Unveiling my hypothetical 2013 college football Mock Draft
Most years, the college football offseason feels like an interminable slog. This offseason seems to have passed even more slowly than usual. The coaches and players will begin officially chumming the water for the 2013 season when SEC Media Days begins on Tuesday, but before we move on to actual news, let's take one more offseason flight of fancy.
Last year, I simulated the first round of a college football redistribution draft. The idea originally bloomed from my selection method when voting for the Heisman Trophy. When I vote for the Heisman, I imagine that college football is holding a draft, and the only data I'm allowed to consider are the performances from that particular season. Who would I choose first, second and third? That's my Heisman ballot. So, during the doldrums of summer 2012, I expanded that idea to a full draft in which every player is available. Players' entire careers -- not just a specific year -- could be considered, but NCAA eligibility rules still applied. A hotshot redshirt sophomore might leave after one season, so that factored into the selection process.
What makes this exercise interesting when compared to the NFL draft is that we have no idea how players will fare when they jump up a level. In this draft, coaches have the option to select proven players at the college level who have limited eligibility or roll the dice and select young players who have more eligibility. That changes strategies a bit. For example, the NFL draft usually features a very early run on offensive tackles. In this draft, the best offensive tackles are juniors and seniors. They're probably only sticking around for a season, so their stock drops a bit. Also, college coaches don't have to worry as much about the durability of running backs. They are selecting a player for four years at most. So while backs have slipped in value in the NFL draft, they remain quite valuable here. The order of this draft is determined by placing all the FBS teams in reverse order of Jeff Sagarin's end-of-season 2012 ranking. So if you think your team is selecting too high -- or too low -- blame Sagarin.
In both drafts, quarterback is king. While NFL teams with established quarterbacks can afford to ignore the position in certain years, that isn't the case for the teams in this college draft. In the redistribution draft, teams start with no players. They need everything. So a lot of coaches will want to choose a quarterback in the first round and build around him.
In fact, the first choice in this year's Imaginary College Draft is a quarterback you might remember from 2012 ...
What? No Jadeveon Clowney here? Isn't he supposed to sit atop every mock draft from now until April 2014? If this were an NFL mock draft, Clowney would be here. But this is a college mock draft, and no player had a bigger individual impact on his college team in 2012 than Manziel. He led the SEC in rushing and still threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns. Panthers coach Trent Miles can build his offense around his top pick knowing that few defenses in the country can stop Manziel if he's surrounded with enough talent. (Remember, there are 84 more hypothetical redistribution rounds that we won't be addressing here.) Miles can also feel safe in the knowledge that, if he keeps Manziel properly hydrated, Manziel will be -- in the words of Atlanta's own Big Boi -- cooler than a polar bear's toenails when Georgia State visits Alabama on Oct. 5. The other reason to take Manziel here? NFL doubters. While NFL coaches have opened their minds to dual-threat quarterbacks of late, some GMs will still downgrade Manziel because of his size. Miles could try to convince Manziel to play in Atlanta for three seasons. He probably wouldn't get more than one, but doesn't he at least have to try?
2. UMass: DE Jadeveon Clowney, Jr., South Carolina, 6-6, 274
I don't care that he's definitely leaving school after this season to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Clowney can do this. That's reason enough for Minutemen coach Charley Molnar to select him here. Clowney destroys offenses the way Manziel destroys defenses. One year of him is worth more than two or three years of almost anyone else.
The Aggies are in dire straits as an FBS Independent, but a year (or, by some miracle, two) of Bridgewater running the show could make them pretty attractive to a conference. Bridgewater can run any offense. He's athletic enough to be a dual threat, but he has the arm strength and pocket awareness to excel in a pro-style scheme. Plus, he's as tough as any quarterback playing right now.
Why Tuitt and not Notre Dame linemate Louis Nix III? Because Tuitt is a junior, and because his mom's view on football is such that there might be a slim chance he decides to stick around for his senior year. Terry Bowden had a miserable first season in Akron, but Tuitt could help year two go a lot more smoothly. Defensive coordinator Chuck Amato would have a blast figuring out how to use a 300-pounder who runs like a receiver.
Todd Monken's first year in Hattiesburg would be quite productive with Miller running the offense. Given the numbers Monken's quarterbacks put up at Oklahoma State, it's mind-boggling to think about the stats Miller might be able to record with virtually no break between offensive snaps. Miller could stay for his senior year as well, so that possibility, however remote, makes him a better pick than a younger, less accomplished player.
