NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
This week we wrap up our Top Senior Prospects series with the most talented and competitive conference in America, the SEC. Year in and year out the SEC is one of the most prolific conferences when it comes to producing NFL prospects. 2013 isn’t going to be any different, as from top to bottom the SEC might be as talented as it ever. While there are close to a hundred underclassmen who could figure into Aprils draft, there are some very good Seniors as well.
Robert Lester, FS – The top Senior FS prospect in my opinion. Had a breakout Sophomore season where he intercepted eight passes, but only picked off two in 2011. Lester is a very good athlete with good range, anticipation skills and solid ball skills. He’s at his best when he is covering the deep third of the field. Lester has the ability to play both safety positions, but he has to become a better tackler. Based on his instincts and play-making skills Lester is a safe bet to be selected in the first two rounds.
Jesse Williams, DE – An Australian who is relatively new to football (he’s only been playing since 15). One of the strongest players in college football, Williams can occupy blockers and allows the Alabama linebackers to run free and make plays. He is an ideal 3-4 DE, who plays inside on passing downs. He could also play the nose at the next level if needed. Williams needs some seasoning and must improve technique/fundamentals, but based on what he showed in his first year at Alabama, he could be very good.
Chance Warmack, OG- Warmack has been overshadowed by Barrett Jones, but he is the better player and better NFL prospect in my opinion. Warmack is a dominating run blocker, who can bulldoze defenders off the line. He plays with leverage and exhibits good flexibility and bend for a man of his size. Once he gets position on a defender it’s over. Warmack is also a solid pass blocker, relying mainly on his strength and ability to anchor. Warmack will be in consideration for a first round pick next April.
Barrett Jones, OC – One of the most versatile and talented linemen in the country. Has the ability to play OT, OG and OC. His future is likely at either OG or OC. Jones is a fundamentally sound tactician. He relies on footwork, leverage and hand placement to win his battles. Jones exhibits the ability to stay engaged in his blocks longer than most linemen, creating large running lanes. Won the Outland Trophy as a Junior and will be one of the leading candidates as a Senior. With his versatile and fundamentally sound blocking technique, he will he in high demand, making it likely he will go off the board in the late first-early second round.
Michael Williams, TE – Williams has long been a favorite prospect of mine. He is the best run blocking TE in America, with the ability to get movement off the line of scrimmage with ease. He has good footwork and does an great job of sealing the edge. Williams only caught 14 passes last year, but has improved as a pass catcher each season. He has the ability to be a bigger factor in the pass game this year and presents a huge red zone target. Williams won’t be a high pick, but for a team looking for a solid in-line TE who excels at blocking, Williams is the guy.
Nico Johnson, ILB – The next in a line of Alabama linebackers who will make very good NFL linebackers. Johnson is a versatile player who plays inside and outside. He has seen most of his time at Will linebacker where he is able to run free and attack the run game. Recorded 43 tackles, 5.5 TFL and 1.0 sack. Although he has been overshadowed by Hightower and Upshaw, Johnson has a ton of ability as well. At 6’3″ 245 and 4.65 speed Johnson has the measurables to be a high draft pick. Johnson has been lauded as one of the smartest players on the team, who can learn quickly and adapt to changes. Johnson is likely a day two pick.
Tyler Wilson, QB- The best QB prospect in the SEC and one of the top three quarterbacks in America. Wilson has a good throwing arm who has shown the ability to make the NFL throws and run an NFL style offense. He sees the field well and does a good job of reading coverage. Wilson exhibits very good pocket presence and will hang in there to complete the pass in the face of a strong pass rush. Although he is a shade under 6’2″ tall, like other top QB prospect Matt Barkley, Wilson has enough arm talent for teams to overlook the lack of height. Wilson is projected to be a top 10 pick and will be one of the top 2-3 QB selected in April.
Knile Davis, RB – Davis has prototypical NFL size at 6’0″ 225 and exhibits breakaway straight line speed. Davis has been clocked in the low 4.3s when running his forty. When given space and daylight, Davis explodes through the hole and is tough to catch. He doesn’t have great lateral agility and doesn’t break enough tackles despite his big frame. He has a strong lower body, but gets a bit upright when running, allowing him to be a big target to hit. Davis is coming off a broken ankle, which caused him to miss the entire 2011 season. Although, he has his flaws as a running back, Davis’ frame combined with his lightning like speed make him one of the top RB prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft.
