NFL Draft 2013: Position-by-Position Rankings for Top Prospects
Folks, the 2013 NFL draft is closing in fast with March just around the corner.
Factor in the scouting combine and pro days, and we can expect draft stocks to fluctuate between now and late April.
Will USC's Matt Barkley go in Round No. 1? Which prospect should the Kansas City Chiefs select at No. 1 overall?
These are just a couple of questions that will clear up once the draft begins. Until then, however, we can only fill our craving for draft weekend with some position-by-position rankings.
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
With a solid delivery and great decision-making, Geno Smith has first-round potential. And although plenty of his passing yards were accumulated after the catch by his receivers, Smith does bring the strong arm to make every NFL throw.
2. Matt Barkley, USC
Matt Barkley still has first-round potential. He has a stronger arm than he's given credit for and is a reliable marksman. Having also taken snaps under center, Barkley possesses the footwork when dropping back to quickly develop.
3. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Tyler Wilson has arguably the strongest arm of this quarterback class. In addition, he's more mobile than at first glance and provides a smooth release. Not to mention his size is good for the position as well.
4. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Ryan Nassib is a reliable decision-maker and knows how to spread the field. Combine that with a good arm and impressive mechanics, and Nassib will be a second- or third-round gem.
5. Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio)
Although Zac Dysert comes from the MAC, that doesn't mean he can't toss the rock. Presenting excellent size for an NFL quarterback prospect, Dysert also makes consistent decisions and has solid accuracy.
6. EJ Manuel, Florida State
One of the more mobile quarterbacks this draft, EJ Manuel performed his best in 2012. In short, that displays consistent improvement and development. Along with his athleticism, Manuel has a great arm, but he needs to dial back on forcing throws that can lead to turnovers.
7. Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Tyler Bray was certainly fortunate to have receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter to target last season. Still, the guy has the arm strength to stretch defenses. The concern lies with dependable decision-making and overall accuracy, because of his tendency to overthrow targets.
8. Mike Glennon, N.C. State
Staying with the fad of good-sized quarterback prospects, Mike Glennon fits that mold perfectly. And having great arm strength and better mobility than at first glance makes him appealing. There are, however, concerns with decision-making, as he tossed 17 picks in 2012 while completing only 58.5 percent of his attempts.
9. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
The mechanics and quick release reside with Landry Jones, but the lack of manipulating defenses has cost him many turnovers. At the same time, Jones needs to improve pre-snap reads and pocket awareness, because NFL defenses will present various looks and blitz packages.
10. Ryan Griffin, Tulane
The most appealing aspect of Ryan Griffin is his development. The touchdown-to-interception ratio built a wider gap throughout his college career, so his decision-making has improved. One key area of concern, however, is pocket awareness/mobility, as he was sacked 21 times in just nine games last season.
Running Backs and Fullbacks
1. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Giovani Bernard is a triple-threat at rushing, receiving and returning. Possessing excellent athleticism and ball-carrier vision, Bernard could sneak into Round No. 1 this April.
2. Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Although Eddie Lacy doesn't match the NFL potential of Mark Ingram or Trent Richardson, he's still a reliable running back. He can slam inside and has the athleticism to quickly bounce outward, which will earn him a contributing role as a rookie.
3. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
Stepfan Taylor is a bulldozer, period. And with the talent to run every would-be tackler over, Taylor also brings a quick burst through an open gap. He'll be a competitive advantage in any short-yard situation.
4. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
A former Heisman Trophy finalist, Montee Ball simply knows how to find the end zone. As a complete ball-carrier, he can slam inside or take a toss and beat everyone to the edge. Factor in impressive agility, and he'll impact well in 2013.
5. Andre Ellington, Clemson
Andre Ellington has arguably the most balance of any back this draft class. His acceleration and agility makes him a tough guy to tackle, which bodes well on third down and inside the red zone.
6. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
One of the best dual-threat backs in college football, Joseph Randle sliced over, through and around defenses for Oklahoma State. Easily at least a third-down back early in his career, Randle supplies the prospective talent to quickly develop as an every-down back.
7. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Provided Johnathan Franklin doesn't cough up the rock that often, he'll become a solid No. 2 back in pro football with No. 1 potential. Franklin will compile solid yards after contact and push the line forward, which does enhance his marketability. Include some good lateral quickness, and all he must do is cut down on fumbles.
8. Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State
The only real concern with Le'Veon Bell is having been utilized an immense amount by Michigan State. He was fed 382 carries last season, which only gets amplified when considering he plays in the Big Ten. Nevertheless, he'll be a solid short-yardage back and is capable of making plays out of the backfield.
9. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Obviously, durability is a major concern for Marcus Lattimore. But when on the field he was a dominant ball-carrier for South Carolina. He can punish defenders on the interior, slip to the outside and outrun defensive backs and bull through would-be tacklers when needed. Provided he can stay healthy, Lattimore will be a great NFL back.
10. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers
Jawan Jamison is an underrated dual-threat back, because it's simple to overlook the Big East. Interestingly enough, he does have the size advantage to punch the gut of a defense and beat anyone covering him man-to-man.
1. Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard
Kyle Juszczyk was a dominant fullback for Harvard. Its offense was among the most prolific, and the Crimson were impressive on the ground. Juszczyk was a key component for lead-blocking and the overall running game.
2. Zach Boren, Ohio State
Ohio State was able to see the success of Braxton Miller outside the pocket, because Zach Boren helped establish a strong traditional running game.
3. Lonnie Pryor, Florida State
Florida State ranked No. 24 in rushing offense last season. Lonnie Pryor was a crucial part of that, as the fullback blasted for eight rushing scores and averaged eight yards per attempt.
4. Braden Wilson, Kansas State
Kansas State scored 42 rushing touchdowns in 2012, and a huge part of Collin Klein's Heisman candidacy was the ground game. Credit Braden Wilson for much of that, because he cleared interior paths for the dual-threat quarterback.
5. Alex Singleton, Tulsa
Alex Singleton was a beast for Tulsa in 2012. He scored 24 touchdowns despite only averaging four yards per rush. In short, he was the go-to guy inside the red zone, and his size is a massive competitive advantage.
6. Eric Breitenstein, Wofford
Wofford ranked No. 2 in rushing offense in the FCS during 2012. That level of consistent production doesn't happen without a fullback like Eric Breitenstein. Although he may appear undersized for the position, Breitenstein's quickness and willingness to constantly slam up the gut makes him an appealing prospect.
7. Michael Zordich, Penn State
Penn State once again had a bruising ground game, and Michael Zordich made a strong impact. Along with his blocking ability, Zordich also scored four times and accounted for 448 total yards.
8. Tommy Bohanon, Wake Forest
Tommy Bohanan is certainly a reliable fullback. But he's also capable of being the dependable checkdown target, because he caught 23 passes for 208 yards and scored five times last season.
9. Richard Samuel, Georgia
Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall of Georgia each averaged six-plus yards per attempt throughout 2012. Well, give props to Richard Samuel as a contributor to this success. Not to mention he did help on special teams and got 3.6 yards per rush.
10. Taimi Tutogi, Arizona
Taimi Tutogi is a versatile fullback for Arizona. With the talent to block and then slip to the flats as a receiver, Tutogi's athleticism will earn him a look from pro football.
1. Keenan Allen, California
Bringing great athleticism and leaping ability to the receiver position, Keenan Allen makes for a top target. Despite the durability concerns, his potential in going over the middle and making plays against man coverage will be a solid investment.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson may be a one-hit wonder, but he produced quite well for Tennessee in 2012. Combining great size and strength, Patterson will also get reliable yards after the catch.
3. Terrance Williams, Baylor
One of the most explosive deep threats in this draft, Terrance Williams knows how to make plays downfield. Even better, his route-running skill set is quick enough to split Cover 2 zones and slide between the narrow Cover 3. Williams' acceleration will get yards after the catch anywhere on the field.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
DeAndre Hopkins averaged 17.1 yards per catch last season. Playing in a high-powered offense like Clemson, that comes as no surprise, but Hopkins was consistent and had his best game against LSU to close out the year.
5. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
No matter how good other prospects are at racking up yards after the catch, none match that area quite like Tavon Austin. Possessing extreme quickness and lateral speed, Austin serves an offense best the sooner he gets the ball. Because of this capability, Austin will also widen defenses, as he is a horizontal rushing threat.
6. Robert Woods, USC
Robert Woods was a solid option for Matt Barkley at USC. He was relentless over the middle and also presents the ability to go deep. Without question, he does need to get stronger and a bit quicker, but Woods brings the vision to make things happen after the catch.
7. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
In collecting 2,694 receiving yards over the past two seasons, Quinton Patton developed as one of college football's most exciting receivers. Provided he builds some strength to gain even more separation when route-running, Patton will quickly become a star receiver in pro football.
8. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
Similar to Austin, Markus Wheaton is a smaller receiver with the explosiveness to make plays on slants, screens, drags and jet sweeps. Although he'll serve best as a slot target early in his career, Wheaton possesses the talent to become a No. 1 receiver by developing as a deep threat.
9. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
With the offensive presence of Geno Smith and Austin, it's easy for Stedman Bailey to go unnoticed on West Virginia. Well, that only made him more productive as he scored 25 touchdowns on 114 receptions.
10. Aaron Dobson, Marshall
Aaron Dobson's specialty is dominating coverage players inside the red zone, since his size is a competitive advantage. And although 2012 was less productive than 2011, Dobson performed well at the Senior Bowl and is worthy of a second- or third-round selection.
1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Tyler Eifert is a tight end who draws double coverage, which is quite rare. But he is able to beat double coverage and capitalize consistently when facing man-to-man. Run-blocking isn't Eifert's forte, but he is better than at first glance.
2. Zach Ertz, Stanford
Zach Ertz is basically a replica of Eifert, except that he's not as well known for his receiving skills. On the flip side, Ertz is a much better run-blocker and brings the reliability to make plays when needed downfield.
3. Vance McDonald, Rice
Given his size, Vance McDonald is quite the athlete. He's more of a receiving tight end, but certainly possesses the attitude to impact as a run-blocker. Factor McDonald's strength and agility for running routes, and that ability also translates for blocking downfield.
4. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
Travis Kelce has the ability to quickly develop as an NFL tight end, because he didn't contribute too much prior to 2012. When given the opportunity to produce, Kelce answered the call as a receiver and displayed potential as a dependable run-blocker.
5. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
Gavin Escobar is a solid receiving target and brings the size to help block for the ground game. He definitely must get stronger to produce in pro football, but the receiving threat makes him appealing.
6. Jordan Reed, Florida
Jordan Reed led the Florida Gators in receiving yards and receptions, but the passing game lacked because Jeff Driskel is a dual-threat and plenty of carries went to running back Mike Gillislee. Still, Reed has the hands to make plays against any coverage and the size to develop as a blocker.
7. Ryan Otten, San Jose State
Ryan Otten was a dependable receiving tight end for San Jose State from 2010 through 2012. His body size is an extreme advantage, and Otten has the athleticism to emerge as a solid run-blocker.
8. Dion Sims, Michigan State
Dion Sims is an excellent run-blocker, and that ability allowed Le'Veon Bell to punish Big Ten defenses all season. Sims may not be the most electric of receiving tight ends, but he can make plays and drag defenders downfield.
9. Joseph Fauria, UCLA
Just from his size alone, Joseph Fauria has a significant competitive advantage. As a result, it wasn't surprising to see him make a strong impact for UCLA last season. Count in his underrated ability as a run-blocker, and he'll develop nicely into the NFL.
10. Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn
Philip Lutzenkirchen is much more athletic for his size and position; he collected 54 receptions and scored 12 touchdowns for Auburn from 2010 through 2012. He can also help as a run-blocker because of impressive quickness and acceleration.
1. Luke Joeckel, Tackle, Texas A&M
Potentially the No. 1 overall selection, Luke Joeckel has the size, footwork and balance to be a perennial NFL All-Pro. After all, he protected Johnny Manziel's blindside, and the quarterback was provided time to dazzle every opposing defense.
2. Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama
Chance Warmack is as good of a guard as you'll find for an NFL prospect. With impressive balance and body control to pass-protect on the interior, Warmack will also get upfield and drive defenders to extend running lanes.
3. Eric Fisher, Tackle, Central Michigan
Eric Fisher possesses just as much potential as Joeckel. He maintains a solid base and works well laterally for pass protection. Fisher must get stronger, but he is still a sound run-blocker and will only get better.
4. Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina
One of the more athletic linemen here, Jonathan Cooper is a fluid guard capable of pin-balling between the center and tackle for reliable pass-blocking. In addition, he possesses the foot speed to pull outside for tosses, sweeps, counters and quarterback bootlegs.
5. Lane Johnson, Tackle, Oklahoma
Lane Johnson is a reliable pass-blocker, as the aerial assault was Oklahoma's forte with Landry Jones under center. Johnson's ground-blocking isn't as impressive, although he still gets the job done with explosiveness and the ability to extend lanes from the backside.
6. Barrett Jones, Center/Guard, Alabama
Easily the most versatile lineman is Barrett Jones. Regardless of where he lines up, Jones has the field awareness, experience and instincts to create a running lane and pass-block consistently.
7. Kyle Long, Guard, Oregon
In an offense that focuses on the ground game, Kyle Long had no choice but to produce for Oregon. Possessing the talent to chip-block to the second level, it's no wonder the Ducks ranked third in rushing offense.
8. D.J. Fluker, Tackle, Alabama
Alabama was a dominant team at controlling the line of scrimmage because of the two aforementioned linemen and D.J. Fluker. Better as a run-blocker, Fluker can stifle aggressive rushers at the initial point of attack. Doing so immediately creates running lanes, and that ability will develop his pass-blocking skill set as well.
9. Travis Frederick, Center, Wisconsin
Along the same lines as Oregon, Wisconsin's offense was run-first. Why not? Montee Ball is a stud. Not to mention center Travis Frederick who brings the tenacity to overtake for a guard, which allowed the Badgers to lengthen the lanes. And as a center, Frederick's ability to read defensive fronts pre-snap helped Wisconsin move the ball efficiently.
10. Justin Pugh, Tackle, Syracuse
One tackle after Round No. 1 to keep a close eye on is Justin Pugh. He presents the burst to get upfield and seal off second-level defenders and will wall off the edge as a pass-blocker. Pugh's strength does need to improve, but technically sound footwork and hands will quicken his development.
1. Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Instincts and the ability to react quickly fits Bjoern Werner's description. He is also a sure tackler and has the agility to quickly get off blocks.
2. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Just from his size alone, Damontre Moore will impact as a rookie. Combine that with strength and athleticism, and he'll crush running lanes and ruin quarterbacks in the backfield next season.
3. Dion Jordan, Oregon
Dion Jordan is almost the same type of player as Moore. He has great size and athleticism to control the edge and dart through the interior. He must, however, build some strength to become an even better run-defender.
4. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Ezekiel Ansah's draft stock only continues to rise. He's fast to the ball and possesses the natural athleticism to make plays anywhere along the line of scrimmage.
5. Alex Okafor, Texas
Alex Okafor is quite the versatile defensive end. His overall athleticism bodes well as a 4-3 end or tackle, as well as a 3-4 end or outside 'backer. Based on his quickness alone, Okafor will dominate one-on-one.
6. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Top speed and acceleration suit Barkevious Mingo well. This makes him appealing, because defenses need faster quarterback pressure. NFL development will help him improve against the run.
7. Datone Jones, UCLA
Datone Jones is constantly finding himself in the backfield. Obviously for defenses, that is a good thing. Factor his solid pass-rush and run-defense capabilities, and Jones will contribute in 2013.
8. Sam Montgomery, LSU
Provided Sam Montgomery improves against the run, he will become a complete defender. The good news is that he does possess the raw talent to disrupt in the backfield. In short, more consistency will drastically raise his potential.
9. John Simon, Ohio State
John Simon brings the jump at the snap to really make an impact in pro football. Combine his pass-rushing talent with instincts, and much potential exists. That said, squeezing the edge and reacting faster to the run will take him to another level.
