I’ve been breaking down prospects every day since the end of January. Of the top 75 players on my board, I’ve now posted an in-depth scouting report on 60 of them. With the draft now just two weeks away, though, it’s time to step back and look at the big picture. Here are my top five players at each position.
1 Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
2 E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
3 Matt Barkley, QB, USC
4 Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
5 Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Analysis: Ryan Nassib, Mike Glennon, Tyler Wilson are all out of my top five. Smith and Manuel are a big step ahead of the rest of the class, in my view. Manuel has the potential to start as soon as 2013.
1 Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
2 Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M
3 Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt
4 Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
5 Giovani Bernard, RB, UNC
Analysis: To show you how much the importance of running backs has decreased, consider that I have Franklin—a running back I love—ranked 41st on my board. I have Michael and Stacy rated higher than just about anyone. Take a look at Stacy and his closest comp:
Zac Stacy: 5-9, 216 pounds, 3,143 yards, 5.4 YPC, 4.55 40-yard dash, 6.70 three-cone drill, 4.17 short shuttle, 27 reps
Player X: 5-9, 215 pounds, 3,431 yards, 5.6 YPC, 4.55 40-yard dash, 6.79 three-cone drill, 4.16 short shuttle, 28 reps
That “Player X” is Doug Martin.
1 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
2 Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
3 Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
4 Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
5 Da’Rick Rodgers, WR, Tennessee Tech
Analysis: I’m very close to ranking both Rodgers and Baylor’s Terrance Williams ahead of Patterson, knocking him out of my top five. The best predictor of future success is past success, and Patterson’s 778 receiving yards in 2012 scare me. Hopkins is now ranked in my top 15 overall. I’m confident that he’ll end up being the most productive player in this class.
1 Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
2 Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
3 Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
4 Jordan Reed, TE, Florida
5 Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
Analysis: I actually like Kelce about as much as Eifert because he’s probably the best blocking tight end in this class. Reed is a high-upside player who could end up as the most productive receiver.
1 Jonathan Cooper, G, UNC
2 Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
3 Kyle Long, G, Oregon
4 Brian Winters, G, Kent State
5 Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
Analysis: Cooper and Warmack are obviously the top interior linemen, and Long is a high-ceiling player who could potentially play outside.
1 Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
2 Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
3 Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
4 Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
5 David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado
Analysis: Most agree that Johnson has perhaps the most upside for any offensive tackle in the 2013 class, but I think he’s prepared to play at an elite level right now. He and Joeckel make up the top tier of offensive tackles with Watson joining Fisher in the next tier. Bakhtiari is a surprise choice who I really like because he has long arms and can play anywhere along the line. I have Terron Armstead ranked sixth ahead of D.J. Fluker.
Check back tomorrow for my top five players at each defensive position.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.