First-year Vandals coach Paul Petrino could take a quarterback here, or he could take a tailback who must play two more seasons in college and can set the tone for Petrino's offense. Splitting time with Eddie Lacy in 2012, Yeldon gained 1,108 yards and averaged 6.3 yards a carry. As anyone who watched last season's Alabama-LSU game knows, Yeldon can also catch the ball out of the backfield.
Fields was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a true freshman after leading the Horned Frogs with 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last season. He's suspended for the first two games of this year, but Jaguars coach Joey Jones could select Fields knowing he'll also have a dominant pass rusher in 2014.
Welcome home, Marcus. The Rainbow Warriors take the Honolulu native with the hope that he'll play more than one season at the school. That's a big if. Mariota has prototypical NFL size and he's an effective thrower and excellent runner. Last year, he averaged 7.1 yards a carry while passing for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns.
9. UNLV: DT Louis Nix III, R-Jr., Notre Dame, 6-3, 340
Tired of stinking on defense, UNLV coach Bobby Hauck selects the sturdiest building block in the country. Nix likely will only play one more college season, but he can set UNLV on the right path defensively.
In 2012, Gurley became the second true freshman in Georgia history to rush for more than 1,000 yards. If you don't know who the other is, click away from this column now. You clearly don't like football. New Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre is a defensive-minded guy, but he appreciates a back who can carry an offense. Gurley is that back.
Diggs led the Terrapins in receiving, punt return and kickoff return yardage as a freshman. His numbers weren't the gaudiest, but he also didn't have much talent around him. Green Wave coach Curtis Johnson, who worked with receivers for most of his career, gets an explosive one who must stay for at least two seasons.
Remember, the service academies still have to deal with weight limits, so Army, Navy and Air Force would avoid selecting jumbo nose tackles. Army coach Rich Ellerson brings a defensive coordinator's nightmare to life by tabbing Thomas to be the pitch man in his triple-option attack. (He probably also designs a package for Thomas to play quarterback.) Thomas might go to the NFL -- he didn't choose Army, which probably eliminates the service commitment -- or he might get recruited into a classified Special Forces unit that can take advantage of his speed for national defense purposes.
Eagles coach Ron English needs to win now, so he isn't worried about eligibility. He takes Barr, a destructive force who can line up all over the field. In his first season on defense in 2012, Barr racked up 21.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks.
Speaking of destructive forces from the Pac-12, Lobos coach Bob Davie picks up one of his own. Sutton recorded 23.5 tackles for loss last year, tied with Clowney for the second-highest total in the nation.
Blazers coach Garrick McGee only gets one season with McCarron, but for that season, butts will fill the seats at Legion Field to pay tribute to the guy who led Alabama to two national titles. It's only one season, but it's one season with one of the nation's best quarterbacks.
New Miners coach Sean Kugler is a former offensive lineman and former offensive line coach. Of course he's taking a Big Ugly. In the NFL draft, Matthews probably goes in the top 10 along with three or four other tackles. But because of the eligibility concerns in this draft and the fact that offensive linemen typically need some time to develop -- Matthews, who started at right tackle as a true freshman, is an exception -- the offensive linemen get pushed down. Still, Kugler knows he needs a great left tackle as the cornerstone of his team. Matthews, who is moving to left tackle at Texas A&M to replace Luke Joeckel in real life, is that guy.
Carl Pelini wants a defensive playmaker, and he gets one in the guy who piled up 115 tackles and 17 tackles for loss for the Buckeyes in 2012. Shazier, meanwhile, plays out his college career 25 miles from his home in Plantation, Fla.
We have the first reach into the freshman class as Rams coach Jim McElwain makes a bet that the recruiting services got it right with the top-rated player in the class of 2013. McElwain, a former Alabama offensive coordinator, knows dominant defenses win titles, so he grabs a player who, if his pre-college hype is correct, will terrorize opposing quarterbacks for at least three seasons.
Bulls coach Jeff Quinn is sorely tempted to take his own star linebacker, Khalil Mack, but with Lewan still on the board, Quinn can't resist taking one of the nation's best offensive linemen. Lewan will likely go quite a bit higher than this in the NFL draft, but because he has only a year of college eligibility remaining, he falls to the Bulls.
20. Air Force: RB Duke Johnson, So., Miami, 5-9, 194
As a freshman, Johnson averaged 6.8 yards a carry. He'll pile up huge numbers running the option. He also returns kicks, so he won't have to run as far from scrimmage.
Cooper returns home to Miami to help the Ron Turner era get underway at FIU. In Cooper, the Panthers get at least two seasons with a deep threat who led the national champs in receiving as a freshman, catching 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.
After last year's disaster, Tim Beckman is another coach who needs to win now, so he doesn't need to reach for a freshman or worry about drafting a sophomore. He selects Yankey, who can star at tackle or guard.
