2013 NFL Draft Position Rankings: Offense
Less than a month remains until the 2013 NFL Draft begins in New York City and Pro Days are wrapping up. Which prospects have weathered the scouting storm to rise above their fellow draft classmates?
The updated look at the top five prospects at each offensive position are broken down below.
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. Matt Barkley, USC
3. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
4. E.J. Manuel, Florida State
5. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
I’ve moved Manuel and Wilson into the top five here, swapping out Tyler Bray and Mike Glennon to make room. The honest truth: This position could not be more up in the air, and that holds true right up to the top. Geno Smith is, in my opinion, the best QB in this group and has a terrific upside. But any of the others mentioned here could wind up leapfrogging him come the draft, if a team decides he’s not a great fit for its scheme.
Rising: Matt Scott, Arizona.
Scott’s versatility continues to intrigue more and more teams — legendary NFL Films guru Greg Cosell compared Scott’s game to that of Colin Kaepernick. Teams looking to spread the field could take advantage of Scott’s experience in Rich Rodriguez’s offense at Arizona.
Falling: Tyler Bray, Tennessee.
Again, who really knows with this QB class. Bray will draw plenty of interest, with the key being that he land on a team capable of giving him a couple years to develop. Still, I’d take at least six or seven other QBs before him.
1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama
2. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
3. Andre Ellington, Clemson
4. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
5. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
This is the same top five that was here coming out of the combine, and I think it’s almost a foregone conclusion at this point that Lacy is the first back off the board. Ellington may wind up making more highlight-reel plays than anyone else in the group, while Taylor’s solid all-around game should earn him playing time pretty quickly.
Rising: Onterio McCalebb, Auburn.
At 5-foot-10 and less than 170 pounds, McCalebb will have to prove he can withstand the punishment NFL defenders will inflict. But he’s an absolute burner, with the ability to play a versatile role — so much so, in fact, that teams reportedly have inquired if he’d be open to a move to cornerback.
Falling: Ray Graham, Pittsburgh.
This relates back to the combine more than Graham’s recent Pro Day. Unfortunately for him, he just has not been the same player since blowing out his knee while with Pitt. A slow 40 at the combine (4.8) definitely did not help, even if he improved on that time recently.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
2. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
3. Keenan Allen, California
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
5. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Due to a lingering knee injury, Allen has had to delay his pre-draft workouts until an April 9 Pro Day. A shaky performance there could drop him down a few more notches — he flip-flopped with Austin here. When all’s said and done, Austin could wind up the top receiver picked, and both he and Patterson may be top-10 selections.
Rising: Justin Hunter, Tennessee
The door is pretty open at receiver after the Patterson-Austin combo, and Hunter has to have some teams dreaming big. He’s 6-foot-4 and ran two sub-4.5 40s at the combine. The big question here stems from a knee injury he suffered in 2011.
Falling: Josh Boyce, TCU.
Boyce had surgery on a broken toe earlier this month, a move that could keep him out of full offseason workouts until late May or June. That’s not hugely damaging to his potential, but it does put another obstacle in front of a mid-round prospect.
1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
2. Zach Ertz, Stanford
3. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
4. Vance McDonald, Rice
5. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
The gap between the top two — Eifert and Ertz — and the remainder of the class is not nearly as wide as people might think. All five of the tight ends listed above could step in and produce next year, as could several others not included, like Florida’s Jordan Reed or Michigan State’s Dion Sims.
Rising: Vance McDonald.
McDonald enjoyed a really solid combine last month, and that’s on top of a growing buzz he carried. The 6-foot-4 McDonald brings a lot of similar characteristics to the table that Eifert does, including the ability to dive inside and block or split wide as a receiving threat.
Falling: Travis Kelce.
Kelce is another of the potentially dangerous incoming rookie tight ends. Unlike some of the others in this group, though, there are character red flags. That’s nothing new, but those little things could make the difference come the draft.
1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama
5. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
The lone adjustment here is the inclusion of Dallas Thomas, with Menelik Watson dropping. Watson still should hear his name called relatively early (possibly even in Round 1), but Thomas’ ability to play both guard and tackle make him a lot safer than Watson right this moment.
Rising: David Bakhtiari, Colorado.
Bakhtiari played tackle in college, some teams have contemplated moving him to center and he may wind up at guard. You could view that uncertainty as a negative — there’s no clear position where Bakhtiari might best fit. I’d rather take it as a positive, in that Bakhtiari presents as a hard-nosed guy with the ability to slide all over the line.
Falling: Jordan Mills, Louisiana Tech.
Mills had a strong Senior Bowl week, putting himself in the Day 2 (Rounds 2 and 3) conversation. There’s been a noticeable lack of chatter surrounding the Louisiana Tech product since then, however, and it would not be a shock to see him slide into Round 4 or 5.
1. Chance Warmack, Alabama
2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
3. Larry Warford, Kentucky
4. Kyle Long, Oregon
5. Brian Winters, Kent State
Winters was listed as “Falling” out of the combine after an injury hindered his workout. He came back with a nice showing at his Pro Day and it would be a surprise if he’s still around in Round 3. There could be a first-round run on interior lineman, touched off by Warmack’s selection.
Rising: Justin Pugh, Syracuse.
Pugh certainly deserves a mention somewhere, and there is justification in his game tapes to move him above Long and/or Winters here. The Syracuse product also could be included on the tackle board — that’s where he played at Syracuse and may be where he winds up in the NFL. He measured in with short arms at the combine, a factor that may lead to him shifting inside at the next level.
Falling: Barrett Jones, Alabama.
It sort of depends who you ask on Jones. Some like his toughness and the fact that he can pitch in just about anywhere on the line. Others feel that his clear physical limitations will haunt him much more in the NFL than they did on a loaded Alabama line. As more opinions trend toward the latter, a one-time first-round pick prospect appears to be on his way to Round 2 or lower.