25 Bold Predictions Following the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

Brandon Holstein@@BHolsteinNFLDM3Featured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2013

25 Bold Predictions Following the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

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    The NFL Combine is a tool used to clarify our thoughts on the 2013 NFL draft as a whole.

    Following the combine, a few questions typically begin to creep their way into the back of our minds.

    Who is moving up and who is moving down? Which players' performances matched their game tape and which did not? What players do I now need to go back and watch more film on?

    These are the questions a lot of teams and scouts are leaving us with as they continue through the evaluation process. 

    Similarly, because of the non-stop coverage and instant access to this once privately-held event, we also have new questions and thoughts racing through our own minds as fans.

    Who was my team most interested in? Which player do I want my team to select? What position is deepest in this draft? Where was Manti Te'o's girlfriend?

    Okay, so that last one was a little bit of a low blow, and in all honesty it's time to move on and focus on some football.

    So with that said, what can and should we take away from Indy? Which predictions are most likely to come true after harvesting this new information? 

    Read ahead to find out—and please share your own thoughts, predictions and opinions in the comment section below.

At Least Three Quarterbacks Will Be Drafted in the First Round

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    There are a few things that are guaranteed in life: Death, taxes and quarterbacks drafted in the first round. 

    Since 2000, only twice has just one quarterback heard his name called in Round 1 (h/t NFL.com). And, while it may be a relatively weak quarterback class overall, teams lacking a true signal caller are sure to get impatient the longer they are forced to wait.

    Geno Smith is the lock to be the top quarterback drafted in this class, but after that, things get a bit more murky.

    With as many as four or five guys jockeying to be the second quarterback drafted, individual team rankings and preferences are sure to be all over the board—likely leading to a run on the position sometime late in Round 1.

    Because of this, expect teams like the Seahawks, Texans and Patriots to all be prime trade-up candidates for the plethora of teams impatiently waiting to get their guy come draft day.

Geno Smith Will Not Make It Past Pick No. 7

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    The Arizona Cardinals currently occupy the seventh overall pick, and with a litany of other teams in quest of a franchise quarterback, Geno Smith may not realistically even make it out of the fifth overall.

    Hands down the best quarterback prospect with the most upside and physical skillset to work with, Smith should have plenty of secret admirers in place by April—if he doesn't already. 

    Look for Smith to create some buzz and momentum as we inch closer to draft day, as no other quarterback is likely to challenge his No. 1 positioning atop the quarterback throne.

Eddie Lacy Will Be the One and Only First Round Pick at His Position

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    It's been well documented just how deprioritized the running back position has become in today’s NFL. 

    With more and more teams transitioning to a more balanced running attack with two-to-three running backs—the need for a feature back like Adrian Peterson is falling out of the social norm.

    Because of this, value has become more wide spread throughout the draft and players like Eddie Lacy are falling despite otherwise impressive production and overall skills.

    Lacy recently chose not to work out at the NFL combine due to a hamstring injury, however it’s not likely to have too great an impact on his overall value.

    Standing on his production and consistency down the stretch of this past season, don't be surprised to see Lacy hear his name potentially called in the Top-25 picks—joining his former teammates Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram in the process.

Cordarrelle Patterson Is Destined to Play in the AFC East

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    After a blistering combine performance, in which Cordarrelle Patterson displayed an explosive combination of height, weight and speed, it is now highly unlikely he makes it out of the Top-15 picks overall.

    Of of the divisions most starved for wide receiver talent—the AFC East stands out. Where three out-of-the four teams are conveniently selecting in the Top-12.

    Buffalo at eight has Stevie Johnson and not much else, whereas the Jets (9) and Dolphins (12) are largely devoid of talent all together, and could use a dynamic playmaker like Patterson on their roster.

    While its anybody's guess where Patterson ultimately ends up, the AFC East—and particularly the state of New York—would by all accounts seem to have the inside track on Patterson's services in the NFL.

Tyler Eifert Will Be Only Tight End Drafted in the First Round

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    One of the bigger winners of the combine, according to Bleacher Report's very own Ryan Riddle—Tyler Eifert seamlessly asserted himself as the top tight end in his class by turning in a complete workout.

    A top performer in nearly every testing category, Eifert proved to be the closest prospect to elite, in an otherwise deep but unspectacular group of tight ends.

    Having now separated himself from the pack, expect Eifert to earn himself a first round pick.

    However, don't expect to hear much else from this group on day one, as the drop off in talent from one prospect to the next is marginal at best.

3 Offensive Tackles Taken in the Top 10 Picks

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    Two months ago we wondered why offensive tackles Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan chose to return to school for their senior seasons. Reflecting on that now, and those decisions don't seem nearly as crazy. 

