Scouting the 71 Underclassmen Entering the NFL Draft

By John Harris
January 23, 2013

Senior Bowl? How about the other guys? John Harris breaks down every one of the 71 underclassmen entering the NFL Draft.

The Senior Bowl has everyone's attention this week, so I figured I'd go the other way, assessing the underclassmen that have declared for the 2013 NFL Draft.  Each and every year we see more and more players decide to forego their final years of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft.  2013 saw that happen more often than any other year in recent memory.  Here's a quick run down on each (hopefully...I didn't miss any) player in no certain order.

  1. LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu - he'll have to answer the question of whether his issues are in the past and even if he does that, his film won't project him to be a cover corner at the next level.  But, he's a playmaker and plays in the slot as well as any player in this draft class.  Someone will take a shot on him, referencing the great year that Janoris Jenkins had with the Rams and the turnaround that Vontaze Burfict engineered in Cincinnati.  Different players, obviously, but the off the field issues are similar.
  2. Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel - stud, could, should be #1 pick, really had no choice but to come out and start dominating the edge at left tackle.  #1 tackle in this class
  3. Texas A&M DE/OLB Damontre Moore - the world has fallen in love with Moore after a scintillating junior campaign, but I can't get the image of him getting smashed in the run game at OLB in his first two years out of my head.  But, then I watch him dominate with his hand on the ground and tend to forget all about it (mostly).  Still fits pass rushing need in a big way.
  4. Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones - has been as productive a linebacker as we've seen in the SEC for the past two years.  Medicals have to check out on him (knee and neck), but excellent pass rusher with motor/effort.  Not great getting off of blocks against the run, but teams that need pass rush help will covet him.
  5. LSU ILB Kevin Minter - tackling machine and high football IQ, I'm a big fan of his.
  6. Cal WR Keenan Allen - even thought it was a tough year with injuries and up and down QB play, it was right decision to come out and could be first WR off the board.
  7. Ohio State DT Johnathan Hankins - a large man who can play nearly any position on the defensive line, must play with consistent effort and utilize his size as a strength
  8. Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson - garnered a ton of publicity for his "old man football" comment, but the gist of it is that he can play - prototypical 4-3 DT who could bump out to 3-4 DE and play the run as well as any 3-4 DE in the game.
  9. South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore - a long term rehab assignment is ahead of him a la Willis McGahee in 2003, but he's a class young man - and if he's right, he's a load to bring down.
  10. Tennessee Tech (formerly of Tennessee) WR Da'Rick Rogers - if you can get past the "turd" factor, you'll find one of the most physically gifted WR in this draft class.
  11. Tennessee State RB Trabis Ward - Uh…okay.
  12. Arkansas RB Knile Davis - the injury in 2011 set him back and I don't think he ran with any confidence in 2012.  He could be a Terrell Davis find in the later rounds if he can get into camp healthy and the thought he has nothing to lose, competing his tail off to earn a backup spot and play on teams.
  13. North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard - pocket dynamite with great feet and excellent vision.  He can do it all and has the pure running skills to perhaps be the #1 RB drafted.  Needed to start his pro clock.
  14. Tennessee WR Justin Hunter - prior to the knee injury in 2011, he was on his way to a top five pick in the 2012 Draft.  But, he showed more of a diva side in 2012, often complaining on the field to his QB and sulking when he didn't get the ball.  Intrigued by his size and skill, but I'm always hesitant to add divas to my roster.
  15. Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson - most explosive WR candidate in this draft, but can't catch a cold…well, he can't catch one very well.  Tennessee wanted to get him the ball more than they did, but he didn't catch the ball consistently all year, which limited the touches he could actually get in a game.  However, when he did catch one, it was magical.  He'll be a dominant return guy if nothing else.
  16. Arkansas G Alvin Bailey - intrigued to see how he continues to progress, but wasn't totally enamored with him at Arkansas, but I'm always down to watch more film on a guy to give him a shot.
  17. West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey - the WR class isn't loaded this year as in past years, so a highly productive guy like Bailey will be attractive, perhaps in the 2nd or early 3rd.
