn them into true producers sooner rather than later. The NFL has been one of the best draft processes around, and with the amount of talent in the 2013 draft there could be an abnormal amount of studs.
Amerson (1) is one of the top corners in the nation.
Indianapolis has a long-term starting quarterback again, and has good framework for the rest of the high-value positional spots in Castonzo and Ijalana at tackle; Wayne, Avery, Fleener and Allen at receiver and Mathis, Freeney and Hughes at the outside linebacker pass-rusher roles.
Another spot that could be looked into is a nose tackle, but corner is the biggest need on defense, as Powers and Thomas are average at best. With corner as the biggest need on the team and a very deep corner class, it would only make sense to take multiple corners in the draft. It also makes the most sense to take the top corner and have him lock down opponents' best receivers for years.
Stud or Dud?
Amerson will end up being a stud in the NFL and should be a lockdown corner for a long time. Andrew Jones of Fox Sports Carolinas has quoted rival Clemson's head coach Dabo Sweeney, praising the 6'3" corner:
"Most corners don't have the size that he has, but he absolutely can lock a guy down and has the great ball skills to go with it," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. "You don't often see that with DBs. A lot of times guys will get their hands on balls and they knock them down and that kind of thing, and might have a lot of pass break-ups. But with him, he's got excellent hands."
Size, speed and an ability to ball hawk are three traits that made Antonio Cromartie a top corner when he was with the Chargers. Amerson has all the ability in the world at corner and is able to be what Cromartie should have become.
Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. By getting the franchise quarterback Sam Bradford, a true No. 1 target, it will only open up more options in the passing game for the Rams. They have one of the better running games, headed by Steven Jackson and now Isaiah Pead.
By bringing in Robert Woods, the Rams will get the No. 1 target that is needed for Bradford to take the next step. Woods is a junior at Southern Cal this year and is known as someone who can take the top off of a defense in the passing game.
Stud or Dud?
Woods as of now looks like he should be a stud in the NFL. However, he could be hurt long-term by injuries, as he has been battling an injured ankle all off-season. ESPN LA's Pedro Moura gave an update on the injured ankle of the star receiver:
USC wide receiver Robert Woods will continue to sit out summer workouts after an MRI revealed lingering inflammation in his surgically repaired ankle, the All-American said Friday. Woods underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle in December after being hampered throughout the 2011 season. He initially planned to return for spring practice in March, but his recovery has taken longer than anticipated.
Should he be fully recovered from injuries in his ankle, don't be shocked if Woods and Bradford end up as one of the best QB-WR tandems in the NFL. However, if his injured ankle isn't up to snuff, Woods could find him self sitting on the outside of the first round come April.
Minnesota is one of the worst teams in the NFL right now, and that doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon. They have needs all around the team; however, when there are as many needs as what the Vikings have, the team needs to get value and hit the need.
Defensive tackle is going to be a huge need, and the Vikings would be smart to bring in Lotulelei to be the plugger in the middle of the line. Lotulelei is arguably the best nose tackle in the college game right now and with his 6'3", 325 pound size, he should be able to clog the middle in the NFL.
Stud or Dud?
Lotulelei has a lot of potential and even Rob Rang of CBS Sports reports that some veteran scouts compare Lotulelei to current all-pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. However, he doesn't come off as someone who is going to be an all-pro that people are comparing him to.
Lotulelei will be a dud only if expectations are held too high for him. He will be playing a position that doesn't expect a lot of praise, and while he isn't a top pass rusher, his huge ability to create push in the middle of the defense will be invaluable to the Vikings.
The Cleveland Browns have a great pair of defensive tackles in Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin and a very good left end in Jabaal Sheard. However, they need someone who can complement Sheard as a pass-rusher from the right side of the defense.
Sam Montgomery is a defensive end prospect from Louisiana State who will compare favorably to some of the better 4-3 speed rushers in the NFL. Montgomery is one of the best pass-rushers in the draft and should start right away for the Browns.
Stud or Dud?
Montgomery should fit right in as a starter in the NFL and should be a stud in the 4-3 defense for the Browns. Sean Merriman of Bleacher Report gives the best reason as to why Montgomery will be a stud in the NFL:
He knows what it's like to be showered with such heavy expectations. He knows what it's like to be looked at as one of the best players in the country at his position. And really, up to this point, is there any doubt he will handle this differently than he has throughout all his life? I sure don't think so.
Montgomery is very similar to a younger John Abraham or Simeon Rice. He has the ability to drop back into coverage, set the edge, get after the passer and has all-pro potential. Montgomery could add to the pass rush in Cleveland for the next 10 years.
For as good as the Tampa Bay interior offensive line combination of Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, and Davin Joseph should be, they are lacking one major thing to make sure Freeman is protected: good offensive tackle play. There is a lot of unfounded praise surrounding Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood as legitimate top 10 tackles in the NFL.
However, those two are awful. ProFootballFocus has Trueblood with a -30.6 rating, good for sixth-worst among right tackles, and Penn, while not awful at 5.4 rating, was horrible in pass blocking, allowing nine sacks last season. Barrett Jones won the Outland Trophy as a left tackle and only moved to center for the good of the team.
