She was good at gettin' there, but not so much for round trip.

Commencing Countdown, Engines On

 We have to brag on ourselves a bit.  Our Mom can't do it because our identity is so secret that even she doesn't know we're the Matriculator.  It always has something to do with Mom in the end. 

How come we are the best scouts in America? we had been asking ourselves for about a decade.  After years of watching players like Jimmy Graham, who we thought was an obvious top 10 pick, slide to the later rounds, we decided to start the Matriculator.  When you put your draft analysis on-line for all to see, it's a ballsy move.  You better be real confident.  You better be real good.  2011 and 2012 were historic draft evaluations.  Maybe the only one better than the Matriculator (ever) was the Steelers in 1974. It's been thirty years since anyone has even come anywhere near us.  In 2011 we were the only draft evaluators (and we are including all NFL teams and the major draft websties) who had Colin Kaepernick as a first round pick.  Ever heard of that guy.  In fact, we had him as a top 12 pick.  People said we were crazy.  "No scouting service has him that high," was the comment we heard over and over.  Our response was that no scout was as good as us. We'll let you be the judge on that one.  We also had this guy that almost everyone had as a 3rd round prospect in our top 15.  See comment above from the doubters.  Randall Cobb has been one of the top ten players in the 2011 draft class. He was drafted 64th but we, and only we, had him in the top 15.   No pundicators had Ryan Kerrigan as a top 10. Neither did the NFL teams as he wasn't drafted until the 16th pick.  We said he was top 5.  In two seasons he has racked up 16 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, 12 passes defensed and he's scored 2 touchdowns.  He's either the 2nd or 3rd best defensive player drafted in 2011.  Muhammed Wilkerson, whom we had at 13 was drafted 30th. He is a rising star, as is our number 6 player Phil Taylor (drafted 21st)  who had one of the greatest rookie seasons for a defensive tackle in NFL history.  As you can see, in 2011 we outdid every scout of every team by a significant margin.

2012 was even more ridiculous.  We had T.Y. Hilton as the 9th best overall player and the #1 wide reciever.  People were laughing across America until the end of the 2012 season where he performed as...well the number one rookie receiver.  Hilton wasn't a top ten receiver on anyone else's board and was selected in the third round as the 13th receiver in the draft.  Lavonte David who we said was a top ten pick (though he was drafted in the second round) performed as well as any rookie defender in the NFL. Russell Wilson as a first rounder? No way, we heard over and over again.  We were the only site that had him that high. If an NFL team picking in the middle of the round followed our draft board they would have had a franchise quarterback, the best receiver and the best defensive player in the same draft.  No draft scout or team has ever approached that. Oh well, no sense in beating a dead horse, even if it's a Bronco.

Once again you will see players in our top 32 that you won't find in any other player ranking.  You also won't see players like Dion Jordan and Barkevious Mingo in our top 32. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?  Anyway, the engines are on and the coundown has hereby commenced. 

Notable Players NOT in our top 32:  Sharrif Floyd (6th Scout's Inc); Dion Jordan (5th Scout's Inc); Barkevious Mingo (12th Scout's Inc.) and D.J. Fluker (21st Scout's Inc.)

2013 Top 32

32  A. B. C. D.-  Tight Ends Tyler Eifert, Gavin Escobar, Zach Ertz and Vance McDonald

Yes we're adding a few extra players to our list this year. These four are inseperable as prospects and are all barely scratching the first round.  We wouldn't be surprised if they become 800-1,000 yard guys or if they settle into the more average, 500-700 yard range.  

