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NFL Draft Fact or Fiction: Dissecting the Labels on Key Prospects

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIFebruary 15, 2013

NFL Draft Fact or Fiction: Dissecting the Labels on Key Prospects

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    With the 2013 NFL draft right around the corner, prospects are getting labeled left and right by teams and media alike. These labels can either be good or bad, and what type of label a prospect has will often dictate whether he embraces it or works hard to shed it.

    These labels can vary from a prospect being considered raw or athletically challenged to injury prone or just lazy. Some of these labels are true, while others are false.

    Join in as we play a little "fact or fiction" and dissect the labels on key NFL draft prospects.

Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC

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    Label: No arm strength

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Had Matt Barkley left school last year, he would have likely been a very high draft pick. However, he came back to USC for his senior year in hopes of cementing his place as the top overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.

    Before the season started, it actually looked as if Barkley might have made the right decision to stay. Early reports were that Barkley's arm strength had actually improved in the offseason.

    Unfortunately, those reports didn't hold up during the college football season. Barkley struggled to consistently push the ball down the field, especially in the face of pressure. Throw in an injured shoulder suffered late in the season, and Barkley could have even less arm strength as he gets back to 100 percent.

    Arm strength isn't the only thing NFL teams look for, but lacking it as much as Barkley does when on the move or under pressure will likely cause him to fall in the upcoming draft.

Mike Glennon, Quarterback, NC State

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    Label: No mobility

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Mike Glennon wasn't a quarterback who got a ton of attention during the regular season. However, as we inched closer to the draft, his size, arm strength and potential gave his stock some momentum.

    At 6'6" and 230 pounds with a cannon of an arm, Glennon looks every part the NFL quarterback. Unfortunately, his on-field production is still miles away from his potential. He has the tendency to make poor decisions with the football and throw into coverage.

    However, his most common label heading into the draft is that he is a quarterback who lacks mobility. At his height, some loss of mobility is expected, but Glennon has almost no mobility at all. This could certainly cause major problems due to the speed and athleticism of NFL defenders.

    It's unknown just how much this label will affect his draft stock, as teams have been known to fall in love with potential as April draws near.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee

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    Label: Raw

    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    Oftentimes, players are considered boom-or-bust prospects because they are labeled raw. No prospect may fit that profile more than Cordarrelle Patterson this year.

    As good as Patterson looked this past season, people still consider him one of the rawest players in this year's draft. This is likely due to the fact that he only played one season at the University of Tennessee (he was a JUCO transfer).

    However, those who have actually watched Patterson play have seen a player who is ready to walk in from day one and produce in the NFL. Not only can Patterson make plays vertically down the field, but he also has the agility and quickness to pick up huge chunks of yards after the catch.

    Now there are still some areas of his game that could use improvement, but Patterson is far from being a raw prospect. Look for him to contribute right away in this league.

Dion Jordan, Defensive End, Oregon

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    Label: Athletic freak

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    There are few players who were used in as many ways as Dion Jordan was for the University of Oregon. Not only did Jordan rush the quarterback and play the run, but he was also asked to drop back into coverage. Heck, Jordan even successfully covered slot receivers during his time in college.

    At 6'7" and 241 pounds, Jordan has the quickness and agility of a man much smaller than he is. However, he also has the strength and raw power to be effective at shedding blockers and making a play on the ball.

    Simply put, Jordan is about as huge of an athletic freak as you'll find. As long as he can polish his natural abilities, he should have a very successful NFL career.

Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia

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    Label: Injury prone

    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    It's true that Jarvis Jones has spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal, but that doesn't mean he should be considered injury prone. In fact, Jones only missed two games during his two years with the Georgia Bulldogs.

    Jones was actually cleared a few days ago by the league and given a clean bill of health, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com. When he is on the field, which he was more often than not during his collegiate career, Jones is a dynamic pass-rusher.

    While Jones' spinal stenosis may still scare teams away from drafting him as high as his talent would suggest, whoever does draft him will get one fantastic player.

