In preparation for the 2013 NFL Draft, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top draft-eligible prospects from FBS-level programs. This summer series will run until the start of the college football season.
BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES
NFL Draft picks past five years: 8
2012 NFL Draft picks: 1 – LB Luke Kuechly (1st Round, 9th overall)
Only six collegiate programs have produced at least one first-round pick in four of the past five NFL Drafts: Alabama, Florida, LSU, Southern Cal, North Carolina ... and the sixth? Oklahoma? Ohio State? No, the answer is Boston College. Despite only eight Eagles being drafted over the past half decade, five have heard their name called in the first round (QB Matt Ryan, OT Gosder Cherilus, DT BJ Raji, OT Anthony Castonzo, LB Luke Kuechly).
After finishing with a disappointing 4-8 record last season with a young, banged up team, Boston College will look to improve upon its sputtering offense, which ranked last in the ACC in 2012. And even though the Eagles return an ACC-best 17 starters, this squad doesn't boast many high-profile prospects who are expected to be early round NFL Draft picks. The top pro player in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Boston College might have been the school's all-time leading rusher, RB Montel Harris, but he was dismissed from the program in the spring for “repeated violation of team rules.” Nonetheless, the Eagles do have some NFL talent on the current roster.
Top-five prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. DT Kaleb Ramsey (6-3, 302)
With All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly opting for the NFL a year early, Ramsey (pictured above) is expected to be the senior leader of the Eagles' defense in 2012. Last year Ramsey was pegged by head coach Frank Spaziani as a player ready to make “tremendous strides,” but his 2011 season was cut short due to a left foot injury he suffered in the first quarter of the season opener. The senior missed the rest of last season, earning a medical redshirt, and is expected to be healthy for the 2012 campaign. Ramsey is a load to handle off the snap, but doesn't always rush the pocket with a plan and needs to play smarter with better instincts. He moves well for a 300-plus pounder, but too easily allows himself to get tied up with single blockers. If he can stay healthy this season and keep his nose clean (suspended for a game in 2010 for violation of team rules), Ramsey has the skill-set and natural size to earn a draft pick on day three next April.
2. OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis (6-1, 215)*
With Kuechly donning a Carolina Panthers uniform in 2012, the Eagles have a monumental void to fill at linebacker. And while it would be near impossible to replace his production, Pierre-Louis will be expected to take over Kuechly's leadership role in 2012. Entering his third season at weakside linebacker, Pierre-Louis started 12 games in 2010 and was a Freshman All-American with 93 total stops. He finished his sophomore year second on the team in tackles (74) despite missing three games due injury. The junior lacks prototypical size and strength, but is rangy with the chase speed and lateral quickness to be productive against the run and pass. He also needs to prove he has the durability for the next level, staying physical while avoiding injuries. Above all, Pierre-Louis needs to prove he can be productive without Kuechly eating up ballcarriers in the middle of the field. No one can (or will be expected to) replace Kuechly, but Pierre-Louis is a name to remember.
3. TE Chris Pantale (6-6, 255)
The top offensive player on the list, Pantale isn't a household name, but he might be the most talented tight end in the ACC. After 25 catches as a freshman and 31 grabs as a sophomore, Pantale's statistics declined with only 21 receptions, 236 yards and three scores last year as a junior. But the blame for his dip in production can be linked to the Eagles' struggles on offense, ranking 112th in the nation in total offense and scoring. Recruited as a defensive end/tight end out of high school, Pantale spurned offers from Michigan and Florida to enroll at Boston College. He is still a work-in-progress as a blocker, missing too many assignments in the run game, but he is a good-sized pass catcher with the movement skills and reliable hands to be a legitimate NFL prospect. Scouts would like to see Pantale double his 2011 production as a senior, but he'll need help from the offensive players around him in order for that to happen.
4. OT Emmett Cleary (6-7, 300)
The Boston College program is known for producing tough, hard-nosed offensive linemen, and Cleary could be the next NFL-quality blocker out of Chestnut Hill. In fact, he was so intrigued by “O-line U” as a high school recruit that the Illinois-product chose the Eagles over several Big Ten programs. Cleary isn't the most physically-gifted big man, but he offers intriuging size (6-7, 300) and enough mobility to handle speed rushers off the edge. However, Cleary's most appealing attribute to NFL scouts might be his versatility, seeing time at both tackle and guard in college. Over his first three seasons, he started 26 games for Boston College (18 at right tackle and eight at left guard), but moved to left tackle in the spring and is expected to protect QB Chase Rettig's blindside in 2012. Cleary is far from a guarantee to be drafted, but with a strong senior season he has the pedigree to earn a late round selection.
5. OLB Steele Divitto (6-3, 225)*
Besides being a candidate for the best name in college football, Divitto has emerged as one of the leaders of this football team. Despite living in Connecticut growing up, he commuted over an hour each way to attend high school powerhouse Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey, a testament to Divitto's love for the game of football. After he served as a backup true freshman for the Eagles, Divitto became a starter as a sophomore in 2011 and had the unenviable task of replacing Mark Herzlich at strong-side linebacker, finishing third on the team with 72 tackles. He returns for his junior year in 2012 and, like teammate Kevin Pierre-Louis, pro scouts will be anxious to see how he performs without the benefit of Luke Kuechly playing next to him. Divitto has the intelligence, strength and competitive drive, but will need to prove he has the foot quickness and fluidity before he's regarded as a top-flight NFL prospect.
Photo credit: US Presswire