With the NFL Draft looming, here’s a look at the top things to know related to depth at notable positions.
QB class lacking a megastar
There have been four quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft each of the last two seasons. This year, Geno Smith is the top-rated quarterback in the class, but he has the lowest Scouts Inc. grade (91) of any top quarterback in the last nine seasons.
QB class has lots of shotgun/pistol experience
The NFL is trending toward spread tendencies, but the average NFL quarterback still attempted less than two-thirds of his passes after taking a snap from shotgun last season.
Four of the top quarterbacks in this draft class -- Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, and EJ Manuel -- attempted at least 88 percent of their pass attempts last season from either a shotgun or pistol formation.
Lacy leads a light-RB class
Eddie Lacy is the only running back projected to go in the first round by both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. This would mark only the second time since 1985 that only one running back was drafted in the first round. It also happened in 2011.
In fact, since 2005, every NFL Draft but the 2011 one has had a running back drafted within the top 12 picks.
Lacy is the top running back prospect of the 2013 class according to Scouts Inc., but he was the beneficiary of one of the top offensive lines in football. Lacy gained 65 percent of his yards before initial contact and averaged 4.1 yards before contact per rush.
Receivers with lots of different skills available
An average of three wide receivers have been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft over the last five seasons. Mel Kiper’s most recent mock draft has four. Todd McShay’s latest one has two.
Among the most notable leaders among wide receivers, Tavon Austin led AQ-school receivers with 947 yards after the catch, Terrance Williams led FBS receivers with 27 receptions on passes thrown 20 yards or longer, and DeAndre Hopkins and Stedman Bailey led FBS with 10 touchdown receptions on throws 20 yards or longer.
Teams looking for multi-purpose receivers should know that Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson were the only players in FBS with at least 300 rushing yards, 600 receiving yards and 500 return yards in 2012.
Eifert and Ertz combined for 45 receptions on passes thrown 15 yards or longer over the last two seasons, including five deep touchdowns.
A rich defensive draft
According to Scouts Inc., defensive players make up 19 of the top 32 overall prospects. Todd McShay’s latest mock draft has 12 defensive front seven players taken in the first round of the draft, one behind the 2011 and 1974 NFL drafts for the most in the common draft era.
A look at some of the collegiate leaders in some notable areas:
LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery had three sacks against a double team, most among the 35 defensive FBS prospects rated 80 or higher.
Among the top-10 defensive end prospects as rated by Scouts, Inc., Florida State's Bjoern Werner had the most sacks on a standard pass rush (12) and Georgia's Jarvis Jones had the most from a blitz (7).
Purdue's Kawann Short led all FBS defensive tackle prospects rated 70 or higher with seven sacks and 13 run stuffs last season. A “run stuff” is a tackle on a rushing play that ends up in negative or zero yardage.