The 2013 NFL Draft is fast approaching. All 32 organizations have sent scouts across the country all year long. They have watched all the college games, watched the East-West game and the Senior Bowl.
They have made roster decisions, head coaching decisions and front office choices as well.
There are still plenty of choices yet to be made, however. Come April 26, teams will have the opportunity to select a player that will hopefully provide stellar play for the next five-to-10 years.
So, who’s it gonna be?
NFL Draft guru Mike Mayock of NFL Network has released his top five players at each position, and we have tacked a little commentary for the sake of posterity. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below.
Will any of these college football superstars wind up on your team?
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. Matt Barkley, USC
3. Mike Glennon, NC State
4. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
5. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
The 2012 crop of quarterbacks featured Andrew Luck, RGIII and Ryan Tannehill all selected within the first eight picks. Such will not be the case this year. If Smith is not taken first-overall by the Chiefs, all of these guys could take a tumble on draft day. Barkley’s putrid senior season really hurt his draft stock, while Nassib has only helped himself. The fact that Jones is ranked here, above natural talents such as Tyler Bray of Tennessee and Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, is a bit of a surprise.
[Barkley and dozens of other potential draftees do the Harlem Shake at IMG Academy]
1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama
2. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
3. Andre Ellington, Clemson
4. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
5. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Lacy was forced to wait his turn behind Mark Ingram and then Trent Richardson, but he made the most of his junior season in Tuscaloosa. Dominating 100-plus yard performances in both the SEC and BCS title games moved the big man with the moves to the top of the list. However, he still may not be selected in the first round. Ball is college football’s all-time career leader in touchdowns scored. Bernard will make an immediate impact as a rookie, at least as an explosive punt returner. The biggest question mark here is easily Lattimore. After suffering a devastating knee injury, when (or better yet, will) he play again?
1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
2. Keenan Allen, Cal
3. Terrance Williams, Baylor
4. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
5. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Patterson is seen as the most physically gifted receiver in this class, although his route-running leaves a bit to be desired. The same cannot be said for Patton, who already feels like a veteran. Allen and Austin are pure speed merchants, while Williams led the nation with an astounding 1,832 yards receiving in a mere 13 games.
1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
2. Zach Ertz, Stanford
3. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
4. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
5. Jordan Reed, Florida
Just an uber-talented overall class. Eifert, Ertz and Escobar could all easily slot into the position’s top spot, and all five of these players may be gone by the time the third round begins.
1. Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
2. Brian Schwenke, Cal
3. Barrett Jones, Alabama
4. Khaled Holmes, USC
5. Braxston Cave, Notre Dame
Frederick has decided to leave school a year early after he earned a rating as the top center in the nation. Jones has earned Outland Trophies as the nation’s top lineman at both guard and center, and his versatility may squeeze him into the first round as well.
1. Chance Warmack, Alabama
2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
3. Larry Warford, Kentucky
4. Kyle Long, Oregon
5. Brian Winters, Kent State
Some experts have floated Warmack’s name as the most talented overall player in the upcoming draft. However, guards are simply not in nearly as high demand as are tackles, cover corners and pass-rushing superstars. He may slip out of the top 10 or even 15, but not much further. Cooper and fast-riser Warford — who had a monster Senior Bowl — may also be taken in the first round in one of the deepest guard drafts in some time.
1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama
T-5. Menelik Watson, Florida State
T-5. Justin Pugh, Syracuse
Joeckel is one of the crown jewels of the draft. If the massive Aggies’ star falls any further than No.3- or 4-overall it would be a massive surprise. Fisher grew quite a bit in college, and his fantastic performance in the Senior Bowl proved to scouts that he can compete against elite competition. Johnson and Fluker are also seen as potential first-round selections.
[Joeckel is one of the first non-quarterbacks to earn an invite to the 2013 Jon Gruden QB Camp]
1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
2. Star Lotulelei, Utah
3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
4. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
T-5. Kawann Short, Purdue
T-5. Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
It is no secret that the 2013 NFL Draft is headlined by the linemen. Lotulelei has been a projected top five pick for the last year, and while that may not change, Floyd’s status certainly has. The former Gators star left school a year early as a projected first round selection, but generally in the bottom half. His workouts since his decision to go pro have moved him into a virtual lock to go in the top 10.
1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
4. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
5. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
For all the flack Oregon’s defense has garnered over the last few years, the Ducks’ linebacker corps, led by Jordan, was elite in 2012. Jones led the nation with 14.5 sacks, despite missing two games to injury and despite spending a lot of time in pass protection. Greene is a fast riser, and him being ranked ahead of Mingo and Brown is a bit of a surprise. Especially Mingo, who has the length and speed to dominate at either defensive end or linebacker at the next level.
1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
2. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
3. Kevin Minter, LSU
4. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
5. Kiko Alonso, Oregon
Ogletree spent most of the year overshadowed by Jarvis Jones at Georgia, but the monster is a first-rounder in his own right. So are Te’o and Minter, although Te’o obviously has some catfishing baggage that needs to be vetted out.
1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
3. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
4. Desmond Trufant, Washington
5. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
Milliner and Rhodes are both unquestioned lockdown corners, and those types of players are becoming more and more valuable as the NFL continues to evolve into a pass-heavy league. Banks is the Bulldogs’ all-time interceptions leader, as well as the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the college game’s top corner in 2012.
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
2. Matt Elam, Florida
3. Johnathan Cyprien, Florida International
4. Eric Reid, LSU
5. Zeke Motta, Notre Dame
There is no question that Vaccaro is a star. He and defensive end Alex Okafor were pretty much the only Longhorns defensive players to even show up for the 2012 season. Elam looks like the next generation’s Ed Reed, but Cyprien has been skyrocketing and he could wind up being selected ahead of the Florida standout come April.