RB Cameron Marshall (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The 2012 NFL Draft has only been complete for a little over two days. The Denver Devil trio of Brock Osweiler, Omar Bolden and Gerell Robinson is still settling in to their new Mile High life and the ink on the free agent contracts for ASU's undrafted players is not yet dry. Yet, it is not too early to look ahead to the 2013 draft class.
The 2012 Sun Devils are not the senior-laden group that last year's team was, but there are still a few players who figure to find their way into the league if they can have a strong final year in Tempe.
Here are our top six prospects, as of now.
WR/KR Jamal Miles
Among the questions about Miles are his diminutive size (5'10", 180 pounds) and a lack of a true position. His one definitive answer? He is a touchdown threat anytime he touches the ball.
After starting his ASU career as a running back, he moved to wide receiver last year. Although he has yet to show that he can play the latter position full time, Miles has greatly improved in his route running and other aspects of the position this spring, and his progress there will go a long way towards determining his draft stock in 2013.
He is already an elite-level kickoff and punt returner, and his versatility and explosiveness could find him a jack-of-all-trades role like Percy Harvin had early in his career with the Vikings.
The running back position has been greatly devalued at the NFL level over recent years, and unless you are an elite prospect like Trent Richardson, the early to mid-rounds are where the college game's top backs will hear their names.
Marshall is not a prospect of Richardson's level, although he does have an NFL skillset. At 5'11" and 223 pounds, Marshall has the build of a power back. He makes decisive cuts and hits the hole hard. However, he also has very good speed once he gets into open space, and can score from any distance.
With ASU's loaded backfield, he may not approach last season's numbers of 1,050 yards and 18 touchdowns, but the reduction in carries should help him keep some "tread on the tires". If he continues his year-by-year progression, he should be the second ASU back drafted since 2000 (Ryan Torain, 2008).
Coming into 2011, even with all of the Vontaze Burfict hype going on in full force, there were many that felt Brandon Magee was the superior linebacker. Unfortunately, a torn Achilles injury in August sidelined Magee for the season, but after intensive rehab, he is on track to be full strength for his senior year.
When healthy, Magee is a dynamic linebacker, able to attack an offense downhill, range sideline-to-sideline tracking down ballcarriers and effectively dropping into coverage. His primary obstacle will be his size, as he's just 5'11". However, his skills and incredible intangibles should help him have a strong 2012 that could put him in line for a mid-round grade.
OT Brice Schwab
The story of Brice Schwab is well-known to many ASU fans. He was one of the most highly regarded junior college players and had an offer from USC before he decided to come to Tempe. He saw some action in 2010, but lapsed into poor shape last season and redshirted. Schwab has comeback with a vengeance this spring, playing extremely well and showing off a tremendous physique.
The NFL is always looking for talented tackles, and if Schwab maximizes his potential this fall, he should work his way into a solid draft spot. He has a great frame at 6'7" and room to add to his 303 pounds, which he will need to do in the NFL. Not only will his 2013 stock depend on Schwab reaching his potential, but the 2012 team will need him to be a dominant force.
WR Rashad Ross
The NFL is increasingly becoming a league dominated by speed, and that is Ross' greatest strength. A top collegiate track athlete, Ross has the ability to beat most collegiate defensive backs simply by running past them. However, that won't get you a spot in the NFL (well, maybe with the Raiders).
With the losses suffered by ASU's receiving corps, Ross has a tremendous opportunity to become more than a one-trick pony. He showed flashes of that evolving receiving talent during the last few games last season, and he'll have a chance to really step that up this fall.
If Ross can show sure hands and greatly refined route running, those traits in conjunction with his elite speed and blossoming return abilities could get him a spot in the later rounds.
CB Deveron Carr
Another position that is always in high demand--and even more so in recent years as the NFL continues to be a pass-first league--is cornerback. As such, senior Deveron Carr could be a viable candidate if he can rebound from a disappointing junior year.
There is little question that Carr has NFL size (5'11", 193 pounds), speed and agility. He also has flashed shutdown corner ability during his career, most notably during last season's win over USC. What has hurt him is a glaring lack of consistency. One play, he blankets a receiver and knocks away the pass. On the next, he bites hard on a move and gives up a huge gain.
That uneven play has allowed Robert Nelson to challenge Carr for the starting job he's held for the last two years. Although Carr is still the starter after spring football, the battle between Carr and Nelson this fall will be a key one to watch.
Many players have NFL-caliber skills like Carr. Many never see an NFL field because they can't consistently put those skills together. Whether Carr can avoid that fate will be one situation many scouts will follow with a close eye.
DT Will Sutton
While the above players are seniors, Sutton is one junior that could parlay a monster 2012 into an early entry.
Sutton has long been labeled with the "potential" tag but thus far in his career has only shown flashes of it. The shift in defensive philosophy to a much more aggressive style should benefit Sutton greatly. The multitude of defensive fronts that will have Sutton play as a 4-3 tackle and an end in a 3-4 could show scouts a valuable versatility aspect to Sutton's game.
At 6'2", 271 pounds, Sutton has good size, and his quickness and ability to penetrate into an opponent's backfield begins to paint a potential portrait of versatile NFL tackles like Darnell Dockett.
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Who will be the highest Sun Devil drafted in 2013?
Jamal Miles (39 votes)
Cameron Marshall (88 votes)
Brandon Magee (49 votes)
Brice Schwab (24 votes)
Deveron Carr (4 votes)
Will Sutton (19 votes)
Other (3 votes)
226 total votes