The 2013 Draft flew by far too quickly. I know many of you, like myself, are itching to get started on this new batch of prospects. Below I listed 35 prospects (20 soon to be seniors, 15 juniors and redshirt sophomores) who caught my eye while evaluating for the 2013 class. It wouldn’t be fair to call these rankings since I haven’t spotlighted enough prospects in this class. Instead, keep these names in mind heading into next season. It is a fun group.
1. LT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M - With Luke Joeckel moving to the NFL, Matthews is expected to slide over to the left side and block for the extremely mobile Johnny Manziel. Many will compare the two, but Matthews is a more aggressive blocker than Joeckel and could receive higher grades.
2. LT Taylor Lewan, Michigan - We were all surprised when Lewan decided to return to college for one more season, but teams will still value tackles next year. Lewan will spend his senior season blocking for an improving passer in Devin Gardner.
3. LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama - I was a huge fan of Arthur Brown, but Mosley is even better. The Crimson Tide linebacker was previously known for his ability and awareness in coverage, but morphed into an all-around defender last season. He is very, very good.
4. QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson - No one improved more between the 2011 and 2012 season than Boyd. Last year he was able to recognize and avoid pressure much more efficiently while making better decisions downfield. Boyd likely would have been my top QB in the 2013 Draft.
5. OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA - The former running back would have likely been a high draft pick, but Barr chose to return on learn the technical aspects of the position. It could prove to be an excellent decision.
6. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State - Admittedly, I will likely rank Sutton higher than many. Some will question his weight and size, but Sutton can be extremely disruptive on the interior with quick hands and feet and could continue to dominate the PAC-12.
7. OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU - Many tuned in to see Ezekiel Ansah during BYU’s 2012 bowl game, but instead Van Noy stole the show. The BYU pass rusher has a nice motor with strength to shed at the point of attack.
8. QB David Fales, San Jose State - Yes, I currently prefer Fales over big names like Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron, and Logan Thomas. Fales has an excellent feel for the pocket to buy himself time and a live arm to test downfield.
9. LB Christian Jones, FSU - As you can tell, I like athletic linebackers. Jones isn’t a complete product, but he flies around the field to make plays in the running game and stick with receivers downfield in man coverage. I expect his game to grow.
10. CB Jason Verrett, TCU - A favorite of CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler, Verrett is very clean on the field with his technique and sticks to receivers at the line of scrimmage and throughout their routes.
11. DE Morgan Breslin, USC - Breslin, a former JUCO standout, was red hot to start the 2012 season and appeared to hit a wall before finishing the year strong. He finds contact through his hands and sheds to make plays happen in the backfield.
12. LB Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky - A smaller linebacker who will be viewed as “undersized,” Jackson has a lot of talent and frequently sticks his nose into lanes between the tackles and has the speed to keep up with lateral plays.
13. TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa - One of the more underutilized talents in college football, Fiedorowicz is a willing blocker who could excel in the intermediate game with his catch radius. He’s not the kind of prospect to cite production with, however.
14. DL Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota - I was surprised when Hageman did not declare for the 2013 Draft. He plays in the Gophers’ four man front, but he will likely project as a 5 technique end in a three man front. His game is growing.
15. WR Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma - A dynamic slot prospect who changed the entire complexion of the Sooners’ offense was joining them in-season. He makes plenty of catches in traffic and can separate with ease thanks to quick twitch routes.
16. LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo - There are some off-field issues with Mack, but he frequently lines up as a pass rushing linebacker and exhibits strength at the point of attack to beat his man with speed to close.
17. DL DeAndre Coleman, Cal - Another potential 5 technique conversion, Coleman showed flashes to win with a motor and is still learning how to use his frame and strength correctly.
18. FB Trey Millard, Oklahoma - Millard is the type of fullback who sticks in the NFL. Along with Jalen Saunders, Millard carried the Sooners offense with his versatility to run the rock, comfort in space as a receiver, and lead blocking skills.
19. DT Daniel McCullers, Tennessee - I think McCullers is going to be overrated a bit thanks to his monstrous size, but it is certainly intriguing. He needs to work on leverage and balance, but I expect the nose tackle’s game to grow.
20. RB/WR Dri Archer, Kent State - Archer isn’t Tavon Austin, but he has dynamite speed in the open field. There will be questions about his position, whether it is receiver or running back, and he might project closer to Dexter McCluster than Austin.
Honorable mentions to South Carolina DE Chaz Sutton and Oklahoma RB Roy Finch. Free him, Stoops.
Juniors or Redshirt Sophomores
1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
3. WR Marqise Lee, USC
4. DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
5. DL Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
6. LT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
7. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
8. LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
9. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
10. CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
11. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
12. WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
13. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
14. QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
15. TE Colt Lyerla, Oregon