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It was hard for any Notre Dame players to step out of the shadow during last season, and it was even harder for its draft prospects to do that in the postseason. Cierre Wood is used to having to share the spotlight. Did his committee work in South Bend show that he has what it takes to play on Sundays?

 

Strengths

Wood is a high-effort back with elusive qualities both behind the line of scrimmage and at the second level of the defense. He is a resourceful back who will fire his legs and push to get yards after contact, and Wood also runs with good foot frequency and balance. Wood's vision spots the cutback lanes, and he has the juice in his legs to quickly change direction and attack the opening. He is also a tough back who will sacrifice his body for yardage, which isn't a quality that is usually present in elusive backs.

 

Weaknesses

Wood is more of a speed/burst back than a power back, but he lacks long speed. He's not big enough to substantially push the pile. Wood sometimes gathers to cut and his footwork costs him yardage and momentum. He isn't an accomplished blocker or receiver and projects as a committee back in the pros at best.

 

Tools

Wood's 5'11", 213-pound frame amounts to him being more of a slasher than a compact, efficient runner. His 4.56-40 time illustrates that lack of long speed, but his 37.5" vertical was one of the best among backs at the combine and confirms the physical talent that is the foundation of his elusiveness. He has small 8 5/8" hands, and his fumble at the goal line in overtime vs. Pitt almost cost the Fighting Irish a chance at the national title.

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Chris Gragg

Buffalo Bills

Seventh Round: 222nd Pick

Chris Gragg came to Arkansas as a wide receiver, and you can see it in his game. He has added blocking skills in the rough-and-tumble SEC, but Gragg has also struggled with injuries and failed to hit his peak during his time with the Razorbacks. After a great combine, Gragg is on the rise again. When healthy, he's not that far off the top wide receivers in this class. 

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The headlines in this year's draft tight end class have been dominated by the E's—Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame), Zach Ertz (Stanford), and Gavin Escobar (San Diego State)—but on the third day of the draft, NFL teams shouldn't forget about an "O", Ryan Otten.

Otten missed a chance to impress at the combine when a hand injury and infection sidelined him, but his film should assure pro teams that what was good enough to be best in WAC is good enough to play on Sundays.

 

Strengths

Otten is more like an oversized wide receiver with his length and ball skills. He has a long frame and good speed for a tight end. He is not a quick-twitch athlete, but Otten still moves well for a player of his size. He is fearless over the middle and very stubborn after the catch. Otten was very productive and averaged almost 15 yards per reception over the last two seasons Otten can go up for the ball like a wideout, but he is a willing and mostly effective blocker.

 

 

Weaknesses

Otten is not especially quick or sudden in his breaks or out of his stance at the line of scrimmage. He is limited as a blocker because of his body type. He's not a creative runner after the catch, and he's not fast or crafty enough to create separation against athletic defensive backs in man coverage from the slot. He is a solid player, but not special in any area. He looked overmatched against better athletes at the Senior Bowl. 

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Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

Mention Stanford to any fan of the NFL, and the first thing he or she will think of is Andrew Luck. While Luck and his former coach Jim Harbaugh put Stanford back in a prominent spot on the football map in 2012, it was the defense that led the way, and that defense was led by outside linebacker Chase Thomas. Does the aptly named defender's production in Pac-12 portend big things in his NFL future?

 

Strengths

Thomas is a high-effort player with a physical edge and great play awareness and recognition. He has a multitude of pass rush moves, and has very active hands when he engages his opponent. Thomas will dominate pass-blockers when the protection scheme does not put an offensive tackle on him. He has a lot of fight in his game, and he is a tone-setter on defense.

 

Weaknesses

 

As an athlete, Thomas is adequate at best. He can't run with backs or athletic tight ends or cover much range against the pass, and he has trouble changing direction quickly. Thomas won't be an effective edge-rusher to the outside because he can't turn the corner or get upfield fast enough to put the offensive tackle on his heels. Offensive tackles can blot him out on passing downs because Thomas lacks the arm length to go with his big frame. 

