The Most Polarizing Prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft

Ryan RiddleCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2013

The Most Polarizing Prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft

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    The 2013 draft class is littered with uncertainty and confusion across the board, especially among the top 20 prospects.

    You can nearly qualify every single draft-eligible quarterback available as polarizing; the same goes for pass-rushers as well. 

    But when pressed to narrow things down to the most polarizing prospects in the draft, only the best of the best at generating civil unrest and heated interactions within the draft community emerge to round out this interesting list. 

    These are the men who keep the creators of mock drafts up at night.

    With an obvious lack of "complete" prospects in this draft, it's no wonder this year's draft projections are littered with uncertainty and inconsistency. 

DE, Ezekiel 'Ziggy' Ansah, BYU

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    Ezekiel Ansah may be one of the best athletes in the draft, but his lack of both production and experience have some draft experts screaming for a reality check. Ansah seems to be settling into the top 10 pretty consistently on most experts' boards, but not without some vigorous debate within the Twitter community, perhaps spearheaded by myself. 

    Ziggy may be a fantastic athlete in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, but I fail to see this ability translate in any of his games on tape. For the most part, he seems clumsy and lacks functional strength.

    Furthermore, Ansah is behind the curve tremendously in regards to technique and strategy. He will have to learn quickly against the best players in the world who can more readily neutralize his athletic advantage to some degree. 

    On the flip side of the argument, it's extremely irresponsible to ignore the natural size (6'5", 271 lbs.) and speed of this inexperienced prospect who didn't start at BYU until the fourth game of his final year. 

    Rare upside is the major selling point in any Ansah discussion, but if you put on tape and watch him  closely, you should be able to see a prime example of how "workout warriors" don't always translate into production on the field. There's also very little evidence that suggests he will be an impact player.

    This is not to say Ansah is a sure bust, but rather, to emphasize the risk involved may not justify such early draft consideration. 

QB, Matt Barkley, USC

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    Matt Barkley's glittery stock has fallen so dramatically in a single year that he's now beginning to look more like pyrite than something of refined value. However, some evaluations have still maintained their consistency despite the turmoil and injuries of an undeniably disappointing season. 

    Matt was once considered the consensus No. 1 overall pick. But, questions about his arm strength and ability to translate into a starting NFL quarterback have seemingly caused his stock to split right down the middle.

    His value has ranged anywhere from a top-10 pick to a third-rounder depending on whom you ask. If you ask me, I see a second-round talent who can possibly sneak up into the later portion of the first round. 

OLB, Jarvis Jones, Georgia

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    Jarvis Jones has been identified by myself back in January as one of the 5 NFL Draft Prospects Most Likely to be Overdrafted. This was based on spotty game tape that reveals a lack of NFL size and a one-dimensional prospect. 

    Jones has also garnered some high praise with his impressive sack totals while at Georgia. Many believers, however, have jumped ship after his lackluster Pro Day numbers. 

    If you have no concerns about Jarvis' neck injury or slow 40 time, you may still see him as the best pass-rusher in this draft. 

CB, Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

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    Manti Te'o is not the only Heisman finalist to fall from grace after an off-the-field scandal. Tyrann Mathieu literally lit his LSU career up in smoke with his appetite for illegal substances.

    After sitting out the entire 2012 season, one has to wonder what type of player Mathieu can be at the next level. If teams are not immediately scared off by his drugged up past, they may take issue with his pint-sized frame (5'9", 186 lbs.) or inconsistencies in man coverage. 

    But one thing that cannot be overlooked is his rare ability to make plays. Tyrann is an instinctual playmaker capable of completely changing the momentum of a game like few ever could. It is this element that is most intriguing and should have every team doing some serious risk/reward analysis. 

DE, Margus Hunt, SMU

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    Size, speed, strength and explosion are all undeniable traits for this Estonia native looking to make an impact at the next level. 