Tyler Eifert is an excellent athlete with nice hands. Our issue with him is not a very scientific one.  He's from Notre Dame. So were recent second round tight ends Anthony Fasano, Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson.  Who was the last difference maker on offense drafted from Notre Dame?  In the last twenty years they've had exactly zero.  Jerome Bettis in 1993 was the last one.  Eifert is borderline first round.  He's 32 A.  If Gavin Escobar ran a 4.70 instead of a 4.84 he'd probably be a top twenty pick.  His route running is excellent and he has the best hands of any tight end to come out in years.  If he can get seperation in the NFL he will become a poor man's Tony Gonzalez.  32 B.   Zach Ertz is almost an identical prospect to Tyler Eifert.  Our concern with him is that he came from the Pac-10.  He's soft.  We know he's not being asked to block much, but there is still a baseline of toughness required for the position.  He's 32 C.  Vance Mcdonald is the best athlete of the bunch.  He put up massive numbers at the Combine running a 4.60 at 267 pounds and adding 31 reps of the bench press.  He backed that up with solid production at Rice.  He has the most upside.  He's 32 D.  Todd Mcshay ranked Tyler Eifert as the best skill position player in the entire draft. We'll take the other three and bet that Eifert won't even be the best tight end in this draft.  One mill-yun dollars.   Scout's Inc (BSPNs dart throwers) have Eifert ranked 16th, Ertz 33rd, Escobar 47th and Mcdonald 80th. 

31.  Kyle Long- G/T, Oregon

Long is not nearly a finished product after only one year of major college football, but he has the athletic ability and toughness that could make him a star.  At worst he should be a high level guard.

30.  Giovani Bernard- RB, North Carolina

Bernard is shifty, super quick and has a knack for finding holes. Though he's not a big back, he has proven the past two years that he can carry the load. He's also a very good receiver.  His overall game is similar to Doug Martin.

29.  Sylvester Williams- DT, North Carolina

Yes, we have Williams ahead of Sharrif Floyd...and Jarvis Jenkins and Kawann Short too.  Williams is a similar prospect to Star Lotulelei in that he is big enough to hold up against a double team and has the quickness to generate occasional penetration.

28.  Tyrann Mathieu- CB, LSU

Mathieu is working to stay clean.  We'd say he's about 50-50 to make it but if he does he's one of the top 5 players in the draft.  Defensive players with his natural instincts only come around a few times in a decade.

27.  Xavier Rhodes- CB, Florida State

He's got great size (6'1", 210 pounds) and he runs fast and jumps high.  His production at Florida State was good, but he is sloppy at times and he's reportedly a bit of a knucklehead.  He could go as early as the top 12, but we'd feel more comfortable with him about here.

26. Margus Hunt- DE, SMU

6'8", 270 pounds with a 4.60 forty and 38 reps of 225.  You just can't let that fall any further than this can you?  Is he Vernon Gholston or Jason Pierre-Paul?

25. Brian Schwenke- G, California

No other site has Schwenke this high, but we don't see much of a difference between him and Johnathan Cooper and Chance Warmack. Schwenke is a much better athlete than he is given credit for and he has a high football IQ.  We expect him to be an effective starter from day one.  He reminds us of Kevin Zeitler last year who should have been a first rounder.  The smart GM takes Schwenke in the second round over Warmack or Cooper in the top 20.

24.  Bjoern Werner- DE, Florida State

The German born Werner hasn't been playing football for very long.  He has improved every year at Florida State, but he's not an elite athlete and we think he has benefitted from the other talented ends around him.  He should be a solid starter at a minimum with the upside to be very good.

23.  Cordarrelle Patterson- WR, Tennessee

We were a huge fan of his early in the draft process but we are hearing talk of him interviewing poorly and possibly having some maturity issues. We know it's a shock for a receiver to be immature. He's big and fast and once he catches the ball (he sometimes looks a little shaky doing that) he's a gamebreaker.

22.  Kevin Minter- LB, LSU

This guy's all over the field.  He's a tackling machine and a big play waiting to happen.  He made 20 tackles versus Florida and 19 against Clemson.  He might lead his team in tackles as a rookie.

21. Menelik Watson- T, Florida State

He has the physical ability to make the transition to left tackle, though he will probably be a right tackle as a rookie.  He's inexperienced and will need a good position coach, but he has the raw ability on par with the top three tackles in this class.

