Updated 2013 NFL Draft Big Board for Top 25 Prospects
It's early in the process but having a working list is a great way to prepare for the next NFL Draft. My early rankings are based on the potential shown by the prospects during the 2011 season. This means these players are far from finished products and there will be a lot of movement as the season progresses.
However, it's important to have a grasp on each prospect before the season. This way it's possible to see if the prospects are working hard to improve.
Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End, Texas
- Jeffcoat is receiving a lot of hype heading into this season. However, he's not shown me anything to suggest that he's a top-notch NFL prospect. Jeffcoat isn't a quick-twitch athlete and doesn't get enough burst off the line to consistently get the edge. He's also on the shorter side, which allows offensive linemen to get into his body. I currently have him rated as a late-second round prospect.
William Gholston, Defensive End, Michigan State
- Gholston has good size, but lacks the explosiveness to be a difference maker. He isn't quick enough to consistently attack the edge. Gholston also has tightness in his hips that limits his change of direction and ability to employ counter moves. He's a mid-second round prospect on my board.
Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State
- Hankins is a massive player that fits the mold of a 3-4 nose tackle. However, he doesn't have great technique which hurts his ability to make impact plays. At this point, he's just a space eater that has a tendency to take plays off.
Sam Montgomery, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker LSU
- Montgomery has good quickness off the edge, but not enough to overcome some of the weaker parts of his game. That quickness isn't enough for him to generate a consistent pass rush. Poor snap awareness limits his ability to beat linemen to the edge. He also struggle to disengage after contacts. His lack of size and strength make him a liability against the run. Montgomery still has first-round potential, but I was unimpressed by what he brought to the table last year.
Tyler Bray, Quarterback, Tennessee
- Bray is getting a ton of attention from the NFL-draft community. Evaluators are getting too caught up on his strong arm. Bray lacks the decision making and poise to deserve such positive reviews. I have a real concern about his ability to sit in the pocket and deal with pressure. The inability to overcome a pass rush is one thing that can kill the career of a quarterback.
D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
- On paper Fluker looks great, but the reality is that he's not a great tackle prospect. He doesn't have quick enough feet, good technique or the change of direction ability to protect the passer. Fluker will have a really tough time stopping pass-rushers from generating pressure on the quarterback. Don't let his good size fool you. At this point, Fluker is a late-second round prospect at best.
Prospects Who Just Missed the Top 25
Khaled Holmes, Center, USC
- Holmes is an excellent athlete with the size and strength to be a top-notch NFL center. While watching him, I get the vibe that he could even handle playing tackle if asked. I really love his ability to explode out of his stance and reach the second level. At this point, I have him rated as a late first-round prospect.
Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Tackle, Missouri
- Richardson is an explosive defensive lineman who does a great job penetrating the pocket. He's a versatile player capable of playing either the three-technique or five-technique spot. Look for Richardson to continue to rise as the season progresses.
Tyrann Mathieu, Cornerback, LSU
- Mathieu is a difference maker who excels at creating turnovers. He may never be an elite cover corner, but more of a specialist. A creative defensive coordinator can put him in the position to succeed and make game-changing plays.
Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia
Smith has a strong arm, good size and above average athleticism. He's a very underrated quarterback prospect who could very well sneak in to the first round. I expect him to put up some great numbers this season.
Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
- Joeckel is a fluid athlete who does a good job protecting the passer. He fails to make the top 25 because of concerns surrounding his ability to open running lanes. However, his strength as a pass protector gives him a ton of upside.
No. 25 Dee Milliner, Alabama
Dee Milliner is a terrific athlete who plays with proper technique. His commitment to keeping his pads low helps him maintain balanced movements. This balance allows him to properly use his quick-twitch ability to click and close on the football. Possessing such good balance also helps in the creating turnovers department by allowing Milliner to attack the ball at its highest point.
Milliner isn't just a cover corner, as he does a good job supporting the run. He quickly identifies the developing play and explodes towards the line of scrimmage. His willingness to play a physical brand of football is also apparent by his effort on special teams.
This isn't just a one-dimensional player, he's a four-down athlete with a winning attitude.
No. 24 Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Florida State’s Bjoern Werner doesn't get as much attention as teammate Brandon Jenkins, but he’s a far better NFL prospect. Werner’s combination of good quickness and sound technique makes him an excellent pass-rusher. His hand usage is what allows him to consistently generate pressure on the quarterback.
