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Big Board: Clean medical checks give Lotulelei, Hayden boosts

by | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

Scouts and decision-makers spend the days before the draft huddled at their team facility, finalizing their draft board and attempting to project what every other club in the league will do once on the clock.

It is the time for smokescreens in which impressive on-campus workouts and dazzling private visits are often leaked to the media in order to camouflage true intentions. As such, the workouts aren't the details to focus on. The results of medical re-checks which took place April 5-6 in Indianapolis have significantly altered every team's draft board.

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2013 NFL Draft

For example, two players making huge jumps after being deemed medically "clean" are Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden, each of whom had previously been red-flagged with heart concerns.

The Big Board isn't a mock draft. There is no attention given to team needs or the selection order. It is simply a ranking of the 100 best draft-eligible prospects for the 2013 NFL draft before we get consumed by the annual data overload from player workouts.

Underclassmen are denoted with an asterisk (*).

1. *Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: Having earned all-conference recognition all three years of his career, including First Team All-SEC honors and winning the Outland Trophy in 2012, the baby-faced Joeckel is already a proven star who is just going to get better as he grows into his frame. Before blasting Joeckel too much for running the 40-yard dash in 5.30 seconds, recall that the last offensive tackle to be drafted No. 1 overall, Jake Long, was timed at 5.22 seconds.

2. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: While impressive against Michigan State and Iowa in 2012, scouts had some reservations about Fisher until a dominating performance against top competition at the Senior Bowl and he followed that up with a stellar performance in Indianapolis. Possessing the foot quickness, balance and length to be a "blindside" pass protector, it isn't out of the question to think the more physically mature Fisher could overtake Joeckel as the top tackle on some boards.

3. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama: Warmack didn't do much at the combine or Alabama's first pro day but frankly, he didn't have to as he ranks among the safest prospects in the draft. Warmack possesses explosive functional power as a drive blocker and has the quick feet and balance to provide stellar pass protection, as well.

4. *Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida: With so many talented defensive linemen playing in the SEC, Floyd didn't generate the buzz that his talents warranted until recently. Used predominately at defensive end a season ago, the 6-3, 303-pound junior was moved back inside to his more natural defensive tackle position this year and stepped up his play, earning First Team all-conference honors with 46 tackles, including a team-high 13 tackles for loss. While his Gators lost the Sugar Bowl to Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville, Floyd was dynamic, sacking the mobile sophomore quarterback twice and showing scouts flashes of untapped potential.

5. *Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: Milliner emphatically put to bed any concerns about his straight-line speed in 4.37 seconds at the combine, answering the only question scouts had about his game. Tough, physical and possessing prototypical size (6-0, 201) for the position, Milliner is the elite pass defender in this draft and a legitimate top five candidate, though he must prove his health after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum.

6. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU: Having only played football for three years -- and starting just one season -- the native of Ghana is as raw as it gets. Ansah is also as physically blessed as any prospect in the draft, demonstrating remarkable straight-line speed (4.63 in the 40-yard dash) and fluidity (4.26 seconds in the short shuttle), considering his 6-5, 271-pound frame. Proving athletic enough to handle converting to outside linebacker or staying at defensive end, Ansah could earn top five consideration if teams are convinced that he's committed to the game.

7. Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina: More athletic than Chance Warmack and proving considerably stronger in Indianapolis than many had given him credit for (35 reps), Cooper is a legitimate top 20 candidate, whose value is only increased by the fact he can play center, as well.

8. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: No defensive tackle has generated more attention from the opposition the past two seasons than Lotulelei, but the Utah star was put under the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons after a routine electrocardiogram at the combine turned up what appeared to be a life-threatening heart issue. Lotulelei has since passed "at least 10" medical exams, including two cardiac MRIs, considered to be the gold standard of all heart tests. The fact that Lotulelei was not invited back to the combine for a medical re-check is an indicator that teams are convinced the combine flare-up was a fluke, making the Utes defender a strong contender for top 10 honors.

9. Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: He played QB, DE and TE during his time at Kilgore Junior College (Texas), where Johnson had already proven his athleticism. The 6-6, 303-pounder showed just how athletic he is a left tackle at Oklahoma and backed it up at the combine, clocking in at 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash and registering a 34-inch vertical jump. With only two years at tackle, including just one on the blindside, Johnson isn't as polished as Joeckel or Fisher but may possess an even higher upside.