20.  Jonathan Cooper- G, North Carolina

Cooper is big and a great athlete for his size.  He's a day one starter with the potential to be a Pro-Bowler for years to come.

19.  Datone Jones- DT/DE, UCLA

There are good tweeners and there are bad tweeners.  Jones is a good tweener.  At 6'4", 283 pounds he is both strong and quick having run a 4.75 forty with 29 reps at 225.  We think he can play inside or outside in a 4-3 and left end in a 3-4.  Nobody but us has him above Sharrif Floyd.  We'll check back in 12 months. (ranked 30th by Scout's Inc.)

18.  Dee Milliner- CB, Alabama

The jury is still out on Nick Saban's ability to deliver defensive back prospects.  Dre Kirkpatrick pulled the obligatory Alabama no show his rookie year and Kareem Jackson hasn't earned his lofty draft status.  Remember Saban is the same clown who drafted Jason Allen in the first round a few years ago.  However, we have Milliner rated above all of those prospects.  His hands were sketchy at the Combine and we don't like the way he tracks deep balls but his movement skills are elite.  Like most of our top 20 picks there are as many warts as patches of clear skin.  (Ranked 4th by Scout's Inc.).

17.  Star Lotulelei- DT, Utah

Lotulelei was everyone's early pick as a top five player in the draft.  He is a great athlete for his size and should command double teams, but he's not going to consistently generate backfield pressure.  He's similar to Haloti Ngata, just not quite as disruptive.  (Ranked 3rd by Scout's Inc.)

16. Kenny Vaccaro- S, Texas

Vaccaro is a high volume tackler who is also solid in coverage.  He has lapses and at times takes bad angles but he's one of the safer picks in this draft.

15.  Alec Ogletree- LB, Georgia

The team that drafts Ogletree will need to be the "right type of team" and we're not talking about a scheme fit either.  It will need to be a team that holds players accountable.  Someone like the Giants, Packers or Steelers.  If he goes to the Browns, Chiefs or Bills, he will probably flounder.  He is very undisciplined both on and off the field, but he flies around to the ball when he's on his game.  He recorded double digit tackles in ten of his last thirteen games.  Like most players in the first round of this draft, he's a boom or bust prospect.

14.  E.J. Manuel- QB, Florida State

We have to admit that in a normal draft year Manuel grades out as a second rounder.  He's got all of the natural ability in the world and he put together a nice 2012 season.  He's also got the "it" factor that is so important and so lacking in prospects like Mike Glennon and Tyler Bray.  He also can run and with the "new age" dual threat quarterback taking center stage the past few years we think he will sneak into the first round.  (Unranked by Scout's Inc.)

13.  Jonathan Cyprien- S, Florida International

Cyprien is a hard hitting, aggressive, athletic safety who dominated at Florida International.  He's the vocal leader teams covet on defense and while it may take him a year to adjust to the higher level of competition, he has the potential to be a difference maker.  Nobody but us has Cyprien rated above Kenny Vaccaro and almost nobody projects him as a first round pick.  We won't be surprised if Vaccaro is better as a rookie, but Cyprien's upside is higher. (Unranked by Scout's Inc.)

12.  Desmond Trufant- CB, Washington

Confidence is a big part of any cornerback's game.  Confidence without ability generally results in squa-doosh, but confidence combined with ability can be a beautiful thing and Trufant has both along with an NFL lineage. 

11.  Chance Warmack- G, Alabama

His draft profile reads like this:  "He's a mountain who was college football's best blocker, routinely dominating at the point of attack.  He looks a little overweight and sloppy, but he's a future star."  Oh wait a minute.  Sorry, that was Andre Smith's profile.  We have our concerns but it's harder to screw up in a phone booth than it is out on the edges.