RedHawks coach Don Treadwell also needs to a good season to ensure he remains employed, so he takes the best quarterback left on the board. The combination of Boyd and MACtion causes scoreboards and televisions to explode on certain fall weeknights.
Marshall actually had the better per-carry average (6.5 yards) of Georgia's stud freshman running back combo last season. He'll team with Bobcats coach Dennis Franchione, who once coached a back named LaDainian Tomlinson to some pretty good seasons.
In a few months, someone may click on this page and wonder how in the world I had Winston so low. (Or they could click on last year's list and see that I didn't even have Manziel among the 125 first-round picks.) In terms of upside for quarterbacks who have yet to take a collegiate snap, Winston -- who is already drawing comparisons to Florida State great Charlie Ward -- probably has the most. Tigers coach Justin Fuente can't pass up a potential superstar who has to play at least two college seasons.
The Cowboys' Dave Christensen, who coached Chase Daniel to some excellent seasons at Missouri, gets one season of an even better version of Daniel. Murray can do it all. His only issue come the 2014 NFL draft will be his size.
Mean Green coach Dan McCarney selects a guy who could be taken near the top of the 2014 NFL draft. Kouandjio helped keep McCarron and Yeldon clean at Alabama, and he'll do the same for the quarterback and tailbacks in Denton.
This is a draft for college football players, so while NFL executives will shy away from Lynch's height, a proud Northern Illinois alum such as Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck knows Lynch is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. Want to own MACtion? Draft the reigning king of MACtion.
Of course Eagles coach Steve Addazio is taking an offensive lineman. In Hurst, he gets an athletic tackle with a ton of ACC experience.
Though he can only play one season for the Chippewas, Van Noy is disruptive enough that he should slow down some of those high-scoring MAC offenses. In 2012, he had 13 sacks for the Cougars.
Coach Larry Coker probably only gets one year with Lee before the wideout is selected far higher than this in the NFL draft. But at this point, how can Coker pass on possibly the nation's best receiver? In two seasons at USC, Lee has caught 191 passes and averaged 15 yards a catch.
While Watkins' 2012 arrest on a marijuana possession charge probably won't dent his NFL draft stock too much, it did cause him to slide here. If a team is only going to get one year out of a guy, he'd better not get suspended. In the case of 2011's most promising freshman not named Jadeveon, the two-game suspension Watkins received as a result of the arrest -- plus an untimely illness -- took him out of sync with Clemson's offense and allowed DeAndre Hopkins to become Tajh Boyd's favorite target. One of Watkins' few bright spots in 2012 was the Wake Forest game, when he caught eight passes for 202 yards. Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe still has nightmares about that game, which is why he takes Watkins here. If Watkins looks more like the Sammy of 2011, this is an absolute steal.
New Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham needs a quarterback to bring the Air Raid back to Houston. That quarterback is Hundley, who in his first season as a starter threw for 3,740 yards and 29 touchdowns.
34. Marshall: LB C.J. Mosley, Sr., Alabama, 6-2, 232
Few linebackers are more versatile against spread offenses than Mosley, whose speed and athleticism allow him to make plays all over the field. He's only in Huntington for a year, but his experience and leadership will prove invaluable.
Cougars coach Mike Leach will want a quarterback he can mold into his offense. Who better than an in-state freshman -- Browne is from the Seattle suburbs -- who can spend at least three years in the system? In real life, Browne will get a chance to compete with Cody Kessler and Max Wittek during preseason camp for USC's starting job. In this imaginary world, he's Washington State's starter from day one.
Troy coach Larry Blakeney once had Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware rushing the quarterback from either side, so he knows the value of a dominant pass rusher. Hubbard fits that description.
37. Maryland: CB Bradley Roby, R-Jr., Ohio State, 5-11, 192
Randy Edsall, a longtime secondary coach, grabs a dominant, physical corner to set the tone for his defense. Roby probably only stays in College Park for a year, but Edsall doesn't have to worry about one side of the field for that season.
Owls coach Matt Rhule snags a good young offensive lineman as a building block. Theus started every game for Georgia at right tackle as a true freshman, and he was moved to left tackle late in spring practice. He was listed as a backup on Georgia's post-spring depth chart, but I tend to believe the decisions coaches make on game day over the ones they make in April when a talented young player might need motivation. There are more polished tackles still on the board (Notre Dame's Zack Martin, Tennessee's Tiny Richardson), but they only guarantee one season. Theus guarantees two.
39. Kansas: OT Zack Martin, R-Sr., Notre Dame, 6-4, 304
Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis is thrilled Rhule went with youth, because it allows Weis to take a player he recruited but barely got to coach. Martin redshirted during Weis' final season at Notre Dame. For one year, he'll be the foundation of Weis' offense.