  18. Illinois DT Akeem Spence - I've said this before and I'll say it again, if I were a scout and I showed up to watch Spence in the Penn State game this year, I'd have an undrafted grade on him.  It was damn near embarrassing the lack of effort and the inability to do anything at all, plus he spent a majority of his time complaining to officials.  Turned me off completely.
  19. NC State CB David Amerson - up and down season, had 13 picks as a soph, but in the opener he was beaten badly by Tennessee WR all night long.  Those "scars" haven't healed, but I think he's better than that, but not as good as his 13 interception season would indicate.  Think he's a zone corner who can improve in time as he learns the NFL game.
  20. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray - good lord, this guy will confuse the heck out of anyone.  Want a comparison? He's a sidearm slinging version of Jeff George.  Let that ruminate in the back of your brain and get back to me.
  21. LSU P Brad Wing - he's good, he's a punter and he uses drugs…allegedly.  You decide.
  22. Nevada RB Stefphon Jefferson - upright, tall runner who was incredibly productive in Nevada's pistol offense, but might just be a good college back with a limited future at the next level.  I like him in later rounds and he'll make a good impression, but he's not worth anything before the fifth in my estimation.
  23. Rutgers CB Logan Ryan - long armed, wiry corner who has a bright future, this was a great move and he's a top 40 pick in this draft as long as he runs well at the Combine and his Pro Day.
  24. Notre Dame RB Cierre Wood - I'm a fan of his explosiveness and his burst, but something I saw on National Championship Game night that gave me pause.  To me, he's always been a tough runner, but he looked as if he was scared to face that vaunted Alabama defensive front.  Could've been in self-preservation mode, given the fact that he knew the game was out of hand and he was going to declare for the draft.  But, I don't like seeing anyone run scared and that's what it appeared he was doing.
  25. USC WR Robert Woods - Had two tremendous seasons then was overshadowed by Marqise Lee.  Think that was more Lee being great than Woods' talent eroding or falling off.
  26. Auburn DE/OLB Corey Lemonier - love him as a 3-4 stand up OLB rushing the edge, was the only positive at Auburn in 2012.
  27. Georgia ILB Alec Ogletree - oh boy, here we go.  There are people that LOVE him and I love his edge and his speed and his burst.  But, he doesn't play through or get off blocks.  He doesn't know how to use his hands well in space.  He flies to the ball and strikes, but he doesn't wrap up well.  He's a former safety that is probably best suited to play in space where he can run all day long.  Oh, did I mention the off the field issues?  No?  You know what, though, he'd be the perfect fit right next to Vontaze Burfict in Cincinnati.  If anyone was able to "get to" Burfict, it was Marvin Lewis and maybe that's the case for Ogletree too.  He can run but…best of luck finishing the rest.
  28. FSU CB Xavier Rhodes - big, physical corner who can play zone and man, but similar to Prince Amukamara, he relies a bit too much on his strength in playing receivers downfield.  He can manhandle them, but in the NFL, he'll be flagged all day long.  That said, I like his potential more than Prince…much more.
  29. Utah DE Joe Kruger - brother of Raven Paul, solid, if not unspectacular player who will find a home with so many teams playing 3-4 nowadays.
  30. Hawai'i CB Mike Edwards - project who could've used another year and had off the field issues before he transferred to the island.
  31. Florida S Matt Elam - one of my favorite players in this draft.  Absolutely love how he plays the game, his versatility, his leadership and his ability to drop the hammer.  If he had Sean Taylor size, he'd be a top 7 pick in this draft.  Could be top safety off the board, regardless.
  32. Forida DT Sharrif Floyd - I've had my eye on him waiting for him to break out and play like the 5-star player that he was in high school.  He finally hit on some of that potential at Florida in 2012 and will be a solid late 1st round/early 2nd round find for either 4-3 or 3-4 teams.
  33. Michigan State TE Dion Sims - traditional TE size, but doesn't block as well as you'd like for a guy his size to do.  But, he has soft hands and can get himself open.
  34. Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell - I like Bell a ton.  I know some will question his long speed, but I don't even really care if he can be a decisive one cut downhill runner.  He could fit in power scheme or zone scheme, but must continue to develop as an all-around ball carrier.  Wonderful hands out of the backfield too, so he could even be a third down complement back because of his receiving ability, especially in the screen game.
