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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Defensive Position Rankings

Unlike the offensive side of the ball (see below), the defensive propects coming out this year are much more consistent at all positions. I see a lot of starters throughout the class, and many of them have been left off the lists below because of the depth. Because of that, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of teams go offense early, and then use their later round picks to select defensive players.

Here are the rankings:


Defensive Tackles
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Sharrif Floyd Florida 6025 297
2 Star Lotulelei Utah 6030 311
3 Sheldon Richardson Missouri 6024 294
4 Sylvester Williams North Carolina 6025 313
5 Kawann Short Purdue 6030 299

For the record, Lotulelei did not fall in the rankings because of the reported heart issues they found at the Combine. I like Floyd's athleticism and his consistency. In addition, I think he's much more of a pass rusher than Lotulelei. If there's a surprise in this group, it will be Williams. It's common for defensive linemen to be questioned about their motor, but he's not one of them. From what I saw, his speed is always set to full blast.


Defensive Ends
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Dion Jordan Oregon 6062 248
2 Datone Jones UCLA 6037 283
3 Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah BYU 6052 271
4 Cornelius "Tank" Carradine Florida St. 6040 276
5 Bjoern Werner Florida St. 6032 266

As you can see, I don't value Ansah as much as most. While I think he has a lot of natural ability, he's got a lot of work to do when it comes to technique and football intelligence. On the other hand, I think Jordan and Jones can step in immediately and help their teams. The player I'm most interested in come draft night is Carradine. He's an absolute beast who ran a 4.7 40 yard dash at his pro day just five months after tearing his ACL. The question is going to be how much flexibility, mobility, and power he's lost from the injury (if any).


Inside Linebackers
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Kevin Minter LSU 5116 246
2 Alec Ogletree Georgia 6024 242
3 Manti Te'o Notre Dame 6012 241
4 Jonathan Bostic Florida 6007 245
5 Kiko Alonso Oregon 6030 238

The only reason Ogletree isn't ranked first in this group is because he's an absolute knucklehead. The only question most teams have about him is his off-field troubles, and then he goes and gets busted for DUI just days before the Combine. On the other hand, Minter is more than solid. While he didn't impress in shorts, all you have to do is watch him play - he's a tackling machine. As for Te'o, I wonder if his girlfriend will be at his draft party. I know, I know, low blow.


Outside Linebacker
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Dion Jordan Oregon 6062 248
2 Barkevious Mingo LSU 6040 241
3 Jarvis Jones Georgia 6020 245
4 Arthur Brown Kansas St. 6000 241
5 Sio Moore Connecticut 6006 245

While Jones has been slipping in the postseason, mostly because of injury concerns, Mingo has been gaining steam. There's now talk he'll be a top-10 pick. I like him, and think he can fit in any scheme - he just makes plays. To me, the interesting guy in this group is Moore. His speed and recognition skills are well above average and he was a star at the Senior Bowl. In today's NFL, he'll be able to run with the athletic tight ends and running backs in coverage.


3-4 Conversions
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Barkevious Mingo LSU 6040 241
2 Dion Jordan Oregon 6062 248
3 Jarvis Jones Georgia 6020 245
4 Jamie Collins Southern Mississippi 6035 250
5 Corey Lemonier Auburn 6033 255

I'm sure you've noticed by now that the most versatile player in this draft is Dion Jordan. Not only do I think he's a Pro Bowl calibur player in a 3-4 or 4-3 at outside linebacker, but I think he could put weight on his frame and be a great defensive end in a 4-3 as well. He very well might be the most athletically gifted player in this draft.


Cornerbacks
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Dee Milliner Alabama 5117 201
2 D J Hayden Houston 5110 191
3 Xavier Rhodes Florida St. 6014 210
4 Desmond Trufant Washington 5115 190
5 Darius Slay Mississippi St. 5117 192

This is the deepest position in the draft. I could list 20 players at cornerback and I still wouldn't reach all of the guys that could be quality starters from this group. Milliner is still the best, but you have to admire Hayden with everything he's been through. If surviving the rare heart disease that almost killed him isn't enough, his comeback to becoming one of the best players at his position is truly amazing. Personally, I think at least four or five cornerbacks get selected in the first round, and the position will dominate the draft throughout.


Free Safeties
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 John Cyprien Florida International 6000 217
2 Eric Reid LSU 6014 210
3 Josh Evans Florida 6011 207
4 Duke Williams Nevada 5110 203
5 J J Wilcox Georgia Southern 6000 213

Cyprien is the most well-rounded safety at his position. While it's very close between him and Reid, I think he's slightly better against the run and pass. The real wild card here is Wilcox. He converted from corner to safety because of need and made the change seemlessly. In addition, according to his coaches, he had a great attitude and never once complained about moving to a lower profile position. My only concern is the level of competition he faced versus what he'll be seeing in a few months.


Strong Safeties
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Kenny Vaccaro Texas 6000 214
2 D J Swearinger South Carolina 5104 208
3 Shawn Williams Georgia 5117 213
4 Shamarko Thomas Syracuse 5087 213
5 Earl Wolff NC State 5112 209

Simply put, Vaccaro is one of the "safest" players in this draft. In addition to his willingness to mix it up against the run, he is great in coverage. Against West Virginia earlier this year, he was matched up against Tavon Austin on a regular basis and did more than hold his own. Swearinger might also go in the first round because of his ability to cover, as well as the attitude he brings when someone with the ball comes into his area.

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