The 2013 NFL Draft is an enigma wrapped in an abnormality. There might not be the sheer gluttony of future game-breakers like the 2011 class or the star-studded quarterback class of 2012, but what this class does have is depth, and lots of it.
Mike Mayock recently said that there wasn’t much difference between the 5th pick and the 25th pick and, while I agree with that to an extent, I think what’s really remarkable about 2013 is that there are quality starters to be had all the way through the third and fourth rounds. Offensive and defensive lines have as beefy of a class as I can remember. Wide receivers, though lacking in blue chippers like Julio Jones or A.J. Green, have a plethora of highly talented prospects of every shape and size. Pass rusher is relatively deep this year and is headlined by the potentially game-changing Dion Jordan at outside linebacker, to go along with a quartet of talented 4-3 ends in Ezekiel Ansah, Alex Okafor, Bjoern Werner, and Sam Montgomery. Quarterback falls off sharply after the first two names, but running back is the gift that keeps on giving. Big backs, little backs, bruisers, and receivers--you name it, this class has it.
Here is my very first big board of the 2013 offseason. The Combine’s athletic drills start in mere hours, so I expect these names to be rearranged quite a bit by the end of Tuesday.
1. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama - Last year David Decastro was hailed as "the best guard since Steve Hutchinson." Chance Warmack is even better. Guards rarely, if ever, go in the top 10, but whichever team is lucky enough to pick up this beast will get an instant Pro Bowler.
2. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M - I don’t think Joeckel is quite as good as recent top-ranked tackles Matt Kalil, Joe Thomas, or Jake Long, but he’s close. This three-year starter at A&M has all the measurables you look for to go along with sound technique and a spotless record.
3. Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon - Big, long, strong, and fast. Jordan’s ceiling is higher than any other prospect in this class by far. I pray he stays far, far away from Jacksonville.
4. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan - Fisher is Joeckel’s main challenger for the top tackle spot. He anchors incredibly well against big bull rushers and has the size, length, and athleticism to contend with speed rushers on the edge. He will be a franchise left tackle for a decade.
5. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah - This year’s best Haloti Ngata impersonator is the physically gifted defender out of Utah. Sturdy enough to two-gap as a 3-4 end and quick enough to play undertackle in a 4-3, Lotulelei should be coveted by virtually every team in the league.
6. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri - Quite possibly the best interior rusher in this class, Richardson defines relentlessness. He's quick off the snap and has excellent hands. Richardson could be the second coming of Geno Atkins.
7. Matt Barkley, USC - Barkley might not be physically gifted like Cam Newton or Robert Griffin III, but his football IQ, pocket presence, and intangibles are through the roof. As a pure pocket passer, he could be just as good as recent first overall picks Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford.
8. Johnathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina - While not as talented overall as his transcendent Alabama counterpart, Cooper has excellent movement skills and is the best interior pass protector in this class.
9. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU - Ansah is already a terrifying run defender on the edge. If he improves his pass rushing technique, he could be the next raw athlete to turn into an absolute monster.
10. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida - There might not be a more violent interior defender in college football than Floyd, but he visibly slows down as the game goes on. If he improves his stamina and keeps his high level of play going throughout an entire game, I see a lot of Pro Bowls in his future.
11. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama - Milliner best compares to pre-Philadelphia Nnamdi Asomougha. He’s a long, lean athlete who thrives in press man coverage, but I question his ability to handle smaller, quicker outside receivers like T.Y. Hilton and Steve Smith.
12. Geno Smith, QB, WVU - He has a bigger arm than Barkley to go along with sound footwork and accuracy, but I want to see how he can handle taking a snap under center and running a pro-style offense before I put him up with his USC contemporary.
13. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia - Spinal concerns be damned, this guy can play. With an explosive first step, excellent speed, and great strength, he can step in as a 3-4 rush linebacker immediately and contribute.
14. Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma - More athletically gifted than Joeckel or Fisher, Johnson has immense potential as a franchise left tackle. Still has a few technical issues to work out, but so did Duane Brown. He seemed to pan out just fine.
