2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking College Football's Must-Watch Pro Prospects

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2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking College Football's Must-Watch Pro Prospects
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
USC QB Matt Barkley will enter the season as the consensus favorite to be the No. 1 pick of the 2013 NFL Draft

Now that the 2012 NFL draft is officially in the books, college football fans will have to wave one final bittersweet goodbye to many of the big-name stars like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon, who dazzled us with their breathtaking abilities last season.

As the NFL welcomes in a new wave of young talent, it’s now time for college fans to turn their attention to the players of the future, and it’s not too early to start thinking about the 2013 NFL draft.

At this time last year, right after the conclusion of the 2011 draft, everyone was busy hyping up players like Luck, Richardson, Blackmon and other top prospects as future NFL stars.

While some highly touted prospects such as Quinton Coples, Alshon Jeffery and Vontaze Burfict failed to live up to preseason expectations, they were offset by the many breakout performances from surprise under-the-radar prospects who went flying up draft boards last season. 

That’s the one thing that I love about college football so much. Every season, new stars are born and every year, breakout players step out onto the national stage and into the spotlight.

Before the start of last season, who would have thought that we would soon be calling Robert Griffin III a franchise-saving quarterback?

Who would have thought that defensive linemen like Dontari Poe and Melvin Ingram would eventually end up as Top 20 picks?

And who exactly was projecting prospects like Shea McClellin and A.J. Jenkins to be first-round selections?

The answer to those questions is nobody, and that’s the true beauty of the sport.

Like I said, every year, new stars are born.

As we now begin to look at college football’s notable NFL prospects for the 2013 NFL draft, obviously names like USC QB Matt Barkley, Alabama OL Barrett Jones and Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o are going to headline most preseason lists.

But as we’ve seen time and time again, the road to the NFL draft is a long one with plenty of twists and turns, and there are sure to be prospects who rise and those who fall over the course of the next year.

We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s exciting to think that we now get to begin another new journey.

Here’s an in-depth look at the top eligible NFL prospects that you need to keep an eye on during the 2012 season.

Let the countdown to the 2013 NFL draft officially begin!

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