10. Cornellius Carradine, Florida State
After a decent 2011 campaign, Cornellius Carradine revealed his ultimate capabilities throughout 2012. The last area he could really improve upon is making more plays against the run in the backfield.
1. Star Lotulelei, Utah
Strength and power make Star Lotulelei one solid rock of a defensive tackle. Add in some impressive quickness and he can impact anywhere along the line.
2. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Wrecking in the backfield was Sheldon Richardson's forte in 2012. A byproduct of that resulted in creating turnover opportunities. And when a defensive tackle can control the interior, the rest of the front seven becomes virtually unstoppable.
3. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
By the numbers, Sharrif Floyd wasn't overly dominant. On the other hand, his size and tenacity forced offenses to gear blocking schemes his direction. Similar to Richardson, Floyd's impact allows the rest of the front seven to make more plays.
4. John Jenkins, Georgia
Despite his size, John Jenkins is a quick athlete who utilizes power to his advantage. That combo results in Jenkins consistently flushing the quarterback out of the pocket and clogging running lanes.
5. Jesse Williams, Alabama
Arguably the toughest defensive tackle is Jesse Williams. On a defense that always appears to be dominant, Williams is a key component, because he draws double teams and creates pileups. The end results are running backs redirecting into unblocked linebackers.
6. Kawann Short, Purdue
Kawann Short may be undersized for the position, but the guy makes things happen in the backfield. With the effort and explosiveness to siphon through blocks, Short quickly interrupts any designed play and will earn some double teams.
7. Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Johnathan Hankins is capable of making plays, whether he is double-teamed or not. His size and strength will knife through offensive lines, and that has an immediate impact in pro football. An offense can't produce without controlling the line.
8. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
Sylvester Williams can do it all, because his force in the trenches allows him to. Possessing the knack for knocking down passes, Williams will beat single block situations en route to creating backfield chaos. Much like those previously mentioned, he'll draw double teams to help the front seven.
9. Jordan Hill, Penn State
Having the power to control the line of scrimmage helps any defense. Jordan Hill brings the talent to stuff running lanes and also sneak into the backfield for interior quarterback pressure.
10. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State
Brandon Williams is agile and quick. That athleticism makes him an attractive prospect, because he can track down from the backside and immediately close running lanes to his playside.
1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Although he's undersized for the position, Alec Ogletree's acceleration and quickness is great for the interior. There's no need to fight off blocks when his athleticism will beat the block to the developing lane.
2. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
With great instincts and reliable playmaking skills, Manti Te'o has the talent to make an immediate impact. Not to mention his improved coverage skills.
3. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Arthur Brown brings the speed and power to work well inside. That ability allows him to sniff out ball-carriers in the backfield, as well as quickly sink into coverage when needed.
4. Kevin Minter, LSU
For an inside 'backer, Kevin Minter sure knows how to apply quarterback pressure. Additionally, the knack for stopping the run and shielding underneath in coverage makes him a sound second-level defender.
5. Kiko Alonso, Oregon
Presenting solid field awareness, Kiko Alonso also possesses the athleticism to be a dynamic linebacker in pro football. In turn, that simply enhances his appeal in a overall weak linebacker class.
6. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
Kevin Reddick has improved each season, which does increase his draft status. As a sure tackler and coverage player, Reddick also needs to improve his lateral quickness and reactions. On the bright side, he gets positioned well pre-snap and when reading keys.
7. Michael Mauti, Penn State
Michael Mauti enjoyed one solid season across the board for Penn State. Displaying the ability to create turnovers, Mauti is also a reliable tackler and can provide a pass-rush from the inside.
8. Nico Johnson, Alabama
In a limited role, Nico Johnson will be effective. Since he's not the most well-versed coverage linebacker, the talent on Alabama allowed him to flourish. Nonetheless, provided he develops better against the pass, Johnson will become a more complete 'backer.
9. A.J. Klein, Iowa State
Consistency and dependability have allowed A.J. Klein to produce well for Iowa State. His incredible instincts and awareness will allow Klein to impact early and give him time to get quicker and more explosive.
10. Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech
One of the better run-defending linebackers in this draft, Bruce Taylor has the size to fit best in a 3-4 front. Playing in a restricted role will gradually improve Taylor's pass-defense and also enhance his ability to read pre-snap.
1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
The ability to apply constant quarterback pressure is needed for defenses in pro football. And that is Jarvis Jones' greatest area of impact.
2. Chase Thomas, Stanford
Chase Thomas brings a knack for making plays in the backfield and containing his side of the line. At the same time, he is solid in coverage and knows how to generate turnovers.
3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
Khaseem Greene's explosiveness is a competitive advantage, because the guy makes plays everywhere. Although slightly undersized for the position, his athleticism will pay dividends as he develops.
4. Sean Porter, Texas A&M
Sean Porter is a complete player. He has proven to be reliable in coverage and also will get quarterback pressure when rushing. As a result, he'll be a great complementary No. 2 pass-rusher.
5. Gerald Hodges, Penn State
Gerald Hodges has only gotten better through time. By producing more consistently on a weekly basis for Penn State in 2012 compared to 2011, he should transition nicely to the NFL.
6. Keith Pough, Howard
Keith Pough is a guy who will constantly interfere with a developing play. He's always finding himself making plays in the backfield, because Pough's acceleration and instincts were simply ahead of the competition. Pro football is just another challenge for the FCS standout.
7. Jamie Collins, Southern Miss
Should Jamie Collins build more consistency, he will dominate in the NFL. Already possessing solid coverage skills, Collins is capable of applying constant quarterback pressure and isolating against the run. Developing more explosiveness from snap to snap is the key.
8. DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina
Even though DeVonte Holloman isn't much of a pass-rusher, he brings a keen awareness against the pass. Combine those instincts with the size to control the edge, and Holloman is a perfect 4-3 'backer.
9. Sio Moore, Connecticut
Sio Moore isn't the most athletic outside linebacker, but he is always around the ball. With that capability of locking down in coverage and getting into the backfield when needed, Moore can really up his draft status by getting a bit quicker off the edge.
10. Brandon Magee, Arizona State
When provided with the opportunity to contribute, Brandon Magee did just that for Arizona State. Last season was his most productive and durable, which expanded Magee's coverage and pass-rush capabilities.
1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
Dee Milliner brings impressive physical play to the cornerback position, which will transition nicely into the NFL. He's also proven capable of locking down bigger receiving targets man-to-man.
2. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Ball skills and field awareness have made Johnthan Banks into a solid cornerback prospect. And with the acceleration and top speed to take on faster receivers, Banks will also create turnovers in zone coverage.
3. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Size is a key advantage at corner, and Xavier Rhodes provides that to pro football. He'll be able to blanket the more physical receivers and help with edge run support.
4. Desmond Trufant, Washington
A sound playmaker, Desmond Trufant has the fluid movement to shut down the quicker receivers and make plays in any coverage. He's also willing to press at the line and dart downhill against the run.
5. Leon McFadden, San Diego State
One of the quicker defenders in this draft class, Leon McFadden combines speed with excellent reaction skills and instincts. The results are a refusal to give up yards after the catch and generating turnovers.
6. Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana
Robert Alford may be undersized, but his attitude in press coverage is capable of jamming any receiver. Alford also possesses the talent to cause turnovers and help the perimeter against the run. All he needs is to build some strength to ensure a long pro career.
7. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
Jordan Poyer is a proven playmaker. Courtesy of that dependability, Poyer defended 36 passes over the past three seasons. He can also help against the run, which makes him an appealing cornerback this draft.
8. Jamar Taylor, Boise State
Jamar Taylor isn't nearly as consistent of a playmaker as Poyer, but he will create turnover opportunities for his defense. Tackling, though, is arguably Taylor's best aspect, and few receivers will make plays after the catch.
9. B.W. Webb, William & Mary
B.W. Webb is an interesting draft prospect, because he knows how to lock-down in any coverage and has a knack for making plays. He does need to improve against the run and get more physical at the line.
10. Will Davis, Utah State
Will Davis is slightly undersized for the position, but that didn't stop him from enjoying a strong 2012 season. Defending 22 passes for Utah State, Davis also collected 64 tackles. Provided he learns to get more physical at the line, he'll only become that much tougher for receivers to block and set up the pass in the NFL.
