The 2013 NFL Draft is only one day away, but draft boards and expert mock drafts continue to be shaken up as new information flows in from team representatives and general managers.
The biggest piece of news to surface as the final week of the pre-draft period wraps up has probably been the meteoric rise of UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin's draft stock. In recent days, Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net, has tweeted that a number of teams now have Franklin higher on their draft boards than Eddie Lacy, who had been the consensus No. 1 running back for most of the offseason.
Chris Wesseling of nfl.com reports that Franklin has been receiving comparisons to Frank Gore and Doug Martin, and that he could represent the hope that a running back will be selected in the first round of the 2013 Draft.
Let's take a look at the teams that should have a lot of interest in Franklin's services and where he will most likely be taken on draft day.
Possible Picks: 39th, 72nd
The New York Jets are one of the names that has surfaced as a major player for Franklin in recent weeks. According to Jason La Canfora of cbssports.com, the Jets are one of a few teams that are taking a hard look at Franklin.
With the departure of Shonn Greene in free agency, the running back position will be up in the air come training camp. The team would be wise to pick up a back that could contribute right away, and Franklin, the most experienced back at the top of the board, would best fit this role.
The Jets would likely find Franklin available at the 39th pick in the draft, but it seems more likely that the team will go with a quarterback, such as E.J. Manuel of Florida State, or a wide receiver at this pick. Matt Miller has the Jets picking wide receiver Quinton Patton of Louisiana Tech with the 39th pick in his latest mock draft.
The Jets would be overjoyed to have Franklin at the 72nd pick, but it is highly improbable that Franklin will fall out of the second round.
Barring some sort of trade, the Jets seem like a long shot at drafting Franklin, but don't count them out of making some moves to pick him up.
Possible Picks: 48th, 79th
The Pittsburgh Steelers are another team that has expressed interest in Franklin.
Like the New York Jets, the Steelers are left with a big hole at running back after the departure of Rashard Mendenhall in free agency. Although the situation is not quite as dire as the case of the Jets, with capable backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman on the roster, the Steelers would still like to add running back depth in this draft.
The Steelers could probably snag Franklin with the 48th pick, and this would be a very high value pick as the team has Franklin as the top running back on their board. However, the team will probably want to address the defensive side of the ball with this pick and look at either a linebacker or cornerback.
If Franklin somehow manages to fall to the third round and the 79th pick, expect the Steelers to take him in a heartbeat.
The Steelers will likely pass on Franklin at the 48th spot and take another running back later in the draft, but if they are really as high on Franklin as has been reported, don't be surprised if the team uses their second-round pick on him.
Possible Picks: 37th, 53rd, 84th
It is no secret that running back is one of the top priorities for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2013 Draft. The team has very little depth behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis and desperately needs to find a long-term starter at the position.
The Bengals should take a back with one of their two second-round picks, but it is hard to tell whether the team is leaning towards Franklin or Lacy as their top back.
In two of the latest mock drafts, Matt Miller has the Bengals picking Lacy with the 37th pick, while Charlie Campbell of walterfootball.com has the team selecting Franklin with the 53rd pick.
Seeing Franklin in an orange and black uniform next season seems like it could be a serious possibility, especially if he has leapfrogged Lacy on the Bengals' draft board. Don't be surprised if the Bengals use their 37th pick to select Franklin.
Possible Picks: 26th, 55th, 88th
The Green Bay Packers represent the best-chance scenario that Franklin, or any running back for that matter, will go in the first round of the 2013 Draft.
The Packers are in need of a solid, every-down running back, as players like James Starks and Alex Green have not panned out as team management would have hoped.
Style-wise, Franklin is by far the best fit for the Packers. Franklin is a quick, one-cut style back who is very adept at running out of the shotgun. Over the 2012-2013 season, 60.6 percent of the Packers' plays were run out of shotgun formations, and a back with experience in this style of offense is a must.
Franklin also has great hands out of the backfield: he tallied 33 catches for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2012, and would be a dangerous new weapon for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Both Matt Miller and drafttek.com have Franklin going to the Packers with the 55th pick in their latest mock drafts. This spot, in the middle of the second round, seems like the most realistic position for Franklin. However, the Packers could take a risk on taking him at the 26th spot if they feel that he will not fall to their spot in the second round.
Whether or not the Packers decide to take Franklin in the first round, they appear to be the team most likely to draft the running back.