Underclassmen Set Draft Record
Excerpt: "Tuesday was the deadline for underclassmen to enter the 2013 NFL Draft. For the third straight year, a record number of juniors and third-year sophomores have gone pro. In 2010, a then-record 56 underclassmen declared. In 2011, the record ballooned to 65. This year, we have 75.
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With player evaluations courtesy of Rotoworld college football maven Josh Norris, here is a loose ranking of the 75 underclassmen now officially eligible for April's NFL Draft:
1. Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel -- Listed at 6-foot-6, 310, Joeckel earned the 2012 Outland Trophy as the nationís top lineman after starting all 39 games of his Aggies career at left tackle. If the Chiefs don't retain free agent Branden Albert, Joeckel will be a serious candidate to be selected first overall.
2. Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore -- "Damonster" paced the Aggies in tackles (85), tackles for loss (21), sacks (12.5), and kick blocks (2) during a dominant junior season. Still only 20 years old, 6-foot-4, 250-pound Moore projects to outside linebacker in a 3-4 or end in a 4-3.
3. Florida State DE Bjoern Werner -- Werner led the 'Noles in tackles for loss (18) and sacks (13) in 2012 while swatting down eight passes. Listed at 6-foot-4, 255, Werner is a Berlin native and former German exchange student. Ala Chris Long, Werner was a left end in FSU's 4-3.
4. Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson -- A cat-quick defensive tackle ideally suited to play in a 4-3 scheme, Richardson recorded 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and three forced fumbles on an otherwise putrid 2012 Mizzou defense. Richardson is listed at 6-foot-4, 295, and could blow up the Combine with standout athleticism. He may be taken as early as No. 2 overall by the Jaguars.
5. Florida DT Sharrif Floyd -- Floyd started 13-of-13 games for the 2012 Gators, leading the team in tackles for loss (13) and blocked kicks (2) while chipping in three sacks. He is listed at 6-foot-3, 303 with experience at both defensive tackle and end. "Scheme versatile," Floyd will appeal to 4-3 NFL teams as a three-technique pass rusher and 3-4 clubs as a five-technique end.
6. Alabama CB Dee Milliner -- Milliner replaced Dre Kirkpatrick in the Crimson Tide's starting lineup as a junior and earned an unanimous first-team All-America selection with 22 pass breakups and a pair of interceptions. A thickly built 6-foot-1, 199, Milliner possesses ideal size and plays with physicality. He's likely to be the first defensive back taken, quite possibly in the top ten.
7. LSU DE Barkevious Mingo -- Mingo's junior-year numbers (8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) don't jump off the stat sheet, as he was frequently asked to contain the edge from his left defensive end spot. Still arguably the most explosive front-seven player in this year's draft, Mingo has freak length and plays to the whistle. His most natural fit may be outside linebacker in a 3-4.
8. Georgia LB Jarvis Jones -- Only 6-foot-2, 240, Jones may slip down draft boards of 4-3 teams as a 3-4 outside linebacker only. Medical is another concern, as Jones has spinal stenosis and transferred from USC early in his college career because doctors wouldn't clear him to play. A Bruce Irvin clone, Jones' calling cards are edge speed and sack production (28 the past two seasons).
9. Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes -- A hulking corner at 6-foot-2, 217, Rhodes plays to his size in physical press-man coverage and intercepted seven passes in three college seasons. Rhodes has drawn some Patrick Peterson comparisons due to his aggressive style of play.
10. Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson -- Patterson was a big-time playmaker in his lone season with the Vols after a JUCO transfer, leading Tennessee in yards-per-catch average (16.9) and scoring twice in the kicking game. Overshadowed by more heralded teammate Justin Hunter, 6-foot-3, 205-pound Patterson arguably has more upside once he learns to run routes.
11. California WR Keenan Allen -- Allen missed the final three games of his Cal career with a left PCL injury, but was highly productive on the field, catching 205 passes for 2,570 yards and 17 touchdowns across three seasons. A superb athlete, Allen's movement skills are elite and he creates separation in the vertical passing game. He'll compete to be the first receiver drafted.
12. Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins -- Overtaking Sammy Watkins to be Tajh Boyd's top target in 2012, Hopkins led Clemson in catches (82), yards (1,405), and touchdowns (18). Listed at 6-foot-1, 205, Hopkins is deceptively dangerous in the downfield passing game and plays with toughness in the short and intermediate sections. He may have the best hands of any draft-eligible wideout.