Werner explodes off the line, obtains inside hand placement and generates an excellent initial jolt. This jolt gives him space to operate and puts the offensive lineman off balance. From this point, Werner can either employ a power or speed move.
Look for Werner to lead the Florida State in sacks and start to earn plenty of national attention.
No. 23 Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson is an excellent athlete who reminds me a lot of Seattle Seahawks’ safety Earl Thomas. It’s his ability to lineup in man coverage that most resembles Thomas’ game. Most safeties have a hard time finding success when in man coverage. However, Jefferson has the quickness and fluidity to hold his own.
The Sooners use Jefferson a lot in deep coverage. His quick-twitch ability gives him the range needed to cover a lot of ground. Jefferson also does a good job reading the quarterback and deciphering information.
He’s an aggressive run defender who looks to deliver bit hits. Jefferson needs to become more disciplined in his run defense, as he has a tendency to take some poor angles. However, his effort and athleticism mean he has tremendous upside.
No. 22 Chance Warmack, Alabama
Alabama has a few good offensive line prospects, but Chance Warmack is the most talented of the bunch. He’s a powerful and athletic guard who immediately stands out if you focus on the offensive line play. Warmack explodes off the line delivering a powerful jolt. This jolt knocks defenders off balance and allows him to get a good push off the line.
He’s such a talented run blocker because of his inside hand placement, heavy hands that Velcro to the defender and balance to generate a push. This is one of the top overall run blockers in the entire country.
Warmack isn’t just a power player, he also has the quickness to be an effective pass protector. He quickly shuffles his feet to mirror the rusher, and has the anchor to absorb contact. This is an elite player who should hear his name called early next April.
No. 21 Sean Porter, Texas A&M
Texas A&M is hoping that Sean Porter can have the same type of impact Von Miller did a few seasons ago. Porter is a similar player in that he does a good job creating pressure off the edge. However, he’s more of a traditional linebacker than just a pass rusher.
Porter’s ability to drop into coverage and set the edge against the run makes him an excellent all-around player. Further proving this point is the fact that Texas A&M doesn’t use him solely as a pass rusher because they know he has value in other areas.
While Porter can generate pressure on the quarterback, he didn’t show enough for me to label him as an elite edge rusher. Too often, he was stopped by a running back in one-on-one situations. Elite pass-rushers don’t get stoned by a running back.
I expect Porter’s stock to hold steady or even drop a little as the draft approaches. He’ll be surpassed by those players who flash more explosiveness. However, this doesn’t mean he isn’t a strong prospect with good upside.
No. 20 Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner has the size and athleticism to be a top-notch offensive tackle in the NFL. He does a great job quickly shuffling his feet and mirroring defenders. His large frame and strong anchor help him remain balanced after contact.
Wagner is a technically sound player who keeps his pads low and his hands out in front. His size and length make it tough for pass-rushers to have a clean route to the quarterback. NFL teams will love the combination of his size and quickness. This is a future left tackle at the next level.
One area he needs to work on is his ability to create a push off the line. He must do a better job exploding into the defender and keeping his legs moving. Wagner also needs to get stronger if he hopes to improve his run-blocking ability.
No. 19 Johnathan Banks, Mississippi State
Mississippi State has a true football player in cornerback Johnathan Banks. He’s an aggressive defender who makes a ton of game-changing players. His quick-twitch ability allows him to click and close on the football. Banks’ ability to get to the football is also helped by his balanced footwork.
Maintaining a low pad level allows him to quickly go from a backpedal into attack mode. Once Banks reaches the football, he does everything in his power to create a turnover. He uses his solid leaping ability and ball skills to pull down interceptions. Banks also looks to strip the ball from the offensive player.
I have some concerns surrounding Banks’ lack of bulk which could cause some durability issues. However, he doesn’t let that impact his play. Banks aggressively plays the run and is even used in several blitz packages.
No. 18 Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson has an opportunity to really climb up draft boards this season. He’s a very talented player who has shown improvement over his career. His strong arm and athleticism give him some major potential. Wilson can make all the throws, and even extend the play with his legs.
Despite all that potential, there are plenty of question marks surrounding Wilson’s game. He needs to do a better job handling pressure. Wilson gets erratic and abandons his technique when faced with a pass rush. This hinders his ability to make sound decisions and deliver an accurate football.
