The NFL Scouting Combine is about to kick the draft season into high gear. With that in mind, I thought this would be a good time to put together the first "Hot 100" list of the year.
As those who are familiar with previous editions of this list know, it represents how I think the prospects stack up according to ability -- it is not the order in which I think they'll be drafted. In other words, I'm not saying Chance Warmack will be the third overall pick, but I am saying that he's the third-best player in the class.
Finally, it's important to remember that players will rise and fall based on how they perform at the combine later this week, and they'll likely continue to do so all the way up to draft day.
3) Chance Warmack, OL, Alabama
Warmack is very good and will be a factor in the NFL for many years; he should have a Larry Allen-type of career. However, as guards aren't usually drafted in the top 10, Warmack likely will be picked in the middle of the first round. He was an even better college player than the great Steve Hutchinson, who was picked 17th overall by the Seattle Seahawks in 2001.
4) Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
More time will be spent on Smith than on any other player in the 2013 NFL Draft. When I watched him from the sideline during West Virginia's game against Texas, Smith was quick and on the money, though he did overthrow some long balls. If he enters the league with a Russell Wilson-type work ethic, Smith will be OK.
6) Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore can play with his hand on the ground in a 4-3 scheme or in space in a 3-4. Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson did a very good job against Moore in the Cotton Bowl.
8) Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The big (6-feet-3/4, 200 pounds) corner might not have great speed, but he makes up for it with his physical play and ball skills. He likely learned some useful tricks of the trade from coach Nick Saban.
9) Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
The competitive Jones, who led college football with 14.5 sacks in 2012, never lets up; he plays like fellow Bulldog Justin Houston, who notched 10 sacks for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Jones transferred from USC when he failed to get a clean bill of health following a neck injury.
10) Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The speedy, quick and athletic Jordan -- a former tight end -- can rush or drop into coverage. He could add weight, however, and his health has been something of a question mark.
11) Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah, who came to BYU from Ghana as a track athlete, joined the football team in 2010 and became an outstanding starter. He had a poor week of practice ahead of the Senior Bowl, but he wound up being named the defensive player of the game. He should be a very good pass-rusher.
13) Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
An outstanding athlete for a defensive tackle, Richardson makes me think of a young Warren Sapp coming out of college. He has just one year of major football under his belt, and he needs to play harder on every down, but he has the ability to be good.
14) Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The former high school quarterback shifted to tight end in junior college before moving to the offensive line in 2011. Johnson really stood out in the Cotton Bowl with the way he handled Texas A&M's Damontre Moore.
15) Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Mingo is a better athlete than he is a football player at this point, and he needs work when it comes to defending the run. He is, however, a very good pass rusher, and everyone is looking for very good pass rushers.
16) Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Allen caught lots of passes at Cal even though he didn't have much of a quarterback throwing to him, and he's strong and quick for the position. A knee injury caused him to miss time in 2012; teams will need to check on his health.
17) Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
He's a size-speed player who catches well and spent some time at running back. Patterson, who spent two years in junior college before arriving at Tennessee, has just one season of experience playing major college football.
19) Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Ogletree, who started his career as a safety, runs well and has good instincts; he's a very good athlete who can play inside or outside. Players from Georgia tend to do well in the NFL. Teams will have to do more background work on Ogletree, however, given that he was recently charged with a DUI.
20) Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Te'o did all of the things that a linebacker is expected to do, up until his poor performance in the BCS Championship Game. He took on blockers, he blitzed, he played in space. He also collected seven interceptions and 113 tackles. The "girlfriend hoax" story, of course, seems to have overshadowed all of that.
21) Johnathan Hankins, DL, Ohio State
The powerful Hankins has size, ability and good range, though he also seemed to have fatigue issues at times. The three-year college player will get a lot better with age.
22) Jonathan Cooper, OL, North Carolina
Cooper is athletic, but the four-year starter needs to get stronger. He doesn't look as big as some NFL guards.
23) Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Ertz, who has good hands, size and strength, has the potential to create matchup problems for NFL defenses. He is a better receiver than he is a blocker at this point.
24) D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The long-armed Fluker has the power to dominate defenders. He projects as a right tackle only, as he lacks the feet for playing left tackle.
25) Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Eifert is very good at making contested catches -- he has more career receptions (134) than any other tight end in Notre Dame history -- and he blocks better than one might think.
26) DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
27) Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
28) Xavier Rhodes, DB, Florida State
29) Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
30) John Jenkins, DL, Georgia
31) Matt Barkley, QB, USC
32) Johnthan Banks, DB, Mississippi State
33) Datone Jones, DL, UCLA
34) Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
35) Margus Hunt, DL, SMU
36) EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
37) Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
38) Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
39) Sylvester Williams, DL, North Carolina
40) Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Harrison: NFL combine primer
41) Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
42) Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama
43) Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
44) Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
45) Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
46) Travis Frederick, OL, Wisconsin
47) Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
48) Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
49) Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
50) Matt Elam, S, Florida
51) Robert Woods, WR, USC
52) Eric Reid, S, LSU
53) Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
54) Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
55) Vance McDonald, WR, Rice
56) Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
57) Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
58) Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
59) Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State
60) Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
61) Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
62) Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
63) Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
64) Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
65) Johnathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
66) Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee
67) Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
68) Kyle Long, OG, Oregon
69) Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
70) Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State
71) Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
72) Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut
73) Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn
74) Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon
75) Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
76) Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
77) Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
78) Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
79) Brian Winters, OG, Kent State
80) Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
81) Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State
82) Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
83) Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
84) David Amerson, DB, N.C. State
85) Brennan Williams, OL, North Carolina
86) Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
87) Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford
88) Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
89) Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State
90) Zeke Motta, S, Notre Dame
91) Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
92) D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
93) Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
94) Brian Schwenke, OL, Cal
95) Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia
96) Kevin Reddick, LB, North Carolina
97) William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
98) Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois
99) Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
100) Jeff Locke, P, UCLA
Note: South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was left off the list while we wait to see how he's recovered from serious injury.