The Top 25 Home-Run Threats in the 2013 NFL Draft Class

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2013

The Top 25 Home-Run Threats in the 2013 NFL Draft Class

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    Seriously, there aren't any football games for a long time. A really long time.

    So, do what all of us do when faced with such an overwhelming drought—cope. And since I'm such a caring soul, I did my part by providing you with a small coping mechanism. 

    A power ranking of the top home-run threats in the 2013 NFL draft.

    The breakdown here is simple: Is he the type of player who could break a big play for a score? If his odds seem better than the next guy, he moves above him in the rankings.

    Keeping it simple. Just like taking the offseason one day at a time.

    We'll get back to real football soon. I hope.

25. Stepfan Taylor

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    Stepfan Taylor is a falling-forward type of runner. A guy more likely to initiate contact to get a couple more yards than dance around looking for the open field. 

    Probably because he checks in on the slower side for highly drafted running backs. 

    Those types of players have plenty of value in football. Just not on this list. 

24. Montee Ball

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    There is something to be said for scoring 82 touchdowns in a career, more than anyone else has ever accounted for in college football.

    Phenomenal comes to mind. So does consistency.

    However, for Montee Ball, it doesn't say anything about his ability to rip off long plays. He's a pound-between-the-tackles back with some nice agility. That's it. 

23. E.J. Manuel

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    E.J. Manuel doesn't always show it, but this quarterback can get up the field. 

    He racked up a ridiculous 9.3-yard rushing average in Florida State's wild win over Clemson. He also added another rushing score in the Senior Bowl for good measure.

    Like I said, he can move. Just not as quickly as most of the others on this list. 

22. Giovani Bernard

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    Giovani Bernard can slip through defenders. He has a smaller stature, but his frame packs the necessary punch to run through tackles and his agility can help him exploit a crease.

    Unfortunately for him, he isn't going to outrun any defenders to the corner and doesn't have the top-end speed to finish potential breakaways.

    Basically, Bernard can create the opportunity, he just doesn't have all the tools to finish the job. 

21. David Amerson

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    In true Charlie Kelly fashion, I'm throwing in a wild card: David Amerson.

    Don't know who he is? You will. He racked up a ridiculous 13 interceptions in his sophomore year and wasted little time declaring after wrapping up his junior year.

    I figure that his ball-hawking skills will get him a chance to "hit a home run." But it will be difficult to hit pay dirt unless he jumps an out pattern. 

    Yes. I'm saying there is a chance.  

20. Quinton Patton

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    Louisiana Tech and their movie-like uniforms make an appearance on this list thanks to Quinton Patton.

    And the script on Patton is still a work in progress at this point.

    Patton played his way into the WAC in community college, and then played himself into this conversation while dominating the conference with 183 catches resulting in 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns. 

    Yet, his small stature and good-but-not-great speed make him a short- to medium-range target. 

19. Zach Ertz

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    I'd be completely ignoring today's NFL if I didn't include at least one tight end. They're such a vertical passing threat in the seams that one will get a chance to make big plays.

    That tight end will be Zach Ertz. 

    He's not going to be bullied at 6'6" and 256 pounds, nor hounded by defensive backs due to his athleticism. 

    But he's still a tight end, and he isn't Rob Gronkowski. Therefore, he can't crack the top 10. 

18. Robert Woods

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    Read every scouting report on Robert Woods. Go ahead, I'll wait.

    I'm sure you read plenty about his 252 catches and 32 career receiving touchdowns.

    You'll also probably read that he hasn't demonstrated enough consistency as a pass-catcher to be taken before a few of his comrades.

    But you didn't hear anything about his speed. 


17. Aaron Dobson

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    Remember Plaxico Burress' Jets season? The one where he caught eight touchdowns but was reduced to a one-dimesional receiver because of his athletic decline?

    That's where Aaron Dobson finds himself.

    That's a bit of an exaggeration. Dobson is a good athlete. He just isn't going to fall into the freak category anytime soon. Well, not among NFL players.

    Still, he's a solid receiver who can make a living playing football. 

16. Eddie Lacy

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    Eddie Lacy is mean. His style of running would make Mike Alstott blush. Or beam with pride. Whichever.

    Yes, that was a Mike Alstott reference. You're welcome.

    Anyways, Lacy bounces off tacklers and is capable of nifty moves. It wouldn't be a shock to see him sidestep a defender, ricochet off another and break one. 

15. Da'Rick Rogers

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    We're talking home-run hitters in this slideshow, not actual draft stock. That's why Da'Rick Rogers' character concerns don't need to be accounted for here.

    He's a big boy who uses his body well against defenders both before the catch and after. Couple his size with good speed, and it's darn near impossible to get him on the ground. 

    Yet, he only produced 10 touchdowns while being outcast to Tennessee Tech. Not exactly top-level competition. That's troubling.  

14. DeAndre Hopkins

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    In some ways, DeAndre Hopkins is obviously a big-play maker. Many defensive backs can attest to his ability to go up and grab the ball, regardless of their efforts.

    However, not everyone on this list can be a top-five guy. Hopkins' explosiveness is more aerial than flying past defenses.

    While that is a profitable talent (he had 18 touchdowns), it isn't in the vein of this article. Still, I'd take him on my team without a moment's hesitation. 

