Richner: 2013 Prospects
In the first of what will be a weekly review of prospects in college and NFL rookies, NFL Draft Expert Matt Richner breaks down his 2013 NFL draft eligible top college prospects at each position.
With each college football season there are handful of players who rise and exceed expectations (Cam Newton and RGIII) and players who fall short of expectations. With the upcoming college football season rapidly approaching, I have created a list of specific position groups of some of the intriguing prospect that NFL scouts will be keeping a close eye this season. Each of these lists is organized alphabetically by each player's respected school.
|Sr.||EJ Manuel||Florida St||6-4||220||13||24||18||1.33||4344||510||337||66.08%|
|Sr.||Mike Glennon||N.C. St.||6-6||225||10||32||14||2.29||3380||505||316||62.57%|
|Sr.||Geno Smith||W. Virginia||6-3||214||19||56||15||3.73||7457||947||619||65.36%|
Quarterbacks: The two stars of the senior class are Matt Barkley of USC and Landry Jones of Oklahoma. Barkley, a consistent starter since his freshman year, will be expected to lead USC towards a national title run. Jones will need to work on his completion percentage, with the spread offense he plays in. I would like to see his completion percentage around 66-67%. Tyler Wilson of Arkansas will need to win at least nine games this year to receive a first round grade. The junior class has a very impressive ensemble. A.J. McCarron, led Alabama to a national title last year and showed he can command a huddle and can perform when the bright lights are on. I would like to see him be a little less conservative and air the ball out some more. Aaron Murray of Georgia is a bit undersized, but is a tough physical QB who showed a willingness to stand up in the pocket to make the critical throws. He will have to work on his ball security and increase his completion percentage; anything below 60% is unacceptable from a future first round talent. The two players who have scouts salivating the most is Tyler Bray of Tennessee and Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech. Bray leads his team up against one of the nation's toughest schedules starting the season against N.C. State, and then having a stretch where they play at Georgia, at Mississippi State, Alabama and at South Carolina. With a TD/INT ratio below 2.0, he has to work on limiting his turnovers. Both Bray and Thomas will need to record double digit victories, along with both improving a sub 60% completion rate to be considered a first round draft prospect.
|Sr.||Robbie Rouse||Fresno St||5-07||190||616||3157||5.13||25||47||359||7.64||3|
|Sr.||Christine Michael||Texas A&M||5-11||213||441||2374||5.38||22||36||275||7.64||1|
|Jr.||Le Veon Bell||Michigan St.||6-2||237||289||1553||5.37||21||46||364||7.91||0|
|Jr.||Joseph Randle||Okla. St||6-1||191||290||1668||5.75||26||80||693||8.66||3|
|Jr.||Marcus Lattimore||South Carolina||6-1||232||412||2015||4.89||27||48||594||12.38||3|
Running Backs: This is probably one of the fastest stable of running backs in a long time that will be coming out in next Aprils NFL draft. The group is led by Monte Ball, the All-American from Wisconsin who has racked up 49 career rushing TDs. Kenjon Barner of Oregon will need to step up and replace the production of LaMichael James to show scouts that he can be an every down back in the NFL. When the season ends he should have over 250 carries. The junior group has an impressive list of backs with Knile Davis and Marcus Lattimore leading the way. Both players show elite status with their size and speed, the only issue with both players is their health. If both players can stay healthy and stay productive, both should be first round selections come next April.