First-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops selects one of the players he recruited to Florida State. Edwards learned the position from Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Brandon Jenkins last year. Now, he has a chance to break out as a star in his own right.
Bobby Petrino needs a quality quarterback to make his offense work. In Hackenberg, he gets a big, strong-armed signal-caller with enough remaining eligibility to truly master the offense.
UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni makes the safe and reliable pick. Verrett will shut down a side of the field, and quarterbacks foolish enough to throw his way could soon be watching UConn's offense take the field.
When Mike London's Cavaliers challenged for the ACC Coastal title in 2011, their offense used the run to set up the pass. With Richardson, London can begin building a punishing running game.
Bulls coach Willie Taggart loved using former Western Kentucky tailback Bobby Rainey to wear down defenses. He can do the same with Dixon, who as a freshman rushed for 1,194 yards and 22 touchdowns while averaging six yards a carry.
Defensive co-coordinators Steve Ellis and Tyrone Nix get a star corner who has been shutting down Big Ten receivers for three seasons. Dennard gets to play his senior season much closer to his home in Georgia.
Talk about a value pick. The Pirates get a stalwart linebacker who can lead them in tackles and be used as a devastating goal-line back. Last year, Johnson -- whose wildcat package was called Beast -- led the Volunteers with six rushing touchdowns.
The Owls typically struggle on defense because they can't recruit elite defensive players. In this imaginary world, they can simply select one. In Johnson, Rice gets a quick, athletic tackle who can make opponents' plays implode.
Manziel would obviously be the best option quarterback in the country, but the Midshipmen have been far too good recently to draft high enough to get him. Who would be the second choice? T-Magic. Now, Nebraska fans can imagine the kind of numbers Martinez would have racked up playing for Tom Osborne.
Thought Gus Malzahn would go offense first? Nah. Malzahn knows he can use scheme to hide talent deficiencies on that side of the ball, but he's spent enough time in the SEC as an assistant to know a few elite defenders are a must for a team with designs on a conference title. So Malzahn simply keeps his top signee from this year's recruiting class. Lawson is an unusually strong speed rusher who should give SEC offensive tackles trouble for the next few years.
New Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian is keeping the Pistol, and he can find a quarterback to run it in a later round -- maybe even current Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo. But Polian won't be able to find another hyper-athletic 6-5 receiver. Polian, who served as an assistant at Texas A&M last year, knows exactly what Johnny Football's favorite receiver can do.
Bears coach Sonny Dykes can choose to play Purifoy at cornerback -- where he's established himself as one of the nation's best at the position -- or at receiver. Or, Dykes could play Purifoy in both roles. That's what Gators coach Will Muschamp plans to do in the real world.
52. Louisiana-Monroe: OT Antonio "Tiny" Richardson, Jr., Tennessee, 6-6, 327
Coach Todd Berry can take underrated quarterbacks and make them productive (see: Browning, Kolton), but elite left tackles usually aren't so much built as born. Having Richardson will make everything else the Warhawks' offense does easier.
If Indiana coach Kevin Wilson liked working with Jermaine Gresham at Oklahoma, just wait until he meets Lyerla. Lyerla is the flexiest of flex tight ends. He's so versatile that former Oregon coach Chip Kelly even lined up Lyerla at tailback on occasion.
54. Ohio: LB Khalil Mack, Sr., Buffalo, 6-3, 235
Bobcats coach Frank Solich takes the MAC's best defender. Mack racked up 21 tackles for loss in 2012, and he probably could start for any team in the country.
Like Will Sutton, Donald might be a considered a tad undersized come the NFL draft combine, but Donald is elite in the numbers that matter. Last year, he had 18.5 tackles for loss. He can affect opposing offenses on every play.
The Blue Devils get an elite pass rusher who led the Cardinal in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (18) in 2012. Plus, since Murphy is coming from Stanford, he can certainly handle the coursework.
First-year Purdue defensive coordinator Greg Hudson gets to work with one his favorite players from his old job. In 2012, Jones led the Seminoles in tackles with 95.
Kirk Ferentz opts to build from the inside out. He starts that project with a technically superior former walk-on who can bulldoze a path and protect Hawkeyes' backs from opposing defenders and Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God.
If Archer weren't a senior, he probably would have gone much higher in this draft. He didn't have his breakout season until 2012, but when he broke out, holy moly. He averaged nine yards a carry, 14.4 yards a catch and 36.9 yards a kickoff return. Rockets coach Matt Campbell, who luckily didn't have to face Archer in his first season at the helm, is happy to have the speedster on his side.