15. Damontre Moore, OLB/DE, Texas A&M - Moore’s stock has taken a bit of a dip lately, but that is less his own fault and more about others like Ansah and Jordan rapidly rising. I absolutely love Moore’s explosiveness off the snap. Despite not being the bulkiest tweener prospect, he has great strength and pad level to go along with his quickness to pierce through offensive lines snap after snap.
16. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennesee - Sure, he’s not polished, but man can this guy play football. Difficult to take down in the open field, Patterson reminds me of a bigger Percy Harvin. Tennessee used him in every way imaginable, and I imagine his future NFL team will as well.
16.5. Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU - I just realized that Werner got lost in the shuffle when I was copying and pasting different parts of this article from Microsoft word to SBN, but he originally was supposed to be here. Whoops.
17. Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame - More athletic than last year’s TE man crush, Eifert reminds me a lot of Jimmy Graham. I expect a low 4.5 40 at the Combine tomorrow, and his work in the gauntlet drill should help prove he is just as dangerous as any modern receiving tight end to come out in the last five years.
18. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas - Okafor is simply amazing. I think he is a much better LDE than RDE because his size and strength are perfect for stacking and shedding the more traditionally power-oriented right tackles of the NFL, but he can rush the passer very well in his own right. His jab-club-rip on the edge is going to responsible for a lot of sacks over the next decade.
19. Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU - What looks and plays like Richard Sherman without the insufferable attitude? Xavier Rhodes. His 40 in the Combine will be huge for him; if he can run around the low-to-mid-4.4s, he could be a top 10 pick.
20. Arthur Brown, ILB, KSU - Arguably the most talented and versatile linebacker in the class, Brown could conceivably play in any scheme in the NFL with his superb athleticism, instincts, and playmaking ability.
21. Keenan Allen, WR, Cal - Injury will keep him out of athletic drills at the Combine, but Allen’s tape speaks for itself. He is the most well-rounded receiver in this crop, showing great speed, route running, catching, and open-field running ability. I liken him to a younger Greg Jennings.
22. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue - Short has issues getting off the snap on time, but once he gets going he is very hard to stop. He has some of the best hands of interior pass rushers in this class, and his power is deceiving when he gets his pads into blockers. He has potential to be a very good 3-tech in this league.
23. Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame - Te’o is the definition of a Tampa-2 Mike linebacker. He can stack, shed, tackle, and patrol the middle of the field in zone coverage as well as any linebacker in this class. He’s not Luke Keuchly by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s still a great prospect in his own right. He reminds me of Brian Urlacher in his prime.
24. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU - Montgomery has been overshadowed as of late by guys like Ansah and Werner, but he’s still a very good pass rusher. His bull rush is devastatingly strong, and I expect him to be a steady piece in his future team’s four-man front for a long time.
25. Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky - Warford is scary. He has to work on not lunging in pass pro and footwork when picking up stunts to his inside, but as a run blocker he can move pretty much anyone off the line of scrimmage. If he can prove he has quick feet, hip flexibility, and the short area speed necessary to be an effective pulling guard in a power scheme, he could end up as a first round pick.
26. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
27. Kyle Long, OT/OG, Oregon
28. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
29. Johnathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
30. Johnathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State
31. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
32. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
33. Zaviar Gooden, OLB, Missouri
34. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
35. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
36. Tavon Austin, WR, WVU
37. Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama
38. Da’Rick Rodgers, WR, Tennessee Tech
39. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
40. D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
41. Menelik Watson, OT, FSU
42. Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
43. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
44. Johnathan Jenkins, NT, Georgia
45. Khaseem Greene, ILB, Rutgers
46. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
47. Quinton Patton, WR, LA Tech
48. Johnathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
49. EJ Manuel, QB, FSU
50. Sean Porter, ILB/OLB, Texas A&M
51. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
52. Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina
53. Matt Elam, S, Florida
54. Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State
55. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
56. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
57. Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
58. Robert Woods, WR, USC
59. Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford
60. Dallas Thomas, OT/OG, Tennessee
61. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
62. Brandon Williams, NT, Missouri Southern
63. Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
64. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
65. Cornelius Carradine, DE, FSU
66. Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
67. Eric Reid, S, LSU
68. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
69. Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
70. Brian Winters, OG, Kent State
71. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
72. Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
73. Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
74. Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State
75. Justin Pugh, OT/OG, Syracuse