We have less two weeks left until the 2013 NFL Draft, which had me thinking about predictions for the first day of the extravaganza and more. Before I dive in, I wanted to extend my condolences and thoughts to everyone affected by the apparent terrorist attack in Boston.
First quarterback drafted
Syracuse's Ryan Nassib is probably the safest, most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft if you are a team looking to play it safe. I see a lot of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in him: Modest upside, little downside.
West Virginia wideout Tavon Austin is a dynamic gamebreaker and could go much higher than many people expect. He could go as early as the Detroit Lions (No. 5), which would make many a heads spin, including mine, but the Buffalo Bills just three picks away seem like a legitimate possible landing spot for him. I do not believe for a second that he makes it past the Minnesota Vikings' first pick (No. 23), assuming the St. Louis Rams (No. 16, No. 22) pass on him.
Most bust potential
Barkevious Mingo, LSU's more prominent defensive end, is a 'tweener with far too many negatives to outweigh the positives of "looks the part" and "times well." He can't hold up against the run, lacks play recognition skills, has a slight build, doesn't have experience at outside linebacker, and doesn't utilize an array of pass-rushing moves. While most of that is correctable, I wouldn't want to be on the coaching staff in charge of making it happen.
Most star potential
Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel has all of the physical tools and intelligence to shine at the next level. Can he stay healthy, and will he better protect the football? If "yes" the answer to both, some team has a multi-time Pro Bowler on their roster in late April. Manuel will go in the first round or very early second after a team trades up for him.
Sleepers to watch
Florida International strong safety Jonathan Cyprien is a thumper and should find a place early in Day 2 selections. He is a bit of a work-in-progress, but would you expect anything less from a sleeper pick? Cyprien displays playmaking ability when the ball is in the air, and he is more than capable against the run, too.
Tyler Wilson is a gunslinging quarterback prospect from Arkansas who is undersized but plays with moxie. Some people think he has first-round potential, although I have a hard time seeing that happening. I would be surprised if he wasn't a second-rounder.
Texas A&M rusher Christine Michael is well-built but has an injury history to be concerned with. The Aggies back has some attitude issues but boasts enough talent to outweigh them if he can prove that his head is screwed on straight. A nose for the end zone may be his best attribute, which should give him an opportunity to secure a short-yardage role in the pros if all else fails.