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February 1, 2013
NFL comparisons: Hargreaves, Nkemdiche
The close of the evaluation period for the Class of 2013 produced few changes at the top of the Rivals100, but as the players jockeyed for position, the Rivals.com team of analysts saw the highlights and lowlights of each prospect.
Generally, the most difficult aspect of ranking players is making comparisons and projections, but it is the task most asked of analysts. With just days left until National Signing Day, the Rivals.com team broke down the best of the best by comparing them to players on the NFL level.
Each day, there has been a breakdown of two players from the Top 10 of the Rivals100.
No. 2 Vernon Hargreaves III, cornerback, Tampa (Fla.) Wharton
Attributes: 5-foot-11, 185 pounds
Top schools: Committed to Florida
NFL comparison: Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns
Tale of the Tape: The pair are listed at the same height, and Haden has about 10 pounds on the youngster. The look of the two on the field, with the slumped-over approach, is eerily similar, adding to the comparison. Both are lockdown players who can play on an island without worry.
When we last saw him: The Florida pledge took home MVP honors for Team Highlight at the Under Armour All-America Game. Hargreaves led the team in tackles with five and added a tackle for loss and an interception. In perhaps the day's top skill-position matchup, he got the best of fellow five-star Laquon Treadwell on a couple of occasions. On the first battle, he was beaten by Treadwell on a fade route and he recovered nicely with his elite speed and ball skills to pry the ball away for an incompletion. On another play, Treadwell caught a short pass and had room to operate for a big gain before Hargreaves closed downhill and made a spectacular open-field tackle. The lockdown corner made an argument for the top cornerback in the country with his showing, and in Rivals.com rankings meetings he took home the top billing in a group of great cornerbacks.
Analyst's take: "Hargreaves has the ability to lock down one side of the field and allow the defense to do a lot more around him. They are similarly sized and have similar instincts, so it is a natural comparison with Haden being one of the top corners in the league and Vernon being our top corner at this level. The thing that makes Hargreaves a step above the rest is that he is a coach's son and really understands how to study the game. He knows how to bait quarterbacks and he has tremendous ball skills and natural ability, but by complementing that with his work ethic and knowledge, he is a very versatile and dangerous player." -- Kynon Codrington, Rivals.com Southeast analyst.
No. 1 Robert Nkemdiche, defensive end, Loganville (Ga.) Grayson
Attributes: 6-foot-5, 260 pounds,
NFL comparison: Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings
Tale of the tape: Allen is one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier, but Nkemdiche has played heavier than his listed weight and can add to his frame without issue. The beauty of each player's game is the tenacity and speed at which they go, and watching the tape side-by-side it is like watching the same player.
When we last saw him: Even though his final stats from the Under Armour All-America Game weren't earth-shattering, Nkemdiche made it clear during the week that he's going to be a force at the next level. It took two or three All-America-caliber players to slow him, and whenever he faced a one-on-one matchup he dominated. He's one of the strongest players in the class of 2013, and after an offseason weight program, Nkemdiche will be a scary proposition for most offensive linemen at the next level.
Analyst's take: "Just like Jared Allen in the NFL, he is going for the quarterback and unless you have a good plan to slow him down he will make it there. The uniqueness is that he is not just a pass rusher and can really help against the run while still commanding a double team or a scheme against him. Robert has all of the tools to develop into a star player, and as he showed at the Under Armour Game, even in a class of All-Americans, he commanded a double team and that is something you don't usually see. If his career follows that of Jared Allen's, I don't think anyone will look back and say his No. 1 ranking was unjustified." -- Woody Wommack, Rivals.com Southeast analyst.