The 2013 NFL draft class doesn't boast a truly transcendent prospect, but it's a tremendously deep class loaded with talent that will be available on the second and third days of football's premier offseason event.
I extensively studied the footage available to me on the following prospects and ranked them by position.
Also, I tried to keep these rankings unaffected in any way by external factors like hype from well-known draft analysts or preconceived notions about a player.
(Disclaimer: I'm not a scout, nor do I pretend to be one. These are simply my rankings based on what I saw on tape. Nothing more. Nothing less. I put a strong emphasis on how I believe these players will transition to *today's* NFL. Remember, we all see things differently.)
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
Deceptively mobile. Arm would grade about 7.5 out of 10. Nice downfield touch. Very accurate on short-to-intermediate passes. Downfield accuracy is adequate. Decent size. Must improve awareness in pocket. Can look dazed and lock on to receivers and forget the clock in his head to get rid of the ball. When he gets into a rhythm, he is deadly. Classic quick, over-the-top release. Some read-option experience. Ran a lot out of pistol. Question his decision-making at times.
2. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Gritty. Arm would be closer to an eight out of 10. A little jumpy in the pocket but has best pocket presence in the class and can improvise his drop if necessary. Typically, a fine decision-maker but occasionally tries to do to much. Progresses through his reads well. Showed distinct development throughout his collegiate career. No hitch in delivery. Lofts deep ball too high, but that seems to be a coachable fix. Could improve touch down the field. Somewhat mobile. Not fast. Plenty of upside.
3. Matt Barkley, Southern California
NFL-ready. Well ahead of his time in terms of pre-snap reads. Arm would grade seven out of 10. Accurate on short-to-intermediate passes. Has surprising arm strength and touch when need be down the field. Panics when pressure is mounting. Sub-par athlete. Can drift in pocket but needs to improve in that area. Leader. Vast collegiate experience. Shoulder injury in 2012. Very limited upside.
4. Zac Dysert, Miami of Ohio
Poised in pocket. Can be accurate volume passer in short passing system. Throws well on the run. Good arm. Not great. Probably seven out of 10. Fast release. Looks away defenders well. Can elude rushers to extend play and complete passes downfield. Often flustered by the rush.
5. E.J. Manuel, Florida State
Has the size and athleticism to be a poor man's Cam Newton as a scrambler, although he's much more timid running the football than Newton. Big-time arm. Close to nine out of 10. Questionable decision-making. Often misses easy throws. Most upside of any quarterback in the class.
Thoughts: I mentioned this on Twitter at the end of March; I really believe the quarterbacks in the 2013 class are so similar in their NFL potential that their ultimate success will hinge on coaching, scheme, atmosphere etc. at the next level. To say this is a weak class is a bit of a stretch, as I believe all five of the listed signal-callers have franchise potential. One name to keep in mind, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson.
1. Christine Michael, Texas A&M
Big back at 5'11'' and 220 pounds. Bulky frame. Desired short-area quickness. Cuts laterally swiftly but doesn't lose speed after redirection. Runs with deceptive power. Can plow through smaller defenders at the second and third levels. Not exactly a home run hitter but far from slow in the open field. Terrific vision that allows him to see cutback lanes. One-cut-and-go runner. Average pass-blocker. Some injury and off-field concerns. Truly a gifted athlete who runs low with authority.
2. Andre Ellington, Clemson
Ideal new-age NFL runner. Fast. Somewhat tall but runs with low center of gravity and is quick in and out of his violent lateral cuts. Possesses the most explosive burst in the class and has above-average straight-line speed. Plays faster than 4.61 40-yard dash time. Not necessarily a home run hitter, but in space, he's special. Decent pass-blocker. Excels as a pass-catcher. There's some Jamaal Charles to him.
3. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Runs decisively, can employ one- or two-cut technique to free himself at the second level. Deceptive speed but not a burner. Willing pass-blocker but could improve. Finishes his runs with power. Comfortable catching the football. Though smaller, a complete runner with feature back potential.
4. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Amazing change of direction ability. Best in class. Has Maurice Jones-Drew-type build. Runs with unexpected power, but he won't knock over defenders. Bouncy lateral agility. Willing pass-blocker. Burst is good but doesn't wow. Experienced pass-catcher. Explosive return ability. Third-down back who'll succeed in that role instantly. Tore ACL in 2010. Only 21 years old.
5. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Experience in Wisconsin's offense has made him a smart, one-cut runner. Can undoubtedly run between the tackles. More compact and strong than he looks at 5'10'' and 214 pounds. Far from a big-play guy but will pick up decent chunks of yardage, especially through arm tackles. Sifts through traffic exceptionally well. Natural pass-catcher who showed dedication as a pass-blocker, too. Doesn't possess much burst and didn't show a second gear on tape. Reliable. Logged 924 carries in college.
Thoughts: In today's NFL, I'm looking for a runner who can occasionally run between the tackles, but mainly, a guy who can excel on the perimeter and hit the big play. No, not every team is running the spread or zone read, but they're becoming more prevalent wrinkles across the league. Also, I really value short-area quickness and burst along with willingness as a pass-protector. Honorable mention Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State is more of a power runner than anything, but his pass-catching ability will help to keep him viable in the NFL for a while.
1. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Experienced. Strong hands. Concentrates when football arrives. Wins 50-50 balls more often than not. Scintillating as a bubble-screen YAC guy, although not as explosive as Cordarrelle Patterson. Can create separation with precise route running, gear switching or pure speed. More long speed than short-area speed. Finishes runs hard. Exceptional run-blocker. Plays much faster than his 4.57 40-yard dash time. Refined.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Absolutely electric with the ball in his hands. Shouldn't be able to move as smoothly as he does at 6'2'' and 216 pounds. Makes violent cuts and stays in high gear. Isn't a refined route-runner, but it's a stretch to call him raw in that facet. Demonstrated soft hands at Tennessee. Dynamic return man and prime candidate for reverses. Open-field monster with above-average speed and explosive YAC abilities.
3. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Percy Harvin in Dexter McCluster's body. Small and nimble. Elite short-area and downfield speed. Versatile. Was used in a variety of ways on short passes and on runs at West Virginia. Gains speed as he makes cuts. Decisive runner. More of an offensive YAC specialist than purely a wide receiver. Exudes athleticism and will make many NFL defenders miss in space as a rookie. Somewhat worried about his lack of size.
4. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
Preeminent vertical threat in the class. Desired downfield speed. Burst is there. Detailed route-runner. Smaller at 5'11'' and 185. Game shows that. Not powerful after the catch. Decent change-of-direction ability, not fantastic. Good blocker for his size.
5. Keenan Allen, California
Has the body of a chain-mover and was primarily used as that type of receiver at California. Does possess some burst and YAC ability. Strong hands. Can win against press coverage. Finishes runs with power. Comfortable with entire route tree but could tighten cuts on routes. Injury curtailed 2012 season. Traditional No. 1 wideout upside.
Thoughts: Like running backs, with receivers, I'm looking for players who excel in space and have natural YAC abilities. Also, winning 50-50 balls is vital as is the ability to beat press coverage. Although he may have the most impressive overall skill set of any wideout, Tennessee Tech's Da'Rick Rogers is my No. 6 wideout because his off-field and maturity issues are very concerning. Don't sleep on USC's Robert Woods, either. A natural wideout.
1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
High-points the ball better than any pass-catcher in the class. Uses his body well to shield defenders. Sound blocker, not overpowering though. Crisp route-runner. Enormous catch radius. Certainly not a burner. What tight ends are? Nice hands. Perfect tight end for today's NFL.
2. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
Extremely athletic. Overpowers defenders with his size and strength. Solid hands. Is willing and has the build to become elite as a blocker. Somewhat of a vertical threat down the field. Excels after the catch. Turns into huge receiver. Major off-field issues.
3. Zach Ertz, Stanford
Hands aren't an issue. Well-versed in a variety of routes. Above-average abilities after the catch for a tight end. Decent speed. Willing blocker but needs to build more strength in that area. Pure receiving tight end. Surprisingly fluid athlete. Simply a sound all-around game.
4. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
Tall and lean seam runner. When needed, has nice burst off the snap. Catches the ball with ease. Size to become a good blocker but relatively raw in that respect. Dependable route-runner. No wasted movements.
5. Jesse Reed, Florida
Smaller and shorter H-back type. Eerily similar to Aaron Hernandez. Springy athlete. Likes to move laterally after the catch and has athletic ability to make defenders miss. Doesn't shy away from contact. Uses initial quickness to beat press at the line when he's a slot receiver. Slippery in the open-field. Average speed.
Thoughts: The game of Rice's Vance McDonald compares to Reed's, as he was used as a bubble-screen slot receiver often. More powerful, not as elusive. If you're a tight end and you can block, there will always be a job for you in the NFL, but the league is shifting to more pass-catching specialists at this position.