  35. Florida State DE Bjoern Werner - I've known about him for a long while because of his affiliation with North Florida Christian in Tallahassee where he played his high school football after moving from Germany.  He has gotten immensely better each and every year and I can only imagine that his best football is well ahead of him at the next level.
  36. LSU CB Tharold Simon - Long, wiry corner who had a decent 2012 season, but not sure he couldn't have used another year in school.
  37. LSU S Eric Reid - love his size at safety, but he got exposed in coverage throughout this season when matched up in the slot.  I like Elam's "football skills" a bit more, but Reid has the prototypical safety size teams covet.  Just worried that he'll not be able to impact the passing game as he should.
  38. LSU RB Spencer Ware - it's going to be Jeremy Hill's ball at LSU in 2013, so he might as well start your NFL clock.  Nothing truly special about Ware other than the fact that he'll bruise you with power and maybe in the right spot with open competition he can get a chance to shine with more carries.  But, I'm a bit skeptical of that at the current time.
  39. Wisconsin C/G Travis Frederick - had a great career at Wisconsin, but had an underwhelming season at C in 2012, especially in the Rose Bowl, where Stanford DT/NT really exposed him.  Should still be a late 2nd/early 3rd round option at C or G.
  40. Michigan State DE William Gholston - freak of nature that has to start dominating games and taking over games.  And, if he didn't truly do it at MSU, then will he do it in the NFL?  Even if he doesn't dominate, he can be a solid 3-4 DE, playing the run well.  I could see him being a taller version of Houston Texan Antonio Smith in the future.
  41. Rutgers RB Jawan Jamison - another year probably wasn't going to raise his stock, so go get your clock started, get into camp, make some paper and compete for a job.  Good feet, tough runner who does things well, but not truly outstanding.
  42. Florida TE Jordan Reed - he can thank Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis and others for the "love" he'll get being a hybrid tight end.
  43. Oklahoma S Tony Jefferson - one of my favorites in college football, but not sure where exactly he fits at the next level.  He made a ton of his plays in and around the line of scrimmage and he's not tremendous in coverage.  But, he's a football player, confident, bordering on cocky who'll get attention in the 2nd or 3rd round.
  44. Oklahoma WR Kenny Stills - fast, deep threat, reminds me of Torrey Smith from the Ravens, but not a complete player just yet.  Has had off the field baggage, so teams will need to make sure those are behind him and that he's matured as a player/professional too.
  45. San Diego State TE Gavin Escobar - see Jordan Reed above - his value will rise because of the "need" for athletic tight ends at the next level. And, athletic he is.  Not physical as an in-line blocker, but he's a matchup nightmare in the passing game.
  46. Florida LB Jelani Jenkins - played much of the year banged up.  It started with the A&M opening game and it never really let up.  As such, not completely sure he proved what he truly can do.  But, he physically fits the part, but his game hasn't caught up to his impressive attributes.
  47. Stanford TE Zach Ertz - could be the #1 TE off the board and he's ready to go.  He may actually be more productive in the right scheme at the next level.  Right move, no question.
  48. LSU RB Michael Ford - see Ware, not much different in terms of decision-making to enter the draft.  That said, expect to hear his name late, if at all in Day 3.
  49. LSU OT Chris Faulk - injured all season and missed entire year, so he's a massive question mark.
  50. Oklahoma LB Tom Wort - won't be drafted until 6th round at best.
  51. Georgia DT Kwame Geathers - a big, very big man who didn't honestly do much at Georgia, played below expectation.  But, you don't find guys this big who can move, even in the slightest.  It's not a slow man's game anymore on any level, but if a team is looking for a two gap NT or shade nose 4-3 DT, he'll fit the bill.
  52. TCU WR Josh Boyce - another Torrey Smith, deep threat comparison in my estimation.  He should run well and has done all that he could at TCU.  He's graduated and is ready for the next step.  It may not be the first contract (i.e. late 4th or early 5th) that gets him paid, but he'll produce in time. He's playing for that paper in his second contract, so start that clock now.