The issues surrounding Wilson are correctable, and something that improves with more playing time. However, he needs to show early this season that these problems are a thing of the past. NFL teams don’t like quarterbacks who can’t stand in the pocket with poise.
No. 17 Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Texas A&M has a technically sound offensive tackle in Jake Matthews. His ability to remain balanced and avoid wasted movements is what makes him such a talented football player. In pass protection, Matthews’ use of proper angles helps him protect the edge. He combines this with excellent balance that he uses to gain leverage and also react to counter moves.
Matthews isn’t only a talented pass blocker, as he also does a good job opening running lanes. His run-blocking success is due to his heavy hands. He does a great job gaining inside hand placement and velcroing to the defender. Once engaged, Matthews can control the player and ensure that he’s turned from the play. Defenders have a really hard time getting away from Matthews once he gets his hands on them.
I have some questions about his overall athleticism, but his technique helps put a lot of those concerns to rest.
No. 16 Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee
Most point to Justin Houston as Tennessee’s top wide receiver prospect. However, Da’Rick Rogers is equally as talented and a more consistent performer. Rogers boasts the size and quickness needed to make an impact at the next level.
He’s a quick-twitch athlete who explodes off the line and quickly gets into his routes. His ability to run clean routes helps him find openings in the defense. He also uses his excellent short area burst to help him gain separation from the defender. Rogers’ size is beneficial because he knows how to use it to box defenders away from the ball.
This is a very competitive player that wants to succeed. He routinely attacks the football at its highest point, while not allowing the defender to out muscle him for the ball. His toughness is also apparent when he fights to pick up extra yards after contact.
This year I’d like to see Rogers make more big plays down the field. Having a healthy Justin Houston back in the lineup could help.
No. 15 Keenan Allen, California
California’s Keenan Allen has already made a name for himself and is one of the most talked about NFL prospects. His combination of size and quick-twitch ability makes him a very intriguing talent at the wide receiver position. Being such a physical specimen is one of the main reasons he’s receiving so much hype.
Allen does damage deep down the field, and and also works the underneath routes. He isn’t afraid to go across the middle and take a hit. His long legs help him outpace defenders as he stretches the defense. However, he doesn’t appear to have elite speed and beats the secondary because of his ability to quickly eat up yardage.
While Allen is a tremendous talent, I have concerns about his concentration and hands. There were too many instances where he let the ball get into his body. He seems to not trust his hands and prefers to catch the ball against his chest.
If Allen can show more consistency plucking the football there’s no reason he can’t work himself into the top-10 discussion.
No. 14 Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o is a tremendous athlete who has a ton of upside as a middle linebacker in the NFL. He has the quickness to cover a lot of ground making plays from sideline to sideline. His excellent size helps him hold at the point of attack and stuff the run. This is a true playmaker that should have no problem making a quick transition into the NFL.
Te’o’s short area burst allows him to quickly close on the football. This burst is key because he also has the instincts to quickly identify developing plays. He isn’t just a run stuffer, as he boasts the athleticism to hold up in coverage. Te’o remains balanced when he drops into coverage which helps him quickly close on the football.
He had a chance to come out early this past season, but decided to return to school. The extra year at Notre Dame will help him increase his draft stock by showing the league his versatility.
No. 13 Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore is a stoutly-built running back who is an elite talent. He’s effective because of his combination of quickness and power. His low center of gravity helps him finish runs with power and remain balanced.
Lattimore has elite change-of-direction ability which allows him to make seamless cuts. He has a tendency to make defenders look uncoordinated because of how quickly he can move in another direction.
This ability to make clean cuts is so effective because Lattimore also has quick-twitch ability. He can quickly get up to full speed and accelerate. It means that he can stop and start up again without losing much momentum.
Lattimore isn’t just a strong runner; he’s also effective in the passing game. He does a good job in protection because he’s committed to squaring up and taking on the rusher. Out of the backfield, he plucks the ball with his hands and is dangerous in space.
My biggest concern surrounds his knee injury last season. There’s no way to tell if he’ll return to form until he gets back on the field.
No. 12 Dominique Easley, Florida
Florida has several defensive line prospects that project as early picks in the 2013 draft. Dominique Easley has an opportunity to work his way into the top-10 and be the most effective of the group. He’s a rare prospect in that he fits several defensive line spots. Easley could effectively play the three-technique, five-technique and nose tackle position.