Golden Gophers coach Jerry Kill is a ground-up program builder who would love a wise-but-mighty offensive lineman as his first building block. Su'a-Filo is one of the oldest true juniors in the country. He started every game for UCLA at left tackle in 2009, then he left school to serve a two-year Mormon mission. Su'a-Filo returned to a new coach and a new offense but still wound up starting every game at guard for the Bruins in 2012.
Greene has led the Seminoles in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for two consecutive seasons. He also finished third in the nation in punt return average in 2012. That last stat will impress Cardinals boss Pete Lembo, a painfully underrated coach who values quality special teams play. Greene will help shorten the field as a return man, and he'll help stretch it as a receiver.
62. San Diego State: RB Lache Seastrunk, R-Jr., Baylor, 5-10, 210
When Baylor coach Art Briles finally turned Seastrunk loose last season, the Big 12 couldn't handle the Oregon transfer from Temple, Texas. Seastrunk averaged 7.7 yards a carry in 2012, and his combination of size and agility makes him perfect for San Diego State's run-heavy offense.
New Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema can't resist snagging one of his favorite players from his old workplace. In Borland, Bielema gets a volume tackler fast enough to return the occasional kick. More importantly, Borland can help his younger teammates process Bielema's philosophy.
New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen had hoped to choose his old quarterback later in the first round, but former Wisconsin assistant Dave Doeren gets Keeton first. Doeren coached Chandler Harnish and Jordan Lynch to huge seasons at Northern Illinois. He could produce similar results with Keeton.
Before Mark Hudspeth moves on to a power-conference job -- this is going to happen; check the numbers -- he selects an elite cornerback at Louisiana-Lafayette. Diggs can cover well, but he also likes to hit. He's perfect for ULL's brand of football.
Utes coach Kyle Whittingham suffered through a 2012 season during which his line could neither open holes in the run game nor protect his quarterback. He moves to remedy that situation by taking a player who has started on two consecutive national title teams.
67. Kent State: DT Daniel McCullers, Sr., Tennessee, 6-8, 351
Hopefully, Golden Flashes coach Paul Haynes can grab current Kent State defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix in a later round. Seeing the massive McCullers playing nose alongside the tiny-for-a-DT Nix (5-9, 245) would be hilarious to everyone except the offensive linemen who had to try and block that pair.
68. Pittsburgh: DE Dante Fowler Jr., So., Florida, 6-3, 277
In selecting a pass rusher, the Panthers opt for potential over production. With Texas senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat still on the board, Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst chooses a guy who has to play at least two more years in college. That could be a wise choice; by the end of the 2013 season, Fowler might be the Gators' best player.
Why change if you've already got a great quarterback? Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter keeps Carr, who threw for 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2012 with a 67.3 completion percentage.
In his first year in Larry Fedora's offense, Renner threw for 3,356 yards and 28 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Now imagine what kind of numbers Renner will put up in a June Jones and Hal Mumme-run offense.
71. Tennessee: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Jr., Alabama, 6-1, 208
Butch Jones knows how to endear himself to the Tennessee fan base. A year after a defensive disaster, Jones bolsters the Vols' defense by taking one of their hated rival's best players.
72. Iowa State: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olumu, Jr., Oregon, 5-10, 190
In the Big 12, cornerbacks who can cover and create turnovers are worth more than gold. Ekpre-Olumu forced six fumbles last season, and he won't be shocked by the tempo of Big 12 offenses. He saw a faster one every day in practice in Eugene.
73. Virginia Tech: DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Sr., Texas, 6-5, 245
Jeffcoat played in only six games in 2012 before he suffered a season-ending pectoral injury, but he still piled up 11 tackles for loss and finished second on the Longhorns in that category behind Alex Okafor. With some urging from defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Frank Beamer selects Jeffcoat with the hope that he comes back strong from the injury and annihilates ACC quarterbacks.
The Scarlet Knights just lost a heart-and-soul-of-a-defense linebacker in Khaseem Greene. Why not replace him with a linebacker who has had a similar impact on his team?
Seferian-Jenkins has only dropped this low because of legal issues. He's currently suspended from the Huskies pending the outcome of a DUI case. Washington coach Steve Sarkisian sticks by his guy and selects a coverage mismatch who caught 69 passes for 850 yards in 2012.
76. Louisiana Tech: QB Rakeem Cato, Jr., Marshall, 6-0, 182
When Skip Holtz replaced the high-scoring Dykes in Ruston, Holtz knew he needed to hire someone who could run an up-tempo offense. He hired Tony Petersen from Marshall as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The transition will go even more smoothly if Petersen is reunited with Cato, who threw for 4,201 yards and 37 touchdowns as a sophomore last season.
