Grading the Strength of Every Position in the 2013 NFL Draft
It's only February, and there have already been multiple mock drafts and articles declaring the future winners and losers of the 2013 NFL draft.
Things have been done a little differently here, as all of the potential draftees have been sorted by position and given a group grade.
That way, nobody gets singled out and has their feelings hurt.
And stop acting like you aren't devouring every draft-related item out there. It's a sickness.
I know. I have it.
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It's simple: This crop of quarterbacks is average.
A few QB prospects are intriguing, but they aren't the type to force a team to put on blinders and ignore other positions. Even if that team is the Kansas City Chiefs or Jacksonville Jaguars.
Geno Smith is one of those streak-shooters you see in the NBA draft who is always getting taken a little too high. He's phenomenal when operating on all cylinders. Unfortunately, his new coaches will have to figure out how to keep the switch locked.
Tyler Wilson will probably keep climbing up draft boards during the next couple of months. He looks like a solid quarterback, and his senior season was definitely impacted by a certain motorcycle accident.
E.J. Manuel isn't pro-ready, but he might be the most adaptable to where the game is going. His solid Senior Bowl performance (Most Outstanding Player) was a nice kickoff to the draft process.
Running Back: C+
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This year's running back talent doesn't have a Trent Richardson. There isn't that top-flight back some general manager will have to have.
There are a few names that could develop and contribute in a committee, but none of them are going to go Doug Martin in their debut year.
As you might have guessed, there's nothing of particular note to the fullbacks section. A seventh-round selection would be the ceiling.
Did you watch the BCS national championship? Then you saw Eddie Lacy and his thunder thighs running through people and forcing defenders to bounce off of him.
Giovani Bernard seems to be the consensus top-rated back in this year's draft. Hard to argue, but still not a first-round talent.
Marcus Lattimore is a huge question mark. He has an impressive running style, but he is now recovering from his second devastating knee injury.
Wide Receiver: B+
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While the 2013 class of wide receivers lacks that star player, it does have quite a few I-wouldn't-mind-that-player-on-my-team guys. At least three or four have a realistic shot of being taken in the first round, and plenty more will follow them to the podium shortly thereafter.
Depth and good-but-not-great talent adds the plus to a solid B grade.
Keenan Allen started the draft evaluation process as a much higher ranked prospect than where he currently sits. Maybe he should have waited to enter after his sophomore season.
Tennessee has a couple wide receivers who could be taken in the first night. Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson should both be gone by the end of the second round, but only Patterson should go in the first.
Tight End: B-
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The tight end class has two headliners and then the level of talent drops off sharply.
The top two will both be gone by the end of the second round. However, another tight end probably won't come off the board until sometime towards the fourth or fifth.
Considering how coveted tight ends are these days, that's a definite indictment of those that come after those discussed below.
Tyler Eifert is a big guy (6'6", 250) who catches passes. There's a place for that guy in the NFL.
Zach Ertz is the next product to come off the suddenly constant Stanford assembly line. He's fast enough, and big enough, to cause all sorts of matchup problems.
Offensive Tackle: A
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While the skill positions aren't as strong as past years, the offensive linemen pick up the slack.
The class boasts some top-flight players and has quite a few who come in just a notch or two below the leaders. There are enough possibly great-to-above-average tackles available that a quarter of the league could noticeably improve their line play.
Luke Joeckel is the favorite to be taken with the first pick. The Texas A&M anchor can easily slide into the possibly departing Branden Albert's spot.
Eric Fisher continues to assault mock drafts and big boards with each passing week. The Senior Bowl displayed a monster ready to handle the left side of a top 10 picking team.
Dallas Thomas has created diverse expectations from draft experts. His versatility spurred B/R's Matt Miller to give him a first-round slot while others see him more as a third-round guy.
Offensive Guards: A
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The level of play exhibited by those at the top of this year's guard class is top-10 worthy. You don't say that often with interior lineman.
The big guys who get even less love than the tackles shouldn't be met with disdain by fans if their team selects the top guy high. Or even if their team picks the second-best in the teens.
These guys are that good, and even have two or three behind them who can make an instant impact.
Force yourself through the jokes similar to there's no chance you pass on Chance Warmack. He could go down as the most dominant player in this draft. He's that good.
Warmack's teammate Barrett Jones might not be listed as a guard on scouting reports since he took every snap at center during his senior year. But that versatility and his two years at the position prove that he'll be valuable at either position.
Jonathan Cooper is the the other big-name interior lineman who could join Warmack in the first round.
