NFL Football Column: NFL Draft Preview
Mayock's Top-Five Rankings
Late Friday, NFL Network's Mike Mayock released his top-five rankings at each position for the 2013 draft. We at Rotoworld are longtime admirers of Mayock for his football smarts, league connections, and on-air analysis. To put these top fives into some context, bang it here for a link to Mayock's preliminary rankings from last year. Considering they came out in late January, his projections were awfully impressive.
And now onto Mayock's 2013 ranks.
(* = underclassman.)
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. Matt Barkley, USC
3. Mike Glennon, NC State
4. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
5. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Notes: Everyone ranks this year's quarterback class differently. Mayock likes Geno the best, but allows Smith would make him "nervous" as a first-round pick. ESPN's Mel Kiper has Barkley first. Rotoworld draft guru Josh Norris places Arkansas' Tyler Wilson atop the quarterback group, and Wilson didn't even make Mayock's top five. Russ Lande of National Football Post grades Nassib as this year's top signal caller. In a great departure from last year, there are no clear-cut quarterback studs in this draft. In addition to Wilson, E.J. Manuel (Florida State), Zac Dysert (Miami of Ohio), and Tyler Bray (Tennessee) failed to crack Mayock's top-five passers.
1. Eddie Lacy*, Alabama
2. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
3. Andre Ellington, Clemson
4. Giovani Bernard*, North Carolina
5. Marcus Lattimore*, South Carolina
Notes: Lacy is a versatile, pro-ready back who wins in the open field with both power and elusiveness. He'll be a fantasy football star. There's a bit of a drop off after him. Ball was insanely productive in the Big Ten, but lacks special qualities and may need to land in a zone scheme to pan out as a starter. Ellington and Bernard can add juice to NFL offenses, but neither projects as a workhorse. Lattimore looked like a top-ten pick as a freshman and sophomore before a 2011 left ACL tear robbed him of his explosiveness. Lattimore suffered another devastating knee injury late last October, tearing his right ACL, LCL, and PCL, and dislocating his kneecap. Will he ever be the same? Mayock left Joseph Randle (Oklahoma State), Mike Gillislee (Florida), Stepfan Taylor (Stanford), Jawan Jamison (Rutgers), and Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State) out of his top-five backs. Behind Lacy, the 2013 running back class appears to offer depth but limited star power.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson*, Tennessee
2. Keenan Allen*, California
3. Terrance Williams, Baylor
4. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
5. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Notes: The receiver class is exceptionally deep. So good players are inevitably going to be left out when Mayock only ranks five guys at each position. Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins was the most notable snub and is a legitimate first-round possibility. Tennessee Tech's Da'Rick Rogers oozes talent but has off-field concerns. Justin Hunter (Tennessee), Stedman Bailey (West Virginia), Markus Wheaton (Oregon State), and Robert Woods (USC) also didn't make Mayock's cut. It's worth noting that Mayock said his "jaw dropped" when recently watching Patterson's game tape. Allen is a possession/run-after-catch threat ala Miles Austin. Williams is a vertical flier. Austin is a human joystick in the slot. Patton has generated comparisons to Reggie Wayne.
1. Tyler Eifert*, Notre Dame
2. Zach Ertz*, Stanford
3. Gavin Escobar*, San Diego State
4. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
5. Jordan Reed*, Florida
Notes: Most people are talking about this year's offensive and defensive linemen. Tight end is quietly one of the draft's better positions. Eifert and Ertz are both possible first-round picks. Escobar, Kelce, and Reed will likely all be gone on day two. And Mayock didn't even include Rice's Vance McDonald, who is a Jason Witten clone. Ertz's Stanford teammate, Levine Toilolo, is a mammoth man at 6-foot-8, 265, and should be an immediate impact blocker in the run game.
1. Luke Joeckel*, Texas A&M
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
4. D.J. Fluker*, Alabama
5 (tie). Justin Pugh, Syracuse
Menelik Watson*, Florida State
Notes: Tackle-needy teams are in luck this year. Joeckel, Fisher, and Johnson top off an outstanding class and all project as decade starters at left tackle. The 2010 draft was a bit like this with Trent Williams, Russell Okung, and Anthony Davis all going in the top-11 picks. Fluker, a monster right tackle-only prospect at 6-foot-6 and 335-plus, has drawn comparisons to Phil Loadholt and Flozell Adams. Pugh's short arms (31 1/2 inches) will probably force him inside to guard, but he could be a rock-solid starter there. Watson is a candidate to blow up this week's Scouting Combine. At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds with long arms, Watson played soccer in England and basketball at Marist University before serving as Florida State's starting right tackle in 2012.
1. Travis Frederick*, Wisconsin
2. Brian Schwenke, California
3. Barrett Jones, Alabama
4. Khaled Holmes, USC
5. Braxston Cave, Notre Dame
Notes: Centers need to be special for day-one or early day-two draft discussion. Frederick may qualify. One anonymous general manager told NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline that Frederick might be the best interior run blocker the draft has "witnessed in more than a half-decade." Jones, Schwenke, and Holmes all played in pro-style offenses and are potential NFL starters. Cave played poorly both in the BCS title game and at the Senior Bowl. He looks like a late-round pick.
