5 Prospects Ranked Too High in 2013 NFL Draft

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NFL Draft Analysts

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With a little over 48 hours left before the start of the 2013 NFL Draft, it is safe to say that teams and their scouts know everything they are going to know about the prospects being selected. They have between one and four years of game tape to review. They have senior pro days, all star games, one on one interviews and combines as well. This level of research and investigation is done by GMs, scouts, coaches, media and now fans.

It’s the information age. Access grows while behind the scenes information is revealed. And yet at the end of the day, these selections still remain huge gambles. The research is just risk management. I bet if you gave the draft experts and gurus a shot of truth serum, they would probably say your guess is as good as theirs.

In 1991, the sports world’s assumed authority on the draft, Mel Kiper had Iowa and San Diego State QB Dan McGwire equally rated with Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre. McGwire had three career starts and was out of the league by 1995. I remember when Kiper almost popped a blood vessel in 2007 when the Miami Dolphins didn’t use their 9th overall pick on Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. Now Quinn is fortunate to have the backup role he currently has on his fourth team in five years. Kiper missed terribly on LaDainian Tomlinson. He had Tomlinson ranked behind Wisconsin’s Michael Bennett, but it is Tomlinson who is the second overall TD scorer in NFL history. Yet he is still a respected authority and link between the fans and what should be pro draft boards.

Fast forward to 2013 and everybody has a mock (including me) and everybody has a draft board. Projected third rounders in January become third overall mock selections in March without an additional down of actual football being played. Who can say? This year when I look at the players of the draft, I don’t claim to be an expert. But I do know that 2+2=4. So when I look at popular projections and they want me to believe that it equals 6, it raises an eyebrow.

Let’s take a look at players who have high marks that might deserve lesser ones. This is not saying that these players will Jamarcus Russell themselves. This is not a "bust" list. This is just pointing out projected first rounders that may need the development time of a third rounder. Or a lineman who benefited heavily from the presence of his teammates. Logic that comes from a closer look makes them appear to be a tad overrated. I have 5 that come to mind right away.

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Lane Johnson - Oklahoma, LT

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Athletic offensive linemen are in this spring. A picture of Lane Johnson would fit nicely under that headline. However that position is a tough one to play if you want to come in and start on an NFL team. Johnson seems to be everybody’s projection as third best LT in the draft behind Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel. However, to my eye there is a major drop off between Fisher and Johnson. Maybe major enough to fit a couple of other players in there. Or maybe take him out of the first round all together. Johnson only played two seasons on the offensive line and that inexperience can be seen with a closer look. He doesn’t dish out punishment when run blocking and absorbs contact instead. There’s also no kick step in his game. Footwork is not where it should be. That is crucial in ZBS pass protection. He could also stand to improve footwork and widen his base. Doing all of this in a single offseason while learning your team's schemes and its defenders is a lot to ask of a top 10 player. Maybe he just isn’t.

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Jarvis Jones - Georgia, OLB

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The young man put up some impressive numbers. He led the tough SEC in a couple of key categories. However, he does not pass my eye test. When I watched Georgia games, I saw amazing team defense. Swarming efforts of pressure that Jones benefited from. I saw his opposing QBs hold on to the ball too long. I saw more opponent mistakes than any individual dominance. But almost everyone says he’s the best OLB in the draft. I read further and they too admit that he doesn’t have pass rush moves and he relies on “speed”. Right, he took that speed to the combine and posted a 4.9 40. I factor all of this in, and I don’t see a first round linebacker. His pro comparisons to Von Miller haven’t been carefully thought out.

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Cordarrelle Patterson - Tennessee, WR

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

This appears to be another situation where the masses have fallen in love with an impressive size/speed/quickness combo. It’s a valid combo, but beyond that, he’s a body catcher and unnecessarily so. He will either be sent in motion a lot just like his college days or he will be taught to use his hands at the line of scrimmage. The latter option will take time. NFL corners will jam him repeatedly and disrupt his routes if he does not improve. One year of NCAA level play with less then 500 yards and five TD is the best that the draft has to offer? No. I’m willing to bet that DeAndre Hopkins will be a more productive pro who is more ready to step on the field and start.

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Xavier Rhodes - FSU, CB

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Please forgive me here. I might be going through post Sean Smith trauma. It’s just that tall CBs who are prone to penalties and getting faked out of their shoes are cause for concern to me. This guy is a jersey grabber and a hand checker. That translates to game changing penalties at the next level. Again, not saying he should be an undrafted free agent, but the top 20 ranking that most folks give him is not something I agree with.

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Dee Milliner - Alabama, CB

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

This player being in this kind of slideshow may be a bit of a shocker, due to obvious talent, but this is more about the position he plays than the way he plays it. He’s being ranked as a top 10 talent to be selected in the top 10 selections in the draft. I just don’t believe in the CB position to that extent. There’s no cornerback in the world who can survive a poor pass rush. A major factor in the the success of any defensive backfield is the pocket time of the opposing QB. Give any NFL QB enough time in the pocket and any DB will be exposed. So in essence he could come in and be lock down caliber. However, if his team’s pass rush does not get to that quarterback, his life will be hell. Whoever takes him that high better have a great pass rush. The thing is that if they are picking that high, they probably don’t.