Position Battles to Watch

Team-by-Team Camp Guide

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Devin Taylor

Detroit Lions

Fourth Round: 132nd Pick

Melvin Ingram was a first-round pick in 2012, and Jadeveon Clowney is sure to be one next season.

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We know all about the top names in the 2013 NFL draft class, but who are the sleepers that will come in and make early impacts to their new teams?

Last year we had Russell Wilson, Alfred Morris, T.Y. Hilton and Mitchell Schwartz all provide major production and impact as draft picks outside the first round. We'll see that again in 2013 as middle- and late-round stars are able to quickly transition to the NFL and leave their mark.

Who will those players be? Here's a position-by-position guide to the 2013 draft's sleeper class.

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DeVonte Holloman

Dallas Cowboys

Sixth Round: 185th Pick

The term "'tweener" is thrown around a lot during the draft. It usually means that a player is not an ideal fit at either of two positions that he is "between". When it is used on a player like DeVonte Holloman, the term is a positive, not a negative. Holloman has displayed the ability to play like a safety and a linebacker in the South Carolina defense's "spur" position, and that creates a scouting report that the NFL should find valuable despite his lack of top-end measureables.

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Josh Boyce

New England Patriots

Fourth Round, 102nd Pick

TCU's defense and former quarterback Andy Dalton got most of the ink during their rise to college football prominence, but one of their wide receivers has been playing at a high level for the last three years with little fanfare.

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Who are the top players for the 2013 NFL draft?

The 2013 draft is unique in that the talent at the top is very much flat. In contrast with the 2012 class, this year has no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Instead of a draft class dominated by the top four players, this year's crop has talent throughout.

Some will tell you that this isn't a good draft class, and I couldn't disagree more. When we look back on this class in three or five years, we will see marquee starters from the top 100 picks. All-Pro-level players will be found here.

Speaking of the top 100, it's important to note a few things. This is not a mock draft or a prediction of where players will be drafted. My Top 100 is a ranking of which players will be the best in the NFL. Much like an NFL team's war room, this is my big board.

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Some teams are looking at San Diego State's Gavin Escobar as high as the second round because he's a massive receiving tight end with good hands and ball skills. Just up I-5 at UCLA, they could find a very similar talent in Joseph Fauria who could be available four or five rounds later.

What makes Fauria one of the biggest possible steals of Day 3?

 

Strengths

Fauria towers over any defender who is trying to cover him. He is a fluid athlete with good hands and concentration, and he has surprising strength for a tall receiver. He is a trump card in the red zone who teams will struggle to stop because he is very good at high pointing the ball and making catches in tight coverage.  

Fauria is also quicker in his routes and a more effective blocker than his body type would lead you to believe.

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Shamarko Thomas

Pittsburgh Steelers

Fourth Round, 111th Pick

Shamarko Thomas is a throwback who should have been a linebacker in the 1950's NFL. He loves to fly around the field and hit, but his disregard for the health of himself and others might not play well in the modern NFL.

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Kevin Reddick was a coveted recruit for North Carolina who ended up being a four-year starter. He made his biggest impact as a senior after a junior season that was pockmarked by injury issues. Reddick's versatility makes him a unique talent, coming from a defense that has been a pipeline to the NFL in recent years. Where does Reddick fit in the pros?

 

 

Strengths

 

Reddick is a multifaceted talent with middle linebacker and pass rushing proficiency. He almost never leaves the field and looks equally comfortable whether he's in the opponent's backfield or dropping into coverage. Reddick is a finisher when he has a quarterback in his sights and he is very good at knifing through gaps and disrupting running plays.

 

 

Weaknesses


You won't see Reddick take on a blocker very often. He prefers to run around blocks and is often results in his being out of position when the play comes his way. Reddick is somewhat tentative in his movements and will bite on fakes or otherwise overreact to developments in the play. He's not physical and not difficult to knock off of his path when he is defending the run. In general, Reddick's play lacks edge and urgency. He has trouble sticking to receivers, and his instincts on reads often let him down, taking him away from the action.

 

 

Tools


Reddick has average size at 6'1", 243 pounds. His 4.72 40 is also adequate, but not a plus. He looks even slower on film. Reddick isn't a quick-twitch player, but he occasionally flashes explosive change-of-direction skills. He does have a closing burst, especially as a pass-rusher.

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Denard Robinson

Jacksonville Jaguars

Fifth Round: 135th Pick

Denard Robinson was the toast of the college football world in 2010, winning the Big Ten Player of the Year award. 2011 was good, but not great, and injuries in 2012 moved him from the quarterback position to a "weapon" role like the one he will be asked to play in the NFL. Will Robinson rediscover success in the NFL, or will be another one of the many star college quarterbacks who couldn't hack it when they weren't under center in the pros?

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Terron Armstead

New Orleans Saints

Third Round: 75th Pick

Running a 4.71 at 6'5", 306 lbs. is one way to get the NFL's attention, but Terron Armstead shows a lot more than rare foot speed on film. This big offensive tackle from a small school hung well with his big school peers at the combine and Senior Bowl, and he has the rare athleticism and and proportions that the NFL looks for in a left tackle. How early will Armstead put Pine Bluff on the NFL map?