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USC hasn't been quite the elite program of years past since Pete Carroll left, but you wouldn't know from their draft record. They have produced three top 10 picks from the two seasons without Carroll, and seven picks in the first four rounds of the last two drafts.

2012 could see them return to college football's top echelon while placing as many as three players in the draft's first round, possibly even in the draft's top 20.

Let's take a look at the best 2013 NFL draft-eligible Trojans.


QB Matt Barkley

Barkley is somewhat unique among elite quarterback prospects because he doesn't have outstanding tools. He is not the 6'2", 230 lbs. that USC lists him at, and Barkley is not a great athlete. He doesn't have overwhelming arm strength, either.

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The NFL season is only a week old, but there are at least a handful of teams that are already wondering which quarterback they will have a chance to take in the first round.

Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas might top the list for some teams because he's 6'6" 260 pounds with good athleticism and great natural arm strength. Thomas has a limited body of work, with only one year as the starter under his belt, so the redshirt junior's performances are going to be under the microscope, as teams that are likely to choose early in the draft narrow down their list of targets. Thomas hasn't had a command performance in two games against Austin Peay and a banged-up Georgia Tech defense.

Are there reasons for the scouts to start doubt Thomas' worth after these games?



Thomas has only completed 59 percent of his passes after completing 59.8 percent last year. This is particularly troubling because he plays in a pass offense with lots of simple reads and quick, short throws.


The NFL draft truly has no offseason. With college football's season two weeks in, it's time to take a fresh look at the positional rankings for the 2013 NFL draft.

It may not seem like much can change in two weeks, but it can. Injuries, poor play, transfers and the impact of players have changed the positional rankings considerably since the preseason.

Impact injuries to Chris Faulk, Tyler Wilson and Brandon Jenkins have already changed the landscape of the first-round prospects, while both solid and poor play has also resonated across the board.

Here's an updated look at the top 10 players each each position for the 2013 NFL draft.


Week 2 of the college football season is in the books, and with it, the draft stock of juniors and seniors across the country. Which players are up and down after two weeks of play?

In a loaded SEC draft class, LSU and Georgia feature some of the best players in the nation, but their individual draft stock may be faltering due to poor play and/or injuries. For example, offensive tackle Chris Faulk (LSU) is out of the year with a knee injury, putting a once first-round draft grade in question.

Who is up and who is down? We're breaking it down in this week's stock watch.

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Inside linebacker is not a very highly valued position in the NFL draft. A player must have elite tools, instincts and production to get consideration in the first. The name that keeps coming up atop the 2013 NFL draft eligible class is Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. The accolades are piling up for Te'o, but what about his play on the field? Is he deserving of a first-round pick next April?



Te'o is a massive linebacker at 6'2", 255 lbs. He is not particularly fast in a straight line, and he does not change direction quickly. In general, he is a little stiff and upright, and he also plays with a deliberate sense about his movements, except when he is moving in a straight line.

Te'o does not have legitimate sideline-to-sideline range, but his size makes him ideal for inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, where range is not as important. He has a decent motor and is generally moving toward the ball until the whistle.

Instincts are not his strength, as Te'o appears to be guessing or reacting to what is happening instead of anticipating on most plays. He often guesses wrong or is a beat late from making a play, but Te'o still disrupts enough to be a catalyst for his teammates to make plays. 


If the first-year success of Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and even Robert Griffin III have taught us anything, it's that first-year quarterbacks are no longer game managers who need their hands held by coaches. 

This is a new NFL, and by trickle-down effect, a new NCAA. Quarterbacks are leaving college more prepared than ever before to take on defenses of the pro variety. Not all quarterbacks are created equal, though. 

Which quarterbacks from the 2013 draft class have the look of early studs?


You'll have no trouble finding scouting reports for the top 2013 NFL Draft-eligible prospects if they play in any of the big six BCS conferences or if they are a big independent like Notre Dame or BYU.

The mid-major conferences in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1-A) get much less attention, and at the lower levels, starting with the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1-AA), there is scant attention paid to all but the most outstanding pro prospects.

But that doesn't mean that players from these smaller programs will be insignificant during the draft. In fact, every year, more and more players from small schools are getting drafted, and they seem to get drafted higher every year.

Here are the top 20 players outside of the big BCS conferences and big independents that might hear their name called in Radio City Music Hall next April.

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

2013 is setting up to be a big year for quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL draft. Matt Barkley has the pro-ready pedigree, Tyler Wilson has the arm and athleticism, and Logan Thomas has the dream set of tools. So what does Tyler Bray of Tennessee have that may make him worth a consideration early in the first round with these elite passing prospects?



Bray is a mantis-like 6'6" 215 lbs. Although his body type hasn't been the mold of too many starting NFL quarterbacks, the whip-like energy his springy, loose body generates sets Bray apart from the typical deliberate, stationary pocket passing long-limbed quarterback prospect. It allows him to put a lot of velocity and accuracy on passes that don't come out of ideal mechanics, such as this throw where Bray perceives pressure and doesn't shift his weight to his front foot:

Bray's most impressive tool besides his arm strength is his mental approach to the game. He sells the play-action fake well with crisp execution and the ability to quickly see the field and reset after turning his back to the defense. He calmly goes through his progressions and finds his checkdown on time.

Bray can see plays develop and lead his receivers to open spots on the field. In general, he has a great feel for the game and lets it come to him instead of forcing the issue or otherwise seeming out of sync. He is always playing calm, relaxed and under control, never exhibiting a sense of being rushed mentally or physically. 


With the NFL season set to kick off, a few things are coming into focus.

Some teams have the look of a hapless franchise in the middle of a multi-year rebuilding plan, while others are still firing on all cylinders. Some are adjusting well to new personnel and coaches; some are still a work in progress, and an early 2013 NFL draft order can be divined from these outward indicators.

Likewise, the first weekend of college football is upon us, and going in we can have a good idea of who sits atop the draft class—at least before the games are played. Put these together, and we can peer into the future and try to guess what kind of help teams will get in the first round of next year's NFL draft.


After a draft that gave up a top-five overall running back pick and two other first-round backs, 2013 might not even yield one runner in the first 32 picks.

Trent Richardson was the best prospect at the position since Adrian Peterson, and Doug Martin was too much like Matt Forte and Ray Rice for teams to make the mistake of letting him fall to the second like the Bears and Ravens studs did in 2008.

David Wilson is already showing the dynamic, explosive play that induced the Giants to take him in the first round in April.

The 2013 draft-eligible class lacks a flagship talent like Richardson, and a handful of the best talents in the group are coming off of serious injuries. As usual, the SEC leads the way, and the Alabama Crimson Tide have yet another potential star in the making carrying the mail.