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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Top 32 for 2013: Barkley headlines a class that already looks deep


Matt Barkley and Robert Woods could help each other be drafted quickly next April. (US Presswire)  
Matt Barkley and Robert Woods could help each other be drafted quickly next April. (US Presswire)  

Quarterbacks, pass rushers, offensive tackles and cornerbacks are the keys for any team trying to win a Super Bowl.

The NFL has become an "air" league, which means the value for those four positions has escalated to even new heights.

That's why the 2013 NFL Draft has a chance to be special.

Each of those four positions could be a position of strength if several of the juniors give up their senior seasons to enter the draft.

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The top player on my early look at the 2013 NFL Draft is USC quarterback Matt Barkley. I think he would have been a top-10 pick had he entered this year's draft, but he opted to go back to school.

Now he has a real chance to be the top overall pick. He has great weapons, including receiver Robert Woods, and he plays for an NFL-style head coach in Lane Kiffin.

There are several other top quarterbacks who could challenge his perch at the top, depending on what they do in 2012.

If you're looking for pass rushers off the edge, look at LSU and Texas, where both schools could have two ends go in the top 32.

The early look shows that 2013 could be one of the deepest drafts we've had in a long time, including at all of the key positions, which I call the money positions in the NFL.

1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC: He would have been a top-10 pick if he came out this year. His size (6-foot-2) might be a concern, but it shouldn't be.

2. David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State (JR): This big (6-3) corner can run and play man coverage. That size is a bonus.

3. D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama (JR): I know the college people hype Barrett Jones, but Fluker is the better player. Fluker plays right tackle with Jones at left, but he will move to left in the NFL.

4. Robert Woods, WR, USC (JR): This is an explosive player who will be a certain top-10 pick if he comes out next year. He is 6-1, 190 pounds and plays like an NFL veteran.

5. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU (JR): He is 6-4, 245 pounds and had nine sacks last season as a sophomore. He needs to add a little weight, but he is explosive off the edge.

6. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (JR): Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. He can explode off the edge and would seem to be a perfect 3-4 outside rush player. He had 13 1/2 sacks last season.

7. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: He is 6-2, 200 pounds and plays well in man coverage. Watch how teams try to avoid him each week. He battled through injuries last season.

8. Keenan Allen, WR, California (JR): He is big (6-3) and can run. He had a big year in 2011 for Cal with 98 catches.

Tyler Wilson has the qualities NFL teams want in a QB. (US Presswire)  
Tyler Wilson has the qualities NFL teams want in a QB. (US Presswire)  
9. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas (JR): The son of former NFL defensive lineman Jim Jeffcoat is an outstanding pass rusher. He is skilled already in the art of using his hands to beat a tackle.

10. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: He played in a pro-style offense under Bobby Petrino and he has a good arm and understands how to read the field. He stands 6-3.

11. Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State (JR): At 6-4, 330 pounds, he is a force on the inside for the Buckeyes. If he keeps improving, he could be a top-5 pick.

12. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: He is 6-3, 325 pounds and he plays with quickness and power.

13. Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami (JR): He was the top recruit coming out of high school, but he hasn't always played up to the hype. He's a massive tackle at 6-8, 345 pounds, and he's a good athlete. This is the time to turn it on.

14. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (JR): At 6-1, 232 pounds, he runs hard and tough. He has to stay on the field as injuries have dinged him some and he's coming off a knee injury.

15. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU (JR): He has been a situational pass rusher much of time in at LSU, but he should do more this season. He has great quickness off the corner. Needs to get bigger at 6-5, 240 pounds.

16. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas: He is 6-4, 265 pounds and really came on as a junior last season. If he improves this season as much as he did between his freshman and sophomore seasons, look out.

17. William Gholston, DE, Michigan State (JR): he only thing holding this 6-7, 275-pound pass rusher back is consistency. He needs to do more with his size and speed.

18. Manti Te'O, ILB, Notre Dame: Te'o is a pleasure to watch, his ability to run and chase down plays. Can play run or pass. He is thick at 6-2, 255 pounds.

19. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (JR): He was supposed to be the "other" end at FSU to Brandon Jenkins, but this raw player from Germany impressed last season. He's just learning the game.

20. Eric Reid, S, LSU (JR): After a weak class of safeties, the 2013 class should be better. Reid is a playmaker in the back end of a good LSU secondary.

Terrance Williams: A larger Kendall Wright? (US Presswire)  
Terrance Williams: A larger Kendall Wright? (US Presswire)  
21. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor: Watching Baylor tape, I came to love No. 1 (Kendall Wright). But I also loved No. 2 (Williams). He is bigger than Wright, which could help his cause.

22. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech: He has a chance to really elevate himself on this list if he can improve his passing. He has a good arm and he can move but isn't as accurate as you would like.

23. Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M (JR): The son of former NFL Hall of Fame guard and current Titans coach Bruce Matthews is a good right tackle for the Aggies.

24. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: He is a 310-pound player who can move. Those types of players are worth a ton in the NFL.

25. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: There are some scouts who don't like Jones, saying his arm isn't good enough. But he will have to play himself off this list.

26. Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame (JR): When you watched Notre Dame, this kid really showed up. He is the next in a long line of good tight ends for the Irish.

27. Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina: The Gamecocks had Melvin Ingram go in the first round this year and Taylor should follow next year.

28. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU (JR): He is a ball-hawking corner who can also return punts. His size (5-9) might hurt his draft stock.

29. T.J, McDonald, S, USC: The son of former NFL safety Tim McDonald is a big hitter like his father. The key for him will be his coverage skills improving.

30. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: Here's another big corner at 6-2 who can play man coverage. Teams are craving bigger corners to match up against the big receivers.

31. Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan (JR): At 6-8, 310 pounds, he is a big tackle who overpowers opponents. He does need to improve his footwork.

32. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee (JR): He is 6-6, has a good arm and understands the passing game. It helps he has two good receivers.

Just missed: Ray-Ray Armstrong, S, Miami; Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama; Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State; Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin; Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA; Barrett Jones, G-T, Alabama; Gerald Hodges, OLB, Penn State; Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma; Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State; Alex Hurst, T, LSU; Ricky Wagner, T, Wisconsin; John Simon, DE, Ohio State; Kwame Geathers, DT, Georgia; Brandon Jenkins, DE-OLB, FSU; Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois; Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois; Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma; Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State; Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee; Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas; Robert Lester, S, Alabama; Chris Faulk, T, LSU; Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida; Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee; Baccari Rambo, S, Georgia; Oday Aboushi, T, Virginia.

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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