As we approach the 2013 NFL draft, there is a term going around that few enjoy having bestowed upon them. That word, of course, is none other than "tweener."
The question is, where are these position-less athletes actually meant to play?
Some have the raw ability to enter a defined position from day one. For others, they possess the physical skills, but lack the football capabilities to consistently play a specific role.
Examples of these players include Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Antwaan Randle El. The term is not limited to the offensive side of the ball, however, as 3-4 outside linebackers have become a norm, as well.
So who are the players from this year's draft class that fit the billing? More specifically, where do they fit best within a scheme?
Let's find out.
Tavon Austin, West Virginia Mountaineers
Tavon Austin is one of the most explosive athletes in this year's draft class. In the open field, he's as difficult to bring down as any player in the nation.
The question is, can Austin actually play wide receiver at the NFL level?
During his senior season at West Virginia, Austin hauled in 114 passes for 1289 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also took 72 carries for 643 yards and three scores.
Austin also returned a punt and kick for respective touchdowns.
With that being said, there are concerns over Austin's ability to be an every down receiver. Fortunately for Austin, spread offenses are becoming more common and the value of a slot receiver is at an all-time high.
Austin will be just fine working out of the slot.
Dion Jordan, Oregon Ducks
At 6'6" and 248 pounds, Dion Jordan is one of the most physically imposing players in this draft class. With supreme athleticism, extraordinary length and a physical style of play, Jordan could be the next great defensive end.
In that same breath, Jordan could be a better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The question is, where does he fit best?
We'll go with OLB.
Jordan is a capable pass rusher, but he's too good of an athlete to keep down in a three-point stance. If that's not a good enough reason for you, try the fact that he's not quite strong enough to come off of the edge and out-muscle an NFL tackle.
From an upward stance, however, Jordan has the burst, agility and elusiveness to be a menace in the pass rush.
Regardless of what position he plays, Jordan will be a quality addition for whichever team drafts him. With that being said, the former Oregon Duck would be much better off playing as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
His upside is more likely to be met should a coaching staff perform such an adjustment.
Barkevious Mingo, LSU Tigers
Barkevious Mingo has been referred to as a player with the "boom-or-bust factor," according to the Mitchell Draft Company. A major reason for this is the fact that many feel he cannot function in a 4-3 defense.
Without the necessary strength to come off of the edge, Mingo is only expected to reach his upside if he plays standing up.
Whether or not Mingo would actually fail in a 4-3 defensive set is unclear. What we know, however, is that Mingo is an explosive athlete that is much better off working out of an upward stance.
It is then that he can exploit tackles with his agility and overcome any strength disadvantages by gaining leverage.
Much like Dion Jordan, playing as a 3-4 outside linebacker seems to be the best fit for Mingo. From there, a defense can significantly improve their pass rush.
This elite athlete could be something special, but he, more than most, needs the right system.
Denard Robinson, Michigan Wolverines
Denard Robinson is one of the most high-profile prospects in the 2013 NFL draft. The question is, what position will the former quarterback play in the NFL?
At the 2013 NFL combine, Robinson worked out as a wide receiver. During his final weeks at the University of Michigan, Robinson played running back.
Asked to compare himself to an NFL player, he picked Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb. But he said he’d like a career like Antwaan Randle El's, because he won a Super Bowl.
Antwaan Randle El might be the best comparison of all.
Robinson proved at the Combine that he has good hands. Beyond that, we are all aware of Robinson's blazing open field speed.
The best spot for this young man is as a slot receiver with package opportunities to run and throw the football.
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