10. *Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri: Measuring in slightly smaller than expected at 6-3, 294-pounds, Richardson slipped down my board slightly but remains one of the more intriguing defensive tackles in the 2013 class. He's the only defensive tackle I saw all year long hold up to the awesome Alabama interior offensive line, recording a game-high 14 tackles in that contest. He finished 2012 just four tackles behind linebacker Andrew Wilson as Missouri's leading tackler with 75 stops, leading all SEC interior defensive linemen in this category.

11. *Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee: Of this year's skill-position players, Patterson presents the most "wow" factor. In his first season at the FBS level, Patterson, 6-2, 217, dominated the SEC to the tune of 154.83 all-purpose yards a game, easily the most of any player in the power conference. There remain concerns, however, about his work ethic and ability to handle a complicated NFL offense.

12. *Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State: Blessed with a quick first step, heavy hands and surprising instincts given the fact that the German-native has played just five years of American football, Werner, 6-3, 266, is the surest of this year's talented defensive line class. He does not possess Ansah's upside but is currently a more polished and productive player, having earned the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 with 18 tackles for loss, including 13 sacks.

13. *Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: Scouts are left to question how much of Jones' statistics were inflated by scheme after a less than impressive pro day workout. Jones may slip on draft day but could prove a steal if he falls out of the top half, just as Terrell Suggs did after a poor workout at Arizona State in 2003.

14. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Some questioned if West Virginia's spread offense made Austin look faster than he really was, but clocking in at 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis provided numerical proof of his game-breaking ability. Some will peg Austin as strictly a slot receiver at 5-09, 174 pounds. I see him as a matchup nightmare capable of lining up at receiver, running back and returner.

15. *Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: Despite the 6-2, 210-pound corner wowing during measured drills at the combine, Rhodes left Indianapolis slipping down some NFL boards after a less than impressive showing during the positional workout and interviews.

16. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington: While lacking the size and physicality of Milliner or Rhodes, the 6-0, 190 pound Trufant showcased a blend of speed and fluidity in Mobile to arguably rank as this year's top cover corner. If the last name sounds familiar, it should. Both of his older brothers -- Marcus and Isaiah -- are already cashing NFL paychecks as cornerbacks with the Seahawks and Jets. Desmond, in fact, matched Marcus' time in the 40-yard dash exactly, clocking in at 4.38 seconds to solidify his first-round stock.

17. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith possesses all of the physical traits scouts are looking for at the quarterback position, as well as the work ethic to build upon them. He also improved his completion percentage and touchdown/interception ratio in each of his three starting seasons, culminating in a senior campaign in which he completed a sparkling 71.24 percent of his passes and threw 42 touchdowns against just six interceptions. A reportedly stellar performance at his pro day workout will push him up the board for some but only solidifies the first-round status he's had on my board all year.

18. Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal: Barkley wasn't dynamic at his March 27 pro day but in completing 55 of 62 passes he answers any concerns about the health of his shoulder and may have eased doubts about his arm-talent overall. The USC quarterback may lack eye-popping measureables but possesses the best combination of the three traits I've found to be the greatest indicator future success in the NFL -- accuracy, awareness and anticipation.

19. *D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: Anyone who watched Alabama dismantle a talented Notre Dame defense in the BCS title game knows that the Crimson Tide offensive line -- Fluker specifically -- plays with great power. Ignore fact that he "only" posted 21 reps at the combine. The 6-5, 339-pound Fluker shows plenty of explosion on the field.

20. *Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: Possessing soft hands and excellent body control, Eifert is the prototypical security blanket and eased concerns about his straight-line speed with a very respectable 4.68 second 40-yard dash at 6-6, 250 pounds. Eifert isn't the second coming of Jimmy Graham but has the length and speed to be a challenging matchup and is experienced lining up wide, as well as in the traditional in-line role.

21. *Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU: Mingo possesses the frame (6-4, 241 pounds) and athleticism to warrant top 10 consideration, but at this point he remains a largely unpolished product who relies on his natural tools rather than technique to make plays. Given Mingo's upside, it is easy to imagine him terrorizing NFL quarterbacks off the edge as a multi-dimensional defender. Considering Mingo's relatively pedestrian numbers (38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) this season, as well as the struggles of other former highly regarded LSU defensive linemen in the NFL, the general manager who selects him that high is rolling the dice.