1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Game is nice blend of finesse, fundamentals and power. Light on his feet. Comfortable with smaller speed rushers but strong enough to anchor against larger defensive ends. Shows tremendous burst when getting out on screens. Not ridiculously strong. Ideal left tackle for pass-happy NFL. Perfect in zone-blocking scheme. Fabulous directional blocker.
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Relies more on sheer power than sound technique. More of a mauler than a technician. Equally as dominant as a run-blocker as he is a pass-blocker. Once he engages with defender, it's over. Not super fast in his kick slide, but he pulls on outside pitches and inside from jumbo sets quickly. Deceptive short-area foot speed. Prototypical size at 6'7'' and 306 pounds.
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Like Fisher, plays with a really nasty demeanor. Exudes athleticism as former tight end. Strong in run and pass game. Gets out quickly on edge rushers, though technique could be refined a bit. Anchors well and finds defenders at the second level. Right now, he'd be a solid starter at left tackle, and he has elite upside.
4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Unfairly strong. Absolutely engulfs even bigger outside linebackers and defensive ends. At 6'6'' and 340 pounds, simply a mammoth human to beat to get to the quarterback. Road-grading run-blocker. Can move, but his foot speed is lacking, which leads to his projection to the right tackle spot in the NFL. Will get beat by fast, low-center-of-gravity edge-rushers.
5. Menelik Watson, Florida State
Great size at 6'5'' and 310 pounds. Long arms. Relatively athletic for the offensive tackle spot. Packs a punch but reaches too often. Can be slow off the ball and in his kick-slide. Has background as a basketball player. Not a conventional amount of football experience. Premier upside.
Thoughts: I hold fleet-footed yet somewhat powerful offensive tackles in high regard. However, there's a stark contrast between what a power running team and a zone-blocking team would ultimately desire on the edges of their offensive lines. Tennessee's Dallas Thomas is a sound offensive line prospect, but to me, he projects to the guard spot in the NFL and really could flourish there. Also, Colorado's David Bakhtiari is a true sleeper.
1. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
No guard should be as nimble as Cooper. Amazing balance and footwork. Gets out on screens better than any offensive lineman in the class. Anchors well. Not exceptionally powerful but certainly not weak at the point of attack. Demonstrated awareness when having to wait on a blitzer. New-age, NFL guard. Undersized? Maybe.
2. Chance Warmack, Alabama
Complete guard prospect. Power pops out on tape. Fleet-footed but nowhere near as agile as Cooper. Stands up huge, interior pass-rushers and destroys everything in his path when blocking for the run. Drives defenders back through the whistle. Can get too high in pass-protection on certain occasions and miss blocks at second level. Sound all-around power game.
3. Larry Warford, Kentucky
Some consider him a dancing bear. Not exactly sure what stipulates that labeling, but he definitely is quick for someone his size—6'3'', 332 pounds. Can get sloppy with his footwork on pulls and traps. When his footwork is clean through the line, he usually finds his target at the second level and finishes him with immense power. Adequate pass-protector. Not necessarily quick.
4. Brian Schwenke, California
Center. Anchors well. Wins with leverage that yields surprising power. Usually one of the first players to react to the snap. Needs to build strength.
5. Kyle Long, Oregon
Could play tackle in the NFL. Raw. Powerful and deceptively athletic. Gets to the second level on pulls with speed but is oftentimes lost when looking for blocking assignment. An abundance of upside.
Thoughts: As stated in the introduction, most of my rankings are tailored to the type of game played in today's NFL. Around 20 years ago, Chance Warmack would easily be the No. 1 guard. But now, with more spread, more passing, more YAC-predicated offenses, Cooper gets the nod. However, if you're a power running team, Warmack is probably your guy.
1. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Total package. Oozes athleticism, and there's a spring in his step. He flies from sideline-to-sideline and showed the willingness to be a thumper against the run. Although there are instances in which he gets engulfed by mammoth offensive linemen, he has a natural talent to avoid blocks in traffic and stop the ball-carrier dead in his tracks. Exceptionally comfortable in coverage. Passes off crosser well and finds the secondary option on play-action bootlegs. Speedy and effective blitzer. Desired ball-skills. NaVorro Bowman 2.0.
2. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Wins with ultra-physical play at the point of attack against the run. Thumper. Recognizes play design rapidly, and he reacts fast. Quickly gets into the right position to either take on the lead blocker or make the tackle. Has sub-par range. Won't run with top-flight tight ends or speedy running backs, but his awareness in coverage is special. Non-stop motor. Overpowering strength. Can lunge uncontrollably at ball-carriers.
3. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
Athletic. Quick short-area burst. Very fluid mover. Plays with a relatively high motor. Fine instincts and awareness on running plays. Better attacking the line of scrimmage than he is in coverage but is far from a liability dropping back. Almost Brown-esque in his ability to sift through traffic to make plays against the run. Blitzes well. Showed natural edge-rushing skills when lined up at defensive line. Rangy, but not exceptional from sideline-to-sideline, Solid overall prospect. Sleeper.
4. Kevin Minter, LSU
London Fletcher body type. Plays like him. Always around the football. Isn't super rangy but definitely can get from sideline-to-sideline quickly. Smooth in his backpedal while covering tight ends down the seam. Above-average ball-skills. Not a thumper, however, he makes his presence felt against the run with surprising pop.
5. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Similar to North Carolina's Zach Brown from the 2012 draft class. Exceptional athleticism and has ability as a freelancer. Not especially disciplined against the run. Has the speed and fluidity to cover well. Occasionally avoids contact in the hole against the run. Extremely rangy from sideline-to-sidline.
Thoughts: Inside linebackers need to be more rangy from sideline-to-sideline in today's NFL, but there's still a need for run-plugging power guys, like Te'o. I almost included Florida State's Vince Williams, a true, two-down thumper at inside linebacker. He was a late add to the Senior Bowl but wasn't invited to the combine. He has "steal" written all over him.
1. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
As a WLB in a 4-3, would be the second coming of Lavonte David, though he's more fluid when changing directions. He'd be on the field often with the amount of spread offenses in today's NFL. Would line up well with slot receivers and split out tight ends.
2. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
Attacks the ball with terrific speed. Closes on ball-carriers and is a fundamental tackler. Comfortable in coverage but doesn't have amazing instincts. Rangy but not elite sideline-to-sideline. Ideal hybrid S/OLB at the next level. Works through traffic well.
3. Dion Jordan, Oregon
Mr. Versatile. An effective pass-rusher who uses his speed and length to get to the quarterback. Just as comfortably, he drops into coverage and runs with tight ends and slot receivers. Ridiculously athletic for his position. Fluid hips. As a SLB, he'd be put in a fantastic blitzing position in a 4-3 alignment.
4. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Would have more freedom as a WLB in a 4-3 alignment. Would benefit him due to his freelancing style of play. Can run with tight ends and slot receivers and attack off the edge on occasion. Needs some schooling in regards to reading routes and reacting, but his athleticism is top-notch.
5. Sio Moore, Connecticut
Epitomizes versatility. Can play any LB position and even put his hand in the dirt to rush the passer. Sound tackler. Not flashy, but he appears to stay fundamentally sound against the run. Not a springy athlete. Runs relatively well with tight ends and bigger slot receivers. Because he plays smart, there's upside.
Thoughts: There are plenty of rather rangy 4-3 outside linebackers in this class, but to me, Arthur Brown is in a class by himself. Playing WLB is becoming more and more critical as the three-down, do-everything defender in most schemes. Dion Jordan projects to the more attacking SLB position, however, he would be suited best as 3-4 outside linebacker.
1. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Wasn't fully unleashed at LSU. Contained far too often. Blazing first step. Ideal size. Relentless off the edge. Not a ton of pass-rushing moves, but he can win with sheer athleticism. To me, an Aldon Smith clone. Decently well-versed getting off blocks. Stronger than he looks. Will help against the run.
2. Dion Jordan, Oregon
The amount of possibilities Jordan will give a defensive coordinator is borderline scary. He can line up but run with the speedier slot receivers and shouldn't have a problem down the seam with tight ends. Explosive, Jason Pierre-Paul-potential as an edge rusher. Long. Injury in 2012.
3. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Much faster on tape than he tested. Not a super-explosive initial burst, but he anticipates the snap well. Tenacious. Relentless motor. Desired awareness on run plays. Adequate and shedding blocks but will get engulfed on occasion. Somewhat small—6'2'', 245. Doesn't possess many pass-rushing moves, however, he wins with his speed rush often. Needs to build strength, especially to aid his abilities against the run.
4. Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky
Athleticism is obvious on tape. Desired burst off the ball. Developed arsenal of pass-rushing moves/counter moves. Gave Alabama's D.J. Fluker trouble in 2012. Wins on the edge with speed, power and agility. Holds up well against the run. Could build more strength but can violently shed smaller blockers. Ideal size at 6'5'', 250. High motor. ACL tear in November.
5. Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi
Wins with power more than burst and speed. Sets the edge well. Sure tackler. Deceptively athletic laterally. Can get skinny in pass-rushing situations. 6'3'', 250. Stronger than he appears. Willing and effective against the run. Only somewhat accustomed to dropping into coverage. Appears to have the size and athleticism to be a versatile defender in a 3-4. Solid prospect.
1. Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, Florida State
Appears recovered from ACL tear. Does it all although I'd like to see him more impactful against the run. Prototypical size at 6'4'', 275. Long and rangy as a pass-rusher. Sneaky quick off the ball with an explosive burst. A few moves off the edge but mainly wins with blend of speed, power and hustle. Trails plays well and tackles ball-carriers from behind.
2. Ezekiel Ansah, Brigham Youn
Game is pure power right now. Extremely raw in terms of pass-rushing moves. Strong at the point of attack and against the run. Non-stop motor. Moves well laterally for a 6'5'', 271-pounder. Unfinished product with massive upside as a complete defensive end.
3. Bjoern Werner
Deceptive athlete, however, his movement fluidity isn't special. Experienced. Can tightly bend around the corner. Occasionally gets high off the ball which makes him much easier to block. Big and strong, but at 6'3'' and 266 pounds, he could be stronger. Ideal burst is there.
4. Alex Okafor
Long and lean although he's 6'4'' and 264 pounds. Bull rush can creep up on offensive tackles. Uses his hands well. Necessary burst. Experienced. With more strength, he could become an extremely productive, well-rounded defensive end.
5. Damontre Moore
Considerably less explosion off the snap than the other top defensive ends. Bulky but needs to build strength. Sound run defender. Wins on inside rushes as well as he does off the edge. Some pass-rushing moves. Plays faster and stronger on the field than his workout numbers indicate.
Thoughts: The requirements for the 4-3 defensive end haven't changed much; elite pass-rushing skills and ability to hold up against the run are musts. Corey Lemonier from Auburn is intriguing, I just didn't see enough from an explosion standpoint from him. Margus Hunt is Ansah-esque in his rawness and upside and could blossom into a J.J. Watt type on the edge of a 4-3. Also, Datone Jones is a flexible defensive lineman who has a bright NFL future, although he's probably better suited inside.
1. Star Lotulelei, Utah
Pass-rushing specialist. His burst is second-to-none in the class at the position. He's a more powerful Sharrif Floyd. Bulk and size will allow to him to play anywhere on any defensive front. Conditioned. Plays low. Can stay on the field for long stretches. Smaller Haloti Ngata.
2. Datone Jones, UCLA
Defensive tackle with linebacker athleticism and explosion. Can get skinny to attack the middle of the offensive line but has a powerful bull rush. Master with his hands. Could add bulk to deal with larger interior offensive linemen. Extremely strong. In theory, he'd be able to play in any defensive line position except the nose in a 3-4.
3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Stocky. Typically stays low. Sudden off the ball which often surprises interior offensive linemen. Disruptive pass-rusher. Moves exceptionally well for 300-pounder. Could get a little stronger, which would help his stability against the run. Motor is non-stop.
4. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Purest 4-3, pass-rushing defensive tackle in the class. A little Geno Atkins to him. Slips through the cracks of the offensive line well. Exceptionally nimble feet that are accompanied by decent strength. Pops up and gets dominated occasionally. Double-team penetrator who attacks one gap with suddenness and ferocity. Some versatility to where he can play. Needed to see more against the run. Gets turned somewhat easily. Desired hand usage. Not an anchorer.
5. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
Penetrates with a quick first step but really disrupts with power and leverage. Decent hand usage. Can get stood up and when that happens, he's out of the play. Not overly athletic. More of a nose tackle than a pass-rushing defensive tackle but does have skills to get to the passer.
Thoughts: I love this defensive tackle class. Essentially, 1-4 on this list project perfectly to today's NFL, and it wasn't easy to rank them. At all. Just didn't see it with Floyd. The depth is tremendous at this position. Another player to keep on your radar is Missouri Southern's Brandon Williams. At 6'1'', 338, he's a real mover.
1. Jesse Williams, Alabama
Wide. Two-down run-game ruiner. Extraordinarily powerful at the point of attack and uses leverage to his advantage on nearly every play. Motor is constantly running. Decent block-shredder. Ideal size at 6'3'' and 325 pounds. Will demand double teams at the next level.
2. Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Better overall athlete than Williams. To me, a 4-3 defensive tackle/3-4 nose tackle hybrid. Can use his inherent quickness to penetrate but can anchor and plug the inside runs. Sheds blocks with speed. Not necessarily fast off the ball. Disappears for stretches. Reminds me of 2012 draftee Jerel Worthy. Probably the No. 6 or No. 7 defensive tackle.
3. Star Lotulelei, Utah
Lotulelei would be best-suited as a 4-3 defensive tackle who's primary goal is to collapse the pocket and get to the quarterback. However, the power and leverage/anchoring skills to play nose in a 3-4.
4. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern
Dancing bear who at 335 pounds can man the nose. Run defense needs refinement. In nose tackle-role would need to reign in his pass-rushing
5. John Jenkins, Georgia
Enormous at 6'4'' and 346. Pound-for-pound, he's an amazing athlete but is, not surprisingly, slower laterally and doesn't have much closing speed. Can get pushed around but, due to his size, he will demand double teams when he's on the field. Strictly a two-down guy although he does have upside as a pass-rusher. Terrence Cody-like.
1. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
Gritty, in-your-face corner who's willing and able against the run and will compete well with any receiver. Not physically intimidating but is certainly deceptive as an athlete. Springy enough to knock down jump balls against larger wideouts. Maybe not the most fluid hips but they don't hurt his game. Can lock up man-to-man. Exceptional ball-skills with major return ability. Plays faster and with more acceleration than in timed workouts. Intelligent on the field. Cortland Finnegan-like.
2. D.J. Hayden, Houston
Natural cornerback. Fluid athletically. Sound press skills. Makes plays on the ball with ease. Chippy and willing against the run. Reads and reacts quickly and has desired speed to get to the ball to force an incompletion. A bigger Jamar Taylor.
3. Jamar Taylor, Boise State
Physical nature is noticeable. Smooth athlete. Didn't see 4.39 on tape, but he definitely is far from a plodder. Sound tackler against the run. Didn't press much in college. Above-average mirror skills. Somewhat smaller corner who competes on every pass thrown in his direction. Plays with a nasty edge.
4. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Athletic specimen. 6'1'' and 210 pounds. Not limited physically. Due to his size and athleticism, he should be a better press coverage cornerback. Desired speed. Decent tackler and impact against the run. Recovery speed. Could be better at the NFL level than he was at Florida State but with size/speed combo, he left much to be desired in college.
5. Dee Milliner, Alabama
Tall and physically imposing. Ball skills are there. Rangy but not a tremendous athlete by NFL cornerback standards. Can make plays in the backfield against the run but lunges out of control in some instances. Will have to learn traditional backpedal as a professional. Size helps him on jump balls and in press, but he isn't overly physical. Smart/solid prospect. Outside of frame and timed speed, didn't stand out. Shoulder injury.
Thoughts: Cornerback is one of the hardest position to analyze. They're often lost on film, and it's extremely hard to know/understand their assignments on a given play. Also, with an increase in pass interference and holding penalties along with the growing prevalence of spread offenses, cornerbacks have it rough in today's NFL. Washington's Desmond Trufant just missed the cut and was mainly downgraded because he has the tendency to get too grabby beyond five yards. However, he has a bright NFL future. This is a deep cornerback class.
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
All over the field. Demonstrated extreme range at Texas. Nimble enough to line up in the nickel against slot corners and compete. Sound tackler. Versatility is the main theme of his game. Stronger than he appears to be.
2. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
Rugged box safety who can lay the lumber. Although his ability in run support is the best attribute of his game, he has range at free safety and has ball skills. Think Mark Barron.
3. Phillip Thomas, Fresno State
Best pure ball hawk in the class though most of his picks came against poor competition in 2012. Will get to the football down the field in the air. Changes directions fluidly. Needs work shedding blocks but is willing against the run. Awareness occasionally a concern in coverage. Slightly undersized.
4. Eric Reid, LSU
Down year in 2012 hurt his stock. Experienced. Not smoothest of athletes for the safety spot. Fundamentally sound in all facets of the game. Will stick nose in against the run and make an impact. Average ball skills. Deceptive athlete though not spectacular.
5. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
Ultra-aggressive. Bulky at 5'10'', 208 pounds. Makes his presence known in the run game. He competes on jump balls and exhibited ball-skills. Not exceptionally rangy. More of a safety/outside linebacker hybrid, which has value in today's NFL.