David Amerson, Cornerback, NC State

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    Label: Positional tweener

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Many expected David Amerson to come into his junior season and establish himself as a top-five pick in this year's draft. His 13 interceptions in 2011 proved that Amerson definitely had the ability to make plays in the secondary.

    Unfortunately, Amerson struggled to produce the same type of numbers this season, finishing with only five interceptions. While that isn't a terrible number, it did cast some doubt over whether he can be a successful cornerback.

    At 6'3", Amerson is often considered a little too big to play cornerback. However, he also doesn't have the physicality to play safety, causing him to gain the label of positional tweener.

    This isn't a good label, as teams would much rather Amerson have a set position coming into the league. With that said, his ability to make plays on the ball should get him drafted early.

Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU

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    Label: Inexperienced

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Before the 2012 season, Ezekiel Ansah had never started a game for BYU and had only recorded 10 tackles in his career.

    That all changed this past season, as Ansah blew onto the college football scene in a huge way. He finished his senior season with 62 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

    His rare combination of size, speed and athleticism gives him an extremely high ceiling as an NFL prospect. However, teams are concerned that his inexperience could ultimately hinder his progress as a player.

    Ansah has only played three years of football, and only one as a starter. While that is a concern, there is too much potential oozing out of Ansah for him to not hear his name called extremely early come April.

Marquise Goodwin, Wide Receiver, Texas

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    Label: Speed demon

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    When you're an Olympic athlete, it isn't an exaggeration when people call you a world-class athlete.

    It won't be a surprise at all if Marquise Goodwin ends up being the fastest prospect in this year's draft class. While that will get him plenty of looks, speed isn't everything for a wide receiver. Goodwin still needs to improve his route-running abilities, and his small stature (5'9" and 179 pounds) is definitely worrisome.

    Goodwin's speed alone makes him a prospect worth drafting, but world-class speed doesn't always turn into production. Just ask the Oakland Raiders.

Sam Montgomery, Defensive End

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    Label: Lazy

    Fact or Fiction: Fiction

    When your name is listed with players who are basically called out as lazy, it usually doesn't help your draft stock. That is what happened to Sam Montgomery when an unspecified LSU coach posted a notice to scouts saying Montgomery and some of his teammates "lack the self discipline and the motivation to take care of their responsibilities."

    Unfortunately, an anonymous letter like that brings up questions of its own. While some teams will be worried, others will simply have to look at Montgomery's production during games to see if the statement above is true.

    Considering that Montgomery produced rather well for LSU this past season, especially against top teams (two sacks vs. South Carolina, one sack and five tackles vs. Clemson), it's hard to believe that he's lazy. His potential to be a difference-maker on defense should get him drafted in the first round.

Tyrann Mathieu, Defensive Back

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    Label: Troublemaker

    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    We all know the offseason story of Tyrann Mathieu getting dismissed from LSU, entering a rehab facility and finally announcing his plans to enter the 2013 NFL draft.

    Had Mathieu avoided trouble and played football this past season, he would have likely found himself a high draft pick this year. Unfortunately, his off-field issues are rather substantive and could cause him to go undrafted.

    This is a shame because Mathieu is an extremely enjoyable player to watch. He can play a number of positions and always finds himself around the ball. On top of that, few players are as dynamic with the ball in their hands as Mathieu is.

    It's certainly possible that Mathieu can change, much like Janoris Jenkins, but it will be difficult to shed his label as a potential troublemaker.

Manti Te'o, Inside Linebacker

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    Label: Liar

    Fact or Fiction: Who knows?

    Where do we even begin discussing Manti Te'o? Those who don't know about his fake relationship must have been living under a rock for the past month.

    While Te'o did eventually admit that he lied about his relationship, there are still major questions about how much he really knew and how much he really lied. Spending a large chunk of money on someone involved in this big of a lie simply doesn't appeal to NFL teams.

    The BCS National Championship Game showed Te'o's flaws on the field and hurt his draft stock. However, his lies, and the questions about how much he lied, hurt his draft stock even more.

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