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 wide receiver prospects, make sure to check out my top 5 updated quarterbacks and top 5 updated running backs who will be looking to make it big in 2013. And as always, make sure to visit our comprehensive NFL Coverage section.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson - Tennessee
UPDATE: Patterson is still ranked as the No. 1 receiver after running a 4.42 in the 40 at the Combine, but it doesn't mean he WILL go first. He is very raw considering he only played one year in Division 1 football, but he does have the skill-set of a No. 1 in the NFL. His other Combine measures were so-so. And the National Football Post reported that teams were "very unimpressed" with his interviews. NFL Films Greg Cosell also stated Patterson needs "a lot of refinement running routes." The Chargers are one team who has been linked to Patterson as a first-round option, but he could see his value slip as we get close to draft time.
2. Tavin Austin - West Virginia
(Formerly DeAndre Hopkins - Clemson)
UPDATE: Austin, my former No. 4 receiver prospect, lit up the Combine with a 40 time of 4.34. A number that not only pushed his stock to first-round status, but also came ever so close to beating out Titans RB Chris Johnson's 4.24 Combine record. Cosell considers Austin the "most explosive playmaker" among this year's prospects, while Pro Football Talk said there is a good chance he could be drafted within the top-15 picks. Teams showing interest are the Rams, Panthers and Buccaneers. Austin is small at a mere 174 pounds, but he is a play-maker every time he touches the ball.
3. Keenan Allen - California
UPDATE: Very little has been said about Allen due to his recovery from a Grade 2 PCL tear suffered last October, even though he remains as the No. 3 receiver. Gil Brandt Tweeted that Allen is expected to visit with Dr. James Andrews before the expected workout at his April 9th Pro Day. Allen's draft status is very up-in-the-air as of this writing.
4. DeAndre Hopkins - Clemson
(Formerly Tavon Austin - West Virginia)
UPDATE: Hopkins ran two forty times of 4.50 at the Combine, following up with a 4.52 at Clemson's Pro Day. Draft Insider Tony Pauline said scouts describes his workout as "dazzling," with many likening him to Roddy White. Unless something surprising happens, it looks like Hopkins' draft stock is cemented as a second-round pick.
5. Robert Woods - USC
(Formerly Terrence Williams - Baylor)
UPDATE: Woods isn't going to be someone who will leap into the first or second round, but he has enough talent to take into the next level. More of a slot guy likened to Steve Smith of the Buccaneers, his value is, at best, as a third rounder. Woods is my No. 5 after Gil Brandt noted that he was the "star" of USC's Pro Day.