Tavon Austin Moves onto December Big Board for 2013 NFL Draft

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Tavon Austin Moves onto December Big Board for 2013 NFL Draft
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The past month put a lot of college football players in the spotlight, as every game became more important. The big-game nature of November led to a good amount of shuffling in the rankings from my previous big board. The top five remain in place, but there's a lot of movement after that as quarterbacks continue to fall and pass-rushers continue to rise.

Remember, this is not a mock draft in any way; it is just ranking the 40 best draft-eligible college football players. 

*Denotes underclassmen 

 

1. *Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Georgia didn't face the best competition in November, but Jones continued his disruptive ways, including a two-sack performance against Auburn. Jones may not be on the level of previous year's top talents like Andrew Luck, Von Miller, Ndamukong Suh, Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton, but nobody else has stepped up enough to knock Jones off the top spot. Previous: 1 

 

2. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Lotulelei's value isn't reflected at all in box scores, because his job is to control the middle of the field and allow his teammates to make plays on the ball. And he excels at his role, using good footwork and leverage to ward off the constant double-teams he faces. Previous: 2 

 

3. *Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

His quarterback, Johnny Manziel, may be getting the Heisman hype right now, but Manziel would be nothing without the superb protection Joeckel has provided all season. Joeckel had a great performance in the biggest game of his life against Alabama and played a huge part in the upset. Previous: 3 

 

4. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame

I said it in my previous big board, but I'll say it again—inside linebackers don't get drafted high, but Te'o will tempt some teams because of everything he brings to the table. Te'o has excelled in the spotlight and performed under pressure, leading his team to an undefeated regular season with a huge win against USC. Previous: 4


5. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Warmack continues to show why he has such a high rating even though he plays the least glamorous position in all of football. He's a main part of the reason that Alabama put up 350 rushing yards against Georgia.  Previous: 5


6. Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

This 6'6" freak of nature jumps to No. 6 mostly because of his potential. Jordan, Bjoern Werner, and Barkevious Mingo all hinge on the "upside" factor with their draft stock as pass rushers, and it really comes down to which player you think will be most likely to reach their ceiling. At this point, it's Jordan for me. Previous: 15


7. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

After much deliberation, I went ahead and decided to put Montgomery ahead of teammate Barkevious Mingo. Montgomery just has the size, strength, fire and experience that would render him capable of producing immediately in the NFL. Previous: 9

 

8. *Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Moore will have to put on some mass in the NFL to play as a 4-3 DE, because he gets pushed around a little too much at his current size. He isn't an elite athlete, but understands the game and takes smart angles, great balance, and active hands to create havoc. Also has a constant motor. Previous: 18


9. *Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Lewan is not a finished product, but his size, strength and length give him immense value. Has a quirky personality, but plays hard on the field and will be a big voice in the locker room. Previous: 8

 

10. *Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm still not entirely sold on Werner. I know he only played high school football for two seasons after coming here from Germany, and that he's extremely athletic. But he rarely uses any actual pass-rush moves and his effort seems inconsistent at times. He also doesn't face very good offensive linemen in the ACC. He's intriguing, for sure, but there are some real question marks. Previous: 10 

 

11. *Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Milliner was relative quiet in the SEC Championship Game, but Georgia's offense wasn't on the field much and couldn't get anything rolling for most of the game. Milliner has good ball skills and plays with an edge, but needs to work a bit on his tackling. Previous: 13


12. *Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Big Hank has all the physical tools. He's big and has a strong upper body but is still nimble. He gets off the line quickly and often penetrates but fails to disengage and actually be disruptive. If he can get a little more violent, it'll help him create havoc and be disruptive. Previous: 6


13. *Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU

People say Mingo has all the potential in the world, but that's mostly based off his incredible speed and athleticism. While that's valuable to have, his lack of strength and experience have really been apparent this season, and he's going to have his work cut out for him in the spring. Previous: 7


14. *Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

I'm a huge fan of Ogletree, and he showed his worth in the SEC Championship, flying around the field and trying desperately to slow down Alabama's rushing attack. His versatility as a linebacker would make him a huge asset to any team. Previous: 21


