Before we get to the baby New Year of Big Boards, let's first go over what we know at this stage of BCS Championship Bowl week:
- The only way USC quarterback Matt Barkley can further soak his draft stock is if he grows a beard and re-enacts all of Brad Pitt's scenes in Kalifornia. Seriously, that's all that is left at this point.
- Pass-rushers Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and Damontre Moore (Texas A&M) will enter the draft this spring, and both will come off the board within the first five or six picks.
- Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel will be the first lineman off the board ... if he declares. His bookend, Jake Matthews, should also be a top 40 pick ... if he declares (see where I am going with this?).
- The Gators might've looked like roadkill last night, but safety Matt Elam looked like the real deal at safety. He has excellent range and instincts for the position, and he hits with the force of a concrete mixer.
We won't know the direction of Oregon defensive end (and Dolfan man-crush) Dion Jordan's stock until tomorrow night. Regardless, he'll have plenty of new company on this, the first Big Board of MMXIII.
1) Dion Jordan, DE Oregon (6'6", 250)
Speak of the devil. Jordan this spring will represent ultimate value as a pass-rusher should the Dolphins choose to upgrade the defensive end position in their hybrid scheme. Jordan is strong enough to do work with his hand in the ground, and he possesses rare coverage ability for a lanky defensive lineman. Could be a top 10 pick before it's said and done.
2) Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State (6'4", 265)
Werner pretty much bullied Northern Illinois on New Year's night, and he's just scary fast coming off the line of scrimmage. Excellent strength and violent hands make him a primo defensive end prospect in a loaded pass-rush class. He's more of a 4-3 end, however, and that's why he's below Jordan on this list.
3) DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson (6'1", 205)
Hopkins is now a candidate for the No. 1 receiver crown in this draft class, thanks to the manner in which he carved up LSU's defense on New Year's Eve. Hopkins looked every bit the part of a go-to receiver against the Tigers, and he has the build to fight off jams at the line of scrimmage and the speed to get deep and bust the top off of the secondary.
4) Keenan Allen, WR California (6'3", 208)
Allen's no longer the No. 1 receiver on this board, but he'd still be a fantastic addition to a Dolphins offense that needs everything Allen brings to the game: size, route-running chops and very good hands. Not entirely convinced that Allen is worthy of the No. 12 pick, however.
5) Matt Elam, S Florida (5'10", 200)
Elam's the closest I've seen to a Polamalu-type safety prospect, and he's continuing to develop as a ball hawk and technician. The Florida junior can play centerfield or crowd the line, and he's a natural when it comes to laying big hits. A second-round talent who should be a top 25 pick by the time the Combine concludes in late February.
6) Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia (6'3", 235)
An inside linebacker this spring might be a luxury pick in the eyes of Dolphins fans, but Ogletree is the kind of whirlwind, hard-hitting prospect who can turn a decent linebacker corps into a great one. Arguably the most athletic linebacker prospect to come out in years.
7) Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M (6'5", 305)
Matthews will remain on this list until someone proves to me that the Dolphins' Tannehill/Sherman-oriented connection to Jake Matthews isn't a factor. The fact that Miami could now need an inexpensive protector on the right side to pair with upstart left tackle Jonathan Martin only serves to deepen the likelihood of Miami at least taking a look at Matthews.
8) Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee (6'3", 205)
Even if the Dolphins acquire a splash-type receiver in free agency (and I believe they will), a couple of dangerous wideout prospects should be in order for Miami at some point during the 2013 draft--possibly before the end of day two. Patterson is the real deal as a big-bodied playmaker, and he's arguably the best open-field runner of any receiver in this class (West Virginia's Tavon Austin surely disagrees with that assessment). Bottom line: the Dolphins need to land at least one of the top receivers in this draft. Hopkins, Patterson, Allen, Baylor's Terrance Williams, whatever. Just pick one.
9) Alex Okafor, DE Texas (6'4", 265)
Another hybrid-end prospect for Dolphins brass to consider. Okafor's performance in the Alamo Bowl was flat-out dominant, and his stock continues to climb in a draft class that has pass-rushers coming out of its ears. Okafor is probably a step below Jones, Moore and Jordan in the pass-rush department, but he's a high-upside, higher-character prospect who should do great things at the next level. His presence in Miami would complement defensive end Olivier Vernon while taking plenty of heat off of Cameron Wake.
10) Dallas Thomas, OT/G (6'5", 300)
The fact that Thomas is a stud prospect at not one but two positions the Dolphins need is intriguing. The fact that he'll likely be available in the second round is even more intriguing. The fact that Thomas is one of the most technically-sound prospects in a very good tackle class will almost certainly generate some look from Jeff Ireland. "Offensive lineman" is a four-letter word in Miami right now, but Thomas would be a home-run addition to the right side of Miami's line.