This is a player that shows the ability to disrupt the offense by penetrating the pocket or generating a push. However, he also has the lower-body strength to occupy blockers. It’s his great first step that makes him such an elite prospect.
Easley uses this initial burst to both gain penetration and deliver a strong jolt. Even if the offensive linemen are able to get their hands on him, Easley has the upper body strength to disengage and quickness to make the play away from his frame.
Showing more consistency is the only thing keeping Easley out of the top-10.
No. 11 Alex Okafor, Texas
Texas has a pair of potential first-round defensive end prospects, but Alex Okafor is way more talented than Jackson Jeffcoat. This is a player with excellent snap awareness and an elite first step. His quickness is something NFL tackles will have a hard time handling.
Okafor isn’t only a speed rusher, as his hand usage gives him a wide-array of pass-rush moves. He uses his long arms to obtain inside hand placement and keep clean. This also helps him employ a bull rush when offensive tackles focus on protecting the edge.
There are legitimate concerns about his size and overall bulk, but he has a long enough frame to add some weight. Still, Okafor is athletic enough to make an easy transition to linebacker if needed.
No. 10 Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Florida’s Sharrif Floyd is a disruptive force that can make an impact from several spots along the defensive line. He has a rare combination of skills that allows him to make an impact from either the defensive end or defensive tackle position. NFL teams will instantly fall in love with his versatility.
What makes Floyd so versatile is his quickness off the ball. This allows him to either penetrate the pocket from the defensive tackle spot or reach the edge from the end position. His experience at both positions helps him employ a wide-array of pass-rush moves.
Floyd also does a good job holding up against the run. His explosiveness off the ball allows him to generate a good jolt and create space. This helps him locate the football and make plays away from his frame.
However, it’s his disruptive ability that makes him so valuable. Any team selecting Floyd will want him because he can make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
The only real concerns I have about Floyd is his arm length and conditioning. His arms appear a little short and that could impact his ability to play defensive end at the next level.
No. 9 Dion Jordan, Oregon
Oregon’s Dion Jordan is an electrifying athlete who plays with a high motor. He uses his quickness and suddenness to generate pressure on the quarterback. He’s one of the most explosive pass-rushers in this draft class, and excels at attacking the edge.
Jordan has ultra-quick hands that he uses to keep clean as he rushes the passer. Offensive linemen have a hard time keeping him engaged because of those hands and his quickness. He isn’t just an athlete, as he shows a great feel for the game. The sky is the limit for this prospect.
One of the most interesting things about Jordan is the way Oregon uses him in coverage. At times, you will see him lined up on the outside in press coverage. The idea is to have Jordan disrupt the timing of the route then drop off into the flat. This just shows what type of athlete he is and the versatility of his game.
His tall and lanky build limits his potential as a defensive end prospect. There’s little doubt that he’ll be selected by a team looking for a pass-rushing linebacker.
This is only a starting point for Jordan, as he has the most potential as anyone in this draft class.
No. 8 Barkevious Mingo, LSU
LSU’s Barkevious Mingo is the most explosive pass-rusher in all of college football. He has the quickness to consistently win one-on-one matchups. Offensive tackles have a really tough time keeping him from turning the corner and generating pressure on the quarterback.
Mingo isn’t only a speed rusher as he also does a good job obtaining leverage employing a power rush. He’s a tenacious defender who’s always on the attack. His quick hands help him keep clean as he works his way to the quarterback.
While Mingo has to get stronger, he keeps his pads low and has a better than expected anchor. However, he needs to improve his ability to disengage if he wants to become an effective run defender.
Mingo’s future appears to be at outside linebacker, but there’s potential for him to add more bulk and develop into a defensive end. Overall, this is a playmaker who’ll have little problem generating pressure at the next level.
No. 7 David Amerson, North Carolina State
North Carolina State’s David Amerson is a play-making cornerback who excels at creating turnovers. He has an uncanny ability to read the quarterback and developing routes. Amerson combines his elite instincts with top-notch ball skills. This is a guy that instantly makes a defense extremely more dangerous.
Amerson’s height and leaping ability also contribute to his ability to pull down interceptions. He’s committed to attacking the ball at its highest point. At times, he appears to want the ball more than his opponent.