10.  Deandre Hopkins- WR, Clemson

Hopkins is an old school receiver.  He runs great routes and catches everything.  He reminds us of Santonio Holmes but he doesn't have the knucklehead factor that Holmes had.  He doesn't have great speed but he's got great body control.  He posted 200 career receptions, over 3,000 yards receiving and 27 touchdowns playing in a "real" conference.

9.  D.J. Hayden- CB, Houston

Were it not for his bizarre heart injury, Hayden would be the top corner in this draft.  He's got shut down potential and according to most reports his medical has checked out okay. (Ranked 25th by Scout's Inc.)

8.  Ezekiel Ansah- DE, BYU 

When we first started scouting Ansah we thought he had the talent to be a top five pick.   There was talk of him not giving much effort at the Senior Bowl practices and at his pro-day he looked fatigued and disinterested.  Of course he was the best player in the Senior Bowl game.  He seems like the type who takes plays off and then decides to grace everybody with a few spectacular plays.  We worry about how his practice habits will play in the locker room but based on potential he is a top five pick.  He reminds us of another highly touted African defensive line prospect who was drafted with the 10th pick in 2007.  Remember Amobi Okoye?  He was a great athlete but never seemed to interested in playing football, particularly after he got paid.  Ansah also reminds us of Jason Pierre-Paul.  We'll flip a coin and get back to you.

7.  Tavon Austin- WR, West Virginia

We like Austin a lot, but we have to concede that in a normal year he's going to come in around 15.  The reason we have him this high is because the 2013 draft class has more question marks in the first round than any class we've ever seen.  Austin is slightly built at only 175 pounds but he can deliver explosive plays in the Desean Jackson mold.  

6.  Jarvis Jones- LB, Georgia

Make no mistake about it, without the iffy back situation he's the top player in this draft.  He was unstoppable his two years at Georgia.  The reason he's not number one is that he has spinal stenosis and some concerns about his fitness after he ran a 4.91 forty yard dash. (Ranked 19th by Scout's Inc.)

5.  Lane Johnson- T, Oklahoma

Johnson has moved into just about everybody's top 15 since his tremendous Combine workout.  His movement skills are elite and his hand use is as good as we've ever seen.  The concern with him is his slender legs and waist, but if he can find a way to anchor and get push he will be a Pro Bowler.  Think D'brickashaw Ferguson.

4.  Geno Smith- QB, West Virginia

People want to blame Smith for the Mountaineers struggles during the second half of his senior season, but he's only had a handful of bad games in his three years as a starter.  We're not certain, but it's possible their struggles had to do with giving up 50 points a game.  Smith will need to be in the right system to succeed, an up tempo or West Coast type scheme, and he can be a very good NFL quarterback.  His upside is not as high as the top guys from the past two years and we have some serious concerns about his footwork, but he should be drafted in the top 10.  (Ranked 20th by Scout's Inc.)

3.  Eric Fisher- T, Central Michigan

Fisher has a similar draft profile to Joe Thomas in every respect.  Our only concern with Fisher is how long it will take to transition to the speed and power of the NFL game after having played against lesser competition at Central Michigan.  If the Senior Bowl was any indication, he will do just fine.

2.  Sheldon Richardson- DT, Missouri

Every draft pundit has Sharrif Floyd ranked ahead of Richardson.  They are all wrong.  At the end of the season assuming they both stay healthy, Richardson will have more tackles and more tackles for loss/sacks than Floyd.  We guarantee it.  Richardson is the closest prospect to Warren Sapp in this draft.  He averaged a linebacker-like 6.5 tackles per game which is unheard of for a defensive lineman.  He's quick, strong and relentless.

1. Luke Joeckel- T, Texas A&M

There is no such animal as a sure thing in the NFL Draft, but Joeckel is very close.  He's got a large body of work against high end competition and he's produced at an elite level.  He's never had any major injuries.  The only knock we have on him is that he's not an elite athlete. Should be a reliable starter who earns his way to several Pro Bowls.