2013 NFL Draft: Which Prospects Could Sneak into the First Round?
With the 2012 draft finally coming to a close, most draft experts are already throwing out mocks and big boards for next year's main event.
Although I feel it's pointless to try and predict something that's a year away, it doesn't hurt to look into the crystal ball.
So we know (most likely) guys like Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson should be on top of this class, but who might work their way into the first round? Here's five guys who have all the ability to do just that come next year.
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
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One of the easiest things to figure out about the draft is that quarterbacks always have and always will fly up the boards.
Logan Thomas could be next year's Ryan Tannehill.
Thomas has great size (6'6", 254) and a strong arm and showed some pretty good leadership last year, leading Virginia Tech to an 11-3 season including an overtime loss to Michigan in the 2012 Sugar Bowl.
Thomas is already a better prospect than Ryan Tannehill was at the same point last season and a strong senior campaign could vault his stock into the top 10.
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
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Same idea that went for Thomas also applies here to Bray.
Bray is big and has all the tools of great quarterbacking prospect. He's also very efficient with the football (17 TDs, six INTs). The only thing he lacks is the production at the college level to go along with it.
If Bray can muster up a big 2012 season and bring Tennessee back to the forefront of the SEC, he could be looked at amongst the top of the 2013 quarterback class.
Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah
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I mean, come on, the man's name is STAR—that's exactly what he could be for the right 3-4 team.
Lotulelei was very productive at Utah and is an exceptional run defender. He's also drawn some comparisons to the Ravens' Haloti Ngata.
While he may not be that good, nose tackles tend to fall in drafts. Take the case of Alameda Ta'amu in 2012: a projected second-rounder who fell to the Steelers in the fourth.
Lotulelei is better than Ta'amu and this year's first-round nose tackle Dontari Poe. He should get into the bottom half of Round 1.
Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
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Barner is a burner with elite speed.
He was also very productive behind LaMichael James, averaging over six yards per carry and scoring 13 total touchdowns.
His biggest problem is his size. At only 5'10" and 180 pounds, Barner's body might not hold up to the beating an NFL back takes week in and out. But his speed and big-play ability might push a team to take a chance on him in the first round, much like the Lions did with Jahvid Best just a few years ago.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
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Alabama saw a plethora of their players fly off the board last weekend, especially guys from their secondary.
Milliner has some big shoes to fill with Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie now headed to the NFL, but he's the prototypical Nick Saban cornerback.
He's got great ability in press coverage, but just doesn't have the playing experience yet. He should catch on quickly with a year under his belt at Alabama and if he does, watch out.