Commentary

DT Lotulelei now atop draft board

Other players shuffling in the top 10; defenders continue to dominate

Originally Published: October 17, 2012
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

For the second time this season, there is a new player leading my rankings of the top 32 overall prospects for the 2013 draft.

We entered the season with USC QB Matt Barkley ranked No. 1, but questions about his game and an impressive early-season showing from Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones pushed Jones to the top of the board.

Now, after we've had seven weeks to look at the top prospects in the nation, Utah DE Star Lotulelei has moved into the No. 1 spot.

Lotulelei has been consistently dominant this season, and he turned plenty of heads with his standout performance in the Utes' loss to USC. He has clearly separated himself from the rest of the defensive tackle class, and his overall skill set makes him a game-changer on the inside.

Lotulelei is one of 12 defensive linemen in this week's rankings, by far the top position group. On the flip side, only two guards and one running back make the rankings, while there is not a single tight end or center in the first-round mix at this point.

Here's a look at the entire list, with draft-eligible non-seniors noted with an asterisk.


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1
DT
6-3
320

Analysis: Lotulelei held steady just outside the top five for the first few weeks of the season, but his dominating performance against USC was too good to ignore. His quickness and power were too much for the Trojans' interior offensive line. He also shows strong hands, nimble feet, the ability to quickly discard blockers, and impressive lateral range. Previously: 2

2
OLB
6-2
242

Analysis: Jones dominated Missouri in the season opener and has been steady ever since. He's a very good overall athlete and top-notch pass-rusher, has impressive range in both pass coverage and against the run, and can line up in various spots across the formation. Previously: 1

3
DE
6-5
240

Analysis: Mingo did not record his first sack of the season until last week's win over Towson, but his potential is through the roof. He has a long frame, an elite first step as a pass-rusher and outstanding speed for his size. He also has great range and closing burst against the run. Previously: 5

4
QB
6-2¾
208

Analysis: Smith is in total command of coach Dana Holgorsen's offense, throwing with exceptional timing and anticipation, and his 20 touchdown passes and 83.4 completion percentage speak to that. He is confident in his ability, has good mobility, and his footwork, mechanics and release are all impressive. If Smith keeps this up, he will be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick. Previously: 3

5
QB
6-1⅞
228

Analysis: Barkley's supporting cast has let him down some early this season, and his decision-making has not been as good as expected. However, he will remain high on the board because of his smarts, accuracy and ability to get the ball out in rhythm and on time. He will be a good fit in a West Coast offense. Previously: 4