2013 NFL Draft: Top 10 Talent That Will See a Dramatic Slide
There are five guys this year that will see considerable draft stock slide because their game will get picked apart by scouts or for multiple other reasons.
Every year, there are multiple guys who are considered top-10 talents before the college football season and the draft process. Then the draft rolls around and they see a dramatic fall in where they thought they would have been selected just eight-to-nine months earlier.
There are at least five guys every year that this happens to, and here is the projection on who will slip to the late first or early second round after being considered top 10 at this point and time.
WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Justin Hunter has an injury situation that will drop him. He tore his ACL in 2011 and is coming back this year. It's a two year injury and if patterns are correct, his play will drop off a bit in 2012 because of it. However, he has told the Shelbyville Times-Gazette that he feels fine:
"I've been out there running with the team and everything with no pain, no tweaks or anything like that," Hunter said. "I'm jumping the same, jumping actually, I think, I'm a little bit higher than I was. My speed hasn't decreased as I was running, so I think everything is good."
NFL scouts will have to see that he hasn't actually decreased his speed. If he spent time in the film and weight rooms to get better at the little things, he will be able to give the Vols a great year with Da'Rick Rogers taking some pressure off and Tyler Bray throwing him the ball.
The nit-picking that scouts do will hurt him though. And while he won't be a top 10 pick in the draft, he will make some team who selects him at the top of round two very ecstatic.
DT Star Lotulelei
Star Lotulelei is being regarded as the best nose tackle prospect in the college football ranks and arguably the best defensive tackle to come out since Marcell Dareus in 2010. The talent is there, but there are questions about how he will be able to handle the pressure of the NFL.
The spotlight of Pac-12 media was looking like it was forcing Lotulelei completely our of his comfort zone and even his head coach noted that (h/t Dirk Facer of Deseret News):
"This is outside of Star's comfort zone, somewhat, but he's doing a great job," Whittingham said. "He's very capable. He's a very good interview and he represents the program very well. It's just that this is not his favorite thing to do."
At the same time, if he gets onto the right professional team, this could be a great fit for him. However, it's not something that NFL teams like seeing out of a top 10 pick. They want someone who can handle the pressure and expectations of being a top player, not someone who is uncomfortable sitting behind a microphone on a no-pressure media day.
CB Tyrann Mathieu
Tyrann Mathieu is not a top-10 prospect in this draft analyst's eyes. However, he is considered top 10 by almost everyone else. He is a top notch punt returner and a solid corner. He just isn't the top-10 caliber corner that someone like NC State's David Amerson or Florida States Xavier Rhodes are.
Mathieu tends to worry too much about stuff that is out of his control. He is called overrated by quite a few analysts, myself included. He even went on a crazy twitter rant as ESPN's Gary Laney noted:
After came emphatic follows, like "Imma shock the world again this year" and "How bout all you sportswriters label me overrated until you label me the greatest." When he was through, it was 12 tweets of indignation at the notion that he might not be the best.
Unfortunately for Tyrann, he isn't going to be more than a nickel corner in the NFL. His coverage skills are solid, but he isn't going to project well to the NFL game nor an NFL scheme until he can learn how to worry about coverage first and interceptions second. NFL teams don't take nickel corners in the first round.
S Eric Reid
Eric Reid is a top tier safety in the college ranks and is the son of a former All-American. However, the safety class this year is tremendously deep. Ray Ray Armstrong of Miami, T.J. McDonald of Southern California and even Georgia's Baccari Rambo all translate to the NFL game better than Reid.
This isn't to say that Reid is a terrible safety by any means, but he isn't the next Mark Barron, or even Harrison Smith. He should be selected in the mid-second round and the NFL player he compares most favorably to is Atlanta's William Moore who was selected in the middle of the second round.
RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Marcus Lattimore is a complete workhorse as a running back and part of why the Gamecocks can beat almost anyone in the country. They use him as part of a grind-it-out, then gun it deep philosophy that Steve Spurrier made famous at Florida with guys like Fred Taylor and Rex Grossman.
However, Marcus is fighting a torn ACL injury that he sustained last year that many pros have even said takes two-to-three years to fully come back from. Lattimore was quoted by Brad Senkiw of Anderson, SC's Independent Mail about how it's more of a mental thing than a physical thing:
“It’s a mind thing. After your nine months are over, you have to get in your mind that you’ll be alright. It’s all in your mind. You just have to stay strong, and it makes you stronger in the end. A year from now or two years from now you’ll be a better player.”
And as long as he decides that he is ok, he will be a top running back. However, he won't be the same this year and his stock will fall because of it. It won't matter for the team who drafts him though, just look at Frank Gore.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.