22. *Keenan Allen, WR, California: Recruited by Nick Saban to play safety at Alabama, scouts knew Allen, 6-2, 206, had the physicality to warrant comparisons to Anquan Boldin. He also demonstrated the same lack of ideal speed as the former Florida Star standout during a personal pro day for scouts April 9. By clocking in at 4.70-4.76-seconds, Allen could easily slip into the second round -- and prove to be a steal.

23. *Robert Woods, WR, USC: While all eyes were on his quarterback, Woods stole the show at USC's pro day March 27, turning in much faster times in the shuttle drills, proving the quick change-of-direction so evident on his tape, and potentially securing a first-round selection.

24. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA: A few years ago Jones, at 6-4, 280 pounds, might have been considered a 'tweener. With defensive coordinators forced to adjust to the rapidly expanding offenses of today's NFL, however, Jones ranks as an intriguing hybrid defender who can hold up against the run as a base defensive end, while beating interior lineman with his quickness if moved inside on passing downs. Jones racked up an impressive 19 tackles for loss in 2012 and has been equally impressive at the Senior Bowl and combine since.

25. *Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: No player dropped further on my Big Board due to his performance (or lack thereof) during combine and pro day drills than Moore, who proved both slower (4.95) and weaker (12 reps) than many of the prospects measuring much smaller than him (6-4, 250) at the combine. Moore has proven to be a playmaker at both defensive end and outside linebacker but the lack of preparation for the testing could be a sign that Moore's statistics were inflated by the Aggies' scheme and that he should have returned for his senior season.

26. Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon: At a rangy 6-6, 248 pounds, Jordan's length and explosiveness off the edge make him a matchup nightmare for opponents. He proved every bit the must-see athlete at the combine, as expected. Unfortunately, while this Jordan might be able to "fly" in shorts like Mike, he hasn't been as productive as his athleticism would indicate. Jordan has struggled with various injuries throughout his career and this troubling tendency again arose at the combine where he announced that he would have to undergo surgery before the draft to repair a torn labrum.

27. Justin Pugh, OL, Syracuse: Whether he winds up remaining at left tackle or moving inside to guard, Pugh has the athleticism to go along with his 6-5, 307-pound frame. Only the fact that he has shorter than preferred arms (31.5") makes this a concern.

28. Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas: Instinctive, athletic and tough, Vaccaro has many of the traits scouts are looking for, although he showed less than ideal speed at the combine (4.63) and isn't a natural ball-hawk. He does possess the versatility teams require in today's game, as Vaccaro has starred as an in-the-box run-stuffer, single-high cover safety and even demonstrated the fluidity to handle nickel responsibilities. He carries some character red-flags, however, which teams will want to investigate.

29. *Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State: In terms of pure talent, Hankins deserves to be ranked among the top 20 prospects in the country. Unfortunately, his motor too often appears to in neutral rather than overdrive, something he didn't address well enough for my taste on or off the turf at the combine and is slipping down my board as a result.

30. *DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson: A polished route-runner who plays with burst and physicality, Hopkins is earning first-round grades from some teams. He didn't prove to be as fast as hoped in Indianapolis (4.57) but has the all-around game which should quickly translate into success in the NFL.

31. *Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford: Ertz proved to be quite a playmaker for the Cardinal but wasn't as impressive as I anticipated in Indianapolis, measuring in with shorter than ideal arms (31 3/4") and proving less explosive (4.76 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 30.5" vertical jump) than his game-tape indicated. His ability to threaten the seam keeps him just inside the first round on my board.

32. *Matt Elam, SS, Florida: An instinctive defender with a knack for making the big play in big games, everything about Elam's game is big... except his 5-10, 208-pound frame. Elam's physicality and ball-skills make up for a lack of elite size.

The Second Tier:

33. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: Snap to snap consistency has been an issue with Short throughout much of his career but he's also proven to be a natural playmaker, averaging 16 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and three blocks kicks over the past three years.

34. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas: Due to his time inside at defensive tackle, Okafor uses his hands very well and proved a better than advertised overall athlete at his March 26 pro day, as well.

35. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: The Arkansas passer wasn't as productive as hoped in 2012 but he possesses the physical and leadership traits to compete for a starting role early in his NFL career.

36. Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State: Athletic, instinctive and tough, Taylor is one of the best all-around cornerbacks in a solid class.

37. D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston: With team doctors' signing off on his surgically-repaired heart, scouts are left to focus on Hayden's undeniable fluidity and instincts in coverage.

38. Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky: Overshadowed in this class by Warmack and Cooper, the powerful Warford is a legitimate top 50 prospect in his own right.

39. Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama: Experienced inside and out in the 3-4 alignment and projecting nicely at defensive tackle in a four-man front, as well, Williams is one of the safer, tougher defensive linemen in the draft.

40. *Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama: Nursing a slightly torn hamstring, Lacy wasn't able to work out at the combine or Alabama's pro day. Scouts are getting anxious to learn if he's a slow-healer or just slow. He'll get his chance to prove he's neither by working out on April 11.

41. Cornelius (Tank) Carradine, DE, Florida State: Having torn his ACL in November, Carradine will first have to prove his health to warrant this lofty grade but the talent and effort on tape is enough to warrant taking the risk. He'll attempt to prove his health during an individual pro day April 4.

42. Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers: A former safety turned linebacker, Greene is a turnover machine (played a role in 24 turnovers over his career), and a future NFL star as a 4-3 weakside linebacker.

43. Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas State: Scouts wish he was a bit bigger and made more impactful plays but no linebacker in the draft plays with greater instincts, hustle and reliable open-field tackling than Brown.

44. Margus Hunt, DE, SMU: Hunt began the 2012 season atop Bruce Feldman's "Freak" list as the nation's top athlete and certainly didn't disappoint at the combine, posting a 4.62 40-yard dash and tying all defensive linemen with 38 reps of 225 pounds at 6-8, 277-pounds.

45. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame: Te'o improved his time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day but 4.7 seconds is still too slow for me to consider an inside linebacker in the first round.

46. *Eric Reid, FS, LSU: Terrific in run support but questionable instincts, fluidity could make him a liability in coverage in the NFL.

47. *Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee: Hunter dropped too many big passes for my taste in 2012 but he's shockingly fluid for a 6-4, 196-pounder and could emerge as a Pro Bowl talent with greater concentration.

48. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: Banks ran poorly at the combine (4.61) but has the length, physicality and aggression to be successful in a press scheme. His 16 career interceptions largely against SEC competition should not suddenly be forgotten because of a poor 40-yard dash.

49. Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International: The ultra-physical Cyprien was dynamic in Mobile, erasing my previous concerns about his level of competition, but speed (4.64) is a concern.

50. John Jenkins, DT, Georgia: Jenkins did not produce elite statistics (50 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack) but at 6-4, 346 pounds, however, Jenkins certainly possesses the beef to clog running lanes and is experienced at both nose guard and defensive end in the 3-4 alignment.

Just missed the cut

51. *Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
52. Phillip Thomas, FS, Fresno State
53. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
54. E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
55. Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern
56. Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
57. Terron Armstread, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
58. *Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
59. Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
60. *Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
61. *Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
62. *David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
63. *David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado
64. Barrett Jones, OC, Alabama
65. Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
66. *Travis Frederick, OC, Wisconsin
67. *Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
68. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
69. Brian Winters, OG, Kent State
70. Dwayne Gratz, CB, Connecticut
71. *Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
72. Sio Moore, OLB, Connecticut*
73. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
74. Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
75. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
76. *Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss
77. Jordan Reed, TE, Florida
78. Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
79. Bacarri Rambo, FS, Georgia
80. Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
81. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Oregon
82. Vance McDonald, TE, Rice
83. Josh Boyce, WR, TCU
84. Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
85. Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State
86. *Chris Faulk, OT, LSU
87. John Simon, OLB, Ohio State
88. Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
89. Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State
90. Robert Alford, CB, Southeast Louisiana
91. D.J. Swearinger, SS, South Carolina
92. Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M
93. *Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
94. *Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
95. *Corey Lemonier, OLB, Auburn
96. *Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
97. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
98. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
99. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
100. Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina

Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.


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