NFL Draft 2013: Top 10 College Prospects Coming out of Week 1
The college football season is finally underway. That means that the nation's top players get one last season to impress scouts before making the transition to the NFL.
The 2013 draft class looks like a particularly deep and talented group. And while the draft boards are sure to change dramatically over the coming weeks, a few players have already separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
Here are 10 of the top college prospects through one week of the college football season.
Luke Joeckel: Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Joeckel has started at left tackle for the Aggies since arriving as a true freshman and he's established himself as an outstanding player.
Joeckel is a true pass-blocking tackle. He did an incredible job last year in protecting first-round pick Ryan Tannehill's blind side. Joeckel has remarkably quick feet for an offensive lineman and he's able to stay in front of even the quickest edge rushers.
He's not quite as accomplished in the running game, though he's still well above average. He has good technique and strength, but he's not the dominant force that he is at protecting the quarterback
Franchise left tackles are hard to come by and Joeckel has that kind of potential. He's definitely separated himself as the best offensive tackle in football.
Johnathan Hankins: Defensive Tackle, Ohio State
Hankins projects to be a top pick more because of his sheer talent than his on-field results.
The defensive tackle is a huge presence in the center of Ohio State's defensive line and is set for a monster season in his junior year.
Hankins is an extremely quick and athletic tackle who is particularly strong against the run. He uses his deceptive speed to overwhelm offensive linemen and blow up plays in the backfield.
He's not quite as strong a pass-rusher, but he still recorded three sacks last year and is able to generate solid pressure on the quarterback.
Hankins' versatility is something that NFL teams will love. He has the experience and ability to play anywhere on the defensive line, which presents some intriguing options for defensive coordinators.
Hankins is nowhere close to his ceiling as a player, and he's a talent that teams won't want to pass on.
Keenan Allen: Wide Receiver, California
Keenan Allen doesn't have all of the hype or accolades that USC receiver Robert Woods does, but in terms of pure talent, Allen comes out on top.
He really doesn't have any holes as a receiver. Last season, Allen caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns, despite facing constant double teams.
He's got the size, speed and sure-handedness to be a legitimate deep threat. He's also an excellent route-runner. He's more than capable of getting physical with smaller defenders and using his frame to secure catches.
Allen has everything you could ask for in a receiver and should be the first one off the board in this year's draft.
Marcus Lattimore: Running Back, South Carolina
Lattimore is a bit of a wild card considering that he's coming off of an ACL injury. But if he returns to last year's stellar form, he's far and away the best running back in this draft class.
Lattimore is an outstanding power back. Once he hits the hole it takes at least two defenders to bring him down, and he's always a threat to shed would-be tacklers.
He also has surprisingly quick feet for someone of his size and strength. He's elusive and shifty enough to avoid big hits and come up with solid yardage on every carry.
The only thing Lattimore is really missing is breakaway speed. He's no danger to rip off 75-yard touchdown runs every carry, but he is a workhorse back that wears down defenses and consistently runs for five- or six-yard gains.
Teams may be a bit wary of Lattimore considering his injury and the way that power backs tend to break down quickly. But even so, he's certainly one of the most talented players in this year's draft class.
Matt Barkley: Quarterback, Southern California
A quarterback has been taken No. 1 overall in each of the last four years, and Barkley will probably be responsible for making it five-for-five.
Barkley is quite simply the best quarterback in the draft. He's entering his fourth year as a starter at USC and he's improved leaps and bounds every year.
Barkley is a smart quarterback who has shown an exceptional ability to read opposing defenses. He also operates in a pro-style offense under head coach Lane Kiffin, so he won't have a very difficult transition to the NFL.
Barkley's size (6'2”) and his arm strength aren't exceptional, but they're definitely enough for the NFL. There's no reason to think that he won't be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft this year.
Chance Warmack: Offensive Guard, Alabama
Guards aren't ordinarily prized in the way that tackles are, but Chance Warmack is no ordinary guard.
At 6'3” and 320 pounds, Warmack is a massive presence on the Alabama offensive line.
There aren't many linemen in the nation that compare to Warmack. He's an extremely skilled blocker, particularly in the running game.
Though he's not the quickest guard, Warmack is powerful and has the athleticism to excel at the pro level.
He'll have to improve in terms of pass-protection this season to really solidify his standing as a top pick, but Warmack has the potential to be a terrific lineman in the NFL.
David Amerson: Cornerback, North Carolina State
Amerson is the top corner prospect in the draft and is coming off a year in which he recorded 13 interceptions.
No one in college football goes after the ball quite like he does. At times, it honestly looks like he's the wide receiver rather than the cornerback. He's simply always attacking the ball.
At 6'3”, Amerson is big for a corner and he uses his size to fight receivers for the ball and (potentially) return interceptions for touchdowns. He also has great instincts and is quick to react to both the run and pass.
Amerson would be hard-pressed to replicate last year's season (it's safe to assume that quarterbacks won't be challenging him much), but he's a surefire top pick next year.
Star Lotulelei: Defensive Tackle, Utah
Lotulelei, owner of the coolest name in the draft, is the most disruptive defensive lineman in college football.
He is a potential All-American and last year's winner of the Morris Trophy (presented to the league's best defensive lineman).
Lotulelei put up some solid numbers last season (he recorded 44 tackles, including nine tackles for a loss), but the numbers don't tell the whole story when it comes to the Utah lineman.
Lotulelei blows up countless plays at the line and he has all the physical tools that an NFL lineman needs.
He's quick, strong and requires a double team at almost all times. More importantly though, he never takes a play off. That's a rare feat for such a physically gifted player.
Expect Lotulelei to have a monster season and maybe even be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick.
Barkevious Mingo: Defensive End, Louisiana State
Mingo is a pass-rushing specialist who could be compared to Dallas Cowboy's linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
He lacks the size of a traditional defensive end (he's only 240 pounds), but no one is better at harassing the quarterback. Mingo actually only started four games last season, but the LSU junior still somehow registered 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Another year of experience under his belt should only serve to make him even more of a nightmare for offensive linemen to deal with.
Mingo is blessed with a dangerous combination of power and speed (he was a high school track star), and there simply aren't a lot of lineman capable of dealing with him.
Getting after the quarterback has never been more important than in today's NFL, and that makes Mingo a prized commodity
Tyler Wilson: Quarterback, Arkansas
Barkley may currently be the best quarterback in the draft, but Wilson has a shot at dethroning him by the end of the year.
The Arkansas quarterback had a huge season in 2011, passing for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions.
Though a bit of Wilson's success can be attributed to the Razorbacks' air-it-out offense, he's still got more than enough talent to excel as an NFL quarterback.
Wilson has a terrific arm and can make every throw required in the NFL. He's also fairly mobile. He's not going to kill teams with his legs, but he's capable of extending plays with his legs and making throws on the move.
He'll have to improve on his decision making if he wants to surpass Barkley, but Wilson is a terrific prospect in his own right.
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