1. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
He is easily the most pro-ready passer in the draft. Has a strong arm with great accuracy and pocket presence. Wilson is overlooked because of the other, higher profile teams in the SEC battling for BCS titles but he could easily be the best player in the upcoming draft. The only doubt about him is that he played in Bobby Petrino’s spread offense, not the typical pro-style attack, so it could hinder his development once he reaches the NFL and impact his draft stock as well.
2. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Weighing in at 6’4” and 325 pounds it is a no-brainer that he can be a dominant defensive force at the next level. He uses size, speed and power to dominate the opponent’s rushing game. An area that needs some work is his pass rush. If he gets that perfected he could be an elite defensive player in the NFL before he retires.
3. Keenan Allen, WR, California
The best all-around receiver on this list, Allen is a superb route runner, and has elite burst and acceleration. He is very versatile and can play in any scheme and still be successful. He can catch inside routes as well as deep balls and is not scared to use his 6’2” 215 pound body to block for his running backs. His upside is tremendous.
4. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Mingo is a pure pass rusher. He has tremendous feet and is extremely explosive off the snap, but all he can do is rush the passer. He is below average at run defense, which he will need to work on once he gets to the NFL, but he has raw ability when it comes to getting after the quarterback. At 6’5” 240 pounds, he is a menace on third and long. Luckily for him, pass rushers are coveted and their NFL draft stock tends to jump.
5. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
As an outside linebacker Jones has all the football ability to be the next great thing. However, he is undersized for his position and NFL teams might look into his neck injury in 2009 that preceded his transfer from USC to Georgia. Aside from that he has elite pass rush ability and an extremely explosive first step.
6. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Coming off an ACL injury in 2011, the nation is excited to see Hunter perform again in the defensively dominant SEC. He has extremely rare speed for a 6’4” receiver, clocking in the 4.4s for the 40-yard dash. He has incredible potential at the next level if he is put in the right system.
7. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Many people believe he will be the number one pick in this year’s draft, including Mel Kiper Jr. who has stuck with that opinion since April 2009 when Barkley left Mater Dei early to take part in Spring practices with the Trojans. However, if you evaluate him on his attributes rather than hype it should be Tyler Wilson instead of Barkley being the first quarterback being taken. Barkley is undersized and does not have great arm strength. He cannot make all the throws needed to be an elite quarterback at the next level. He is intelligent and has played in a pro style offense for four years at USC, but he does not have the proper physical tools to be an elite quarterback at the next level. I’m not saying he won’t be successful, but he will never be elite.
8. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Fluker is not the most popular lineman on the Alabama team this year, that would be Barrett Jones, but his pure ability makes him the better pro prospect. He has excellent feet and is great at pass blocking. If he puts some time into developing his run blocking he could be a top 10 pick in 2013.
9. Eric Reid, FS, LSU
At 6’2” and 208 pounds, Reid is not a monster force in the run game, but has superb ball hawking instincts. His coverage skills and open field tackling are the best for any safety in this class. He is not a freak athlete, but he draws comparisons to Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs.
10. David Amerson, CB, N.C. State
Amerson, who amassed 13 interceptions in 2011 alone, will be a hot pick if he has even half the season he had last year. Playing at N.C. State his accomplishments were downplayed due to the weakness of their schedule, but 13 interceptions is not something many people can do in one collegiate career, let alone one season. Amerson is 6’3”, which is tall for a corner in the NFL, so he could be moved to safety, but his size will help him when matched up with bigger NFL receivers.
11. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Before tearing his ACL in 2011, he was considered one of the best running backs in college football. He started as a freshman and led the team in rushing. He has a unique blend of power, size and acceleration that make him unpredictable once he gets into the second level of the defense. If he can return healthy and have the same production he did prior to his injury he will be the top running back chosen in 2013.
12. Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford
Playing with Andrew Luck at Stanford definitely helped, but Toilolo has something that can’t be taught in any sport – size. At 6’8” and 265 pounds he is a mismatch even at the pro level. He is not a superb athlete but he runs crisp routes and is very intelligent, which gives him a shot to be the top tight end of this class if he declares.
