Welcome to the second version of 2013 Draft Prospects. This time, I am focusing on only a couple positions with some insight and early projections. Lets get this underway. I am focusing on DE, LB, and S prospects in most rounds that I find appealing. The problem is folks, we don't have a thousand picks in the first three rounds, so talent will have to found at the back end if we want to make that Super Bowl push.
Björn Werner - Florida State - 6'4" 278 lbs
Björn is the nations top DE prospect as a junior is a top ten talent in this year's draft. All indications are that he is leaving. The 21 year-old DE prospect is from Berlin, Germany and has been clocked in with a 4.7 40 with the possibility of breaking a 4.6 40. He has a great first step and and is very strong. Not a flashy player, but most scouts compare him to Chris Long. I wish we had him fall to us in the bottom of the top ten or so. He looks every bit of a dominant force. Let's be honest here, VandenBosch needs to step into coaching, and we could draft this guy to replace him.
Ezekiel Ansah - Brigham Young - 6'5 270 lbs
Ezekiel Ansah is a wild card coming into this years draft. He has an elite frame at 6'5 and 270 lbs and can run a 4.59-4.72 40. His 40 time and bench press will either send him away from us because of rising stock, or send him down to us. If we go with a safety prospect in the first round, we should definitely do what it takes to snap him up. He is an inch shorter than Julius Peppers and can definitely run like him. The knock on him right now is that he is kind of raw but has an extremely high ceiling. His coaches at BYU have bounced him around between LB and DE. If Björn is gone, I like this pick too. I would even consider trading into the first for him if his stock climbs to the end of the round or trade down if the right deal comes along.
Tank Carradine - Florida State - 6'5" 265 lbs
Tank Carradine is this year's top DE that has gone down with a knee injury...what's the main concern here is that he blew out his knee on a non-contact play. Assuming he has a great surgeon doing his surgery, he should make a fine DE for any 4-3 defense. He did have a second round grade before his injury, but may slide into the 4th round or later depending on his medical evaluations at the Combine. He will not be able to take part in the Combine aside from the non-physical measurables and mental exams. The big knock on him aside from the knee, is that he is a one-year wonder. He started this year as a reserve and plays opposite the true FSU star, Björn Werner. He did take advantage of the better matchups and was leading the team in tackles before he was injured. Worth a look nonetheless.
Margus Hunt - Southern Methodist - 6'7" 280lbs
Another foreigner in this section, Margus hails from Estonia and plays for the woe begotten SMU Mustangs. His play has been one of the high points of their defense. Picking him in the 5th round would be more of a project pick when we could use someone now. It all depends on how the draft unfolds. He has been voted by CBSSports as the #1 athletic freak in all of college football, so thus he has the physical part, but would need to be coached up to get much in the way of results at the pro level.
Other prospect(s) to watch for - Quanterus Smith - Western Kentucky
Manti Te'o - Notre Dame - 6'1" 255 lbs
Need I say more? If no DE or S is present and Manti falls to us, this would be probably the most pure BPA pick I have ever seen. Manti could be the Von Miller or Ray Lewis of our defense and help shore up our run game. We do have Stephen Tulloch, but we surely couldn't hurt ourselves by drafting Manti. Our chances to pick depend greatly on how these next 5 weeks go.
Khaseem Green - Rutgers - 6'1" 230 lbs
BPA Pick in the second round. Khaseem is a talented LB that blossomed from being only a two-star safety prospect under the guidance of Greg Schiano. Khaseem has logged really good performances since his redshirt freshman year. He has also played free safety but spent last year and this year at the Will position. Has the potential to run 4.5 at the combine, he does have great speed and good range for the passing game.
Jarvis Jones - Georgia - 6'3 242 lbs
Jarvis is a junior who is a Nagurski finalist and has been a dominant force in the SEC. He is another top ten player in this year's draft. He can run as low as 4.65 in the 40 and has great tackling skills. I have not had much time in scouting him due to him being an underclassmen, but he is purely the number 2 LB prospect if he comes out.
Jaime Collins - Southern Mississipi - 6'3" 240 lbs
I know I covered him in my last article, but he is my favorite outside linebacker in this draft. He is carrying a second round grade with a chance to slip into the 3rd. Clearly I don't understand why, there are no evident red flags. He can run as low as 4.55 40 and now has 10 sacks on the year. I honestly feel like he should be a 1st-2nd prospect at this rate. Really good size and speed and can double as a 3-4 DE/LB as well. I cannot get enough of this guy on tape. His football sense is really great. I hope we can land him in the second. Turnkey replacement of Levy if he is gone next year.
Other prospect(s) to watch for - Gerald Hodges - Penn State, and Travis Long - Washington State
Robert Lester - Alabama - 6'2" 212 lbs
One of the more "elite" prospects entering this years draft is Robert Lester. He has been the beneficiary of playing alongside Mark Barron and this is why he has been held in high regard. This is a pick for potential rather than results, some people rank him in the 1st round, others as low as the 4th or 5th rounds. He has struggled this year being the main man in center field for the Crimson Tide but also has shown flashes of greatness. The Lions would be smart to at least kick the tires on someone who has played well but found some issues that could be ironed out with good coaching.
Philip Thomas - Fresno State - 6'1" 215 lbs
Another of the players I highlighted last time, is the ballhawk from the WAC, Philip Thomas. Thomas is the only safety this year in college football to be a finalist for the Thorpe Award. I really hope the Lions pick this guy up. With a strong combine and pro day, he may work his way into the 1st round, but most outlets right now have him in the 3rd to 5th rounds. I cannot believe that someone who is producing like Philip is being so neglected by the draft services. I am really high on this guy and still feel like he can be our Ed Reed.
Shawn Williams - Georgia - 6'1" 218 lbs
Shawn is the vocal leader of the Bulldogs' back four and is not happy with the way the rest of the defense has played. He is not afraid to speak his mind, but the part that does worry me is the way he goes about it. He is rumored to talk to the media just as much as he talks in the locker room. He does play well though, tackles well, and has good range for a safety being capable of a 4.4 40 time. I just feel like he will but heads at the next level. 2nd round talent but that will depend on the combine.
Eric Reid - LSU - 6'2" 212 lbs
Eric is this year's top safety prospect entering the draft but does so with a slightly falling stock right now. He is compared directly to Mark Barron and that means there is concern with his tackling technique. He is also an underclassmen that is expected to declare for the draft. Eric is kind of slow for a safety at a 4.65 40 but does have good intangibles. He will be a good safety but barring an improvement in tackling technique, I feel like he will not reach the elite level some are projecting him to be.
T.J. McDonald, Southern Cal, 6'2" 205 lbs
T.J. is an interesting safety prospect coming out of USC. I feel he is a tad undersized for his playing style at 205 lbs, and his playing style is that of a hard hitter, and loves to get after the running backs. He has great speed at around a high 4.4 40. His shows high football IQ and will be a great safety for the next 8-10 years for the team that drafts him. His initial projection is in the second round but this could easily climb him into the first round. T.J. is great in coverage as well, and can be a bit of ballhawk as well. Aside from Philip Thomas, T.J. would be my second choice, based on results alone.
Other prospect(s) to watch for - Zeke Motta - Notre Dame
In closing of this section, I feel that I need to point out that my projections are just that, merely projections. I would love to see three of the first four picks on defense but that probably just won't happen. I also would like to pose the question...If Manti Te'o, Björn Werner, and Jarvis Jones are gone, would you trade back into the teens or 20s and acquire more picks? Let's hear what you guys think of this question and the list above.