Gray led Texas in rushing as a freshman, and former Longhorns offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin brings Gray to Jonesboro to rack up yards for the Red Wolves for at least two seasons. Of course, given Arkansas State's recent coaching track record -- Hugh Freeze jumped to Ole Miss after 2011, then Gus Malzahn jumped to Auburn after 2012 -- Gray may outlast Harsin.
78. Miami: RB Brendan Bigelow, So., Cal, 5-10, 185
After losing Duke Johnson earlier in the draft, Miami coach Al Golden selects another potential home-run threat. Bigelow has had his share of knee issues, but he also averaged 9.8 yards a carry as a freshman.
Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen covets accuracy in his quarterbacks, so he selects the guy who led the nation in completion percentage in 2012. Fales completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns last year. The scoreboard operator will be busy in Morgantown.
80. Tulsa: WR Cody Hoffman, R-Sr., BYU, 6-4, 215
Hoffman caught 100 passes as a junior at BYU. In Tulsa's up-tempo offense, he might catch 130.
When a team runs the option in a power conference, it can find overlooked skill players and undersized offensive linemen a lot later in the draft. The best choice early is to select athletically elite players at critical defensive positions. Enter Jernigan, a supreme talent just coming into his own in Tallahassee.
82. Central Florida: RB Ka'Deem Carey, Jr., Arizona, 5-10, 196
Carey's slide is a result of an arrest on a domestic violence charge (since dropped) and another incident at a basketball game in which Carey pulled the don't-you-know-who-I-am line with a campus cop. Otherwise, the player who ran for 1,929 yards in 2012 would have gone much earlier. Instead, he goes to George O'Leary, who can always use a productive back.
83. Arizona: S Ed Reynolds, Sr., Stanford, 6-2, 205
Rich Rodriguez was thrilled at the thought of his own tailback slipping to him at this late stage of the first round, but O'Leary scuttled that plan. In turn, Rodriguez takes one of the Pac-12's best defenders.
84. North Carolina: RB Derrick Henry, Fr., Alabama, 6-3, 238
Larry Fedora had great success in his first season in Chapel Hill handing the ball to a tailback from Florida, so he decides to do just that for at least three years. Yes, Henry fractured a bone in his leg during Alabama's spring practice, but the massive back is expected to make a full recovery in time for the season. In real life, Henry is one of the candidates to split carries with Yeldon for the Crimson Tide.
Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen takes the giant who anchored Mississippi State's line last year. Jackson, a three-year starter, could have left for the NFL but opted to return to Starkville for one more season.
The offensive players have been the stars during Chris Petersen's Boise State tenure, but the defenses have kept the Broncos among the nation's elite. In Anderson, Petersen gets a relentless pass rusher worthy of carrying the sledgehammer.
87. Missouri: DT Kenny Bigelow, Fr., USC, 6-3, 300
With Sheldon Richardson gone, Gary Pinkel takes another five-star defensive tackle recruit. If Bigelow lives up to his advance billing, he'll feel right at home in the SEC.
88. Northern Illinois: QB Logan Thomas, Sr., Virginia Tech, 6-6, 257
Thomas struggled with accuracy last year, but he remains one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the country. At Northern Illinois, he'll be asked to run more, which should scare the daylights out of MAC defensive coordinators. With Thomas always a threat to run in the Huskies' offense, he'll likely be throwing to single-covered or wide-open receivers.
89. Syracuse: S Craig Loston, R-Sr., LSU, 6-2, 205
Loston delivers the kind of tone-setting hits new Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer will appreciate. Loston also can run. His 100-yard pick-six last year against Mississippi State is proof.
Kliff Kingsbury will coach yet another of the stars of the quarterback class of 2011. Last year, Kingsbury coached Manziel at Texas A&M. This time, he'll call plays for the quarterback whose promotion to the starting job launched Stanford toward the 2012 Pac-12 title.
91. Cincinnati: DE Aaron Lynch, R-So., South Florida, 6-6, 244
Lynch has had a year off after transferring to USF from Notre Dame, but as a freshman for the Fighting Irish in 2011, Lynch looked like a future superstar. Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville likes his defenders light and fast. Lynch certainly fits the bill.
92. Michigan State: DE Morgan Breslin, Sr., USC, 6-2, 250
In his first season at USC after transferring from Diablo Valley Junior College, Breslin led the Trojans with 19.5 tackles for loss. He'll fit perfectly in Pat Narduzzi's defense.
With Lee selected much higher in the draft, Lane Kiffin opts for a fast, reliable receiver. He finds one in Matthews, who caught 94 passes for 1,323 yards in 2012.
