NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock has released his eagerly awaited top-five prospect lists for each position. The quarterback list reflects Mayock's sentiment that it's a confusing year for signal-callers. The major takeaway, however, is that the script has been flipped on the defensive stars at tackle, outside linebacker and insider linebacker.
Let's take a look at the noteworthy rankings:
Regarded by most analysts as the only surefire first-round pick, Geno Smith is no surprise at the top. Mayock isn't willing to "pound the table" for the West Virginia star, but appreciates his arm, release, and athleticism. Matt Barkley is a mild surprise in the second spot, though Mayock believes he can make every throw. Syracuse's Ryan Nassib is viewed as a Andy Dalton-level talent.
» Running back:
Alabama power back Eddie Lacy continues to pick up momentum on the heels of his dominant performances in the SEC title game and the BCS National Championship Game. He's emerging as the clear No. 1 back with a chance to go in the top 20 picks. Giovani Bernard's relatively low ranking implies a belief that explosive scat back out of North Carolina will be limited to a complementary role in the NFL. South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore remains the wild card at the No. 5 spot.
» Wide receiver:
It's no surprise that Cordarrelle Patterson tops the list, as Mayock has stated that his jaw dropped when he put on the Tennessee film and saw the game-breaking wideout making plays all over the field.
» Defensive tackle:
While Utah's Star Lotulelei has been the consensus top prospect, both Mayock and NFL.com's Bucky Brooks have him ranked second at the position. Mayock prefers the fast-rising Sharrif Floyd from Florida while Brooks likes Missouri's Sheldon Richardson.
» Outside linebacker:
Mayock has called Oregon's Dion Jordan a potential "monster" at 6-foot-7 with the ability to play outside linebacker or defensive end. As we draw closer to the draft, we suspect other analysts will take Mayock's lead in ranking him above the more popular Jarvis Jones from Georgia.
» Inside linebacker:
Mayock has acknowledged Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's disappointing performance against Alabama in the national championship game, but he still believes his overall body of work merits a first-round selection. Georgia's Alec Ogletree likely is getting the edge due to his superior speed and athleticism, as he flies to the ball like a safety.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.