    At 25 years old, Hunt is not your typical rookie. He comes with a bit more life experience than most and a lot less football experience. His combination of raw potential and lack of production are the primary reasons for his polarizing status.

    Whether people like him or hate him will almost certainly be determined directly by assessing his potential.

    His worst-case scenario could be as the greatest blocker of kicks in the history of the NFL. In 53 games, Hunt managed to block an astounding 17 kicks. This should take some of the risk out of his inexperience. 

QB, Ryan Nassib, Syracuse

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    Some experts, like NFL.com's Mike Mayock, barey have Ryan Nassib in the top five at his position, while other, such as Greg Cossell over at NFL Films and Russ Lande of the nationalfootballpost.com, believe Nassib is the best quarterback in this draft. 

    This is a strange year for quarterback prospects, and Nassib may be the most polarizing of them all. This kid seems to be rising the draft charts as we inch closer to draft day.

    But clearly, not everyone's as impressed. NFL.com ranks Nassib as the sixth-best QB this year.  Depending on where you go, though, opinions on him will range from one extreme to the other.

    Nassib will likely fall somewhere in the middle of these overzealous projections. 

S, D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina

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    It's difficult to pinpoint the disconnect between the observations of evaluators in regards to D.J Swearinger. This hard-hitting safety is a premier athlete with both strength and speed. But the big question mark seems to center around his abilities in coverage. 

    When it comes to this element, most seem to be split right down the center. Perhaps this is the product of such a small sample size that is causing so much speculation. However, his upside should be defaulted to that of a Dashon Goldson who can play center field while also delivering knockout blows on ball-carriers. 

    When viewed through this lens, Swearinger's true value should begin to gain at least some clarity. 

OLB, Barkevious Mingo, LSU

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    Everyone who watches tape of Barkevious Mingo can see explosive abilities as clearly as they can see the yellow on Mingo's pants. But it's what happens in between those explosive movements that creates the divergence within the draft community. 

    Mingo is the full embodiment of pass-rushing potential, but his lack of actually producing sacks has left many experts scratching their heads.

    Many fear he might be destined to live out a career as an "almost" player, basically inferring he consistently comes close to making the big play. But in the NFL, almost just isn't good enough, especially for a prospect who many consider to be a top-10 talent. 

    Is Mingo a talented project or a battle-tested impact player? 

LB, Manti Te'o, Notre Dame

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    Unless you've been living under a rock for the last year, you should be at least somewhat familiar with the Manti Te'o saga. When you try and factor in his bizarre scandal while pairing it with a terrible performance in the BCS National Championship Game, followed soon after by a disappointing combine showing, Te'o's once firmly cemented top-15 status naturally is up for debate.

    On one hand, Te'o's fans still list him as a guy who can have a major impact in the NFL and have no concerns about his ability to be trusted despite admittedly tailoring his answers in regards to his sick girlfriend who never existed. But on the other side of the coin, he is a two-faced liar with marginal athletic ability who is primarily the product of a national media hype campaign. 

    This highly decorated Heisman runner-up was once the crown jewel of a storied franchise. Now he desperately looks to regain the respect that seems to have suddenly slipped through his fingers. For Te'o, his best chance at redemption will come from the very place where it all began: on a football field. 

WR, Justin Hunter, Tennessee

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    Perhaps the bewilderment surrounding Justin Hunter is more about the class of receivers than it is Hunter himself. This long, lean, explosive pass-catcher is coming off of a highly productive junior season followed by impressive pre-draft testing. However, many experts can't even say with confidence that Hunter is the best receiver in this draft from Tennessee.

    Teammate Cordarrelle Patterson has been consistently viewed as a top-two receiver in the 2013 draft class, while Hunter has been listed anywhere from the second-best to the eighth. This is no doubt frustrating for Hunter as he tries to figure out when he might be drafted.

    Worst-case scenarios typically don't have Hunter falling out of the second round. With his size, speed and explosiveness, this kid could end up being the best receiver in his class by the time his career is done.