13 Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Senior 6’1″ 185 pounds
Johnthan Banks is probably one of if not the top cornerback prospect available in the entire crop of players available in 2013. He has height, weight, speed, and he can really do it all. He’s a leader on the Mississippi State defense, a team that is competing for a national title in 2012. He has excellent length and overall quickness, but it’s his ability to create turnovers that will attract NFL scouts the most. Banks forced three fumbled and picked off five passes as a junior when he could have easily declared for the draft and been one of the first CBs taken, and as a senior, he already has four interceptions. He’s been playing well since he was a freshman, where he wasn’t a highly recruited player but has always overachieved and become one of the top defenders in the nation. As a freshman, he had four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. On his career, he has picked off 16 passes and counting, and he really offers some versatility in terms of his ability to return punts and play multiple positions on the defense. You kind of get a “poor man’s” Charles Woodson vibe out of him. He can make plays all over the field, and I think he’ll hear his name called in the first 32 picks barring some kind of injury.
97 Josh Boyd, Defensive Tackle, Senior 6’3″ 300 pounds
Boyd is a very good run defending defensive tackle prospect who plays with good power and leverage, but he’s not near the pass rusher his former teammate Fletcher Cox was a year ago. Boyd is a gap-clogger who can occupy blockers and sometimes make plays in the backfield, but he’s definitely most effective as a gap-stuffing run defender. He’s quick off the snap and does a good job playing with pop, but if his quickness isn’t good enough to get him in the backfield, he can be rendered ineffective pretty quickly. I think he could potentially be a player teams look at in the first two rounds. He has been unable to put up big numbers with Cox off to the NFL, but I still think he’s a very solid prospect.
10 Cameron Lawrence, Linebacker, Senior 6’2″ 230 pounds
Lawrence is a senior linebacker who has enjoyed great success in the Mississippi State defense. As a junior, he totaled 123 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, and two interceptions. As a senior, he is among the team leaders in tackles, tackles for loss, as well as sacks and is once again a leader for the team. He is an incredibly versatile player who has played quarterback, receiver, safety,and linebacker for the Bulldogs. He has impressive size at the linebacker position but the jury remains out what kind of athlete he is. He will come into the NFL and be a productive special teams player right away, and perhaps an eventual starter at the linebacker position.
9 Darius Slay, Cornerback, Senior 6’1″ 190 pounds
Another big cornerback prospect who is coming onto the scene as a senior after playing the first two years of his career at a junior college. Spent the first season he had (2011) at MSU as a reserve and special teams player, but is coming into his own as a senior with four picks and a blocked kick already through the team’s first seven games (10-23-12). He is raw in his technique, but he shows natural ability making plays and has already scored a touchdown this year. He is a very green player, but some team should take a risk on him and I think he could develop into potentially a starting defensive back with really good size and ball skills.
1 Chad Bumphis, Wide Receiver, Senior 5’10” 200 pounds
Solid receiver who is emerging in his senior season as the team’s leading receiver and showing that his compact build and playmaking abilities can translate to the NFL level. Good speed in the open field and the ability to make defenders miss. Capable of making big plays down the field and contributing in the return game. I’m excited to learn more about this prospect, and I think he could be a very good value in the later rounds as a high upside selection, or a guy who can come in and be a very solid special teams player.