Offensive Center: C+
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There are a couple of solid prospects at center, but not a whole lot else. The position has two players who will be able to contribute right away and the rest will wait until the last day to hear their names called.
Barrett Jones quarterbacked one of the greatest offensive lines in college football history. His versatility only adds to his value.
Wisconsin's Travis Frederick can be inserted into the starting lineup on day one. The junior will be selected in the second or third round.
Defensive End: A+
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Is your team in need of a pass rusher? Wonderful, because this draft is ridiculous when it comes to defensive ends.
And what team couldn't use another pass rusher?
Some might fit better as an outside linebacker, but they still fit into this position evaluation as well.
There are enough defensive ends to go around. And considering the premium the league puts on getting to the quarterback, there won't be too many disappointed general managers come draft day.
No one has shot up the mock drafts more than Damontre Moore. His athleticism, frame and production more than overshadow any questions about his maturity.
Bjoern Werner is someone that can be relied on right away. Werner's combination of size and strength will result in a top five pick.
Maybe one guy has shot up as quickly as Moore. Ezekiel Ansah experienced a ton of hype building up to the Senior Bowl, fell a bit because of all the buzz, and then shut everyone up with his play.
Defensive Tackle: A+
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Seriously, if a fan base complains about defensive line next year, the front office isn't going to have any excuses.
This draft is loaded with defensive linemen, both inside and out. There are at least five defensive tackles who should be taken in the first round.
This unit has it all: star power and depth.
Luke Joeckel's competition for the No. 1 overall pick will be Star Lotulelei. The explosive and large former Ute can have a Ndamukong Suh-like impact in his first year.
Johnathan Jenkins makes a lot of sense for a 3-4 team looking for a nose tackle. He checks in at 363 pounds.
To complete this tour de big men, we swing to the Midwest to Purdue, where Kawaan Short announces his candidacy for first-round merit. He's big and slippery, with a playmaker's instincts.
Outside Linebackers: B+
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They can't all be top notch. Even still, the outside linebackers make a great push for an A.
The class has a clear-cut superstar. If Mingo and a couple others were to find themselves in a 3-4 scheme, they would bump this class up to the next level.
Jarvis Jones is the man here. He's a physical, playmaking freak who will hopefully put all fears about his spinal cord to rest.
Kansas State enjoyed a great season, in part due to their best defensive player. Arthur Brown will fit well on the outside in his first year.
Of course, we have to return to the SEC. Alec Ogletree is a poor man's Jones.
Inside Linebackers: B
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The thumpers in the middle will be a point of contention for the next two months. The debate will rage about physical abilities versus maturity.
But we cannot lose focus of the other members of this class. There might not be a solitary standout, but at least three will get a chance to make a splash in their rookie campaigns.
Obviously, you know that the above alluded to Manti Te'o. He dominated mock drafts until the national championship and an odd scandal rocked his rankings.
Nico Johnson makes plays. He did so for an Alabama dynasty that won two championships, and he will in the pros.
The last of the plug-and-play middle men is Kevin Minter. It's an SEC linebacker. What else do you really need to know?
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There's the sure-fire top 10 guy, the fringe first-rounder and then the rest.
The rest isn't exactly garbage, but almost every one of them has quite a few questions. Still, there is enough talent to warrant five selections in the first couple rounds.
There is no way to argue that Dee Milliner isn't the top cornerback in this draft. He shouldn't have to wait much more than an hour to hear his name on opening night.
Johnthan Banks is the one pushing to remain in the first round. He has the talent, but the defensive line strength of this draft could push him to Day 2.
Many others rank Xavier Rhodes as another first rounder. I can't do it. Yet. He needs to complement his great size with more focused play.
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My official early-draft-process diagnosis of the safeties lands somewhere between "ehh" and "meh."
If I were a general manager, I might take one in the first round, so long as it was closer to the back than the front.
Otherwise, I wouldn't select one for a couple days.
Kenny Vaccaro is the headliner. He is the only safety that should be considered in the first two days.
Maybe Eric Reid will prove me wrong. Regardless, he isn't sneaking into the first round and will have to work to stay in the second.
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There won't be another Blair Walsh or Greg Zuerlein. Those guys are few and far between.
Basically, there isn't likely to be anybody drafted before the seventh round.
Ryan Allen, of Louisiana Tech fame, should find himself in a camp. That's usually what happens when you're a first-team All American and down 44 percent of your punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
As for kickers, check out Dustin Hopkins from Florida State. Insert joke here about not missing wide right.