NFL Draft 2013: Projecting Most Ideal Landing Spots for Top Prospects
Inching closer the 2013 NFL draft, the best of talent will continue to get examined.
Then again, pro football's draft is the most popular time of the year for America's most popular sport.
And although there's a shortage of quarterback talent compared to last year, defense reins supreme with players such as Georgia's Jarvis Jones.
Easily the most naturally talented pass-rusher of this draft class, Jones has improved his skill against the run and when dropping into coverage. Without question does he still need to keep developing, though, because even the best of defenders in NFL history were reliable outside of their ultimate strengths.
And now that the college football season has concluded, let's check out Jones and this April's 10 best prospects.
1. Jarvis Jones: LB, Georgia
For the most part, pro football is a quarterback-dominated pass-first league.
And the only way a defense can minimize the damage of a high-powered attack is with pressure.
More specifically, one standout pass-rusher capable of wrecking havoc in the backfield and accumulated tackles for loss. Jarvis Jones is that guy because of his 28 sacks, 44 tackles for loss, nine forced fumbles and six defended passes between 2011 and 2012.
Getting to the quarterback is without question his specialty, but Jones is a complete player. Possessing the overall athleticism to sink into coverage, Jones' size and lateral quickness also bodes well for jamming tight ends and slot receivers at the line.
We're seeing a lot of Von Miller-esque potential as well. Given Miller's immediate impact, Jones brings a similar skill set to produce in the NFL.
Projected Pick: No. 2, Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Luke Joeckel: OT, Texas A&M
Here's one primary reason why Johnny Manziel brought home the 2012 Heisman Trophy:
Offensive tackle Luke Joeckel.
As the best offensive line prospect this draft season, Joeckel is everything a team wants in the trenches. With impressive size and athleticism, Joeckel can wall off the edge courtesy of maintaining a low center of gravity.
Using near flawless technique, he keeps a solid base and knows when to extend for pass-blocking. Factor in that he's blocked for two mobile quarterbacks, Joeckel possesses the ability to seal the edge for longer periods of time.
He's also just as impressive of a run-blocker. The same base gets quickly upfield and extending lanes only enhances the ground game's effectiveness.
Projected Pick: No. 4, Philadelphia Eagles
3. Bjoern Werner: DE, Florida State
Instincts come to mind when breaking down Bjoern Werner.
Along with being an impressive pass-rusher (13 sacks in 2012), Werner possesses an array of skills.
For one, he plays with an extreme amount of assignment discipline. The results are 29 tackles for loss over the past two years and 17 defended passes. So, the man can literally decide whether he wants to get pressure or knockdown a pass when the quarterback drops back.
Secondly, Werner's size and lateral quickness will consistently set the edge against the run and squeeze lead-blockers. In turn, this allows linebackers more freedom to make plays and defensive backs to fill running lanes where needed.
Having so much natural talent is what makes Werner a top prospect, because that leaves room for unlimited potential to develop.
Projected Pick: No. 3, Oakland Raiders
4. Dee Milliner: CB, Alabama
Dee Milliner solidified his status at the top cornerback this year by locking down in the BCS national title game.
Granted, Notre Dame is not the most dominant of passing teams and Everett Golson entered with limited experience.
At the same time, Milliner was asked to occasionally isolate tight end Tyler Eifert who is much bigger by comparison. Well, Milliner simply got the job done and he finished the 2012 season with 22 defended passes and 54 tackles.
He can take away half the field, zone off in Cover 2 or 3 and get off blocks for run support. As an aggressive defender, Milliner's toughness will impact in press coverage and develop thereafter.
Projected Pick: No. 5, Detroit Lions
5. Damontre Moore: DE, Texas A&M
Another appealing pass-rusher is Texas A&M's Damontre Moore.
Having recorded 21 sacks and 38.5 tackles for a loss between 2011 and 2012, Moore has width and leaping ability to make plays all over the field.
His size alone will easily get off blocks and stuff the run, which makes him a sound defender. Knowing how to stay low and utilize leverage, Moore's strength and power hits another level when pass-rushing.