13. Johnathan Franklin

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    Johnathan Franklin turned the opening two weeks of the season into his personal busting-out party. Franklin was a known commodity to some, but the nation got a glimpse of just how special this kid can be.

    He followed up a 214-yard performance (on only 15 carries!) with a 217-yard effort against Nebraska.

    However, he wasn't nearly as explosive in the second game. He merely averaged 8.3 yards. 

    You don't go down as the most productive player in UCLA history (most all-purpose yards) without being able to connect on the long play.

12. Tavarres King

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    Tavarres King averaged 22.6 yards per catch. Thus, he's going to make it on this list. 

    He doesn't have blow-right-by-you speed, but he does have if-you-slip-I'm-gone speed, meaning that he can get by defenders and outpace them to the end zone.

    King can also make people miss, allowing him more opportunities than most. If he had just a bit more speed, he'd be much higher. King is an intriguing midround pick. 

11. Kenny Stills

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    Kenny Stills has that I'm-not-sure-what-you-are-yet feel to him.

    He's obviously quite talented and was very productive last year. Stills finished his junior year with 82 catches for 959 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    But is he a bona fide home-run threat? Eh. That's not exactly a crazy average (11.7 YPC), leaving him a little low in these rankings. 

10. Keenan Allen

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    Keenan Allen has plenty of talent and will be a productive pro. However, it'll likely be more as a possession-type receiver who weaves in and out of traffic to pick up first downs.

    Allen averaged 13.7 yards per catch in his last season at Cal, but his true level of explosion is closer to his 12.1 

    Or, even worse, his 10.7 average as a freshman. 

9. Denard Robinson

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    Nothing surprising here. Denard Robinson is one of the most explosive players to ever grace a college football field.

    People will be concerned about how he is going to get the ball. His Senior Bowl showing wasn't a ringing endorsement for him as a wide receiver.

    However, explosion isn't something that changes by the level of competition. Once the ball is in his hands, however it gets there, Robinson will be able to fly, as his 37 rushing touchdowns in three years proves.

8. Stedman Bailey

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    Sometimes, production in college easily translates to the NFL. Other times, it's more difficult to foresee.

    Stedman Bailey falls under the later category.

    That doesn't mean Bailey won't have a solid career. I'm just worried that a 5'10" receiver who doesn't possess crazy speed won't be able to rely on wiles at the next level.

    But it must be noted that he's a great long-ball player (17.2 YPC in 2011). That certainly counts in these rankings. 

7. Kenjon Barner

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    Just as Chip Kelly and his scheme will translate to the NFL, so will his former charge. 

    Kenjon Barner is a burner. When presented with seams or creases, he has the ability to accelerate through the open space, leaving defenders to hopelessly give chase.

    Barner never averaged less than six yards per carry throughout his career, and even put up almost 25 yards per return as a freshman. 

6. Markus Wheaton

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    Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh ended up working out alright. Here's betting the man who caught more passes than both of them will find his way to the end zone at the next level.

    Markus Wheaton has developed throughout his career, culminating in 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns in his senior year. 

    Wheaton is a burner who can get by the defense in a split second. He just needs a little more strength before it all comes together. 

5. Andre Ellington

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    A great commodity for busting big plays is speed. It's true. I Googled it. 

    Andre Ellington has so much speed that it's obvious he stole some from somebody else. 

    While scouts would love to see more consistency from him (six games under 60 yards rushing), this article isn't about a player's whole profile. Just his ability to make big plays.

    Ellington can do that.

4. Marquise Goodwin

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    When you search for pictures of Marquise Goodwin, it's pretty easy to figure that he's fast. Like Twitter spreading a false-celebrity-death-rumor fast. 

    Don't believe me? He does. His twitter handle is @FlashGoodwin

    Flash will leave the combine as one of the fastest prospects in this draft. It's a good thing because he's too little (5'9", 178 lbs) to become a physical or jump-ball receiver.

    But, give him some room in the return game or a seam in the middle of the field, and you're not catching him. 

3. Justin Hunter

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    Being the leading receiver for the Tennessee Volunteers will come in handy at the draft. That's nice.

    But Justin Hunter can score touchdowns in bunches. For instance, he finished with nine in 2012.

    And he has multiple 80-yard catches in his career and averaged 25.9 yards during his freshman campaign. Those types of numbers will certainly garner a higher ranking. 

2. Cordarrelle Patterson

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    Need a touchdown? Give the ball to Cordarrelle Patterson.

    As pointed out, Patterson is the only Vol, other than Carl Pickens, to score on a punt return, a kick return, a reception and a rush.

    That's insane.

    Flat out, Patterson is just one of those guys you find a way to get the ball to. Never mind his supposed deficiencies as a wide receiver, he's ridiculously scary with the ball in his hands. 

1. Tavon Austin

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    When you stand 5'9" and only weigh 171 pounds, you better be able to move if you want to make an impact at the BCS level.

    Tavon Austin can move. Quickly. 

    Austin was a dynamo in West Virginia's offense. He broke plays in the passing game, on the ground and in special teams, ending up with an incredible 2,760 all-purpose yards. 

    That kind of versatility shows he'll find ways to create in the NFL, regardless of how he gets the ball.