 

Tools

At 6'3" 244 pounds, Thomas has nice NFL size, but his 32 1/4" arms keep him from being a legitimate defensive end prospect or pass rush specialist. He is probably faster than his 4.91 40 time, but it is still an accurate picture of his main liability as an athlete. His 32" vertical, 9'5" broad jump, and 7.17 three-cone combine measurement complete the picture of a limited athlete.

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Sio Moore

Oakland Raiders

Third Round, 66th Pick

In today's NFL, linebackers can be asked to wear a lot of hats in their duties at the second level of the defense, just as defenses themselves change sets and personnel packages depending on the game situation.

Connecticut's Sio Moore is already way ahead of the curve, demonstrating the ability to line up anywhere and do just about anything that a team would ask their linebackers to do. What does this prospect have to offer beyond versatility?

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Bostic

Chicago Bears

Second Round, 50th Pick

Sharrif Floyd is getting most of the attention among the 2013 NFL draft prospects from the Florida Gators defense, and what he isn't getting is going to Matt Elam. Still, the leader of that impressive unit, middle linebacker Jon Bostic, is a quality prospect in his own right. Does Bostic deserve more attention from draft analysts than he has been getting?

 

Strengths

Bostic plays low and patiently prowls until he decides to attack. His decisions and instincts are usually sound, and Bostic plays with a lot of effort and energy. He is a stout, combative linebacker who will take on a larger blocker with verve and hold his spot at the point of attack, giving up his body so his teammates can make the play.

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James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Small-school wide receivers that put up numbers as big as Brandon Kaufman's 2012 season will always get attention from NFL scouts. The ability to find a diamond in the rough who was overlooked because of his level of competition can pay big dividends down the line. Will Kaufman's game translate to the next level?

Strengths

Kaufman is a big receiver with enough speed to create some deep separation and ball skills and catch radius to come down with the more tightly contested passes. He's tall, but plays with some strength and sturdiness. Kaufman does not shy away from contact and is willing and able to work the middle of the field. He has a solid stop-start move in the open field and should be a weapon in the red zone.

Weaknesses

Even though he isn't a poor athlete, Kaufman's quickness and speed are average or adequate at best among big NFL receivers. He isn't particularly agile, flexible, or explosive and won't regularly get behind NFL secondaries. The level of play and lack of complexity in Kaufman's duties makes his ability to make in the NFL a larger unknown.

Tools

Kaufman is 6'5", 216 pounds with 32 1/4" arms, presenting a big target for his quarterback. Even though he only timed 4.68 in the 40, Kaufman was able to consistently challenge and often pull away from defensive backs, although they were FCS-level players.

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Who will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft?

The Kansas City Chiefs hold the pick, but the first overall pick remains very much up in the air at this point. It could be Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher or maybe a wild card like Sharrif Floyd. The fact is, five weeks out, the 2013 NFL draft is far from decided.

Free agency has started, which means teams are crossing needs off their wish lists and narrowing the focus of where they will go with each pick in the draft. But who will the Chiefs draft?

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The NFL Scouting Combine can make or break the hopes and dreams of future pros. While events like the 40-yard dash are overdramatized for television, there's no doubting the importance of the NFL combine—especially for players coming into late February with red flags on their scouting reports.

A red flag can mean different things. It could be off-field issues, immaturity, injuries or even a made-up dead girlfriend. This year's class of prospects is lighter than the norm when it comes to players with these types of question marks, but for these five players, it's all or nothing at the combine.

Matt Barkley, Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Lattimore and Manti Te'o all figure to be major players in this year's draft. What red flags are each of them carrying?

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Many articles will be written between now and the late-April NFL draft, but the one topic that everyone really wants to read about is this: Who is the best player in the 2013 NFL draft class?

The answer: Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel. And it's not even close.

What makes Joeckel stand out as the best left tackle I have ever scouted? Why is the A&M junior the best player in this year's class?

The film won't lie, and that's where we're going to check out the top overall player.