|Grade||WR/Player||School||HT||WT||GM||Rec. High||Rec.||Rec. Yards||YPC||Rec. TD|
|Sr.||Quinton Patton||La. Tech||6-2||195||13||79||79||1202||15.22||11|
|Sr.||Marcus Davis||Virginia Tech||6 4||232||40||30||54||875||16.20||8|
|Sr.||Tavon Austin||West Virginia||5-9||171||39||101||174||2124||12.21||17|
|Jr.||Nick Harwell||Miami (OH)||6-1||195||25||97||161||2296||14.26||15|
|Jr.||Josh Boyce||TCU||6 0||203||27||61||95||1644||17.31||15|
|Jr.||Marquess Wilson||Washington St.||6-4||190||24||82||137||2394||17.47||18|
Wide Receivers: It is hard to find the next physically dominating wide receiver in this group in the mold of a Calvin Johnson but that does not mean there isn't a number one receiver amongst them. Terrance Williams from Baylor should step in and take over for former first round pick Kendall Wright. Tavon Austin from West Virginia is another quick twitch slot receiver, who is Geno Smith's number one target. He reminds me of current Colts rookie slot receiver T.Y. Hilton. The junior class is ledby Keenan Allen, a physical receiver, who uses his body to shield defenders and is not afraid to go across the middle to make the tough catches. Robert Woods will probably receive the most attention of anyone in this class, he is an unstoppable force on the outside who has built great chemistry with Matt Barkley. Woods could vault himself into a top-10 selection should he achieve over 100 receptions and 15 TDs this season. Jared Abbrederis from Wisconsin is a player I thoroughly enjoy watching. He tends to make the big catches on third down, and always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. He is a play maker on special teams and will be looked upon heavily as Wisconsin breaks in a new quarterback.
|LT||Jr.||Luke Joeckel||Texas A&M||6-6||310||26|
|RT||Jr.||Jake Matthews||Texas A&M||6-5||305||19|
Offensive Line: The offensive line group is probably the deepest of any position group for next April's NFL Draft. There are five likely first round selections just from the tackle group alone. Texas A&M bookends Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews are poised for another great year; both have typical l size and good athletic ability. They will be tested when they go up against Alabama on Nov. 10. A big shock to most college football fans, Wisconsin has another NFL caliber lineman in Ricky Wagner. He has the frame and athletic ability to anchor an NFL line, look for him to improve on his run blocking abilities this season.
The Guard category is led by Chance Warmack of Alabama, and Larry Warford of Kentucky. Warford, is as physically imposing a lineman as they come, he can really move a pile and is capable of shutting down the dominating interior lineman. He was responsible for giving up only one sack all of last year.
Barrett Jones of Alabama, last season's Outland Trophy winner switches from left tackle to the center this season. He is a smart, versatile lineman who can play all across the line. He should be taken in the first round come next April.
|Year||TE/Player||School||HT||WT||GM||Rec. High||Rec.||Yards||YPC||Rec. TD|
|Jr.||Tyler Eifert||Notre Dame||6-6||249||25||69||90||1155||12.83||7|
Tight End: Notre Dame is going to be known as Tight End U, with their ability to produce NFL caliber tight ends such as Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, and soon Tyler Eifert. At 6'6" and 250 lbs, he has great size, soft hands, which are evident by his 90 career receptions and over 1100 receiving yards. Chris Gragg should put up some impressive numbers as the former WR looks to be one of the main targets of Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson. Keep an eye on Joseph Fauria from UCLA, he stands 6'7" and shows a good amount of athletic ability. He probably won't put up impressive numbers this year because UCLA will be starting a redshirt freshman at QB, but in the red zone and on short yardage situations he should have a few opportunities to show his strength. There are a number of NFL teams that would love to have a man of his size as a weapon to use in the red zone.
|Sr.||John Simon||Ohio St.||DE||6-2||263||38||7||12||31||1|
|Sr.||Gerald Hodges||Penn St.||OLB||6-2||237||21||4.5||4.5||12.5||2|
|Sr.||Travis Johnson||San Jose St||DE||6-3||244||37||9.5||19||27.5||0|
|Sr.||Sean Porter||Texas A&M||OLB||6-2||230||39||9.5||11||28||1|
|Jr.||William Gholston||Michigan St.||DE||6-6||278||23||5||5.5||17||1|
Pass Rushers: There are a number of pass rushers who are primed to take the next step towards being a dominant force on defense. Chase Thomas from Stanford is downright dominating and should be a top-10 selection next April. He already has hit the benchmarks you want to see from a pass rusher, with 23 career sacks and 46 TFL. When it is all said and done, he should have career numbers that mirror the former Aggie Von Miller. Brandon Jenkins from Florida State, reminds me of a young Peter Boulware, with his size and speed he should end his career with over 35 career sacks and 50 career TFL. The junior class is led by Jarvis Jones, the OLB from Georgia, who came on strong last season with 13.5 sacks. Jackson Jeffcoat from Texas and William Gholston have shown glimpses of talent but they need to be more consistent. Lastly, if you find yourself watching a Fresno State game, don't walk away when the opposing team sends its placekicker into the game. Magnus Hunt, the 6'8" DE, has 14 career blocks on his resume. He might not be taken in the first round come next April, but a smart team like New England could find a way to use him on special teams. (Team stats allowed are for rushing only.)
