Late Friday, NFL Network's Mike Mayock released his top-five rankings at each position for the 2013 draft. We at Rotoworld are longtime admirers of Mayock for his football smarts, league connections, and on-air analysis. To put these top fives into some context, bang it here for a link to Mayock's preliminary rankings from last year. Considering they came out in late January, his projections were awfully impressive.
And now onto Mayock's 2013 ranks.
(* = underclassman.)
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. Matt Barkley, USC
3. Mike Glennon, NC State
4. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
5. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Notes: Everyone ranks this year's quarterback class differently. Mayock likes Geno the best, but allows Smith would make him "nervous" as a first-round pick. ESPN's Mel Kiper has Barkley first. Rotoworld draft guru Josh Norris places Arkansas' Tyler Wilson atop the quarterback group, and Wilson didn't even make Mayock's top five. Russ Lande of National Football Post grades Nassib as this year's top signal caller. In a great departure from last year, there are no clear-cut quarterback studs in this draft. In addition to Wilson, E.J. Manuel (Florida State), Zac Dysert (Miami of Ohio), and Tyler Bray (Tennessee) failed to crack Mayock's top-five passers.
1. Eddie Lacy*, Alabama
2. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
3. Andre Ellington, Clemson
4. Giovani Bernard*, North Carolina
5. Marcus Lattimore*, South Carolina
Notes: Lacy is a versatile, pro-ready back who wins in the open field with both power and elusiveness. He'll be a fantasy football star. There's a bit of a drop off after him. Ball was insanely productive in the Big Ten, but lacks special qualities and may need to land in a zone scheme to pan out as a starter. Ellington and Bernard can add juice to NFL offenses, but neither projects as a workhorse. Lattimore looked like a top-ten pick as a freshman and sophomore before a 2011 left ACL tear robbed him of his explosiveness. Lattimore suffered another devastating knee injury late last October, tearing his right ACL, LCL, and PCL, and dislocating his kneecap. Will he ever be the same? Mayock left Joseph Randle (Oklahoma State), Mike Gillislee (Florida), Stepfan Taylor (Stanford), Jawan Jamison (Rutgers), and Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State) out of his top-five backs. Behind Lacy, the 2013 running back class appears to offer depth but limited star power.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson*, Tennessee
2. Keenan Allen*, California
3. Terrance Williams, Baylor
4. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
5. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Notes: The receiver class is exceptionally deep. So good players are inevitably going to be left out when Mayock only ranks five guys at each position. Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins was the most notable snub and is a legitimate first-round possibility. Tennessee Tech's Da'Rick Rogers oozes talent but has off-field concerns. Justin Hunter (Tennessee), Stedman Bailey (West Virginia), Markus Wheaton (Oregon State), and Robert Woods (USC) also didn't make Mayock's cut. It's worth noting that Mayock said his "jaw dropped" when recently watching Patterson's game tape. Allen is a possession/run-after-catch threat ala Miles Austin. Williams is a vertical flier. Austin is a human joystick in the slot. Patton has generated comparisons to Reggie Wayne.
1. Tyler Eifert*, Notre Dame
2. Zach Ertz*, Stanford
3. Gavin Escobar*, San Diego State
4. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
5. Jordan Reed*, Florida
Notes: Most people are talking about this year's offensive and defensive linemen. Tight end is quietly one of the draft's better positions. Eifert and Ertz are both possible first-round picks. Escobar, Kelce, and Reed will likely all be gone on day two. And Mayock didn't even include Rice's Vance McDonald, who is a Jason Witten clone. Ertz's Stanford teammate, Levine Toilolo, is a mammoth man at 6-foot-8, 265, and should be an immediate impact blocker in the run game.
1. Luke Joeckel*, Texas A&M
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
4. D.J. Fluker*, Alabama
5 (tie). Justin Pugh, Syracuse
Menelik Watson*, Florida State
Notes: Tackle-needy teams are in luck this year. Joeckel, Fisher, and Johnson top off an outstanding class and all project as decade starters at left tackle. The 2010 draft was a bit like this with Trent Williams, Russell Okung, and Anthony Davis all going in the top-11 picks. Fluker, a monster right tackle-only prospect at 6-foot-6 and 335-plus, has drawn comparisons to Phil Loadholt and Flozell Adams. Pugh's short arms (31 1/2 inches) will probably force him inside to guard, but he could be a rock-solid starter there. Watson is a candidate to blow up this week's Scouting Combine. At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds with long arms, Watson played soccer in England and basketball at Marist University before serving as Florida State's starting right tackle in 2012.