Top 10 2013 NFL Draft Prospects to Their Pro Counterparts

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It’s never easy to compare college players to a professional counterpart, but sometimes that is the best way to describe what a college prospect can do or where they can be with the right coaching and development.

Is Logan Thomas the next Cam Newton? Is there a Von Miller clone in Jarvis Jones?

The top prospects at each position may not have a picture-perfect NFL comparison, but here is the player they most closely resemble and why.

Quarterback: Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

Pro Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big, strong, impossible to tackle with just one man and maybe a bit prone to bad decisions, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is a junior Ben Roethlisberger.

Much like Big Ben during his days at Miami (Ohio), Thomas is a raw, athletic phenom playing quarterback. Thomas, a former tight end recruit, is more than built like Roethlisberger. The two gun-slingers are known for their penchant to escape tacklers and make plays with their feet.

Thomas is not yet an elite quarterback prospect, and his play in 2012 has been spotty at best, but his potential makes him the top quarterback prospect. Much like Ben, Thomas may not be the first quarterback drafted, but he has a great chance to become a long-term, high-quality starter in the NFL.

Running Back: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

Pro Comparison: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

When you watch Marcus Lattimore shedding tacklers with his big frame and high knees, it’s easy to instantly flash back to Adrian Peterson during his days as an Oklahoma Sooner.

Lattimore has battled a knee injury that has reduced his speed in 2012, but before the injury, the two were nearly mirror images of each other. Lattimore is a bit thicker, but their tall running style and ability to absorb hits and keep moving forward make the two power backs very similar when grading their overall styles.

Fullback: Trey Millard, Oklahoma

Pro Comparison: James Casey, Houston Texans

The fullback position is a dying breed in the NFL, unless you are versatile enough to offer incentive elsewhere. James Casey is that player for the Houston Texans, and Trey Millard is next in line.

The Oklahoma Sooners fullback is a runner, receiver and improving blocker. You will see him in motion before the snap, moving around to find the best matchup. Like Casey or even a Delanie Walker (San Francisco), Millard isn’t a typical blocking fullback. He’s much more, and that’s why he’s our No. 1-ranked player at the position.

Wide Receiver: Keenan Allen, Cal

Pro Comparison: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

Maybe you don’t see the connection between Jordy Nelson and Keenan Allen at first glance, but it’s there.

Both Nelson and Allen make their living as run-after-catch type wide receivers. Both can be used anywhere on the field as a matchup problem for the defense. Both are great at finding the end zone.

Nelson has become an elite NFL receiver, but those who saw him at Kansas State will remember a wild playmaker who tore apart Big 12 defenses with his speed and open-field moves. Allen is like that—but better.

Tight End: Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

Pro Comparison: Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins

There is no Rob Gronkowski clone in this year’s draft class, but the team who selects Tyler Eifert will be happy with the all-around talent he brings to the field.

Eifert has spent part of his college career flexed out into the slot as a wide receiver, which sets him ahead of many college tight ends, as he’s a better route runner and has a better understanding of the passing game. We’re starting to see more of Eifert as a blocker, and while he’s not quite NFL-level yet, the potential is there.

Where does Eifert project in the NFL? Very similar to an Anthony Fasano-type player. Big, great in the red zone and a plus blocker when asked to move and take angles to spring the run game.

Offensive Tackle: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

Pro Comparison: Nate Solder, New England Patriots

The 2013 draft class is loaded with talented offensive tackles, but Luke Joeckel is the best by a long shot.

What makes Joeckel so talented is his ability to move his feet to keep up with edge rushers and to get to the second level in the run game. It was expected that Joeckel would struggle with elite pass-rushers in the SEC, but so far, that hasn’t been an issue.

Nate Solder was a very similar player at Colorado, but on a less-recognized scale. Solder surprised most as the second tackle drafted in 2011. Joeckel will surprise no one when his name is called early in the first round.

Offensive Guard: Chance Warmack, Alabama

Pro Comparison: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens

One of my favorite players to watch on any given Sunday is Baltimore Ravens guard Marshal Yanda. The way he fires off the ball, the way he controls his man in pass protection—everything Yanda does is textbook.

Watching Chance Warmack, you get the same feeling.

Warmack has overshadowed D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones on the Alabama offensive line—no easy task considering Jones is a heavily decorated lineman. What makes Warmack so great? He’s a freak of an athlete, and his quickness sparks a mean streak of blocking. Be it in pass protection or a run play, Warmack dominates his space.

Center: Khaled Holmes, USC

Pro Comparison: Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers

Polished. That’s one word you’ll hear and see thrown around a lot when it comes to USC football prospects. Trojans players leave college ready for the next level. Coming out of Lane Kiffin’s scheme gives players, especially those on offense, a nice head start to the NFL.

Khaled Holmes is the top center in this year’s class, and he closely resembles another former USC center—Ryan Kalil.

Like Kalil, Holmes has the prototypical size and strength for the job. He’s a short-armed, stocky technician who won’t blow scouts away with measurables, but when you plug in the tape, he’s the field general teams love from the center position.

Defensive End: Sam Montgomery, LSU

Pro Comparison: Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers

You never want to make comparisons too lofty—the prospect should at least have a chance to live up to expectations. In the case of Sam Montgomery, there may not be a comparison too high for him to obtain.

The LSU pass-rusher gets overlooked some because of Barkevious Mingo, but don’t let the catchy name fool you; Montgomery is the better all-around player and the better NFL prospect.

Much like Aldon Smith, Montgomery projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, but he’s versatile enough to play with his hand in the dirt on passing downs. Montgomery has the tools to be a force early. Watch him bend the edge to shut down a quarterback each Saturday, and you’ll see why he’s a top-five prospect for the 2013 class.

Defensive Tackle: Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

Pro Comparison: Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills

When the season began, we had Star Lotulelei ranked as the top defensive tackle. Johnathan Hankins has taken that spot as his own with exceptional play through three weeks.

Hankins’ ability to shoot through the offensive line is becoming a must-see for college football fans and draftniks. A man his size shouldn’t move as quickly as he does, but Hankins is consistently breaking through the line and making plays—even when double-teamed, which is happening more and more.

If watching Hankins gives you flashbacks to Marcell Dareus doing the same for the Alabama Crimson Tide, don’t worry, we feel the same.

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