    With Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel all making strong individual cases overall, this group may be the most talented of any in the entire 2013 NFL draft.

    Both Joeckel and Fisher are nearly locks to hear their names called in the first five picks, with Johnson knocking on the door of this elite status as well.

    In a draft that lacks prominent quarterback play; look for these three prospects to generate plenty of worthy attention from an assortment of teams picking in the Top-10, with a need at left tackle.

5 Total Offensive Lineman Will Be Drafted in First Half of Round 1 (Top 16)

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    This prediction is almost completely reliant and likely comes down to guard Jonathan Cooper and one team in particular.

    First, consider the locks: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson and Chance Warmack. 

    Those four players are shoe-ins to go in the Top-15. Making Cooper the flier in this particular situation.

    Sitting at pick No. 16 is the St. Louis Rams. It would be far-fetched to think they pass on a quality talent like Jonathan Cooper, especially considering the teams need to get better up front and adequately protect their franchise investment—Sam Bradford.

Chance Warmack Will Be First Guard Taken in Top 10 Since Chris Naeole in 1997

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    Two words instantaneously come to mind when discussing guard Chance Warmack's NFL potential.

    Elite and complete.

    Elite enough to be drafted in the Top-10, and complete enough to be considered one of the safer and best players in this entire draft. 

    The fact that he doesn't play a premium position bothers me very little. All I know is I want a player like Warmack on my team, and if that takes a Top-10 pick, so be it—I'll take him early and rest easy for the next 10-15 years.

2 Players with Distinct and Recognizable Last Names Go in 1st Round

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    What's in a name? Sometimes more than you can imagine.

    Both Kyle Long and Desmond Trufant come from affluent football backgrounds. Their last names synonymous with success, and NFL teams have surely taken notice.

    Bloodlines are seen as an extremely positive quality in the NFL and almost any player who comes out with a recognizable last name is instantaneously given a pass, or rewarded a point in their favor—fair or not.

    However, just because a player dons a famous last name doesn't always mean it translates to instant NFL success. 

    These two players—while having benefitted to a degree—have earned the right to be considered top draft prospects because of their play on the field; not because of the name on the back their jersey.

    Both Long and Trufant are not only talented and gifted athletes but also talented and gifted football players because of years of dedication and hard work.

    That dedication and hard work is about to lead to first round status.

    Book it!

Over 1/3 of 1st Round Made Up of Defensive Lineman and Pass-Rushers

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    This is perhaps one of the most attention-grabbing, yet unspectacular predictions in this entire set of slides.

    By now, nearly everyone knows just how deep and talented this particular group of individuals truly is.

    Including hybrid pass-rusher's like Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo and Jarvis Jones—the 2013 class of sack artists and defensive lineman is like one we have never seen before.

    From my count, there are as many as 12 or more players who could be drafted in the first round, from this group alone.

    Ultimately, this prediction is not a matter of if it will happen, but by how many it happens by.

    Stay tuned for further confirmation.

Dion Jordan Goes in the Top 6 Picks

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    For Dion Jordan the Sky truly is the limit, as there was perhaps not one other player who displayed more raw athleticism in drill work at the combine.

    Jordan's effortless ability to change directions, sink his hips and close in a hurry have evaluators seeing shades of Aldon Smith.

    Some see him as a better fit in a 3-4, whereas others can see him playing and succeeding in either defensive alignment because of his versatility.

    Whatever the case may be, we do now know this. Dion Jordan is a physical specimen with unique pass-rushing qualities to keep opposing offensive coordinators up all night.

    Players with Jordan's ability don't last very long, and Detroit and Cleveland should be salivating at the opportunity to add them to their defense—that is, if the Eagles don't gobble him up first.

Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah Will Be a Top 15 Pick

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    When a player with a mere 4.5 career sacks and just over 10 career starts earns first round consideration, questions are sure to arise.

    Ezekiel Ansah however is just that, and may have solidified his high draft positioning with an impressive showing at the NFL combine. 

    With a combination of length, size and athleticism, Ansah proved to be not only a physical freak but also a quick learner with the football awareness and IQ to succeed in the NFL.

    Definitely far from a finished product, However Ansah has evaluators now convinced in his ability to grasp and learn new concepts because of the way he has taken to coaching.

    Pair that with his physical attributes, and Ansah's upside is nearly limitless. And that has team's extremely excited about his pro-potential.

Datone Jones Ends Up a Top 25 Pick

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    One of the player's who has carved out a nice niche for himself is defensive end Datone Jones.

