LeBron Returning to Cleveland

'Ready to Accept the Challenge'

Texasas_crop_north

As the college football season heats up, new players are being added to our Top 300 each week as they prove themselves worthy for NFL draft consideration. This week sees three new names added to our Stock Watch and two mainstays making moves up the board.

As players improve, others regress. Former top prospect Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech continues to move down the board. Another former No. 1 prospect is moving down this week too.

Uspw_65150681_crop_north

Vontaze Burfict's name has become synonymous with a draft prospect's stock (or worth) falling dramatically. NFL teams avoided Burfict like the plague when the 2012 NFL draft rolled around, and a player who was rated as the No. 2 overall prospect before the season began found himself on the outside looking in.

Enter the Cincinnati Bengals.

Burfict is a rare player whose stock fell like the stock market on Black Tuesday without ever having an off-field issue. Instead of DUIs or multiple children, Burfict's stock plummeted due to a poor attitude, a reckless style of play and a lack of contrition about his issues. Marvin Lewis saw something more, though.

Burfict's story didn't end with the 2012 draft because he didn't give up, and many players would have. Instead he's used his entry to the NFL as an undrafted free agent as motivation. Just five weeks into the season, and Burfict is starting at weakside linebacker.

What's different?

 

On-Field Control

Hi-res-151125949_crop_north
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

One of the hottest names right now on draftnik big boards is Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier. In a conference with at least three edge rushers ticketed for the top half of the first round (LSU's Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, and Georgia's Jarvis Jones), Lemonier is generating buzz with his physical play and all-around contributions to the Auburn defense. Let's take a look at just how he creates an impact in so many areas.

 

Tools

Lemonier is solidly built at 6'4" 246 lbs, but he is not an explosive quick-twitch athlete, nor is he a particularly fluid athlete. He does play with great power and a combative nature, and Lemonier's motor keeps him going even when the play isn't run to his side of the field. The defensive end generally finishes what he starts, although his lack of outstanding overall athleticism can cause him to get overmatched by superior athletes in the open field.

 

Pass Rush

Lemonier is not a classic "shot out of a cannon" edge rusher who defeats his opponent with a lightning-quick first step. His tenacity and anticipation can still lead to sacks and game-changing plays. On this play, the offensive tackle attempts to cut block Lemonier low by going at his ankles:

 

Lemonier puts his hand on the ground and stays on his feet to defeat the attempt:

Hi-res-6538568_crop_north
James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

Each week during the college football season, our 2013 NFL draft rankings will be updated based on the play of the Top 300 players in the country. This week's edition means new names added, a shift among position rankings and a number of top players taking a dive down the board.

Each position is broken each singularly to give fans a look at who tops the board within each position. We've also added "niche rankings," giving you the players who will fit in a 3-4 defense, as a slot receiver and as a Joker tight end.

The 2013 NFL draft is still six months away, but NFL teams are already hitting the road and evaluating players. Here is our take on the Top 300 prospects for the 2013 class.

Hi-res-153271815_crop_north

Each week we track the 2013 NFL draft prospects who are moving up and down our draft boards. Our Week 5 edition features familiar faces and new names—players in major conferences and smaller-school studs who are standing out on a smaller stage.

No matter where you play, if you're talented, it will show up.

Heisman Trophy favorite Geno Smith has moved up in the past, but this week we'll once again feature one of his wide receivers. Outside the Big 12, one quarterback is finding himself falling down the board while a big defensive tackle jumps up higher into the first round.

Hi-res-152096598_crop_north

The best time to grade a draft class is ideally three years after it is selected, but why wait? The NFL season's first quarter is done and gone, so how did each team's rookie class perform?

We'll take you team by team, looking at the best pick for each club so far and grading them on what they've done to date. Again, we're not grading on potential, but on what the rookie class has actually produced on the field through the first four weeks.

Who's rookie class will come out on top?

Hi-res-151128889_crop_north

If you're favorite NFL team is currently without a win, chances are you're already looking ahead to the 2013 NFL draft. We are too. 

The next seven months will fly by as the NFL season heats up, as college football moves closer to bowl season and as the pre-draft events get underway. Each week during the college football season, we'll be updating you on our position rankings as the season progresses.

With Week 4 of the NFL season kicking off, here is an updated look at position rankings for the 2013 NFL draft, including every player in our Top 300 currently.

Hi-res-133943752_crop_north
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

LSU's defense produced two of the top 14 picks of the 2012 draft, and they could get two even higher this year, because they possess the most dynamic pair of defensive ends in college football.

Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery will be able to feed off of each other's productivity and talent to elevate their games to an elite level this season. So far this year, Montgomery has been the more impressive player, making plays and creating opportunities for his teammates on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage with regularity.

How is he doing it?

 

Tools

Montgomery is a classic long-limbed defensive end at 6'5", but he has a sturdy 260-pound build, giving him a significant presence in run defense and as a bull-rusher. He uses his long arms to obstruct passing lanes and keep offensive tackles away from his body on the pass rush.

Montgomery has a good vertical leap to increase his reach, but he is not a quick-twitch athlete. Still, he does have an extra gear of explosiveness and efficiency of movement when he is within striking distance of the football. Here, the ball-carrier is about to receive the handoff with the play designed to get outside of Montgomery:

Hi-res-152579353_crop_north

First, Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson and Logan Thomas tumble down the board. Who is next?

The 2013 NFL draft is still seven months away, but it's never too soon to start taking a look at those players who are moving up and down our draft board.

A heavy week of film study has added insight and perspective on prospects. As top prospects continue to fall down the board, new names are added, and others who maybe carried a low preseason grade are making up ground.

Here's our Week 4 edition of Stock Watch for the 2013 NFL draft.

Smithvthomas5_crop_north

Logan Thomas has the prototypical 6'6", 260-pound frame with athleticism and arm strength that can be molded to any system. Geno Smith is a wiry 6'3", 214 pounds, and he plays in a pitch-and-catch spread offense that doesn't resemble a pro attack. Yet when we put both players under the microscope, Smith still appears to have the more pro-ready game.

What is it about their skill sets that makes Smith look like he'll have more success on Sundays?

 

Accuracy

It doesn't take a football genius to see that Smith is destroying Thomas in this category this year, with an astounding 88 percent completion rate to Thomas's 54. Smith has as many incompletions as touchdown passes this year. The accuracy differences go beyond the sheer rate of success, as both quarterbacks throw a lot of short passes outside of the numbers. Smith's are almost always thrown at eye level, where the receiver can catch the ball cleanly and turn upfield for a run-after-catch opportunity:

 

Thomas throws low too often when targeting this area of the field, causing a receiver to go low and take away the run-after-catch opportunity on the slant: