South: 12-13 Defensive Comparisons

Robert Nkemdiche

If we combined the best of the best from the 2012 and 2013 classes, who would have been ranked higher? Scout takes a look at the best from the South here and tells you who would have been No. 1 at each position.

It is pretty easy to say that Robert Nkemdiche would have been the top prospect coming out of the South whether it was 2012 or 2013, but what about each position?

Scout takes a look at the top prospect at each position from 2012 and 2013 and compares each, then reveals who would have been ranked on top and why.

Defensive End

2012: Jonathan Bullard (Signed with Florida)
2013: Robert Nkemdiche (Considering LSU and Ole Miss)
Comparison: Nkemdiche has been a prospect talked about for over two years now and he is the No. 1 prospect in the country. As a prospect, he looks more like he is a college senior than a high school senior physically. He is stronger than most, he knows how to play his assignments, and he is very strong in pursuit. Bullard was a very strong defensive lineman coming out of high school. He has very strong hands, he played the run very well, and he could pressure the quarterback.
Higher Ranking: Nkemdiche is the top prospect, so he gets the top spot at this position, but this is closer than some may think. Nkemdiche was on a bigger stage in high school, but Bullard was elite as well out of Shelby, N.C.


Defensive Tackle

2012: Quay Evans (Signed with Mississippi State)
2013: Montravius Adams (Considering Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, and Georgia)
Comparison: Evans was bigger, stronger, and more physical. He had the body of a collegiate player than a high school player. He really could re-direct well also. Adams is very explosive off the ball and he has a great first step. He has been dominant when he wanted to be over his high school career, but he is still very raw.
Higher Ranking: Adams may have a little more upside, but if Evans wants to be the best, he can be. This is almost a toss-up, but Evans gets the nod. He is such a physical presence in the middle of the defensive line, he moves very well, and despite the off-the-field questions, he was one of the best in the country in 2012.


Outside Linebacker

2012: Josh Harvey-Clemons (Signed with Georgia)
2013: Matthew Thomas (Considering Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, and USC.)
Comparison: These two are very similar is size and ability. Harvey-Clemons is the better overall athlete, but Thomas is a little more physical. Both have good coverage skills and both have frames that needed to be developed coming out of high school. Both also played multiple positions on the high school level.
Higher Ranking: Another close call, but Thomas gets the edge. He, like Harvey-Clemons has excellent range, he moves very well in space, and he has the frame to add weight quicker. Either one could have been named here, but Thomas is the one by a very small margin.


Inside Linebacker

2012: Reggie Ragland (Signed with Alabama)
2013: Reuben Foster (Considering Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Miami, and Washington)
Comparison: Ragland is one of the biggest linebackers to come out of high school at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, but he showed in Orlando at the Under Armour All-America game that he could move in space and cover. He is up against Reuben Foster, the 2013 senior some feel could be the top prospect in the country. Foster is not as tall at Ragland, but he weighs around 240 pounds. He hits like a truck, he explodes through the ball carrier, and he is one of the most explosive players to come out of high in the last decade.
Higher Ranking: Foster it is. Ragland was elite as well and moved unlike most at his size, but Foster is special. He could have been playing for a college team the last two years. He is that good.


Cornerback

2012: Brian Poole (Signed with Florida)
2013: Vernon Hargreaves (Committed to Florida)
Comparison: Poole was known for his play close to the line of scrimmage. He was a very physical corner, a great press coverage kid, and someone that was disruptive when receivers tried to get into their routes. Hargreaves is known more for his coverage skills, his closing speed, and his ball skills. He is so comfortable on that island and he is much farther along at this position than Poole was coming out of high school.
Higher Ranking: While Scout was and is very high on Poole, Hargeaves is the best corner. He is more of that pure and balanced corner. He has shown that he can come up and make the tackle in the open field, but he will be known for his cover skills. He is elite.


Safety

2012: Landon Collins (Signed with Alabama)
2013: Vonn Bell (Considering Alabama, Ohio State, and Tennessee)
Comparison: Collins will knock people out and Bell will pick a pass off and take it the distance. Collins is much more physical than Bell, but Bell has better range, better coverage skills, and better overall speed. Collins .
Higher Ranking: We have to go with Collins. He is the bigger hitter and he is much better against the run while Bell is better in coverage and tracking the ball. The gap just isn't as big in coverage as it in run support.


When looking back, the 2013 class got the higher ranking at four of the six positions.

We compared the offensive top prospects on Thursday and you can see them here.

Chad Simmons is currently a National Recruiting Analyst for FOX Sports/Scout. He started with Scout in 2003 and then moved on to another Recruiting Service from 2004-2008 before returning to Scout the first of 2009 to become South Recruiting Manager.
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