    In a talented and deep class—to say the least—it has been Jones who has displayed the consistency and skills to attract a large number of teams.

    His performances and charisma this offseason has opened a lot of eyes, and while he may not have quite the name recognition of some of the others at his position, don't be surprised when he's selected before some of his more notable peers.

Cornellius "Tank" Carradine Will Be a 1st Round Pick When Its All Said and Done

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    Each year there's a player that falls off the map—be it due to injury or what have you—before ultimately regaining his status as a premier player at his position.

    That guy this year is Tank Carradine.

    Many have forgotten about Carradine, although he was leading his team in sacks, before a knee injury derailed his senior season.

    Now nearly recovered from his injury, Carradine is expected to work out for scouts prior to the NFL draft in April.

    It's easy to forget about this guy but don't make that mistake—he's one of the top defenders in this class and deserves to get drafted in the Top-32.

Jarvis Jones and Damontre Moore Fall out of Top 10 Completely

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    Both of these prospects are falling but for different reasons entirely.

    Jarvis Jones opted not to work out, seeming content on passing his medicals more so than competing and proving why he is the top outside linebacker prospect in this draft.

    On the other hand, Damontre Moore chose to work out but looked rather pedestrian and below average in a lot of the combine testing and position-specific drills.

    Certainly clocking a mediocre 4.95 40-yard dash and a weak 12 reps on the bench press will do that to a player. 

    Now, both player's head back to train for their individual pro-days to try and make up for lost ground at the combine.

    However, there's no doubt that Jones missed out on an opportunity and Moore effectively blew his—certainly both have now created more questions than answers for us unfortunately.

Over Half (16+) of First Round Will Be Devoted to Lineman and Pass-Rushers

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    We already touched base on this to a degree, but here's one more prediction to describe just how deep this draft is for big men.

    How does a first round nearly entirely devoted to offensive and defensive lineman sound?

    Well, prepare yourself because that's exactly what we are about to witness come April.

    With the big nasty's dominating the first round; skill-position players be warned—you're going to experience a little bit of a reality check and take a back seat to the big men on this one.

Manti Te'o Just Barely Gets Drafted in 1st Round

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    What did Manti Te'o do to earn a seat in the first round?

    Sure, his 40-yard dash was not the most desirable time, but that was to be expected for the most part. 

    His on-field drills however told another story. While he's not going to set the world on fire with his lateral quickness and agility, Te'o did show enough movement skills to warrant a late-first round look.

    John Harbaugh's reaction might tell a different story, but my take away from Indy was that Te'o lived up to what he has always been— a steady, competent, solid and consistent football player.

    If your expectations were more than that coming in, than you may have fell victim to the drastic over-selling that Te'o is and always was in elite prospect by the media.

Xavier Rhodes Will Be a Top 15 Pick

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    The Seattle Seahawks are on to something, and it only helps players with Xavier Rhodes' combination of height, length, weight and speed. 

    Corners that possess not only the length, but the athleticism like Rhodes exhibited at the combine are far from a dime-a-dozen.

    Not often can you find these type of corners; and with receivers becoming bigger, faster and stronger—players like Rhodes are all the rage in today's NFL game.

    Displaying the ability to locate and find the football, while running with bigger receivers down the field, Xavier Rhodes earned himself a lot of money with his performance this week.

Kenny Vaccaro Falls Somewhere in the Top 13 Picks

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    Kenny Vaccaro may have disappointed some with his official 40-yard dash of 4.63, however much like linebacker's, safety's must possess the lateral agility and loose hips to move in space—rather than in a straight line.

    This is not to say it is not important however, just over-analyzed in the grand scheme of things.

    What Vaccaro did prove in drill work was a combination of agility and footwork to adequately move and play in space.

    Essentially, Vaccaro displayed corner-like cover skills, which will make him a very versatile asset for one lucky defense.

    Because of his performance and flexibility to play in space or tight quarters, Kenny Vaccaro is without a doubt the best safety in this class—well deserving of a Top-15 selection.

Jonathan Cyprien Sneaks His Way into Bottom of Round 1

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    Every year, as we move through this process a couple player's seemingly come out of nowhere to become first round picks.

    Jonathan Cyprien is one of the candidates most likely and worthy of his honor come April.

    While he was forced to sit-out most of the combine with a hamstring strain, Cyprien did participate in some drills and athletic testing. 

    A versatile and smart in-the-box safety, Cyprien displays the toughness and hard-hitting ability to make a living against both the run and pass. 

    With more and more teams looking for safeties who can run and cover, Cyprien should garner interest and appeal to teams like the Patriots, 49er's and Ravens late in round one.

