Let’s face it; Monday mornings are abysmal. It’s signals the start of a new work week and the waiting game begins for 5:00 on Friday evening. For me, the idea of Monday morning is made easier with waking up to read Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback. I am anything but a vivacious reader. It is one of two must reads for me on a week in and week out basis. This week’s MMQB was especially intriguing to me as King opens up the draft mind of Scott Pioli on the 2013 underclassmen class.
It’s a rarity that we get such insight from someone not so far removed from the draft process. As much or as little as you will say about Scott Pioli as a General Manager, you have to respect the fact that he has been in a position as a top decision maker in an NFL organization.
Outside of the actual board, one item stuck out to me in King’s article. Pioli says “this draft may have a record number of underclassmen, but it may not be the quality that people are expecting”.
Important to note is that Pioli points out that at this time of the year these are very fluid. So don’t rush to judgement based off this revealing look into Pioli’s draft underclassmen draft board.
1. Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M. Strong candidate for the first overall pick. Three-year starter at left tackle in the Big 12 and never red-shirted. A true height-weight-speed prospect who plays with good athleticism and body control. Will play early while he develops better hip and core strength. Good teammate too.
2. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. One of the youngest players in the draft (20), but a very experienced corner from the best-coached DB group in the country. Milliner has the flexibility, intelligence and experience to play outside corner and also line up in the slot. Should contribute on special teams early in his career.
3. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida. Also 20, Floyd is a strong, athletic defensive lineman who, at 6-foot-3 and 303 pounds, has position and scheme versatility. Good competitor and tough player against the run and pass. Not great sack numbers, but consistently disruptive in the pass rush, and the type of player who makes those around him better by making the offense concentrate so much on stopping him.
4. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. Born in Germany, Werner learned football while at a Connecticut prep school as an exchange student. Played just two prep years before signing with Florida Stats. Two-year starter at left end in FSU’s base and sub packages who shows surprising natural instincts, good hand strength and athletic ability. Pretty impressive to see he had 13 sacks in the ACC in the 2012 season.
5. Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State. At 6-3 and 335, he still has the athleticism to line up at multiple positions on the line — not just at the nose. Active and instinctive, and showed improvement from 2011. Very good player versus the run that needs to continue to improve his every-down consistency.
6. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama. Low-mileage rusher (355 carries in three seasons with the Tide) who played behind two outstanding backs early in his career (Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson). Averaged 6.8 yards per rush in his college career behind an offensive line better than some NFL lines. Good receiving skills, and a willing blocker. He should be an every-down back in the NFL.
7. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia. Began his college career at USC in 2009 and transferred closer to home after suffering a neck injury his true freshman year. Highly instinctive and productive college player, but at 6-3 and 241, could be a tough positional fit. Dominated certain games (Florida), disappeared in others (Alabama).
8. Keenan Allen, WR, Cal. Originally committed to Alabama out of HS, but decided to join his QB brother Zach to play together at Cal. Allen is a big (6-3, 210), savvy and highly competitive WR who has played the slot and outside. Lacks top speed, but is very natural and quick. In a WR class that appears to lack elite players, he may be the best.
9. Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia. Tremendously talented athlete at 6-3 and 232, and should be an every-down NFL inside ‘backer or middle ‘backer. Has the skill and ability to contribute immediately all defenses as well as special teams. Jumps off the tape and could have the most upside of any underclassman in the draft. But some off-the-field issues will need to be studied before giving him a final grade.
10. Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State. Three-year starter who was hampered this season by a knee injury that he played through. Good height-weight-speed prospect at 6-6 and 255 who right now is more receiver than blocker. I’m high on his ability to produce as an offensive tight end right now in the more wide-open NFL offenses. He’s what we call an “F-type” tight end, a receiver who can play off the line probably more productively than as a blocker right now.
Far be it from me to pass criticism on a guy like Scott Pioli but I can’t see Gavin Escobar ahead of Zach Ertz or Tyler Eifert. Pioli says it himself that Escobar doesn’t bring the ability to block in-line at the next level and will be headed into the draft as a flex TE. In my mind, Ertz and Eifert carry similar abilities to flex out but bring the added facet in that they will be able to play in-line as blockers. Outside of that one, I can’t complain about how Pioli’s board shakes out at this point in the process. Some ‘top names’ are missing that many will question. Most notably a couple of pass rushers in Damontre Moore and Barkevious Mingo but I have a feeling that may be the case on several teams draft boards. While I would consider Sheldon Richardson an omission, he was considered a senior prior to the season by NFL teams and most likely why he’s not listed.
Take this for what it is, which is an unprecedented view into an (former) NFL decision makers thought process on the 2013 NFL Draft underclassmen class. Nice work, Peter.