13. Robert Woods, WR, USC
Woods elevated Matt Barkley to another level. Before Woods’ breakout freshman season two years ago Barkley was doing just a mediocre job at quarterback for USC. Woods is one of the most reliable receivers in college and runs excellent routes, doing an excellent job of creating separation. He is only 6’1” and 180 pounds so if he is to be successful as a pro he needs to get bigger. His size will impact his draft stock and maybe even slide him into the second round on the big boards of some NFL teams.
14. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
Many people compare Thomas to previous first overall pick Cam Newton. He is not the same athlete that Cam is, but has a lot of the same traits. At 6’6” 262 pounds he cannot be arm tackled. Thomas has a cannon for an arm and arguably the biggest arm in this upcoming draft. Even at his size, he can evade pressure and run downfield like a running back. Thomas has a big upside and is one of the best all around players in the draft. The only problem is he plays in the less competitive ACC so the level of competition will be questioned.
15. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Jordan is not the best player on the Ducks team, however he has the best pro potential. At 6’7” the former tight end he has the perfect build for an NFL defensive end. If he gained 20 to 30 more pounds he could be a very effective every down defensive end. He is great at rushing the passer and using his length. He could use some work on his run defense as he continues to learn the position.
16. Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Hunt is from Estaonia, where he was a shot put and discus star. In 2006 he won both events at the World Championships, the first male to ever achieve this double, and set a record for the discus throwing over 220 feet. He is menacing, standing 6’8” and 275 pounds, yet still running a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash. Margus Hunt is pure, raw talent that if coached right, could be a very dominant defensive lineman in the NFL. He is also used on special teams where he effectively blocks kicks.
17. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
If Bray comes out of Tennessee early, which many think he will, he brings a lot of positives for NFL scouts to consider. He has a cannon for an arm, and pocket presence similar to Tom Brady. As most great quarterbacks do, he makes his team better. He could use some work on his perimeter accuracy, and could bulk up his 210-pound frame, but the sky is the limit for the junior.
18. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Before a torn ACL sidelined Easley in 2011, he was the most dominant defensive tackle in the SEC, a conference stacked at the position. Like Ndamukong Suh, he is a game-changer in the middle of the defensive line. One word that describes his play is explosive, which is the case with only elite players at the position. If he can recover and produce like he did before his injury his draft stock should rise considerably.
19. Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
At 6’4” and 245 pounds, Montgomery is undersized for DE in the NFL and could find himself at outside linebacker. In college he makes up for lack of size with an explosive first step and devastating pass rush moves. For many people that are drafted at his size the goal is to get bigger, however I believe he lacks the proper frame to bulk up. He is an average run stopper, but his pass rush ability makes up for that.
20. Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Hankins is the ideal nose tackle for the NFL level. He brings 325 pounds of shear run stopping ability, which is a great tool to have on a defense. He can take on double teams in the passing game, opening up gaps in protection to blitz linebackers,. He is also explosive for his size. On the down side he is not a superb athlete and has a limited motor. In the NFL he will need to be supported in a rotation to keep him fresh for the entire game.
21. Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
Davis is a force. The 6’1” 225 pounder can run between the tackles just as well as he can get to the edge. He doesn’t possess breakaway speed, but is very explosive when hitting the hole. He has excellent hands out of the backfield as a receiver, which gives him a whole new dimension to have to game plan against. The only reason he slid so far down the list is due to ankle problems he has had the past couple of years.
22. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Te’o is the perfect inside linebacker for a 3-4 defense. He cannot play efficiently in a 4-3 because he is not a sideline-to-sideline player. He cannot cover a running back out of the backfield as well as most linebackers in the NFL, but he can shed blocks and finish tackles better than most playing his position. He is a tackling machine, and is extremely nasty and physical. He is not a very good pass rusher, or athlete, but is a very disciplined football player. Ultimately, Te’o is one of the safest picks in the 2013 draft.
23. Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
At 6’7” Taylor is a tower. For his size he is a freakish athlete. The way he can move his huge body and get off of blocks is extraordinary. He can stop the run effectively, but not every time, just when he mentally feels he can. He can get after the quarterback just as well if not better than anyone in the draft and has a tremendous upside.
24. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Usually defensive ends that are in the draft buzz are huge impact players in college. Okafor is not an impact player, but he is the most well rounded defensive end in this class. Being a great run stopping end is one thing, but he combines his run stopping ability to a pretty decent pass-rushing repertoire that makes him a safe bet.