344 Days Until The 2013 Draft: 3 Prospects To Keep An Eye On
The 2012 rookie class has yet to play a snap of even exhibition football and already the 2013 draft process is underway. While things will change significantly between now and next April (it wasn’t that long ago that Vontaze Burfict was considered a possible 1st rounder and Dontari Poe was a mid-round sleeper). However, college football and NFL draft junkies are always on the lookout for the next big riser, sleeper prospect or possibly the 2013 equivalent of Burfict. Here are a few guys who should be monitored closely over the next 11 months:
Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA – Nephew of former NFL (Patriots, Seahawks) TE Christian Fauria, he has the size and athleticism that scouts drool over. While 2012 seemed to be a year where a lot of teams reached in the draft in the hopes of having their own Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez type tandem, Fauria could be the real deal. For a guy in excess of 6’7 250+ lbs, he can out-jump many DB’s and has deceptive playing speed – even if he doesn’t time particularly well in the 40 yard dash. The big knock on Fauria, and what could affect his stock more than anything, is that he is very raw as both a blocker and a route runner. He’s probably somewhere between where Graham (very raw) and Gronkowski (more polished) were when they came out. If he can develop these skills or if a coach falls in love with his physical attributes, he could go in the late 1st round.
Mark Jackson, OT, Glenville State – He’s huge and has the type of footwork and surprising nimbleness which tends to get O-Linemen drafted very early in the NFL. For a guy at such a tiny school (though he is a transfer from Illinois), his technique is better than expected. In fact, Jackson’s fundamentals might be better than all but a few of the elite bigger school guys. He projects to be a punishing run blocker who can fire out of his stance and take on edge rushers at the NFL level. He’s a mid-rounder on a lot of boards already, and with a good year and offseason could work his way into top 50 contention.
Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinios – As of now, Buchanan is probably an early 2nd round prospect who I’ve seen listed in the 1st round of some mock drafts. Like his former teammate Whitney Mercilus, I don’t see what the fuss is about. He has a nice frame (listed 6’6 240 and the type of frame which could easily bulk up 20 lbs) and has been productive but on tape he looks fairly pedestrian. The Illinois defensive scheme and the amount of attention offenses paid Mercilus gave Buchanan a lot of opportunities to make plays. However, he looks more like a guy who will take what is there rather than being able to create plays on his own. While he has a nice frame, he doesn’t play with violence or power and doesn’t have the athleticism to consistently beat quality OL. He doesn’t look to be an impact player and could be in for a fall if offenses are able to contain him more easily with Mercilus now playing on Sundays. That said, a productive year in the attacking Illini defense could get him drafted in the same range as his former teammate.