He isn’t only a risk taker that creates turnovers. Amerson also does a good job covering a lot of ground in coverage. It would be a mistake to have him play anything than zone coverage, as playing man would limit his opportunities to read and close on the football.
The ability to intercept the football and make game-changing plays is very important to defensive coordinators in the NFL.
No. 6 Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Michigan has the top offensive tackle prospect lining up on the left side of their line. Taylor Lewan is an extremely good athlete who plays the game with a nasty streak. He quickly goes from his stance to getting himself into a position to succeed. His ability to quickly get into his kick-slide only increase his ability to protect the quarterback.
Pass-rushers have a hard time beating Lewan to the edge because of his quick feet and good balance. It also helps that he has the length to get his hands on the defender. Once engaged, Lewan uses his heavy hands to Velcro and control the pass-rusher.
In the running game, Lewan’s explosiveness and nastiness helps him generate a good push off the line. He’s not a road grader, but is more than capable of opening solid running lanes. Because of his heavy hands and balance, Lewan might be a good fit for a zone-blocking scheme.
No. 5 Robert Woods, USC
USC’s Robert Woods is an elite route runner who knows how to find openings in the defense. Woods is a quick-twitch athlete that quickly gets in and out of his breaks. This ability to quickly get up to full speed helps him create separation.
He is a reliable target who routinely attacks the football at its highest point. Woods has strong hands that allow him to pluck the ball out of the air. He's able to make plays all over the field by stretching the defense and working the underneath routes.
Woods isn’t a burner, but his ability to change speeds helps him make plays down the field. He strikes me as a prospect who can consistently catch 90 passes in the NFL.
No. 4 Jarvis Jones, Georgia
The fact that Georgia plays a pro-style 3-4 defense helps Jarvis Jones’ draft stock. Because of this system, Jones has a ton of experience rushing the pass from an outside linebacker position. Jones’ explosiveness and sound technique allows him employ a wide-array of pass-rush moves.
I love how he uses leverage and hand placement to knock the offensive tackle off balance. After they're off balance, Jones has the closing speed to reach the quarterback for the sack. He’s a game-changer that can generate consistent pressure on the quarterback.
Jones isn’t just a pass-rusher, as he also does a good job in coverage and supporting the run. Many will want to compare him to Von Miller, but Jones is a better all-around football player. He doesn’t have Miller’s explosiveness but can still have a similar impact at the next level.
No. 3 Star Lotulelei, Utah
Utah’s Star Lotulelei dominates the line of scrimmage with his power and quickness. His initial step is among the fastest of all the 2013 prospects. Lotulelei attacks the offensive linemen delivering a powerful jolt to knock them off balance. This jolt allows him to cleanly work his way his way to the football.
Lotulelei is a rare prospect in that he can both rush the passer and stuff the run at an elite level. His explosiveness off the line helps him penetrate the pocket and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He also has a strong anchor that allows him to occupy blockers and eat up space.
This is a player that could fit multiple positions like three-technique, five-technique and nose tackle. His versatility will help his overall draft stock as he could be a potential difference maker for any team.
No. 2 Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
As it stands, Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas has a legitimate chance to be the top overall pick next April. Thomas has an extremely powerful arm capable of making all the throws. He not only has a powerful arm, as he also uses solid technique to deliver an accurate football.
NFL teams are going to quickly fall in love with Thomas because of his physical talents, but will be surprised by his ability to play the position. He’s anything but a finished product, but has as much upside as anyone in this draft class.
A lot of evaluators will want to compare Thomas to Cam Newton, but he’s a much more refined passer than Newton was at this stage in his career. The fact that he has experience taking snaps from under center and making pro-style reads means he’s more NFL-ready than most anticipate.
No. 1 Matt Barkley, USC
USC’s Matt Barkley is an experienced and smart quarterback who’s capable of leading an NFL team to many victories. His time at USC provided Barkley with the opportunity to play in a pro-style offense. This makes him a very NFL-ready quarterback that figures to come off the board in the early part of the top-10.
Barkley has a more powerful arm than most realize, and is capable of making all the throws needed to succeed in the NFL. However, it’s his excellent accuracy and ball placement that makes him such an a dangerous passer.
Logan Thomas will have the edge in the workouts, but Barkley is a far safer prospect. Barkley might not have a high ceiling but he also has a high floor. This means that he might never be an All-Pro quarterback, but he also won’t be a bust.