  53. Tennessee DT Darrington Sentimore - didn't like Nick Saban, so he left Alabama for the 'cushy' confines of Knoxville.  Didn't stand out in any way, except for calling Nick out prior to the Alabama-Tennessee game, saying he was mean.
  54. Florida State OT Menelik Watson - as interesting a prospect as any on this list.  A native of England who came to the United States to play basketball in college, which he did at Marist.  He gave that up, went to JC to play football and is just starting to scratch the surface on what he can do as a football player.  No, not futbol.  Our football.  He loves the game, he's learning it and soaking it all in.  Anyone with this passion for a game that he didn't grow up in is worth a second look.  Oh yeah, he's 6'6" and 320 pounds and has basketball feet.
  55. Cal CB Steve Williams - I'd like to tell you I've pored over film on Steve, but I haven't.  But I will.  That's my way of saying that I'm not sure this was the best decision, but these decisions are all made for different reasons.  I'll respect that.
  56. LSU DE Sam Montgomery - Stud.  Plays with such incredible effort.  Will be a first rounder, potentially, for a playoff team.  Some team is getting a good one.
  57. LSU DT Bennie Logan - similar to many of the LSU defensive tackles that have come before him.  Should be second rounder at worst.
  58. Colorado OT David Bakhiatari - not sure that he's going to hear his name before the fourth round.
  59. TCU DE Stansly Maponga - a true freshman outplayed Maponga throughout the year, but then again Davante Fields is an absolute animal.  That said, Maponga may find himself JAG (just a guy) headed for day three.
  60. USC CB Nickell Robey - south Florida born and bred, has attitude and plays with it.  That said, he's only 5'8" and 165 pounds, so he's fighting an uphill battle.  But, he'll compete and is confident enough in himself that he thinks he's better than where he'll be selected.
  61. Texas DT Brandon Moore - only played one year at Texas after spending time at a junior college.  He never tapped into what some think is enormous potential.  I'll believe it when I see it; expect Moore to have to wait until middle of day 3 to hear his name called.
  62. Alabama OT D.J Fluker - not sure if he stays at tackle or moves inside to guard at the next level, but he's a hammer.  He's not a pure pass protector, but could fit into either a zone blocking scheme or power scheme.  I still think he's got some technique work to do, but he made the right decision.
  63. Alabama RB Eddie Lacy - his two final games, SEC Championship v. Georgia and BCS national championship v. Notre Dame, got a lot of people's attention.  He showed the whole package of running skill - quick feet, agile, powerful and angry.  I've been a huge fan for a while.
  64. Alabama CB Dee Milliner - arguably the most complete cornerback in this draft, a sure first rounder.
  65. Eastern Washington QB Kyle Padron - huh??  I like his WR a whole lot more (which isn't saying much)  Speaking of…
  66. Eastern Washington WR Brandon Kaufman - 6'4" and 214 pounds, could be a surprise in the late rounds if he runs relatively well at the combine/Pro Day.
  67. Oklahoma State RB Joe Randle - the #1 RB on my board.  Of course, running back boards will be all over the place this spring.  Randle is mine and has been mine since September.
  68. Stanford CB Terrence Brown - not a big time standout for the Cardinal at all.  However, he's 6'1" and if he runs in the 4.4s as expected, he may gather attention in the 4th or 5th round.
  69. Stanford TE Levine Toilolo - another in the long line of Stanford tight ends, he's 6'8" and going to be a weapon down the seam at the next level.  He's not as athletic as his teammate Zach Ertz, but he's a 4th/5th round selection.
  70. Clemson WR Deandre 'Nuke' Hopkins - after Sammy Watkins was suspended early in the year, Hopkins stepped right into the void and had a tremendous open to the season.  When Watkins returned, Hopkins remained the go-to guy for the Tigers.  Not convinced he's a complete receiver, but he made a ton of progress after being targeted more than ever in his Clemson career.  But, he can fly and, at worst, is an instant deep threat when he arrives in the NFL.
  71. LSU DE Barkevious Mingo - he can run and he'll never stop running.  That speed will scare NFL tackles for a good number of years.  He's still learning the game and most importantly, being more and more physical every time he goes out on the field.  Beast.