1. Chance Warmack, Alabama
2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
3. Larry Warford, Kentucky
4. Kyle Long, Oregon
5. Brian Winters, Kent State
Notes: Guard is loaded. Warmack is this year's consensus draft-eligible "football player," regardless of position. It's been over a decade since a guard went in the top ten -- Arizona took Leonard Davis second overall in 2001 -- so Warmack's draft slot isn't easily forecasted. Cooper is so effective on the move that zone-running teams may grade him higher than Warmack. Warford, at 6-foot-3, 333, is an old-school power blocker capable of manhandling opponents. Long is Howie's son. Winters, a left tackle in the MAC who will kick inside, is a brawler in the trenches.
1. Bjoern Werner*, Florida State
2. Damontre Moore*, Texas A&M
3. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
4. Sam Montgomery*, LSU
5 (tie). Datone Jones, UCLA
Margus Hunt, SMU
Notes: Mayock lists LSU's Barkevious Mingo at outside linebacker, ostensibly projecting a switch to rush 'backer in a 3-4. Mingo played strong-side end in LSU's 4-3. The first three ends in Mayock's ranks are impressive specimens. Werner played left end in the Seminoles' 4-3 defense and has drawn comparisons to Rams left end Chris Long. Moore's motor never stops running and he has experience both at 3-4 outside linebacker and 4-3 defensive end. Ansah is one of this year's most polarizing prospects. His game tape suggests he'd be a terrific fit in a Wide-9 scheme like the Lions or Rams'. Left out of Mayock's top-five defensive ends were Florida State's Tank Carradine, Texas' Alex Okafor, Auburn's Corey Lemonier, and Michigan State's William Gholston.
1. Sharrif Floyd*, Florida
2. Star Lotulelei, Utah
3. Sheldon Richardson*, Missouri
4. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
5 (tie). Johnathan Hankins*, Ohio State
Kawann Short, Purdue
Notes: Multiple Pro Bowlers will emerge from this year's defensive tackle group. Floyd, Lotulelei, and Richardson are all expected to be top-ten picks. Mayock turned a few heads by placing Lotulelei second at the position, but Florida's Floyd will rise in Indy. Richardson is a classic "three-technique" pass rusher. Mayock's D-Tackle snubs include Jesse Williams from Alabama, Missouri Southern's Brandon Williams, Georgia's Big John Jenkins, and Bennie Logan of LSU.
1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
2. Jarvis Jones*, Georgia
3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
4. Barkevious Mingo*, LSU
5. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Notes: As alluded to in the defensive end notes, Mingo is being considered by Mayock as a 3-4 outside 'backer. Mayock is tight with NFL personnel men and likely wouldn't have projected a position change without informed input. He also has Mingo pretty low relative to popular opinion, so it'll be interesting to hear Mayock discuss Mingo during NFL Network's Combine coverage. Jordan is an absolute freakazoid at 6-foot-7, 230 with explosive pass-rush ability, cover skills, and relentlessness in pursuit. Jordan covered slot receivers on passing downs at Oregon. Jones is an undersized pass rusher cut from the Bruce Irvin cloth. Greene and Brown are 4-3 linebackers.
1. Alec Ogletree*, Georgia
2. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
3. Kevin Minter*, LSU
4. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
5. Kiko Alonso, Oregon
Notes: The inside linebackers were looking good until January. Then Te'o laid a BCS Championship Game egg against Alabama, before word surfaced of his Catfishing by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Ogletree's DUI is just the latest in a string of off-field problems. He seems destined for the Cincinnati Bengals. Minter is the cleanest of the ILB group, and he quietly might be the best. He's a natural defensive leader, tackling with efficiency and holding his own versus the pass.
1. Dee Milliner*, Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes*, Florida State
3. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
4. Desmond Trufant, Washington
5. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
Notes: Some notable names didn't make the cut here: David Amerson (NC State), Tyrann Mathieu (LSU), Logan Ryan (Rutgers), Jamar Taylor (Boise State), and Tharold Simon (LSU). Milliner is considered a possibility for the draft's top-five selections because so many teams need cornerback help at the top. Rhodes, Banks, and Trufant are also all on the first-round radar. Poyer might not test the best, but he makes plays. Be sure to catch the final day of Combine testing on NFL Network. It's next Tuesday, and Deion Sanders joins the set as the defensive backs run and perform on-field drills. Love him or hate him, Deion is an informative and compelling color analyst.
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
2. Matt Elam*, Florida
3. Johnathan Cyprien, Florida International
4. Eric Reid*, LSU
5. Zeke Motta, Notre Dame
Notes: Look out for fast-riser Cyprien, who blew up the Senior Bowl and is beginning to show up in the first round of some mocks. Vaccaro is this year's consensus top safety. Elam is a big hitter with question marks about the rest of his game. Reid seemed to take a step back as a junior after flashing special tools as a sophomore. Mayock is familiar with all of the Notre Dame players because he calls Irish games for NBC. Expect Motta to eventually slide out of the top five, and potentially be replaced by South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger or Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson.
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