13. Ohio State DT Johnathan Hankins -- Stoutly built and powerful at 6-foot-3 and 322 pounds, Hankins anchors in the run game and flashes ability to penetrate with surprisingly quick feet. Unfortunately, Hankins has an alarming tendency to disappear from games and his junior tape was less impressive than his sophomore film. Hankins' 2012 production was also way down.
14. LSU DE Sam Montgomery -- LSU's right defensive end, Montgomery outproduced teammate Mingo in 2012 en route to team-highs in sacks (8) and forced fumbles (2), to go with 13 tackles for loss. Whereas Mingo is scheme versatile and can rush the passer from a two-point stance, Montgomery is more the base 4-3 defensive end who excels with his hand in the dirt.
15. Georgia LB Alec Ogletree -- Ogletree possesses frightening athleticism in space and could succeed at essentially any linebacker position. He mostly played inside at Georgia, leading the Bulldogs in tackles (111) last season while ranking second to Jarvis Jones in tackles for loss (11.5). Ogletree still must improve at fighting off blocks, but he will star at February's Combine.
16. LSU LB Kevin Minter -- 6-foot-2, 245-pound Minter paced the Tigers in 2012 tackles (130) and tackles for loss (15) while displaying big-play ability with four sacks and six pass breakups in coverage. The LSU coaching staff "fought hard" to keep Minter in school because he was such an infectious leader. He projects as a plug-and-play starting NFL middle linebacker.
17. LSU S Eric Reid -- Reid lays wood at 6-foot-2, 212, drawing comparisons at LSU to LaRon Landry. He also intercepted six passes in three seasons in Baton Rouge. Missed tackles and blown coverages can be issues for Reid, but he is an awfully impressive physical specimen.
18. Florida S Matt Elam -- Elam paced UF's team-carrying 2012 defense in solo tackles (58) and interceptions (4), while ranking second to Sharrif Floyd in tackles for loss (11). Elam is a highlight-reel hitter. He does tend to have coverage lapses and his current strength is run support.
19. North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard -- A redshirt sophomore early entrant, Bernard's combination of rapid-fire cutting ability, decisiveness, balance, and passing-game skills should make him a quick study for the pro game. Bernard caught 92 passes in two seasons with the Tar Heels. He also averaged 5.86 yards per carry and is listed at a sturdy 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds.
20. Stanford TE Zach Ertz -- Long and lean at 6-foot-6, 252, Ertz bypassed Levine Toilolo as the Cardinal's go-to target in 2012 with team highs in receptions (69), receiving yards (898), and touchdowns (6). An explosive pass-catching tight end who holds his own as a run blocker, Ertz is a better prospect than former teammate Coby Fleener, last year's No. 34 overall pick.
21. Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert -- Eifert is listed at 6-foot-6, 251 and arguably plays even taller with an impressive vertical leap and ability to high point passes in traffic. More of a seam stretcher early in his college career, Eifert became Notre Dame's primary sideline and red-zone option in 2012. He paced the run-first Irish in receptions (44), yards (624), and touchdowns (4).
22. West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey -- As senior Tavon Austin took on more of a ball-carrying role in 2012, Bailey emerged as Geno Smith's No. 1 receiver by leading the Mountaineers in receiving yards (1,622) and touchdown catches (25). Despite being listed modestly at 5-foot-10, 195, "Studman" is an elusive, physical tackle breaker after the catch. He's a second-round prospect.
23. Florida TE Jordan Reed -- Reed's production was negatively skewed by atrocious Gators quarterback play, but he is a dangerous "Joker" H-back/tight end prospect in the Aaron Hernandez mold. 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, Reed was originally recruited as a signal caller and attempted 46 passes in 2010. He will be a movable chess piece receiving weapon in the pros.
24. Alabama RB Eddie Lacy -- Next in a long line of big-time Bama backs, Lacy is ready to pick up the blitz, catch passes out of the backfield, and run through tackles in the NFL. While Lacy lacks homerun speed, the 220-pound power back has quick feet and can dodge defenders with jump cuts, spin moves, and stiff arms. Lacy is the second best running back in this class.
25. Syracuse OT Justin Pugh -- Pugh earned All-Big East honors in each of his three college seasons, paving the way for the Orange to rank first in the conference in total yards, third in points, second in passing, and third in rushing. Listed at 6-foot-5, 297, Pugh played left tackle in Syracuse's up-tempo, no-huddle offense. He made 34 career starts and projects as a second-day pick." Read more...