|Sr.||Jordan Hill||Penn St.||6-1||297||34||71||35||11||5||1||1733||133.31||13|
|Jr.||Jonathan Hankins||Ohio St.||6-3||320||26||83||35||16||4||0||1840||141.54||13|
Defensive Tackles: The star of the group (pun intended) is none other than Star Lotulelei. With a massive frame, he shows his true value by leading a Utah defensive front that gave up only 113.5 yards per game and eight touchdowns last season. Using the DT study as a barometer, we can see that players such as Jordan Hill from Penn State, and Kawann Short from Purdue fall short of the desired production one would like to see from a dominant defensive tackle. Everett Dawkins from Florida State and Sylvester Williams from UNC are two young players that have shown the ability to become a force in stopping the opponents running game.
|Sr.||Arthur Brown||Kansas St.||ILB||6-1||223||37||118||10||2||2||1||0||2|
|Sr.||Manti Te o||Notre Dame||ILB||6-2||255||38||324||28.5||5||7||0||2||6|
|Jr.||Andrew Jackson||Western Kentucky||ILB||6-1||265||13||75||17||3.5||3.5||0||1||1|
Inside Linebacker: The cream of the crop for this group is Manti Te'o from Notre Dame. As a three-year starter, Te'o has amassed 324 career tackles and 28.5 TFL. He has been the leader of the defense from his first days on campus and NFL scouts love his attention to detail and leadership qualities. Kevin Reddick from UNC and Shayne Skov from Stanford should show an increase in production from the previous years and could vault themselves into round two of next year's NFL Draft. In the junior class, Alec Olgetree is a physical specimen. Unfortunately, he got himself into trouble this offseason and is suspended for the first few games of the year. If he keeps his head on straight and does what he is told, he could impress scouts and front offices with his new found maturity to go along with an already impressive skill set as an inside linebacker. Chris Borland is going to be one of those players that when you look at the stat sheet you will see he has 10 career forced fumbles to go along with 8.5 career sacks, but teams and scouts will mark him down for being under the 6'0" mark.
|DB||Sr.||Jonathan Banks||Miss. St||6-2||185||32||12||16||131||9.5||10.6|
|Sr.||Xavier Rhodes||Florida St||6-1||215||29||5||16||101||5||0|
|Jr.||David Amerson||N.C. St||6-2||194||26||13||5||109||1.5||0|
Defensive Backfield: This group has some true ball hawks. Leading the way is junior defensive back David Amerson from N.C. State. He has 13 career INT's in only 26 games, an INT average of .5 picks per game. Amerson, equipped with a physical frame of 6'2", will need to work on his press coverage abilities this year. Jonathan Banks from Mississippi St. is another shutdown corner who already has 12 career INTs to go along with a punt return average of roughly 10 yards. Xavier Rhodes saw his numbers drop last season due to teams avoiding him. Track his average yards per receptions given up this year to measure his true worth.
The safety group is led by Kenny Vaccaro from Texas, he shows good sideline-to-sideline speed with 16 career Pass Deflections and 12 career TFL. T.J. McDonald is the perfect chess piece for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's defense at USC. At 6'3", he is a physical force in the mold of last year's top safety Mark Barron. Eric Reid from LSU will have a lot on his plate this season. He will miss Morris Claiborne who went to the NFL and Tyrann Mathieu who has been kicked off the team. Reid has 4 career INTs, but will need to show scouts he can lead a defensive back field and take control of a young secondary.