94. TCU: DT Dominique Easley, Sr., Florida, 6-2, 283
Easley's personality is a bit different. Last year, after the Gators beat Florida State, he said this: "They had to feel that same black hole in their heart that we felt. We just had to give them what we felt -- which was pain." Of course, Easley said those words while holding an industrial-size tub of animal crackers. While he may be a tad challenging to coach, Easley is an even bigger challenge to block. He's stout enough to play defensive tackle and quick enough to play defensive end. Gary Patterson can manage him just fine for a season.
Mark ran for 1,366 yards last season and also averaged 18.7 yards a punt return. He's quite a bit smaller than former UCLA star Johnathan Franklin, but offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone should find plenty of uses for Mark.
96. Penn State: TE O.J. Howard, Fr., Alabama, 6-6, 237
Bill O'Brien opts to build by selecting one of the most intriguing freshmen in the class of 2013. Howard should give O'Brien flashbacks to calling plays for Rob Gronkowski.
97. San Jose State: WR Donte Moncrief, Jr., Ole Miss, 6-3, 216
Moncrief caught 66 passes for 979 yards last season. The big receiver with speed to burn is primed for a breakout season in 2013.
98. Arizona State: DT Ra'Shede Hageman, R-Sr., Minnesota, 6-6, 312
Hageman came to Minnesota as a tight end, but he found his calling on the defensive line. Earlier this year, he told Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com that he can still do a 360-degree dunk even after packing on the pounds. That kind of freakish athleticism could help fill the void left when Will Sutton was picked earlier in the draft.
99. Louisville: S Hakeem Smith, R-Sr., Louisville, 6-1, 179
Charlie Strong is loyal. He's taking his guy. It also helps that his guy is a top-notch safety.
100. BYU: C Tyler Larsen, R-Sr., Utah State, 6-4, 312
It just so happens that one of the best centers in college football is a member of the LDS church. That makes Bronco Mendenhall's choice quite easy.
101. Vanderbilt: LB Shayne Skov, R-Sr., Stanford, 6-3, 244
Skov is one of the most important players on one of the best defenses in college football. Now, he'll move to another academically lofty school.
102. Ole Miss: OT Laremy Tunsil, Fr., Ole Miss, 6-6, 295
The Rebels already lost Robert Nkemdiche earlier in the draft. They aren't going to give up Tunsil after fighting so hard to get him. They wouldn't want all those Facebook messages to go to waste.
103. Wisconsin: OG Andrew Norwell, Sr., Ohio State, 6-6, 319
Welcome to Wisconsin, Gary Andersen. You're taking an offensive lineman. In Norwell, Andersen gets a good one who has started 25 consecutive games for the Buckeyes.
104. Nebraska: LB Benardrick McKinney, R-So., Mississippi State, 6-5, 235
This freshman All-America made 102 tackles for the Bulldogs last year. He would provide an instant upgrade for the Blackshirts.
105. Northwestern: CB Aaron Colvin, Sr., Oklahoma, 6-0, 181
Pat Fitzgerald gets a great cover corner also versatile enough to play safety.
106. Michigan: S Lamarcus Joyner, Sr., Florida State, 5-8, 195
Don't be fooled by Joyner's size. He'll crush a receiver. He's also a dynamic kickoff returner.
The fact that Aggies have lost two players in this draft also explains why they're picking so low. They have good players who have helped them win a lot of games. Now they steal a playmaker for themselves. Cooks averaged 17.2 yards a catch as a sophomore.
108. Baylor: RB Damien Williams, Sr., Oklahoma, 5-11, 214
Baylor coach Art Briles loves to run the ball, but he has already lost Seastrunk in this draft. To replace him, Briles selects Williams, who averaged 5.7 yards a carry in his first year with the Sooners after transferring from junior college.
109. Oklahoma State: OT Cedric Ogbuehi, R-Jr., Texas A&M, 6-5, 300
Ogbuehi was excellent at right guard for the Aggies in 2012. In real life, he's moving to right tackle to replace Jake Matthews, who is sliding to left tackle. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy will have plenty of options with a lineman who is familiar with the type of offense the Cowboys want to run.
110. Texas: QB Devin Gardner, R-Jr., Michigan, 6-4, 210
Texas has struggled to find a capable quarterback since Colt McCoy graduated. After replacing Denard Robinson at Michigan late last season, Gardner appeared more than capable. He's also the kind of player who would move to receiver if it would help the team -- which he did at the start of the 2012 season. That's the type of person Mack Brown would want in charge on the field.
