Every draft expert has a "big board" of their top players. Most include all positions, and enough players to fill up a few rounds. I will do something a little different. I will only include players that play positions we feel will be needs in 2013. As of right now, I see our biggest positions of need being FS, SS, OLB, OT, OG, RB, TE. I will add or subtract positions of need as the season progresses. I plan on making this a weekly post once the college season starts. This will be the 1st of two preseason big boards. Feel free to leave feedback for me below. I would love to incorporate any ideas you guys might have. I am fooling around with the idea of a weekly stock report to compliment the big board. Without further ado, here is my 1st preseason big board.
1. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: Jones was a pure QB killer in 2011. He came in 2nd for sacks, behind Whitney Mercilus, with 13.5 sacks. Jones has a mix of speed and agility, that makes him a menace coming around the edge. He would add more speed to our LBing core. He could play a similar position to Von Miller's in the 4-3, and can also come off the edge in 3-4 sets.
2. Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU: Montgomery had a great sophomore season with LSU. Sam was huge part of the LSU's defensive success in 2011. He has a huge ceiling, and can secure a spot at the top of the draft with another solid year. Sam finished the year with 13.5 TFL, nine sacks and one forced fumble.
3. Barrett Jones, T/G/C, Alabama: Jones is one of the more versatile linemen in the draft. He can play any position along the O-line. It's this versatility that will make him a much sought after prospect. We can throw him in at guard to replace Moore, or replace Hunter with Barrett. If something ever happened to Mangold, Barret can step in at center also.
4. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: Fluker proved that he was one of the best right tackles in college last year. He paved the way for an outstanding 2012 for Trent Richardson. He can do it all from opening up running lanes, or protecting the QB. His talents would be more than welcomed if Hunter struggles again.
5. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB: Mingo is the 2nd part to LSU's dangerous pass rush. Barkevious is a pure pass rusher, that has more pass rushing ability than Montgomery, but struggles against the run. He has a tall frame, and can easily gain some weight without losing anything around the edge. If his 2012 season is anything like his 2011, he will come off boards as quickly as his teammate.
6. Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma: Jefferson will be one of the biggest playmaking safeties coming out in 2013. Wherever the play goes, you can be sure to see Jefferson around the ball. Tony excels at defending the pass. While he may not have the ideal size we might be looking for, Jefferson plays much bigger than he is. He won't shy away from contact or TEs. Last but not least, Tony is also a natural born leader.
7. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Jake Matthews was the 1st piece to one of the most dominant tackle tandems in college football last year. Ryan Tannehill thrived with Jake protecting him, while RBs Grey and Michael also benefited from a superb sophomore season. If Matthews has another successful season, in 2012, he will be near the top in a very deep draft for tackles.
8. Chris Faulk, OT, LSU: I am seeing a trend amongst the offensive tackles in this draft. Most are part of a tandem. Alabama has Jones and Fluker, Texas A&M has Matthews and Joeckel. LSU has Faulk and Hurst. Faulk had a great sophomore season. He excelled in just about every game but the championship game. I won't hold that against him too much, since he had a great game against that same Alabama defense in the regular season.
9. T.J. McDonald, S, USC: I still feel that if T.J. McDonald came out for the last draft, he would have been picked before Barron. Instead, he now has to compete with a very deep safety class, where he may be the 2nd or 3rd best safety. McDonald has the ideal size we are looking for and the flexibility to play both safety positions.
10. Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M: I feel bad for Porter situationally. He is being asked to fill the shoes of one of the most dominant rookies to come out last year, Von Miller. They are similar players in that they use their speed, and agility to wreak havoc on the edges. Even in games where Porter didn't record a sack, he managed to stay very productive. His only knock is his weight, but he has time to gain some pounds, and solidify himself as a 1st round pass rusher. We could also rely on Porter to drop into coverage if asked.
11. Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State: After a really good sophomore year, teams caught onto Jenkins. Throughout most of 2011, teams sent extra blockers Brandon's way. As a result, Jenkin's sack totals went down from 13.5 to 7. His physicality makes him a matchup nightmare for most tackles, and requires extra attention. As a result of more blockers being on Brandon, the rest of the team prayed on opposing QBs. Even with extra blockers, Jenkins managed to finish the year with 39 tackles, 11 TFL, and 7 sacks.
12. Eric Reid, S, LSU: One safety I will be keeping tabs on a lot, this year, is Eric Reid. There is not much I can say that hasn't already been said by our very own David Wyatt, so I will defer to him for this break down. Eric Reid
13. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: There aren't enough words to describe Lattimore, so I will combine train and tank. Marcus is a traink of a RB. At 6'1", he plows through the line, and destroys anyone in his path. He is also agile enough to make people miss, and deceptive quickness to leave slower defenders in his wake. You need to be a sound tackler to bring Lattimore down. He was primed to have a great Sophomore year until a player was blocked into the back of his leg. If he can rebound from his injury last year, he is sure to be the 1st RB taken in 2013.
14. Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: Eifert is a very large man. At 6'6", he towers over defenders. His hands are very reliable, and made a horrendous QB look halfway decent. Tyler does need to improve on his blocking a little bit, but if that aspect of his game comes around, he will be the 1st TE taken in 2013.
15. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: The #2 guy in the Texas A&M tandem has a lot of potential this year. He was thrown into a starting position as a freshman, and hasn't looked back. In all but a few games last year, Luke dominated the competition. If he can just fine tune his game a little bit, he would be sure-fire 1st rounder.
16. Alex Hurst, OT, LSU: If RT is as much of a need next year, as we thought it was this year, Hurst would make a great right tackle. He is built for a ground and pound offense, and is decent in pass protecting as well. Speed rushers sometimes get the better of Hurst, but some weight loss might make him a little more agile.
17. Robert Lester, S, Alabama: In 2011, Lester was part of one of the most talented defenses I have ever seen in college football. With so many NFL caliber players on one side of the ball, it was easy for Lester to be a little overlooked. This year, Robert will have the perfect opportunity to showoff his talents. I can see his stock rising with a good 2012.
18. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas: I love pass rushers from Texas, the school and the state. Texas has two pass rushers with the potential to go in the 1st two rounds. Okafor is the 1st of these two pass rushers I will be mentioning. Okafor has a knack for getting into the backfield, and taking out the QB. Alex is in store for a productive senior season, and a stock boost.
19. Kenny Vacaro, S, Texas: The next two guys on my big board, are two very underrated safeties. In 2011, Vacaro was given a starting job, and he was ready for the challenge. He made his presence felt all over the field. His instincts always give him a chance at making a play. Kenny has great range, but can also step up in the box. Both safety positions could be options for Vacaro if drafted by us.
20. Matt Elam, S, Florida: As I mentioned above, Elam is extreamly underrated. People were waiting a while for this top high school recruit to make an impact. They didn't have to wait long. In 2011, Elam was easily the best player on the Florida defense. He's a little short at 5'10", but plays with a lot of determination and skill. Wherever the ball goes, you are sure to see Elam there to make a play. Elam also has the speed to hang with anyone we could ask him to cover.
21. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Have I mentioned that I like pass rushers from Texas yet? Well here's another. Jeffcoat is tall, powerful pass rusher. He had a great sophomore year racking up 16.5 TFL, and 7 sacks. He should be able to use that success to springboard himself to even more success in 2012. I look forward to seeing Jeffcoat and Okafor tear it up for Texas.
22. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: Montee Ball would fit right in with the Jets. Like us, Wisconsin runs a high powered rushing offense. Ball is a reliable workhorse, who is very durable. Some people believe that with the excessive amounts of caries Ball receives in college, will result in him wearing down quicker in the NFL. Either way, Ball's skill set is something we can't ignore if Greene isn't brought back.
23. Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin: Wagner was the left tackle for the high powered rushing offense mentioned above for Montee Ball. Wagner did a fantastic job all year opening up holes, and protecting Russel Wilson. He really only had one bad game against Whitney Mercilus, but who didn't last year? It's being projected that Wagner will move to right tackle in the pros.
24. Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB, Illinois: Everyone thinks of Whitney Mercilus when they think of the Illinois pass rush last year. Few mention his partner in crime, Michael Buchanan. In some ways, Buchanan might be a little more polished than Mercilus is. Unlike Mercilus, Buchanan can rush the passer, without giving up the edge against the rush. This year, Michael can step out of Whitney's shadow, and show everyone what he can do.
25. Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford: Chase Thomas was part of a very formidable pass rushing duo. Thomas and Shayne Skov were menaces from every LBing position. When Skov went down for the season in week 3, last year, Chase got to showcase what he can do without the help. It took him a few games to get used to the extra blocking, but he came around. Thomas finished the year strong with 17.5 TFL, and 8.5 sacks. Thomas is this year's Brooks Reed, McClellen type player.
26. Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: I salute anyone who has been able to rise above all the hardships that came with playing for N. Carolina. There is always a lot of NFL talent to come out of NC, but there is also a lot of controversy. Cooper was able to put all the troubles behind him, and thrive in this environment. In 2011, if there was a whole for Giovanni Bernard to run through, it was probably opened up by Cooper.
27. Giovanni Bernard, RB, North Carolina: Bernard is the complete package at RB. Not only does he have the power to bust a run up the middle, but also has the shiftiness/balance to make tacklers miss. Giovanni also has great hands coming out of the backfield. He amassed 362 yards and 1 TD through the air, and 1,253 yards, and 13 TDs on the ground. With Dwight Jones checking out, Bernard was pretty much the entire Tar Heels offense.
28. Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA: Fauria is a complete TE prospect. Joe has the size and speed to be a huge matchup problem for any defender. He also has the strength to stay at home and block. Fauria would be a cheap replacement for Keller if no deal gets done with him.