Cobi Hamilton, WR – Has been overshadowed by the trio of Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs, but possess as much ability as any of them. Hamilton has a 6’2″ 210 pound frame with extraordinary athletic ability. He has track like speed and is at this best when he is forced to make a difficult catch. Hamilton has solid hands and doesn’t allow the ball to get in on his body. Hamilton is one of the better outside, deep threats for the 2013 draft. While his route running and technique needs work, he possesses enough agility, speed and play making ability to be one of the first WR selected.
Chris Gragg, TE – Took over for DJ Williams, last year and the offense didn’t miss a beat. Caught 41 balls for 518 yards. At 6’2″ 234 pounds and reported mid 4.5 speed, Gragg is a “movable” TE with very good athleticism. He has the ability to be lined up all over the offense and creates mismatches for defenses. Gragg is one of the best “receiving” tight ends for the 2013 draft.
Phillip Lutzenkirchen, TE – Lutzenkirchen is a big TE prospect who is one of the best red zone receiving threats in the nation. Has recorded 44 catches in his career and 14 of them have been for a touchdown. Many of catches come in the red zone and with him lining up in the backfield. Lutzenkirchen has improved as a pass catcher and route running the past two seasons, but still needs to become a better blocker for his size. He is a true “H-Back” prospect as he lines up in the backfield and off the line of scrimmage, much more so than in-line.
Onterio McCalebb, RB – McCalebb is one of the fastest players in the country and while he doesn’t have the frame (5’11″ 173) to hold up as an every down back , I do think he has a role in the NFL. With his speed and agility McCalebb can be used as a RB/WR hybrid as well as a kick returner. He catches the ball well out the backfield (32 receptions in 2011) and averaged 5.7 yards per carry last season.
Xavier Nixon, OT – Athletically gifted offensive tackle prospect, but is very inconsistent at times. Stands 6’6″ 314 with long, slim frame. Needs to get stronger and refine technique. For someone 6’6″ tall he is flexible and exhibits good knee and waste bend. His problem is that he is slow to set up vs. the rush and gets way too over-extended and loses balance. With his frame and athleticism, if he is able to put it all together he could be a day two OT prospect.
Jon Bostic, ILB – Bostic enters his fourth season as a key contributor on the Gators defense. Had his most productive season as a junior recording 94 tackles 10.0 TFL. Bostic is only 6’1″ tall but has a thick and sturdy frame. He has good speed and lateral agility, but gets blocked too often. His Instincts and reaction skills are solid, but they could be a better. The 2013 draft doesn’t figure to be too deep at the ILB position, so Bostic could really help himself with an improvement on last year’s development.
Baccari Rambo, FS – One of the best free safeties in the country. Led the SEC in interceptions in 2011 with 8 and was second in passes defensed with 16. Rambo has good range and good size/speed combo. He was poised to be a high draft pick in 2013, but has been suspended for the first four games of the season due to a failed drug test. The 2013 safety class is one of the most talented ever, Rambo is likely a 3rd-4th round prospect with everything taken into account.
John Jenkins, DT – MASSIVE DT standing 6’3″ 358 pounds. For someone with that frame Jenkins is very athletic, he carries the weight well and moves much better than expected. He’s gets off the ball well and can collapse the pocket. Right now Jenkins relies too much on his size and strength to win one of one battles. He needs to learn how to use his hands and come up with a counter move. Recorded 6.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks as a Junior. If Jenkins can build on the talented he exhibited as a Junior, there is no reason why he can’t be a high draft pick in 2013.
Shawn Williams, SS – During Williams’ first two seasons at Georgia he was a special teams standout, last season he was able to take hold of the starting strong safety spot and never let go. Williams was great all season leading the team with 72 tackles, 6 PBU and 4 INT. He showcased good range, vision and instincts. Williams is 6’1″ 217 pounds possessing the necessary size to play strong safety in the NFL. Along with Bacarri Rambo, they will combine to form the best safety tandem in college football.
Larry Warford, OG – Warford is the top prospect at Kentucky and one of the top OG prospects for the 2013 draft. Stands about 6’3″ 343 pounds, with very good strength and power. Graded out at 87.5% by the coaching staff last season and was one of the leaders in the SEC with 34 pancake blocks. Warford is a excellent run blocker, thanks to a powerful lower half and leg drive. Once he gains leverage and is engaged he is able to finish his blocks. He could stand to get in better shape and lose some body fat, but he is a very good OG prospect.