Stud or Dud?
Considering Jones was a top player in college at left tackle during the 2011 season, he should be able to be a good NFL left tackle. He will be a stud, and as Jimmy McMurray mentions, Jones' intelligence is a main reason why the entire Alabama offensive line is one of the best in the nation.
Jones' intelligence is borderline superhuman. And with that intelligence he is a better playcaller, and the center is responsible for leading the offensive line.
Jones becoming a stud at left tackle will allow Penn to be a top right tackle. Penn's contract would be one of the top ones for a right tackle, but he is much better suited to play there. With an offensive line featuring Jones, Nicks, Zuttah, Joseph and Penn, the Bucs can finally protect Freeman.
Outside of receiver, the biggest need for the Rams is the ability to protect starting quarterback Sam Bradford. They have a solid group of talent with Dahl, Wells, Saffold, Richardson and Ojinnaka and need to add a true left tackle to it.
Alabama is an interesting team because they have three legitimate prospects for NFL left tackle in D.J. Fluker, Barrett Jones and Cyrus Kouandjio. Fluker is currently playing right tackle for the Crimson Tide, and at 6'6", 335 pounds, has the bulk and strength to be a top run blocker in the Brian Schottenheimer offense and should be the pick here.
Stud or Dud?
D.J. Fluker is looking like he should be a true stud in the NFL. KGET.com has a feature on their top offensive linemen and mentions Fluker as:
An absolute monster of a man, the 6-foot-6, 335-pound Fluker has been a mainstay on the outside for Alabama for the last two seasons. His frame makes him an ideal run-blocker and has helped pave the way for record-setting tailbacks Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram of late. With rare athleticism for a man his size and a complete skill set, Fluker played on the right side last year and may be best suited there going forward. Returning to Tuscaloosa for another season, Fluker has the chance to elevate himself to the top of the list among offensive tackles in 2012.
Even if Fluker doesn't wind up as a true stud at left tackle, the worst case scenario is a long-term animal starting for the Rams at right tackle. However, there is a lot of fight in Fluker and he will at least be a long-term addition to any NFL roster.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will realize sooner rather than later that Blaine Gabbert is not the answer at quarterback. New head coach Mike Mularkey will then want to go with someone who reminds him of his former gunslinger, Matt Ryan.
Mike Glennon is very similar to Ryan in that he is a multi-year starter with a top-level completion percentage. Glennon has the perfect size (6'6", 232 lb) for a quarterback, a great arm and the intelligence and leadership to be the new franchise quarterback of the Jaguars.
Stud or Dud?
Mike Glennon is putting in as much work as possible to be a true stud. However, quarterbacks are extremely hard to project. When a quarterback can have his team come back from behind by throwing five touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to win, it shows that he has fortitude to be a leader in the NFL.
Glennon will be a stud in the NFL, and with the Jaguars will have plenty of weapons and help to prove it. Justin Blackmon, Laurent Robinson, Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew will enjoy having a legitimate quarterback come in and help the franchise for the first time since Brunell's early days.
Chad Ochocinco, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Clyde Gates and Legedu Naanee are the top five receivers on the Dolphins' roster right now. That's not great for the Dolphins' long-term solution at the receiver position to assist new Quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
To remedy this issue, they take California receiver Keenan Allen, a 6'3", 206-pound star receiver who can compete for the Heisman in the 2012 season. Allen can be the No. 1 for Philbin's offense, as long as he continues to produce numbers like his sophomore year of 98 catches, 1343 yards and six touchdowns.
Stud or Dud?
Allen could very well be a dud in the NFL, unfortunately. While he has had a lot of production and shows he is a great talent in college, there is question as to whether he can play in the pros at a high level long-term, and he is looking like a legitimate dud if the team wants a long-term No. 1.
Verdict: Dud as a No. 1, Stud as a No. 2
9) Carolina Panthers Select CB Xavier Rhodes, FSU
Carolina needs someone to come in and play across from Gamble and eventually take over for him. Rhodes has NFL abilities physically, but Carolina hasn't had great luck with developing corners recently.
10) Buffalo Bills Select LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
The Bills need a linebacker to take over in the middle and lead the defense long-term. Te'o has the ability to be a scary good linebacker with Williams, Williams, Dareus and Anderson in front of him.
11) Kansas City Chiefs select QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Bobby Petrino hasn't been known for making quarterbacks, and that's who has taught Wilson up to this point. This is a very weak quarterback class and Wilson isn't going to be a long-term solution for an NFL team.
12) Seattle Seahawks select DT Kawann Short, Purdue
Seattle has been playing with rotating defensive tackles since Carroll got there. Short is someone who can come in and provide pass rush as a 3-tech for the defense and has top-tier ability.
13) Arizona Cardinals select OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jarvis Jones is a Top 10 prospect and only falls in this mock draft because of an extremely deep outside linebacker and defensive end class. He proves to be too much to pass up and will rotate with Schofield and Acho.