15. John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

Jenkins was in an absolute dogfight with Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack during the SEC title game and held his own. He got double-teamed a lot, and Alabama was forced to run behind the tackles more than it usually does. Previous: 14


16. *Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Matthews and Joeckel combine to give A&M the best tackle combination in all of college football. Matthews is less athletic than Joeckel but is still talented enough to play on the left side. His experience at right tackle will make teams comfortable playing him on either side, helping to increase his value. Previous: 25

 

17. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Continues to climb the boards as he has had a spectacular season for a defensive tackle. He's got the strength and athleticism to play as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense and anywhere on the line in a 3-4 defense.

 

18. *Keenan Allen, WR, California

Allen's injury isn't really a big deal, as he should be 100 percent by the time workouts start for the combine. But he finished the season on an underwhelming note, and will need to be immaculate in the pre-draft process. Previous: 11


19. Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina 

It's rare to have two guards rated so highly, but Cooper has proven that he's right there with Warmack. Plays hard and smart, and like Warmack, should be an immediate starter in the NFL. Previous: 26


20. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

In terms of production and attention, it was a tale of two seasons for Smith. After a dominating first half, Smith and West Virginia collapsed and had a relatively dismal second part of the season. Smith has a live arm and good awareness, but he had most of his success against poor defenses. Previous: 17


21. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama

Jones can play anywhere on the line, and was extremely impressive against John Jenkins in the SEC Championship Game. He apparently played through a foot injury, which makes his performance more impressive. Really tough kid with a lot of strength, experience and knowledge of the game that any NFL team would love to have. Previous: 23

 

22. *Eric Reid, S, LSU

Reid was just named to the Coaches All-America team, showing just how highly his opponents think of him. He's got the athleticism, but he needs to refine his playing style a bit as he can sometimes over-commit on runs and play action. Previous: 22


23. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

This year is a strange one for wide receivers; there isn't really anyone who stands out, and the "tiers" are constantly shifting. There are as many as seven receivers that I could put here, but Austin's unbelievable performance against Oklahoma vaulted him into this spot. Previous: NR


24. *Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn

As some other pass-rushers have made waves and climbed the boards this season, Lemonier hasn't done anything to stand out, but he also doesn't deserve to slip too much, either. If Auburn didn't have such a dismal season, I think Lemonier would be a lot more relevant right now. Previous: 20


25. *Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Eifert continues to be one of my favorite players in the draft. He was been used more as the season progressed, and showed why he deserves to be taken in the first round. He is an athletic pass-catcher but also has improved and become a solid blocker. Previous: 29


26. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Banks' length and quickness will make him intriguing to NFL teams because wide receivers continue to get taller and taller. Banks has had seven passes defended in his past nine games and was named a Thorpe Award Finalist. Previous: 19


27. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

Slowly but surely continues to climb the board. He hasn't been exceptional this season, but his versatility is a big plus, although he may be caught between being too small to play DE but not quick enough to play OLB. Previous: 28


28. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

I really think a lot of Wilson as a football player. He stands tough in the pocket and has persevered through this rough season in Arkansas. His arm is strong and his vision is solid, but his decision making will need to be more consistent. Previous: 31


29. *Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Rhodes is a big, strong corner who moves fluidly but isn't especially quick. This leads me to think that some teams may try to turn him into a safety, where he may be better suited given his frame and skill set. Previous: 33


30. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

Vaccaro has all the natural ability in the world. He is incredibly quick and moves effortlessly in every direction, but has to take better angles to the ball because his speed won't be enough to recover in the NFL. Previous: 37

 

31. *Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee—Previous: 16

32. *Robert Woods, WR, Southern California—Previous: 24

33. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan—Previous: NR

34. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina—Previous: 32

35. Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California—Previous: 12

36. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue—Previous: 35

37. *Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee—Previous: 39

38. *Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford—Previous: NR

39. *C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama—Previous: NR

40. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor—Previous: 36

 

Dropped from ranking: Le'Veon Bell, T.J. McDonald, Tank Carradine, Sharrif Floyd 

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