As we hit the month of April and with the 2013 NFL Draft only weeks away, there has been a lot of updated news on several key players who are ranked in this year’s top 5 class in their respected positions. Some players who had been falling after the Senior Bowl helped their stock at the Combine. While others who were ranked fairly low on most draft boards may have been pushed down even further due to the Combine numbers simply not being there.
The NFL is a very fickle beast. A draft prospect can sit at home, train and do all they can to prepare for their name to be called. But while they are away from the field, they will find their stock slowly rising or falling just because it can. Front offices and NFL experts alike gather as much film on every player and look for strengths and weaknesses during this down time. This film is key because it shows how a player reacts in certain situations, while also showing GMs and other front office officials certain tendencies that they may not have noticed before.
A sample of this takes us back to the 2005 draft. Between the Combine and the draft itself, Utah QB Alex Smith and Cal QB Aaron Rodgers were vying for the No. 1 spot. It was neck-and-neck for weeks. But as we got closer to the big weekend, Rodgers found his value falling as the days went by. Teams simply didn’t see him as a franchise quarterback at the next level. Once the 49ers picked Smith with their No. 1 overall pick that year, Rodgers fell all the way down to No. 25 and was taken by the Packers. But as we’ve seen many times, teams don’t always get it right. Several playoff appearances and a Super Bowl ring later, it’s clear the Packers got the better end of the deal.
Below are the updated top 5 in this year’s quarterback class. As you’ll see, this top 5 is much different from the top 5 I posted way back in the middle of February:
After reading my Top 5 Updated Tight End Prospects, make sure to check out my
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1. Tyler Eifert – Notre Dame
UPDATE: Hands down the No. 1 ranked tight end heading into the draft, Eifert pushed his stock up even further with an official 40 time of 4.68. A slow number on the surface. But couple that with his 6/6/250lb. frame, and Eifert has all the physical tools to be a top-notch tight end at the next level. Will he be the next John Carlson or the next Kyle Rudolph? Notre Dame tight ends have been hit-and-miss in the past. But the Newark Star-Ledger quotes one scout as saying Eifert will be drafted “somewhere in the teens.”
2. Zach Ertz – Stanford
UPDATE: After running a 4.65 and 4.72 at the Combine, Ertz improved with 4.62 and 4.68 times at his March Pro Day. Ertz has the pass-catching ability and is considered more as a slot receiver, but poor blocking will cripple his draft value. NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline hears Ertz is a “favorite” of Jets GM John Idzik, but will likely be drafted at the top of the second if the interest continues.
3. Travis Kelce – Cincinnati
(Formerly Vance McDonald – Rice)
UPDATE: Having missed the Combine due to an abdominal tear, Kelce ran an unofficial 4.60 at his Pro Day last week. Pro Football Weekly reported last February that Kelce’s “train-wreck” character issues would push him to the third round. However, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock says Kelce is reaching second-round status due to his Pro Day numbers and his game tape. If he can keep the off-field problems behind him, Kelce could be a steal.
4. Gavin Escobar – San Diego State
UPDATE: Escobar ran a disappointing time of 4.84 at the Combine. But per Mike Mayock, he runs much faster on tape. Compared to a poor man’s Tony Gonzalez or Rob Gronkowski, Escobar could move up if Kelce’s off-field history continues to push him down the order. The latest news from Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole had two sources claiming Escobar as a “top draft target” of the Dolphins, who only have Dustin Keller for one year.
5. Vance McDonald – Rice
(Formerly Travis Kelce – Cincinnati)
UPDATE: Drawing comparisons to Jason Witten, McDonald ran an official 4.69 at the Combine. Once considered the second-best tight end in the class behind Eifert, McDonald’s value has dipped. His 31 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press helped, but teams may view him more as a blocker than a strong option in their passing game.