111. Oregon State: WR Tracy Moore, Sr., Oklahoma State, 6-2, 215
Moore appeared ready for a big season in 2012 when he went down with a severe ankle sprain against Kansas. Moore came back for one more season, but he'll be spending that season in Corvallis.
112. Clemson: OT Ja'Wuan James, Sr., Tennessee, 6-6, 318
Don't underestimate James because he's his team's right tackle. Remember, he's there because Tiny Richardson mans the left side. This is similar to how Alabama's D.J. Fluker, the eventual No. 11 overall selection in the 2013 NFL draft, played on the right side opposite Cyrus Kouandjio last year. At Clemson, James could play on either side and keep coordinator Chad Morris' quarterback well protected.
113. Ohio State: QB Jeff Driskel, Jr., Florida, 6-4, 236
I realize I had Urban Meyer make this pick last year, but it's just so perfect. There was a reason Meyer was recruiting Driskel to run his offense at Florida before his resignation. The issue Driskel has at Florida would be alleviated by making him part of the running game at Ohio State. Driskel is an excellent runner, and he's huge. He can't run much at Florida because Gators' coaches don't have confidence in their backups and don't want Driskel getting hurt. At Ohio State, the offense requires the quarterback to participate in the run game, or it doesn't work.
114. Oklahoma: DE Deion Barnes, R-So., Penn State, 6-4, 249
Remember when former Sooners coach Barry Switzer complained to the Tulsa World last year that Oklahoma wasn't getting enough elite defensive linemen anymore? The Sooners draft one here.
115. Florida State: CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Fr., Florida, 5-11, 185
After watching much of his starting lineup get drafted away, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher nabs his in-state rival's prize recruit. Hargreaves was the top-ranked cornerback recruit in the country this year, and in real life, he'll probably play alongside Purifoy and Marcus Roberson in nickel situations.
116. LSU: OT Andrus Peat, So., Stanford, 6-7, 310
The Tigers' offensive line took a step back in 2012. Looking to build for the future, Les Miles selects Peat, who won the left tackle job for the Cardinal this spring.
117. Stanford: OT Jack Mewhort, Sr., Ohio State, 6-7, 308
After losing Peat, the Cardinal grab a proven left tackle who has also spent time at both guard spots.
Bill Snyder will continue to work miracles with his own players, thank you very much. Snyder keeps the flat-topped former walk-on who got mistaken for a coach back when he was a freshman.
119. Florida: DT Kelcy Quarles, Jr., South Carolina, 6-4, 298
We know which of his former players South Carolina-turned-Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing wanted Gators coach Will Muschamp to swipe. Unfortunately, Florida fell out of the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes when it won its second game last fall. So Lawing takes Quarles, a quick, disruptive tackle who doesn't get a ton of a attention because he plays on the same line as he-who-cannot-be-blocked.
120. South Carolina: CB Marcus Roberson, Jr., Florida, 6-0, 178
Steve Spurrier just watched his alma mater take one of his players, so he's taking a Gator. He gets a ball-hawking corner who led Florida with 12 deflections last year.
121. Notre Dame: C Ryan Kelly, R-So., Alabama, 6-5, 290
Kelly has yet to start a game for the Crimson Tide. He spent all of last season backing up Barrett Jones. But after getting waxed by Alabama in the BCS title game, Brian Kelly is ordering one of whatever Nick Saban is having, and Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony Steen are already off the board.
122. Georgia: RB Thomas Tyner, Fr., Oregon, 5-11, 201
Freshman tailbacks tend to do well in Athens, so Mark Richt swipes Oregon's top recruit. Tyner has track speed to go with football size and moves. He also has a big heart. In April, he lost a race to a teacher on purpose as part of a fundraising drive to help a one-year-old stricken with cancer.
123. Texas A&M: LB Shaq Thompson, So., Washington, 6-2, 230
After a brief Minor League Baseball stint in the summer of 2012 that made for an embarrassing statline, Thompson returned to the football field, moved to linebacker from safety and turned out to be one of the best young defenders in the country. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin selects Thompson, then heads back to his office to see if former A&M coach Mike Sherman redshirted any more future offensive superstars.
124. Oregon: QB Connor Shaw, Sr., South Carolina, 6-1, 209
With Mariota, Thomas, Lyerla and Tyner gone, the Ducks need someone to run the offense. In Shaw, they get a tough-as-nails quarterback who is the reigning king of tricking the defense -- and the ESPN camera operator -- on zone-read plays.
125. Alabama: LB Jonathan Allen, Fr., Alabama, 6-3, 255
Everyone seems to want the players Nick Saban signed, so why should Saban take anyone signed by a different coach? Allen is a linebacker/defensive end hybrid who should excel in Alabama's 3-4 scheme.