2013 NFL Draft - First Round Talents
Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o
Who are the top pro prospects going into the college football season?
2013 NFL Draft
1st Round Talents - 1-16
1. DT Star Lotulelei, Utah 6-4, 325
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Offense | 2013
Top Prospects: Defense
- 2013 Top Talents No. 17 to 32
And you thought the various uses of the last name of Lin was moronic, just wait until the football world gets a hold of the first name of the best defensive lineman in college football.
While a star has yet to be born – I'm getting on this bandwagon early – when it comes to being a dominant force in the backfield with just 1.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss last season, that was partly because he was double and triple-teamed on every play. Even with the light stats he was still voted the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 by the Pac-12 offensive linemen.
He has the athleticism and the size to work in any alignment and produce. Put him on the nose and he'll be fine, or stick him in as a 3-technique and he'll gum up the works. Dominant defensive tackles are worth their weight in gold making Lotulelei a shooting star up every draft board until next April.
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2. RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (Jr.) 6-0, 232
It's all about the knee. The banged up South Carolina star's tires are worn thin after taking a beating in his first few seasons, and he might have a very, very short shelf life, but he's a superior talent who can carry and offense by himself if and when everything is working. He has the size, the drive, and the workhorse ability. Now he just needs his health.
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3. QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas 6-3, 220
And with the eighth pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins wouldn't have selected Ryan Tannehill. What has gone completely and totally unnoticed in all the Bobby Petrino silliness is that Wilson appears ready to take his game to a whole other level. His numbers might dip a wee bit with Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, and Greg Childs off to the NFL, and with RB Knile Davis to hand off to again, but the NFL scouts will see through the numbers. A little bit taller than Matt Barkley, and a bit more careful with the ball than Landry Jones, watch for Wilson to climb to the top of the quarterback charts as the draft process goes on.
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4. WR Robert Woods, USC (Jr.) 6-1, 190
The only major question mark is his height. He has the hands, the route running ability, and the speed, but he's not quite built like an NFL No. 1 wide receiver. It'll all come down to the 40 time when it comes to his draft stock, but if teams are going solely by what's on the tape, he's ready to start in someone's receiving corps right now.
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5. DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State 6-3, 260
Jenkins came into the 2011 season with plenty of preseason hype, and he didn't disappoint with a team-leading eight sacks with 12 tackles for loss. The chance was there to turn pro early after turning up his game a few notches over the second half of the season, but he chose to spend one more year developing and now the buzz will continue to grow louder and louder if he can become a double-digit sack artist.
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6. QB Matt Barkley, USC 6-2, 230
"Bark" peaked too early in the draft process. Every NFL team will love his personality, his attitude, and his drive; like Andrew Luck and RGIII, Barkley is exactly the type of guy every GM wants to be the face of a franchise. And now comes the inevitable tear-down time as scouts spend the next 12 months poking holes in his game. They tried that with Luck and could only come up with an average arm – until he uncorked a few 70-yarders on his pro day. With Barkley though, the arm strength question is legitimate with a good gun, not a great one. The biggest concern will be his height. Listed at 6-2, that's really, really generous, and in a day and age when NFL teams want 6-3 or bigger out of their franchise quarterbacks, size does matter.
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7. S Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami 6-4, 220
Welcome to the next great NFL defensive back from Miami. Out of all the Hurricane underclassmen who decided to leave early for the 2012 NFL draft, Armstrong is the one who should've actually made the move. Forget about any character issues after being suspended last year – he had a dinner with a "public relations" firm. It's not a big deal. At his size and with his range and skills, everything is in place to be a dominant force as the leader in someone's secondary.
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8. LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame 6-2, 255
No high school player is ready for the NFL right out of high school. Manti Te'o was ready for the NFL right out of high school. A mid-first round pick had he come out this year, he might not be the fastest defender and he still needs to work on fighting through the trash to make big plays happen, but he has the bulk and the instincts to be a superstar in the middle of a 4-3 defense.
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9. QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma 6-4, 220
Interceptions, interceptions, interceptions. When Jones first started his career he wasn't given enough credit for stepping into a tough situation after Sam Bradford went down. Now he's being hailed a bit too much love as a sure-thing NFL talent because of his prototype size and great arm. However, with 41 interceptions in three years and an inconsistent run after Ryan Broyles went down, there are question marks and concerns about whether or not he has "it" when it comes to the next level. The tools are there and he has always had the talent around him, but now he has to show he can put it all together and not just be a yardage machine in a quarterback-friendly attack.
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10. OG Travis Frederick, Wisconsin (Jr.) 6-4, 328
Guards just aren't sexy. David DeCastro might have been the safest prospect in the 2012 draft and he slid down to Pittsburgh late in the first round. Frederick is the next great, sure-thing guard with outstanding size and enough athleticism to work in any system. Able to kick inside to center if needed or even be tried out at right tackle, he'll make his money as a mainstay on the left side for a decade.
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11. OG/OT/C Barrett Jones, Alabama 6-5, 302
Jones won't be a top ten pick considering he's probably not going to be a tackle, but he has the rock-solid tools to be a fixture on a line at a high level for the next decade. But where is he going to play? The Outland Trophy-winning tackle will probably make his next-level money at guard if he doesn't turn into a pure center, but someone will want to give him a shot at tackle. It's his versatility, and the lack of a sure starting spot, that'll be both a blessing and a curse in the draft process.
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12. DT Kawann Short, Purdue 6-3, 310
Short both looks the part and has the NFL tools of a 3-4 end or a 4-3 tackle, but can he jack up the motor for a full sixty minutes? A possible second or even third-round pick had he entered the draft a year early, he needed another season to boost up his stock. It didn't help that the 2011 class was loaded with defensive tackle talent, but Short could quickly rise up if he can be a bit more consistent and a bit nastier against the run.
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13. LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia 6-3, 241
Fast, productive 240-pound pass rushers tend to make lots and lots of money at the next level. A poor man's Von Miller, Jones turned in a dominant season after transferring from USC with 13.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, and 70 tackles. On a loaded defense with great help around him, he'll be turned loose and should come up with an even stronger senior season. However, he'll have to be checked out closely by the medical staffs after suffering a neck injury as a Trojan.
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14. DE Alex Okafor, Texas 6-5, 260
Okafor could be the best pure defensive end in the 2013 draft. He has the right attitude, the right smarts, the right drive, and terrific pass rushing skills making seven sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and 58 tackles on the season. Not just a pass rusher, he's strong and stout against the run, too.
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15. S Eric Reid, LSU (Jr.) 6-2, 208
Don't get caught up in the Tyrann Mathieu hype. The Honey Badger isn't the pro prospect that Reid is. Somewhat lost in the shuffle over the last few years with so many great stars in the Tiger defensive backfield, this is the year he'll get his due recognition. A peerless open field tackler, he's as rock-steady as they come. He might not make Mathieu-like highlight plays, but he makes the routine ones over and over again.
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16. S T.J. McDonald, USC 6-3, 205
A walking NFL fine – in a good way - McDonald is a kill-shot artist who blows up receivers and punishes ball-carriers with an intimidating style that will make him an instant fan favorite. Arguably the most physical safety in the nation, he's a big, fast intimidating force who could've made a ton of money had he left a year early – the 2011 draft class of safeties was sad and miserable – and now he should spend the year watching his reputation and hype grow on the resurgent Trojans.
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- 2013 Top Talents No. 17 to 32