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Kenny Vaccaro is physically gifted and possesses solid awareness to blanket in man or zone coverage. Those dependable attributes also make him a reliable run defender.
2. Matt Elam, Florida
Presenting impressive speed and explosiveness, Matt Elam will fill running lanes and help over the top in Cover 1 or 3 at a consistent rate. Plus he is a sound playmaker and tackler.
3. John Cyprien, Florida International
Considering that John Cyprien plays at Florida International, it's easy for him to be overlooked. Fortunately, he's an excellent tackler and aware defender in the secondary. Don't be surprised if he sniffs Round No. 1 potential before the draft.
4. Eric Reid, LSU
Eric Reid continued to improve throughout his career, but still has to get better in man coverage. A solid zone defender, Reid will make plays by jumping routes and not allowing yards after the catch. He will also roll down for run support to assist the front seven.
5. Phillip Thomas, Fresno State
Fresno State's Phillip Thomas is a turnover machine. Whether it's creating fumbles or picking off passes, the guys has a knack for being around the ball. And since he is around the rock so much, Thomas makes plenty of tackles and is capable of scoring off a turnover.
6. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
Tony Jefferson is a safety in the Big 12 who recorded 119 tackles last season. In short, he's always finding the football and making plays.
7. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
As solid as South Carolina was in the front seven, D.J. Swearinger was just as dependable in leading the secondary. A good tackler, Swearinger is capable of constantly playing near the box or remaining back deep to blanket in coverage.
8. J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern
J.J. Wilcox has great size for a safety and supplies the athleticism to take on tight ends and slot receivers man-to-man. His lateral quickness and balance make for reliability in Cover 1 and 3.
9. Micah Hyde, Iowa
Since the Big Ten isn't a pass-heavy conference such as the Big 12, any safety will potentially get overlooked. That only makes Iowa's Micah Hyde a gem prospect, because he can act as a nickel/dime back against the run and sit deep in coverage to help over the top.
10. Robert Lester, Alabama
On an Alabama defense known for physical domination at the line and shutdown corners, Robert Lester is a dangerous playmaker. The guy reads impressively well, but he does need to improve more in Cover 1 to reach that full potential.
Kickers and Punters
1. Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State (Kicker)
A versatile kicker and also a punter, Sharp has the leg and accuracy to be a weapon in pro football.
2. Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech (Punter)
Ryan Allen led college football, averaging 48 yards per punt last season. That ability to change the field position is quite an advantage in pro football.
3. Dustin Hopkins, Florida State (Kicker)
An incredibly accurate kicker, Dustin Hopkins also has the boot as his longest connection in 2012 was from 56 yards.
4. Caleb Sturgis, Florida (Kicker)
Possessing reliable accuracy across the board, Caleb Sturgis was perfect from 50-plus last year.
5. Brett Maher, Nebraska (Kicker)
Although Brett Maher isn't the marksman like Hopkins or Sturgis, he's a strong kicker who can boom impressive punts as well.
6. Josh Hubner, Arizona State (Punter)
Arizona State's Josh Hubner was second in yard per punt last season, plus he booted a 73-yarder for his long of 2012. NFL development will only increase his consistency.
7. Brett Baer, Louisiana Lafayette (Kicker)
Brett Baer is another dependable placekicker who can connect from 50-plus yards. At the same time, he averaged 42 yards per punt in 2012.
8. Brad Wing, LSU (Punter)
Brad Wing doesn't pull double-duty in the kicking game, but his consistency as a punter is impressive. In 2011 and 2012 he averaged above 44 yards per attempt.
9. Dylan Breeding, Arkansas (Punter)
Dylan Breeding simply continued to up his average while punting for Arkansas. In addition, he booted one at least 70 yards the past two seasons.
10. Brandon McManus, Temple (Kicker)
As his college career progressed, Brandon McManus only improved as a kicker and punter. The 2012 campaign was also his best, as he averaged 45.1 yards per punt and went 10-of-11 on field goals of 30-plus yards.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!