Posted: Wednesday August 29, 2012 10:54AM ; Updated: Wednesday August 29, 2012 1:21PM
Tony Pauline

Top prospects for '13 Draft: Offense

Story Highlights

Led by USC's Matt Barkley, the 2013 NFL Draft features a slew of talented QBs

Wisconsin's Montee Ball is one of the few three-down RB prospects this season

Two North Carolina offensive lineman will likely be first-round selections in 2013

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The 2012 NFL Draft was just four months ago, but with a new college season ready to kick off, it's time to look forward. Next year's draft has a decidedly Pac-12 and ACC flavor at the offensive positions and will be headlined by a group of talented seniors. The quarterback position could develop into a strength and 2013 also looks like a draft rich with offensive linemen. (* Denotes underclassmen)


Matt Barkley, USC: Barkley surprised many by returning to USC for his senior season, but in the end his gamble could pay off. The Trojan QB is precise with his throws and consistently makes good decisions in the pocket. He'll be the first quarterback selected in the 2013 draft and could end up as the top pick overall.

Logan Thomas*, Virginia Tech: Thomas was tremendous in 2011 as a first-year starter. He offers the size, pocket stature and arm strength to lead a franchise at the next level. Thomas reminds many in the scouting community of Ben Roethlisberger, and league decision-makers are excited about his future.

Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: Wilson turned in a terrific junior campaign, then made the proper decision by returning to Arkansas for another season of college ball. He's an athletic passer with a live arm and the ability to make all the throws. Wilson offers a good degree of upside potential but must improve his decision making and defensive reads if he's going to be a first-round choice next April.

E.J. Manuel, Florida State: Manuel has the best physical skills of any quarterback on this list. He beats opponents with his strong arm and quick-footed ball carrying. Manuel offers tremendous potential, but is still rough around the edges. He could easily make a major leap up draft boards with a big senior campaign.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones was effective at the start of last season, but faded down the stretch and has scouts questioning his skills at the next level. He's a solid NFL prospect who makes good decisions in the pocket, but Jones is not considered a franchise quarterback by league executives.

Tyler Bray*, Tennessee: Bray is a developing passer who showed consistent improvement as the 2011 season progressed. He offers the physical skills and mental make-up necessary to develop into a big-time NFL quarterback.

Zac Dysert, Miami (OH): Dysert does not possess the arm strength or physical skills of the top quarterback prospects on our list. Rather, he's a smart passer who accurately delivers all his throws. Dysert will offer starting ability for a timing or West Coast offense at the next level.

Sleeper: James Franklin*, Missouri: The Missouri signal caller lacks classic height for the next level (barely 6-foot-2), but possesses the other skills necessary to start in the NFL. Franklin accurately makes all the passes, spreading the ball around to his targets while also beating opponents with his ability as a runner.

Running Backs

Montee Ball, Wisconsin: Many in the scouting community felt Ball would've been a first-round pick had he opted for last April's draft. He offers a solid combination of size, power and elusiveness as well as the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Ball enters the season as one of the few three-down prospects at the running back position.

Marcus Lattimore*, South Carolina: Lattimore appeared to be a potential franchise back early in his college career before sustaining a season-ending knee injury last October. He possesses great physical skills, ball-carrying instincts and is the complete package at the position. Lattimore's return to the field this season will be closely monitored and will ultimately determine his draft grade.

Christine Michael, Texas A&M: Michael is a grinder with the ability to carry the load and pummel opponents on the inside. He also plays with a good degree of intelligence, finding running lanes and even making defenders miss. Michael is not a breakaway threat, but would be a perfect fit for a power running game.

Andre Ellington, Clemson: The versatile Ellington produces carrying the ball as well as catching it out of the backfield. He's an elusive runner who creates yardage and has the ability to make several defenders miss over the course of a single run. Ellington is also an effective target out of the backfield on passing downs. He'll be a perfect complementary ball carrier or situational back at the next level.

Knile Davis*, Arkansas: Davis was highly rated by scouts at the end of the 2010 season, but never saw the field last year after severely injuring his ankle in August. He's an explosive back who beats defenders into the open field, then runs to daylight. Davis must prove he's fully healed from the injury and complete his game, but he comes with a large amount of upside.

Sleeper: Le'Veon Bell*, Michigan State: Bell possesses all the skills necessary to be a dominant feature back in the NFL. He offers great size, terrific running vision as well as quickness and speed in his game. Bell showed flashes of brilliance in 2011 and the dynamic junior is poised to make a big move up draft boards this season.

Wide Receivers

Robert Woods*, USC: Woods has helped make Matt Barkley one of the best signal callers in college football. He's an electrifying wide receiver with natural pass-catching skills and is dangerous running after the reception. He lacks classic size, but has the tools to develop into a No. 1 receiver at the next level.

Keenan Allen*, California: Allen is another Pac-12 receiver that has NFL scouts intrigued. He possesses great football instincts, soft hands and offers terrific size, which he uses to his advantage. Allen's speed is suspect, but there's no denying he'll be a top-15 pick in the draft.

Marquess Wilson*, Washington State: Wilson rounds out a trio of talented receivers from the Pac-12. He combines the quickness and ability to run after the catch of Woods with the size and sturdiness of Allen. Expect Wilson to break out this season under the Cougars' new head coach Mike Leach.

Da'Rick Rogers*, Tennessee: Rogers is part of the Volunteers' crew of outstanding young offensive prospects. His large frame effectively complements his soft pass catching hands. Rogers needs to play hard every down, but comes with great upside potential.

Aaron Dobson, Marshall: Dobson is highly thought of in scouting circles and ranks as the top senior receiver on a number of boards. He's a sure-handed receiver who plays a physical brand of football. Dobson also shows great focus and concentration in his game. Whether he's anything more than a No. 2 wideout for the next level is debatable.

Sleeper: Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech: Davis possesses eye-popping size, speed numbers and flashes the ability to dominate opponents. He physically beats down defenders for the reception and at the same time outruns cornerbacks down the flanks. Virginia Tech lost their top two receivers from 2011 to the NFL and Davis is expected to shine this season.
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