The Detroit Lions Trade Down from Pick No. 5

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    The Detroit Lions have an abundance of different options and holes to fill with their first pick.

    Defensive end is a need, however none of the pass-rushers likely to be available really stand out all that much—outside of Dion Jordan.

    They could also stay home and take Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, but even he may not make it to the Lions at pick number five.

    Then there's Dee Milliner, who, while be it a good solid corner, lacks elite qualities to become a star in the league.

    With so many holes to fill and a deep draft overall, it would seem to make sense that the Lions would get their best return on investment by moving down and gathering more picks, before taking the "best player available" approach.

    After all, if Fisher, and even Geno Smith do fall past pick four, there should be a quality number of team's interested in moving up to secure their player of the future. 

    A lot of this will depend on free agency signings and other things moving forward, however the Lions seem like a solid candidate to trade back, assuming some key players fall into their laps.

Star Lotulelei Ends Up Becoming a Dallas Cowboy

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    If there is one thing we have come to know, it's that Jerry Jones always seems to get his guy.

    Whether it be a new billion dollar stadium or a new starting cornerback in Morris Clairborne; Jones has consistently shown to aggressively go after the things he desires most.

    With the recent news from the combine that defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has a heart defect, Jones could once again be plotting to nab his man in April's draft.

    In need of a playmaker along the interior of the Cowboys defensive line, Lotulelei fits the bill for the type of versatile defender Jerry Jones and the coaching staff desperately needs and wants for their defense.

    And, with a first name like star, you can bet your bottom dollar Jones has already fabricated an image in his head of Lotulelei in Cowboy blue and silver.

The Chicago Bears Draft a Former Notre Dame Star with 1st Pick

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    The Chicago Bears are just one of a handfull of team's looking for offensive line help early in April's draft.

    However, with the way the cards are likely to fall, I personally don't see many quality options being available when the Bears go on the clock at pick No. 20.

    Which is where things could get interesting, as the team should have a vested interest in two former Notre Dame stars—due somewhat to the proximity in location between Chicago and South Bend.

    Both Tyler Eifert and Manti Te'o should still be on the board but ultimately it should be Eifert who garners the Bears first overall selection.

    Having seen the impact Kyle Rudolph has made first-hand in Minnesota should only further enhance the picks probability, while also giving Cutler yet another big red zone target and threat at the same time.

The Atlanta Falcons Will Not Use Their Top Pick to Replace Tony Gonzalez

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    Replacing a future Hall of Famer is never an easy task and rarely, if ever fully accomplished.  

    Following the Falcons loss in the NFC Championship game, Gonzalez seemed by all accounts ready to hang it up and call it a career.

    Now, however that situation seems more and more uncertain, as Gonzalez has been back and forth contemplating whether or not he should give it one last try.

    Watching Gonzalez perform throughout the Falcons playoff run two things were exceedingly apparent.

    The first is that Gonzalez still has game and cannot only play in this league, but also contribute on a high level.

    The other—and probably more importantly—The Falcons are extremely close to a Super Bowl berth, and Gonzalez could be the key to finally getting them there.

    Look, the draft is deep, and whether Gonzalez returns or not, the Falcons would be wise to use one of their picks on a tight end of the future.

    I'm just not personally sold on all the retirement talk just yet. Call me a skeptic, but I dont think we have truly seen the last of No. 88.

The Baltimore Ravens Use Their 1st Round Pick to Replace a Future Hall of Famer

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    The taste of victory is sweet. The taste of having to replace a legend? Not so much.

    Both Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have been strong warriors and staples on the Ravens defense for more than two decades. Their contributions and impact immeasurable, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    However, as the old saying goes, "all good things must eventually come to an end".

    Much like the Tony Gonzalez situation in Atlanta, replacing one future Hall of Famer is tough work. Replacing two? Nearly impossible.

    Granted, Ed Reed is not officially done with the Ravens and there is a very good chance he actually remains in Baltimore to close out his career.

    Ray Lewis, however—he is officially done and set to ride off into the sunset with his multiple Super Bowl rings.

    So what should the Ravens do to replace him or find Reed's eventual replacement at the safety position?

    The answer is simple. Use your first pick to address one of these two areas. The draft is ripe and lines up exceptionally well with the Ravens team needs.

    Players like Manti' Te'o or Arthur Brown at linebacker make sense, whereas the safety position is likely to consist of players such as Jonathan Cyprien, Matt Elam and Eric Reid. 

    Each of these players should be on the Ravens radar, and while they may never live up to the legends that preceded them, it never hurts to try.