14) Dallas Cowboys select NT Jonathan Jenkins, Georgia
In Rob Ryan's defense, the Cowboys need a quicker, but still large, nose tackle. Jenkins could come right in and start and be a true upgrade over the current set at nose tackle, which would allow for Ratliff to move to the outside.
15) Philadelphia Eagles select CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Marcus Trufant was solid early in his career but fell of quickly. Desmond has a lot of potential but much like his brother doesn't look like someone who will be worth the first round pick in the long-term.
16) New York Jets select OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The Jets need someone who can get after the passer and create a ton of pressure. Mingo is a truly exceptional pass-rusher and will only end up adding talent to the already extremely good Jets defense.
17) Oakland Raiders select CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Oakland bringing in Banks would be one of the smarter moves for McKenzie to make. Banks may not be a top prospect, but he fits the new football player philosophy that McKenzie has, over the athlete philosophy that Al Davis had.
18) San Diego Chargers select S Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
The Chargers have been looking for someone to pair with Eric Weddle ever since Weddle proved to be a top-tier safety. However, they will have to continue looking if they want a pro-bowler. Jefferson will be closer to a Ryan Clark than a Troy Polamalu.
19) Chicago Bears select OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
The Bears select Bruce Matthews' son and have him start at left tackle right away. Between Matthews and Carimi, the Bears would finally have some bookends to protect Cutler for a long time.
20) Tennessee Titans select LB Chase Thomas, Stanford
Tennessee took their starting caliber weak-side linebacker in Zach Brown this year, but they need someone who can come in and start on the strong side as well as contribute on passing downs as a rusher. Thomas can do both and will be a stud in the NFL as that.
21) Cincinnati Bengals select S T.J. McDonald, Southern Cal
Taylor Mays will be entering his last year under contract and there is question as to whether he will end up starting long-term in the NFL. McDonald can play strong safety next to Nelson and will end up becoming what Mays was supposed to be.
22) Atlanta Falcons select TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Size, speed, intelligence. Everything that embodies a top tight end in the NFL. Eifert has all of it and then some, and could be the next great tight end in the NFL. Atlanta will need someone to replace Gonzalez, and Eifert should do that easily.
23) Detroit Lions select OT Chris Faulk, LSU
Detroit did just take Riley Reiff, however they could look to replace both tackle spots by taking Faulk, and having Faulk and Reiff start in the 2013 season. Faulk is a great fit for an NFL tackle, however he may not be a left tackle long-term.
Verdict: Dud at LT, stud at RT
24) Pittsburgh Steelers select NT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Hankins is a good player and a space-eater. However, he is not the next Casey Hampton and the Steelers shouldn't expect him to be. Hankins will do best when they rotate him with Ta'amu to create a good rotation instead of being forced to have all the responsibilities.
25) Denver Broncos Select DE Alex Okafor, Texas
Robert Ayers might as well be a bust after only getting 4.5 sacks in three years. Okafor is someone who continually improves and can play either left or right end in the NFL. He is a prototypical defensive end and someone Fox will fall in love with.
26) Houston Texans Select NT Jesse Williams, Alabama
The Texans select the Aussie giant to anchor the interior of their defense. While Phillips isn't known for taking big nose tackles, Williams is an ideal player for him, with his quickness off the snap and ability to push people back.
27) New Orleans Saints Select QB Matt Barkley, Southern Cal
This pick is a head-scratcher to quite a few people and it isn't even based on Brees being in a contract spat. Brees is 33 years old and they need to start developing his true replacement in the offense. They take a page out of Green Bay's book and get a more prototypical player to learn from a cerebral giant at the spot.
28) Green Bay Packers Select LB Alonzo Highsmith, Arkansas
Highsmith will be a first round pick based on his own merit and talent, however he could very easily be selected by a team that would play him in the wrong scheme like the Packers. Highsmith will be a productive linebacker but won't be an all-pro.
29) Baltimore Ravens Select WR Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee
Rogers is a big, talented wide receiver who should be able to take over for Boldin after learning behind him for a year or two. He doesn't run routes particularly well but he creates matchup issues with his height and speed.
30) San Francisco 49ers Select OT Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin
Anthony Davis should be moved to right guard full time. It would be the best plan of action for the 49ers. Ricky Wagner is a left tackle in college who projects best to right tackle in the pros and should compliment the already-talented Iupati and Staley while Davis adjusts to guard.
31) New England Patriots Select CB Demarcus Milliner, Alabama
The Patriots go best-player-available here, and while Milliner is expected to be a great corner in the NFL by some, he just doesn't come off as a top corner to me. He isn't as fluid in his hips as he should be, and in the wrong scheme he will fail before he flourishes.
32) New York Giants Select DE William Gholston, Michigan State
The Giants have a tendency to take some of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects out there and do it again with Gholston. However, unlike their awesome selection of Jason Pierre-Paul, Gholston will not be the all-world defensive end in the NFL.
Scott Carasik is an NFL Draft and Atlanta Falcons Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek and runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and the host of Kvetching Draftniks Radio.