2013 NFL Draft: Who Are the Top Unknown Prospects?
There are lots of rookies who will make a name for themselves this coming NFL season.
Dontari Poe,Harrison Smith, Bruce Irvin and A.J Jenkins were all shock picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. This was because people had only became aware of their talents a few months before they were selected. Every year, there are solid prospects who were overlooked for whatever reason and yet still manage to rise up draft boards.
Here are a few players who I feel could do the same in 2013.
Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Overshadowed by the more physical Shaun Prater, it is easy to forget about the great pure cover skills of Hyde. Blessed with rare length for the position, Hyde can easily put himself into positions to make plays time and time again.
Standing at 6'1", and with great ball skills, Hyde will be a top-50 pick in the next draft. I love his play-making ability and that, mixed with his physical nature, can vault this unassuming player into first-round consideration come next April.
Jesse Williams, DT/DE, Alabama
Greg McWilliams/Getty Images
Jesse Williams is better than any defensive line prospect taken in the 2012 NFL Draft.
This lofty praise may seem unjustified but everyone will agree around this time next year. With the balance and punch to play nose guard, and the speed and pass rush ability to play the 5-technique, this versatile strongman will solidify himself as the top prospect for any 3-4 defense.
Once overshadowed by NFL-bound teammates such as Mark Barron and Courtney Upshaw, Williams will now get the attention he deserves. He is hard to miss due to his 6'4", 320-pound frame, heavily tattooed body and crazy mohawk.
I'm certain that every Alabama fan already loves his potential and will enjoy his dominating play in 2012.
Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State
John Gress/Getty Images
The best cornerback in the Big Ten, Johnny Adams will be a first-round pick.
Returning for his fifth season, Adams will have the chance to prove himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the nation. He has good size at 5'11" and also has the physicality that fans of the sport love to see.
He excels in the press system that Michigan State runs and he is equally effective when playing press-bail. Whether you like a cornerback with ball skills or one who violently disrupts routes, you will enjoy the way that Adams plays the game.
Ciante Evans, CB, Nebraska
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Ciante Evans is the next Nebraska cornerback who will go in the first-round of the NFL Draft.
Nebraska has established itself as a top university for cornerback prospects. Prince Amukamara was a first-round pick, and Alfonzo Dennard was an upper-round talent, but silly off-field mistakes caused his stock to drop.
Ciante Evans has really good ball skills and that is what impresses me the most. He goes up for the ball as if he is a wide receiver and often gets a hand on it.
Add to that his smooth coverage skills and you can begin to see why he has a lot of upside.
Morris Claiborne was the undisputed top cornerback prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft. Ciante Evans has many of the same desirable qualities, albeit he is a press corner.
Evans will not go in the top ten, but he could experience the same meteoric rise up draft boards that Claiborne did.
Other than quarterbacks, secondary prospects often rise the fastest leading up to a draft. Mark Barron was a borderline top-32 pick a few months ago and nobody had even heard of Morris Claiborne.
Everybody will hear about Ciante Evans.
Eric Reid, S, LSU
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Eric Reid is a better player than Mark Barron. Period.
It is easy to forget Reid because of the stars that performed alongside him. Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne formed the best cornerback tandem in the nation, so Reid often didn't get the credit he deserved.
Even now, the pass rushing duo of Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, seem to be getting more hype than this playmaking safety.
He has great size at 6'2", but he also has great movement and range, can close on the ball in a flash and make plays that alter the course of a game.
What makes him a better prospect than Barron is that he is equally comfortable at both the free safety and strong safety. This versatility makes him very valuable. He is terrific in run support but it's his playmaking instincts that make him a special player.
His amazing interception against Alabama provides evidence of that ability.
He also has rare pass-coverage ability for a safety, a needed attribute when going up against NFL tight ends such as Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis.
The safety class of 2013 will be better than that of 2012, so he may not go as high as Mark Barron did.
However, if he has the season I expect him to, he will be the best safety to enter the NFL since Eric Berry.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Marquess Wilson can be a top-15 pick and he may well be the best wide receiver in the NCAA.
Washington State isn't known for producing a lot of NFL talent but they produced a gem here. At 6'3", he has great size but it's his body control that really amazes, as he is able to bring in passes on the sideline even with two players draped over him.
His production is also great: He amassed over 1000 receiving yards as a freshman, doing so again as a sophomore. The pass-friendly offense he plays in makes it possible for him to produce over 1500 receiving yards in his upcoming junior season.
Wilson is not a fast player. He isn't going to shock anyone with his wheels but—with his good release and route-running skills—he still manages to gain separation.
He also has strong hands, capable of taming even the hardest thrown balls and he always catches the ball away from his frame. He has been compared to Michael Crabtree, and I agree he shares the same raw talent.
I hope his talent leads to more production at the next level than Crabtree has so far experienced with the San Fransisco 49ers.