Top Stories of the 2013 NFL Draft

Last year the Colts selected Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the #1 pick. Kansas City owns the top selection this year.

Last year the Colts selected Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the #1 pick. Kansas City owns the top selection this year.

The 2013 NFL Draft begins Thursday at 8 pm with the first round, continues Friday night at 6:30 with rounds 2 and 3, and finishes Saturday at noon with rounds 4 through 7. More than 200 college football players will wait to hear their names called and there are many storylines headed into this year’s draft. Here are the big stories.

Linemen Dominate Top 10

In a draft historically dominated by quarterbacks and running backs, this year’s draft class features several linemen in the top of the rankings. Offensive tackles Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina), and Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) are all ranked in the top 10 prospects according to ESPN’s Scouts Inc. Defensive linemen Star Lotulelei (Utah), Sharrif Floyd (Florida), and Ezekiel Ansah (BYU) are also ranked in the top 10 of Scouts Inc. Several teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and Philadelphia Eagles desperately need help on their offensive lines, so look for these names to come off the board very early. Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M is projected to be the first selection (Kansas City owns the #1 pick).

Geno Smith  & Matt Barkley Under Center

Geno Smith is faraway the best quarterback prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft. The West Virginia product impressed scouts during the 2012 season (4,205 yards, 42 TD, 6 INT), at the NFL Combine in February, and at his pro day, in which he completed 60 of 64 passes. Smith could be picked #1 by Kansas City or #4 by Philadelphia, but will likely be drafted later at #8 by Buffalo, who has many questions at quarterback with Tavaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb.

The other notable quarterback in the 2013 class is USC’s Matt Barkley. Barkley was the preseason favorite to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy, but disappointed with 15 interceptions and inconsistent play. He injured his shoulder in USC’s game against UCLA, and missed the remainder of the season. Now, scouts are questioning Barkley’s composure and durability, especially with a lingering injury to his throwing shoulder. He is likely a second round selection this year.

CB Tyrann Mathieu (left) and LB Manti Te'o (right) have superior football skills, but complex personal backgrounds as well.

CB Tyrann Mathieu (left) and LB Manti Te’o (right) have superior football skills, but complex personal backgrounds as well.

Wild Cards: Manti Te’o and Tyrann Mathieu

Well, the season couldn’t have ended any stranger for Manti Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker led the Irish to a perfect 12-0 record and a National Championship Game with his stellar leadership. He then finished second in Heisman voting to Johnny Manziel, his Irish lost the National Championship Game by 28 points, and Te’o became a media sensation when Deadspin reported that his girlfriend, believed to have died of leukemia before the season started, did not exist. In fact, this woman was actually a man who fooled everybody into believing he was Te’o’s girlfriend. Very strange indeed.

Te’o then disappointed many people at the NFL Combine with a lackluster workout and an unimpressive 4.82 second 40-yard dash. The many questions surrounding Teo’s character and athleticism could drop his stock out of the first round.

Then there is Tyrann Mathieu, or as he is known by fans, “Honey Badger”. Mathieu’s career at LSU started off great. He won the Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP award in 2010, and followed up with the SEC Championship Game MVP and Chuck Bednarik (nation’s best defensive player) Awards in 2011. He was known for his defensive prowess, athleticism, and skill in the punt return game. In 2012, however, he was dismissed from LSU’s team, for what coach Les Miles said were “violations of team rules”. In October 2012, he was arrested for marijuana possession, left LSU, and entered a drug rehabilitation program in Texas.

Mathieu had a decent workout at the 2013 NFL Combine and his NFL Pro Day in March. He is undoubtedly a talented defender and kick returner, and his pure athletic ability will help him compete in the NFL. But with so many questions about his troubled past (Mathieu admitted he failed more than 10 drug tests at LSU), many teams could stay from the “Honey Badger.” He is currently projected by ESPN as a second or third round pick.

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