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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Offensive Position Rankings

Well folks, it's that time of year again, and although I've taken some time off from the blog, there's no way I'd miss one of my favorite times of the NFL calendar year. In addition to the excuse to watch more football, draft time puts a smile on my face because the draft represents hope. No matter if your team is drafting in the top five or a perennial playoff contender, the promise of improving the roster, filling holes from free agency, or simply giving you a reason to buy a new jersey gets the blood pumping.

OK, enough of the sappy, "we're all 0-0" crap. Here are the offensive positional rankings for this year's crop of draft prospects:

Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Geno Smith West Virginia 6023 218
2 E J Manuel Florida St 6045 237
3 Ryan Nassib Syracuse 6021 227
4 Mike Glennon NC State 6071 225
5 Landry Jones Oklahoma 6041 225

While this quarterback class isn't of the quality of last year (then again, I think we'll find out soon enough that the 2012 group might be the strongest class ever), and it's been hammered by the media, I think there's some potentially good to very good talent at the NFL level. While Smith is the best overall signal caller entering the draft, I'm particularly high on E J Manuel. I think he has all the tools and leadership qualities to be an upper-echelon talent. He has some issues with his technique, but if placed with the right quarterback coach, I think he'll be the best one over the long haul.

Running Backs
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Eddie Lacy Alabama 5110 231
2 Jonathan Franklin UCLA 5100 205
3 Montee Ball Wisconsin 5104 214
4 Christine Michael Texas A&M 5100 220
5 Le'Veon Bell Michigan St. 6013 230

Contrary to popular belief, this is the weakest position in this year's draft. I feel sorry for any team whose primary need is at running back. Lacy might be the only one that can be a three-down back at the next level, and I'm not really convinced of that. I wouldn't be surprised if every one in this draft ended up as a change of pace back or second team guy. That being said, the one that really intrigues me is Michael. He runs with power, speed, and a nasty attitude. I have him fourth because of possible off the field issues - he was in Kevin Sumlin's doghouse at A&M and he missed some interviews at the Combine because he overslept. Not the best way to make a first impression.

Wide Receivers
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Justin Hunter Tennessee 6040 196
2 Corderelle Patterson Tennessee 6017 216
3 Tavon Austin West Virginia 5084 174
4 DeAndre Hopkins Clemson 6010 214
5 Keenan Allen California 6020 206

While there isn't a Calvin Johnson or A J Green in this year's crop, there are some Anquan Boldins and Michael Crabtrees. Many of you will be surprised at my number one selection. Hunter is the one out of this group that could be the next great wideout. His measureables are off the chart, but he didn't have the production of some of the other receivers in this class and mental lapses have been known to plague him. And no, I'm not down on Austin, but as explosive a playmaker as he can be at the next level, I'm worried about his size. Lastly, Hopkins hands are special, and while his 40 time won't "wow you", he plays much faster in pads.

Tight Ends
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Tyler Eifert Notre Dame 6054 250
2 Zach Ertz Stanford 6050 249
3 Vance McDonald Rice 6041 267
4 Travis Kelce Cincinnati 6047 255
5 Dion Sims Michigan St. 6047 262

In my opinion, the tight ends can be summed up as Tyler Eifert and everyone else. He's truly better in just about every aspect of the game than his counterparts. Even though he was double-teamed in every game he played last year, he still caught 50 passes for 685 yards and four touchdowns in an offense designed to run and hide the deficiencies of a freshman quarterback. I think he'll go somewhere in the middle of the first round, and I would be surprised if the next tight end doesn't go until the third.

Offensive Tackles
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Eric Fisher Central Michigan 6072 306
2 Luke Joeckel Texas A&M 6060 306
3 Lane Johnson Oklahoma 6060 303
4 DJ Fluker Alabama 6045 339
5 Terron Armstead Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6046 306

Arguably the best position group in this draft. More than likely, three of them will be taken in the first five picks, and I wouldn't be surprised to see five or six go in the first round. Even though Joeckel might be the better player right now, I graded Fisher over him because I think he'll be the better player in the long run. I like his athleticism and think he can be a perennial Pro Bowl tackle. I know most pundits have Menelik Watson ranked in their top five, but I just don't see it. He looks sloppy in his technique and there doesn't look like there's much overall ability there, either.

Offensive Guards
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Jonathan Cooper North Carolina 6021 311
2 Chance Warmack Alabama 6020 317
3 Kyle Long Oregon 6061 313
4 David Quessenberry San Jose St. 6047 302
5 Larry Warford Kentucky 6030 332

Another good group, especially at the top, where Cooper and Warmack could go in the top half of the first round. Quessenberry snuck into the top five after I watched him at the Senior Bowl. I went back and watched some of the San Jose State games, and was impressed by his ability to get the upper hand quickly on defenders off the snap. If someone did get the jump on him, he does a solid job re-anchoring and regaining control of the matchup.

Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Brian Schwenke California 6030 314
2 Travis Frederick Wisconsin 6035 312
3 Barrett Jones Alabama 6040 306
4 Khaled Holmes USC 6030 302
5 Braxston Cave Notre Dame 6032 303

Schwenke also won me over at the Senior Bowl. The drills in Mobile naturally favor the defensive lineman, and it's very easy for the offensive guys to look bad. However, like Quessenberry and Fisher, the Cal center came pretty close to pitching a shutout. He's so quick to set and out of his stance, it didn't matter if he was going up against a power or speed defensive tackle, they simply couldn't get around him.

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