Provided Moore develops greater consistency regarding technique and awareness, he'll make significantly more plays. Fortunately, his raw talent and natural athleticism is a competitive advantage, because Moore goes all out every snap as well.
Projected Pick: No. 10, Tennessee Titans
6. Star Lotulelei: DT, Utah
The game of football will never change when it comes to how teams win.
Sure, it's a passing league, but those capable of controlling the line of scrimmage possess an innate advantage.
Utah's Star Lotulelei is a stud on the interior, but he's also extremely athletic and can move much quicker than given credit. That fast burst at the snap will clog lanes, force ball-carriers to cutback when it's not designed and provide quarterback pressure.
Although Lotulelei is not a sack-master, that's not the intended responsibility for any defensive tackle. It's about drawing double-teams, stuffing the run and forcing the quarterback out of the pocket. Lotulelei does each of these well along with reacting to quick passes for a deflection and generating turnover opportunities.
Through development he will increase efficiency, as his current talent is just a glimpse of the potential.
Projected Pick, No. 9, New York Jets
7. Manti Te'o: LB, Notre Dame
The leadership intangible is the first appealing football attribute of Notre Dame's Manti Te'o.
With that standing above all else, his acute instincts and reliability will pay dividends in pro football.
Because of excellent field awareness, playmaking skills and constantly reacting fast, Te'o will quickly develop. Now, he's not a true pass-rusher or simply a run defender.
Te'o does everything well, as his cerebral approach to the game gets him in position to collect tackles and blanket in coverage. Coming off a season where he once again hit over 100-plus tackles and made seven interceptions, Te'o will impact at either inside or outside 'backer.
Obviously a true middle linebacker, but his complete ability is capable of producing anywhere at the second level of defense.
Projected Pick: No. 8, Buffalo Bills
8. Taylor Lewan: OT, Michigan
Taylor Lewan is an offensive tackle that knows what's coming.
In short, it's his ability to recognize defenses to help the offensive line pre-snap.
Every standout offensive tackle needs to possess this ability, because protecting the edge and a quarterback's blindside is so vital to success. He works impressively well from inside out and fluidly moves lateral to widen the pocket.
Lewan is great with his hands at staying on blocks and possesses the attitude to drive defenders and extend running lanes. Not to mention he protected Denard Robinson quite often, so Lewan is capable of sealing his side of the line for an extensive amount of time.
Considering how loaded this draft is with offensive lineman, Lewan stands out and will make a strong impact.
Projected Pick: No. 7, Arizona Cardinals
9. Chance Warmack: Guard, Alabama
It's not every year a guard like Chance Warmack comes around.
Last draft we saw David DeCastro and Kevin Zeitler go later in Round 1, but few interior offensive linemen possess Top 10 talent.
Warmack, however, is just that by being the best lineman on Nick Saban's offense. A well-balanced player, Warmack's run-blocking skill set equals his pass-blocking dependability.
Having the quick explosiveness to pull across the line, Warmack can chip to the second level or block backside when a tackle or center pulls. As for pass protection, his size will take on the bigger rushers with power and the wherewithal to pick up blitzes is impressive.
After all, quarterback A.J. McCarron was only sacked a combined 35 times between 2011 and 2012.
Projected Pick: No. 16, St. Louis Rams
10. Johnthan Banks: CB, Mississippi State
Viewing the complete pool of talent strictly coming from the SEC, it's reasonable to overlook Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks.
He doesn't come from a dominant program within the conference and schools such as Alabama, LSU, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia are those that produce the most defensive talent.
Well, Banks won the 2012 Jim Thorpe award which goes to the nation's top defensive back.
For his career Banks logged 221 tackles, made 15 picks—three returned for touchdowns—forced five fumbles and defended 41 passes. If anything, Banks was reliably consistent in coverage and making tackles.
His ability to see the field and constantly anticipate are why Banks is a playmaker. Still needing to build some top speed, he can survive on instincts and tackling as he develops.
Projected Pick: No. 6, Cleveland Browns
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